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 Hoya

Posted from Culver City, California at 10:07 am, December 23rd, 2012

As of the 21st I have twelve glorious, work-free days. Life is quite good at the moment.

To start the vacation extravaganza Audrey and I went down to San Diego to greet the Mayan end of the world with her sister, mom, and mother’s husband. We drove down Thursday night, woke up to find the world still in existence Friday morning, then roamed La Jolla for a bit before joining her family members for lounging and steak in a three bedroom bungalow at the very cool (both figuratively and literally) Lafayette boutique Hotel. There was a game involving dominoes and Mexican trains that I confess to not fully understanding, a broken heater, a hairy cousin, and plenty of other shenanigans to make for a fun journey.

Tonight will begin the annual holiday trip, with a few nature stops planned before a Christmas spectacular with the family in Concord, followed by the annual post-Christmas road trip – there should be much car camping, early rising, and random journeying to end the year.

Brown pelican in La Jolla

Brown pelican in La Jolla. This was one of the few birds who agreed to stay in focus and in frame.

Sea Lions in La Jolla

Pile o’ sea lions in La Jolla. Despite the fact that this may look like a morbid heap of deceased pinniped, all of these guys were very much alive.

Brown pelican in La Jolla

Money shot.

Erik the Rhino

Posted from Culver City, California at 9:21 pm, July 16th, 2012

Highlights of last week’s trip to San Diego, including a visit to the San Diego Safari Park:

  • We got to the safari park at opening time and Audrey went immediately to the bat house. The girl is not shy around the creepy-crawlies.
  • Following the bats we were first into the lorikeet enclosure, where Audrey was swarmed by the hungry buggers. Sadly I somehow overexposed the pictures, but in three trips (nectar in hand) we met about twenty of the resident birds in a very up close and personal way.
  • From the lorikeets it was on to goat brushing, since girls like having goats snuggle up to them and use their big goat eyes to say “will you please brush me?”.
  • There may have also been some goose feeding. If you’re getting the sense that we went for the “hands on” trip, you would not be mistaken.
  • As temperatures approached levels usually reserved for blast furnaces our trip became a bit less adventurous, but still included most of the remaining animals of the park. There may have also been a delicious pudding break, since there’s always time for pudding.


Maximum lorikeet landings-on-Ryan at once was five, which is most likely a new world record. Photo by Audrey.

Watching Birds

Posted from Culver City, California at 8:49 pm, November 15th, 2011

The girl and I were in San Diego for a wedding and a birthday, and with my new Marriott Rewards Super-Awesome status we scored a free room in La Jolla. Despite a forecast for a rainy weekend we woke up to clear skies Sunday morning and ventured out to find hundreds of pelicans on the cliffs. Other highlights included calling my shot on the hotel’s wheel of fortune (free parking, thank you much), too much food, and an appearance by Dorf himself at Audrey’s grandmother’s 95th birthday bash.

Brown Pelican, La Jolla

There’s probably a good reason why ages ago someone decided to call this bird a brown pelican, and that reason may be that they were colorblind.

Seabirds, La Jolla

Fun for the kids: how many sea lions are in this photo? If you said more than four, you counted a rock.

Brown Pelican, La Jolla

It takes many, many cups of coffee to make my eyes look like his.

On Safari

Posted from Culver City, California at 5:42 pm, May 24th, 2011

The second Brother Day took place over the weekend in San Diego. The quick and dirty summary:

  • I headed down to San Diego on Saturday night and the Goob and I went for a run around the bay before sitting down to a meal of Thai food and a hatefully respectful showing of Get Him to the Greek.
  • The thought-provoking question of the weekend was “What person, real or fictional, wanted something the most?” After extensive consideration of everything from Woody’s quest for a twinkie in Zombieland to the terminator’s relentless pursuit of Sarah Connor, Gollum’s never-ending mission to regain the Ring emerged as the victor.
  • Sunday was spent at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The park’s lorikeet exhibit was a highlight, and we arrived early enough that the lorikeet hunger meter was still on extreme. Also, due to the open air habitats the park turns out to be a great place for native California animals, so in addition to the giraffes, elephants, tigers, red river hogs and Eric the baby rhino, the park was the best viewing of egrets I’ve ever seen, and also home to somewhere around sixty-three billion baby toads.

Aaron and the Rainbow Lorikeets

Aaron and the Rainbow Lorikeets. Sounds like a band name.

The Holliday Brothers on Safari

The Holliday Brothers on Safari. That would make a good album name.

The Jolla

Posted from Culver City, California at 11:59 pm, January 13th, 2011

I spent yesterday and today in La Jolla attempting to photograph birds since it’s a good time of year for animals, hotel rates are distressingly low, I am at least temporarily my own boss, and an occasional trip to La Jolla is just plain old good sense. After about three hundred photos of seabirds in flight my talent for taking pictures of headless, blurry birds has been re-affirmed; call if you are in need of that skillset.

Having never been to La Jolla expectations were limited, but the town is now high on the list of places to visit regularly. Between seals, sea lions, pelicans, cormorants, gulls, and even a peregrine falcon there was a massive amount of wildlife on display. The photographs below are a handful of the keepers from the trip. Special thanks to Phillip Colla, someone I’ve never actually met but whose guide to photographing pelicans in La Jolla inspired the short road trip.

Heermann's Gull in La Jolla

Heermann’s Gull. I have a thing for birds wearing eyeliner.

Brown pelican in La Jolla

Brown pelican. These guys were the main reason for the trip, but at sunrise there wasn’t a single pelican on the cliffs. Luckily, after three hours of shooting elsewhere, I returned to the cliffs to find a handful of the birds striking pretty poses.

Snowy egret in La Jolla

Snowy egret. Despite being such a common bird, this is the first decent photograph I’ve ever gotten of one.

Double-crested cormorant in La Jolla

Double-crested cormorant. If you are into cormorants, La Jolla is the place to be. And if you need dozens of blurry pictures of cormorants in flight, I am the man to contact.