Saturday, January 10, 2009
Year in Review
In the Old Testament, it seems like every time you turn the page, God does something amazing, and the Israelites pile up stones to commemorate the event.
I don't have many boulders lying around, but I have been keeping a journal this year. This post is a review of some of the things God did and allowed me to do in 2008.
After an international travel drought in 2007, I made return trips to two countries I love this year, both to do some reporting for GlobalAtlanta.com:
-China - Most Americans hit up Beijing and Shanghai during their first trips to China. I visited the capital on my fourth trip there, in 2006. See all those posts here.
On March 30, 2008, I took Delta's inaugural flight to Shanghai to report on the new flight and the Georgia trade mission in conjunction with it. Check the GlobalAtlanta blog.
At a dinner celebration on arrival night, I got to meet Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. Strange that I had to meet him in across the world and not in Atlanta.
The 14-hour flight was packed on the way over, pretty much empty on the way back. I only stayed in China from Monday through Thursday morning, traveling with other reporters for the first two days and roaming around by myself on the last two. The rest of the group - most of the press and the trade delegation - went on to Beijing. I returned to Atlanta and spent Friday recovering from jet lag.
This China trip was a strange one for me. It lasted less than a week, and no city-hopping was involved. I'd visited three or more cities on all of my other times in country. In 2006, that number reached into the double digits.
-Panama - This year's Panama trip was also a bit different than the last. In March 2006, I journeyed into Panama's wild side. Our main destination was an island off the country's Pacific Coast called Coiba. It was a former penal colony, kind of like a more remote and less humane Alcatraz, where leaders stowed dissidents in paltry living conditions. The prison is now closed, and the island is a protected national park.
In 2008, it was all business. Tagging along with a Kansas City trade delegation, my boss and I learned the ins and outs of the port companies and the railroad operating near the Panama Canal. We also learned about the Canal's imminent expansion, hoping to gauge how its ability to handle larger ships would impact the port in Savannah, Ga.
It was interesting to see the highly developed parts of Panama, a country where 40 percent of the population is said to be in poverty. We went to Colon, a free trade zone in the north, and made the rounds in Panama City. Summary of the trip here.
My favorite part of the trip was the reception at the ambassador's residence. We got there early to film an interview with U.S. Ambassador William Eaton, who only had a few months before his departure.
-Savannah - In June, Katy and I made a four-day excursion to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary in Georgia's oldest city.
-Louisville, Kentucky - My cousin asked my to sing before her wedding in August, so I told her I would. I took a day off from work so we could arrive for the rehearsal Friday night. The next day, I pulled off the song well, and she was hitched. The road trip there and back had some interesting twists, like a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Nashville.
The list of interesting people I wrote about - like U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and three Latin American presidents - and met - former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young - and the instances of access I got last year as a reporter is literally too long to put down here. I'll refer you to the blog posts in August and October where I boasted on the subject.
Reading is essential for the writer. Here are some of the books I read this year:
-Digital Photography Book
-Screwtape Letters (a perennial favorite) by C.S. Lewis
-Mao: A Life, a 600+ page biography of the late Chinese communist leader Mao Ze Dong
-Another Mao bio, this one only about 200 pages
-Wild at Heart, by John Eldredge, another must-read every year
-To Own a Dragon and Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
-Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
-The Millionaire Next Door
-The 4-hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
-Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
-Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and others.
No new recordings, but I did play at a few weddings during the summer. I've been writing a lot, and I got a new microphone for Christmas, so I should be recording some new music pretty soon. Check out some of my old stuff here.
I wrote probably more than 200 articles in 2008 for GlobalAtlanta. If you go to the Web site, you'll see that about every other article has my byline.
I also freelanced a good bit, at least by my standards. Breakaway, a Focus on the Family magazine for teen guys, was good repository for stories about missions, facing fear, divorce, the myth of invincibility, adventure and manhood. Check out my first and most recent articles, the only two published on the Web so far.