XMAS Letter 2016


It is a standing tradition to write an annual letter with Christmas Cards … and I’ve extended that tradition to an open letter to all you Bear Feeders out there.  Enjoy.


Happy Holidays Everyone,

Once again, it’s come time for me to share with you the year that was.  The challenge this year isn’t for me to try to summarize the whole of last year – but to at least talk about something other than what has happened in the last couple of weeks.  I have to tell you, that’s just going to be tough.  It all starts with the really big news in my career:

Last week I started a new position at the NASA – Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) as a Procurement Quality Assurance Engineer.  Now, there is a good chance you have heard of JPL – I mean, don’t tell me you didn’t see The Martian with Matt Damon, cause that movie was kinda awesome (best film ever about growing potatoes) – but if you haven’t … JPL is contracted as the primary source of unmanned space flight for NASA.  Any unmanned program you can think of going into space for the USA likely came through JPL including:  Viking, Voyager, Cassini, Juno, and Every Mars Rover Mission ever!  That’s who I am working for now.

This new job meant that I had to move to California.  JPL is in Pasadena, CA (literally just up the street from the Rose Bowl).  While the new job requires travel, I will still be based here and worked out of the lab when in town.  Where exactly I will live, well that is what is in the air.  It’s going to be a bit before I find a permanent home, while I am in the transition for the new job and selling my old place.  I am writing this letter from my temporary home, a place that is so temporary that it actually is a hotel in Burbank.

Ironically, to portray the previous 11 months, ‘temporary home is a hotel’ is about the best way to describe it.  The job I left had me traveling a lot.  In 2015, I was little shocked to find out that I stayed in hotels for 226 nights.  Well – 2016 will be 267 nights.  That’s 73% of the year I was staying in a hotel.  In truth, I felt like I was home a lot this year – but that was mostly because I spent a good part of the summer home on the weekends, and the fall was nearly a full month and half at the condo.  Still, it added up, and was a driving factor to throttle that back to something closer to 25% of my time.

I did get a few chances to do some fun things along the way.

In June, I was able to work in some time in England, the first time I have been there in about four years.  It’s always fun for me to visit London, and I was able to get a full week and a weekend in the big city.  Along the way I got to take a walk around Hyde Park, see some of the sites around the city, and catch couple of shows.

In August, I caught up with my brother and nephew when they spent a couple of days in Gettysburg.  After they left, I got a couple days there myself.  If you haven’t heard me say it before, Gettysburg is a great place for me to visit to help me relax and enjoy.  Even when I got there with family, I seem to love those moments walking the battlefields or strolling through the old Civil War era city.  So it was good to get back again.

On the downside, most of the first eleven months of this year were focused on work – sometimes intensely and unrelentingly.  I spent January thru March based in California working through some projects; having driven cross-country to get here.  The return trip that required a lot of visits and stops to work issues, took nearly a whole month.  Then the next few months were an tough run of projects and audits to work through with the old job.  Hindsight, I am proud of the work I did with my old job, but it took a lot out of me, and pushed me to some of my breaking points.

It’s just that there isn’t much to fill in for the gaps between work and ‘not being in a hotel’.  I mean, I got to spend some quality time with my friends The Creeds in the Temecula, CA wine country a few times.  I attempted and got through another year doing the National Novel Writing Month in November.  And I continued to blog on the good old Bear Feed (find it at bearfeed.net). But for the most part it was getting through the year with my best pup by my side.

But that of course is now behind me, and that, more than ever, is the reason why this season of hope and happiness, is just a source of me bursting with happiness from hope.

Like I said, this letter was hard to write because I don’t want to focus on the year behind, I want to focus on the year ahead.

So while I don’t believe it is possible, I hope you are looking forward to a greater 2017 that I am.  Let us see what the world will be and the world will become.


From Auggie & Mitch

Merry Christmas &
Happy New Year


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