Tuesday, November 29, 2016



The biggest item in the news this morning is the heartbreaking disaster unfolding in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where wildfires have been raging for some time.

There has been extensive damage in the area, but there are encouraging reports that the worst danger may have passed.

One can only imagine the horror of being forced from your home community and watching major parts of it burn to the ground. We have had similar disasters here in Iowa involving flooding, but as natural disasters go a wildfire might be the most fear-inducing. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Tennessee today, and yours should be too...

"And the birds and animals as well, I hope."

Of course...I've been trying not to think about that aspect of the nightmare...

So Long, Eddie

23-20, 390 IP, 294 strikeouts, one World Series ring
My beloved Kansas City Royals announced yesterday that free agent starting pitcher Edinson Volquez had signed a two-year contract with the Miami Marlins. He spent the past two seasons with the Royals.

Although he was never a top-of-the-rotation ace in Kansas City, Volquez earned the nickname "Steady Eddie" for his durability
and grit. He will be tough to replace in the rotation.

As a member of the 2015 World Series Champions he will always be fondly remembered in Kansas City, and Royals fans wish him the best in Miami.

Get a grip...Jason Vargas should be ready to go by Opening Day, and we have some other options as well, plus there's always the possibility of a trade...

Chess Anticlimax

The 2016 FIDE World Chess Championship match in New York between reigning champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway and Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin got off
to a slow start with draws in the 12-game match's first seven games.

Karjakin then electrified the chess world by winning with the black pieces in Game 8, putting him in position to claim the title with just four games remaining.

He wasn't able to hold on, however, losing Game 10 to allow Carlsen to even the match. Games 11-12 were uneventful draws, which means the championship will be decided by Rapid and (if necessary) Blitz games on Wednesday.

This is a deeply disappointing outcome. Chess at those faster time controls isn't really the same game. If the Super Bowl is tied at the end of regulation, they play more football, they don't settle things with a tug-of-war or a foot race.

"You're going to keep grumbling about this no matter who wins, aren't you?"

Of course I am...my objection is based on principle, not on personalities...

Garbage Disposal

From the pen of Lisa Benson, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

This time of year there is a veritable tsunami of Christmas music releases. Artists and groups in every musical genre participate in the annual deluge, as our appetite for such releases seems boundless. Even the head-banging heavy metal artists get in on the act. On Amazon's digital music section this morning, a search for "Holiday Music" new releases just in the past 30 days returned nearly 1,300 results.

No one can listen to all of this music, of course, or even a significant fraction of it.
I already own several hours' worth of Christmas music, so I have no need of any more, but every year I find some that is good enough to make me want to own it (the blog's last three weekly Music Recommendations have been Christmas albums, and that is likely to continue through the New Year).

While I was poking around for this week's choice, I happened upon an album by an a cappella vocal group named Voctave. Their new album The Spirit of the Season is an interesting blend of modern and classic Christmas songs, including some with which I was not familiar.

The album closes with a medley of "This Is My Wish," a song written by Tim and Angela Lauer for a TV commercial that has proven to be wildly popular, and the 1955 classic "Let There Be Peace On Earth."

Today's send-off is the group's live-in-the-studio performance of the medley, from their YouTube channel. Enjoy...

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