Tuesday notes

Mar 26, 2013 By Steven R. Peck

Never boring

Everybody is affected by the weather, but some of us enjoy crunching the numbers more than others. What those numbers showed over the weekend was how drastically the temperature in the Wind River Basin of Wyoming can vary in the spring.

Get this: The high temperature in Riverton on Saturday, March 23, was 28 degrees. Last year the high temperature on March 23 was 69. Lander's year-to-year discrepancy was even more startling. High Saturday: 21. High on March 23 a year ago: 70.

For all practical purposes, that's a 50-degree difference on the same date. You won't see that in mid-July. If the normal high is 85, you won't see a day when it only gets to 36 -- or, in the other direction, we don't get highs of 134 degrees.

Say what you will about spring weather in Wyoming but don't call it boring.

Sordid news

Fremont County always will take special interest in the case of the "Li'l Miss Murderer," Dale Wayne Eaton, the only person living on death row at the Wyoming State Penitentiary. After months of silence, his name pops up from time to time as the long process of motions, countermotions, appeals and rulings in his case continues. A new round of court proceedings has emerged this month as competing sides argue about whether Eaton should get a new psychiatric evaluation.

Eaton spent much of his youth in Riverton, and he turns up from time to time in 1950s and 1960s issues of The Ranger. He was a schoolmate of many local residents who recall knowing him.

An odd, even bizarre sense of celebrity can develop around a person who has been sentenced to death. Such people are few and far between in Wyoming, so a lot of attention is focused periodically on Eaton. Adding to the intrigue is the linking of his name to the disappearance of Amy Wroe Bechtel 15 years ago.

Eaton's crime 25 years ago was atrocious, his possible crime equally so, and revisiting the details from time to time is sordid business. But it is news, and so is he. We'll keep following him to the end -- whatever that turns out to be.

Pay to play?

After the NCAA men's basketball tournament has picked its field for "March Madness," and after the also-rans have been snapped up by the NIT, there still are a couple of other opportunities for postseason play. Some purists complain that the rise of the College Basketball Invitational, from which the Wyoming Cowboys were eliminated in the second round Monday night, and the tournament, which has just completed its first round, have diluted the college game in much the same way that the myriad bowl games have done to college football.

The CBI has a "pay to play" element to it, meaning that teams must come up with money to host a game. That's what Wyoming did -- twice -- over the past week. It irks some followers of the game, but pay to play isn't quite so damning as it sounds. There is more to it than the money.

A team with a record of 4-25 couldn't play in the CBI just by writing a check. Teams are invited to participate first because of their postseason credentials, and they know full well the financial criteria before accepting the invitation.

Everyone claims expertise when it comes to sports, so arguments are inevitable. But if there is an opportunity to play in a postseason tournament by virtue of your performance, then a team shouldn't be criticized for taking it.

Supreme Court campout

The actions outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in recent days have been more akin to the launch of a new iPhone or the opening of a new Harry Potter movie than the start of a court hearing, but people spent a rainy night camped out on hard sidewalks hoping to be first in line for the limited number of seats offered to watch oral arguments in the first of two cases on same-sex marriage the court has agreed to hear this week.

The intense public interest again raises the question of when the high court might allow televised proceedings from inside the hallowed hall. That won't happen this week, but the court has given permission to release the audio of the hearing. For the Supreme Court, that's really letting your hair down.

Experts no more

Speaking of basketball, how's your NCAA bracket looking? Anyone have Florida Gulf Coast in the Sweet 16? Anyone have both Oregon and Ole Miss?

Assuming you haven't bet the mortgage on your bracket, the gnashing of teeth can almost be fun among bracket builders who start with high hopes and feelings of insider superiority that turn to mush once the games actually are played.

For example, a certain editorial writer last week listed six dark horses of various shades as teams to watch. A week later, exactly zero are still alive.

All in good fun. All in good fun. Just keep telling yourself that until it's over.

Here's to a good week.

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