I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions, and I'm not going to start now. Instead of resolving to do something that I know will be forgotten in a week or two, I prefer to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past year. George Santayana said that those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it and while history has proven the truth of his statement, what we learn doesn't always have to be negative; we could also take our lessons from the things that went right. As 2008 joins the annals of history and 2009 is born, here's my top picks for the events with lessons learned for the year.

The Good
1. The times, they really ARE a changin'! The election of Barack Obama is proof positive that we've come a long way since the days when I remember L.A. burning.

2. I can make it through a whole year without a single surgery or hospital stay. That, in and of itself, is cause for celebration!

3. The Ibrahim girls make fantastic traveling companions. Iman, Basma, and I had a wonderful time on our summer road trip to Texas. It was also on this trip that I learned the importance of cruise control. Long story. . .

4. Randy Pausch's last lecture. Because celebrating a life and leaving a positive legacy is a lesson from which we can all benefit.

5. The difficulties that Chiari patients face made headlines with the story of the little boy who didn't sleep for four years.

The Bad
1. The Top 25 Censored Stories for 2008. Lesson to be learned: the press isn't nearly as free as we'd like to think it is!

2. It's more than the economy, stupid. The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression gained attention midway through the year. Unfortunately, this one is a lesson that still needs to be taught. I've got my fingers crossed on this one.

3. $45 billion in damage from the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. The only place in Texas that I can honestly say I enjoy is Galveston, so it was with a great deal of sadness that I watched as Hurricane Ike pummeled the island this summer. Lesson to be learned on this one? If you live anywhere near the hurricane coast, pull up stakes and come to earthquake country! It's so much safer here!

The Ugly
1. We Californians have such an unhealthy fascination with celebrities that we vote them into the State's highest office -- twice! Our esteemed Governator's lack of leadership has made a bad economic situation turn downright u-g-l-y. The Golden State will likely run out of money in February 2009, and the Governator is powerless to fix the problem. The lesson to take away from this mess is a simple one: don't spend money you don't have!

2. Bernard Madoff. Need I say more on this one?

3. My inability to sleep must surely make this list not just because it gives me such a miserable time, but because the luggage hanging around under my eyes is just downright ugly!

Off with the old, and on with the new. Happy new year, everyone!
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