Glitterson I hope this does not deter you from continuing on your BBQ/Smoking journey. As you can see there are so many opinions and view points to be had and looked at. Bottom line what everyone is trying to do in their own way is look out for you and your guest safety. When you get back to your original question about the time the food was in the TDZ and how to cool and reheat it safely.
Well the cooking part was done and beat to death. Yes it was on the counter a bit long, so counting the time the meat left the fridge the outside was in the TDZ for 4-5 hrs (the center got to 140 after 6hrs, but the outside was there quicker). As for the topic of inserting the probe at the start or the middle. That to be honest is a personal thing. Some say it can push bacteria into the center so they insert later. Others don't worry about it and insert it after serializing it. I personally will insert mine at the start. In the future I would try to cut down on the prep time and or cook at a bit higher temp in the start to get to 140 faster, then back off and allow the low and slow do its thing.
I saw no one address the cooling and reheating subject. For me that is where most of the issues are likely to happen.
When I do large cooks it depends on what the end result is needed. Am I going to freeze for later use or am I cooling to reheat later.
Freezing: I will put about 5# of of the pulled pork into a 1 gallon freezer bag and push out as much air as possible. After I have portioned the meat I will lay it flat in my fridge not stacked to allow it to cool to below 40 degrees. According to Florida State Health Inspectors you have 6 hrs from the time it goes below 140 to get to below 40. I personally try to do this in 2hrs, I think 6hrs is too long.
Saving for later bulk use: It is pretty much the same as above, however you are not putting it into freezer bags. You want as shallow of a pan as you can get. I try to use nothing deeper than 2". Place the pan in your fridge with plenty of air flow. I do not put mine into the fridge when it is very hot. You still have the same time frame as before. Again I try to be at around 2hrs. I find I need to mix the pulled pork a few times to achieve this.
Reheating: Simply you have 2 hrs to go from <40 to >165. I prefer for smaller amounts to use a saute pan and a bit of sauce to reheat it quickly. For larger amounts I will place in a preheated oven covered with some sauce/liquid. I tend to start at 300 degrees and adjust after about an hour.
For the last 18+ years of my career the company I work for follows HACCP Guidelines. That is what I live a die by for work and at home. The 40-140 in under 4hrs is a great guide to use for your cooks. As it states on the opening page for the Food Safety section it is not written in anything other then what is supported and recommended by this site. So you do have some wiggle room, but it is at your discretion and only yours too how much wiggle room you choose to use. As you have seen you will get some passion on both sides of the fence.