Every year I send out a Christmas Letter to Friends and Family, and I’ve made it a habit of sharing it in the blog for the last few years. So here it is.
A disclaimer — those of you who normally get it in the mail, they only hit the post office yesterday, so if you want to wait you can wait.
Happy Belated Holidays!!!
Seriously, I couldn’t have written this later. I am literally writing this on Christmas Eve morning, and it’s going to be a battle to get these little guys to a mailbox in time to spend a lonely Christmas Day in a sorting bin. Still, it’s here in your hot little hands ready for your read.
Here it is … Your annual Mitch & Auggie Nelson Christmas Letter.
So what’s been going on? Well, the usual ‘a lot’ and ‘not much.’
For starters, I had a health scare. Months of ignoring signs that my blood pressure was getting out of control, I went into the ER and stayed at the Hospital for a few days to treat it. While I didn’t have a heart attack, I was knocking at the door. While good medication and a doctor helps, I still have some work to do on the old ‘making lifestyle changes,’ but I am getting there. Truth be told, I was really lucky to have it all happen while visiting my dear friends Chadd and Heather Creed. Through their support, love, and ridiculously high generocity, I came out the better.
With that little scare, I got to see my parents and brother, who turned it into a summer California Vacation. It was one of three times I got to spend with them all. I returned home for my annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage like always; however, I returned again in December on more somber terms. We said goodbye to an old friend from my high school days John Mundt, who helped form a lot of my creativity and passions by just being his own special, weird self.
I continue to work at the Jet Propulsion Lab, a NASA Center based in Pasadena, CA, in Procurement Quality Assurance. Now here for three years, I’ve passed into that territory where I seem to plan to be here for a bit. One area that I have found myself working with is the interactions between universities and NASA centers, including the challenges faced with quality assurance expectations at each. It’s getting to the point that in 2020, I am slated to give presetnations on the subject to the community. To support that, I’ve visited a few universities and interviewed some of the key people working at those organizations.
One place, and a highlight of my year, was to meet with the Aerospace Enterprise team at Michigan Technological University. This trip stands out because it’s my alma mater. I hadn’t visited MTU since I graduated back in 1995. Things have changed since then, but not too much either. Seeing all the old buildings, the old streets, the old school was a rush of nostalga, but it was also incredible to talk to people with the experience of twenty years behind me as well.
Another experience I won’t soon forget happened in March. While attending a meeting in Cape Canavaral, collegues were able to get us access to the Vertical Assembly Facility (VAF). When you visit the Kennedy Center (essentially where they launch rockets to the moon), the VAF stands out at the place where they stack up the rockets for launch. This is the massive building you see in nearly every photo of the place. I got to go inside, I got to get freaked out with vertigo at the higher levels. I got to see where Apollo, the Space Shuttles, and eventually the Orion missions were built up. This trip also took us to where the Space Shuttle Columbia debris is stored. They keep it to help build lessons learned for future missions and have built up protective means ot maintain the debris. I don’t think I will ever forget when the manger of this department walked up to a spot on a wing’s leading edge and pointed to an area where they were missing material. He said, “it was here that insulation hit, that’s what eventually brought it down.” It was history he pointed at.
Work kept me traveling. Colorado seemed a common destination, but I made trips to Dallas, Austin, Iowa City, Long Island, and Phoenix.
I spent a suprising amount of time in Germany for work. I spent nearly a week there in October for essentially a half day of business, then returned in December for over a week. If you know your calendars, that means I was there first for Oktoberfest – a bucket item list long standing in my mind – albeit the Oktoberfest in Stuttgart (considered to be second only to Munich, but still a distant second). Though by being there in December, I experienced the Winter Markets, and fell in love with the warmth and happiness of such things – and started arguments by saying I prefer the Winter Market to the Oktoberfest.
My hobbies continue to keep me busy. I continue to remain active in the marching arts activity as an adjucator. I had a long marching band judging season, with six shows spread out from mid-September to mid-November. I started juding indoor winter color guard, which is a significant shift for me and I continue to train to be blessed as a real life judge.
I continue to work on writing as well, which is a beast in itself. I belong to critique groups to help develop those skills but can’t say I am getting any better. As a joke, someone shared with me: “Give a child a book and they will be happy for a month. Encourage a child to write a book, and they will face a lifetime of editing, self-hatred, and depression.” Let’s just say, it’s a lot easier to think you are a good writer than letting others tell you what they think. Regardless, if you haven’t, I’d encourage you to follow my blog I use to keep the world up to date with my idiocity:
Which is also posted on my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts.
Other than that, my world spins on. 2020 should get interesting, as all weird number years seem to do. JPL is launching our next big rover in the summer, and I have my fingers crossed to sneak away to watch that. I return to Germany again in January. Plus, it’s a new year, and new years always bring hope. So here’s to the hope to you and yours.
From Auggie & Mitch
Happy New Year