Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 in the News...

Just for kicks, I've been thinking the past few days about what I thought have been some of the biggest news stories of 2007. Here is a list that I thought of - by no means in order of importance or chronology. Just some headline grabbers:

1. The Surge/Petreas Report/Iraq

Although this has fallen from the headlines of late, I think this was probably the biggest story of the year to me. The President's decision to increase troop levels in order to provide stability to generate a political settlement; the unquestioned success of the military in acheving that increased stability/decreased violence; Gen. Petraus and Ambassador Crocker testifying solely to the security side of the equasion; and finally, the Bush Administration, politicians, and the mainstream media completely ignoring the fact that, again, our military's steller success is being squandered by politicians who are unable to find settlement.

2. The '08 Presidential Nomination Campaigns

It's been a fun race with a surprising number of contenders for the nomination in both party's keeping the race wide open.

3. Iran

Both the increasing leverage and threat Iran poses as a legitimate regional hedgmon, and the intelligence community's surprising uprising against the Bush Administrations drum-beat to war on a third front.

4. Upheaval in Pakistan/Bhutto Assination

Pakisatan was already devolving, led by a military dictator ditinguishable from Sadaam Hussein only in degrees. The assination of Bhutto was tragic to a new middle class seeking legitimate democracy. The Bush Administration once again demonstrates its utter incompetence and lack of wisdom by un-hedged support of an anti-democratic dictator.

5. Resurgance of the Taliban in Afghanistan

Fueled by drug profits that the Bush Administration (in an all too familiar refrain) does not have the competence or intelligence to curtail, the Taliban and Al Queada is finding renewed strength in Afghanistan, where the US troops are stretched thin by the Surge in Iraq.

6. Mortgage madness/Sub-prime lending mess

I'm not convinced this will end up being as bad for the average American as the "If it Bleeds it Leads" media's bold-typed headlines would indicate, but there is no question that financial mismanagement and over-reaching has taken its toll on some of Wall Streets biggest firms.

7. The VT Shootings

Just a tragedy that defies explanation.

8. Oil Prices

With all the volitility in the world, this should not come as a surpise, but it flat out does come with upside. The higher oil prices reach, the more cost-efficient research into alternative fuels and alternative transportation becomes.

9. The Final Chapter of Harry Potter

It was somewhat sad, to me, to read the conclusion of this wonderful series. I've enjoyed every moment of it, and will probably continue to do so long into the future through re-readings.

10. Baseball's Steroid Scandal/Bonds' homerun record

Just ugly. The Mitchell report was damning, but it feels more like the closing chapter on a nasty era than the beginning of anything. And Bonds got his HR record, but received as little media attention (for the record) as could possibly be imagined.

11. AG/AG - The Improbable rise, and Cataclysmic Fall of Alberto Gonzalez

Just a mess of an Attorney General, Bush's fiercest Yes-Man could not withstand the cascading pressure of scandal after scandal after scandal after scandal.

12. Houston Dynamo Repeat as MLS Champions

Okay, this is much more local, and just a personal favorite, but to me, the improbale journey of this team from mediocre, at best, to repeast MLS Champs was really amazing. I've never supported a champion in any sport - and now I get two back-to-back. It's great, and it's all the better to support an organization that builds its team as a team, and players who really do define hard-working, team-first attitude. Good on you Dynamo - let's get another next year!

Out with the Old, In with the New...

The final hours of 2007 are ticking by, and what a whirl-wind of a year it has been.

On a personal level, this has been one of the greatest years our family has ever experienced. We started the year by finding out we would soon be adding a second child to our family. We travelled to Florida in February to attend the wedding of a close friend. We spent spring-break in Idaho skiing with Shana's parents. The spring found me graduating from law-school and us buying a new home, complete with indoor washer/dryer and a big yard for the kids to play in (and dad to grill out).

The summer was a contrast of toil and fun - I spent much of the summer studying for and taking the Bar Exam, but in August we took our first-ever real vacation as a family - spending four days in San Antonio and Sea World - and later that month, the "big-kids" spending a glorious long-weekend on an island off the coast of Belize.

Not long after, Noah started his new school for Pre-K and I started work for my new law firm. The fall saw the leaving of my brother and his family - moving from Houston to New Jersey, but it also brought a new member to our family, Kennedy Kate, and the combination of fun and work that a newborn involves. I found out in November that I had passed the Bar Exam, and was finally sworn in to the State Bar of Texas. We traveled to visit my parents for a combination Thanksgiving/Christmas. Shana went back to work in December, and her family came into town to spend Christmas here.

It's been a wild year, but a great one. So many blessings in such a short time. It seems like the year literally flew by - and I know they won't be getting any longer as the kids grow (ever faster) and careers demand ever more time. Still - this is a glorious time for our family, and I hope we are appreciating it, and I hope we hold on to it for as long as possible.

Happy New Year.