Wednesday, December 22, 2004

White Christmas

There is a Winter Storm Warning out for this part of Ohio, and the warning is set to last all day well through tomorrow. The storm that has brought the warning about is a massive one in terms of its length, and it has already brought huge amounts of snow to Western Ohio. Cincinnati has already gotten four to eight inches of the white stuff, and Hamilton County is under a snow emergency.

Parts of Columbus are already feeling the effects of heavy snow. Some area schools were slated to be open today (in this area schools often remain open until the 22nd or 23rd) but many of those schools just decided to add an extra day to Christmas break and have dismissed early. Delaware County is under a Level 1 Snow Emergency and has asked people who don't need to be on the roads to stay off of them.

Here in Newark it looked like the snow might skip us, even the weather maps were showing that Linking County was being passed over by the front of this storm. Nonetheless, the weather people here insisted that those of us spending the holiday in that county would not be spared the storm. It seems they have been proven correct, as outside my window the snow is indeed falling. We are guaranteed something we do not have here every year or even most years: A White Christmas.

With the snow, however, is going to come a blast of cold air. The forecast for Christmas Day is calling for highs of five to ten above, while the low on the first night of Christmas is still in dispute. Local Channel 4 meterologist Jym Ganahl says the low will be zero to five above, while the Weather Channel is calling for a Yuletide low of -7. Buurrr....

Take Washington out to the ballgame

The deal that placed the Expos/Nationals in Washington was off, but now it is back on today. Major League Baseball and dissenting members of the D.C. City Council came to a deal yesterday whereby some of the money for the renovations for RFK Stadium and the building of the new ballpark will come from private funds. The City of Washington will also be able to make money off of parking near the ballpark from the deal, which will be used to help finance the deal.

One positive about the return of baseball to Washington is that the Nationals will offer $7.00 bleacher seats. In an age when a family can't afford to attend most major league sporting events, it's great to know that some people want to keep baseball affordable for the masses.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

AP poll is out of BCS equation

The Associated Press announced today that it was going to remove its famous (or infamous, depending on one's opinion) football poll from the Bowl Championship Series equation on the prerogative of the football writers themselves.

The AP claims that such use was never sanctioned and had reached the point where it threatened to undermine the independence and integrity of the poll. The Associated Press can certainly make that case, and they claim that the BCS has become so controversial that they don't wish to be included as a part of it, because as long as the system gives very good teams the short shrift, and there is any debate as to whether the BCS National Champion is the legitimate champion, the very reputation of the AP poll is at state.

The AP sent BCS coordinator Kevin Weiberg a cease-and-desist letter, dated Dec. 21, stating that use of the poll is unlawful and harms the AP's reputation.

It could be argued that the BCS harms college football's reputation, perhaps this is why the AP's decision was such a laudable one. Of course, the withdrawal of the AP poll from BCS consideration is putting the BCS in danger itself, and creating the need for its championship formula to be tweaked yet again. Now BCS co-ordinator Kevin Weiberg and Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese have said the BCS would look into the possibility of using a selection committee to create the bowl matchups, much like the NCAA Division I basketball tournament. So soon all the polls may be taken out of the mix, and the system will be made ever less legitimate.

Nearly all reasonable NCAA football analysts and fans accept that no system for determining a Division I-A National Champion will be a perfect system. If a four-team playoff were to come into being, the number five team would complain about being left out. If an eight-team system were used, one has to believe that number nine may have some legitimate gripe. Same with a "sweet sixteen" sort of format and the team ranked 17th. Someone will always get the short end of the stick. However, under the present system, the best teams in the game are often excluded from the championship party. The AP writers have sent a signal that things weren't so bad before the BCS came along, or at least that things weren't much different than they are now. Perhaps the message here is that no system is better than a corrupt one.

ESPN Wire Services and the AP contributed some information to this post.

Monday, December 20, 2004

What have they done to the old home place?

It is amazing to observe changes in the old familiar places that we know over time. My home town of Newark, Ohio is one of those places in small-town America that never quite seems to change completely. Neighbors know each other and people are friendly. There is little crime in Newark, even compared to other towns of similar size. You know you are in a pretty dull town by elitist urbanite standards when the Monday headline in The Advocate, the town newspaper, reads "Burrr...Morning low hits minus four," and that was above the fold! That simplicity is one of the charms of the place.

There are some things that have changed about Newark, though, and I continually notice these disturbances to the local landscape when I make my annual holiday pilgrimage here, as I didn't fail to notice this time. Newark's beautiful downtown, with its courthouse designed by the great American architect Louis Sullivan, and many buildings designed by his pupil Frank Lloyd Wright has a new appendage, although it has now been there several years. The Golden Arches can now be seen attached to a retirement apartment complex. The Longaberger Company has their massive basket headquarters here, including their basket-shaped offices on the eastern outskirts of town. Newark is beginning to spread out so much, though, that it is kind of becoming a sort of Columbus-light..and it is crowding out the small towns and the farms of Licking County. It is slowly becoming more than just the small industrial and agricultural town I grew up in. I hope that as the town changes, it doesn't lose its small-town nature, and become just another city, like so many icy cold urban places in blue America.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Second Advent

On this final Sunday of Advent, the Church acknowledges that the Messiah is about to come into the world once again, as the Lord uses the liturgical year to remind us of the miracle of the Incarnation.

Advent is also a time that we can be reminded not only of Christ's coming in the Incarnation, but that we ourselves are living in a time of the Lord's Advent. This Second Advent is the Advent that will precede the Lord's final coming and the Last Things in time. Every year, we are reminded in the readings that the Church gives us that the Lord's return is a reality, and that we need to be ready for it whenever it might happen.

Throughout the scriptures, especially in the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostles remind us that the Lord will come quickly. It is important to remember that God operates on a different time scale than humanity. He cannot be pinned down to a date or a time and that when he says he is "coming soon," that speed in God's time may seem slow to us. However, regardless of when the Lord's return actually happens, it will happen, and that when the Lord comes back, as he promised he would, there will be people here to witness it. We are living in the Last Days, even if those Last Days last hundreds of years. We are called, like John the Baptist, to prepare the way of the Lord, and make straight His paths. As we wind up Advent and prepare to welcome the Lord as a babe in a manger this Thursday, we must be mindful that we or our decendants will one day welcome the Lord as a triumphant King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

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