It's been a busy year. Looking back, I see that there was much much travel, both for business and for family vacation, and almost all of it was fun and exciting. Then there's the stay at home time that was also full of its own moments. There have been lots of changes, some good and some not so much; lots of growth, again the good and the not so much; and lots of coffee, all good of course. With that perspective, here is a Top Ten synopsis of whatever I remember as standing out in our lives this past year of 2008.
#10 – Cash Cab
As a family, we've gotten into a neat habit of watching Cash Cab on the Discovery Channel instead of the news in the evening. For the most part, Ben Bailey's questions and the contestants' temperaments are better than the life/death situations elsewhere. And the $$ is not obscene – if you lose, you got a free cab ride. If you win, it'll be under $5,000 – a nice surprise, not life changing. It's fun, entertaining, and real in a way that's missing from Deal or No Deal and the like.
#9 – Changes in Church Life
I've downsized in my participation in just about everything church-related. It's not a down-with-organized-religion thing – for me, just a time to detox a bit from what I have perceived as missing the point. Vicki still helps out in the kids' area, and our children still enjoy going each week and seeing friends, learning, worship. But for me, I'm a little more particular and tend to hang back a bit more. Call it resigned or reserved, but I think it's more a lack of compulsion that is actually quite freeing. The next year might be more of an experiment – how can I hang back and still grow in Christ, still be intentional and missional about living the Gospel?
#8 – iPhone
Okay, this might rank higher if based on the amount of time I'm gazing at the screen of this little technological wonder in the palm of my hand. My precious……
#7 – iPhone Apps
Okay, could be back in #8, I know. But the big deal about the iPhone is that you can download just about anything you need directly to your phone. And it's easy here in Columbia, SC with a decent 3G network and occasional wifi. Searching for things is better than GPS, Google voice search is cool, games are cool, having apps for Twitter and Facebook and even posting on this blog with Typepad is all really handy and lifechanging.
#6 – Smallville, Heroes, Chuck, Big Bang Theory
These shows have continued to grab my attention this year. Heroes came close to throwing me off the wagon this fall, but I have hopes for the next episodes. Smallville just keeps getting better, and Chuck is probably the most imaginative show on TV today. And my favorite weekly passtime? Watching the DVR copy of Big Bang Theory with my wife after the other shows, after the kids are in bed – makes us guffaw. No really, spit milk out of your nose funny each and every time.
#5 – Florida
We took two trips to Sunny Florida in 2008. First to Orlando for Trace's student conference, taking side trips to Sea World and the Universal parks. Then a second time back to Orlando for more of a family vacation at WDW. Had a blast, the kids had fun, we all got tired and I think we got our money's worth. We're not huge Disney people – but really enjoyed all they had to offer.
#4 – Pennsylvania
There were also a few weeks for a business trip to PA, and one weekend when Vicki was able to fly up and join in the frivolity. We were able to sightsee in Amish Country one day, then in Phillie the next. I foresee a couple more opportunities for that in the next year, and I look forward to another real phillie cheesesteak.
#3 – Superheroes
With the aforementioned Smallville, there was also Dark Knight and Iron Man (I haven't seen Incredible Hulk yet, so it might make next year's list). For all the hoopla over Ledger's performance as The Joker, I think I enjoyed Downey as Tony Stark better. 2009 will be a bigger hear for superhero blockbusters, but those two movies hold up with any others I've seen this year.
#2 – Continued Connection with Family and Friends
This has been a year where we've seen our kids grow up a bit, changing the dynamic a little of our home relationship - for the better, I think. And Vicki and I celebrated 20 years together, remembering fondly the USC/Navy game and a showing of Without A Clue at the old Bush River Cinemas in 1988. And say what you will about Facebook and Twitter, but I feel like I've made many friends over the past couple of years, reconnecting with old friends from the past, staying in touch heading into the future. If we're really in this for the relationships, then I think the ways we connect are as important as the idea that we do connect. One of my first posts in 2008 was on the reconnecting going on after my 20yr high school reunion, and I'm glad it's continued on through this year as well.
#1 – All Of The Above
Either I've run out of actual things to say, or I'd like to add a note about "all of it". From the US presidential election where I voted full-on Democrat in the top spot for the first time ever, to the financial woes on Wall Street, to the weather and the gas prices and the etc etc etc of wall-to-wall cable news, I think I got my fill of information this past year. So that's number one – not a favorite, not the most important, but probably the most encompassing thing in my year. Which means I need to turn the TV off more in 2009 and enjoy the sweet melodies emanating from my iPhone instead.