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

The Stairs of Doom

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:10 am, December 31st, 2009

December was an extremely eventful month, although sadly I failed completely in capturing everything in a timely manner…

Vegas, Dave, Tim, and Audrey

The first weekend of the month saw Audrey and I off to Vegas to see Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, something that I would do on a weekly basis if possible. Tim Reynolds did some utterly ridiculous things with a guitar – I don’t know what an echoplex is, but it is clearly awesome. Dave started the concert by revealing that any bubbling noises were not a stylistic choice but were instead the result of mucous, and followed that up with a discussion of how Las Vegas is a weird place and proof that something has gone off kilter in the human evolutionary chain. They played for three hours, and afterwards Audrey and I returned home happy despite making the acquaintance of a drunk woman who decided that pressing every button in the elevator would be terrific comedy.

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

December 23 saw an end to my tenure at DIRECTV after three years and nineteen days. My co-workers there were a lot of fun and the work was interesting, but it was time to move on to new things. I had expected a lengthy retirement, but a new offer came along that may be too good to pass up, and, being a fan of things like eating and paying rent, it looks like I’ll be working from home starting January 11.

Holliday Family Christmas

Christmas came up fast this year, and while I managed the gold in getting Audrey a membership to Zingerman’s bacon-of-the-month club, I failed utterly with everyone else’s gifts and headed to San Francisco with only gift certificates. Sally came through with “Holliday Family Recipe” books for Aaron and I, and a two hour game of Quiddler ended with disastrous results. Aaron, Ryan Sutherland and I also started coming up with bizarre “what if” scenarios at some point during the trip, and people’s answers made for revealing insights into what was most important to each individual:

  • There are eight planes, and all of them are going to fly across the country. One will crash. You can either choose a plane and take the flight, and if you don’t crash you get to choose any three houses in the world when you land, or, if you choose not to fly, your thumbs will be surgically removed. What do you do?
  • You get to be the richest person in the world, but you have to live in a hot-air balloon that must stay at least 100 feet off the ground at all times, otherwise you explode. You can modify the balloon in any way, but it can’t be tethered to the ground for more than two hours a day. Do you take the offer?
  • You get $40 million today, but at some point between age 65 and 80 you will be killed by a sword to the stomach. Death may take as long as two hours. Deal or no deal?

There were many more, but not all of them were appropriate for a public web site. Needless to say, Ma & Pa weren’t huge fans, but everyone else involved seemed to enjoy the thought-exercise.

After four days at home Aaron and I were getting a bit stir-crazy so we headed out to a fancy hotel in Avila Beach, ten miles outside of San Luis Obispo. Apparently the place caters almost exclusively to couples, so the lady at the desk gave us a funny look when we checked in, but at this point we’re pretty used to embarassment and it was well worth it to have a jacuzzi in the room and a wine reception in the lobby.


Posted from Culver City, California at 7:40 pm, November 30th, 2009

My two-entries-a-month goal has failed miserably. Here’s the summary for November:

Thanksgiving in the Bay Area was filled with the usual uncontrollable laughter, including the revelation that the Skipper and Aaron once had a pickle-eating contest that ended disastrously. Audrey joined us for the first time this year and confessed to a sore stomach after the multi-hour laughfest. Even Ryan Sutherland got in on the act, filling us all in on the Infomercial marketing wonder that is Booty Pops. In less interesting news the latest major version of JAMWiki was released on November 3, and surprisingly there haven’t been any reports that it caused some poor user’s computer to burst into flaming wreckage. And in news that is in no way related to me, SpaceX may be able to launch their new Falcon 9 rocket as early as next February, although March is probably a safer bet.

In Brief

Posted from Culver City, California at 10:00 pm, December 1st, 2008

A lot has happened this month:

  • Obama was elected President; I’m excited and optimistic.
  • The stock market and economy have continued to crash – the DOW is off almost 50% from its high point, and my savings are in a similar predicament.
  • Ted called, and it looks like I may be taking a trip to swim with whales in March. I’m ready.
  • The annual Holliday Thanksgiving extravaganza took place over the weekend, and Sally once again produced a ridiculously great meal. Much food was eaten, and much fun was had.
  • Following Thanksgiving the family headed off to the horse races; betting on horses based on odds and jockey records was a losing strategy for me; betting based on which horse had the best name was much more successful.
  • Aaron and I embarked on our usual shenanigans, including a quest for expired food items that led to some gagging as we disposed of a 25 year old bottle of lime juice.

King Penguin Detail

Random pretty picture – detail of a King penguin’s neck feathers.

Halfway to Hazard

Posted from Culver City, California at 10:00 pm, September 29th, 2007

For those who suspect that during the past few months I’ve been lazy about updating the journal, and only add entries at the end of the month when I realize I haven’t written anything in a while, you are correct.

This month was the first time in my life that I completed a round of golf, not counting an outing in high school where, after mishaps on my first couple of swings, I was asked to just throw the ball rather than further risk anyone’s safety. My current golf skills are such that I can claim to have scored par on only my second hole played, and can also proudly report that I’ve lost two balls into the water on a single hole and even lost a ball while practicing on the chipping green. Aaron and I played two nine hole rounds a few weeks back, and while I feared to use anything larger than a four iron Aaron hit driver on a few holes, highlighted by the final hole of the day when he brushed the ground as he was hitting and sparks flew out from his club as he made contact with the ball; it was awesome. The shot sucked, but who cares when there are flames coming off of your driver?

My other new endeavour for this month has been observing Ramadan and not eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset. One of my co-workers suggested I should try it for a few days to provide her with moral support, and since it seemed like a fairly hardcore thing to try, and also since I’d never really done anything like it before, I figured why not? The no water thing is annoying, and I have to get up every day by 6:30 to make sure I get something to drink before the sun comes up, but otherwise it’s not bad and the bonus is that since I’m up so early I get my eight hours at work done by 3:30; with the recent workload I still don’t get home before 7:00, but it’s nice to know that I could leave in time to catch the after-school cartoons if I wanted to. Cartoons rock.

Last of all, Aaron and I took a one-day Vegas trip over a Thursday and Friday. Mandalay Bay was running a promotion, so we got a good room and a couple of spa passes. As usual Vegas took a fair share of my cash, but the spa and pools at the hotel made it worthwhile, and even though he hit on 20 at blackjack (A-4-5) Aaron dominated Roulette and a few other games and came home with extra cash. The spa was a great find, and despite having to witness some naked calisthenics both the Goob and I came away thoroughly refreshed. The ride home featured some pretty ridiculous weather, including a tornado warning – it was the first time I can actually remember hearing that “this is a test of the emergency broadcast system” thing used for something that wasn’t a test. I took off the following day for a brief visit back to the Bay Area for my mom’s birthday – Virgin America is a cool airline, although sadly their live TV didn’t include the Browns game.

And that’s it. Below is the obligatory pretty picture. Assuming my normal pattern persists this may be the last entry until Halloween. On a similar note, apologies to everyone who I owe email to; the inbox is overflowing with messages that go back several months – I’m not very good at this internet thing.

Aaron & Me

The Holliday brothers prior to Turkey Bowl 2005.

Daisy Loved the Hell Out of Me

Posted from Culver City, California at 12:00 am, August 26th, 2007

A quick summary of where life stands right now:

I’ve been working at DirecTV for ten months now, after previously managing to mostly avoid work for two years. Life has become a seven day routine of work-work-work-work-work-sleep-sleep, repeat. Not ideal, but I definitely can’t complain. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to keep it up for a couple of years, after which some new adventures may definitely be in order.

My second job is also going well, despite the fact that instead of 40-60 hours a week I now only have 10-20 hours a week to devote to JAMWiki development. Conservatively I’d estimate that after less than 15 months of existence JAMWiki is one of the three best Java-based wikis available, and probably among the ten best overall. There have been at least thirty or so people who have contributed code and translations, and probably double that number who have provided bug reports and feature requests. Total downloads are at 7,600, which is pretty cool. Translations include everything from French to Chinese to Croatian, with sixteen different languages available. A number of different companies are now using the software, including DirecTV, which is also gratifying. I’m not sure I really care whether or not this project ever turns into a way to support myself financially, but just as JB spent years tinkering with electric cars for the fun of it before becoming CTO of Tesla Motors, I suspect that there is a chance that the project could eventually lead to some interesting opportunities.

In other news there isn’t much to report. Aaron and I continue to have our weekly Funday, and the folks at work were kind enough to teach me how to play Texas Hold ‘Em the other night. The game seems to be 30% about calculating odds, 30% about reading people, and the rest luck. Oddly, for once in my life luck was with me, so I managed to walk away from my first game in the black, but I suspect that future games won’t be as lucrative. The planned trip with my dad to Iceland is a distant 290 days away (not that anyone is counting), and next month I’ll be taking my first vacation day since starting work at DirecTV for a trip to Las Vegas with Aaron. Although not exciting, life is still very good.

New Hotness

Posted from Culver City, California at 12:45 am, September 17th, 2006

Life over the past two weeks:

Labor Day Weekend

The somewhat delayed Sixth Annual Meat Massacre took place at Ma & Pa’s residence, with this year’s total weighing in at thiry-three pounds. Despite the charcoal grill, an abbreviated home run derby, and underestimating the number of guests the event again went off pretty well. We even managed to get super-smart folks like JB and Gene to focus their mental energies on figuring out whether a rodeo bull could beat a rhino, or an elephant standing in four feet of water could best a great white shark. And much meat was consumed. Even the old neighbors from Cleveland made a visit, so the event was definitely a good one.

Post-Labor Day Weekend

Bellies full, Audrey and I set off in the Son-of-Suby for Yosemite. I figured it would be easiest to camp in the Valley, so we set up the tent in the backpacker camp (Camp IV) and I was soon sleeping soundly. Unfortunately Audrey wasn’t quite at home in a tent, and spent most of the night playing “bear or neighbor?” with the sounds she heard outside. The next day we headed off on the Half Dome trail, and made a leisurely hike up to Little Yosemite Valley. That evening we again jumped in S-o-S and headed down to the beautiful and alluring city of Fresno, got directions to Chevy’s from a hostess who got north and south backwards, and imbibed of the world’s best chain margaritas before crashing for the evening at the lovely Fresno Day’s Inn. Have I mentioned yet that Fresno was alluring? The next day we made a brief stop to see the big trees in Sequoia before finally heading past the wonderful city of Bakersfield and returning home.

Since then

A friend from Singapore came to town, and despite the fact that I’ve got much less hair and many fewer brain cells than when I saw her last in 2001 she wasn’t overly frightened. Aaron and I watched the Browns score an eighty yard touchdown on their first play of the 2006 season, and predictably watched it be called back by a penalty, after which they seemed to forget that the goal was to advance the ball forward. JAMWiki marches onwards, with the next release on the horizon, and the rest of the world remains insane as always.

Son of Suby

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:40 pm, April 25th, 2006

Almost exactly seven years ago my Geo Prizm chugged up the Dumbarton bridge in rush hour during the height of the dot-com boom. She never made it back down. The backup supposedly went eighteen miles, three traffic helicopters were eventually circling, and I’m told I was on the evening news. It was a fitting end for my first car – we drove across the country together, the speedometer broke and I drove for six months with no idea of how fast I was going, and I learned about car repairs since I didn’t have the money to fix things at a shop.

The Prizm was replaced in 1999 by the Suby – I picked the car out based on the fact that I could stretch out full length in the back to sleep. During our time together the Suby and I took a 13,000 mile roadtrip to Alaska, we traveled all over the western United States, and as of yesterday we’d spent over 145,461 miles together. The Suby took great care of me and deserved an end at least as glorious as what happened to the Prizm, but I’ve gotten older, and the idea of breaking down in the middle of the desert a hundred miles from civilization was too extreme for my 31 year old sensibilities. As a result the Suby will soon be in a new home, and the Son of Suby is parked in the garage. More than likely SoS and I will be off on our first road trip shortly, and hopefully junior will live up to the grand legacy of his predecessor.

The Suby and me on the Dalton Highway

The Suby and me on the Dalton Highway in Northern Alaska.

Post-Thanksgiving Roundup

Posted from Culver City, California at 12:50 am, December 3rd, 2005

Two weeks without an update is very poor form – my apologies. The only excuse I can offer is that the recent move from Studio City (home of CBS studios) to Culver City (home of Sony studios) has been busy. Here’s a recap:


Each day was pretty much the same: wake up, then spend the day helping Audrey sort stuff, move large items, and list crap on craigslist. Afterwards, deal with the two million people who call to ask if they can pick something up, and then meet the four who might actually show up. In fairness I had a bunch of fun with the craigslist minions, and as the previous posting mentioned met a bunch of odd characters.

Thanksgiving Weekend

Drove home, then went with Aaron to look at Toyota Tacomas. Our testing of the vehicle included the “lie down in the back and pretend to eat chowder” exam, and some time driving around the parking lot with a sales guy who kept mumbling something about “my damn Lexus”. Afterwards we met Chi and the Tall Guy at Chow before finishing the night with a game of Balderdash. The Turkey Bowl the next morning was a massacre, with a final score in the 77 to 42 range. Losing Bowerbank before the half killed us, although Nick’s trail of tears play somewhat made up for the embarrassing loss. Kev (who surprised everyone by showing up at Aaron Field at 7:30, almost three hours before kickoff) and Chi joined us for dinner, and Sally again outdid herself. The next morning I woke up at 4:30 so that Aaron and I could chase down the mad dealz at Circuit City, although when we arrived the line stretched across the front of the store, down the length of the parking lot, and onto the sidewalk, so we apparently weren’t the only idiots to get up early. The rest of the weekend was relatively uneventful, although Lynn and I had a nice drive back to Los Angeles, with a much-needed burger stop along the way.


Audrey and I rented a giant U-Haul for Monday, and my job was to find two movers to help out. One of them called to cancel while we were picking up the truck, but luckily there was a group of about fifteen day-laborers standing around outside of the U-Haul office. As we walked out Audrey whispered “get a big one” in my ear, and this proved sage advice as Jose not only worked amazingly hard, but schlepped around items that I thought might be a chore for two people. His constant grunts of “muy fuerte” were both amusing and appropriate. By the time the day ended we had completely filled and then emptied a twenty-six foot long truck, but the new place is great so it was quite worthwhile. The next day was spent piling remaining items from the old house onto the lawn with a giant “FREE!” sign, and while I’m sure this display of communal trash dumping might have upset the neighbors, it introduced us to the special breed of craigslist stealth ninjas, who showed up unseen at all hours to remove completely random items — while our TV cabinet was still on the lawn the next morning, its glass door apparently caught someone’s fancy.

Los Angeles, California

Posted at 11:00 pm, January 6th, 2003

Busy lately. Flew home for Christmas, and after covering the house in lights celebrated with the family — my brother got me a Bernie Kosar jersey, which is probably the greatest gift anyone who grew up in Cleveland could ever hope to get. If you can imagine Aaron and I in 1986 wearing dog masks and singing “Bernie, Bernie” (to the tune of “Louie, Louie”) then you can understand the beauty of this gift. Jenn came through with a three liter bottle of Heineken that was immediately dubbed “the Christmas miracle” so it was a joyous Noel.

Flew back to LA Christmas night, then drove back up to the Bay Area for the weekend to move some things and visit the family again. Drove to Las Vegas for New Year’s to meet some friends, and ended up spending New Year’s day with the worst hangover I’ve had in years — Banick and Kalyan always manage to make it a memorable occasion when we all get together. While New Year’s eve included fireworks on the Strip, being hit on by hookers, and watching friends lose $200 in less than fifteen minutes while playing blackjack, the highlight had to be when I eventually trusted my balance enough to attempt a trip to the casino restroom, only to hear someone say “Be careful, he’s been drinking” as I was passing by. I might be getting too old to be doing that sort of thing, but it was still fun.

After New Years I drove back to LA, worked two days, then did a mad dash up to San Francisco (375 miles), back down to Las Vegas (600 miles), and eventually home to LA (300 miles). The buffet at the Bellagio and the silhouettes of dancers in cowboy hats at Shadow Bar competed with the image of Banick too drunk to sit up straight (“Holliday, help me get my face off of the table”) as the highlight of this Vegas trip. Now I’m dead tired and back at work, but the plan for next weekend is to stay in my room and hopefully have nothing more taxing to do than lie in bed so with luck I’ll be ready to do it all again in a couple more weeks.