2017: A Year in Review

Twenty seventeen was a year of profound change in my life. I’ve selected a few photos that represent the year for me.


In February, Caewyn and I had a late Valentine’s Day getaway in Roche Harbor on San Juan Island.  While it was a great time, it was also where I learned my friend from college, Brian Ehrhart, had suddenly passed away. I still remember where I was when my climbing partner, who worked with him at T-Mobile, called to tell me. At the time, nobody knew how such a healthy man took ill and died within a matter of days. Later it was determined to be the hantavirus. Brian was the first person who I knew well to pass away. In many ways it was the first time I experienced death up close.


Mountaineering continued to be an important hobby for me. My climbing partner and I planned to climb Denali in May. However, during a training climb up to Camp Muir in April (the approach pictured above) two things happened. First, I did not perform to my expectations and was no longer confident I was physically ready for a grueling climb a mere four weeks away. Second, my climbing partner severely strained his knee when we were skiing down.

For days, I agonized whether to scrub our Denali climb, which was the next big expedition for us after Aconcagua. We had been preparing for it for over a year and half and had already gotten our permits. When I finally did decide it was best for me to not go, my climbing partner was understanding, much to my relief, and we pushed it out to June of 2018.  Ultimately, this was a great decision: my partner had knee surgery in May to repair a torn meniscus and I got LASIK surgery — which is one of the best decisions I have ever made!


A typical spring time after-work drink in Seattle.



In May, Caewyn and I visited Alaska. We got to take a long afternoon tour on my parent’s boat in Prince William Sound, where we saw spectacular views of wildlife and glaciers.


In June, I visited Colorado Springs for a friend’s wedding. Colorado Springs is pretty cool. Garden of the Gods is amazing.


Also in June, my older brother and his family moved from Seattle to Honolulu.


The 2017 climbing season was the first season in 7 years that I didn’t summit Mt Rainier. With three attempts, it wasn’t for lack of trying. A combination of being unlucky with weather, my climbing partner out for the season due to knee surgery, and bad advice from the park rangers left me skunked for the year. The above picture was from an attempt I made with three others. We got above Disappointment Cleaver but then we were too exhausted to safely continue. I tweeted my thoughts about that attempt here.



In late July, my wife and I got to visit the island of Corfu in Greece. In short, it was amazing!


On the way back from Greece, we had a 14 hour layover in London. We made the most of it by having a delayed anniversary dinner at The Shard. It was fantastic whirlwind of fun.

Grandpa B and Me

Early in August my grandfather died. While his passing was not unexpected, I experienced the death of a loved one closer than ever before.




In September, I returned to London a second time for a work trip. This time however, I was able to hop over to Berlin for a weekend. Berlin is a great city unfortunately filled with monuments and reminders of a sad history.


In October, for another work trip I went to New Orleans. I loved the music there. New Orleans jazz puts a huge smile on my face.


In November, the biggest change happened in my life: my daughter, Ella, was born. Though much of the change is just potential (in the early weeks and months there just isn’t that much for the dad to do), she will forever change my life going forward.

Ella has Down Syndrome. We still don’t fully know how that will impact her and us through the years, but she is a very normal and healthy baby. For that we are profoundly grateful and blessed!

While twenty seventeen had some sad moments, especially with the passing of a friend and my grandpa, it was a great year for me personally. I look forward to twenty eighteen!


RIP Beverly James Barnett

Yesterday, my Grandpa Barnett passed away. His health had been steadily declining over the past couple of years due to a stroke, so this was not unexpected. But as with all passings, it is difficult.

Grandpa Barnett was the most loving and godly man I ever knew. He was patient and kind; he did not envy or boast; he was not arrogant or rude. He did not insist on his own way; he was not irritable or resentful; he did not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoiced with the truth. My grandfather bore all things, believed all things, hoped all things, and endured all things.

I look forward to seeing him in Glory.

RIP Beverly James Barnett
November 18, 1927 – August 3, 2017

Ken of kamikazes

A moving article about the motivations of Japanese kamikaze pilots.

I thought this part was especially chilling:

In training, the pilots repeatedly zoomed perilously, heading practically straight down, to practice crashing. They had to reverse course right before hitting the ground and rise back into the sky, a tremendous G-force dragging on their bodies.

When they did it for real, they were instructed to send a final wireless message in Morse code, and keep holding that signal. In the transmission room, they knew the pilot had died when a long beep ended in silence.

The benefit of decades past and being several generations removed from the horror and hatred generated by war makes it much easier for me to appreciate the sacrifice these men made for their country.

For Whom the Horn Honks

No biker is privileged,
Exempt from the law.
Each is a piece of the city,
A part of the main.
If a car runs a stop sign,
The city is the less.
As well as if a biker ran it.
As well as if a bike club of thine own
Or if a friend’s recumbent did.
Each traffic infraction infuriates me,
For I am involved in the city.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the horn honks,
It honks for thee.

Apologies to John Donne

How zippers are made

I love learning stuff like this.  The nuances and complexity of making even the simplest things can be amazing. This line in reference to a part of the manufacturing that requires manual effort is thought provoking:

My guess is that robots are expensive to build and maintain; people are self-replicating and largely self-maintaining.

In the coming Robot Revolution will these jobs still be there because it’s still more cost effective to have a carbon-based machine do the work or will robots be sophisticated enough to replace even such tasks as this? Will that be a good thing?

The discussion at the end about the manufacturing differences between plastic pieces with polished and satin finishes is also interesting:

For example, most customers perceive plastics with a mirror-finish to be of a higher quality than those with a satin finish. While functionally there is no difference in the plastic’s structural performance, it takes a lot more effort to make something with a mirror-finish. The injection molding tools must be painstakingly and meticulously polished, and at every step in the factory, workers must wear white gloves; mountains of plastic are scrapped for hairline defects, and extra films of plastic are placed over mirror surfaces to protect them during shipping.

For all that effort, for all that waste, what’s the first thing a user does? Put their dirty fingerprints all over the mirror finish. Within a minute of coming out of the box, all that effort is undone. Or worse yet, they leave the protective film on, resulting in a net worse cosmetic effect than a satin finish. Contrast this to a satin finish. Satin finishes don’t require protective films, are easier to handle, last longer, and have much better yields. In the user’s hands, they hide small scratches, fingerprints, and bits of dust. Arguably, the satin finish offers a better long-term customer experience than the mirror finish.

Pointer from Marginal Revolution.

Of the Best of Men

If we would always recollect that we live among men who are imperfect, we should not be in such a fever when we find out our friend’s failings; what’s rotten will rend, and cracked pots will leak. Blessed is he who expects nothing of poor flesh and blood, for he shall never be disappointed. The best of men are men at best, and the best wax will melt.

It is a good horse that never stumbles,
And a good wife that never grumbles.

But surely such horses and wives are only found in the fool’s paradise, where dumplings grow on trees. In this wicked world the straightest timber has knots in it, and the cleanest field of wheat has its share of weeds. The most careful driver one day upsets the cart, the cleverest cook spills a little broth, and as I know to my sorrow a very decent ploughman will now and then break the plow and often make a crooked furrow.

It is foolish to turn off a tried friend because of a failing or two, for you may get rid of a one-eyed nag and buy a blind one. Being all of us full of faults, we ought to keep two bears, and learn to bear and forbear with one another; since we all live in glass houses, we should none of us throw stones.

Everybody laughs when the saucepan says to the kettle, “How black you are!” Other men’s imperfections show us our imperfections, for one sheep is much like another; and if there’s an apple in my neighbour’s eye, there is no doubt one in mine. We ought to use our neighbours as mirrors to see our own faults in, and mend in ourselves what we see in them.

I have no patience with those who poke their noses into every man’s house to smell out his faults, and put on magnifying glasses to discover their neighbour’s flaws. Such folks had better look at home, they might see the devil where they little expected. What we wish to see, we shall see or think we see. Faults are always thick where love is thin.

A white cow is all black if your eye chooses to make it so. If we sniff long enough at rose water, we shall find out that it has a bad smell. It would be a far more pleasant business, at least for other people, if fault-finders would turn their dogs to hunt out the good points in other folks, the game would pay better, and nobody would stand with a pitchfork to keep the huntsmen off his farm.

As for our own faults, it would take a large slate to hold the account of them, but, thank God, we know where to take them and how to get the better of them. With all our faults, God loves us still if we are trusting in His Son. Therefore, let us not be downhearted, but hope to live and learn, and do some good service before we die.

— Charles Haddon Spurgeon (source)