Sigh. Late again. Not as late as last time -- though I didn't beat the postal rate increase. I hate that, since a lot of copies go out on paper. I hope your holiday season was blessed! I'm rather glad that it's over. It was nice in many ways, but so manic. Actually, to be snowed in for a week sounds really good about now...
As you probably know, I've finished all of the course work for a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering. I've been fretting about, but not really working on, doing a dissertation since I returned from Auburn in 1991. This year continued in that vein till near the end, but with mounting frustration. I finally decided that I needed to commit to either do it, or to give it up. I nearly decided to give it up, and take another job within NASA that seemed more interesting than where I have been. However, after taking a few days off for rest, thought, and prayer, I decided to make one more concentrated try to get the dissertation done.
I successfully proposed my topic for Center Director's Discretionary Funding at NASA, so that I can work nearly full time on the research. I'm still struggling with (and often losing to) a bad case of writer's block. I'm actually pretty miserable with it. By next year, though, I will either be well on my way through it, or will have cast it aside.
The topic is Adaptive Load Prioritization in a Space Power System. On the ground, power systems are controlled by adjusting sources (power plants) to keep up with the demand (whatever people turn on). In space, you have a fixed amount of energy (usually a solar array with batteries) that you want to get the most possible use out of by controlling the loads. Adaptive load prioritization is keeping track of the importance of the various loads that are on so that if you have to turn some off, you'll turn off the right ones.
My house is still standing. Considering how much time I've put into it this year (not much), that is fortunate. I did pretty much keep the yard mowed. Wing Ho has been my only roommate throughout the year. Jason Lenentine stayed when he was here co-oping, but is now back at Auburn for the duration. It's been the quietest year since I've owned the house -- there's currently no Bible Study or anything of the sort here. On Sunday nights a baby-sitter keeps kids while a study goes on at another house in the neighborhood, so there is some noise. I hope to find at least one more roommate soon, and would like to see more people using the place.
My involvement with the dance scene has ebbed a bit this year. I'm no longer an officer with the Huntsville Folk Dancers, and have given up editing the North Alabama Country Dance Society's newsletter. I did get to attend three dance weekends over the year, and I do still enjoy dancing with both groups when I can. NACDS is up to three dances a month, so I have more opportunity than I once did.
Something new for me this year was teaching a Waltz Workshop with the help of Amanda Kay. It went pretty well, I think. I'm going to keep my day job.
The big family news for the year was my mother's marriage to
Hubert Lawing on Mothers' Day this year. They are quite the happy
newlyweds. I'm very pleased. It was pretty weird back 5 years
ago, after my father died, when Mother first started dating again,
but now, with plenty of time to get used to the idea, I'm really
pleased that she has found as fine a man as Hubert. She sold her
house in Nashville and moved across town to his place. The only
drawback was that I had to bring home all the stuff I had stuck
in her basement.
The picture above is from the wedding. Starting at the left we have my uncle, Ken Jones, and his wife Betty. Next is my oldest brother, Ron Walls. My sister, looking down, is Peggy. Her husband, Jim O'Reagan is next. Ron's wife, Kate McKenzie, is peeping over his shoulder. My mother, Pauline Lawing stands next to her new husband Hubert.
The four boys in front are my nephews: Alan Walls and Russ, Doug, and Greg O'Reagan. To Hubert's left is his sister Ellie Smith, with her husband Ray behind. The rest of the back row is Hubert's two daughters and their spouses: Ray Shanks and Karen Gupton, and Kay & Charley Gupton. Next in the middle are my new step-nephew and step-nieces, Steven, Shannon, and Cathy Gupton. Steven and Cathy are siblings who belong to Karen. Shannon is Charley and Kay's girl. Next are yours truly, and Jim Franks. Jim performed the wedding. Finally is my brother Dickie. He's the one behind the camera. He made some pictures with a timer, but I didn't get one of those. He looks a lot like Ron and me. Just do a mental morph.
This year has seen a lot less travel for work than most previous years. Except for a couple of trips to Auburn and a day-trip to Cleveland, a trip to Denver to close out a contract was the only one. I was able to stay over a weekend after the Denver trip, and had a lovely time in the mountains. The trip used the last of the 3rd quarter travel budget, so was at the end of June, leaving me there for the 4th of July weekend. On Friday, I drove up to Boulder, where I did some shopping and browsing, ate, and went to a contra dance. I had planned to spend the night in Boulder, but because it was a holiday weekend, I ended up sleeping in my rental car (not the high point). Early the next morning, I drove up to Estes Park and along Trail Ridge Drive, in Rocky Mountain National Park. The rental car was a Le Baron convertible, which turned out to be well worth the extra few dollars for the full field of view of the incredible scenery, and the V-6 engine, though it wasn't the best sleeper I've ever had. After a beautiful drive, I ended up in Winter Park, a popular ski area, where I stayed in a Youth Hostel. Okay, so I'm incredibly cheap, but for $10 I stayed in a place that was much more comfortable in a spiritual sense, and not much less physically, than an $80 hotel room. People from all over the world, principally students, but anyone is welcome, use the hostel system. I met a girl named Jennifer, who was on her way from Washington State to Kentucky in a fully loaded pickup truck, on her way to college. We went to my first ever rodeo. There were people in the hostel from Australia and Europe, as well as various other US locals. I'd suggest looking into them, especially if you're traveling alone and want to find folks to do things with.
My other travels have been pretty close to home. In October I took most of a week off with the intention of camping out at Window Cliffs, near Cookeville, Tennessee. The weather didn't cooperate, so I visited a bit and then spent a couple of wonderful days of quiet solitude in Hot Rock, Tennessee in a cabin belonging to Ross and Harriet Grable, good friends in Huntsville. Over Thanksgiving I made a visiting progress from Nashville to Cookeville, Gatlinburg, Knoxville, and Johnson City. After Christmas I made a similar trip to Nashville, Lebanon, Cookeville, and Manchester. Tennessee and Alabama has pretty much been my limit.
We got a new preacher, Tom Reynolds, at Central Church of Christ this year. I was on the preacher selection committee. As far as I can tell, we did okay, and the Lord blessed us with a good fellow.
I've continued to be involved with the campus ministry. We lost our student leaders (graduation causes real problems), so it has been a year of rebuilding. The group is very small now. For Fall Semester we had a Bible Study on the Alabama A &M campus, two on the University of Alabama at Huntsville campus, and a Friday night devotional. We do have hopes for growth in the next year.
The University Christian Student Center (UCSC) Alumni Retreat was in April at Fall Creek Falls. As usual, it was great to see everyone who came. The UCSC is the Church of Christ student group at Tennessee Tech. The Newman Organization, Tennessee Tech's Catholic student group which sponsors the interdenominational Search Retreat, also had an alumni retreat for the first time. I helped with the planning. It was also at Fall Creek Falls, back in January. It was a lot of fun, too. Despite some snow, there was a good turnout. This winter, unfortunately, I don't have either to look forward to. The UCSC Alumni Retreat is planned for fall, with a tentative Newman Alumni get-together sometime in summer.
Last year, this section was titled "Dating Stuff". There being no news in that area, I've widened the scope a bit. I hate to just drop it, since it's proved to be such a popular section.
I've been out a few times, but nothing serious in the romantic vein. This hasn't been a very good year for me; I've been distracted and depressed much of the time. I've drawn a lot of strength from my friendships, and want to thank all of you for the support. I haven't been very easy to be close to. As a result, a few relationships have grown deeper, while others have languished. One important friendship blew all to pieces a couple of months ago, which has been very painful. So it hasn't been a banner year for relationships, but I'm very thankful for the friends I have.
Last year I listed the names of two ladies that I had been out with. My bestowing them with such notoriety was inappropriate, and I want to publicly apologize here.
It's been a standing joke between a family I visit and me that when I stay with someone I like, I always leave something behind so I'll have an excuse to come back. Well, maybe so. I think maybe I'm just doofus-advantaged. Anyhow, in the last year or so, I've misplaced a pair of black pointy-toed cowboy boots. They're kind of beat up and old, but they were my father's, and I'd like to find them. Mother has a picture of me wearing them when I was three. They fit better now, if I can just find them. Did I leave them at your place?
My big computer news is a personal connection to the internet and, especially, the World Wide Web (WWW). A friend from Tennessee Tech has started up a service called Community Internet Connection, Inc., here in lovely Huntsville, and I am an early subscriber. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I have several WWW pages; my home page is http://www.cici.com/~bwalls; it will get you to the other ones. This newsletter will be available there, as will information for the contra dances in the MidSouth. If you can e-mail, please e-mail me. If you can surf the net, come on by! My work e-mail address is still valid, too. The newest version of it is Bryan.Walls@msfc.nasa.gov.
A year of allergy shots has yet to show any tangible results, unless you count the Doctor's new cabin by the lake, which I haven't seen. She keeps assuring me that I'll be getting better pretty soon now, and she doesn't want me on her (very short, she says) failure list. Well, I hope she's right. Meanwhile I continue with a runny nose, feeling tired and foggy brained all the time, with frequent colds & sinus infections. The counselor I saw at work about my writing block suspects it's in my head, or at least starts there. I'm sure the two are connected, but don't know the prime mover.
I got a raise at work this year; I'm a GS13 now. My only stock market investment is currently at about 8% of its purchase value -- fortunately I'm not in in a big way. I don't have a very expensive lifestyle, so financially things are quite comfortable.
I hope your health and welfare are good, and your heart is full of joy and peace. If not, may it become so! May God bless you in every way in 1995. Grace and peace to you!
Back to Bryan's HomepageBryan Walls, email@example.com, (256)837-0656 4304 Holmes Ave. Huntsville, AL 35816