Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014

The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2
  1. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David

  2. To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

  3. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

  4. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

  5. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

  6. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

  7. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

  8. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

  9. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

  10. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

  11. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter's nap, When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the luster of mid-day to objects below, When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: "Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, so up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow; The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook, when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, Laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

-- Clement Clarke Moore

Sunday, December 7, 2014

College football playoffs 2014 (done right)

For several years, I've been saying that the NCAA needs a playoff for Division 1-A football. Apparently, the NCAA agrees with me ... to some degree. They finally dumped the horribly flawed BCS for a horribly-flawed 4-team playoff.

My plan would work, and it answers all the questions and controversies that have arisen over the BCS years.

My plan has sixteen teams in the playoffs. Each of the ten conference champions get a slot, and the remaining slots are filled with teams selected by a committee. The committee also seeds the teams.

My preference is that conference champions get the top ten slots, with the wild card teams filling slots 11-16, much as the NFL does. This adds weight to winning the conference. If a wild card team from the SEC feels they should be ranked higher than, say, the Sun Belt champion, then they should have won their own conference.

Here is how the playoffs -- the playoffs done right -- would have shaped up this year.

Top ten seeds are the conference champions.

1. Alabama (Southeastern Conference champion)
2. Oregon (Pac-12 Conference champion)
3. Florida State (Atlantic Coast Conference champion)
4. Ohio State (Big Ten Conference champion)
5. Baylor (Big 12 Conference champion)
6. Boise State (Mountain West Conference champion)
7. Marshall (Conference USA champion)
8. Northern Illinois (Mid-American Conference champion)
9. Cincinnati (American Athletic Conference champion)
10. Georgia Southern (Sun Belt Conference champion)
11. Texas Christian (Big 12 wild card)
12. Mississippi State (Southeastern wild card)
13. Michigan State (Big Ten wild card)
14. Mississippi (Southeastern wild card)
15. Arizona (Pac-12 wild card)
16. Kansas State (Big 12 wild card)

Some of the matchups would be great. Others, yeah, not so much. And, yeah, we end up with a third Arizona vs Oregon matchup. We also get a Marshall-Georgia Southern matchup, which won't top the TV ratings ... outside of Huntington or Statesboro.

Look at the whole package. Winning the conference means something; you get an automatic bid and a better seeding. Really good teams aren't penalized by having one bad game (or a good close loss) that knocks them out of contention. And, if Northern Illinois or Georgia Southern ran the table, who could argue that they aren't the best team?

What the NCAA is giving us this year is better than the BCS. If that was in play, we'd have a single game of Alabama vs Florida State, based on polls and computer rankings. But it's not as good as this plan.

One day, this will be the great idea that some suit in the NCAA comes up with, and he'll be hailed as a genius.

Monday, December 1, 2014

U. S. Air Force Blue

Uncle Doug
Thinking of Uncle Doug
They took the blue from the skies and a pretty girl's eyes
and a touch of Old Glory's hue,
And gave it to the men who proudly wear the U.S. Air Force blue.

The U.S. Air Force Blue

Oh, they are men with a dream on America's team,
They're a rugged and ready crew.
And you can bet your boots the world looks up to U.S. Air Force Blue.

To U.S. Air Force Blue!

They know where they're goin', they've set their course,
the sky's no limit in the Air Force.

They took the blue from the skies and a pretty girl's eyes
And gave it to the men who proudly wear the U.S. Air Force Blue.
Uncle Doug
2 February 1938 - 28 November 2014