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

Palo Alto, California

Posted at 12:45 am, November 21st, 2002

They say that when you’re waiting for a phone call the best way to get the phone to ring is to hop in the shower. I guess when waiting for a job offer the best thing to do is to post on the internet that you didn’t get it. I still don’t have the job, but they want to talk to me further later on this afternoon.

Palo Alto, California

Posted at 11:30 am, November 20th, 2002

At this point it looks like I didn’t get the job in LA — they haven’t called, and they initially said they’d get back to me by Monday (today is Wednesday). It’s a bit of a surprise since they needed a very specific set of skills, but I guess it’s a tough market — yesterday eBay had a job fair to fill 183 positions, and six thousand people showed up.

Since I wasn’t eager to get back to work I may just bum around for a bit longer. In the technology world that’s sort of like career suicide since after six months your skills get stale, but cubicles and hundred hour weeks were never really the thing for me anyhow.

Palo Alto, California

Posted at 3:15 am, November 19th, 2002

Joe, Sheila and I stayed up and went out to the Baylands to watch the Leonids meteor shower tonight. Light in the Bay Area made the viewing conditions less-than-perfect, but it was still pretty cool to see several hundred meteors over an hour long period. At the peak we had occasional bursts of eight or ten meteors simultaneously streaking down at us, and from time to time a big meteor would leave a green or red trail across the sky — definitely worth being dead tired tomorrow to get to see something like that.

Palo Alto, California

Posted at 9:45 pm, November 16th, 2002

For the first time in my life I actually have enough time to run each day and also get plenty of rest. The result is that I ran forty miles last week and should hit fifty miles for this week. That’s only about half of what a good runner would be doing, but it’s as much as I have ever done (I was lazy in college). Who knows if I’ll be able to stick to this routine, but if I could I might finally be able to find out what I’m capable of — it’s an amazing feeling to test one’s limits, but very few people (myself included) ever find out exactly how much they’re capable of.

It’s tough not to get excited about running with people like Tom McArdle posting his training on the web and Dathan Ritzenhein reminding everyone of Steve Prefontaine. In addition, living in Palo Alto puts me within a few miles of the Nike Farm Team, so I’ll occasionally find myself at a restaurant sitting next to a table full of folks who are among the fastest distance runners in the country, or I’ll see various elite athletes out running on the roads. Anyhow, I’m a comparative nobody in the running world, and until I’ve been training seriously for a few months I probably should be ashamed to even mention anything to do with myself and running. Still, if I can keep at it the next few months could be a great chance to test my own limits.

Palo Alto, California

Posted at 12:20 am, November 16th, 2002

This journal is considerably less interesting when I’m not roaming mountains north of the Arctic Circle. Anyhow, I drove to Los Angeles last night, interviewed for a six-month long contract job this morning, then drove home and went out with most of my Accenture start group (from September 1998). They are all awesome and it was great to see everybody again. As to the job, I should know on Monday if I got it. I’m torn as to whether it would be better if I do or do not get this job — the Alaska trip reinforced the idea that the most important thing is to each day make the most of the hand we are dealt. Getting this job would give me some resources to do good things, but not getting it would give me an excuse to get out on the road again. Either way, things are still looking good.

Palo Alto, California

Posted at 11:50 pm, November 13th, 2002

This journal originally started out as a way for me to avoid having to write e-mail (yes, I’m that lazy). In an effort to continue avoiding having to write e-mail, the answer to the question everyone seems curious about is that I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do now. I had originally planned on going off to Spain and living simply for a while in Barcelona, but after the elections I feel like running off again would be an irresponsible move so I’ve put my name in the pool for a contracting job in Burbank. If that job comes through then I’ll be off to Los Angeles for a while to earn some money (don’t worry Jason, I would only be subservient to “the man” for six months). Once that job ends it’s almost a sure thing that I’ll be off on another trip, although the destination is anyone’s guess.

A big part of me wants to just ditch mainstream life entirely and run off, but another part of me wants to have the means to do something when I hear about a plan to clearcut national forests or drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (calling it “ANWAR” diminishes the fact that no matter how much oil may be under it, it’s supposed to be a WILDLIFE REFUGE). Sadly, my people skills aren’t my strong point, so about the only way I can fight these sort of things is either by helping groups like the Sierra Club or else trying to share how special these places are through writing about them or photographing them. Unfortunately both of those options require having a bit of money in the bank — it’s a Catch-22 that in order to enjoy the wilds I seem to have to spend time away from them. If I can compromise by letting the cubicle be a temporary means to an end than hopefully my heart can remain in the wilds while at the same time my mind is working to help keep them wild.

Concord, California

Posted at 9:30 pm, November 9th, 2002

Went to the Rolling Stones concert at Pac Bell last night with the Goob (my brother), the Jenn (the Goob’s girlfriend), and Peaches (Peaches). Excellent concert — I was singing and dancing the whole way through, as was most of the crowd. Folks ranged in age from twenty-somethings to sixty-somethings, including an older lady in front of us who was absolutely jamming from the first song onwards.

Today has been spent hanging out with the family, which is awesome. My brother absolutely rules — he and I were running in the mud at Concord High track tonight and we spent the entire time trying to outdo one another before practically collapsing at the end of the workout. If only I could convince the rest of the Holliday clan to move to Alaska with me life would be absolutely perfect.

Palo Alto, California

Posted at 5:55 pm, November 7th, 2002

In a sports world that is increasingly about money I’ve always been a fan of the Indian’s Jim Thome — he’s a guy that just loves playing, and more importantly loves playing for the fans in Cleveland. An interview in the Cleveland Plain Dealer makes me respect the guy even more. Some interview highlights:

Q. Favorite player outside the Indians clubhouse?
A. Beyond the guys I’m close to in the game, like Richie Sexson, I’d say Shea Hillenbrand of the Red Sox… He’d be on my All-Animal Team any day.
Q. All-Animal Team?
A. Yeah, you know, guys who are wild men on the field, crashing into walls and always getting dirty. Animals.
Q. You are driving a new Hummer. Why the Hummer?
A. It’s a manly car. It’s green and I can take it in the woods and, you know, run over trees.
Q. If you were commissioner for a day, what is the first change you would make?
A. Have an off-day every week and play a doubleheader on Sunday. Players get a regular day off, and fans get to see two games for the price of one.

Palo Alto, California

Posted at 11:20 pm, November 5th, 2002

Six weeks ago I had pretty much made up my mind to continue traveling and living simply. Then I heard one of the candidates for governor of Alaska, Frank Murkowski, on NPR campaigning on a platform of restoring Alaska’s economy by vastly increasing the oil, timber, and fishing industries within the state, and I decided that it would be irresponsible of me not to do something, no matter how small, to try and fight such people. He was just elected governor, despite his obviously short-sighted plans. This fight is not one that I’m prepared for, nor am I sure exactly what I can do, but it’s a fight that needs to be fought.

Palo Alto, California

Posted at 1:30 am, November 5th, 2002

It’s much too late to be awake, but the photos from the trip are now up. I wasn’t able to scan the first roll and a half of film because I had to return the scanner, but some time in the next month or so I’ll try and finish the job. Anyhow, photos are available both as a thumbnail index and also in a slideshow format. There are a lot in there, just to warn anyone connecting via a modem. Enjoy, I know I enjoyed taking them.

Palo Alto, California

Posted at 6:55 pm, November 3rd, 2002

While passing through Reno I had the thought that most of the people I was seeing are made of different stuff than the folks up North. Quotes from Alaskans after a recent magnitude 7.9 earthquake that lasted three or four minutes prove it — a woman living in Healy simply said “It was a long one.”, while a man said only “At my house, I lost the hot water heater.” I miss it up there. Story is at CNN.

About half of the trip photos have been scanned in, and I’ll do my best to get the rest done before I have to return the scanner tomorrow afternoon. Please let me know if there are any broken links, other problems or suggestions for displaying images better as I’ve had to hack together a quick bit of code to handle putting so many pictures out in any sort of organized fashion.

Palo Alto, California

Posted at 7:45 pm, November 2nd, 2002

For those of you who might be curious what I look like while huddled on a mountain in minus-ten degree weather, or what a muskox looks like when photographed from a far closer distance than is probably safe, I’m slowly getting photos scanned into the Alaska Photos section of the site. It will take at least until Monday to get everything sorted out and online so please bear with me. I miss Alaska.

Palo Alto, California

Posted at 8:45 pm, October 31st, 2002

“Sometimes all that we can know is there’s no such thing as no regrets…

I’m not running, I’m not hiding, I’m not reaching

I’m just resting in the arms of the great wide open

Gonna pull my soul in and I’m almost home”

— “Almost Home”, Mary Chapin Carpenter

After three months, nearly 13,000 miles, nine states, four Canadian provinces/territories, and an ungodly amount of canned soup I returned home today. While the trip is over, strangely enough it felt like more of a beginning than an ending as I was turning off of 101 towards the house. The future is bright and very full of possibilities.

Plumas National Forest (about fifty miles north of Tahoe), California

Posted at 9:00 pm, October 29th, 2002

Spent the majority of the day driving through western Utah and Nevada, and while the country was often pretty it was the type of place that I was glad to just be passing through. Stopped in Reno to get dinner, and for only the second time in the past month I’m stuffed. I had seven quarters with me and decided to try my luck — the first one was a dud, the second quarter won me fifty cents, and the third hit for fifty dollars. Five semesters of college calculus was more than enough to tell me to quit while I was ahead, but perhaps I’ve stumbled upon a way to support myself without rejoining the corporate world 😛