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Tuesday notes

Dec 10, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

Big chill

A sure sign that it's been cold -- really cold -- is when 17 degrees seems warm. But 17 at 7 a.m. Tuesday felt almost tropical compared to the -9 from 24 hours earlier.

Runs of cold weather like this one are not unheard of by any means in our part of the world, but the weeklong snap was venturing into relatively rare territory. We didn't reach double digits above zero for a week, day nor night.

One more weather oddity tied to the cold snap: Monday's high temperature very likely occurred after sunset, when the larger weather pattern finally began to change. Weird.

Dear Santa

Letters to Santa Claus for our annual Christmas Greetings Edition have begun to arrive, but it's a trickle so far. The clerical elves in Santa's workshop have a deadline for Monday, Dec. 22, for all letters to be complete, but they would appreciate getting as early a start as possible.

Here's how to reach Santa:

- Drop letters off at our Christmas mailbox at The Ranger office at 421 E. Main St. in Riverton, or at the Lander Journal office at 332 W. Main St.;

- Mail letters to "Santa Claus, North Pole, P.O. Box 993, Riverton, WY 82501;

- E-mail letters to santaletters@wyoming.com.

The more the merrier, so get those letters in (the sooner the better).

Five in the 500

Another week, another record for the Standard & Poors 500 Index. That's the stock exchange on which our "Five in the 500" investment experiment is based. Back on Jan. 21, the day of President Barack Obama's second inauguration, we "invested" an imaginary $500 in an S&P index fund, which pays no attention to the performance of any individual stocks, but simply rises or falls based on the closing level of the S&P 500 every day.

That index has been zooming all year long, and it set another all-time record Monday afternoon. So, had you actually invested $500 in an S&P index fund 11 months ago and simply left it alone, as of Tuesday morning it would have grown to $646.14. That's 29 percent growth, which is outstanding any way you slice it.

Mandela farewell

They really know how to throw a state funeral in South Africa, where Nelson Mandela is getting a one-of-a-kind world sendoff. As one news reporter put it, heads of state from Afghanistan to Zambia have flocked to Johannesburg to pay last respects to the great freedom fighter and civil rights reformer who draws apt comparisons to Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas K. Gandhi.

Obama and three former U.S. presidents, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, are among the dazzling array of world leaders in attendance.

Obama's remarks were received with almost wild adulation, a reminder that the president -- health care website worries and political bickering at home aside -- remains a world figure of great importance.

New Cowboy coach

The Wyoming Cowboys have a new head football coach, and they will save money in the process. Craig Bohl comes to the Cowboys from North Dakota State, where he was being paid about $350,000 a year -- good money, to be sure, but less than half what Wyoming will pay him as a base salary. Even though it is a huge pay jump for Bohl, who could earn another half-million or so through contract incentives, it's still a financial plus for UW, which was paying the recently fired Dave Christensen a reported $1.3 million.

This is a good opportunity for Bohl, who has been a phenomenal success as a coach at the college division just below Wyoming's. He inherits a Cowboy team that had a disappointing season but by no means is in shambles. He'll have one of the nation's top quarterbacks on hand for his record-extending senior year, and he's vowed to do more regional recruiting and instill a higher level of toughness to the team.

Those are ingredients for a good reboot of the program, and Bohl is bound to get a very enthusiastic welcome.

Here's to a good week.

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MAIL SUBSCRIBERS: Friday's edition of The Ranger was delivered to the Riverton post office at 3:33 p.m., in time to meet the postal deadline for next-day mail delivery.

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