Connecting the Dots of 2014

Change is the only constant this last year with highs and lows that have given me great pause. I’ve been off in uncharted territory for a while now and it’s time for some self-reflection and connecting the dots.

Point 97 and Ecotrust

For 7 years at Ecotrust I took on and navigated different roles from exploring the deepest depths of the code mines to inspiring teams and clients to execute on grand visions of open source software. Together we built a foundation that allowed a team of us to spin-off a for-profit marine consulting company, Point 97. It was a risk but we took the plunge.

Ecotrust home office and field office
Typical staff retreat and meeting Vinton Cerf in DC

By the time 2014 rolled around Point 97 had already set sail. It was long days and lots of travel across these oceans of ours.

Testing and training surveyors with Happy Fish mobile app in the Solomon Islands

I was in a new wide-reaching role in the company covering business development and client relations. I was without a script or a safety line. Par for the course with a company bootstrapping itself. My energy and patience had always seemed endless but was now being put to the test. My tendency for thoughtful decision-making and reflection was not fitting the volume of work and the expectations that my position required. I consulted my peers and my mentors. I read Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Late Spring I transitioned to working with Point 97 as a consultant.


I came full circle. I got back to the heart and soul of the work. Started doing more design and coding. Doing a little bit of everything, and doing it well. I was prepared. My energy and passion returned.

Over the last 9 months I’ve been letting the shape of my consultancy evolve slowly. Would I continue working in the marine space? Stick to web development? Embrace more hardware development and prototyping? Should I just go and get a full-time job? I knew that I could if I needed to. Time to test the waters.

CaribNode training and shore reef net fishing in Curacao

I developed software with The Nature Conservancy for monitoring coral reefs in the Eastern Caribbean. I conducted trainings and webinars. I did some data viz work for a local video production company. I started blogging, working on side projects, and talking to people. Lots of them. I realized that what I enjoyed about my work is not just the technology. It’s not just the people. It’s weaving the connections between them. It’s seeking out thoughtful uses for technology that doesn’t separate us from the natural world and our place in it, but complements it. I changed my business name to Dots.Connect in December. Time for a big push in 2015.

Ice on a window, Copper River Delta, Alaska -- Snail pack, Christoffel National Park, Curacao

Granite Spires

In the dead of winter last year, I thought I was done climbing mountains. The adrenaline rushes, the moments of extreme focus and fatigue were becoming more distant with each passing day as my home life and the formation of Point 97 took a front seat. Then in the late Spring a friend called out of the blue to climb Lane Peak in the Tatoosh Range. It all came rushing back. I was hooked… again.

Zipper Route, Lane Peak, Washington

We became opportunistic, climbing when the conditions presented themselves. We went to increasingly remote destinations like the North Cascades and the Eastern Sierras. More than once I found myself traversing a knife edge ridge with a thousand feet of exposure on both sides or rappeling down into a gully by headlamp. And I was more than okay with it! With good health, good gear, good partners (and weather! and beta! and problem solving!) I kept pushing my boundaries and started finding a quiet confidence in the mountains. A cautious optimism. It’s winter again now and my mental edge is slipping a bit but I continue to reap the mental rewards of these excursions. Spring is just around the corner.

Venutian Blind Arete, Temple Crag, Eastern Sierras
Corrugation Corner, Lovers Leap, California -- Cosmos Wall, Mt. Hubris, California
South Early Winter Spire and Forbidden Peak, North Cascades, Washington

Gather for the Feast

In 2014 we continued to embrace the gathering of people in our home. The feeling of having family all around you for Christmas dinner is hard to beat. New Years Day we hosted a Oaxacan mole making extravaganza. In addition to spending the day making mole colorado (red) from scratch, we cooked up a feast around it including:

  • Steamed Lamb w/ avocado leaves and Nixtamal
  • Shredded chicken w/ Pepian sauce (Pumpkin seed)
  • Crab tamales w/ achiote filling
  • Mushroom tamales w/ cheese
  • Mashed potatoes w/ pickled vegetables
  • Pickled coleslaw
  • Fresh corn tortillas

As guests arrived for dinner in the evening we took the time to explain what was happening, what they were here to experience. Little did they know the treat they were in for! The feasting, the friendly convsersation, the music. One of those moments in time you wish you could bottle up for a rainy day. It’s a special thing to create a space for this to happen.

Back in the Clay

Over a decade of making clay pots is in my bones. A bit rusty but they know what to do. Late December I hopped on the treadle wheel and made a set of serving bowls. On Christmas day I decorated them with my mom as a gift for her. It meant more for me to share this activity with her than to give them as a gift. I know she felt the same way.

Teaching the Next Generation

I like teaching. The humble ego-less offering of your knowledge. The many times when the teacher suddenly finds themself the student.

I went back this Fall to assist the Mazamas with their Intermediate Climbing School. The same program I completed two years previous. The scenery was rich, the adrenaline real. And I pushed people to overcome their fears and self-doubt. The artificial limits that we seem to place on ourselves as we age. They rose to the challenge.

Digging Into Local History

Over the last few years I’ve been digging up books on the Columbia River and the towns I grew up in at its mouth. After acquiring a photo of the wreck of the sailboat Peter Iredale and talking with my mom, dad and uncles about our local history, I decided to dig deeper this Fall. I not only found more books but images that capture the time and culture of these places. It’s been rewarding to pore over these and share them with my family, strengthening our ties to the place we grew up in. Here are some of the books and photos:

The butterfly fleet, late 19th century sail-power gillnetters -- Bumble Bee Tuna cannery, Astoria
Net mending, Astoria -- rowboat gillnetter
Catching herring with dipnets -- hanging gillnets at Union Fisherman's Cooperative Packing Company, Astoria
Big big sturgeon -- Regatta gillnetter boat races, Astoria