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

Call Me the Underminer

Posted from Midland, Texas at 9:19 pm, December 6th, 2010

The universe intervened on the roadtrip last night, and after driving for an hour without finding anywhere suitable to spend the night White Sands was removed from the itinerary; I probably should have known that overnight parking areas would be limited near a national monument surrounded by a government missile testing range, but I’m not often accused of having an overabundance of brain matter.

Missing White Sands probably worked out for the best as Carlsbad was further away than I realized, and despite waking up before 7AM, arrival time at the park wasn’t until after 10AM. From there the fun began: Ryan loves him some caves. Photos of Carlsbad can’t do it justice – the cave formations are probably more amazing than any other easily-accessible cave in the world, but the most awe-inspiring thing (to me) is how big it is. There are multiple rooms with ceilings well over a hundred feet high, and the aptly-named “Big Room” is 4000 feet long and 625 feet wide at its widest point; it’s tough to imagine how something like this could be engineered by man, much less occur naturally.

After four hours of romping through the cave it was time to leave, and I’m now making a beeline for Louisiana, although a large state that smells strongly of oil lies in-between. I haven’t quite figured out what the route across Texas will be, but it’s likely to take most of the day tomorrow, after which this roadtrip will be in uncharted territories and hopefully involve much more exploring and much less driving.

The Big Room in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

The Big Room. Clever comment about the genius behind the name is left to the reader.

The Chandelier formation in Carlsbad Caverns

The Chandelier. I’d guess that the largest stalactite in this formation was easily over ten feet long. It’s also visible in the previous photo.

It’s Very Large

Posted from Las Cruces, New Mexico at 8:58 pm, December 5th, 2010

The town of Winslow was along the route last night so I decided to be a tourist, stopped, and yes, stood on a corner. I didn’t see a girl in a flat-bed Ford (my Lord) but there was a guy in a F150, so mission accomplished.

Today I woke up just before sunrise to a temperature of 38°F, drove to the gates of Petrified Forest National Park, and, while the horizon turned amazing shades of purple, stared in horror at a sign indicating the park didn’t open for another hour. That disappointment aside, the four-hour park visit was a good one – there were far too many photos and far too little hiking, but the supposed goal of this trip is to visit the Southeast so some sacrifices are needed.

What little plan there is for this roadtrip calls for getting to new places as quickly as possible and limiting the number of visits to old haunts, but White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns are kind of on the way, so I pointed the Subaru in that direction. I’m doing my best to travel backroad highways as long as there is daylight, so I was debating the merits of three possible routes when a dot on the map caught my attention: National Radio Astronomy Observatory. From that point the route was clear, and the fifth of December 2010 will live forever as the day Ryan went to the Very Large Array. The geek juices were flowing strong as I came upon 27 radio antennas, each 25 meters in diameter, spread across 22.3 miles of a high mountain plain. Sadly I only arrived with an hour to spare before sunset, but made the most of it by hurriedly visiting each part of the facility that didn’t have an “authorized personnel only” sign. Am I a huge dork? Clearly. But I am a very happy dork.

Blue Mesa in Petrified Forest National Park

Blue Mesa in Petrified Forest National Park. “Why is it called the Painted Desert” is a question that is infrequently asked.

Very Large Array Radio Antenna

One of the 27 radio antennas that make up the VLA. Each one is twenty-five meters across and totally awesome.

Burros Love Carrots

Posted from Flagstaff, Arizona at 7:51 pm, December 4th, 2010

The day started at sunrise (6:30) in the deserts of Southern California and, with the possible oversight of a stop at a diner, took on all aspects of the classic American roadtrip from there. After a short drive across the border into Arizona the road led along the Colorado River and Lake Havasu. Following a short hike in the Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge I actually made an attempt to find the bridge in the town of London Bridge – an authentic bridge from the Thames River that was bought & transported to the Arizona desert in the 1960s – but it may be a good thing that this bit of Americana eluded me.

From there the path led along the quintessential road trip route of America: Route 66. With the advent of the Interstate Highway system the “Mother Road” mostly disappeared, but in places it has been revived, and at least in Western Arizona it is a throwback to 1950s America. The hotels that are left have neon signs, the gas stations sport vintage advertising and pumps, Burma-Shave messages line the road, and the stores aim to capture the roadside-stop mystique from yonder years.

In addition this route has waaaaay more than its share of roadside attractions, and one particularly noteworthy one was the town of Oatman. A gold mining town in the early 1900s, when the mines shut in the 1930s the town started dying, but it has resurrected itself as what Wikivoyage accurately describes as “equal parts touristy kitsch and real, honest-to-goodness Wild West atmosphere”. Burros whose ancestors were owned by miners have now gone wild, but they come into town each day to block the only road, poke their heads in car windows, and search out the carrots that local merchants sell by the bag. The downtown has been re-imagined as a wild west town, in no small part due to a 1960s makeover during the filming of How the West Was Won. Despite the revisionist history, a number of the townsfolk struck me as best described as “grizzled”, and there was a charm to the place that I enjoyed but couldn’t quite figure out. Outside of town there are still active mining claims, and a few of the “no trespassing” signs had an unmistakable “trespassers will be shot” undertone. Overall, I left the town liking America just a little bit more for being home to a place like this one.

Oatman Burro Warning

Remove the sticker, choke a burro. Don’t do it.

The One in Which Complancency Finally Loses

Posted from Somewhere in the Southern California Desert, approximately 40 miles west of Parker, Arizona at 7:05 pm, December 3rd, 2010

Due to two factors – a sudden and massive burst of productivity, and an equally massive burst of complacency – the Subaru and I left the confines of Culver City nearly a day and a half later than might otherwise have been expected. On the long and traffic-filled drive through the never-ending four- and five- lane highways of the Inland Empire there were surprisingly some second thoughts – the question of whether it might make more sense to spend additional time focusing on getting some work done was actually being seriously considered – but there was no way that argument was going to win; with rare exceptions I can’t recount any of the innumerable times that I’ve gotten a lot done in a week, but with the possible exception of some family trips when I was still newly hatched every adventure of my life remains a vivid memory.

This trip is slightly different from any recent trips in that the goal is mainly just to have the sort of rough, guy-on-a-roadtrip adventure that hasn’t happened in a long while. There’s a goal of trying to visit an unexplored corner of the country and a desire to try to take new roads and limit visiting the sites of past adventures, but realistically the trip could lead anywhere. At 35 I’ve got this vague sense that things are different from when I was 25, and that I might somehow be more insulated from what made trips in my younger years so special, but I’m hoping the next few weeks proves that intuition wrong.

The One in Which I Do Nothing

Posted from Culver City, California at 8:39 pm, November 30th, 2010

“Have you left on your road trip yet?” has been a popular question of late.

“No” has been the only accurate answer.

“When are you leaving?” and “What have you been doing?” have been the equally-popular follow-up questions.

“Probably Thursday” and “Absolutely nothing” have been my very happy responses.

In this case, “absolutely nothing” really is what it sounds like – aside from just under two hours of work on JAMWiki code and this journal entry, the past two days have been filled with naps, a game, and a couple of CPK frozen pizzas. While regressing into a waste of life might normally be cause for scorn and self-loathing, after a mostly-unbroken stretch of working for Backcountry, working on side-projects, and trying to have a social life, this new (and hopefully short-lived) degeneration into worthlessness seems to be having a restorative “reset” effect; burnout is ever-so-slowly giving way to a renewed desire to go out into the world and shake things up.

The Beginning of the End, Again

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:58 pm, November 22nd, 2010

After an inglorious eleven months, tomorrow will be the last day working for backcountry.com until at least January. The contract was only supposed to last through March, but unsurprisingly it got extended and likely would have gone on even longer if I hadn’t begged for some time away to focus on other pending projects. In a perfect world some of those projects may actually be taken care of by the end of the year, but a gambling man would be smart to wager that 2011 will still start with an extensive TODO list.

Since the side projects only require a laptop and an occasional internet connection, and since it’s been far too long since I spent any significant length of time dirty and living in the back of a Subaru, the coming month will likely also involve a road trip to one or more of the seven remaining states on the not-yet-visited list. Luckily, with the notable exception of North Dakota, the states on that list are mostly OK for cold weather visits, so December may be the month when I finally take a riveting vacation to… Kansas. I’m surprisingly excited about this possibility – while traveling abroad has been incredible, one of the many reasons why living in the US is great is that there is amazing variety here, and even a state with a less-than-stellar reputation as a travel destination will almost certainly have its share of interesting spots. The other stupendous and exciting states on the yet-to-be-visited list are Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina, so possibilities abound for gumbo, Forrest Gump analogies, and whatever it is that one does in Mississippi.

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Posted from Concord, California at 10:38 am, October 31st, 2010

Yesterday was Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, and while somewhat entertaining to watch on TV, I didn’t really find it that noteworthy until the last fifteen minutes. That was when Jon Stewart gave the speech linked below, filled with a fairly cogent set of observations about how important it is to get past the so-called “divisions” in society today. Sadly it was a comedian delivering this message rather than someone in a position of power, but hopefully others may notice between 100,000 and 300,000 people (the semi-official estimate: 215,000) cheering on the National Mall and see fit to take up similarly reasonable messages.

It takes until the 2:49 mark to get through the “thanks for coming” and “thanks to everyone who set this up” bits, but after that he says some fairly eloquent things.

On a much less serious note, Father Guido Sarducci gave a pretty amusing benediction to open the rally:

These are the days of miracle and wonder

Posted from Culver City, California at 11:20 pm, October 13th, 2010

With this journal now beyond its eighth birthday, one use of it that I’ve occasionally enjoyed indulging in at the expense of my twos of readers is posting thoughts about what seems important in technology, politics, or whatever; it’s fun to look back a few years later to see how trends played out versus what might have been expected at the time. For those who are bored to death by such posts, head immediately to Lolcats to avoid a geeky trend analysis.

The dotcom wave crested nine years ago, and since then it has seemed more and more likely that the next boom would be led by energy and conservation technologies. Dotcom disrupted markets by introducing new ways to do traditional tasks faster and more efficiently, offering huge value for those who adopted the new technologies. With new energy developments on the horizon offering a similar value proposition, it seems that another burst of change is inevitable. That said, here are a few specific technologies that seem like they will end up being interesting and important with respect to energy and conservation. The comments link is available should anyone else care to throw out their own thoughts.

Electric cars

While there is some attention still being given to solar cars, hydrogen cars, and hybrids, electric cars look more and more like they will be the primary automotive technology in the future. Battery storage is rapidly improving, and if trends hold then in another 5-10 years cars could be on the roads with expected ranges of 400-600 miles per charge. More importantly, however, is that electric cars make better sense from a technology standpoint than hybrids or internal combustion engines – the motors are more powerful and more efficient, and the supporting systems are simpler. An electric car doesn’t need oil changes, doesn’t have an exhaust system, has simpler cooling needs, etc. As the range issues are addressed and the cost of battery packs come down, it’s very tough to imagine anyone choosing oil changes, gas stations, and a $600 maintenance charge every 30,000 miles to something that they can just plug in at night. I’m obviously heavily influenced by JB on this issue, but while I’m not convinced Tesla will lead this trend I’m fairly certain that it’s one that’s coming in a big way.

Solar panels

Similarly, as solar panel efficiencies are improving it is becoming cost-effective for greater numbers of people to install them. While for most people the allure of solar panels is currently that they’re a “green” option, as soon as the economics of solar panels offer a cost advantage over grid power it’s tough to imagine that there wouldn’t be a rush for the mass market to install them; companies like Solar City are already pushing a sales message that is primarily based on economics rather than environmentalism. With current rates of improvement, the economic argument should be a HUGE selling point in places like Arizona and Southern California within the next several years. Should home generation become more prevalent, it is also conceivable that the need for new power plants might then be lower than current projections.

Environmental Concerns

This may be overly optimistic, but a side effect of a move to electric vehicles and solar panels would be less air pollution and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Any such benefits would obviously take time to kick in as old technologies were slowly phased out, but if (for example) 10% of vehicles are electric by 2015, and 30% are electric by 2020, air quality improvements should follow. This optimistic view isn’t an argument against trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from traditional sources, but it does give some hope that even in the absence of legislative action there may still be some chance of avoiding the worst predicted effects of increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Peak Oil

Oil production rises each year to meet increased demand, but at some point there simply won’t be enough oil that can be extracted from the ground for that trend to continue. The commonly held assumption is that demand will continue to rise while supply will remain stable, causing a massive shock to economies and industrial systems. However, as electric vehicle technology improves it would seem that there will, for the first time, be a viable alternative for the most common use of oil. Since people are driven by economic factors, given the choice between a $20,000 vehicle that runs on $5.00 – $7.00 a gallon fuel, or a $30,000 vehicle that can be plugged in, fears over a depression brought about by peak oil may actually be replaced by a mini economic boom as replacement technologies are adopted.

Traffic Congestion

It’s tough to tell if today’s political environment is an anomaly or not, but at least in the US there is a dearth of sensible long-term planning as candidates look to quick-wins and uncontroversial decisions. Currently candidates in several states are campaigning against transportation projects that could produce huge long-term benefits, albeit at short-term cost. In California, a much-needed high-speed rail line is opposed by the current Republican gubernatorial candidate and will at best be delayed by myriad lawsuits from cities impacted by the proposed rail route, and at worst will end up canceled.

With so many obstacles to major changes to the existing transportation system, it seems that incremental approaches implemented at the local level are the only options to looming congestion nightmares. New York and several other cities already have implemented small-scale solutions, such as systems that allow buses to manage traffic lights to speed up bus routes. It seems logical that such “smart” traffic lights will be implemented elsewhere to optimize traffic flows. Similarly, cities will probably begin looking more at options like congestion pricing, reversible lanes, and better use of real-time traffic data for routing. While it would be great to think that large mass-transit projects will play a bigger role, it’s tough to see how such projects will be implemented, meaning that small-scale projects are likely to be the main area of growth.


While more efficient air and space travel could enable a number of new developments, this area sadly doesn’t seem poised for huge advances. With private companies like SpaceX now capable of launching payloads for a fraction of traditional costs it’s possible that additional uses for space will open up, but technology is still probably twenty years away from a cost point where really exciting changes could take place. Similarly, with more fuel efficient airplane technologies such as the Boeing 787 launching, air travel should become more pleasant, but revolutionary changes like blended wing body planes or hypersonic transports look like they’re still 30 years away from becoming a day-to-day reality.

Other Items

Water is going to become a bigger and bigger issue; if desalination doesn’t become a more prominent option then the world will face severe shortages. Assuming the energy requirements for desalination decrease and available fresh water supplies continue to be used up, the oceans should soon become a big part of the municipal water plan.

Smart grid technology is already being put in place to allow variable pricing of electricity, which should cause users to shift electricity usage and thus decrease the need for new power plants. The idea is that if electricity is more expensive when demand is high then people will defer usage until prices decrease; it’s less sensible to run the dish washer at mid-day if you can do so for half the price in the evening.

Biofuels will continue to gain attention, particularly things like cellulosic ethanol and algae fuel, but simpler technologies like electric motors, wind power, and traditional power sources may prevent them from ever being widespread. Instead, something like algae fuel production may be most useful as a way for large industrial facilities to reduce carbon emissions while simultaneously creating a commercially valuable by-product.

It’s Muddy and Disgusting and I Like It

Posted from Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii at 6:26 pm, September 3rd, 2010

No journal update yesterday – I mostly lounged, and an attempt to photograph birds failed miserably when the wildlife refuge gates were locked at 4:30 PM.

Today was my last day on Kauai, so I decided to get dirty. After waking up at 5AM I left the disappointingly unimpressive Kauai Beach Resort and headed back towards Waimea Canyon for some more hiking. The handful of photos I took along the way turned out rather bland, but hopes were higher for a hike at the end of the road at 5000 feet elevation above the Na Pali coast. The trail started out slick and got about an order of magnitude sloppier with each quarter mile, and the last bit was a slog through a river of mud all the while pulling myself up rocks with whatever vegetation was available – six year old Tevas with worn off treads were clearly the footwear of champions today. The views along the way were great, and the challenge of trying to hike without getting completely disgusting was a fun one.

Following the jungle-slog-of-filth-and-domination I headed to the far end of the island to a beach that the guy at Subway said was his favorite. I was momentarily stopped by a “four wheel drive only” sign, but Hawaii is clearly not as hardcore as Utah and the rental Dodge made it to the beach without any trouble. Kauai is an island with narrow sand beaches and a lot of rock, but this beach was an exception with its massive expanse of sand set against the cliffs of the Na Pali coast – Subway guy is all good with his recommendations.

The red-eye for home leaves in a few hours, but luckily the weekend has a few days remaining before the slog back to work starts again. Vacations are definitely good things.

Na Pali Coast

The Na Pali Coast. The muddy, disgusting part is to the right. The lovely, inspiring part is to the left.

Tuna and Pork and Tuna

Posted from Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii at 9:25 pm, September 1st, 2010

Today marked the last day of the family vacation, and the beginning of two solo days on the island. Aaron and I lounged around through the morning, making our daily Starbucks run, debating the merits of several chicken chases, and eventually heading off towards the Beach House for another snorkel. Ma & Pa decided not to join us, and while there weren’t any further turtle sightings we managed to check off most of the fish on the “fishes of Hawaii” brochure. Lunch consisted of delicious ahi tuna and pulled pork from the Koloa Fish Market, and the afternoon almost exactly mirrored the morning with an additional snorkel, aborted chicken chases, and a dinner consisting of more ahi tuna and pulled pork. One pina colada and a sunset later and we bid adieu to Ma & Pa, and having just dropped Aaron at the airport I’m settling in for two days at the Kauai Beach Resort before it’s time to head back to a land where morning snorkels and drinks at sunset aren’t the norm.

Kauai Sunset

Enjoying the sunset in Kauai.


Posted from Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii at 8:28 pm, August 31st, 2010

After a breakfast with swans, delicious coffee, and $17 pancakes at the Hyatt we finally found the dope spot for snorkeling later in the morning. Amidst myriad fish we hit the jackpot while watching an eel when Aaron pointed and exclaimed “dude, turtle”. We then spent fifteen minutes swimming next to a four foot long sea turtle who didn’t seem to care at all that two pinkish-red humans were floating along with him. The Skipper had disappeared during this episode (something about a grouper) while Sally didn’t join us for the snorkel, so the Holliday brothers were the only two who got to spend quality time with a marine reptile this morning.

The snorkel was followed by the world’s best fish tacos, some napping, and a second snorkel during which Aaron and I worked on our sunburns and Skip finally found some turtles and spent some quality alone time with them. Aaron is returning to the mainland tomorrow, so it’s the final day for any Holliday family adventures.

Invasion of the Children

Posted from Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii at 9:05 pm, August 30th, 2010

We somehow slept until 6:45 this morning – investigative panels will be launched – and got a late start to the day. Ma & Pa made their arrival yesterday, so our first order of business was to drop in on them unannounced at 8AM, find out their plans, leave some luggage, and then retreat hastily. They stood up well to this onslaught, and we headed off to Waimea Canyon leaving two confused & bemused parents in our wake. Waimea Canyon is an impressive site – they call it the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and with its vertical drops and deep colors it lives up to the billing. Our main focus, however, was the Awa’awapuhi trail, a trail that had been recommended by our large-eyed hotel guide Pearl. This trail led us through three miles of jungle to an impressive overlook of the Na Pali coast from 2000 feet above the waterline. The return trip involved 1500 feet of elevation gain and an unsuccessful search for mouse-rabbits that Aaron claimed to have seen, making for a good little adventure. Some snorkeling, ahi tuna, and drinks on the beach with Ma & Pa completed the day.

Is that where Jurassic Park was?

Posted from Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii at 8:58 pm, August 29th, 2010

I’ve escaped from work to Kauai for our first family vacation since the days when Clinton was in office, “the Google” was still just “the Yahoo”, and Michael Jordan was finishing his second run with the Bulls. Aaron and I arrived yesterday, and we’ll be joining Ma & Pa tomorrow for a couple of days. I should then have two days on my own at the end of the trip, during which time I suspect the camera may see some usage.

To start the trip Aaron and I continued our long-running series of romantic getaways by booking two nights in a nice resort on Poipu Beach on the south side of Kauai. Upon arrival we found a lovely card addressed to “Mr. & Mrs. William Holliday”; Aaron was none too happy about having to be “Mrs.”, but he’ll survive. Still running on mainland time (three hours ahead) we went to bed at 8:30 last night and awoke at 5:30 this morning. A walk on the beach turned up a playful Hawaiian monk seal, one of only 1500 left in the world. He’s apparently a regular in these parts and there were “marine mammal protection” warnings lying further up the beach and waiting to be deployed, but I managed to keep Aaron off of seal-roping duty and he settled for just making boisterous announcements to the non-existent crowds to “step away from the seal”.

The chicken chasing started slightly after our seal visit. An anomaly of this island is that there are chickens everywhere – by the road, on the golf course, on the beach, and even in line at the car rental place. Following the morning’s seal encounter, and inspired by Rocky 2, I set off to chase one down; they are elusive, and a partial video of the debacle will probably be posted soon. Following that we hopped in the car, took a tour around the island, saw some impressive bird colonies, hiked along some impressive cliffs, and are now hopefully heading off to an impressive dinner. Vacation is a good thing, and I’m very glad to once again be on one.

Mr.   Mrs. William Holliday

The romantic getaway trips enter a new level of confusion.

For those not familiar with the great moment in cinematic history referenced above:

Mickey: Now here’s what I want you to do… I want you to chase this little chicken.
Rocky Balboa: Hey yo, Mick, what do I got to chase a chicken for?
Mickey: First, because I said so. And second, is because chicken-chasing is how we used to train back in the old days. If you can catch this thing, you can catch greased lighting.
Rocky Balboa: Well, I’ll do it if you say so, but it ain’t very mature.
Mickey: Yeah, well neither are you very mature!

Masters and Pageants

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:28 pm, August 16th, 2010

Ma & Pa Holliday were in town for a few days, so Audrey and I met them for lunch and an evening out. My lack of enthusiasm for many things LA is well-documented, but this city has more than its share of memorable activities, and a visit from Ma & Pa was a good excuse to indulge in a couple of them. Lunch was at the bizarre and unique Encounter Restaurant located in the quadripod in the middle of LAX. Being in a science-fiction themed quadripod with airplanes all around is totally OK by me.

Following lunch, and after a long and losing battle with LA rush-hour traffic, we limped into Laguna Beach for the evening’s entertainment. Every summer Laguna Beach holds the Pageant of the Masters Festival, which is one of those you-really-need-to-see-it-to-understand type of events. The high-level description is that it’s a presentation of several dozen famous works of art, reproduced on stage with live actors as models, which sounds like complete yawnsville. However, being there in person with 2700 spectators while an orchestra plays, a narrator explains the artwork, and the curtain goes up on what appear to be huge, 2-D reproductions of famous works of art, all the while knowing that through some magic of lighting, make-up, and perspective it’s actually 3-D canvases with real people on them, is a pretty surreal experience. Even Pa, who can be notoriously stingy with his praise, admitted that it was “pretty cool”. Ma was more effusive, stating “I love it I love it I love it” on more than one occasion. From a slightly different perspective, the two old ladies in heavy costume jewelry that were sitting behind us frequently chimed in to let their neighbors know “that’s not people, it’s just a painting”; one might suggest they bring binoculars to next year’s performance so that they can see the “paintings” blink from time-to-time.


Encounter at LAX. Photo from Michael Zara on Flickr.

Eight is Not Enough

Posted at 5:06 pm, July 30th, 2010

Eight years and one week ago, when I was 26, the first entry in this journal was made. The original purpose of what was then titled “Blowin’ in the Wind” was to chronicle an adventure to Alaska that began after I left the job that I’d held since graduating from college. That job at Anderson Consulting started in September 1998, just at the tail end of the Asian Financial Crisis. As a result of the slowdown in business overseas the San Francisco office was filled with new hires sitting around waiting for work and trying to figure out how to start their lives in the Bay Area. Since there weren’t any projects to go out on I decided to spend those days teaching myself the new “Java” programming language; little did I know this would be something I was reasonably good at, and one dotcom bubble later I had been involved with creating companies, working overseas, and designing systems for some of the world’s most recognizable corporations. However, after four years and too many 100+ hour weeks burnout made change inevitable, and I set out in the Subaru for Alaska with no real idea of what the future held.

When the journal started, and still to this day, the idea of putting these updates online seemed a bit presumptuous – why should anyone care about day-to-day details of what I’m up to? – but in retrospect it’s nice to have a personal chronicle that records the path that I’ve followed, and it’s also kind of cathartic to sit down and go through the exercise of putting together entries whose goals are to give a status of where things stand and how they got there. Eight years ago I wouldn’t have guessed that this journal would last as long as it has, but today I’m glad it did and hope it’s still going strong for many years to come.