Published: Saturday October 5th, 2013

It's been a long time since I've posted to this blog. When I last posted I was leaving for Honduras and a 6 week stint on the island of Utila to become an open water scuba instructor. Hint, visit diving.michaeheyns.com to see how that turned out.

In any case, by any account it's been a busy 14 months since that post! So, a quick rundown of the major happenings...

    • Attained PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor certification.
    • Became a host to a family of botflies who took up residence inside casa del Michael.
    • Became a medical curiosity as a team of surgeons examined my newly acquired friends.
    • Started senior year at Olin College of Engineering.
    • Rented a speedboat to celebrate my girlfriends birthday and the start of this momentous year.
    • Started work on a project with Boston Scientific to design a bronchoscopy device.
    • Certified 12 PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water divers.
    • Spent two weeks in South Africa over Christmas.
    • Accepted a job as a Program Manager with Microsoft.
    • Graduated from Olin College with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering.
    • Spent two weeks in Greece with a friend and my girlfriend.
    • Went diving in the crater remains of the ancient volcano of Thira.
    • Proposed on Santorini and became engaged to the most amazing girl in the world.
    • Bought a new car (Subaru XV Crosstrek).
    • Drove across the country from Boston to Seattle.
    • Rented my first apartment in Seattle.
    • Started work at Microsoft on the Word team.

By any account, not a slow year! Certainly the highlight was becoming engaged to the wonderful Brittany Strachota, though graduating, buying a car and starting full time work were also very exciting events as well. Starting out life as an adult has been very involved and complicated, though overall I'm about ten times times more relaxed than I ever was as an undergraduate student. There's something to be said for being able to come home at 5:30 and have nothing obligatory to do until 8am the next morning. Same goes for the weekends. It's been strange actually being free all weekend. I've found myself either lazing about and doing nothing, which leaves me depressed and lethargic for the week ahead, or filling the time with activities and fun, which leaves me exhausted for the week ahead. Clearly I need to work on balance!

Seattle is an amazing city to live in, and I'm thrilled that I'm living in the hub of city happenings, Capitol Hill. Surrounded by bars, restaurants, and niche shops, this is a cool and young part of town with endless options for fun. I can walk to the bus in 10 minutes and be at work 30 minutes later, which is reasonable by any account. The apartment is amazing, though pricey, and there's a 24 hour QFC (local grocery store) next door. Being able to wander to the shops  and buy milk or cereal at 6am is so amazingly convenient. City living certainly suits me. You can walk to almost anywhere you might want to go, and for longer trips to go diving, hiking, climbing, etc. it's an easy drive out of the city at any time. 

I've been here for two months now, time sure does fly, but I am yet to find anything about city living and this part of the world that I don't absolutely love. That said, it isn't really the rainy season yet, and from what I've heard it can get pretty wet and depressing, so we'll see if I continue to love this town as much in March as I do now. As for my new job, being a Program Manager in the Word team of Microsoft is certainly a far cry from some of the stuff I've done in the past! Despite the dis-junction between my degree in mechanical engineering and my current position, I'm finding work to be interesting and engaging. Designing features for a product that will be sold to a user base the size of Microsoft's is a daunting prospect, but an exciting one nonetheless. Working on such a visible product as Microsoft Word only magnifies all of these emotions. 

In the activity space I've become very interested in rock climbing; it's definitely a cultural activity up here, and try to hit to climbing gym two-three times a week. I'm not very good yet, bu my technical skill is growing and at this point I'm more limited by my complete lack of finger and upper body strength. The diving community in the northwest is far greater and more active than I could have hoped for in my wildest imaginations, and I've become incredibly active in that space. Since arriving two months ago I've logged 20 dives, which is very respectable for cold water diving and only having had 8 weekends available. I'm hoping to get into kayaking and hike a lot more as well, and I've bought a mountain bike and just need to find time to use it! The winter is going to be amazing as I've been an avid snowboarder since I grew up in Bellingham and learnt to snowboard on Mt. Baker (one of the best and hardest ski mountain in the US) and I have missed good skiing terribly having lived on the east coast where good skiing is non-existent. The West Coast has proper mountains, so I'm looking forward to revisiting some decent and challenging ski slopes starting in December! I think my ideal winter weekend would have me snowboarding all Saturday, relax on Saturday night, dive twice on Sunday morning and relax the rest of Sunday. Then I have to find time to climb, bike, and hike as well...too much fun stuff to do...I suppose there are worse problems. :-)

Stay tuned for more articles in coming weeks about engineering topics, and life updates!

Michael