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Dave Simpson: We’re Less Deplorable Than Before!

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Articulate Ball-of-Fire Presidential Candidate Joe Biden said this last week:

“There are probably anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the people out there that are just not very good people…”

(This quote has to be accurate, because it appeared in The New York Times.)

Biden was addressing a group of democrats by video from his basement rumpus room, and he was surprisingly coherent.

(Forgive me, but this reminds me of a school superintendent I once encountered who said student achievement scores would improve if the town could just attract a better grade of parent. Smarter parents would translate to smarter kids, and better test scores. The town was unimpressed by his logic.)

As positive people, who turn frowns upside down, and insist on seeing glasses half full, it behooves us to see this as possible good news. Because it was just four years ago that Hillary Clinton, also running for president, estimated that half the people who supported her opponent Donald Trump – which would translate to 31.5 million voting Americans – were a “basket of deplorables.”

Whether or not this translates into meaningful progress depends on how you do the math.

If you take all the people in the United States, and apply Joe’s 10 percent number, that gives you 33 million of us who are “not very good people,” or just slightly more than Hillary’s estimate of how many lowlifes like us were in the basket of deplorables back in 2016. (Not good.)

At 15 percent of all the people in America, hard-charging Joe figures that 49.5 million of us are “not very good people.” (Even worse.) This would mean that more of us had oozed to the deplorable side of the political spectrum in a mere 3.5 years, which is no doubt Donald Trump’s fault, because, well, everything is, darn him.

According to this way of looking at the world, a higher stock market and lower unemployment – until the big coronavirus home confinement hit – made us (yes, I proudly count myself as deplorable) even more deplorable than before, and more not very good people-ish.

However, if you never took a statistics class like I never took a statistics class, you know that as soon as you cite numbers like these, some smug statistics grad will tell you that you don’t know your caboose from a hole in the ground.

So, let’s look deeper.

Hillary beat Trump in the popular vote by 3 million votes, meaning that a total of about 128 million people voted in 2016. (That factors out those who are not yet old enough to vote, and who haven’t had time to become deplorable yet, under the influence, no doubt, of their deplorable parents.)

Factor Joe’s 10 percent “not very good people” into that, and you come up with a mere 12.6 million of us who are not very good people. Bump it up to 15 percent, and you still only have 19.2 million not very good people. This is progress, people.

Take the higher estimate of not very good people, compare it to Hillary’s 31.5 million deplorables, and we’re talking real, measurable improvement. Positively granular. Even under the highest estimate of not very good people, an impressive 12.3 million of us have somehow slithered out of the basket of deplorables. This is a 39 percent decrease in deplorableness, which is enough to make even statistics grads bark their approval.

(I used to say “gnarly, Dude” at moments like this, but my wife won’t let me say that anymore. Forget I said it.)

Apparently what makes us deplorable and not good people is our fondness for keeping our doctor if we like our doctor, keeping our insurance if we like our insurance, secure borders, an aversion to late-term abortions, not saddling our grand kids with huge, crippling debt, a general appreciation for capitalism over socialism, and a general belief that big government screws up more than it fixes. (As some say, government could “screw up a steel ball with a rubber hammer.”)

Shame on us for thinking crazy stuff like that. Despicable, huh?

The good news is that we may be appreciably less deplorable, even if our democrat friends are doing the math.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Jonathan Lange: Trump Executive Order Supports Free Speech In USA

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By Jonathan Lange, guest column

“Free speech is the bedrock of American democracy.  Our Founding Fathers protected this sacred right with the First Amendment to the Constitution.  The freedom to express and debate ideas is the foundation for all of our rights as a free people.” These are the opening words of Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship, signed be President Trump on May 28, 2020. 

The Associated Press used this as another opportunity to gaslight the American people. They characterized the order as “challenging the lawsuit protections that have served as a bedrock for unfettered speech on the internet.”

Actually, the lawsuit protections written into the 1996 Communications Decency Act (CDA) were originally written “to restrict free speech on the internet,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. If the AP mischaracterizes the Executive Order so badly, we should set the record straight.

In 1996, the Internet was still in its infancy. Netscape was the browser of choice and the fastest dial-up modems were operating at a whopping 33.6 kilobytes per second. Geocities.com and AOL.com were among the first service providers to let a web user build his own home page. Others soon followed. These interactive computer services became the precursors of today’s social media.


Unlike a newspaper, where every word and picture had to be specifically approved by the editor, this budding technology allowed content to be published without the oversight of a general editor. This was a revolution in the free flow of information. It was also an opening for more sinister pursuits.

Disgusting, indecent and obscene words and pictures could be uploaded just as easily as family photos and decent content. The unfettered use of user-generated content threatened to poison the Internet and drive away anyone who did not want to be assaulted by obscenities and lewd conduct. Unless something was done, its power would be unusable for decent citizens.

As a powerful new tool for the social good, it was in the interest of the government to protect the Internet from antisocial behavior. But the owners of interactive computer services ran into a legal conundrum.

If they deleted even one obscene photo, they were no longer the operators of public bulletin boards, but made themselves editors. As such, they would be legally and financially responsible for all the content available on the platform. 

What to do? Unless free speech was fettered to keep obscenities from turning the Internet into a sewer, it would not be available to anyone. But if user-generated pages were placed under the same libel laws as traditional newspapers, those pages could be sued out of existence. Again, the Internet would not be available to anyone.

Section 230 of the CDA was written to address this problem. Its explicit intent is “(4) to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children’s access to objectionable or inappropriate online material; and (5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of federal criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment by means of computer.”

Under paragraph (c) titled, “Protection for ‘Good Samaritan’ blocking and screening of offensive material,” Section 230 says, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 USC sec. 230). 

After this comes the lawsuit protection. “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

Clearly, the intent of Section 230 is to preserve parental rights and to protect children from “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, [and] harassing” material. Nobody ever envisioned the words, “otherwise objectionable,” to cover whatever the owner of the platform doesn’t want you to see.

It is the prerogative of print and broadcast media to disseminate, or to stifle whatever content it desires to give to or withhold from its consumers. With this right comes the responsibility to abide by decency laws and libel laws. If Facebook, Twitter, Google and the rest want these same prerogatives and responsibilities, they are welcome to have them. 

But if they do not want the responsibility of abiding by libel and decency laws, they have no business claiming the right of editors to create, stifle or alter the content that their users are generating. And yet, this is precisely what today’s social media are doing.

This is where President Trump’s Executive Order speaks. It declares, “When an interactive computer service provider removes or restricts access to content and its actions do not meet the criteria of subparagraph (c)(2)(A), it is engaged in editorial conduct.  It is the policy of the United States that such a provider should properly lose the limited liability shield of subparagraph (c)(2)(A) and be exposed to liability like any traditional editor and publisher.

The Executive Order makes no attempt to change the law. It only directs the executive agencies to give attention to applying liability protections in keeping with the entire law, not by cherry-picking isolated phrases. Thus, it directs the commerce secretary and the attorney general to petition the Federal Communications Commission to make rules appropriate to Section 230.

This provision, especially, ought to be applauded by every newspaper and cable news show in the country. Abuse of Section 230 by social media giants is a significant factor in the massive decline of traditional media outlets.

The Executive Order further directs the head of each executive agency to review the money that the federal government pays to these corporate giants. It asks for a report to be delivered to the Office of Management and Budget in the next month. The American people deserve to know how tax-payer money is spent in support of platforms that actively skew the public discourse.

The Order also directs the Federal Trade Commission and the Attorney General to look into unfair and deceptive practices of the social media giants. In May of 2019, the White House received 16,000 complaints from social media users. Many believe they were deceived. They were promised a platform to disseminate ideas, but instead were shadow banned by the very companies that promised to broadcast their content.

Twenty-four years ago the Internet had potential both to be a tremendous blessing and a terrible curse. That is no less true today. The world has jumped on an airplane that we are trying to build in mid-flight. 

Are interactive computer services (social media) free-for-all public forums? Or, are they simply electronic newspapers, with editors and agendas of their own? The Communications Decency Act has allowed these corporate giants to play both ends against the middle. They can advertise themselves as public bulletin boards, but rip down notices with impunity.

Ultimately, it will be the social media conglomerates themselves that will have to decide what they are. It is the job of the U.S. government to give them a clear choice. The Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship, is a good step toward clarifying that choice. 

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500+ People Gather in Lander to Hold Vigil for George Floyd

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

Over 500 people gathered in Lander Friday night to hold a vigil, a parade, and to recognize the death of George Floyd.

Riots and confrontations occurred around the country as a result of the death.

Vigils and parades were held all over in Wyoming including Casper, Cheyenne, Laramie, Jackson, Riverton, Lander, and other cities and towns.

Bill Sniffin: I Took a Covid-19 Test. This is What it Was Like

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher, Cowboy State Daily

It all started with a little cough. Then a big cough. After scaring the heck out of my family and friends with my illness, I finally went to our Lander Medical Clinic to get some answers. 

They suggested I take a COVID-19 test, “just in case.”  

A nurse practitioner named Aaron Wright, originally from Kemmerer, grabbed a long cotton swab, asked me to tilt my head back and remarked, casually, that this might be “a little uncomfortable.”

If this is “a little uncomfortable,” then a proctological exam is a breeze. Luckily, the procedure only took about 10 seconds, which seemed like 10 minutes.  And yes, I really did wince. A lot. 

He stuck that thing up my nostril way, way up into the hinterlands of my sinus area and rubbed against my pituitary gland, I am sure. Whew! 

Aaron apologized for causing me the discomfort and handed me a tissue to clear my nose and wipe away my tears.  

The procedure reminded me of checking the oil on the big diesel engine in my old motorhome. You keep sticking that dipstick farther and farther and farther until it finally hits bottom.

Even though Nancy and I have been hunkering down (as my friend Ray Hunkins calls it) for almost three months, Aaron said I was now officially quarantined, since I was sick enough that they gave me the test. 

For 14 days or until they got the results, which would not be for five days, I was to stay put. He said I allowed to maintain contact with my wife, but otherwise I should lay low until the test results came through. 

And what about this darned cough?  It did not feel like a cold, but Aaron said allergies were quite active this year.  Did I get allergies? I said I did and made the mistake of telling him that I had had a terrible earache about a week ago and was going to come into the clinic about it. But the earache went away.

“Let’s check that out,” he said. “Hmmm, you have so much wax in that left ear, I can’t even see your ear drum. We need to clear that out.”

Uh-oh, I thought, here we go again.

A nice young gal came in to the room with what looked like a spray-painting rig.  Actually, it was a wand they had borrowed from the downtown car wash, I surmised.  

She stuck that thing in my ear and turned it on and, well, it was a drenching experience.  She tried to cover me but I still got wet. Very wet. 

I think she managed to shake loose a few of the little buggers clogging my ear canal, but she finally gave up. Aaron looked it over and also decided we had done our best for the day. He suggested I buy some over-the-counter drops to help loosen it up. 

He told me to take Claritin or Benadryl for allergies and he prescribed some little golden pearls, that would help my cough.  He had no suggestions for my hoarse voice.

My wife Nancy was eager to hear about my COVID-19 test. But she really perked up when I told her about my ear canal spray job. 

“I hope it improved your hearing,” she remarked.

“Huh?” I replied. 

So, despite fixing my selective hearing, our lives are continuing on in this strange quarantine purgatory.

Five days later, I called the clinic. The result? Negative for COVID-19. Whew.

Like many other older business guys, I still use a paper daily planner. There have been a lot of jokes about people buying a planner for 2020. 

Some folks see humor in all this.  There is an anti-Baby Boomer Facebook page called OK Boomer.  They originally called this plague the “Boomer Remover” until they caught so much grief, they took it down. Not funny to us Boomers. 

Jim Hicks up in Buffalo says he knew 2020 was a leap year because February had 29 days, March had 500 and April and May were three years long!

Hicks also says people have quit referring to the days of the week.  His new list is: Thisday, Thatday, Otherday, Someday, Yesterday, Today, and Nextday. 

Retirees used to refer to the seven days of the week as Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, Sunday, Saturday, Saturday, and Saturday.

There is an old saying that goes: “Hindsight is 20-20.”  I predict that expression will be used a world record number of times in the future to describe this crazy year. 

If we all can stay well (and the odds look good, that way), these will be times to look back on in total wonder.  The entire world stopped. If we ever wondered how the world would react to an invasion of otherworldly aliens, this was a preview.  Amazing.  

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Dave Simpson: No Frontier Days? Cowboy Up!

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By Dave Simpson, Columnist Cowboy State Daily

There’s gotta be a pony in this pile of manure…

That was the punchline from a Ronald Reagan story, about the couple with two sons, one a pessimist, the other an optimist.

“What should we give the boys for Christmas?” the wife asked. “It doesn’t matter what we give our little pessimist,” the husband replied. “He won’t be happy with anything. But let’s give our little optimist a pile of horse manure. He’ll figure there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere.”

(I miss Reagan, don’t you? Remember when he was pardoning the Thanksgiving turkey, and Sam Donaldson shouted a question at the president? The turkey kicked up a fuss, and Reagan turned to the bird and said, “That’s tellin’ him, boy!”)

(Remember when Reagan was touting the virtues of the Individual Retirement Account? He cited Moses, who lived 600 years, and said, “Imagine what he could have accumulated in his IRA!”)

We learned last week that the biggest event of the year in our town – Frontier Days, when 500,000 people come to a city of 60,000 – is canceled this year. That’s because you can hardly pack the town full of tourists for rodeos, concerts, multiple parades and free pancake breakfasts with everyone wearing pancake-blocking masks, and staying six feet away from each other. How do you whoop it up at a time like this?

A few years ago, I was getting an oil change downtown. The manager lamented the onset of Frontier Days.

“For the next week,” he said, “if it isn’t a parade blocking traffic, it’s a free pancake breakfast.”

That’s our town, but just about every town has one. In Central Illinois, Pekin has the Marigold Festival, because that was hometown hero Everett Dirksen’s favorite flower. (If that isn’t enough to make you put on your dancing shoes, I don’t know what is.)  In Mattoon (pronounced MAT-oon), Illinois, it was (no kidding) the Bagel Festival, because Lenders baked a lot of bagels there.

In our favorite town in Wisconsin, they had a fall festival in which a helicopter swooped over the main intersection, dropping hundreds of ping pong balls on the crowd. Elbow your friends and neighbors out of the way, stomp them if necessary, and you might get a ball with a cash prize printed on it.

Standing in a long line, sweating in the heat and humidity, waiting for your chance to score a butterfly pork chop, or a roasted turkey leg, was never my idea of fun. Local festivals tended to drive me out of town, and I’m told that a lot of Cheyenne residents plan their out-of-town vacations to coincide with Frontier Days. (I tend to come down from the mountains for a day or two, just to see the Air Force Thunderbirds buzzing the town.)

Summer will be a more subtle pleasure this year, one of the few positive aspects of the long coronavirus lockdown, and I hope the folks who love standing in long lines, sweating, waiting for a butterfly pork chop, can adapt.

Better than any local festival I ever attended is the smell, on a summer afternoon, of sagebrush after a rain. It’s the most wonderful smell you can imagine, and I always stop the truck, roll down the windows, and breathe it in for a while. There’s nothing like it, and if you don’t agree, you need to take a long, hard look at your priorities, young fella.

Years ago, my father had a big garden in Wisconsin. On vacation, I could send my son out behind the house with a steak knife, to cut a handful of asparagus, right out of the ground, for dinner. In the morning, we could pick fresh raspberries and put them on our bowls of cereal.

(My father, in retirement, once told me, “This is the good life,” and he was right.)

A crackling campfire high in the Rockies, with the Milky Way in all it’s glory above, is enough to make a guy sit back and wonder what the heck this life deal is all about, anyway.

There’s a pony in this 2020 pile of manure, if we look hard enough.

All we need to do is cowboy up.

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Sam Lightner: Just A Normal Sunday With Lightning, High Winds, Baby Elk, And A Wounded Dog

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By Sam Lightner Jr., Columnist Cowboy State Daily

LANDER — Wyoming is the greatest, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Take last Sunday . . .

I was going climbing in the burn-area of the Little Popo Agie Canyon. Most Muggles (non-climber folks) think of rock climbing around Lander to be at either Sinks Canyon or the Wild Iris on Limestone Mountain, but we have actually been climbing in places like the Little Popo Agie and Sweetwater Rocks areas for over 30 years (60 for the latter).

This day was to be spent actually cleaning slabs of guillotine-like rock from a wall that had been damaged during the fire of 2003. Fires cook the outer surface into giant flakes of dolomite and render it unclimbable, and my plan was to clear an area so it would be safe to climb again in the future.

I was accompanied by Dasher, a spunky, 19-pound, mix of everything small and canine, and Sadee, a cross of Chocolate Lab and Healer at a manageable 35 pounds. Both pooches were a bit nervous as the Wyoming-wind was blowing pretty hard, but we all made our way up the slope to the dolomite in about half an hour.

As I began to rappel down the face, the wind caught wind of me and picked up to something Laramie and Casper people might refer to as “breezy.” I’m not real good with the Beaufort Scale, and sailing-stuff like that doesn’t mean much to rock climbers, but with the way I was swinging about  on my 9 mm rope I’d guess it was a steady 35 mph with gusts that could have been twice that. It was hard enough that I couldn’t do what I’d planned with the false sense of security that makes climbing fun. I discussed it with dogs, and we agreed it was time to call the plan off.  We high-tailed it for the truck.

Crossing the deadfall, Sadee in front and Dasher in the rear, our little team almost stepped on an elk “freshie.” No, not poop, but a calf. The cute little ball of brown with white speckles, his fur still matted from birthing fluids, was curled up in some juniper less than proper social distance away.

Sadee lunged forward as the critter wobbled up onto spindly legs. I grabbed the dogs tail but she got away, then stood next to the elk realizing it was 3 times her height. I dove for her over a log and the elk tried to take a step away.

Sadee howled, Dasher yipped, and the elk yelled “Mommy” in Wapiti. Mom must have just stepped out to go shopping or something. Anyway, the elk ran (more like “spindled”) from the obvious danger, and Sadee followed, still not knowing what she was supposed to do with this smelly deer on stilts. I finally got control of her as the elk wobbled over some logs, all the while yelling for mom.

Problem two averted, except we looked up to see a thunderstorm over the Oregon Buttes, and it was headed our way at whatever the crazy speed the wind could carry it. We picked up the pace as the rumbling got closer.

Twenty minutes later we were greeted by two pronghorn who were using the truck as a wind break. Yeah, it was blowing so hard the antelope were looking for cover. I yelled at them to go find a dip in the sage, which notified Sadee they were in the area.

Now we all know it’s illegal and wrong for dogs to chase wildlife, but the Wyoming Game and Fish should have a “Pronghorn Clause” for that law. Dogs have no more chance of catching a pronghorn, or even bothering one, than Sheriff Buford T. Justice did of catching The Bandit. Antelope could make a greyhound look like a glacier.  These two speed-goats jogged south, laughing at what lousy predators canines are, and Sadee seemed to realize how silly she looked in their dusty wake.

The would be hunter-dog was back in the truck moments later, but Dasher was reluctant. Normally wanting to be the boss of the shell, he was demanding to be in the cab of the pickup. As thunder roared overhead, I chased him around and under the truck, trying to explain in my most calming scream that we could get zapped by Thor at any moment. I eventually caught him, got him in the shell with Sadee, and the days problems were solved. Right?

Wrong.

On the way out of Pass Creek I came onto three fellow climbers headed into the Little Po. Despite obvious 307 cultural differences, they being in a Dodge pickup and me in the GMC, we had a polite chat about the conditions. They had work to do the next day and were hell bent on climbing, thunder god or not. I continued towards Highway 28.

For some reason, Dasher was staring at me through the window of the cab. It was out of character, so I pulled over to see what was up. I lifted the back hatch and the Dash-man stood on his hind legs, exposing a 2-inch puncture and gash in his lower chest. Now I understood what he was trying to tell me. It wasn’t pouring blood, but it wasn’t good, either. I grabbed him, put him in my lap, and made for the Lander Valley Animal Hospital at a pace that WyDot would not have approved of.

For those keeping count, my dogs had now assisted me in breaking three unpopular Wyoming laws that morning; two on how poorly domesticated dogs are at harassing wildlife and one, on  what is considered to be a reasonable speed on a prairie highway, when you have a tailwind. But I digress.

We zipped through the yellow lights of Main and managed to beat Doctor Lisa to the vet hospital. I haven’t done the math, but coming from Wild Iris that fast might violate a few laws of physics as well as those of the Highway Patrol. Doc Lisa greeted us with an assuring smile and asked if I would assist in the light surgery that was coming. Dasher heard this and decided the back of the truck didn’t sound so bad, but a few cc’s of Versed with a Lydocaine chaser and he was happy to have his wound irrigated and stitched up. Doc Lisa gave us some meds and we were back home by 3:30.

That’s after 5 pm to those on the east coast, so we poured some distilled Kentucky relaxant and sat down to watch the unhappiness of 2020-America flow across the tv screen.

With fires and looting in Minneapolis, L.A., Chicago, and D.C., all interspersed with a thousand more dead from disease, I was reminded how good even a hard day can be in Wyoming.

(Note: The author retains the right to claim none of this really happened if he so-needs.)

Bill Sniffin: In COVID-19 Era, What On Earth Do You Advise To 2020 Graduates?

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher of Cowboy State Daily

Wow, what on earth would you say to a graduate this year about his or her future?

Here in the age of COVID-19, there is more uncertainty now than any time during my lifetime. 

With 33,000,000 Americans out of work, this are bigger joblessness numbers than the Great Depression 90 years ago. 

I have often given commencement addresses and always write a special message to grads column this time of year. 

For over 50 years, I have been writing columns called messages for graduates. Almost every one of the other columns was concerned about jobs and the economy. But this year would be different. 

This is the talk that I would give if asked to speak in high schools in Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins, Rock Springs, Kemmerer, Evanston, Lander, Riverton, Afton, Powell, Sheridan, Worland, Wheatland, Torrington, Casper, Newcastle, Sundance, Upton, Greybull, Basin, Pine Bluffs, Lusk, Bridger Valley, or any other city or town where my column appears. Here is that talk in written form: This year, where do I start?

In less than six months, we went from the best economy in history to the worst. 

To a graduate sitting in a hot, crowded auditorium pondering that biggest of all questions: “What is going to happen to me?” well, I want to tell you that these times can be times of opportunity just as easily as they can be times of worry.

On a personal note, we have two grandchildren graduating this year.  Our love and prayers go out to Hayden Johnson and Alexys Gibbons. 

Let me share with you four big points: 

My first point: This is not your fault. If you have troubles, do not beat yourself up. Nobody in the world saw this pandemic coming. One of the most important indicators of success in life is timing.  I usually tout the importance of good timing.  How to deal with bad timing is another subject, altogether. But you play the cards you are dealt. Get ready for the fight of your life.  

My second point:  You are not alone. Besides those millions of other grads, you are joining over 30 million people out of work. This might be a time for the U. S. government to create some “make work” projects. During these times, you need to be resourceful.

My third point:  Rely on family and friends. In 90 percent of the instances, these last few months have been a wonderful bonding time.  With their college-age children in their homes with them have provided unforgettable memories.  Cherish these times. 

My fourth point: Take the long view. One of the best known and worn-out phrases connected with all this is the term “2020 Hindsight,” which will be used a few billion times to describe these times.  Try to anticipate the opportunities ahead. 

As an aside, and just to young men, when I graduated from high school in 1964, it may actually have been a time of more uncertainty than today in 2020. We were facing the draft and the prospect of fighting in the Vietnam War, way back then. 

But there are still jobs out there and you need to go after them. If you are a hard worker with industrious habits and good ethics, the future is very bright.

Employers are looking for good workers.  And they are looking for good people. And most of them want to hire you for a long, long time. They are looking as hard for you as you are looking for them. 

I always tell young people that it is not who you know OR what you know.  It is who you know AND what you know that will ensure your future.

Time is on your side.  It helps that 25 million baby boomers are retiring in the next ten years. 

Another big tip is to locate mentors who are in the career field of business you are interested in. Cultivate friendships with them and ask for advice.  You will be surprised at how helpful they can be to your career.

You grads heading out into the world of new jobs need to be alert and savvy to trends in your fields.  Endeavor to stay ahead of the curve.

I see a future that is as bright as ever for the young person willing to work hard, make friends and perhaps, most of all, “keep learning” as you grow into your careers.

Good luck and Godspeed. 

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John Davis: The Coronavirus Comes To Worland, Wyoming

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By John W. Davis, Cowboy State Daily guest columnist

The solitude of the town of Worland and its nursing home have been shattered by an outbreak of coronavirus that has claimed the lives of three elderly people.

Worland is a town of about 5,000 people situated in the southern Big Horn Basin.  For its area, Worland is a large town, the biggest town in almost 90 miles in any direction.  It was founded in 1906 and had its genesis in the construction of three irrigation canals, which established a large irrigated farming area in the dry Big Horn Basin.  

Within only a few years oil was discovered in the area and Worland gained a second leg for its economy.  The town did well through the years, although sometimes suffering from the boom and bust of the energy industry.  It reached its high point of about 6,800 people in 1980, but has since gradually diminished in size.   

About 50 or 60 years ago, a nursing home was built in Worland.  It was probably done as part of a national trend.  The federal Medicare and Medicaid programs provided funding for nursing homes, responding to changes in American demographics because of increases in the lifespans of Americans from medical advances.

The Worland nursing home (now Worland Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center) quickly became part of the fabric of the community, as have similar nursing homes throughout the nation. 

The home was tucked into an attractive residential area in southeast Worland and was considered a welcome addition to the town.  It provided employment for nurses and support staff, and contributed an important service, taking care of a lot of people of advanced age (it’s listed as an 87-bed facility, although usually only houses about 60 residents). 

The facility has been owned by various companies; now it is owned by Five Star Quality Care – Wyoming LLC out of Newton, Massachusetts (near Boston).

In sum, the Worland nursing home has been a quiet and productive addition to the town. 

About the only exciting thing arising from the nursing home was the occasional “escape” from the facility by residents with such conditions as Alzheimer’s disease. 

People living close to the home would frequently note some older person moving slowly away from the nursing home complex, and would kindly call the facility and notify those in charge that someone needed to find the resident and bring him or her back to the home.

But the worlds of small, local nursing homes have been greatly changed with the arrival of the coronavirus.  The first big outbreak in the United States was in the state of Washington, when the virus invaded a nursing home in Richland, about 200 miles east of Seattle. 

The outbreak cut a deep swath of death before Washington state officials controlled it (I remember figures of 30 and 40 deaths).  People throughout the country responded aggressively to fight the virus, although they frequently underestimated its potency.

At first, the efforts of the Worland nursing home seemed to be quite successful.  There were a few cases reported in Washakie County (Worland is the county seat), but they seemed to top out at five. 

In fact, for over a month, there were no new cases of coronavirus and many people in Worland felt that the town had avoided the worst effects of the pandemic.

That attitude has changed radically in the last couple of weeks, after new coronavirus cases appeared in the Worland nursing home. 

The first reports spoke of seven new Wyoming infections in the previous week, all in Washakie County.  The sick were quickly confined to the nursing home and many of us hoped that a strict quarantine would hold down the casualties.  

The number of people afflicted, however, has now ballooned to 32, with three deaths, all three of whom were residents of the nursing home.  Among the 32, twelve residents have contracted the virus, nine members of the staff, and four community-wide members of the community.  

The remaining numbers were apparently “probables,” people who had not tested positive for the disease, but had close contacts with those who had.  The sick were quickly confined to the nursing home and many of us hope that a strict quarantine will hold down casualties.  

A call was placed to the Worland facility, and this reporter spoke to Heidi Glanz, the administrator.  Glanz was courteous, but quite firm in saying that she wasn’t authorized to discuss the outbreak; any such information could only come from corporate headquarters in Boston. 

I could understand that position, as the parent company was going to be very cautious indeed, given the disaster that a coronavirus outbreak represents for a nursing home company.

The “good” thing about this tale is that most of the people infected are young and have not experienced great sickness – many, no symptoms at all.

The State of Wyoming is on the scene here, conducting numerous tests.  I’m sure that everything that can be done is being done, but I hope that the people addressing this outbreak never forget how persistent, sometimes deadly, and very, very contagious this virus can be.    

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Jason Kintzler: Here’s How To Save Frontier Days In 2020

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By Jason Kintzler

Last week, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, along with rodeo officials from around the state, announced the cancellation of 6 major rodeos. The largest among them was Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Rodeo is certainly part of Wyoming’s fabric and drives millions of dollars in tourism revenue to various communities around the state each summer. Canceling these attractions will certainly leave a deep scar on the economy here which has already been devastated by a lethal combination of COVID-19 and a collapse oil and gas industry.

So, that got me thinking. How could we salvage the state’s largest event in some capacity while at the same time be building for the future? What if there was a way to leverage an iconic brand and pull the international rodeo community up by its collective bootstraps and saddle up for something different? 

Hold on, cowboy. We’re going digital.

PPV Cowboys

First, call all those rodeo cowboys and cowgirls, tip your hat, and set a date. Plan to host the CFD rodeo with no fans in the stands.

Instead, we’re going to build the biggest Pay Per View Rodeo event of all time.

Let’s reach out to RFD-TV and other networks who might be interested in carrying a portion of the rodeo or perhaps broadcast rights after the PPV.

Let’s build an international buzz about the Daddy of ‘Em All. This will take money and we’re going to need to leverage tourism dollars and other mechanisms, but we’ll get it done.

Think of this not as a Cheyenne or Wyoming initiative, but instead the entire rodeo world. We’re going to be the symbol for perseverance and cowboy tough because well, the World Needs More Cowboys.

And, if we believe this, then we need to put our money where our mouth is.

What’s more, this idea has been put in action already by the likes of the PBR and NASCAR. No fans, but a great viewing experience and brand exposure for sponsors and partners.

What about rodeo pay? What’s the purse? Sponsorship would kick in for winners, but the rest would come from PPV dollars similar to other sporting events. Participants would share in a cut (percentage) of the PPV draw. It’s a risk because we don’t know what it’s going to bring in just yet, but my guess is that’s a gamble these participants will gladly take. 

Entertainment

A rodeo in 2020 is about entertainment, so we’re going to need to liven things up in between events. Imagine how many musicians would support such a cause?

And, at a much lessor fee than an in person concert. Let’s rally the country music community and ask them to share live stream performances with us and our PPV audience worldwide. Garth Brooks, has always said he’s wanted to come back to CFD and perform. So, maybe he’ll do it virtually for another one of those rodeo buckles?

Local Economy

This is certainly a challenge, but there are ways we can help. We could use the event to solicit donations to the Wyoming Rodeo Community Foundation which could in turn, help local businesses that will be impacted by a lack of rodeo presence. Places like Cheyenne, Cody and Sheridan come to mind. We could also create a mechanism for people to see and purchase local products and services through the CFD website or similar. This can be flushed out further as things come together.

A Lasting Model

Perhaps the most exciting part of this is that this model could be scaled up and built for future events. It would create new revenue streams, new opportunities, and renewed enthusiasm in rodeo worldwide. Access to this type of event wouldn’t be just for those in attendance but for those watching around the world. Eventually, VR technology will enable an entirely different experience and we’ll be ready to capitalize.

This is just one guy’s idea and I’m sure there are a lot of holes and challenges I’m not considering. But bottom line, it’s most certainly 100% doable. And, if we’re going to hang our hats on a cause for the summer of 2020, I think this ranks right up there as an all-around viable option. 

Why do I care? I’m not a rodeo cowboy and I don’t stand to make a dollar of of rodeo tourism. However, I’m a Wyoming guy who loves his state and I’m absolutely motivated by people’s assumptions about “the way it works, or the way it is” and I can’t stand complacency. 

No cowboy or cowgirl I know has ever been satisfied with average. If we’re going to be great, we have to work at it. We have to grit our teeth and push on. 

Here in Wyoming, we’re born for it.

Jason Kintzler is a Wyoming native and the Founder and CEO of Lifekey, a wearable technology company and Pitchengine, a PR software platform. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Wyoming Business Council. 

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When Pandemic Ends, Remote Access To Meetings Should Continue

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By CJ Baker, Powell Tribune

Many parts of life just haven’t been as good as usual in recent weeks. We have all made due and adapted, often in wonderful and unexpected ways, but virtual birthday parties and drive-by graduation celebrations can’t compete with the real thing.

However, COVID-19 has also had the unexpected effect of increasing transparency within our branches of government. In some ways, even as public life has been restricted and facilities closed, public meetings and hearings have become more open and accessible than ever before.

We’ve been thankful for all the efforts that public agencies have been making to ensure their discussions are as transparent as possible.

There have been technical challenges and mess-ups, but on the whole, we believe it’s been easier than ever for local residents to track what their elected representatives are up to.

For instance, while members of the public are always welcome at Park County Commission meetings, the gatherings tend to be particularly difficult for many residents to attend. The meetings take place during the middle of a workday (the first three Tuesdays of the month) and they tend to start in the morning and run into mid-afternoon. Few people can take that kind of time to keep up with their commissioners.

But since the public health orders began shutting down public life, the county has been streaming its meetings via Skype and left the recordings online for on-demand viewing. The potential benefits for the public are obvious.

Consider, for example, a recent commission discussion on whether to move forward with creating a plan for new walking and biking paths around the City of Powell. Under normal circumstances, a Powell resident wanting to hear the debate would have to leave work, drive to Cody in the middle of a Tuesday morning, catch the 10-minute conversation, then head back home. Unless you’re the world’s most passionate walking and biking advocate, that’s not going to be worth your time.

However, with meetings now being recorded and archived, anyone can simply pull up the county website at their convenience, cue up that section of the meeting and be done with it in about 10 minutes.

Similar examples are popping up around the state. For instance, the federal court system in Wyoming has long been difficult for the Tribune to track, because, say, covering a hearing for a local defendant means making a 12-plus-hour round trip to the courthouse in Cheyenne or sometimes a seven-hour round trip to Casper. For a half-hour hearing, the math just doesn’t add up. Amid the pandemic, however, federal and local courts are allowing media and members of the public to simply call in and listen. Suddenly, hearings that were basically inaccessible are just a call away.

Then there’s the Wyoming Legislature, which recently took the unprecedented step of hosting its special session almost entirely online — and made it possible for anyone with an internet connection to watch.

Andrew Graham, a reporter for WyoFile, said the conference committee meetings that were held during the two-day special session — where lawmakers hash out differences between versions of bills passed by the House and Senate — were the most transparent of the five sessions he’s covered over the past four years.

In a change from recent sessions, each conference meeting was noticed and then recorded, where the public could watch the debates live or at a later time. 

Certainly, all of this technology comes with costs in both time and money — and the demand for remote access to different government meetings is bound to vary from body to body. But there are strong indications that there is indeed a demand.

Consider the Park County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees, whose meetings typically draw just a handful of residents. After broadcasting and archiving their recent meetings on Facebook, the board’s April 28 meeting has drawn more than 800 views while a May 12 meeting had roughly 1,100 views. To be sure, Facebook’s view count is not an accurate representation of how many people are actually sitting down and watching an entire meeting — if a video auto plays in someone’s news feed for 3 or more seconds, that counts as a view — but it certainly shows a much wider audience than usual.

Of course, this is not to say that our local governments should give up their in-person meetings in favor of going remote. Nothing can fully replace face-to-face interaction, particularly when the goals include building relationships or resolving conflicts. But government officials should work to continue to make their meetings accessible online as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

As Graham put it on Twitter, “No one wants a virtual Legislature, but as things get back to normal I won’t forget that it was possible for the entire far-flung state to watch their Legislature deliberate.”

We hope our public officials — from lawmakers to commissioners and school board members — don’t forget that, either.

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