Sunday, November 30, 2008

Men Wear Boots!

On Thanksgiving day, among our 106 guests, my partner and I enjoyed the company of a gentleman who owned and operated a western store in Oklahoma, but moved "back East" after he sold the store to live closer to his children, all of whom settled in the sprawling 'burbs of Maryland. He lives in a retirement community where several of my family members live, and where I visit often. I met him when someone referred him to me when he needed some minor electrical repairs done.

We hit it off great -- especially the first time when I walked in his door and he made remark about the boots on my feet. I remember what he said to this day: "Men wear boots!" That is a statement he has made to me each time I have seen him over the past dozen years or so.

It's unfortunate that my friend's children and grandchildren, all of whom live within five miles of his home, only go to see him about twice a year. They expected him to drive over to their houses for holidays, birthdays, or other family events. As he aged, he stopped driving at night, and last year, he stopped driving all together. He acknowledged that his reaction times were much slower, and he was afraid of all of the other "kooky drivers" on the road.

Unfortunately, his family's ignorance persists. They told him that they were going this-way-or-that for Thanksgiving, and that none of them could pick him up or spend any time with him on the holiday. It's so sad... family so nearby and so callously ignoring their own father.

We were delighted that he joined us for our holiday event. My niece picked him up (along with some others). He walked in the door with the biggest smile on his face. Surreally, the cacophony stilled. He exclaimed, "Men Wear Boots!" and handed me a box.

Inside the box was a pair of black Dan Post Vegas Cut ostrich toe cowboy boots. These are really cool-looking, dressy boots! He said that he noticed that I wore boots like those (in a different color) when I saw him earlier this year. He ordered them from his old store. He said that he thought I would like them. That's for sure!

In turn, I handed my friend a box that I asked a close friend from Oklahoma to send to me. In the box was real honest-to-goodness mistletoe, which grows parasitically on trees in Oklahoma. He had mentioned that he missed his "Okie-toe," a nick-name he has called the plant since his childhood. He told me that when his wife was alive, he would hold it over his head and chase her around with it. On Thanksgiving, he shed a tear as he removed the mistletoe from the box, held it over his head, and accepted a kiss from my niece, and a hug from me (a Christmas-time custom: anyone who is under mistletoe is to be kissed.)

There are little things that we learn about each other, build friendships, and extend bonds beyond age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. Thanks, "F", for your gift. I can see from your eyes that you enjoyed mine.

Life is short: wear your boots, and show those that you love that you love them.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Gay Comfort Zone

I am continuing to enjoy an ongoing dialogue with a partnered gay man who inspires me to think. He's a smart guy who writes exceptionally well. He lives in a state north of me, one with which my partner is quite familiar.

Lately, he wrote:

Many gay people I know are what I refer to as "separatists." They don't keep close straight friends and spend their time either at the gym or with gay friends. Their conversations are about gay issues. It's like there's an invisible wall between them and the rest of the world that they just don't seem to want to pass through.
He acknowledges that he is generalizing and that it is a particular segment of the population to which he is referring, not the whole. But I have noticed that, too. The few gay people that I know around the area where I live tend to behave that way -- they only socialize with other gay people, go to the gym or out to eat only with 'their own.' I rarely see them with 'straight' people.

For me, on the other hand, the vast majority of my friends and people with whom I socialize are 'straight.' I love to ride my motorcycle, and several years ago, I rode with a gay motorcycle club. But just like my buddy said, all the members of that club talked about was whatever 'gay drama' was going on at the time, themselves, and gossip about other people. They did not pay much attention to what was going on in the world around them. Sometimes they chided me for being so involved in my community with issues related to development, planning, zoning, schools, and transportation.

Having little patience with gay drama, I left that club and joined another motorcycle club in which I believe I am the only member who is openly gay. The club members like to ride; I like to ride. That's it -- we ride! No drama, no 'issues.' But I observe during conversations with club members that they are keenly aware of the world around them, and some, like me, get involved in trying to make our world a better place.

My buddy and I both feel that perhaps we do not have the same feeling of "solidarity" with the gay community as the other gay people we respectively know. We both understand that our respective upbringing and masculine outlook undoubtedly affects the way we relate to other gay men.

We live, for all intents and purposes, as straight men when it comes to the every day. It is just who we are. Both of us are not pretending or in any way avoiding any part of what makes us who we are. Take it or leave it, what you see is what you get.

My friend continued:

I have to remember that just because I live this way, many others do not and that's fine. But because I do, I believe I tend to see things from a more global perspective and not from a corner of one very small segment of the population. I believe in the statement "think globally, act locally." Unfortunately, I think man gay people pledge their allegiance to "think locally, act locally" (or "think within the community, act within the community").
I have shared with my buddy, and all who know me, that I am a community activist -- but I define my community as the neighborhoods and geographic region where I live, not 'the gay community' as some may think. He replied, in kind, as follows:

It is noble and responsible of you to speak out at meetings in your community. I find your conviction in politics and community welfare refreshing. So much of "our" community (by that I mean gay people in this country) concern themselves with things that are quite frankly self-centered, or gay-centric, and don't stop to think that they might be able to use their energy for the "greater good".
I was humbled by the demonstration of my buddy's respect for my community involvement, and appreciate it.

So my buddy and I muse, "is there a lack of willingness in the gay community to reach out to the greater community? Are they afraid of not being accepted, or of being taunted or rejected by others? Do men in the gay community feel uncomfortable, or spurn, getting involved in issues outside their gay comfort zone? What do you think?"

Friday, November 28, 2008


Thanksgiving at our house was fantastic, fun, and filled with great people and good cheer. We had 106 guests come over throughout the day, and my wonderful partner, sisters, brother, nieces and nephews helped everyone feel welcome.

And man, did we have the food! Four turkeys were sufficient -- in fact, we still have some left over which will make for good turkey soup and other "eats" for the weekend. We did, however, manage to give every guest a full plate to take back with them when they left, so the amount of leftovers is minimal.

Our special guest was very entertaining, and truly enjoyed his visit with our neighbors. He brought a contribution of pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes that he made himself! Our guests brought many varieties of foods, as well. I was good -- I just nibbled a little bit throughout the day, but didn't overdo it.

One of my visitors once owned and operated a western store in Oklahoma, but relocated back here to the east to be closer to his family when he sold the store. He presented me with a new pair of black Dan Post Black Vegas Cut boots -- the toe is in ostrich, the rest in leather. Man, they are very dressy and great looking boots! He said that he noticed I wore boots like that when I visited with him this past year, and thought I might like them. In my research, I found that the boots had been discontinued in 2007, but he found a pair at his old store and got them for me. What a terrific present! I'm sure I will enjoy them.

The only challenge I had throughout the day was my back. It went into spasms on Wednesday night -- an old problem I deal with from time to time that lingers from my more active skydiving days. I had to take a lot of aspirin throughout the day. I was moving about as slowly as some of my guests.

But that didn't deter from the fun, joy, and cheer throughout the day. We have great neighbors who helped out, by loaning space in their driveways for extra parking -- one of them even went out several times during the day to direct people on where to park. How nice! My niece played the piano for many hours, which we all enjoyed. I have no idea what games were on the TV in the basement media center, since I don't really follow sports at all. But my partner who knows sports stuff ensured that the "game of the moment" was tuned in.

Today my partner and I will be cleaning up -- though my family did the majority of that last night before they left. The inside of our house looks as spotless as it did when we began. Just a trip to the dump with about 15 trash bags of bones and garbage. For my "green concerned" friends, we have 28 boxes of recyclables, so we will put less into the waste stream than we've done before.

While today is "black Friday," with lots of folks going shopping, I am staying home (except for the trip to the dump). My partner, bless him, is out at this minute taking advantage of a sale at a crafts store. He is getting some artificial flowers to put at my Mom's grave tomorrow. She would have been 91 on November 29 had she been alive. He is always so thoughtful. I'm so glad that they got to be closer before her death ten years ago.

Well, on to returning the house to some semblance of order, and perhaps some well-deserved rest. Thank goodness, too, I have the day off from work, so we don't have to rush too much to get things done.

I'm glowing with great memories of a wonderful event, and thank my partner, once again, for his help as we prepared, conducted, and recover from this once-a-year extravaganza. I will post pics of those new boots soon!

Life is short: show those that you love that you love them!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm kinda busy getting ready to entertain about 100 people tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., so I thought I would share some joy (and a little demonstration of my odd-ball humor) with the following video, produced during a little "down time". Enjoy!

Most importantly, I extend my very best wishes to my partner, my family, my life-long and newer friends -- especially my loyal blog followers. Share your joy with those you love. Remember, life is short: show those you love that you love them, each and every day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What Friendship Really Means

This is a brief shout-out to my best friend, soul-mate, and eighth brother, AZ: THANK YOU!

I met him when he sent me a message via the "Boots on Line" board on which we both participate from time to time. From an initial email exchange to a conversation -- then many conversations -- by phone, to meeting and greeting in person when he returns to the East Coast to visit his family, we have developed a bond that is deep, loyal, and highly valued.

Today I had a tough problem to deal with. Saying that the problem would cause distress in our household would be an understatement. It had to do with some well-known people who wanted to drop in on our Thanksgiving pot-luck on short notice. Their presence would create media interest, which we didn't want. The situation was spinning out of control. I was getting hyper about it and how my partner would feel.

AZ responded to an email that I sent to him and called me within a minute (literally) of its receipt. He helped me think through the situation and refocus my concerns and priorities on reality, and gave me practical, sound advice.

This is what a best friend can do -- one who knows you and can be right there for you when you need him. One who can give you honest feedback without the least bit of criticism. One who can empathize with how you're feeling and put matters into perspective. And best yet, offer a solution.

Don't get me wrong -- my partner remains my life-long man. My friend, AZ, though, can offer advice and support in a different way, since his support is that of what a friend really means. AZ loves me for "me", with all my faults and challenges, with my "up times" and "down times," too. The measure of a real friend is knowing without a doubt that he will be there, without criticism or drama, to listen, and to offer advice when requested.

Man, AZ, I couldn't have handled this situation today without you. Now don't you go holding me on a pedestal, 'cause it's gonna break. I'm nowhere near perfect, but I am much, much better because I have you in my life. Because I count on you and you respond with care, encouragement, and love.

What a treasure it is to have you, and how much the world is blessed by your mere presence on this Earth, and for your soul.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Peek Inside The Closet

Over time, some people have asked me, "where do you keep all those boots in your collection?" ... fair question.

I live with someone who doesn't like clutter, and who has some trouble walking so we have to keep the floors clear so he won't trip. In fact, that's how my website began back in early 2005. My partner had entered our bedroom and tripped over a pair of boots. Let's say the resulting "discussion" wasn't pretty. But what happened soon after that is that I organized my boots and took some pictures, which eventually became the hyper-organized view of my boot collection on my website.

This past weekend, my partner and I spent a significant amount of time doing housecleaning in advance of our big Thanksgiving event. Some people do this once-a-year scrub-the-baseboard thorough cleaning in the Spring. We do it now, since this is the only time of year that we entertain.

As we were cleaning, my partner was saying things like, "these boots seem to be multiplying," or "they're like rabbits... you have one, then it seems like you have six."
Then, entirely on his on volition, on Saturday afternoon he removed a bunch of clothes that he doesn't wear from a section of one of our closets and said, "install some more shelves for your boots here, now that there is room."

I decided to go through the same closet and find clothing that I won't wear any more -- mostly t-shirts and golf shirts with my former employer's name on it -- and gather them for donation, too. Removing those clothes from the closet opened up a fairly large amount of room. In fact, so large, 27 pairs of boots fit nice and neatly on new shelving that didn't take long to install, and newly-opened closet floor space. Best yet, the boots are so well-organized that it is easier for me to find boots that I want to wear, from tall cop boots to motorcycle boots to cowboy boots to work boots. Because I change boots several times each day, having that number of boots at the ready is great. No longer do I have to run into the basement boot closet for a day's choice. Instead, I can just rotate boots from the basement closet to the upstairs new storage area once a week or so.

Hmmm... and to think that at one time I once resisted all this "get your stuff organized" commentary from my partner. I found it a drudge and a chore. But now, I know that going through these periods of cleaning and organizing has long-term benefits. (Including additional "benefits" that my partner showed me for his appreciation on my being a good sport about doing this work with nary a complaint. Whew!)

Life is short: Wear your boots!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What Is It With Pakistani Leather Vendors?

In the past week, I have received numerous emails like this:

message: Dear Sir,
We are feeling proud to introduce our company named as (x). Our company is working since 1995. We are specialized in making following goods.
1. Leather Wears
2. Motorbike Wears
3. Textile Wears
5. Gloves Collection
6. Leather Accessories
7. Leather

From what I can tell, the message sender is trying either to get me to serve as a third-party retailer in the U.S. for their goods, or just buy their goods directly.

I'm sure that they figure that a guy like me who has a fair amount of leather gear that I wear for motorcycling and just around might be one of those "rich Americans" who would buy stuff from them. But I wasn't born yesterday. Despite their claims, leather from Pakistan is of inferior quality. I have seen it over the years, and can tell from its thin and uneven surfaces, rough splits, blemishes, and other visible signs that the leather isn't nearly the top-grain quality that one would find at dealers such as Northbound, 665leather, or Mr S. (For more details about choosing leather gear, read the Leather Gear Guide on my website.)

They find me by surfing the web, landing on my "leather gear" page, then finding my "write to me" page. I can see how they enter my website and then zero in on finding a way to send me one of their poorly-written proposals.

I'm not sure if it will work, but I found a website called "block a country" that generates code to install on websites that will, I hope, divert visits from anyone in Pakistan. Seriously, I am NOT interested in any leather gear from Pakistan! I have quite enough, thank you. I am really not planning to buy any more leather gear at all from anyone. I have other things of much higher priority on which to spend my limited discretionary funds.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Unicorn

I grabbed this photo off the 'net, but I swear it looks just like a deer in our back yard. We call him our "uni-deer". He comes over and eats the food that we put out for the birds, squirrels, and other fuzzy critters.

He is a timid sort, as white-tailed deer go. He takes off the moment he senses stirring from our house. I have not been able to get close enough to take my own photo of the cute little guy.

I often see him by himself... perhaps he has been shunned by the other deer who make fun of him for being different, much like the reindeer wouldn't let Rudolph play in their reindeer games.

I saw him again this morning, after my partner put out the morning buffet. As we were doing housecleaning in the family room which has a view of the back yard, we both looked out the windows and saw him munching away with the birds and squirrels scattered around. Then I think he "felt" us watching. He looked in our direction, then lunged over the stream and bolted down the deer path.

That got me started singing The Unicorn Song that was made popular by the Irish Rovers. (You can read the lyrics here.) My partner is rolling his eyes and hoping that I'll change my tune. LOL! I tend to sing dumb little songs like that while doing mundane work, much to my partner's dismay. (I don't sing quite on key whatsoever.)

Anyway, a nice diversion as we proceed with a thorough scrubbing of the inside of our house, releasing those dust bunnies to the wild.

Have a joyful day!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Holy Thanksgiving, Batman!

The title of this post is courtesy of my evil twin, Clay, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is a terrific friend and warm, passionate man. And he has already been through Thanksgiving this year!

Come November 27, 2008, my partner and I will host our usual Thanksgiving pot-luck. We offer hospitality and good cheer to seniors who live in a nearby retirement community who otherwise may be alone on the holiday. No one should be alone on Thanksgiving. So for the ninth year, we open our home and welcome guests bearing bowls, plates, and carriers of food.

I cook the turkey -- our guests bring everything else. That includes side dishes, breads, sweets, and for those who don't cook or who do not want to bring a prepared item, they donate plastic plates, cups, utensils, and trash bags. Lots of trash bags. We will need 'em!

Last year we set what we thought was a record with some 90 guests. I cooked three turkeys last year -- two on the day before and one on Thanksgiving Day itself, so we have that wonderful roast turkey aroma. This year, I have upped my order for fresh turkeys to four 30-lb birds. Yikes! My turkey farm buddy will bring them over on Tuesday.

We don't really have an invitation list, but word spreads. This year will probably be a record-breaker, as fewer people are traveling for the holiday due to the sucky economy, reducing their holiday travel to Christmas or Hanukkah only. Calls and emails have been flowing, and keeping it all organized with who is coming, what they're bringing, and when they are coming is a monumental task. Thank goodness for a spreadsheet and the Internet, where I can keep our information secure, yet available to me and my partner, regardless of location.

Lest you think we live in a mansion and can seat 100+ people at huge table at one sitting, that's not the case. We ask people to come at different times (call 'em "shifts") throughout the day,
and spread food buffet-style in the dining room, and drinks on the island in the kitchen. Guests can mill about to pick what they would like to eat, and sing along with the piano in the living room, visit with friends in the family room, more friends in the basement media center watching football games on TV, and, God willing decent weather, spill out onto the decks across the back of the house.

I've learned that we need to tell them that we will offer them transportation, claiming a lack of parking. The problem in past years is that people coming for the 11am to 2pm or the 1pm to 4pm shifts didn't leave ... so by 6pm, the crowds were uncomfortably large. In the past few years, toward the end of a guest's assigned time, one of my little elves will find the bowl or plate that our guest brought her food on, pack it with a full serving of a variety of foods from the buffet, wrap it up, bring our guest her coat, and say it's time to go. Some leave as more arrive. But this method keeps the Fire Marshall from citing me for overcrowding. Also, giving away all the foods helps keep older people well-fed, and the leftovers to a minimum.

I am indebted to my partner for his good cheer and accommodation of our guests. He is the best host for older people -- he loves to just sit and listen to story after story. Our guests love to talk, and my partner really listens. He is also a great behind-the-scenes helper, and extremely patient with me when I tell him, "gee, I can't say no" when a new person calls to ask to come, along with "what can I bring?"

I play "swirling chef" -- ensuring the foods that are brought are served appropriately, the turkey is hot and not left out too long on the warming trays, and my elves know what may need to be done next. And yeah, I will be wearing my brown custom leather jeans and tbd-brown cowboy boots, and a festive shirt for the occasion.

My "elves" -- 14 of my family members; 3 sisters, 1 brother, 6 nieces, 4 nephews. Who knows, maybe even a partridge in a pear tree (with the crowds, I probably wouldn't notice.) I am exceptionally indebted to my family who do all the "grunt work," from picking people up and taking them home, putting their coat in one of the designated bedrooms, ensuring our guests have a place to sit comfortably and are served, if need be. I also appreciate that my neighbors help out too, by loaning folding chairs, space in their driveways for people to park, and space in their fridge for us to store our "regular food" so there's room for the turkeys!

I couldn't do this without my partner and my family -- and that's what Thanksgiving is all about: family, friends, good cheer, warmth, happiness, and lots of food! We give thanks to our family, our friends, and our neighbors for accepting us warmly for who we are. We ask no more.

Just see me a week from today, sprawled out on the floor from exhaustion. But it's a good feeling to share such a wonderful day with such great people.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


So here's the back of my newly reorganized garage. My bike, a few of my less-often-worn boots (mostly Fryes), my biker jackets and most-frequently-worn chaps. The boot storage is relatively new. I wrote a step-by-step instruction guide on this storage method which was posted on the website, here.

The motorcycle helmets (I have several) are inside the house. I don't want gas vapors from my truck or my partner's car to damage the helmet lining, which many reputable motorcycle magazines and experts have warned about.

I mentioned in a blog post the other day that my partner and I spent some time reorganizing the back of the garage so I can park my bike back there. I'm glad that worked out, so my Harley is warm and snug against winter's wrath, but remains available should I want to go out for a ride when weather permits. I have, however, discontinued using my bike to ride to the Metro in the morning. It has just been too blasted cold.

Before I put the bike in it's new storage area, it got a good washing. Lingering dirt and road spray could lead to premature dulling of the paint, or worse: rust. The battery is on its trickle charger. The fuel is stabilized. My lovely Harley is in its "winter nap" mode. sigh....

I have been "accused" sometimes of being over-organized. I guess that comes from leading a multi-tasking life. I have to be well-organized to get everything done and be everywhere I need to be! But ask my partner -- he will tell you honestly -- if I didn't have my head screwed on, I would probably lose it. Thank goodness for calendars and lists (and his patience). I'm not one to use one of those technological gadgets such as a PDA or Blackberry. I'd probably lose it, and resent paying monthly service fees to keep rich companies richer. Plain old lists work fine for me. (Some day I'll blog about my sticky-note office!)

I guess you could say that my website is evidence of my being hyper-organized. If that's the case, well, so be it. At least I know what I have, what I like, and where it is! For the real evidence of my personal organization, though, just watch me at a public hearing sometime....

Have an organized day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bike Cops Speak

Since my Guide to Motorcycle Police Patrol Boots has been linked from two major internet sites this week -- one that is read regularly by motor officers and one that is read by those who enjoy boots -- I have seen the visits to that page on my website soar. Yesterday, I had an all-time high of website visits with over 3,400 unique visitors.

That's fairly astounding. These visits have generated some email. A few message excerpts follow (names are withheld to protect the innocent):

Hey, man, for a non-bike cop you really know your boots! Thanks for putting all the information together. It's helpful.
I'm amazed and impressed. This is one of the best and most fair comparisons of motor patrol boots I have read in ages -- and I have been buying boots and uniform equipment for [location] motor unit for years
It is good to see the various listings of boots. It is helping us decide what to get for our outfit's next major purchase
Your video helped, but the quality could be better. Email me back. Our county could do a better-quality video and perhaps some of our officers could be in it. Let's talk
yes sir, officer! That sounds great!

An honest one, which I expected:
...glad you admit that you're not a cop. I hate pretenders
Yep, I've never claimed to be something I'm not. I do, however, appreciate your hard work and thank you for your service to your community.

And here's another, which I found a bit funny though tongue-in-cheek:
for a gay guy, you know your boots. Nice pics.
Hmmm... "for a gay guy"... I guess that's cop speak for thinking that "us gay guys" may not know that much about boots (or anything else.) I'm still scratching my head over that one.

Finally, this last one which I really appreciated:
Interesting web page. I've worn Dehners for years and until I read one of your messages earlier this year, I didn't even think of getting Chippewa boots. I got a pair this summer. They're much more comfortable. The other guys on my squad have been switching out, too. The Chippewa boots are just as easy to keep clean as Dehners, and don't crack (like you said happens.) Keep up the good work. I have shared your web page with lots of others on a motor cop forum that I post messages on. You are helping more cops than you may realize. [sent by a Sergeant in a motor unit in California].

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Buckaroo Booted At The Office

I bought a pair of 17" genuine Olathe buckaroo boots when a buddy and his partner took me to Kleinschmidts Western Wear in Higginsville, Missouri, this past July. I had gone to Kansas City for a business trip. This Western Store, right off of I-70, is quite a ways away from the city, but a nice drive. The boots have a blue shaft, black foot, pull holes, fake mule ears, a 2-1/2" (6.3cm) riding heel and a smooth all-leather sole. They are fully leather lined, so they keep my feet and legs warm, especially on cold days.

When you get a pair of real cowboy boots like this, you want to wear 'em! And I have, around the neighborhood with jeans inside and the beautiful tall blue shafts showing. I have even put a pair of spurs on them, riding on the spur ridge as designed. The boots make quite a visible presence, and a firm, masculine, clunk when I walk in them. They are fairly comfortable when worn with thick socks. Their only downfall has been that the left boot had a nylon stitching thread come loose while I was wearing them the first day, and it caused a small bleeding sore. I melted the offending thread with a flame from a lighter, and all was well again.

Since I work in an office where "business casual" is the norm, I can't really wear b
oots showing the shafts there. But I wear cowboy boots to work all the time, so these boots, worn with pants over, looked like any other boots on my feet. I enjoyed wearing them to work yesterday.

The only comment anyone made was as I entered a conference room for a meeting. A colleague said, "Oh, he's coming" as I was walking down the hallway. When I entered the room, my colleague said, "I heard you coming ... nice boots." I guess that's my signature -- boot clunking down the tile floors.

A guy on the Metro on my way home kept staring at my boots. The train was crowded at first, but as the crowds thinned, he moved to the seat across from me. He then asked, "what kind of boots are they? How tall? Where can I get a pair?" He was impressed, and said that he always wanted a pair of boots like that, but wasn't sure he could wear them to work.

I asked him if he liked his black wingtip dress shoes. He said, "no, but that's what everyone else wears at my office." I asked if there were a dress code requiring a certain kind of footwear to be worn at his office. He said, "no..." and I could see the wheels turning in his mind. I told him not to be concerned about following the pack, and be his own man. I enjoyed a nice conversation with a young man who just may become another Olathe Buckaroo cowboy boot-wearing office worker in Washington, DC.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why Not Protest?

Over this past weekend, there were gay rights protest marches held around the country, including one at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. The purpose of the protests was to express anger that California voters were persuaded to vote for Proposition 8 by a heavy influx of money for advertising from the Mormon Church and other conservative religious groups. California Prop 8 put a ban on marriage between two men or two women into the state's constitution.

There are many who say that it is unfair to have "our" civil rights put into a state's constitution. But nobody said it was unfair to include civil rights for racial and gender equity into state constitutions. I just don't abide by this double-standard and this argument has never passed muster with me.

You know, gay people tried, but just couldn't get their act together. The opposition was better funded and better organized. I know that hurts hearing that from another gay man, but it's the truth. And unfortunately in politics in this country, money counts. Organization counts. Lacking either, or both, makes it almost impossible to win -- even if logic and fairness are the issues of debate. People who don't like you twist logic to their side. Even if they are wrong, their hateful, hurtful message is what most voters hear when advertised via the media using tons of money. And being politically active at the local level, I can affirm that most voters don't know anything about the issues, and some only begin to look for information just before they cast their ballot. By then, it is often too late.

We have to face it, with the last eight years of political polarization fostered by the outgoing Administration led by the worst President we've had since RR, there are many people out there who just hate gay people. They won't listen, and they won't consider that marriage can be a civil matter and not harm their religious beliefs. They claim to be filled with Christian love for others, but demonstrate their hypocrisy in how they act. I pity those people -- I don't hate them. They're too stupid to hate.

I met my partner on an LGBT march -- "The March On Washington" -- in April, 1993. Hundreds of thousands of people representing the huge diversity of the LGBT community participated. It was organized for many months in advance. That march has a very special meaning in our lives. I asked my partner why we wouldn't consider going to one of the events this past weekend, and his answers were pretty much on target with my thinking, as well.

The main problem is that LGBT people have been asking for too much too fast. It is a HUGE shift for many people to go from keeping gays in the closet and pretending that they don't exist to allowing two men or two women to get married. My partner has long advocated for taking "baby steps." In the racial civil rights movement, well-organized activists moved through the process for many years, one step at a time. And there wasn't the "complication" of racial civil rights having anything to do with religion.

Further, this past weekend's protest was organized last-minute, so there wouldn't be much of a crowd to make much of a difference. Local TV news reported that about 1,000 people showed up at the U.S. Capitol. Heck, on any sunny day of the year, it is common for more than 1,000 people to be on the Mall and milling about the grounds of the Capitol anyway. What probably kept crowds down was that there was a major meeting of world leaders for a global financial summit going on in DC also this past weekend, and roads were blocked and security was tight. Locals know that when things like that are going on, it's best just to avoid going into the city.

I want to marry my partner and enjoy the same benefits under the law that man-woman married couples have, and have our relationship recognized by our state. However, I agree with my partner that we should go for "baby steps." The chant, "marriage equality now!" has not worked. In fact, I think it has backfired. It's scaring off people on whom we need to depend for support. We have to re-think our strategies as LGBT people, or continue to suffer failure.

In Maryland this year, I'll be gently and quietly working with my elected officials to advocate for more advancements of civil recognition of our relationship, and support a strategy of incremental steps from there. We have already begun -- two hearts, families, friends, co-workers, colleagues, critics, local and state elected officials... it goes on from there.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Last Ride of the Season

As my loyal blog followers know, I am an avid motorcyclist. I love riding my Harley. I enjoy riding in groups. It's safer and more fun to ride with others.

Today I led a ride that went in a circular route through some untraveled, rural areas of Central Maryland. I have to be honest, if I weren't responsible for leading the ride, I probably would not have gone on it. Yeah, call me a "wuss" but when it's cold and really windy, then riding isn't quite something I look forward to doing. But I made a promise to lead this ride, and I always fulfill my promises.

It was quite windy and never got any warmer from the chilly 44°F (6.7°C) ambient temperature. Add the wind at our speed, along with some strong gusts, and the wind chill temperature was at least 29°F (-1.7°C) or colder. Brrrrr! I wore my LAPD full leather breeches and my H-D Police Enforcer boots, a long-sleeved t-shirt, long-sleeved leather shirt, and my motocross jacket on top of all that. Warm gloves helped, too -- though on my way home, I had to stop to put on even warmer gloves because my fingers were going numb. I had on a "throat coat" neck warmer, which when tucked inside my full-face helmet, kept me nice and toasty. My body never got cold at all.

The cold and wind didn't deter nine others from joining me on the ride along our beautiful Maryland byways. We rode for a couple of hours, then some of us had lunch after the ride to warm up while others returned home.

When I got home, I found that my partner had mowed the front lawn, and was waiting for me to finish the sides and the back. Okay, no problem. I picked up the remainder of the fallen leaves, too.

After that, I went to the University for an hour to swim. I need to pick up on my exercise since the outdoor gardening and lawn work has also been completed for the season. I have to get my exercise somehow. Swimming works best for me, and in a heated pool, helped thoroughly re-warm my chilled body.

A nice day! But I'm sure that I will sleep soundly tonight!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Patience Pays Off

If I have learned anything in my 15+ years with my partner, is that patience with him when he becomes stubborn eventually results in things working out.

When I got my new Harley at the end of May, my partner pitched a fit about the new bike being so much bigger than my old one, and that he couldn't park his car in our garage because there wouldn't be enough room if the bike were parked against the back wall where the other one had been parked when I had it.

When I built the house, I intentionally built a garage that was 5' (1.6m) wider and 6' (2m) deeper than standard. Our garage has always been able to accommodate my truck, my partner's sedan, and my old Harley.

But Mr.-insists-that-it-won't-fit would not permit me to even try to park my new bike against the back wall. He wouldn't hear of it. I know when he gets like that, just to let it go.
(A word that my family uses for this condition is "testadura" -- hard headed.)

So all summer, I parked the Harley in the bay where my truck went, and left my truck in the driveway.

Well, eventually my partner re-thought his position, and we had a calm conversation about it this past week. He agreed that if we re-arranged some things, including some shelving and storage, that perhaps we could return to keeping all three vehicles in the garage.

So that's what I did this afternoon. I built some more shelves, took down some others, and reorganized everything so there is room for what we have to store in the garage, plus the Harley, plus our two vehicles. Now it all fits. Best yet, we got rid of some junk that just had to go, and had been accumulating.

With time, patience, and a cool head, I'm happy that everything worked out as I had hoped. I won't have to scrape frost, ice, or snow off of my truck this coming winter. My Harley will be warm, dry, and secure, yet available when the weather is suitable for a winter ride.

I have learned that when this "testadura" characteristic is demonstrated -- either by my partner or some others (perhaps in my family sometimes or with others in the community with whom I meet)... to step back, take a deep breath, and let it go for a while. Revisiting later may produce a better, more optimal result. Fighting about it certainly won't resolve anything. In fact, arguing may cause the other person to become recalcitrant and refuse to consider compromise. So taking a pause, letting the fire cool, and allowing (in this case) my partner to think that the change in position was his idea resulted in a positive outcome for both him and me.

Life is too short to fight about stuff like that. I knew that if I waited quietly and did not push matters, that eventually, things would turn around. They did. He's happy, I'm happy, and life is good.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oh Brother, It's My Brother

Guest blog written by BHD's Twin Brother

Hi, it's a pleasure to have been invited to be the first guest blogger for my brother, BHD. Just call me J.

I have been following my brother's blog since it started, as well as the million other things he does. To tell you the truth, I can't keep up with the guy. I have always called him "Taz," which is the name of the Tazmanian Devil in the Road Runner cartoons that were popular when we were growing up. He's always running off somewhere, stirring up a lot of dust. But he leaves the world a little bit better in his wake.

We are fraternal twins, meaning I got the looks and he got the brains. Well, not quite like that, but we have kidded each other like that for a long time. But what it does mean is that we are different. Often when we are together, people look at us and say, "you're twins?" We really don't look much alike. Our voices are different, too, but when we are together, we complete each other's sentences sometimes. It's weird that my lil' bro' knows exactly what I am going to say, and how I plan to say it. What's even more scary is that he knows what I'm thinking.

I call him my 'lil 'bro because he is so short -- six inches shorter. But I am 193cm (six foot, four inches for people who still use that backwards measurement system in the U.S.) But he will not let me forget that he was born right before I was, so he and all of our siblings still pinch my cheeks and call me the baby of the family. I hate that....

I have been working and living in Europe for most of my adult life. It is different, but rewarding. I met my wife over here, and we were married last year in Italy. Of course, my 'lil 'bro in his boots was my best man. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Oh -- speaking of that -- let me say publicly that I am NOT the Imelda Marcos of shoes as my brother is the Imelda Marcos of boots! But that is again where we are different. He likes boots -- he always has. It is as he says on this blog, "the way he is."

What I want for my brother is that he continue to enjoy his life, and continue to offer fulfillment of needs he sees in the community, and with our family and his friends. That he lives comfortably with his life-mate partner, who is a great guy and asset to my brother's life. He keeps him grounded (else he would go flying off on yet more activities and tangents.) I want him to live free of discrimination and injustice -- as happened to him as recently as this week. We must remain open and accepting of our gay family and friends, and value the contributions and benefits we receive from them. Heck, he wants to marry his partner, and I'm all for it! I think it's a great thing! Why this world has to be so narrow-minded is beyond me. But I'll leave the political work to "my 'bro the 'pro."

I am impressed with all that my brother does, but I will not go into more detail here. I don't want it to go to his head. But what I want to say is that I love him very much, and always have. He is thoughtful and kind, warm spirited and more loyal than a Boy Scout. His energy and zest for life is uplifting and endearing. If you are fortunate to have him as a friend, you will know what friendship really means. He shows it in all he does, as he does with me and our other siblings and family.

I love you, you big bad biker dude! Keep the rubber side down, and your heart set on all the right things, as you have it. I continue to be amazed by you!
So, 'lil 'bro, how'd I do? You never thought I would write a guest blog, did you?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Boots at the Office

I have been enjoying a wonderful email dialogue with an intelligent, insightful guy who, like me, appreciates boots. He works in the banking industry. He has said that he does not get to wear boots to work very often because it would not be well tolerated. He says that he wears boots to work occasionally on casual Fridays, or sometimes when he knows he will not be meeting with upper management.

I work in a management position in professional business setting, yet I only wear boots to work (and everywhere else). Seriously, I don't own a pair of shoes or sneakers. Do I have something against shoes or sneakers? Not really (except that shoes/sneakers are absolutely not acceptable for use while operating a motorcycle). I just don't like that kind of footwear. I think they look funny, frumpy, and personally I would feel extremely uncomfortable. My discomfort would be more from emotion than from actual foot pain, but the emotional pain would be severe.

I'm not quite sure why I feel that way. I guess it is just because of how I am wired. I was just born to be a Bootman. My twin brother got the shoe genes -- and he and Matt Lauer (who is reported to be quite a shoe-fiend) would probably be in competition if they compared closets. While I don't have much of a competitive spirit, I guess my 136+ pair boot collection would qualify to compare with some of the most prolific Bootmen I've come to know or observe who participate on

This dialogue also caused me to think about my choice of where to work. Would I choose to work at an employer that had restrictions on what I could wea
r on my feet, either by written policy or internal peer pressure? I reflected on when I changed jobs a few years ago. Where was I applying? When I had four successful interviews and was offered a job at all four employers, I was elated. But I also really wonder if I rejected at least two of the employers because the dress code was much more formal than I was comfortable with. The job duties were #1, the commute was #2, the pay was also up there in strong consideration, but I have to say that the dress code was strongly considered as well. I just don't think I would be happy being forced to wear a suit or shirt & tie all day, not to mention shoes instead of boots. If I were unhappy and uncomfortable at work, I would be unproductive. I am much more productive when I have the freedom to be creative, and express myself as I am, within limits that I consider to be reasonable.

A funny aside -- when I began working in my first professional non-acacemic position in 1987, that employer had a fairly strict dress code. Shirt and tie was required every day, and wearing a jacket at meetings was written policy. But there wasn't anything in the dress code about footwear. So there I was in a suit and boots. Sometimes the old fuddy-duddies around me might say something, but I just ignored it. If my boots were shined and weren't outrageous (with x-toes or extremely underslung, high heels), we just lived with the fact that I wore boots, period. Eventually, like most employers did during the 90s, the dress code was slowly relaxed. The jacket was shucked, the tie became less of a menace. But the boots always remained.

My buddy said that "most people who I know professionally are always taken aback when they see me outside of work and I'm in boots, Wranglers and a belt with a buckle. Sometimes people get used to seeing colleagues in a certain situation and don't stop to think that someone's job doesn't necessarily define who they are as a person outside of work."

He is absolutely right. And let me tell 'ya, I've seen photos of my buddy in his boots & Wranglers, and he's definitely a HOT man! Woof!

While I very seldom see people with whom I work outside of the office, I don't think they would react as my friend's colleagues may react, because the guy (me) that they see at work is pretty much the same guy they would see outside the office. A guy dressed in clean but casual clothes, and boots. Now if they saw me all decked out in leather, that might be a different story. (smile).

Life is short: Wear your boots!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, My One and Only

A shout-out loud and clear to my partner, my best friend, my one-and-only:


November 12 marks a very special day in your life, and I'm here to celebrate it with you!

Words can not express the depth of my love for you. Today, and on all days, I wish you only the very best. And I'll show 'ya at home later! Guido's guidance will help me produce yet another culinary Italian masterpiece from our chef's kitchen to tantalize your taste buds. And I have just the outfit in which to serve it to you!

From an e-card that I sent to you:

Today, you are a little wiser,
truer to yourself,
and more confident and comfortable than you were the year before.

You are stronger and deeper on the inside because of the experiences life has given you,
and softer around the edges because of the things
you have let go of along the way.

You are clearer about your dreams and your purpose...

...and richer because of the laughter, love, and friendship you have shared.

And the gifts you have gathered just make you all the more beautiful.

From my heart of hearts to my man of men, I LYAWM!

No Room at the Inn

There's a serendipitous convergence of timing between the dates when Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend (January 16 - 18, 2009) will be held and the inauguration of the next President of the United States (January 20). According to news reports, the inauguration and its related parades, parties, and balls will attract the largest crowds that Washington, DC, has ever seen. Ever. That's a lot of people!

Hotels have been booked solid for months. The few rooms that were available last week have been booked for two to five times as much as they ordinarily go for. I kid you not, there are some rooms that have been reserved for over $12,000 a night, with a four-night minimum.

Even the sleazy, run-down hotel that serves as the host of MAL is getting into the act. While they did guarantee rates for those who made reservations long ago, they are throwing MAL attendees out no later than the 19th to accommodate people who will pay five times as much for a room there.

With as crazy as it has been in finding a hotel room in the city, much less anywhere within 50 miles, people have been calling friends and family who live here asking if they can stay. We're no exception.

Yesterday, I heard from someone I met at a conference ten years ago, but haven't heard from since. He actually had an interesting angle, and at least was honest in that he acknowledged that we had not kept in touch, "but that wouldn't stop us from renewing our friendship." I have also heard from four cousins, two other more distant family members, and about a dozen friends. "We're happening to be in Washington on January 19 (or 18, or 17...)... we're wondering if we can crash at your pad -- just a couch is fine. Nothing special."

Then there are the guys with whom I have exchanged email over time and who have recently contacted me again. They begin with friendly banter, then ask, "I'm coming to MAL and can't get a room. Can I stay with you?" Most do not realize that I do not live in the city and it takes a bit of doing to get there from where I live. Traffic will be a nightmare around inauguration time, and I'm sure the Metro system will be crowded, too. It's not like you can walk out our front door and be in the city in a few minutes.

To all: thanks for your interest and renewed friendship and camaraderie. Sorry, only my twin brother has a "no-reservation" reservation for our guest room, and that's it. My partner and I are planning to "nest" during that time, since we will be off work. We can see the parade and swearing-in much better on TV anyway -- so can you. Sure: celebrate, enjoy, have fun. Sorry we will not be able to accommodate anyone else.

And if it gives you a little insight into me as a person: I was asked if I wanted a ticket to an inaugural ball. I declined. I just don't have time to polish my tiara. (Actually, I'm with my partner on this type of thing: I detest crowds like that, I can't stand dressing up, I don't drink, I can't dance, and it goes on way past my bedtime. Events like this are not for me!)

Good luck finding a place to stay if you're coming for MAL and/or the Inauguration if you haven't found a place yet. I don't think anything is available anywhere.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Movin' On

A note for readers of this blog and my website: I have removed some pictures from my website and about a dozen blog posts for a reason that I do not wish to say publicly. It's difficult for all involved. I am torn between my firm belief in the right to free speech and expression (which includes non-risqué photographs) but also in not engaging in actions that bother puritans.

I figure that the person who started the whole thing is from way beyond where I live and has nothing better to do but to act as a "net nanny," which resulted in pressure on people I know to communicate their displeasure with a few photos on my website which displayed an appreciation for a group. I am learning that the group's national administrators do not want to acknowledge that a gay man can be an out and open part of the group for fear of harming their "brand". Poppycock.

I anticipate that those who are involved with this matter are reading this blog, and this message will assure them that the actions have been completed as requested -- and thoroughly (as best as I can determine). While I removed those photos because they asked, the more I thought about this censorship, the more I wanted to disassociate myself from endorsing the group.

I've decided that as a result of this situation (and this decision has been reaffirmed through discussions with my partner and my 8th brother), to return to activities for which I joined the group (that complained about the photos) and not pursue more active participation. I have plenty of other things to do than let this stuff annoy me.

Now, let's move on to more happy subjects!

Three days 'til my partner's birthday! Since his special day is in the middle of the upcoming week, when I have less time to work in the kitchen, I spent a lot of time yesterday preparing him his favorite meal: home made manicotti, raised yeast rolls, a well-balanced salad, and from-scratch, lemon meringue pie. I had the pleasure of treating him to a fine meal last night. I also gave him his birthday present early -- a new LCD monitor for his computer -- so he could enjoy using it while he is off work today and tomorrow.

What was funny is that he said that the best "treat" I gave to him was taking his old CRT monitor to the e-waste receiving facility for disposition. He can't stand having junk around the house! I have him to thank for not having a house and garage full of stuff that we'll never use. His rule: volume in = volume out. And he enforces it!

Just seeing him smile with his treasures and treats made it all worthwhile. He brings many smiles to my face each and every day, so I am glad that I can begin his "birthday week" so well. Happy birthday, il mio amore!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again

Once a year, it seems that the leaves on our trees fall all at once. My partner and I spent the afternoon taking care of the annual fall chore of raking leaves. It really isn't that much, since 90% of our property is wooded and we just leaf them alone in the forest. (groan...)

But on the front and side lawns, rake we must. Blow, blow, and blow, then mow one last time. Put the leaves and grass trimmings in our compost pile. We're done. Tired, a bit sore, but done. And great weather for it, too! It was 65°F (18°C) most of the afternoon, though cloudy.

I just love to jump into a pile of leaves... and my partner indulges my childhood memories by laughing at my silliness, and taking a photo.

Life is short: wear your boots! (and have fun!)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wescos: Old Friends And Memories

Yesterday, I was rummaging around our attic, which my partner has claimed for his own, looking for something, but discovering something else: a old pair of traditional 18" Wesco "Boss" Engineer Boots. I picked them up, looked at them closely, and thought, "what the heck are they doing here? My partner doesn't wear boots -- least of all Wescos." My partner is definitely not the Bootman in the family.

I figure he just picked them up from our bedroom sometime and put them away, thinking I wouldn't miss them. Well, he was right -- they have probably been there for 7 or 8 years, buried under boxes, but for some reason, now were uncovered and visible.

I took them out, removed the boots I was currently wearing, and pulled them on. It was a bit of a struggle -- the tall boot shafts were tight on my legs. Oh yeah, dummy, unbuckle the strap! That helped. Then I sat to muse for a while, to try to remember when and where I got them. My curiosity piqued, I got on my computer where I have anally kept track of every financial transaction I have done since 1983, and found the purchase. I got them at Mr. S. of San Francisco in December, 1989.

I remember that visit -- I had been in San Francisco for months doing earthquake relief work following the big Bay Area quake of October of that year. I finally had my first Saturday off, and I set out to explore the city. I walked for what seemed miles through what I learned was called "South of Market" (SoMa). And along the way, there was this leather store... intriguing. I didn't have much courage to go into such a place, but the boots in the window really caught this biker's eye.

So I went in. I was frightened, awed, mesmerized, and aghast, all at the same time. I was almost ready to bolt from the place when a guy came up and asked me if I'd like to try on the boots. Okay, no one else was around, no one who may jump out to attack me seems to be hiding behind that rack in the corner... so I tried 'em on. They fit great! The sales guy said that the boots were on sale for just $200. I just had to have 'em. I was stuck in the city without boots suitable for the cold, damp, wet weather. (Cowboy boots only go so far...)

Then this really good-lookin' guy about my age walked out of a dressing room. He had tried on a pair of leather pants -- man, he was gorgeous! He only had the pants on, nothing else. His chiseled, well-defined chest, muscular arms, and great smile just captivated me. Then, not even seeing me staring dumbfounded, he walked past me, picked up a pair of Dehners, and slipped them on his feet, carefully tucking the leather pants into them. Man, umm, umm, umm. What a view!

My attention on the guy was rather obvious, though, because the sales guy smiled, laughed, and whispered to me that while that guy wasn't for sale, he knew he was single....

I gathered my compsure and began to get up when Mr. Leatherman looked at me and said, "nice boots -- you should get a pair of leather jeans to go with 'em! Ride a bike? So do I!" Again, I was all mush-mouthed and stammered, but to make a long story short, I did end up buying a pair of leather jeans, too, and Mr. Leatherman waited with me and chatted while my jeans were being hemmed. He explained to me some things about leather gear that I didn't know before (and was afraid to ask! Remember, this is before the Internet was available.)

I put my jeans on with the new Wescos. My new friend nodded his approval. He decided not to buy the Dehners, so he put on his old boots -- which were Wescos, too. We paid for our purchases, put our old clothes in a bag, threw on our leather jackets, and walked proudly out of the store down the street to get some dinner. I remember thinking to myself, "I've arrived as a Leatherman... here I am in boots and leather walking with another guy in leather here in SoMa." What a powerful feeling. I really think this was the specific situation where I "came out" as a Leatherman -- meaning, I wore my leathers and boots out and in the open more often from then on.

But for those thinking something more happened, it didn't. My new friend had a date that night, and I knew I had a very early call the next morning, so we embraced, parted ways, and said, once again, "good to meet you, nice boots!"

Life is short: wear your boots!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Our Country's Progress and Lack Thereof

The United States has made so much progress in the last decades in some civil rights matters. The most obvious being the active participation in our political process by people of all races.

We just elected our first Black President. All the pundits everywhere you turn -- in the press, television, blogs, and the internet in general -- are all exclaiming how proud and happy they are to elect a Black man as President. Some of this outcry by the media, to me, is disingenuous.

Mr. Obama didn't win because he is Black -- he won because of the nature of his well-organized, well-managed, highly skillful campaign, his unflappability in the face of fire with calm, steady reserve, for staying "on point and on message," and also because of the backlash when people finally woke up to realize that the current President and his policies were so awful. And, I risk saying, Mr. Obama won despite the fact that he is Black. That's a good thing. People overlooked race and looked at issues, and that's how it should be.

Unfortunately, our country has a long, long way to go when it comes to recognizing that two people who love one another should have the right to be married, regardless of their sex. It became illegal to ban marriage between races. It should not be allowed to ban marriage between two men or two women who love one another. But that isn't going to happen overnight, and those who demand marriage equality instantly don't recognize that this struggle has the same time parallels as the struggle for civil rights regarding race.

Unfortunately, there's a huge and different elephant in the room when it comes to civil marriage between two men or two women -- and that's religion. The problem is that marriage is both a civil contract for which a state issues a license, and a sacrament in most religions. Thus, the religious angle enters into and vastly confuses the whole matter. We just have to keep focused on the fact that a civil marriage is all we're talking about -- not a recognition by religion.

Our country, bless its mixed-up soul, has made great strides to go from laws that prohibited Black people from even voting to electing its first Black President, but we have regressed in a civil rights, as well.

Where is the regression? Some 39 U.S. states ban same-sex marriage by state constitution or statute, now including California, Arizona, and Florida. This is a matter that is fundamental to many of us who would like to have formal, civil recognition of our union of hearts -- and the over 1,000 legislated benefits that go with it such as inheritance to taxes to guardianship of children.

With what looks like a defeat on Prop 8 in California, where now same-sex marriage will be prohibited in the state's consitution -- I don't see any chance of progress on this issue for a long time to come. Heck, if the most progressive state with such a large Gay/Lesbian population can't block a ban on civil marriage among same-sex couples in its state constitution, other states will be much less likely to consider any legislation recognizing our desire for civil recognition of our relationship.

It is a happy time for many people to be celebrating the election of our country's first Black President, but it is a very sad time, as well, to see regression on a matter much more personal to my partner and to me, and many others.

But like the hard-working people who fought for racial civil rights, we have to be patient, we have to keep working, we have to keep demonstrating that we deserve equal and fair recognition under the law. We have to counter the attacks by the religious zealots who espouse Christian love for one another, and hatred otherwise. Their hypocrisy is clearly evident. People are seeing that now more than ever, and the power of the "religious wrong" is slowly sinking to a depth equal to that of their soulless actions.

As my eighth brother (AZ) said to me this morning on the phone, "patience, patience...". I would prefer to have quicker movement on this issue, but I recognize that we must continue to work, one step at a time. Start with two hearts, then the families of those hearts, their friends, then on from there.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Outcomes and Other Stuff

Have you ever had one of those days when your mind is just a jumble? That's how I'm feeling this morning. I stayed up too late (until after 10pm!) last night, so I'm still groggy this morning, since I woke at 4am. I don't function well on less than about 7-1/2 hours of sleep.

Lots of things going on... some good, some not. Read on if you like....

I was really pleased that I was able to facilitate getting 502 people to the voting polls yesterday. I was thrilled that they had more than ample voting equipment at the state's largest precinct and there were not any lines except during the first hour. After 8am, there was no waiting. I had anticipated over 800 people wanting rides, but when many heard that there were no lines and parking was plentiful, they either called or left a note saying that they didn't need a ride after all. Our band of merry volunteers completed their rounds by 3pm, and we were home free. I then went to vote myself -- no lines, either -- though it was a madhouse in the morning.

I am delighted with the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election. It was an historic event -- all elections of this nature are -- but most telling was what someone I respect wrote in his local politics-oriented blog this morning, and I'll quote:

Everywhere in America, liberals are awakening to sunrise after eight cold years of darkest night. They celebrate. They dream. But they should also reflect. Euphoria on the left is understandable given the failures of the Bush regime and the rancor of the political season. It is the latter factor that fuels the left’s sense of triumph as well as its sense of grievance.

I am pleased that our country will have a leader who promises to restore its credibility and integrity in its relationships with other countries of the world, which has been so badly damaged by the current President. Our new President-elect has made other promises, too, which if put into effect, will be great to see. But it all depends with whom he surrounds himself -- and if he will listen to and act on advice from knowledgable experts. And if Congress doesn't get drunk on power. That tends to happen when both the House and the Senate, as well as the President, are from the same party. They gotta be respectful and careful, or lose the majority.

Tell 'ya the truth, this is somewhat of a seminal moment for me. I am suddenly feeling very OLD! Wasn't it a typical belief as you were growing up that the President is older than you? This is the first time in my lifetime that the President will be younger than me. Man, for some reason, that makes me feel really old. (But I'm not quite trading in my Harley for a old-fart sedan, even though I did buy a "geezer-glide" this year! LOL!)

I'm also happy with the outcome of some Congressional and Senate races. It was time for ol' Liddy to go.... as well as to keep away some radical right-wing zealots who ran, and lost, in my home state and neighboring states. But most of all, I am very happy that the walrus-tooth-headed dingbat from Alaska won't be our country's Vice President. She scared me to death. I have restored faith in the American People who saw through her thin veil of "soccer-mom-ish-ness" and truly felt, as I did, that we couldn't have someone like that just one heartbeat away from the Presidency.

A down-side today is a big frustration with a mega-company that provides my telephone and internet service at home. The service "died" in the middle of the night. After two calls and 90 minutes on the phone with them, I finally persuaded them to send a service tech to my house tomorrow to try to fix it. It shouldn't be that difficult, it really shouldn't.

Another down-side is that today is my boss' last day. His position was cut by the company for lack of funds. He is a really great guy, and I admire him a great deal. But the sucky economy resulted in another job loss, this time very close-to-home. Who knows, I could be next -- though for now, things seem to be okay. Some co-workers and I are taking my boss out to dinner tonight.

Oh well... on to more pleasant things. I'll be smiling a lot today, because that's just my nature. Remember: Life is Short! Smile! (and give someone a chance to ask, "what are you smiling about?)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Getting Out The Vote

The close of the voting is finally upon us. I will be so very happy not to see any more of those campaign commercials on TV! The slamming, twisting, and negativity is more than irritating and annoying. Oh well, by tonight, we will be back to new car commercials.

Many states in the U.S. now allow for early voting, or voting by absentee ballot without an excuse. My state, Maryland, was lenient on absentee balloting, but didn't permit early voting. There is a question on our ballot to allow it, and it looks like it will pass.

Meanwhile, today my co-coordinators of volunteer drivers and I have worked hard to get ready to provide transportation for seniors to vote at the state's largest voting precinct. We have some 800 people who requested a ride to the polls ready to exercise their privilege to vote for President, Member of Congress, Board of Education, two state referenda, and two local questions. Our ballot in my county and state will be short, but incredibly important.

Polls don't open (for the first time today), but instead, since early voting has happened all over the place, I just say that today is the day when polls will close, and by tomorrow morning, we will know the results in most races.

I'm not going to a party or event to watch returns. Returns will come in way too late for me to stay up to watch. I look forward to a positive outcome tomorrow, to bring change at the top, end the very bad policies of the current President and send him and his cronies to wherever they came from on January 20, 2009.

Exercising my constitutional privilege to vote is incredibly uplifting, powerful, and important to me. Every vote counts: go make yours count, if you haven't already done so! You will see me in boots and leather at my precinct this afternoon when I take a break from my volunteer shift so I can vote, and then at the state's largest precinct until everyone on our lists has voted.

Wherever we sit on the political spectrum, we should remember that we are among very few in the world with open and free elections. This is why I love my country, and work to contribute to making things a little bit better, a little bit stronger, a little bit more fair, each and every day. It's why I volunteer, it's why I work so much on community affairs, it's why I serve, and it's why I care.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Spotted In Leather In Public

I had a busy day today. After a nice morning snuggle with my partner and reading the Sunday paper together in bed, I prepared home-made Cialda (Italian waffles) for my partner. I then headed over to my aunt's home to take care of a bunch of things, get some groceries, and some other chores.

At noon, I facilitated in a political forum, where some politically active friends of mine and I educated about 50 attendees about the lower tiers of the ballot. Positions for the Board of Education and questions brought to referendum are often overlooked when all the talk and focus is on the top of the ticket. I continue to urge and persuade people to cast an educated vote, and vote the entire ballot.

What did I wear? An open-collar dress shirt and my side-laced leather jeans over my Chippewa Hi-Shine Engineer Boots. Why? Well, these jeans and boots are very comfortable, and look good. That's all. I just like them. Nobody said a thing -- and most attendees in this forum were seniors.

After that, I headed over to an electronics retailer that had a product that I wanted to get for my partner for his birthday next week. (I can't say much more in case he reads my blog!)

While in the store, a nice-looking guy with a goatee and great smile walked up to me and said, "you look familiar... are you Booted Harleydude?" He looked down at my boots and leather jeans, then into my eyes and said, "you gotta be!"

"Yep, that's me!" I said as I reached out to shake his hand and give him a big smile in return. Turns out that I met a loyal reader of this blog and a fan of my website. He's a biker and told me that he has used my website to decide on a purchase of a new pair of boots to use when riding. He followed my website's link to Stompers Boots and bought himself a pair of Chippewa Firefighter Boots which I have raved about since I got mine last year.

It's nice to meet someone locally who has read my blog, and who has found my website helpful. He's a nice guy. I'm glad to have met you, M, and look forward to keeping in touch. Thanks for coming up to me to say "hi" and taking some time for a chat. Also, thanks for your confirmation that my choice at the store was a good one.

Life is short: wear your boots and leather! And don't forget, if you are a U.S. citizen, be sure to vote by Nov. 4 if you haven't already! The image below is pertinent.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Odd But Fun

It was a beautiful day today in Maryland and nearby Delaware. I took a motorcycle ride to Bridgeville, Delaware, which was about 110 miles (177km) away, on the other side of the Chesapeake Bay. The morning started out quite chilly, so I wore my tall brown custom Wesco Harness boots, jeans, and my thick biker chaps and, of course, my warm leather jacket over a t-shirt and sweatshirt.

The reason for going to Bridgeville was to watch the World Championship "Punkin Chunkin" contest.
At first I thought it was just a silly affair, but I see that lots of people take it very seriously. They spend all year manufacturing what they call "machines," which are large air cannons. And I mean LARGE! Some of the cannons were more than 50' (15m) long! One-at-a-time, a team would load their cannon with a pumpkin, and charge it up to fire the pumpkin across a large field. The winner, which will be announced tomorrow at the conclusion of this three-day event, is the team that fires a pumpkin the greatest distance. Today, one team fired a pumpkin over 4,200 feet! (1,280m)!

By early afternoon, the temperatures reached 75°F (24°C). That is quite unusual weather for this time of year in Maryland. It made for a delightful ride over the Bay Bridge and back, along Maryland's uncrowded highways. A beautiful day, a beautiful ride, great friends, interesting destination. What more could you ask?

Well, today would have been perfect if my partner could have been with me, but alas, his disability prevents him from riding with me. I missed him a lot as my passenger. But when I got home, he and I sat in the forest behind our house to watch the sun drop slowly toward the horizon, and I told him all about it.

Life is short: wear your boots, ride your ride, and enjoy!