A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I've had another big and exciting year, and sharing it with those who I care about makes it even better.

Last January, I switched teams within Amazon. I now work for Lauri Bortscheller, someone whom I have admired ever since I started at Amazon. While I spent my first two and a half years launching new products, I spent this past year focusing on the core of Amazon.com's existing site. The team I manage owns the Shopping Cart, the Order Form, Your Account, product information pages, and the Help section of the website.

My team did a lot of good work this year. We shortened the checkout process to one page for existing customers. We redesigned Your Account to improve its usability. We added a feature which gives customers real-time information about past orders on every page of Amazon's site. And we improved the accuracy of Amazon's shipping and delivery estimates.

My good friend and former roommate Cathy Polinsky packed up last January to try her fortunes at a small startup in San Francisco. Her company is doing great and she's having a fine 'ol time in San Fran. Well... she left me without a roommate and it didn't take me too much thought to realize that I wanted to be living with my long-time boyfriend Alex Edelman.

For those of you who haven't met Alex, he's a software developer at Amazon. He graduated from UPenn with a degree in English Literature. He's also a serious photographer, and loves technology so much that he does it in his free time. We have 2 firewalls, 4 networked servers, 13 computers, and a wireless network in our house. If you want to make sure he's legit, you can check out the photo site he wrote from scratch. I love him very much, and living together has been wonderful.

Life at Amazon has slowed down considerably since I first started. I have a lot more time to spend on my life outside of work -- traveling year round, gardening in the spring and summer, reading in the fall, and skiing/snowboarding (that's right, I'm multi-sports-trius) in the winter.

With work slowing down, Alex and I have had the time to focus on our health. We've each lost about 45 pounds to date, due in large part to the Jenny Craig program (before | after). I've learned a lot about nutrition and have worked some heart healthy activity into my daily life. I feel great.

Looking over the past year, one of the things that I am happiest about is that I've kept in better touch with a few of you, and in the coming year, I'm looking forward to doing a better job at keeping up with even more of you.

My great friend from college, Elaine, came to Seattle for a Human Computer Interaction Conference and I got to meet her beau Joe. Alex and I joined the pair of them on a weekend trip to Victoria, British Columbia. Carrie Bader, another friend from college, also swung through town. It was wonderful to see both of them.

This was a great year for seeing high school friends. I traveled to Detroit to attend Kim Painter's wedding and medical school graduation. It was great to see Kim and her family and to spend more time with her new husband Hui-San.

More recently, I hung out with my brother Owen's best friend from High School, Dustin Clinard, when I was in Chicago. I also hooked up with Chris Bonutti, and earlier in the year I saw Joe Do when he was in town on business. Chris is living in Chicago, Joe in San Francisco. And both of them are doing IT consulting. It's been a long time since I'd seen either of them but all three of us have similar careers and are thinking about the same issues. It was really rewarding to talk with both of them. Isn't it a small world?

I've gotten the opportunity to travel quite a bit this year. I just got back from Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast of Mexico. My family -- including my aunt Jill and my cousins Marcia and Jennifer -- went down for Christmas. It was the first time I've ever had the chance to use my Spanish. It was great fun and I did pretty well (though for 7 years of classwork, you'd think I'd at least remember the past tense.) My family also started the year out by skiing and celebrating the New Year in Innsbruck, Austria. Also, Alex took me to the Oregon Coast for my birthday in August.

The highlight of my traveling year was a trip to China. I went with my brother Owen, Alex, my boss Lauri and her fiance Nak, my friend from college Melissa Binde and a totally random man named Jim. We went on a whirlwind tour that included Beijing, Xi'an, Lhasa (Tibet), Guilin and Shanghai. You can even see the video.

There's quite a bit of news in the Hay family this year. My cousin Kerry got engaged. My uncle Don and aunt Lisa had a baby, Zoe. And last but not least, my father finally retired.

My brother Owen is still living in Seattle and working at Amazon. I really enjoy having him so nearby. He's decided that he eventually wants to work in the video game business. Consequently, he has gotten me into gaming. We went to the videogame industry conference (E3) this year. And I've been playing The Sims and Advance Wars pretty regularly.

So... what next? Alex and I have gone in with 9 other folks to rent a ski haus in Whistler (Canada) for the winter. So if you have any desire to come out skiing, consider yourself invited. Other than that, I'm going to try to stay healthy and sane. I hope that all is well with you, and to hear from you soon.


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