Dec 18, 2012 - By Steven R. PeckHappy holidays
Newspaper holiday housekeeping: The Ranger will not publish next Tuesday, Dec. 25, in observance of Christmas Day.
Our annual Christmas Greetings edition, with hundreds of letters to Santa Claus, Christmas Art Contest winners and contestants, Christmas pictures and feature stories, is being published this Sunday, Dec. 23, as part of our regular Sunday edition. There won't be a Diversions section this Sunday.
The Ranger and Ranger Printers offices will be open Monday, Dec. 24, but we will be closing earlier than normal on that day. Get your last-minute copying, laminating and binding done by 4 p.m. Monday.
We'll be back as usual Wednesday, Dec. 26 -- and yes, there will be a "Wednesday notes" that day.
The unspeakable events of Friday, Dec. 14, in Newtown, Conn., are still on the minds and lips of many Americans, including in our community. Parents, students, school teachers and administrators, law enforcement officers, clergy and ordinary citizens are thinking about it, talking about it, and considering the what-ifs.
In the national conscience, it appears that something about this shooting seems worse than the others. Don't try to sell that to someone who lost a loved one in the theater in Colorado or the classrooms of Virginia Tech, but the school shooting in Connecticut has repulsed the rest of the nation to a degree even those earlier atrocities can't match.
In that respect, it is good to see that the United States has not yet become numbed to these mass killings, even as their frequency seems to be growing.
One question circulating widely is whether we might have arrived at a "moment" of sorts. Could this be a milestone in the issue of public safety, particularly child safety, that might generate a productive national discussion at least somewhat separate from the same old arguments that are so familiar at this point as to be almost invisible?
Some people seem to think so. But will the entrenched political leaders, the frantic talk-show hosts and the sneering bloggers who feel accountable to no one actually permit that to happen? They ought to.
From Cowboy to Bronco
It's been fun to see Mitch Unrein finding success with the Denver Broncos. Unrein is the former Wyoming Cowboy defensive lineman who wasn't drafted out of college but latched on briefly with the Houston Texans and then this year with the Broncos.
Again, Unrein is a lineman -- a defensive lineman -- but he has come into the game several times in the backfield on offense this season as a short-yardage blocker, in the same fashion as the famed William "Refrigerator" Perry, the huge defensive guard from 25 years ago who both blocked for Walter Payton in short yardage and carried the ball a few times himself near the goal line (the Fridge scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl as a 350-pound, one-play running back).
Unrein blocked for a touchdown on Sunday against the Ravens, but his season highlight came a couple of weeks earlier. He came into the game near the goal line, lined up as a fullback, brush-blocked one pass rusher, then ran to the end zone and caught an easy pass flipped to him by the great Peyton Manning. Touchdown. It's been awhile since a Wyoming Cowboy scored one of those in the NFL.
He's been getting a lot of playing time on the D-line since then as well. He got poked in the eye and had to leave the field, which led to a TV timeout; he got a personal foul penalty for "illegal hands to the face" against a Tampa Bay blocker; and he hit the opposing quarterback just as he was throwing the ball, resulting in a wobbler that linebacker Von Miller intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
Two more winners
On another football front, we received a fair number of entries to our secondary contest in the "Find the Football" treasure hunt. Readers were invited to rearrange certain letters from the earlier search clues in order to spell a football term. (The word was "backfield.")
We placed the coupons with the correct answers in a hat Tuesday morning and drew two winners -- David Kellner of Riverton and Colby Gillespie of Crowheart. They both win $50. Our first Find the Football contest is now complete, and we appreciate everyone's participation.
Next up: The Wild West Winter Carnival Medallion Treasure Hunt, with a $500 cash prize. It starts in late January.
Like the ones we used to know
White Christmas? The National Weather Service says there's a chance. Predicting the weather a week ahead of time is not the most exact of sciences, but there is a chance.
Keep dreaming. It might help.
Here's to a good week.
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