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Jimmy Orr: Bear Obliterates Truck. I Mean REALLY Obliterates Truck

in Jimmy Orr/Column
Jimmy Orr on bear destruction
Jimmy Orr writes: If there was a bear Hall of Fame, this one should get inducted.

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Locking the car doors may seem like a simple task to many of us, but to others it’s an insurmountable burden. A Sisyphean job so onerous that it can’t be done.

That’s why there are so many reminders from the police that hitting that daunting button after exiting a vehicle is a good strategy.

Wildlife officials issue that same call endlessly.

But some dopes individuals don’t get it.

Vehicles are stolen, goods inside vehicles are stolen and bears sometimes turn into Tasmanian Devils and destroy cars.

Happened again on Monday.

A bear opened up a door of a truck in South Park, Colorado, and absolutely obliterated the truck’s interior.

If there was a Hall of Fame for destruction caused by bears, this is a sure-fire nominee.

Now, the animal looked quite content with its surroundings in the first photo shared by Colorado Park & Wildlife (below).

Sure, the rear view mirror was dangling from the ceiling. But outside of that, it looked like he was in the driver’s seat just hanging out. Perhaps smoking a doobie (it is Colorado) and listening to Classic Vinyl on Sirius-XM.

Maybe “Wooden Ships” by Crosby, Stills, & Nash is just fading and that’s when he realizes he can’t get out. Or there’s no beer in the vehicle. Making it much less desirable than the truck in Larkspur, Colorado, that was broken into in June by a bear that drank the beer inside it before stumbling away.

Regardless, bears seem to break in just fine. Exiting? That’s a struggle.

So what to do?

Rip the crap out of the car.

And it did.

In the second photo, the truck isn’t even recognizable.

It looks like a living room on the TV show Hoarders.

Door panel ruined. Cushions ripped to shreds. Things dangling which aren’t meant to dangle. Absolute annihilation.

Holy cow! We want video.

But there is good news. The bear was released and happily bounded away (photo below).

And the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department was left to issue that same old warning:

  1. Remove anything with a scent from your vehicle.
  2. Make sure to always keep your car doors locked.

See you next time.

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Cheyenne Starts Work on New 80-Acre “Hitching Post Plaza”

in News/hitching post

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

They said it wouldn’t happen. But, it’s happening.

Cheyenne’s Hitching Post Inn, once the second-seat of government in Wyoming behind only the state Capitol and currently a burned out shell following a decade of neglect, is coming back.

The City of Cheyenne was joined by Banner Capital Bank and Swagger Construction at a press conference Wednesday afternoon to announce a joint collaboration that will result in a new 80-acre development called the “Hitching Post Plaza”.

The development, which includes a hotel, restaurants, retail outlets, and even a residential area, is already underway with demolition and environmental remediation happening now. 

Work on the demolition of the blighted existing property began last week when Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins, Banner Bank CEO and President Richard Petersen and Swagger Construction President Robert Chamberlin broke some of the bricks marking what remains of the old Hitching Post.

Cheyenne City Council President Jeff White, who represents Ward One — home to the remaining shell of the landmark — was emotional when discussing the weight of Wednesday’s announcement.

“We didn’t just lose a building when the Hitching Post burned, we lost a part of our identity,” White said. “To see this literally rise from the ashes, I’m really happy about it.”

“We all have a story about the Hitching Post when we were kids,” Ward One council member Scott Roybal said. “It’s just exciting to see we are going forward with this.”

The property was first developed in 1927 and shortly thereafter became the place to be during Wyoming’s legislative sessions and Cheyenne Frontier Days.

It fell into disrepair after the longtime owners sold the property in 2006 and then became the target of several fires — at least one of those the result of arson. The city finally condemned the area in early 2021.

“There have been many redevelopment efforts but nothing resulted from any of them,” White said.

How It All Happened

White said what made the difference this time was that all the city council members and new Mayor Patrick Collins identified rehabilitation of the area as one of the city’s top priorities.

Sharing that desire to clean up the property was Swagger Construction’s Chamberlin.

Chamberlin had an idea how to redevelop the site and took it to Banner Bank President Petersen.  

After sharing the plan with his banking colleague Richard Braithwaite, Braithwaite told Petersen how Banner could do it.

“He took one look at it and said ‘This thing screams for TIF (Tax Increment Financing),’” he said, referring to a public financing method that cities use for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects.

“We went up and talked to the mayor and the response and the support from the city council was amazing,” Petersen said.

The council approved an ordinance creating a TIF District and the wheels were set in motion.

“I’m thoroughly convinced that without this public/private partnership, problems of this magnitude would not be solved,” White said.  “It’s a great day for Cheyenne and the only day that’s going to beat it is when we are back together in the spring putting shovels in the ground.”

Council member Pete Laybourn said the details of financing the project were “daunting.”

“This was extremely complex,” he said. “I compliment everyone involved. It took a long time and a lot of effort and we’ve come a long way.”

The Hitching Post Plaza

Chamberlin said it was important to him to honor the site by keeping the name “Hitching Post” because so many people in the community felt close to the original hotel.

“Everyone I talk to has some sort of connection to the Hitching Post,” he said, noting that many people told him they went to prom there.

White raised his hand as did Councilman Brian Cook. Later, Dr. Michelle Aldridge, a Ward Three councilperson said she also attended prom at the Hitching Post — and is still married to her prom date.

To that end, Chamberlin said he was going to save the existing Hitching Post sign.

“The goal is to renovate the sign and get it back to its glory days,” he said. “So that is still the staple of going into the development.

“That’s great news,” White said.


Chamberlin said there are multiple phases to the redevelopment. Right now, work is being done on asbestos abatement and demolition. If weather holds up, he said, that could be done in two months.

“The biggest goal now is to knock those buildings down and getting them disposed of before we get too deep into the fall,” he said.  “Then we’re going to go vertical in the spring.”

Petersen pointed out that a hotel is already being built in the TIF boundaries where the old Atlas Motel once stood.

He said there has been a lot of interest in the site already.  

“I don’t think there’s going to be a shortage of demand,” he said.

As for the long-term benefit to the area, Petersen said the economic impact would be in the neighborhood of $40 – $50 million. 

Councilman Cook said there are many examples of a blighted property being turned around, followed by an immediate positive impact in the surrounding area. He pointed to the investment made by “Warehouse 21” — an advertising and marketing company in the West Edge — and the subsequent uptick in the area.

Roybal agreed, saying the redevelopment will open the western edge of town — an area hit hard in recent years — for economic growth.

“It’s really exciting,” Roybal said. “This is going to clean up this end of Lincolnway and bring in other businesses.”


Laybourn said Wednesday’s announcement is another victory for Ward One constituents.

The “father of the Greenway,” as he has been called for championing the 40 mile pathway that connects neighborhoods throughout the community, said this project, along with the West Edge revitalization plan, the Reed Avenue corridor project and the Crow Creek restoration plan is proof that good government is possible.

“This is huge for Cheyenne and huge for Ward One and I couldn’t be more pleased,” Laybourn said.  

Roybal was already looking ahead.

“This one’s in the books,” Roybal said. “So now we just have to find someone to buy ‘the hole’ and the Hynds building.”

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Jimmy Orr: “A Plane Just Hit the Pentagon!” – A Wyomingite’s Memories From the White House on 9/11

in Jimmy Orr/Column

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By Jimmy Orr, Executive Editor

There was nothing spectacular about the Denver Broncos – New York Giants game on September 10.

Just a Monday Night Football game. The Broncos were trying to stay relevant following the departure of John Elway a few years beforehand. We had steaks and martinis and watched it from my friend Rob Wallace’s house in Northern Virginia.

I remember it because of the next day. The events on September 11, 2001 make everything traceable.  What I was doing the night before, the weekend before, the day of, the next day. It’s not just the memory. I can still feel the dread. I can still smell my smoke-filled apartment. Some images are as clear as if they happened last week.

Working in the White House on September 11 doesn’t change the tragedy of the event but makes it surreal.

Not a replay

Going to Starbucks on 17th street following the communications meeting was a daily ritual. Colleagues Mercy Viana (Schlapp) and Wendy Nipper (Homeyer) and I walked back to our offices talking about the day ahead as we always had.

The image on the TV screen stopped us. The Today Show host said she heard the plane lodged in the World Trade Center was a Cessna. They were speculating it was a fluke.

Because of that when Mercy’s phone rang, she picked it up. We had no idea of the enormity facing us or the country. I stood next to the TV, more perplexed than anything.

With absolute terror, I watched as another plane careened into the second World Trade Center building.

“No, no, no, no, no, no” I said to the screen as the images appeared to happen in slow motion.

I remember gasping and not believing what I had just seen. I feel it now. I can feel that same dread. I walked over to my boss’ office and told him what I saw.

“You saw a replay,” he said, cupping his phone.

“I saw a second plane,” I insisted.

“You saw a replay,” he said, waving me off.

Moments later he came into my office and apologized. “Gather the team, we need to have an emergency meeting.”


We grouped together at the table in his office. We all worked in the Old Executive Office Building — the giant, grey battleship of a structure on the White House Grounds right next to the West Wing.

I had forgotten my pager (remember it was 2001). I got up mid-meeting to grab it and picked up the ringing phone on my desk.

“Dude, a plane just hit the Pentagon,” said my friend Rob Jennings, a fellow Wyoming friend who worked as a fundraiser in DC.

“Are you sure,” I asked him.

“I just saw it. I’m looking at the burning Pentagon now.”

Rushing back to my boss’ office to let him know, the sirens went off. Moments later, the Secret Service began banging on every office door and yelling for us to evacuate.

“A plane is headed for the White House,” screamed one secret service agent.

The sight and sound of dozens of shaken White House staffers running – literally running — toward the north entrance of the White House is crystal.

As is the memory of being among more than 100 staffers standing in Lafayette Park stunned and wondering what we should do next. I wanted to call my family. I couldn’t. My flip phone fell off while running for the gate.

“A bomb just went off at the State Department,” someone said.

That rumor kept circulating throughout the rest of the day.

Scramble for answers

We all went to the Chrysler Building blocks away to regroup. The most senior of the White House staffers were picked off by the secret service and taken to the Situation Room or other locations.

As a White House spokesman and the Digital Director, my only goal was to get the White House website online again.

It was bad enough from a communications perspective that we couldn’t get the president’s statements up on the website. But it paled in comparison to the enormity of the message we sent the country and the world that the White House site was down. Or missing. Or removed.

Optics are important. And the site going back online (thanks to my friend George Lewis) was every bit as important and comforting as the president flying back to DC after stops at Air Force bases in Louisiana and Nebraska.

The next few hours were a blur – not nearly as vivid as the preceding time. We were told to research anything associated with the morning’s events – the date, the time, the locations, etc. Anything that might give us a clue as to why this happened.

When I arrived home that evening, I was struck by how much smoke there was in my apartment. I lived less than a mile away from the Pentagon but my windows and doors were closed. There was no escaping the day.

Haunting images

Like many of my colleagues I didn’t sleep that night and the next few days, weeks, and months were hard as they were for all Americans. But nothing like it was for the families of the victims.

The two images that haunt me the most were not from that day. Instead, the first happened that weekend when we spotted my friend Rob Wallace’s 3-year-old daughter building towers out of wooden blocks and then knocking them down with her toy plane. It was very hard not to cry.

It was impossible not to cry when family members of those lost in Flight 93 came to the White House for a memorial service two weeks later. As all the White House staffers lined up to shake their hands and express our condolences, I still remember that little boy in his little suit who jumped up to me to get a hug. I was told his father was on that plane. I never felt less worthy.

These memories have not faded. As painful as they are, it’s important that they don’t.

Jimmy Orr, a native of Cheyenne, was a White House spokesman and Director of Digital Strategy for President George W. Bush from 2001 – 2005.

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Jimmy Orr: Slavery and Sodomy, The Perils of Spell-Check

in Jimmy Orr/Column

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By Jimmy Orr, Editor

Spellcheck. Yeah, it’s a nice thing to have but it’s not infallible.

In fact, the “proofreader” nearly cost me my job at the White House.

Some journalists (including me) feel they’re better than spellcheck. They look down on it. They hold on to that title of seventh grade spelling champ with honor.

And then when instances come up where spellcheck has failed them, they point to those as evidence of the limitations of the automated fixer.

Anyone who has mistyped the word “public” and received no admonition can attest to this.


On Tuesday, we published the most popular daily sunrise photo since we began the feature last spring (using Facebook analytics as our judge).

Easy to see why.  J. Sheehan’s pastoral photograph of the sun lifting above the Little Snake River Valley dotted by cattle on the green fields is gorgeous.

The faint blue melding into intense yellows and oranges over the lush greens is beautiful.

What could ruin this beauty?


It recommend — no it changed — the location.

What was once Savery, Wyoming, turned into Slavery, Wyoming.

That kinda takes the romance out of the picture.  It destroys what was great.

Spellcheck be damned.


That version never made it on to our page because I’ve been burned before.  And as The Who sang and as President George W. Bush later mangled, “[ I ] Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

By the way, the president’s version was: “Fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me—you can’t get fooled again.”  Awesome.

Back when I was working for the White House, spellcheck nearly got me canned.

In charge of all digital communications, it was up to me to update the White House website.

On March 19, 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq.

I placed the president’s video, remarks, and a photo of the televised speech on the website.

I wrote the caption for the photo on the homepage.  

I mentioned the leader of Iraq:  Saddam Hussein.

Microsoft’s “Word” had an issue with the name “Saddam” and said: “Do you mean Sodomy?”

Not paying attention and just clicking on “yes” — which is what happens when you don’t proofread spellcheck — the caption on one of the most significant days of George W. Bush’s presidency, was — to say the least — incorrect.


It was discovered by a producer at Good Morning America.

The White House operator called me at 5:15 a.m. Eastern and connected me to the kindly producer who just gave me a heads-up about the misspelling.

I was able to change it and no one noticed.  The producer, instead of playing “gotcha journalism,” was just being decent.

Today, it would be international news. There would be a big siren on Drudge screaming that the White House intentionally did this.

I fessed up to my boss. She was great, as she still is today.

But I did get a warning. This was a Defcon 5 mistake. Absolutely it was.

From then on, I never just clicked on “ok” when spellcheck recommends a change.

You could say that sodomy changed my life.

(Not gonna lie, that last sentence made me laugh out loud).

Jimmy Orr is a Wyoming native who was on the masthead at the Los Angeles Times as the Managing Editor, Digital. Orr served as a spokesman for the White House, directed digital strategy for President George W. Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Orr co-founded Cowboy State Daily in January, 2019.

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Jimmy Orr: The COVID Vaccine and The Price of Tomatoes in Texas

in Jimmy Orr/Column

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By Jimmy Orr, Editor

You know you’ve touched a button when someone writes: “This must be a slow news day! Why is this news?”

That happened on Monday when we wrote an article on information from the Kaiser Family Foundation that showed a correlation between a county’s vaccine rate and a county’s support of either President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump.

Wyoming is following a national trend. That is, the stronger the county voted for former President Trump, the lower the vaccination rate.

Not true in every county. But as a general rule.

Here in Wyoming, the county which supported Trump the most (88% in Crook County) also had the lowest vaccination rate (19.4%).

Teton County, which supported Trump the least (33%), had the highest vaccination rate, 71%.

This story set some readers off. We didn’t hear the familiar: “This must be a slow news day!” Instead we heard the unique: “Why is this a news story? What does this have to do with the price of tomatoes in Texas?”

It has nothing to do with the price of tomatoes in Texas. But we get what the reader was saying.

Then we had the familiar “clickbait” charge and saying we weren’t helping in the healing of America.

It’s not our job to help heal America. It’s not our job to hurt America either.

It is our job to report on the news. And like it or not, the vaccine has become a partisan issue. And the results are hardly surprising.

“Our surveys consistently find that Democrats are much more likely to report having been vaccinated than Republicans, and Republicans are much more likely to say that they definitely do not want to get vaccinated,” wrote the authors of the study.

No, it’s not surprising. But it is fascinating to understand why.

What is the reason behind the partisan divide on a vaccine and what caused it?

Did we write a story to denigrate former President Trump as one commenter suggested?

If that was the case, then certainly we wouldn’t include this paragraph:

“You can go back to 2008 and look at the elections and see exactly the same results,” he said. “It’s not Trump.”

That’s from University of Wyoming political science professor, Jim King.

He went on to say the outcome would be the same if election results going back years were compared to vaccination rates, with counties showing the most support for Republican candidates having the lowest vaccination rates.

“What you’re seeing is generally the counties where you find people who are less trusting of the national government, they tend to vote a higher percentage Republican,” he said. “What you’re seeing is not anything related directly to the 2020 elections.”

That opinion, to us, was really quite interesting. That’s why you interview people who have studied one field for decades. Their insight is valuable.

My guess is the majority of the upset readers didn’t read the article. They looked at a headline or the Facebook blurb and immediately took offense. They jumped to a conclusion. They assumed we were condemning a group.

They saw a ghost.

The COVID vaccine is a sensitive topic. It’s not just Wyoming. It’s worldwide.

Add that to the increased distrust of the media and it gets volatile.

At Cowboy State Daily we will continue to stay away from agendas or biases or tilting of articles to make them more palatable for a certain group.

If we have an agenda, it’s that we are pro-Wyoming. We’re a group of Wyoming journalists who love the state and have chosen to live here.

You aren’t going to like every topic. You aren’t going to like every story. And you certainly aren’t going to like every column.

But all of that is ok.

We do hope that you like our Wyoming focus. And we hope our love for Wyoming is evident.

By the way, the cost of tomatoes in Texas varies between locations. For example, there is a big difference between Houston and Dallas. The former will cost you $2.24 for two pounds and the latter is much higher — $3.40.

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Jimmy Orr: Cynthia Lummis Bodyslams Montana Rep Who Doesn’t Understand Where Yellowstone Is

in Jimmy Orr/Cynthia Lummis/Column

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Anyone who’s from Wyoming might occasionally get annoyed when people sometimes associate Yellowstone National Park with Montana.

After all, it’s barely in Montana. Only 3 percent of the park is located in Montana whereas 96% is located in Wyoming and the extra 1 percent (if anyone cares) is located in Idaho.

So when Montana Congressman Matt Rosendale had the audacity to say that Montana was the home of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis rightfully body slammed him.

This all took place on social media where Rosendale apparently was celebrating National Park Week and cut a :45 second video where he committed the foul.

“When you think of national parks, there is a reason you think of Montana. We’re home to the two crown jewels of the National Park system: Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks,” he wrongly said.

The Western Caucus, a group representing western representatives, tweeted the video along with the error-filled language “Rep. Rosendale of Montana represents Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the world, and Glacier National Park, which includes over 1 million acres.”

Lummis, rightfully, reworked that tweet correcting the language.

With a red pen, Lummis corrected the first sentence to read:

“When you think of national parks, there’s a reason you think of Wyoming.”

Then she took to the second sentence where she inserted some language that made the statement correct.

“Rep. Rosendale of Montana represents a tiny part of Yellowstone National Park…” the corrected copy reads.

Rosendale weakly tried to come back by saying:  “They put the show in Montana for a reason.”

Then, Lummis, from the top ropes emasculated Rosendale with one deadly sentence.

“Not our fault the Hollywood is bad at geography,” she said.

Silence. Rosendale couldn’t reply. She annihilated him. 

He should probably resign.

Montana’s Sen. Steve Daines then chimed in saying “I think we should talk.”

Lummis happily obliged tweeting a photo of a Wyoming shirt with a bison and the wording “Yellowstone National Park.”

Game. Set. Match. Wyoming.

Well done, Sen. Lummis. Well done.

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Man Attempts to Elude Highway Patrol On Closed Interstate Following Historic Blizzard In Middle of Nowhere

in News/Criminal's handbook

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If there were a criminal’s handbook there really should be a section on the strategy of trying to elude law enforcement on a closed interstate following an historic blizzard which shut down that highway for nearly four days.

Sadly, for Montana resident Michael Hallier there is no such chapter nor handbook.

Otherwise he may have realized that trying to outrun a Wyoming Highway Patrol officer on a highway that had snow drifts of more than five feet high in perhaps the most desolate stretch of I-80 was not the brightest of moves.

Turns out Hallier was near Wamsutter, Wyoming — which, at times, resembles the moon.

He was spotted trying to drive around the clearly marked closed gate at the onramp.

When the officer saw Hallier’s attempt, he went out to let him know that this was not allowable.

Earlier that day, a Californian tried the same maneuver outside of Laramie in a Mini Cooper. That resulted in costly wrecks and putting all snowplows out of commission for nearly four hours.

In Hallier’s case, once he saw the highway patrolman, he floored it and somehow exceeded 100mph.

Hallier even crossed the interstate onto the opposite lanes of travel. Nothing happened there, of course, because no one (outside of the Californian) was on Interstate 80– because it was closed.

Hallier took an exit and then decided to try his luck on an oilfield road in the desert north of Wamsutter — which always resembles the moon.

To no one’s surprise, Hallier failed in his escape slamming his vehicle into a snowbank.

He was subsequently arrested.

Hallier was charged with fleeing to elude, property damage, reckless driving, reckless endangering, driving on a closed road, and speeding.

Of course, Hallier is considered innocent until proven guilty. The dash cam footage must be spectacular.

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Jimmy Orr: How We Measure Snow in Wyoming — Beer, Children, Cars

in Jimmy Orr/Column

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

In Wyoming, they say you used to measure trips between towns by the “six-pack”.

Of course, those days are long-gone now but beer is still a popular part of the culture. So why wouldn’t we use beer to communicate how we’re dealing with a blizzard?

Beer communicates a lot.  Like how much snow you’ve received.

Ask Wheatland’s Tony Montoya. Nearly four cans of beer so far or 23.6 inches, he said in a Facebook post.

Beer can also communicate your readiness for the elements. Like Paul Delap did in Casper.

“I’m ready for a power outage,” Delap posted with ever-western yellow bottles of Coors. “Mother Nature will provide the means to keep our survival supplies refrigerated.”

His planning garnered much applause by other Wyoming citizens.

“Excellent use of available resources,” Michelle Dahl wrote.

“Love that Wyoming ingenuity,” Maria Salisbury said.

You can also measure snow depth by your children. Like Brittaney Cree Bales did. She said she “almost lost our 8-year-old out there!”

She was commended for the bright green coat her child wore. Excellent choice in case he ventured out too far.

Cars are an excellent way to measure snow depth. Just ask Susan Edgerton. Snowfall at her house looks to be at about an entire Honda.

Then there’s the standard way you can measure snow — by the snowman.

Casper’s C May Heid asks the right question: “When’s the last time the snow was this perfect texture to make a fabulous snowman?”

No kidding. Picture perfect.

Cheyenne City Councilman Jeff White was decidedly more pessimistic. 

“20 inches and now the drifting.  See you in April,” he wrote.

Jeff, we are sorry to tell you. As as 11:30 am, Cheyenne has officially received 26 inches and the storm ain’t done.

See you in May…

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Jimmy Orr: TV Station Reminds Viewers Not To Explore Bear Dens or Feed Bears

in Jimmy Orr/Column
Jimmy Orr
Jimmy Orr

By Jimmy Orr, Executive Editor

Sometimes you have to wonder if people really need to be reminded about how to act around wildlife or if reporters are really stupid.

Probably both.

Then again, in North Carolina where people may not be exposed to tourists who try to ride buffalos or pet grizzlies, warnings are probably needed.

Thus, a TV report from WRAL in Raleigh, North Carolina where a reporter found it necessary to remind viewers that “if you see a bear or bear den, leave it alone.”

Do we really need this reminder?

Maybe so. The old Gary Larsen “Far Side” comic comes to mind where this exact scenario played out.

In Wyoming, of course, we know the stories.

We saw the video earlier this month of the tourists from Tennessee who blocked the path of the bison herd. Ultimately, one woman was thrown off her snowmobile when two of the animals had enough.

The more egregious of the videos (now taken down) showed the tourists screaming and laughing as they gunned their snowmobiles directly at the herd causing a stampede. Somehow no one was hurt.

To be fair, it’s not always the tourists. 

There was the guy last summer in Choteau, Montana who heard that a grizzly was around his property so he snuck-up to an abandoned barn and peered inside.

Public Service Announcement. Grizzlies do not like to be surprised.

The surprised bear then attempted to rip his head off. And if it wasn’t for his quick-thinking wife who tried to run over the bear in her truck, he may not be alive today.

Occasionally, however — every now and then — reporters who are new to the area can be smarter than all of us.

Case in point: Deion Broxton. He was the reporter who worked in Bozeman last year (now he’s in Iowa) who was doing a report from Yellowstone and saw a bison herd.

He gave the herd some serious side-eye before quickly exiting the scene but gave a great play-by-play as he packed up.

“Oh my God,” he muttered while carefully observing the approaching herd.

“I ain’t messing with you,” he said moments later, while walking off-camera and to his car.

“Oh, no,” he continued while packing his car with his gear. “Oh no, I ain’t messing with you.”

The official social media accounts at Yellowstone National Park praised him and his video was viewed millions of times.

Lesson? We all can’t be Deion Broxton. There are people who need to hear warnings — like in that news report on WRAL.

The last bit of advice from their reporter: “Never approach a bear or try to feed it.”

Ok. We’ll try our best.

And our hope is that we have zero mauling stories to report this year. Fingers crossed.

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Jimmy Orr: Wyoming Police Dog Responsible For Busting Three Drug Traffickers in One Week

in News/Criminal's handbook

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If there were a criminal’s handbook, you would think there would be a section on transporting drugs across Wyoming and why it’s a bad idea.

For starters, drugs are illegal in Wyoming. 

It’s not like Oregon where you can shoot-up heroin laced with Liquid Plumber in a daycare center while setting fire to a small business and win a participation trophy.

Things are different in Wyoming. And the best way not to get arrested for transporting drugs across Wyoming is not to drive across Wyoming transporting drugs.

Try Colorado. It’s not Oregon but you’ve got a better shot there.

In Wyoming, you have to deal with Arie the drug dog.

Just last week alone, Arie a K-9 with the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office, was responsible for three different felony drug arrests.

That means a lot of drugs.

On February 9, Arie and his human handler were called out to a traffic stop at mile marker 383 in southeastern Wyoming.

When Arie made it out there, he detected a particular scent. Maybe it was because the motorists were carrying 69 pounds of raw marijuana in their vehicle.

On Valentine’s Day, Arie was sent out again. This time mile marker 8 heading south.

Once again, Arie caught a whiff of a particular scent. Perhaps it was the 64 pounds of marijuana this doofus was hauling.

One day later, Arie was requested again — this time in Cheyenne — and he detected the presence of two ounces of methamphetamine.

The lesson in all of this is: don’t transport drugs across Wyoming.

Arie’s not messing around.

Congratulations to Arie and his humans at the Laramie County Sheriff’s Office.

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Liz Cheney Wins Resounding Affirmative Vote To Stay In Leadership

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

For all the talk about the certainty of Liz Cheney being ousted from her leadership position in the House, it wasn’t even close.

In a commanding 145 – 61 vote margin, Wyoming’s sole representative retained her position as the third highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives.

The vote, only one week after Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz told a Wyoming crowd that Cheney’s defeat was imminent, put to rest any thought that Cheney’s influence would be less significant.

If anything, Cheney’s standing in Congress will likely be more powerful now.

That’s because the congresswoman withstood challengers by not blinking an eye or backtracking at all.

She not only told the Republican conference that she would not apologize for her vote to impeach President Trump but that she “absolutely did not” regret that vote.

Moments after the meeting concluded, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the vote proved the resiliency of the Republican Party.

“This is just an example that the Republican Party is a very big tent, everyone is invited in, and when you look at the last election, we continue to grow and in two years, we’ll be the majority,” he said.

As for Cheney, she made it clear that the vote sent a powerful message not only for her but for the party.

“We had a terrific vote tonight and we laid out what we’re going to do going forward as well as making clear that we’re not going to be divided,” she said. “We’re not going to be in a situation where people can pick off any member of leadership,” Cheney said.

“It was a very resounding acknowledgment that we need to go forward together and we need to go forward in a way that helps us beat back the very negative and dangerous Democrat policies,” she said.

Meanwhile, Gaetz’s predictions that the Republicans had the votes to oust her or that McCarthy would avoid a vote fell flat.

In fact, Cheney was so confident that she would retain her leadership position, she asked for a vote during the meeting.

That, pundits said, showed remarkable confidence.

“She was blunt… She wanted the up-or-down vote. She got it and won big,” New York Times political reporter Jonathan Martin said.

As for her standing in Wyoming, it’s likely that Gaetz got it wrong here as well when he told a crowd last week that: “Liz Cheney is less popular among Republicans in her own state than Muammar Gaddafi was among the Libyans.”

Cheney has been censured by a number of county Republican parties but tonight’s overwhelming show of support could take the steam out of these efforts.

She’s already received high-profile support in Wyoming from former Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau, former Republican Party chair Matt Micheli, the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, and the Wyoming Mining Association.

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Weld County Will Never Leave Colorado For Wyoming

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Before anyone loses any more sleep over it, the chances of Weld County seceding from Colorado and joining Wyoming are essentially zero.

Actually, the more accurate phrase to describe its chances would come from the 1980s novel and book “Less Than Zero.”

Sure, there’s a Facebook page from disgruntled Weld County Coloradoans who appear to want to join Wyoming but the obstacles are too steep.

At a minimum, Weld County residents have to approve it, the Colorado legislature has to approve it, the Wyoming Legislature has to approve it, and Congress has to approve it. 

It’s never going to happen. It’s never going to get past the second step. Colorado is not going to give up a county. Ever.

That’s why it’s easy for Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon to say he’d love to have Weld County join Wyoming.

“We would love that,” Gordon told KOA Radio in Denver. “From time to time states have said, ‘Gosh, we like what Wyoming is doing,’ and we’d be happy.”

If he were serious, he would be far more measured about it. There wouldn’t be any off-the-cuff conversations about it. It would be kryptonite.

Same with Colorado’s Gov. Polis.  It’s easy for him to take a shot back at Gov. Gordon like elected officials do when respective sports teams battle each other.

“Hands off Weld County, Governor Mark Gordon,” Polis said. “Weld County is a thriving part of Colorado and Weld County residents are proud to be part of our great state. I do hear from so many Cheyenne residents, on the other hand, that they are culturally, economically and socially more connected to Colorado than Wyoming….”

The conversation is all for fun. It’s harmless. It’s friendly banter back and forth between two governors.

In the end, it means nothing because neither Colorado nor Wyoming takes it seriously (outside of a few thousand people on Facebook).

It doesn’t mean those people don’t have legitimate concerns but they’re fighting a battle they cannot win. It would be a Sisyphean Battle — and that’s being optimistic. Colorado would never let them go. And Wyoming would never pursue it.

It’s similar to the ludicrous talk of kicking Teton County out of Wyoming. It’s easy to say. But Wyoming would never let that happen. It would be idiotic to let it happen.

Let’s place this conversation in the location it deserves: fun bar-talk. Nothing more and nothing less.

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Gordon Lifts Restrictive Hours For Wyoming Restaurants and Bars

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By Jimmy Orr, Executive Editor

Gov. Mark Gordon’s office on Saturday announced that Wyoming restaurants and bars can return to normal hours effective on on January 9.

The office attributed the change in public health orders to declining hospitalizations due to the COVID-19 virus.

“Thank you to the people of Wyoming who recognized the strain on their hospitals and health care workers and acted accordingly,” Gordon said in a release. 

The governor also thanked business owners who abided by the orders adopted in December when coronavirus cases were spiraling upward in the state.

“These have not been easy times for anyone,” he said. “We are not out of the woods yet, but continued personal safety measures while the vaccine is being distributed will enable our state’s schools and businesses to continue to remain open.”

On December 30, Wyoming hospitals were reporting 113 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, down from a peak of 247 on November 30. However, the state reported 223 COVID-19 deaths in December, the highest number since the pandemic began in March. Wyoming has also begun distributing the COVID-19 vaccine, utilizing a phased approach due to limited initial vaccine availability.

The updated health orders, along with additional information on Wyoming’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, can be found on Wyoming’s COVID-19 website.

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Jimmy Orr is a Wyoming native who was on the masthead at the Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitor as the Managing Editor, Digital. Orr served as a spokesman for the White House and directed digital strategy for President George W. Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Orr co-founded Cowboy State Daily in January, 2019.

Jimmy Orr: Grizzly 399 and Her Four Cubs Romping Through the Snow

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By Jimmy Orr, Executive Editor

For those of you (us) who can’t get enough of Grizzly 399 and her happy family, there’s a new video captured by tourists last week that show the bears traversing through the snow, across the highway, and back to more snow.

As we discussed in our year-end roundup of the most popular stories on Cowboy State Daily, anything to do with Grizzly 399 and her cubs are of huge interest to our readers.

You would think they would be curled up in an enviable many-months-long state of slumber right now, but in the spirit of the recently celebrated holidays, the available food must be a gift that keeps on giving.

If you wince when you see the bears run across the road, you aren’t alone. We just hope that motorists continue to use extreme caution as they travel in the Grand Teton National Park area.

Part of the fun from this video is the play-by-play. The adults are just as thrilled as the children in the car.

It appears that one of the participants is “Facetiming” the events as you hear someone over the phone who sounded strikingly similar to Gomer Pyle say, “Golly, that sucker is big, Kurt. You better move, Kurt!”

Those sentiments were echoed by one of the children who quickly agreed: “Daddy, move!”

The driver did not move (which was a good idea). We might have rolled up the windows but it all turned out ok.

The most excitement came when the onlookers saw the four cubs bounding through the snow.

Gomer reeled off another “Golly” before the whole car gasped and laughed at what they were seeing.

“Is that not awesome, Kyle?” the driver said to Gomer.

“Oh man, that is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” Gomer said.

We have to agree. It was spectacular. And a great way to bring-in 2021.

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Jimmy Orr: Cowboy State Daily’s Most-Read Stories of the Year

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By Jimmy Orr, Executive Editor Cowboy State Daily

It’s that time in the calendar when news organizations look back at the biggest stories of the year and provide some commentary.

That’s what Cowboy State Daily’s Bill Sniffin and Jim Angell are doing and there are no people better than doing that.

This column is a bit different.  This is just about numbers. The stories that generated the most traffic because — most likely — of social media. 

Something caught someone’s attention and the sharing took-off.

These stories aren’t the most important but they generated the most readership.  It’s likely because of coronavirus-fatigue. People were looking for stories that didn’t remind them of the coronavirus.

That’s not to say people weren’t reading coronavirus-related stories. They were. By category, there was nothing bigger than stories about the pandemic and we did over 900 of them.

The top ten stories, however, it appears gave people a break from the bad news.

Let’s dig in….

10. Fat Grizzly Bear Gets Into Another Altercation While Guarding His Bull Elk

This was the story about the Yellowstone grizzly that downed a bull elk and took a couple weeks to eat it. In the meantime, photographers and videographers by the hundreds — it seemed — gathered to document the bear’s breakfast, lunch and dinner.

A wolf sauntered by (if wolves can saunter) and decided he might have a snack. Fatty the Bear, as we called him, was not in a mood to share and let the wolf know.

As we wrote in the September 30 story, we could empathize:

We’ve all been there. It’s late on Friday. You have a few thousand beers. You order a large Meat-Lover’s special and hork down a couple of slices David Hasselhoff-style before you pass out upside down caught in the steps of a spiral staircase.

It’s a story as old as time.

You wake up the next day craving more of your pizza only to find it gone.

You learn from that experience to guard your food.  [FULL STORY]

9.  Grizzly 399’s Cubs Stop Traffic To Wrestle & Play With Cones; No Tourist Gets Mauled

If the story was about Grizzly 399 and her cubs, chances are it performed very well on Cowboy State Daily. 

We loved writing about the five-some. This family of bears gave us welcome escape during the pandemic.

Even though we wished — often — that tourists would just leave them alone, we also realized that when someone took a photo or video of the bears, we could write about it.

This story was simple. It was just about the four cubs who had fun playing with some traffic cones. 

To make it better, a tourist decide to narrate the fun on his iPhone while sitting in his RV.

As we wrote: “From the video, it sound like Chris Pipes could be a former TV anchor. He described what he saw like someone might do the play-by-play of the Rose Parade.”  [FULL STORY]

8.  Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx Escapes to Wyoming 

No chance of a Pulitzer on this. But who cares? It’s a fun story.

Having been a Mötley Crüe fan since 1983 and knowing about Nikki Sixx’s successful battle with addiction, this was a story — when we heard about it — that we wanted to jump on.

It’s a human interest story.

It’s fun how we heard about it as well.  One of our readers texted us and said she was walking down her street in Teton Village and passed Sixx, his wife, and their daughter. And they were all very friendly.

She was reluctant for us to report about it as she thought it could be TMZ-like, which we understood.

By the same token, however, the couple took to Instagram to announce their departure from Los Angeles to Teton County so we thought they weren’t being shy about it — so why not write it up?

There were great photos of the rocker along with his baby daughter in their airplane and in subsequent Instagram posts, he was really quite complimentary of Wyoming.

Although the story generated a number of “who cares?” comments and “he should stay in California” mean-spirited remarks on our Facebook page, there were also plenty of people who were welcoming as well.

For the record, we do recognize Teton County as part of Wyoming although a vocal number of commenters believe Teton County should be kicked out of the state.

7. Grizzly Attack Victim Videos His Exposed Bones Immediately After Bear Encounter “Just In Case He Didn’t Survive”

Another bear story. People love bear stories. Except this gentleman. He hates bears.

Shannun Rammel was attacked by a grizzly earlier this year. People could say he brought it on himself as he snuck up on the grizzly in an abandoned shed (never a good strategy).

Regardless, you gotta admire his ability to be calm under pressure.

After getting attacked, he asked his wife to film him on her phone so he could tell the story of the attack in case he expired.

“You can see my bones and my tendons,” he said. “He ripped into me pretty good there.”

As we wrote:

His wife told the TV station that when she saw her husband “getting thrown like a rag doll,” she came up with the idea of running over the bear in their truck.

“So when I punched the truck, he stopped and looked at me, dead straight in my eyes,” Jammie Rammel said. “He got off Shannun and turned around and got out of there,” she said.  [FULL STORY]

6.  Snow Possible In Wyoming This Weekend. Because It’s 2020

The weirdness of 2020 continued with two freak summer snowstorms. One that happened in late August and a huge one that occurred right after Labor Day weekend.

This story just previewed the first one and Ellen Fike presented it in full context:

As the 10 biblical plagues continue to curse Wyoming and the rest of the world, a portion of the state will see another favorite friend: snow.

This storm didn’t generate a lot of snow but the next one sure did. [FULL STORY]

5.  Hikers Run From Grizzly While Onlookers Laugh

This was a shocking story because of what could have happened. 

The video is insane. You see a grizzly running down the same path where three hikers and a baby (AND A BABY!) are hiking.

Hikers from a close ridge are filming the action and letting them know to make some noise.

Instead of making noise, the hikers (on the same trail with the grizzly and THE BABY) start to run.

The other hikers yell at them “Don’t run. Don’t run!!!”

Then the hikers start laughing (the ones who are safe filming the whole thing). Thankfully it ended okay.  As we wrote:

To be fair, the bear didn’t show any interest in pursuing those hikers and it was a really nervous situation so it’s not as though he was cheering on the grizzly like he was watching a gladiator fight in Ancient Rome.

“Thank goodness that it all went well afterwards,” he said. “Other than that it was a beautiful day for a hike down to Hidden Lake.”   [FULL STORY]

4.  Surprised Hiker Captures Video of Grizzly Barreling Down on Two Mountain Goats

Guess what?  Another grizzly story.

This one is another close call. A grizzly is running full speed (as far as we can tell) after a couple mountain goats down a mountain trail and comes to a fork in the road.

The bear has a decision to make. Keep running after the mountain goats (who can run quite fast) or take the other trail where he would run into humans (who are really slow).

Thankfully the bear chose to stay on the same path. But it was close.

The video was a bit wobbly but we understood.

We don’t blame the hiker for the wobbly video.

After all, if we were just feet away from a grizzly barreling down the mountainside in full pursuit of two mountain goats, our video might be wobbly too.

No word if the mountain goat survived. The hiker, for some reason, chose not to run after the grizzly to get the footage.  [FULL STORY]

3.  25% of Wyoming Stay-At-Home Workers Boozing During Work Hours

Only one direct coronavirus story scored in the top 10. Out of more than 900 coronavirus stories we did that may seem a bit surprising.

It doesn’t to us. As we already mentioned, by category, traffic to coronavirus-related stories dwarfed everything else.

But there was also coronavirus overload.  People looked to the fun bear stories or the wacky weather stories to escape.

And this one is kind of a hybrid coronavirus and wacky human interest story.

A poll from alcohol.org polled 3,000 American workers and found out that 25% of Wyomingites who worked from home due to the coronavirus were drinking on the job.

In the Rocky Mountain West, we were number one!  As we wrote:

Does 25% seem high to you? Of our neighboring states only one has a lower percentage of boozers (and it’s not Utah).

Only 22% of South Dakotans are taking advantage of not having a boss around.

Hawaiians flat-out don’t care. A full two-thirds of them are opening up the hatch while working on TPS reports.

The lowest state?  Arkansas with only 8% admitting to honking the hooch.  [FULL STORY]

2.  Yellowstone Tourist Trips And Falls When Charging Bison Takes After Her

This wasn’t the biggest Bison versus Human story of the year (that’s coming up) but this was still one heck of a story.

It’s still amazing to us that no one is hurt.  The video, again, is insane and shows a couple idiotic tourists who believe bison are tame, cute puppies who just want to be petted.

They don’t. And this bison was not happy. But because the woman played-dead, the bison left her alone.

We don’t know if that was a good strategy or not. The best strategy is not getting out of your car.

And then there was the moron who “tried” to help.  As we wrote:  

Reports are that the woman was not injured. 

No word on the condition of the man, appropriately dressed in green shorts and sandals, who tried to pick up a tree branch (and failed) in an effort to look like he could actually do something against a 2,000 pound bison.  [FULL STORY]

  1. Woman Violently Attacked By Bison; Pants Ripped Off During Encounter

You knew this had to be number one.  The story that sparked a National Park Service gingerbread cookie in its honor.

The story of a female biker who left her motorcycle to go pet a bison in Custer State Park.

She didn’t lose her life but she lost her pants.

As we wrote:

One of the bison’s horns got caught in the woman’s belt and “swung her around violently.”

“She was apparently saved when her pants came off and she fell to the ground unconscious,” an eyewitness said.  “[A]t that point, the attacking animal ran off along with the rest of the herd.”

Custer County Sheriff Marty Mechalev told the outlet that the woman escaped serious injury in the incident.  [FULL STORY]

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Jimmy Orr is a Wyoming native who was on the masthead at the Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitor as the Managing Editor, Digital. Orr served as a spokesman for the White House, directed digital strategy for President George W. Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Orr co-founded Cowboy State Daily in January, 2019.

Jimmy Orr: The Danger of Competitive New Year’s Day Resolutions

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

There’s nothing wrong with New Year’s Resolutions. It’s a good idea to have a goal and if starting on January 1 makes sense, then more power to you.

If joining up with another person or people to accomplish a New Year’s goal makes sense, then that’s a good idea too.

If, to make things more interesting, you bet against a friend to see who can accomplish their goal first, then that’s another good motivator.

That’s what my friend Jonathan Downing and I did a quarter of a century ago but it ended up backfiring for us.

In the late spring of 1994, we both joined on to the Rob Wallace for U.S. Congress campaign in the primary and then the Jim Geringer for Governor campaign in the general election. Both of us were in our 20s when we had working metabolisms.

In my experience, campaigns are never good for weight loss. But they are great for weight gain — need it or not.

Both of us entered the campaign with our weights in a similar range: the mid 180s. Not too bad for people who are 6’0.

By the time campaign season was done, we both had ballooned to the mid 220s. Eventually I would see my weight hit the dreaded 250 mark. And I believe Jonathan (although unconfirmed) toppled 1,000 pounds.

The usual things are to blame. Being on the road for hours, fast food, drinks, late nights, fast food. And fast food.

In January 1995, we went to work for Governor Jim Geringer. Our offices were right next to each other.

Alarmed at the 40 – 50 pound weight gain, we decided to have a competitive New Year’s resolution. See who could get back down to 185 the quickest. Or, at least, who was lighter by the end of the session.

Everything started well. 

Then came January 2.

Because we had spent so much time together, we acted like brothers. Teenage brothers.

We continually tried to sabotage each other.

This was no different. 

After having a lunch salad at the Egg and I (the closest restaurant to the Capitol), I would swing by Taco John’s to pick up a couple super burritos and place them on Jonathan’s desk. Every day.

It proved to be an insurmountable hurdle for him.

“Jonathan horked those burritos down like a human vacuum cleaner. Bits of potato would spit out of his office as he would attack the side dish with the ferocity of a diesel-powered blender,” I wrote while discussing this strategy in the Los Angeles Times.

He was just as devious.

Going to the Hitching Post for a reception was a nightly event. My plan was to have a Diet Coke and forego any snacks.

But then came a secret admirer. A young, attractive woman started sending me Bacardi and Cokes (dozens of them).

Thinking it would be rude to spurn the drinks from the young, attractive woman, I drank them and the food that would inevitably follow.

I never saw the young, attractive woman although she really had a thing for me. The waitress only told me about her.

Turns out there was no young, attractive woman. Jonathan was behind the drinks and paid the waitress to say that. 

We sent pizzas to each other’s houses. Dairy Queen Blizzards would appear out of nowhere. 

I remember opening up my desk drawer to find a still warm chili dog. Jonathan, not checking his chair before sitting down, sat on a plate of nachos.

A day didn’t go by without some type of sabotage.

By the end of the session, we had both gained upwards of 20 pounds. We both lost.

In the years that followed, however, we achieved weight loss goals at separate times.

Back in 2017, I recall see Jonathan in the grocery store. He looked pre-1994 campaign weight. He looked great.

I asked him how he did it.  No carbs, he said.

A week later, I saw him in the same store but carrying out a full cake. I asked him about the no carbs diet. He said the cake was just to celebrate the weight loss.

He continued to celebrate.

Sadly, so have I.

The only moral of the story is if you want to successfully achieve a New Year’s resolution don’t ask Jonathan to help you, you probably want to be really careful in choosing your New Year’s resolution partner.

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