Sunday, December 26, 2010

Inquiring columnist asks: 'What's your Top 10 list for 2010?'

Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard

Posted: 12/26/2010 04:55:37 AM PST

Here we are, the day after Christmas, and I'm asking you to reflect upon the past year. I'd like to say it was “the best of times, and the worst of times” but Dickens beat me to it.

What a year. I won't even attempt to summarize it for you. Plenty of other writers are doing just that at this very moment. Some are on deadlines, glued to their computers, researching and writing stories about 2010.

You won't have to look too hard to find their stories:

The Top 10 Ecological Disasters of 2010; The Biggest CEO Screw-Ups for 2010; The Top 10 Paid Athletes, etc. Time Magazine has already told us who the Person of the Year is: Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of the omnipresent social-networking site Facebook.

Experts on the economy and politics will inform us what went right and what went wrong.

As I do every year, I'll ignore all those professionally gathered lists and weigh the year's worth on my own scales. I don't need someone to tell me the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the number one ecological disaster for 2010.

While we're on the subject of the BP catastrophe, I just read a report that BP claims they didn't spill as much oil as our government said. They haven't offered any hard figures to back this claim that the U.S. oil spill estimates are 20 to 50 percent too high. No surprise there. BP isn't what you'd call a “good neighbor” by any stretch of the imagination.

Pardon me, I digress. If you're like me, you judge a year by your own personal experiences and views on the issues. If you lost your spouse, house, dog, and pickup truck, 2010 really sucked. It was a year to be forgotten with professional psychiatric help.

If you won the lottery, got all A's in school, and fell in love for the first time, 2010 was a banner year. A year to remember. A memory milestone.

When it all comes down to it, we know it was just another year. They come and go, after all. It's been like that for a long time. Nothing special really. Labeling it with a date makes it easier to keep track of things and provides a reference for future historians.

I've decided not to write my own or read mainstream Top 10 lists this year. As a newspaper editor, I had to spend countless hours making lists for annual Year in Review issues. I looked at this chore as a necessary evil because all newspapers, and some magazines, do the yearly wrap-up thing.

If for some reason I hadn't done a Year in Review in those days, irate readers would have stormed my office with torches and pitchforks. My publisher would have questioned my sanity. My staff would have desperately looked for something to write about to fill all that reserved Year in Review space. It wouldn't have been pretty.

So, I compiled endless lists and readers either liked them or they didn't. I secretly felt I was cheating, using year-old news as a filler where fresh news should go. I always put my best face forward (the one where I wasn't frowning from stress) when observing newspaper traditions. Even when I didn't agree with the traditions. Sometimes that's life.

I've been thinking this year -- always a dangerous proposition -- it would be fun to do something a little different. Readers like to see what other readers think about things. Especially in small communities. Letters-to-the-editor are always a well-read part of a newspaper. You might even read something by someone you know.

So how about it? What's your Top 10 List for 2010? Was it a good year or a bad year? Did anything on this planet particularly impress you? Was this a good year for entertainment? Did you see or hear things that gave you hope for humanity? Give it a try and share your Top 10 list for 2010.

If you like, you can send your list to me via this newspaper (letters to the editor) or e-mail me. I'll gladly read it. I might even share it (with your permission) with readers of my blog. I think your letters will provide far more interesting reading than the mainstream media has to offer.

As It Stands, it's time to say Happy New Year! I won't be back until 2011.

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