The highlight early in the year was heading with Michelle to Joshua Tree National Park for the holiday weekend for some desert camping and a little Vitamin D. Like Yellowstone last year, Joshua Tree was a park that we'd had to pass by on previous trips, but has been on our list ever since we encountered our first of the species some years back in my grandmother's back yard. We learned that Joshua Tree is also known for its amazing rock formations, cholla cactus, and scarcity of water.
We recovered from the holidays and got back to work. I started in on both OpenGL and C++ for the first time in my career, two technologies that I've long danced around and haven't really had a need for, and both of which I've sensed were too deep and too un-fun for unnecessary dabbling. My hunches were mostly confirmed, but having need for them now, I am finding them to be irreplaceable and interesting in their own ways. It's nice to be a student to some seriously expert team members and to be learning the ropes on some advanced technologies.
I headed off to Mapbox DC for one of several East Coast sprint weeks early in the month, starting to get a bit deeper into one of the work themes of the year, Mapbox on Android. Michelle was able to join me, her first trip back to our former home in five years, and we were also able to fit in a quick weekend visit with my folks in Virginia.
Our good friends Russ & Jaci returned to Oregon after five years in Japan, this time with a baby. I've known Russ since college in the 90s and it's been great to have both he and Jaci in Portland, just a couple neighborhoods over, with Russ joining me once again for games, geekery, and hot wings.
Lastly, Michelle's brother Marc and his wife KC were finally able to visit us in Oregon (their first trip), see our place, and have some regional fun.
We started up some fun dinners cooking for friends, especially for Russ and Jaci to help with the baby, and I tried my hand at Sauerbraten, which came out well and was fun despite taking a few days of prep.
I ran my first 8K, finishing with an 8:59 minute mile, before just getting disinterested in running anymore on a regular basis. I need to find a more interesting form of exercise, I think. I'm just not feeling it.
Late in the month, Michelle headed to Nashville to visit our good friend Nicole for a week of roaming about the Southeast US, and the same day I headed to Mapbox SF for the first of what would be five weeks in that office over the course of the year, ten percent of my working year. This first trip was for the official office opening party, as well as a fun show & tell with the team about the progress on what would become Mapbox GL.
April saw me miss the DC-hosted State of the Map US conference, which was a bummer not least of all because I was the official photographer of the two prior iterations. The year as a whole brought far less photography than in years past, both from time constraints as well as, I think, a shifting in focus from hobbies to my main work as a creative outlet.
But I did miss the conference for a good reason — a week in Kauai, Hawaii, our first trip to the islands, and with our good friends Gwen and Kareene. Intermingled with relaxing was plenty of hiking and sightseeing. I would certainly head to Kauai again given the chance and am looking forward to exploring the rest of the islands in future.
We had a brief weekend on the coast exploring Astoria, Oregon in our first overnight trip there before heading to Ottawa for the second annual NSNorth conference. Michelle was again able to join me for this trip, her first time back to Ottawa since the 90s (I had gone last year) and we enjoyed great weather, a little sightseeing, and meeting new friends.
The remainder of the month was working perhaps my hardest and longest hours in many years in preparation for big news in early June. I closed out the month flying to Mapbox SF for another sprint week.
The first week of June brought Apple's WWDC developer conference to SF, and with it our chance to officially launch the Mapbox GL platform on mobile. This represented a year of work by the ever-growing team, as well as the future of the company's technology play, tying together many of our themes, lessons learned, and strategies, into our platform for the future. Equally as exciting to me, GL has brought a huge increase in the percentage of the team contributing directly to mobile efforts by way of building the underlying platform, and a large growth in the share of folks working on native apps, which helps us all to better understand the development processes, timelines, and challenges involved. I got to lead the launch presentation, which was extremely gratifying and vies for one of my top moments from the past four years at Mapbox.
Returning home, with my father-in-law already in town from the East Coast, I took a long weekend to spend time with him, having missed his birthday while in SF. We also kicked off our fourth season of backyard projected movies with Master and Commander, coinciding with actual firework booms from nearby Reed College's Renn Fayre.
Later in the month, I co-presented with my colleague Rafa a mapping workshop at the local Open Source Bridge conference, and Michelle and I posed with the animals for an old-fashioned tintype photo which eventually graced our holiday card.
July again saw me headed to Mapbox SF (third trip) for a hot, summer sprint week, returning in the midst of our friend Nicole's visit to Portland to stay with us.
Before the next week was through, we were joined by Gwen and Kareene and our college friends Cynthia and Nate, rounding out Russ and Jaci locally as well as our newly local friend and Gwen's high school classmate Vinai as we headed down to the tiny town of Hubbard, Oregon for the annual Hop Festival. I ran my first 10K as we all participated in either it or the 5K, as well as many other fun times around Portland such as group karaoke (most of us were in a college a cappella group together, after all), epic eating, and the ultra-touristy beer bicycle.
Lastly, I gave a talk at O'Reilly's OSCON conference, but this time, instead of technical topics, I talked more about business process and strategy at Mapbox, a topic that I chose specifically in order to pause for some reflection on the whole topic. It was well-received and a fun change of pace from all of the tech talk that I typically do.
In keeping with what turned out to be at least one flight a month in 2014, I headed to Windsor, Ontario outside Detroit for my mom's family's biennial family reunion. Michelle unfortunately again could not join me this year, but my dad was able to join my mom and we were able to spend some quality time visiting family there and just amongst ourselves.
Back in Portland, Michelle and I were able to get in some camping time with Russ & Jaci as well as their Japanese exchange student, Asuka (her first time). Breaking from our usual spot on the Clackamas River, we instead camped on the Zigzag in the Mount Hood National Forest and, despite a bit of rain upfront, had a great time cooking over the fire and introducing both Asuka as well as baby Eugene to camping adventures.
September brought a blur of a conference week in the form of FOSS4G, which had me presenting on Mapbox GL, running a mapping workshop, and driving a large van full of map geeks 250 miles to hike with a geologist on Mount St. Helens.
The next day, I headed again to Mapbox SF (trip #4) for another productive sprint week. Since Michelle and I's wedding anniversary (eighth!) had been the week prior during all of the hectic conference time, Michelle was able to join me in SF for the week to meet folks, see the office, and explore the city a bit on foot for her first trip in years.
We returned for Macy's 14th birthday. She's been through a lot with me since her kitten days and has begun to decline in health a bit. Throughout the Fall, we were able to experiment with some medications and get her situation mostly under control and she seems to be doing the best she has in years, but things were touch and go for a few months.
October kicked off with Michelle's birthday. While not as exotic as last year's in Russia, we hosted our third annual apple cider picking and pressing festival, and I was able to later ferment a gallon in time for the holiday party, which turned out great. Another fifteen or so gallons hand-pressed with lots of folks participating made for a solid Fall beginning.
The next week, Michelle and I headed to Pittsburgh (whence I came, originally) for the NACIS annual meeting. I presented again on Mapbox GL, this time to a more cartographic and academic-focused audience, which was another refreshing, and challenging, change. We squeezed in a bit of sightseeing as well as visiting the local, haunted-for-the-season amusement park, the first home that I remember, and my dad's parents' old place for the first time in more than twenty years. It was a great mix of working, socializing, learning, and reflecting.
We held our own Canadian Thanksgiving, turkey and all, for ourselves and friends, which was fun and took the pressure off of the usual November timing for us.
Just a couple weeks later, I headed to Mapbox DC, the first trip since February, in keeping with last year's tilt towards more trips to SF instead. I got into the Android programming flow in a big way, as well as co-presented at a local Android meetup.
I headed home on a Thursday night, taking Friday, Halloween, off to prepare for our first big hosted party. We had a tremendous turnout and lots of fun, with a Harry Potter-themed fest and a lot of effort going into our costumes.
The month brought a chance to take some family photos for Russ & Jaci, as well as a long weekend getaway to Newport, Oregon for an off-the-grid winter coast shut-in.
A few weeks later, I headed to SF a fifth time for a bit of sprinting with mobile team candidates before heading back home for a quiet, turkey-less, shut-in Thanksgiving. Pure bliss, since the month seemed to go by so quickly.
Early in the month, we hosted our annual holiday party and again had Michelle's dad out. We topped forty people in the house, introducing a lot of friends and upping our Italian-American seven fishes preparation.
In keeping with a common theme for the year, the very next day I headed back to Mapbox DC one final time for holiday festivities, meeting new teammates, and focusing on the new year. Since being back, I've was able to wrap some important work for the year before a fortuitously long holiday break owing to a quirk of the calendar and some fantastic generosity by Mapbox. It's been ample time for reflection, as well as our most strenuous hike in years and years, a 2,600 foot, eight mile, snow-capped ascent on Dog Mountain, a hike we've been meaning to do for years, albeit in warmer weather.
2014 has been very kind to us, with good health, fantastic opportunities, and quality time with friends and family. It did seem to pass in a blur, though, and although the distance of my travel was lessened, I more than made up for it in periodicity, which didn't leave a lot of time for just settling in. My broad goals for the year ahead include a bit more calm, fewer speaking engagements, and continuing to work hard with an ever-growing mobile team to drive home our progress from the past year. I'll enter my fifth year at Mapbox, my fifteenth working full-time, and my twentieth as an adult on my own. Here's to more deliberateness, a less hectic schedule, and a little more reflection and just plain leaving empty space and time to think.