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Tuesday notes

Jan 8, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

Thawed out

The weather forecast called for temperatures in the low to mid-30s over the past couple of days, but longtime residents knew better. The weather since mid-December had been of a familiar type, meaning that the temperature inversion in the Riverton Valley had arrived.

That means warming breezes go right over the top of us, leaving the basin 10-15 degrees colder than the forecast suggests.

We've seen it for years -- although this is the longest period of very cold weather we've experience in at least a couple of winters. In case anyone had forgotten what real winter is in Wyoming, the refresher course is here.

Tuesday dawned a warmer day, but here is a geographical and statistical demonstration of the inversion effect: At 8:10 a.m., a vehicle thermometer at Riverton Regional Airport registered 35 degrees. Two minutes later, at the Main Entrance to Central Wyoming College, the same thermometer showed 26 degrees. A minute later, passing Day's Inn on West Main, it was 22 degrees. Two minutes after that, parked near The Ranger office at 421 E. Main St. downtown? 18 degrees.

May the warmer breeze drop into the valley and scrub out the worst of the cold, if only for a few days.

Hear ye, hear ye

The Wyoming Legislature has opened for business at the golden-domed state capitol in Cheyenne. The lawmakers are scheduled to be in session for two months. On Wednesday morning, Gov. Matt Mead delivers his annual State of the State address, which will help set the stage for what won't necessarily be the smoothest of sessions, particularly considering that he is a popular Republican governor and the Legislature is peopled almost entirely by Republicans.

But the governor has proposed some things that don't necessarily have the advance approval of the legislators, and the legislators have recommended some courses of action contrary to the governor's ideas.

We don't have much partisan bickering in Cheyenne, but often all it takes for a disagreement to crop up among people is simply to put two of them in the same room.

Demo derby on East Main

It was astonishing last week to watch the procession of automobiles slide into one another on Main Street right out our front window at the newspaper office. It happened at least eight times in two days, and there were numerous other close misses and cars which slid through the red light at Fifth and Main.

Perhaps a truck with some sand could have been dispatched, or a warning sign posted to warn drivers of the extraordinary coincidence of circumstances that led to these dangerous conditions.

Anyone who watched it -- and it drew quite an audience from time to time -- recognized that this situation went well beyond the normal hazards of winter driving. It was unprecedented in the memories of Ranger staffers who have looked out this window for many years.

Gunmen in court

This week in Colorado, the gunman who shot up a movie theater during the premiere of the new "Batman" movie is doing something most of his murderous ilk never do. He's appearing in court.

In that respect, James Holmes is rare. In the huge majority of cases involving a mass killing, the perpetrator almost always plans his atrocity so that it ends with his own death as well. That's what the Casper College killer did. That's what the Newtown, Conn., shooter did. That's what the two Columbine High School killers did. That's what Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech University, also did.

That's what almost all of them do.

So to see James Holmes in court was an oddity, just as it was odd to see Jared Loughner, the man who killed six people and wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, during his procession of appearances in court before being sentenced in November to life in prison.

Now here's one more oddity: Holmes's hearing Tuesday in Centennial is two years to the day after Loughner opened fire outside the grocery store in Arizona. Their names will survive in notoriety for hideously wrong reasons.

BCS bust

Monday's big college football championship game wasn't much of a contest. Alabama was way too good for Notre Dame, which is what a lot of football followers had predicted.

The often-criticized BCS system is being discontinued after one more season, and there will be a modest playoff system in place in 2014, along with numerous invitational bowl games. The playoffs will involve just four teams, which leaves the system well short of what many fans would like, but it will be an improvement over this season when three top teams ended up with an identical record, and when few fans or analysts truly felt that the two best were matched up Monday night.

Here's to a good week.

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