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Tribune Staff

Theories are fun, but not those conspiracy theories that anyone can come up with. Since they're impossible to disprove, the theorist feels justified and just a little smarter than the rest of us objective dummies. We're all a little slow, since we can't prove George Bush and the Jews didn't plan 9/11, or that Clinton wasn't responsible for the deaths of Vince Foster, Jim McDougal and Jayne Mansfield.

The theories I love are odd ones with some actual rationale. My friend Mike “Soup” Fink has a few pet theories … some old, some new, some borrowed, some blue.

He ran a borrowed one by me recently, which I've coined, “The Nerd Evolution Theory,” that originated with his friend Chuck. Chuck is upper-middle age and admitted to Mike he was a nerd in high school. Cheerleaders, brainiacs, the girls next door … they all denied his very existence.

But that seems to be changing, Chuck chirped, because “the older a guy gets, the better his romance odds become.”

His theory purports that the teenage dork might be considered quite a catch 45 years later when other men are dying off.

Technically, he's probably right, since statistically the average life expectancy of a woman is five years longer than that of a man. That leaves a lot of still-frisky widows just chomping at the bit, so to speak.

Combined with other factors such as riskier lifestyles, it adds up to a dork's odds increasing daily, particularly if he watches a lot of TV instead of mountain climbing or skydiving. Chuck said many retirement communities boast three women per every man. Still, my “Theory of Diminishing Returns” says if I ever end up in a community with a 3 to 1 ratio, the guy next to me will have six! I'll still be watching TV alone.

But I can't dispute the once-geeky Chuck's Theory of Nerd Evolution. Even Erkel and Pee Wee Herman might eventually be considered studs if they live long enough, I suppose.

That was Fink's borrowed theory, but he also has “something new,” and I'm intrigued – although deeply troubled by his thought process.

First the setup to what I've named Mike's “Big Cow Theory.” A few weeks ago, I shingled a three-car garage on a big farm on the outskirts of Cody. Driving the winding, dirt road, there were cows nearly as far as the eye could see, and beside nearly every one was a cute, little, still-wobbly calf.

I told Fink about this, and we agreed those little suckers are almost as cute as kittens.

“I bet it almost makes you want to stop and pick one up,” he offered.

“Well, yeah … I'd never really thought about it, I guess,” I answered, bemused.

And then his theory: “Ya know, if you stopped every day and picked up a calf, by the time they're full-grown cows, you'd be strong enough to still pick them up.”

Now, my first thought was, “Hmmm; I never figured Fink for a crackhead.”

Yet, what he was putting out there was technically accurate. He and I used to lift weights together and are both aware of the magical gym formula of muscle-growth: “Repetition + increased resistance = larger, stronger muscle mass.”

My friend Soup, in an insane way, was transferring that formula to farm animals, and theoretically, he's spot on. If I indeed drove that road every single day and lifted a calf over my head, eventually I could clean-and-jerk a full-grown Guernsey.

But it would be foolish on so many levels. First, it's much simpler and convenient to go to the gym and pick up barbells. It's difficult and awkward trying to get a good grip on a calf. Also, your average calf is gonna be thrashing and scrambling to get away. So before you could perform the proper set of repetitions, you'd have to chase and tackle it several times.

True, this would increase my capacity for aerobic exercise, but chances are eventually someone would notice and report me. The humiliating “Police Reports” page of the newspaper would say, “Passerby reported short, unkempt-looking man in a roofing truck trespassing on private property. ‘He does it every day and always stops to hoist cows over his head.'”

So Fink's theory will remain just a theory, because that is not how I roll.

I don't think my friend was trying to give me a bum steer, but simply stating a theory, and one with credible rationale. Still, to come up with something like that, theoretically he might be crazier than a pet coon.

A weekend incident on the North Fork called into question the response — or more accurately, the lack thereof — of the Park County Sheriff's office.

It took seven calls to dispatch for Search and Rescue aid -- five from U.S. Forest Service employees or volunteers -- before the Sheriff's Office sent a deputy to assess the situation. The man requesting help was stranded on the far side of the dangerously-high Shoshone River, in heavy rain and mid-40-degree temperatures, with daylight going fast.

He later admitted to being poorly prepared — without food, water or proper clothing — for what he intended to be an hour-long jaunt from his North Fork campsite.

Deputy Aaron Rose said, when he arrived at the scene, “Ninety percent of Search and Rescue cases are due to bad judgment.”

Probably true.

But bad judgment on the hiker's part didn't warrant the sheriff's office lackadaisical — or worse — response.

In a follow-up conversation, Deputy Kirk Waggoner, the Search and Rescue liaison, said the Sheriff's office did not consider the situation an emergency — either before or after the rescue, but decided to err on the side of caution. He asked: “How do you get lost on a river? You either walk upstream or downstream.”

Ultimately, Search and Rescue did respond and brought the hiker to safety, but not before other friends and bystanders considered drastic, dangerous measures. The cold, wet, disoriented hiker said it wasn't as simple as walking upstream or downstream. That's why he asked for help.

Park County Search and Rescue's mission statement says its mission will be met “by responding to calls for assistance in searching for lost or missing persons and rescuing persons in distress.”

While not lost or injured, this hiker was clearly in distress, as indicated by the multiple calls to 911 and county dispatchers.

The Sheriff's office's reluctance to respond — without even an on-the-scene assessment — seems contrary to Search and Rescue's mission and, more broadly, to the role of a law enforcement agency serving the county's citizens.

Lela (Mooren) Schmitt died June 7, 2010, at New Horizons Care Center in Lovell.

(Feb. 15, 1929 - June 6, 2010)

J. Allan ‘Al' Miller, 81, died June 6, 2010, at his home in Powell.

(April 24, 1939 - May 29, 2010)

Kathryn “Susy” Elaine Koltes died of medical complications in Billings on May 29, 2010.

(May 30, 1945 - June 2, 2010)

Clifford D. Rassler, 65, died June 2 at the Davis Hospice Center in Cheyenne, following a courageous battle with cancer.

(April 28, 1929 - June 8, 2010)

Hilliard Jackson “Jack” Hargis, 81, formerly of Bozeman, died June 8, 2010, at his home in Powell.

{gallery}06_08_10/gymdemo{/gallery}

Demolition crews weakened the steel reinforcements of the old gym by bending them, using a trackhoe as a sort of battering ram Saturday morning, moments before the roof came cascading down. Brisco Demolition, a Cheyenne-based company, is razing the building. Tribune photo by Kara Bacon

Demolition of the old high school gym entered a new phase last week as the walls of the original building began to come down.

The project began in April with internal work. Actual demolition began with the addition to the gym built in the late 1960s, which included the Tartan Gym. That part of the project was completed by Memorial Day, and last week work on the original 1948 building began with the removal of the west wall. Saturday morning the roof came down, which will allow the demolition to proceed from the inside.

Search and Rescue fords raging river to bring hiker to safety

A Sunday-morning horn-hunting expedition on the North Fork turned into more than Donovan “Shane” Bishop of Cody bargained for after he became disoriented in thick fog and was stranded on the north side of the rain-swollen Shoshone River.

According to the 38-year-old Bishop, who was camping at Wapiti Campground with his girlfriend, Jacque Skinner, of Cody, he set out early Sunday morning with Skinner's dog, Grizzly.

A young mountain lion was captured west of Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody Friday, in a cooperative operation with the Cody Police Department and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

At 9:53 a.m., police received a report of a mountain lion on property in the vicinity of Ina Avenue, said Vince Vanata of the Cody Police Department.

Page 486 of 502

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