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Tuesday notes

Jan 7, 2014 - By Steven R. Peck

Newspaper calendar

Your daily newspaper staff appreciates a couple of days off over the past 10 days or so. We locked the doors on Christmas and New Year's. There won't be another such day for a good while. The next day of interruption in our normal publication schedule is 180 days from now -- the Fourth of July.

Seasonal frigidity

Not that there really was any doubt, but deep winter has arrived. That was a heck of a snowstorm Friday night and Saturday, and the deep freeze that arrived on its heels hammered home the reality that we live in a four-season climate -- and this season is winter.

On Monday, Riverton looked as if it might have the rare below-zero day -- an entire calendar day when the temperature didn't rise above. But, no, a late-day warm, although that term is being used very, very loosely, boosted the official afternoon high to ... 1. That's 1 above zero.

Polar vortex, anyone?

If "superstorm," as in Superstorm Sandy, was last year's weather term that went quickly from little-known to well-known, this year's could well end up being "polar vortex." Meteorologists are using it to describe the almost nationwide cold-weather plunge affecting Americans early this week. The arrival of the polar vortex far to the south of its normal reach is how you get a temperature of 5 degrees in Deep South Memphis, Tenn., where a 40-degree reading this time of year is unseasonably frigid.

But is the polar vortex causing our cold snap? Anyone with any memory of Wyoming in January knows this isn't all that extraordinary. It's just winter.

All-winter snow

It's unusual for Riverton to get more snow than Lander in a winter storm, but that's what happened. Stranger still -- there was less snow in the mountains than there was in the valleys. Most recording stations on high showed snowfall in the range of 2-4 inches, while Riverton got 9 and Lander about 7.

Regardless of which area got how much snow, over the weekend we all received our all-winter snow. Probability is high that the snow that fell Jan. 3. still will be with us March 1, but it won't be nearly so white by then.

Five in the 500

There are only two weeks left in our 52-week imaginary investment called "Five in the 500." Starting Jan. 21, 2013, the first day of stock trading in President Barack Obama's second term, we invited readers to follow along with a hypothetical investment of $500 in a stock index fund based on the daily rise or fall of the Standard & Poors 500 Index.

2013 was a record-breaking year for the S&P 500, and if you had invested the $500 and left it alone since Jan. 21, as of Tuesday morning it would have been worth $662.39.

Seminoles win

Pretty decent BCS national championship game, wasn't it? Florida State's 18-point comeback Monday night against Auburn capped a perfect season, and it also put to bed the often controversial system of determining college football's champion while still preserving the tradition of holiday season bowl games.

Football fans in general seemed to enjoy bashing the BCS, but most of the time it worked as intended, pitting two worthy teams against each other for the right to be called national champions. Few could doubt Florida State's claim to the title this year, and the game that rang out the BCS format was, fittingly, a doozy.

Next year we'll have a modest playoff system in which four teams will be matched in a national semifinal bracket leading to the final showdown.

Prediction: There will be almost as much griping about how the four national semifinalists are chosen in the years ahead as there has been about how the BCS finalists were picked over the past 16 years.

Cheney is out

There won't be a blockbuster U.S. Senate primary election in Wyoming after all. Liz Cheney, who was running against Sen. Mike Enzi, dropped out Monday. Honestly, though, there probably wouldn't have been a big primary battle even if she had stayed. Every indicator showed that Enzi was going to win, and win big.

Here's to a good week.

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