Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell


Posted from Burbank, California at 6:50 pm, August 23rd, 2005

It’s mildly disturbing how easy it was to slip back into the work routine, in the same way that someone who was on a diet for ten months and then consumed a pint of ice cream at one sitting would be disturbed; like there is something inside of me that was meant to do this sort of thing. I hope that’s not the case, as I would much rather have something inside of me that is meant to roam the earth like Kane from Kung Fu.

In news that might be vaguely interesting, the report from the lot is that the Poseidon Adventure, most of the TV shows, and a movie whose name I can’t remember are all in full swing. One of the backlot sets was in use yesterday with at least a hundred extras and twenty vehicles filming some sort of downtown scene, but sadly not only can I not remember this movie’s title, but I wasn’t daring enough to even figure out who the lead actors were. I must be getting old.

And for no reason other than that I was looking at this photo today and it made me happy, here’s a bunch (herd? flock?) of penguins to enjoy:

King penguins in Gold Harbour

King penguins in Gold Harbour.

Three's Company

Posted from Studio City, California at 11:30 pm, August 20th, 2005

Some quick notes:

  • I’m settled down in a house in Studio City with two female roommates. I know. One of them has been a musician for years, jammed with Motley Crue, and wows me with her other stories. Two and a half bottles of wine last night brought out a lot of stories. The other is Canadian and is making a pilgrimmage to Vancouver this weekend.
  • While shopping today I actually heard someone utter the phrase “that really chapped my ass”. I was floored.
  • In addition to the (flawed) debate over Intelligent Design, the Onion offers a look into the next battle over an alternate view of the theory of gravitation, Intelligent Falling.
  • The transition back to working after a nearly eleven month retirement hasn’t been as bad as I feared it would be. More traumatic was the search for a gym membership and the accompanying realization that a former collegiate runner is having trouble holding seven minute mile pace for more than a few miles. It’s embarrassing.

Still Wasted

Posted from Toluca Lake, California at 11:30 am, August 14th, 2005

“Look at me! I’m playing tennis! Ace! Ace!”. And for those whose sobriety level might prevent them from remembering that moment, there is video available.


Posted from Las Vegas, Nevada at 9:40 am, August 13th, 2005

I’m trying to reconstruct last night based on the contents of my pockets, which include a bunch of Irish email addresses written on a coaster and a CD of a bar band that I vaguely remember getting after tipping the band $40. There was waaaay more beer involved than was probably smart (I should have known better than to drink with a couple from Ireland), but it was a classic evening. Chuck Chi was Irish step dancing with a sixty year old Asian woman in a straw hat, Aaron actually tried to use the line “I’m broke and I’m cheap, but I’m a good guy”, there was (earlier in the day) a chow-mein reuben combo at the Bellagio buffet, and vastly more silliness than I’ve experienced in years.

Aaron and Friend

Aaron and Friend.

Many Disasters

Posted from Sylmar, California at 9:50 pm, August 10th, 2005

Back in Los Angeles, and almost on cue the hills went up in flames to greet me. Or at least I hope it was a fire, ’cause if that wasn’t twenty miles of smoke that I drove through then the smog here has gotten about ten thousand times worse. And if it wasn’t enough that a natural disaster was here to welcome me, the hotel I’m staying in is not only surrounded by high walls topped with razor wire, but there are parking spots clearly marked as “Reserved for police”. As always the home of the movie industry finds all manner of ways to entertain.

Bears, Chafing, and Bears

Posted from Lafayette, California at 9:50 am, August 9th, 2005

It seems that people reading this journal are either shy or non-readers, but at least the good Mr. Gallaway added a few titles to the reading list.

As sort of a last expression of freedom before rejoining the corporate world I made a quick trip up to Yosemite, waking up just after 5:00 AM yesterday to be on the Half Dome trail by 6:00 AM. As always it was amazing, but sadly the final half mile of the trail was closed for repairs, and in addition there were some issues with… well, chafing, that made the trek down somewhat excruciating. On the positive side I took a ten minute water break with a deer who was browsing six feet from where I was sitting.

In addition, for the first time in Yosemite I saw a black bear while coming down the trail. The black bear was foraging near the trail and ambled to within about fifteen yards of me at one point (kids, don’t try that one at home). In the midst of watching him tear apart logs another hiker came along, happily munching on trail mix. After pointing out that there was a bear just off the trail and that it might be prudent for him to put his food away this guy did so and then wandered directly into the bear’s path. Noticing this brilliant maneuver, the bear paused, looked around to see if there was an easy way to get around him, and then slapped his claws against the log in a way that had me convinced he was about to charge. And of course, our hero still didn’t move from the bear’s path! Luckily Smokey climbed off of his log and took another route, but it was tough not to be impressed with the animal’s restraint.

Today I’m hobbling around on sore legs with the plan being that I’ll probably head down to LA tomorrow to try and find a place to live, preferably one in which no more than ten police helicopters buzz by each night. Los Angeles again…

Black bear near Half Dome

Bears are apparently intrigued by logs.


Posted from Lafayette, California at 4:40 pm, August 4th, 2005

I’ve been keeping this journal for just over three years now. Cra-zy. What started as an attempt to avoid having to write lots of email while I was traveling in Alaska has now turned into just a general attempt at avoiding having to write email.

In a completely unrelated note, a while back Lynn decided to post some of her favorite and most recently read books online, in the hopes that other people would do the same, and the result was a pretty nice reading list. Not sure if it will work here, but I’ll give it a shot. To post your own recently-read/favorites list, click on the comments link at the top of this entry, then click on the “Reply to this message” link to enter a comment.

  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. Just finished this one, recommended by Nish. A great story about a man who dies and his experiences upon arriving in heaven. The author also wrote Tuesdays With Morrie, and while that wasn’t a bad book I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much.
  • The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. A great story about an architect who takes on the world. Guaranteed to make you feel at least a little bit cocky, so keep reminding yourself of all the stupid things you’ve done in life while reading it.
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. An even better story than The Fountainhead, with the exception of the hundred page rant by John Galt near the end. Guaranteed to make you feel even cockier than The Fountainhead.
  • Into Thin Air Into the Wild (sorry, goofed up the title) by John Krakauer. A great (true) story about a guy who says the hell with society and takes off to live life like some of us would like to do, but few of us have the nerve to do.
  • Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat. Based on Mowat’s experience as a field biologist in Canada studying wolves, a hilarious take on beauracracy that also includes recipes for preparing cream-of-mouse.
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. The closest Hemingway ever got to writing a story that doesn’t depress the hell out of you, and one of my all time favorites. For anyone who isn’t familiar with the book, it’s about this old man, and the sea.
  • Contact by Carl Sagan. I just started this one, but thus far I’m liking it even more than the movie (which I enjoyed). Also, Ellie is a hottie.
  • Shogun by James Clavell. The Asia Saga (starting with Shogun, and spanning four hundred years of East-Asian history) is a great read. Clavell writes stories filled with mystery, adventure, romance and intrigue, but adds enough historical context to remove that “kind of trashy” feeling you might get from similar books.

That’s my contribution. Anyone else want to add to the list?

The End of the Innocence

Posted from Lafayette, California at 11:45 pm, July 28th, 2005

The word from Burbank is that I’m back to work on August 15. The nights of bar hopping in Walnut Creek, driving Nish crazy in the Marina, and failing to be a contender in basketball (both mini and standard) are temporarily coming to an end. The positives: cool co-workers, a nice income, and access to the studio lot and its many beautiful actresses (who will pay me no attention whatsoever). Negatives: office space is at a premium, so it’s back to the cold, dark, window-less storage room that I sometimes slept in throughout 2003, and the horror that comes with living in a town where police helicopters fly by at all hours and traffic barely slows when vehicles randomly burst into flames on the side of the interstate. Ah well, it’s only 153 days until Antarctica.

Days of Yore

Posted from Lafayette, California at 1:50 pm, July 25th, 2005

One of the longstanding items on the to-do list has been to scan in the approximately fifty rolls of print film that I took from 1994 through 1999. The job is about half done, and while my good photographs today aren’t really much better than my good photos from ten years ago, the percentage of photos that are complete and utter crap has definitely decreased; far fewer of today’s photos require asking the question what the hell was I trying to photograph? That said, a few photos from back in the day are actually worth sharing:

El Capitan

El Capitan in Yosemite National Park (1998)

White Sands National Monument

Yucca in White Sands National Monument (1999)

Photo di Ryan Holliday

Posted from Lafayette, California at 8:20 pm, July 20th, 2005

In the past couple of months there have been a (tiny) handful of requests to use some of my photos for commercial projects, and since I’ve got no illusions about being an artist I was thrilled to have the chance of seeing some of the stuff in print. The first one, which was used in an advertisement for an Italian consulting firm, went to the printer today, and I think it actually looks kind of cool:

Penguin Advertisement

Thousands of people will see this ad, and three or four of them might even notice the very, very tiny text on it that says “Foto di Ryan Holliday www.mountaininterval.org”.

And in case anyone is wondering, Google translates the caption as “WE ARE AGAINST THE HUNTING, BUT WE WANT YOUR HEAD!”. It’s not quite “All your base are belong to us”, but it’s still catchy.


Posted from Lafayette, California at 11:15 am, July 13th, 2005

For unknown reasons the sleep schedule has inverted lately, and for the past two nights things have gotten so ridiculous that I’ve been able to watch the sunrise prior to going to bed. It’s a bit like being in college again, only now I get to take naps in a futon rather than trying to get comfortable in the goofy chairs with tray tables that they used in the engineering classrooms.

Aaron is back in town, and calling upon his uncanny ability to gather large groups he pulled together a pack of seven for some bar hopping in Walnut Creek last night. Crogan’s was (thankfully) avoided, yet we still managed to discover a joint with a rubber-kneed techno DJ, a bar offering $2 Coronas, a Kenny-friendly establishment, and some place that served us an embarrassingly large and fruity bowl of cherries, rock candy, and alcohol.

Mental Problems

Posted from Lafayette, California at 9:55 am, July 9th, 2005

I didn’t end up going to sleep until nearly 5:00 AM last night, and possibly as a result of sleep deprivation my dreams were all over the place. In one I was JFK, and not just some actor playing JFK, but the actual, bonafide JFK. And I knew that I was gonna invade Cuba and get assassinated and everything, but mostly I was just enjoying being President during the 60’s. How cool must that have been?

In another dream I was back in Los Angeles, and for some reason was working for Warner Brothers but my desk was in the gardens at the Getty Museum. Just as I was getting ready to go home for the day a female friend came by and asked me the truly evil question “Do you notice anything different about me?” (Note to women: don’t ever do that. Just tell us what you want us to notice and then we’ll compliment you on it). Following exactly how the scenario would play out in real life, I got absolutely reamed for failing to answer the question correctly.

The magic dream marathon ended abrubtly at 8:15 when the phone rang, so sadly I never got to send a man to the moon or find out what crazy scheme I would have concocted to get out of the doghouse with my LA friend. It’s a shame; it would have been pretty cool to meet Marilyn Monroe.

Galapagos Redux

Posted from Lafayette, California at 7:10 pm, July 1st, 2005

More than two-thirds of the photos from the 1999 Galapagos trip never got scanned in, so the project during the past couple of days has been getting those online. They’re now mostly all scanned in. In other news, Warner Brothers called and Godfather-like made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so the retirement may be (briefly) ending sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Blue-Footed Boobie

Blue-footed boobie and family, December 1999.


Posted from Lafayette, California at 11:45 pm, June 29th, 2005

The inaugural meeting of the Brother-Sister Club last night ended up being a surprisingly fun night out. Despite a lost car, shuffleboard addictions, wayward disco ball reflections, and confusion over the actual identity of the man/woman known only as “Lindsay”, I’m very much looking forward to the next meeting. There isn’t much else of note going on — I broke down and applied for a job a few weeks ago, but luckily the position was apparently filled before they got my resume. There may be a short road trip in the future, although the possibility of facing July 4th traffic leads me to believe it won’t start until at least the 5th.