Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolving

Happy New Year (almost!) This is a time when you hear about people making "new year's resolutions." I don't do that -- I observe how hypocritical such "resolutions" are. You make them, then a few days later, they're forgotten.

What I resolve to do in 2009 is to continue to do what I have been doing, which includes, but is not limited to:
  • Continuing to care for family and friends, and take steps to help make things better for them, in whatever ways that I can.
  • Remaining happy, joyful, and up-beat.
  • I have so much to be thankful for, I resolve to continue to display and share my thanks.
  • Smiling at total strangers! (and friends, and family, and anyone else!)
  • Enjoying life's surprises, and making lemonade when life serves you lemons.
  • Sharing knowledge, information, and ideas with others when requested, but not offered unsolicited.
  • Taking time to have fun! Ride my Harley with the group that I ride with, share walks with my next-door-neighbor, play Bocci con i ragazzi, update my website, maintain the properties that I own, build stuff -- including a gazebo in our back yard park. (Yeah, this IS fun for me!)
  • Remaining passionate about my community service, and bringing about thoughtful resolution to challenges we face in our neighborhood, community, county, state, and country to the degree that I can.
  • Loving and caring for my partner: my love-of-my-life, my best friend in the whole world, my lover, my joy, my hunkadorabilious, my one-and-only.
  • Showing those that I love that I love them, each and every day.
Tonight, as I celebrate New Year's Eve for the 23rd time with a very close friend, his wife, his family and extended network of friends, I will carry through on these "life resolutions." And I'll be wearing leather and boots, too!

Happy New Year! See 'ya next year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ordering Custom Wesco Boots

This video is for Bruce_sg, and anyone else who wants to know my insights on how to order custom Wesco pull-on boots.

One Million Web Page Views

I saw this coming earlier this week, which is why I posted my "top 10 of the year" blog posts earlier.

WOW! From April, 2006, until 13:25 on December 29, 2008, when a guy from Berlin clicked on a link on hotboots.com to enter my website on my "Guide to Motorcycle Police Patrol Boots" and then poked around to view about 40 pages: at this moment, one million pages have been viewed on my website.

Each time someone views a page on a website, it is called a "page view." This isn't the same thing as the number of visitors -- the same person viewing 40 pages is one visitor.

Well, anyway, at that specific time today, the website visitor from Berlin became the "lucky winner" by incrementing my page view count to ONE MILLION!

Who woulda thunk? That means that tens of thousands of visitors have viewed one million pages on my website since I installed the view counter software in April, 2006.

About half of my visitors enter my website using search engines, primarily Google. About another 30% of my visitors come from links on HotBoots.com and its message board, "Boots On Line." This year, about 10% of my visitors come from links I put in on this blog to my website. Then there are the "loyalists" from all over the world who for some reason or another, have bookmarked my website and visit daily, or sometimes even more often.

With almost 300 pages and about 5,000 images, there's a lot on my website now, which grew from a small thing that I began to resolve a "little family conflict" (explained here) into what it is now. It's fun, a great hobby, and keeps me in touch with my leather gear and boots.

Well, Mr. Berlin, THANKS! And thanks to all for visiting my little booted & leathered website. Come for a visit any time!


Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 10 Countdown: 1 - 5

The following are the top five most popular posts on my blog this year:

#5: Breaking In Dehner Patrol Boots

A visual description of how I broke in a pair of Dehner Patrol Boots for a bike cop.

#4: Mexican Boots

Dispelling myths and providing some information about boots made in Mexico.

#3: Do Masculine Gay Men Scare Masculine Men?

My first "discussion post" which was written mostly by another partnered masculine gay man with whom my thinking is quite similar.

#2: A Cop Gives Up His Boots

This probably ranked high because I linked to this post from "Boots On Line" and there are a lot of guys on that board who like booted cops.

#1: Leather: Muir Cap

Lots of guys continue to search for the term "Muir Cap" -- the traditional "Leatherman's Cap" that is popular among men in the leather fetish community. This blog post is by far the most viewed of any that I have written (so far).

---------------------------------------
And the two posts that have generated the most email and discussions are:

#1: A Fetish or Not a Fetish

and

#2: An Avocation

My personal opinions about my interest in boots and leather are explained in each of these posts.

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Life is short: wear your boots and your leather!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Top 10 Countdown: 6 - 10

It has been interesting learning about blogging this year, and posting over 260 message since I started in January.

I keep stats on which of my posts throughout the whole year are most viewed. The posts come up -- even the older ones -- from Google searches, mostly, since Google owns Blogger, which is where this blog is hosted.

So here goes .... the following are the most popular posts on my blog this year:

#10: Frye Harness Boots and Bellbottom Jeans

Just a whimsical view of vintage Frye boots and an old pair of bellbottom jeans

#9: More on Masculine Gay Men

Discussion on masculine men and being gay

#8: Doin' It In Motor Boots

This probably caught lots of guys' attention due to the title. But remember, this IS a G-rated blog!

#7: How Do You Wear Cowboy Boots?

As I said in the opening of that post, a LOT of people use search engines to look up information about wearing -- or how to wear -- cowboy boots. This post explains it.

#6: Bike Cop Boot Advising

Lots of people want to know what information I shared with bike cops about patrol boots.

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Check back for my next post tomorrow when I reveal #1 - #5!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wesco Boots and Gay Culture

There seems to be some interest and a bit of mystery about Wesco Boots and gay culture. Several internet searches using the keywords "Wesco" and "gay culture" have landed searchers on this blog. [UPDATE: As a result, I received some comments and blogged about this issue again, here].

I am a confident, secure, masculine man. That's how I was raised, and how I behave. I enjoy typical "guy things" like riding my Harley and wearing clothing for the activity, including sturdy motorcycle boots and leather. I also enjoy home remodeling, repair, and construction. While I am not interested in organized sports, that's just a preference -- or lack thereof. It is the objective of this post to describe more about how preferences, stereotypes, and culture are not one-and-the-same.

And yeah, I am gay. Am I "attracted to" Wesco boots because I am gay? Nope. I like Wescos because they are the sturdiest boots around, made to exceptional quality standards, and present a great appearance on my feet. They fulfill the type of image of the guy that I am -- a confident biker. That's it.

As my friend Maf said the other day:

Gay is only who you are programmed biologically to desire sexually and to love. People whether straight, gay, male, or female span a great spectrum that goes way beyond stereotypical traits.

He is absolutely right. Because I love a man and choose to live with him as my partner, treating him as an equal and a mate equivalent to a man-woman marriage -- that has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I am a masculine man who likes sturdy, rugged boots.

There are a lot of men who like to wear Wescos. Some gay men have
a fetish for them, some -- like me -- like the boots because of the utility and protection that they provide when I engage in my preferred outdoor activities of riding my Harley and working on construction projects or around the yard. Other men wear various styles of Wesco Boots for activities like logging, working on utility lines, wildland firefighting, and serving as a motor patrol officer. To them, the boots are more like "required" footwear; a part of a uniform -- not anything else.

There is a range of traits and preferences that each person has. Some straight guys don't like boots at all, and choose to wear sneakers in their off-time. Some gay men wouldn't be caught dead in a pair of sturdy, rugged boots. Similarly and in contrast, I
would feel very uncomfortable (and sick to my stomach) if I had to wear dress shoes. I'd rather go barefooted than wear dress shoes or sneakers.

It is really a matter of preference, not having anything to do with whether one is programmed biologically to love a male or a female. People just have to get over trying to apply stereotypes to link preferences for certain things like boots and being gay. The stereotypes cause people to respond in ways that don't help matters much, and sometimes cause strife, negativity, and attacks borne from fear and insecurity.

Masculine men who engage in activities that require solid protection for their feet may choose to wear Wesco Boots. That's really about it... what you see is what you get, no more, no less.

Pet Peeve Relief: The company that makes the boots that are the subject of this post is the "West Coast Shoe Company" of Scappoose, Oregon, USA. They go by "Wesco" and emboss "Wesco" on each pair of boots they make. Guys refer to their boots as "Wescos" -- NOT "Wesco ' s". My pet peeve is seeing an apostrophe used to make a word plural.

Life is short: Wear your boots and enjoy your Wescos!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Riding on Christmas

We had a sunny, dry, and pleasant day on Christmas Day, and it warmed up to above 50°F (10°C), which was great motorcycle weather!

After preparing and serving a hearty Christmas breakfast and watching my mother-in-law open her gifts, I wanted to go visit my family. And, as is my custom if weather permits, I go on my Harley. So I changed into my biker leathers and boots, and got the Harley out of its storage area in the garage.

I checked it over carefully doing my usual T-CLOCS review. I am glad that I did, because I noticed that I must have knocked one of the cables sideways when I had parked it as close as possible to the back wall of the garage. I straightened out the cable and checked to make sure it operated correctly. I also checked the air pressure in the tires and put air in the rear, as it was a couple pounds low -- that happens when bikes sit idle.

Off I roared on my trusty iron horse. I went to a niece's house. Her little ones had already torn through their gifts and were playing with them, but they sure enjoyed a short ride with Uncle BHD! After that, I dropped by a nephew's house, and got his kids all riled-up. It's fun to see the kids on Christmas, and share a little joy with an unexpected ride on their uncle's big Harley.

I have a child-sized leather jacket and kid-sized boots that I let them wear when they ride with me. I make them wear gloves, and a helmet that is their size, too. We don't ride far, but we make sure their friends hear us roar (slowly) by while they wave to them.

I was tempted to go to another niece's house, but she lives about an hour away, and I needed to get back to get our Christmas dinner started. My mother-in-law sure can eat, and my partner wanted the whole she-bang, so I had to get home by early afternoon to begin preparing our meal.

Life is short: show those you love that you love them! Rumble...rumble, uncle!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Believe: Merry Christmas!

This post was written on Christmas Eve, just as we're going to bed and it will remain top-of-the-blog until after Christmas.

We just returned from church, where we took my mother-in-law to celebrate mass. Man, the church was packed. While we arrived a half-hour early, the only seats available were in the second row down front. That's okay, I like to be able to see what's going on.

As I looked around, I saw someone I knew, and waved. She waved back. Then someone else waved -- a friend I hadn't seen in a long time. Then another, and another. A couple who goes on motorcycle rides with me held up their daughter who waved to me for them. A fraternity brother from college gave me a hug and the secret handshake (yeah, they still have those and I still remember it). An elected official walked by, called out my name, practically fell over the pew in front of me to shake my hand while we both were laughing and wishing each other a "Merry Christmas."

Right up until the service started, I looked around the mass of humanity around me and realized I knew a lot of people. After all, the church is in the middle of the community where I live. The cemetery where my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and loved-ones were buried is just down the road. (My ties to this community run deep, and run looooong).

My mother-in-law, though, was amazed. "How do you know all these people?" My answer was: "I believe."
  • I believe in service to others.
  • I believe in caring for my neighbor.
  • I believe in doing. Not just sitting and watching, but doing.
  • I believe in being patient until things happen, and nudge 'em along when needed.
  • I believe that a smile is the best gift to give to others.
  • I believe that life is full of surprises and without them, life would be awfully dull.
  • I believe in holding friends close, and family closer.
  • I believe in my partner, wholeheartedly, without reservation or equivocation.
  • I believe that joy comes to those who share joy.
  • I believe in Santa. Well, in his magic, his spirit, and his love.
  • And yeah, I believe in love. Love is the only thing you get back more of the more you give it away.
  • I believe that God loves all of us, including us gay guys as well as the homophobes. God loves all -- it is religion that causes separatism and some people to display hatred, which is what God teaches us is a sin.

As Susan Walker said in Miracle on 34th Street:

"I believe... I believe... It's silly, but I believe."

And to quote (badly) from the title of another Christmas classic, I kinda believe that I have a wonderful life.

Merry Christmas, everyone! Believe in yourself, believe in your fellow man, believe in your heart, and believe in life!

Unconditional Friendship

Here it is, Christmas Eve, and I've been ready for months. Seriously -- I bought my last Christmas gift in September. It's something for my mother-in-law, who is visiting with us this week.

My partner and I discussed how bad the economy was, and decided that we would not give each other gifts this year. We decided to donate to charity in the other's name. Non-profits need more help this year than ever, and my partner and I don't really need anything.

It was difficult for me to figure out what charity to ask him to support for me. I am involved in a number of non-profit groups to which I contribute throughout the year (in both time and money), and I didn't want his contribution on my behalf to favor one over another, or make it too complex and diluted to split it up among all of them. Then an email that I received last Friday decided it.

I need to explain by relating a life story of friendship that began 47 years ago. My family had just moved into a new house, and everyone in the family was busy unpacking. I was only four years old and too little to help. I was wandering around the front yard, bewildered about my new environment, and was probably feeling a little lonely and afraid. I looked up to see a kid about my age getting off the back of a bicycle being ridden by his older brother. He walked over to me and while I can't remember exactly what he said, he became my very first friend. We went to school together through high school.

He and I spent a lot of time playing as kids, and enjoying a long-term friendship. He was faithful, loyal, and a good buddy. He never criticized me for not being able to play any sports, or for being klutzy as heck. He never once asked me why I didn't want to go to the school dance with a date. His friendship to me was unconditional, and solid as a rock. I never really felt that I appreciated his loyalty until I was much older when I realized how important having someone like that in my life really was.

My friend was always somewhat of a vagabond. He was smart, but only when he applied himself. Most of the time, he didn't even try. He dropped out of high school, and lived in his car in the back of a church parking lot. We brought him food and let him shower in our house, but he really didn't want to be dependent. He would get a job, then pick a fight with the boss and get fired. He never seemed to be able to hold down a job for more than a few months. Though when he went for his G.E.D., he aced it.

He eventually moved to Florida then to central Virginia, and we kept in touch from time to time. He married, had kids, and completed an Associate's Degree. He seemed to be settling down. But he kept having that problem with getting a job, working for a few months to a year, then getting fired, laid off, or otherwise becoming unemployed. He and his wife divorced, and he moved again to Florida to work in the construction industry.

Well, on Friday, December 19, I received an email from my friend in response to one I had sent several weeks ago where I was kidding him that the page in my address book was worn out from erasure marks. I wanted to update it again so I could send him a Christmas card. I was asking him where he was these days and what he was up to.

His response broke my heart. He told me that he lost his house due to foreclosure, his girlfriend left him, he hasn't worked for six months and can't find a job. He was down to his last dollar while living with some friends for a few days. All he asked was that I pray for him.

Well, sure, I'll do that. But I decided to ask my partner for the money that was going to be donated to charity in my name to me so I could wire it to my friend. The least I could do (and add a little more of my own money).

I have mixed feelings, but I won't judge my friend. He never judged me in all his life. The least I can do is try to help him out, to show what unconditional friendship really means.

Christmas means much more than gifts, lights, decorations, and food. It means family, love, and bonds of friendship that bring meaning to the day and its legacy throughout the year. Regardless of religious beliefs, or my personal divided feelings about organized religion -- I truly have faith borne from the Christmas Spirit that carries me throughout the year to enjoy peace, love, and service to those for whom I care. Truly, that's what Christmas -- and my faith -- is all about.

Life is short: show those you love that you love them. Merry Christmas, everyone, and may you live a good life rooted in faith and expressed with love.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Organizing the Blog

You may have noticed some changes to how this blog appears, from minor things like colors of headers, to finally fixing a couple broken links (my "contact me" link wasn't working), to tagging my blog posts with topic areas, shown below. Now visitors interested in a particular topic can click on any topic listed under the "Blog Content Topics" to read my posts about that subject. I try to live an organized life, because I get involved in so many things, being organized is the only way I can pull it off (though don't look at the clutter in my home office; however, I do know where everything is!)

I see some visitors have tried clicking on my blog content area links already.

The content areas are listed below (and are also working links). If you have suggestions for better or clearer organization of my blog or content areas, write to me! Thanks for visiting my blog, and enjoy!

Blog Content Topics



Monday, December 22, 2008

What Defines a Person

I have been enjoying a renewed conversation with a gay man who is coming out now to his friends and family. It's been a long process for him. What he's going through reminded me of what I went through when I came out -- starting when I was in college (photo shown, circa 1977).

The guy with whom I am communicating is deeply thoughtful and introspective. He has asked me questions that have caused me to think. He shares analogies to experiences in his own life that are strikingly similar to things I've gone through -- and also some experiences that I haven't had.

One thing he said recently was this:

Through the example you've provided you've reinforced my belief that being gay doesn't totally define your existence and there's not a predefined mold you have to fit in. Sexuality is as natural as breathing and just as some people are tall and others are short, some are gay and others straight and some are in the middle. Although I don't feel the need to made any grand announcements, I also won't skirt the issue of my sexuality in conversation with friends and family.

I totally agree with his statement, and with his permission, I reproduced it here. I have never felt that being gay defined my total existence. It's just a part of what makes me who I am.

While I appreciate the compliment in that whatever I have said or shown as an example, I've learned that coming to terms with what defines a person is complex and not related to one specific thing. It's not related only to being gay, or only to being male, or only ... to ... anything!

As I have conversed with another masculine gay man (who happens to be from the same state as the man who inspired this particular post)... one defines himself in a variety of ways. How he lives, with what activities and people he engages, with what he does for a living, how he conducts himself, and many other factors. My buddies about whom I am writing share similar traits with me in having self-confidence, maturity, intelligence, and just being regular guys -- not trying to be someone he's not, nor hiding from being who he is. He just "is". I admire men like that. No pretenses. What you see is what you get.

Thanks, guys -- for reaffirming that guys can be guys and being a gay guy doesn't define who that guy is. While you have said that I've helped you, you have helped me, too. I don't "have" to identify as or with any particular identity, because what makes my identity as a masculine gay man is a combination of things. Just like for my friends. (And we like to wear our boots, too! That's great!)

Life is short: be who you are, and wear your boots! (LOL!)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ho Ho Ho for 37 Years!

Back when I was in junior high school in 1971, a group of friends got together to go Christmas caroling in our neighborhood. We would meet at one of our homes to practice each week for many weeks before our caroling adventures. We sure had a lot of fun.

So much fun, we continued to get together for caroling every year since. Yep, that's right, 37 years now! We got together while we were in college, when members of the group were getting married, having children, working, and going through the events that make a life. I met my partner, built a house, got really active in the community, etc. My friends did the same. Some had large families, some are childless. Some moved away, some -- like me -- stayed in the area. Some returned to our former "stomping grounds" to buy their home and settle down. Some divorced. Two had spouses die. We have continued to remain in touch through the years, with e-mail making it far easier to do that.

While we don't rehearse any more for weeks in advance, we still look forward to getting together on the Saturday night before Christmas at the home of one of our group. She bought her parent's old house, so we still get together in the same neighborhood. My friends bring their spouses, children, and last night, six grandchildren were among the mix. 40 of us were together, 15 from the original group.

Yesterday as I was cooking and baking while my partner was driving to his mother's to pick her up and bring her back to our home for Christmas, the doorbell rang in the early afternoon. Standing there was a friend who once was in our group, but moved away for college, and settled down on the West Coast. He returned to see his family, and stopped by to say, "hi." Man, it was great to see him again. We whiled away the afternoon gabbing and catching up, and had dinner together with something I whipped up at home. He went with me to our gathering. Everyone was as pleased to see him as I was.

Instead of terrorizing the old neighborhood by going door-to-door as we once did, we went to three nursing homes and assisted living centers where some of my friend's parents or grandparents live now. My friends pre-arranged with these facilities for our visit, so we wouldn't interrupt their mealtime or conflict with another group.

We sang, a bit off-key, a bit out of tempo, but with good cheer and lots and lots of fun. Smiles all-around, laughter, and delight at the children and the grandchildren who sang their hearts out along with us.

After we completed our rounds, we returned to a friend's house to visit with each other, catch up on our lives, have some food and drink, and talk late into the night. Since my partner wasn't home and the weather was cooperating (cold, but not raining), I didn't have to go home early. Though I was tired, I was very energized and stayed quite late -- 'til after midnight.

I'm still a little groggy this morning, but I am cherishing memories and fun with a group of friends that have held together for such a long, long, long time. My partner will return with his mother today, so there's no time to nap. Oh well, I'll manage. We will enjoy making my M-I-L feel welcome, pampered, and loved.

Life is short: show those you love that you love them! Merry Christmas, and Ho! Ho! Ho!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gift for Elderly Loved-Ones Who Don't Need More Stuff

I have a lovely aunt whom I care for, helping her continue to live independently. She is almost 94 years young. At that age, she has every "thing" she could possibly want. The last thing she needs for Christmas is more "stuff." While it's nice to give a gift of some sort, the plates, bobbles, coffee mugs, and figurines already overflow. The clothes she has are nice, and she can only use so many new pairs of socks or house slippers. Her pantry is full, her cupboards aren't bare. There isn't a thing in the world that she wants or needs.

Being of a certain age, she is quite forgetful. She is not able to get out on her own. She has gotten perturbed with herself when she discovers that she forgot to buy and mail a card to her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren for their birthdays.

So my gift to her, which I have been doing since I began the practice for my mother 15 years ago, is to go buy the cards for each person important to my aunt. I write the person's name and address on the envelope, and put a stamp on it. Then I file the card in a card organizer by date. (Card organizers are available inexpensively from Amazon.) It's helpful that I keep our large family tree and genealogy, so the birthdates and addresses are already on my computer.

All my aunt has to do (and sometimes with my prompting) is to check the monthly slot in the organizer at the start of each month and pull out the cards for that month, sign them, seal the envelopes, and put them out for the mail carrier to pick up. Simple! Perhaps someone receives a card a week or two early, but that's far better than not getting a card at all. And they are amazed at how she remembers their birthdays! We won't reveal our little secret. (LOL!)

Here I am today, while bread for the neighbors is rising and a home-made Manicotti is in the oven, organizing my aunt's cards into her organizer for this year's Christmas gift to her. Our buddies, Big Bear, Snowbeary, Katie the Koala, and Guido (on the motorcycle), are helping me (long story about these guys, tell 'ya later....)

As they say, it's the thought that counts. This is a way I show my love for someone who loves me very, very much. What a treasure my aunt is in our lives, and what joy we share.

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


Friday, December 19, 2008

A Cop Gives Up His Boots

A riding buddy of mine was assigned to a motorcycle police unit and has worked as a bike cop for many years. He also owns a personal motorcycle and we ride together from time to time. He's a really great guy. We have enjoyed many rides together over the years.

He recently was promoted to Detective, and shed his regular uniform and tall patrol boots for a suit and dress shoes (yuck!) He told me that he always considered his patrol boots as part of the uniform. When we rode our motorcycles together, he always wore some kind of short tactical boots.

Due to his promotion and change of uniform, he asked me a while back if I knew if his six pairs of Dehner boots might have some future use for others. Um, yeah! He is not a "bootman" as I claim to be. He really wasn't aware of, nor wanted to know about, the boot fetish community out here. What he doesn't ask, I don't tell. But over the years, he has seen me riding my Harley in all sorts of boots, tall and short, inside and outside of my jeans or leathers. He hasn't said much about my boots, other than to give me a half smile and say sometimes, "new boots?"

He gave me his old boots and asked me to manage their sale on eBay. As my "sellers fee," I could keep one pair for myself. Isn't it fortunate that they're my size! So here is the pair I chose to keep: the newest ones (to him) which he got just a few months ago. They are Dehner dress instep patrol boots. They're stock, meaning that they have a leather foot and Dehcord (plastic) shaft. They have a standard Nitrile rubber sole. They are a 10.5D, which is a little bit larger than my usual boot size. However, they fit me just fine -- especially since they have a 1" wider calf circumference, which accommodates my muscular calves quite well.

The rest of his pairs of boots are sold -- don't come begging, please. Interestingly, they sold to five men in the U.K., who bid more for them than anyone else. I gave the net proceeds of the sale to my riding buddy, who put it to good use to take his wife and children to see his in-laws in California for Christmas.

This was a "win-win" for both of us. I really like these new-to-me-boots, and my riding buddy receiving an unexpected windfall.

Life is short: wear your boots!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Love of My Life

While the photo may be from springtime, the person in it is my Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter: the love of my life, my "bestest friend", my soulmate, my partner, my man. Like a fellow blogger said the other day, the word "partner" sounds so businesslike, but until the term "love-of-my-life" replaces it, or until our country gets off its homophobic butt and lets us marry, then calling him my partner is all I can do right now.

He keeps me grounded. He keeps me on track. He respects me. He challenges me to think. He quietly keeps things running in our household while I am busy with community activities. He continues to ask me to take time for "me," and to relax a bit, ride my Harley, read novels in Italian and other languages, or spend time with my family and elder-buds.

He's not perfect. He won't answer the phone or the door. He dislikes socializing. He has no friends. He doesn't like to go out. He has a brittle temper, especially when he is in pain due to his disability. But he far more makes up for that, by being a warm, gentle, exceptionally caring, loving, intelligent, and thoughtful man.

He and I think exactly alike when it comes to finances, but he's the financial brains of the outfit. We have no debt beyond a very small mortgage, we save for what we want to get or do so we don't take loans, and through his guidance we have been setting aside funds and resources for retirement. Neither of us carry balances on credit cards, or throw away money by gambling or engaging in risky financial practices. But my personal financial situation is stable (even in today's rough economy) because I mirror my partner's high standards when it comes to money and investments.

Further, the love of my life just "does things" without asking, and without saying, "see what I've done." The house doesn't clean itself; the truck doesn't shed its dirt; the laundry doesn't pop itself into the washer and dryer and find its way into drawers and onto hangers... so many things he does that I don't thank him enough for doing, because sometimes I get so busy that I don't notice things he has done for me.

When I get really busy, I mean really, really busy in my civic life, he just quietly does whatever he can do to support me. He reorganized my office so all the different facets of my civic life were organized, filed, and prioritized. When I go fix things for my "elder buds," he often is the one who gets the equipment, supplies, and materials that I need to do that. When I want to bake 20 loaves of bread in a week, he stocks the pantry with flour, yeast, raisins, cinnamon, and sugar.

That's what's so magic about the love of my life. Without saying a thing, he knows what needs to be done, and just does it. It's more than reading my mind. He can read my soul. He is always there, truly reliable, my rock, and a warm snuggle on a cold night. And sexy, too -- but this is a "G-rated" blog!

For all of this, I have vowed to make this Christmas the best yet. My partner has invited his mother to stay with us for the upcoming week. Since her husband died, her being alone on Christmas was not an option my partner would accept. My M-I-L is not the easiest person to be around. I'll leave it at that. Let's say past visits during the holidays have been challenging. But I absolutely vow that I will do all I can do to make her feel welcome, happy, pampered and loved. This is what I can do for my partner, who loves me unconditionally, with the purest of heart. And he loves his mother, too.

I cherish the man who makes my life all that it is and worth living. He is what makes Christmas merry for me. Thank you, God, for your Divine Intervention to bring us together, and for that, I remain, truly grateful to You, and live a life in faith and love.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Baking Away!

Giving a home-made loaf of bread to all of our neighbors is a holiday tradition. It's an Italian tradition, too: bread at Christmas is viewed as a gift of life to sustain the family and good cheer.

When my partner and I built our house, I worked with an architect to develop the kitchen that I had long wanted: three ovens, large cooktop, and a huge island on which to prepare my creations. Not that I am a great chef, but having room to work while enjoying an expansive view of our back yard park, and space for a table for four were also requirements of our design.

I bought an old farm which was slated for development from the parents of a high-school classmate. I won the bid to buy the farm since I promised to build low-density, single family homes, instead of what could have been: rows and rows of townhouses.

Since our house was completed first, we welcomed our new neighbors as the rest of the small neighborhood built out by bringing them a baked item of some sort -- a cake, a pie, or cookies. Then as we incorporated our Homeowners Association, I was elected President, and my partner and I continued to share joy with our neighbors by bringing each one a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread at Christmas. I love to do it.

So here I am, with Christmas Carols playing in the background, singing off-key and baking away, preparing something home-made for my neighbors, our friends. We are so blessed to share our neighborhood with people who have a rich diversity of backgrounds, and in a community with a casual and mature kind of tolerance.

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Just Isn't A Day, It's a Frame of Mind

Yep, it's that time of year when my partner and I set up the assembly line to get out our holiday greeting cards. Every year I keep saying to myself that I have to cut the list, yet each year it seems to grow longer.

Let's see, 128 cards to family (I have a very large family), 154 cards to "elder buds" who I adore and see throughout the year and who receive birthday cards from me as well, and about 120 others -- life-long friends from elementary, junior high, high school, and college, additional friends I've made over the years, my former host families in Europe, as well as some elected officials who I work with.

Believe it or not, 402 cards is less than it had been. People and jobs change, circumstances where you knew people change, and some people have died.

I need to work on this list, but ... I just get into that Christmas frame of mind and get a little emotional, spiritual, and misty. And while mass-produced cards with an annual photocopied Christmas letter, sent using a word-processed mailing label, is not as personal as I would like it to be, there's just so much time available to get this all done.

Over the last few nights, my partner and I had the assembly line set up in our basement. We put DVDs of It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and my partner's favorite, Ziggy's Gift on to watch, and get to work. There I am saying the lines in the movies, "Mary, Mary..." or when George says "Merry Christmas Mr. Potter!" and old Potter replies, "Merry Christmas to you, in jail!" or "Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to," while my partner smiles and rolls his eyes. I'll hum to the tunes in Ziggy's Gift because Ziggy doesn't talk. He just smiles, helps out, and makes magic happen. His Christmas miracle makes my partner get all teary-eyed, while I shed a tear every time Susan discovers the miracle of the holiday granted by Kris Kringle, or George finds Zuzu's petals when he's brought back to real time and hugs Bert the cop.

I sign our names to the card and letter, and put on the address label on the envelope. My partner puts the card and the letter in the envelope, seals it, puts on a return address label and a stamp, and then I'm off to terrorize the US Postal Service.

And to think, I heard a news report recently that the number of cards being sent this year has dropped significantly. Well, shucks, not for me. It's a holiday tradition, and something I look forward to doing. I think of all the people in our lives who have made it so much richer and rewarding, remembering one of Clarence's line in It's a Wonderful Life:

"Strange isn't it. Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole doesn't he?"

THIS, my friends, is why I volunteer, why I serve, and why I love my family and friends. This hole is filled, not empty, because we all fill it with how intertwined our lives are, making each person through each of our actions just a little bit better each and every day.

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

Monday, December 15, 2008

Maintaining Shine on Chippewa Hi-Shine Boots

Here I am in Sunday afternoon's attire, out back, takin' a break from reading, writing, and baking. I really mean it when I say that if you're going to invest in leather, to wear it more than once-a-year to leather fetish events.

I've been asked from time to time how to keep a good shine on boots like Chippewa Hi-Shine engineer boots. While the boots are made of all leather, there is a thin plastic coating on the boots that makes them shine.

For many years, bike cops have used spray furniture polish on Dehcord, which is the plastic that stock Dehner boots are made of. My bike cop tenant swears by the practice of wiping down his Dehner boots with a damp cloth when he gets home, then after he takes his boots off, he gives them a light spray of household furniture polish and wipes the boots down again until they glisten. And his boots always look sharp!

So I tried spraying my new lug-soled Chippewa Hi-Shine boots with a little furniture polish and wiping them until there was no residue left. The boots look great! It really works!

I wore these boots to work today (dress pants over) and a couple of security-type guys in a meeting I attended at oh-dark-thirty this morning noticed the boots and asked me a lot of questions about them -- what brand, how they feel, and how I keep them so shiny. I guess the treatment works! And as a side-benefit, dust will be repelled, too! Who could ask for more? (LOL!)

Life is short: wear your boots (and leather, when you can!)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ready for Christmas

We've been ready for Christmas for a while. My partner has a wonderful eye for decorating for the holidays. I tend to favor old family heirlooms that I inherited, and which decorated our family Christmas trees when I was growing up. My tastes, one could say, are odd and eclectic.

My partner, on the other hand, has style and grace. He likes Christmas trees to show some pattern of uniformity and symmetry. He has gone to stores for after-Christmas sales to get ornaments of the same size, shape, and style. For me, I don't shop, and I don't really want "same-same-same." I'm the kind of guy who pulls out an ornament that had hung on our tree when I was a kid, and will wipe away a tear as I tell a story related to the ornament. I'm just a sentimental old fool, where my partner and Martha Stewart would have more in common when it comes to decorating.

Further, I grew up with having a cut "real" tree every year, or cutting
our own at a tree farm. But over the last few years, since my partner's disability has prevented him from going with me to pick out the tree, he has complained about how "funny-looking" and asymmetrical the trees were that I brought home. Having had enough of his complaints, last year I put my boot down and told him that I wasn't getting any more cut trees. We went out the day after Christmas last year and bought a pre-lit artificial tree, which we put up for the first time this year. I'm still adjusting to it, but it looks nice, and I don't have to worry about keeping it watered or its dropping needles all over the place. And it sure has a lot of branches for ornaments! I miss the fresh-cut tree smell, though (and artificial scent sprays just don't do it for me.)

Our compromise, besides having an artificial tree this year, is that my partner hangs his symmetrical and well-"designed" ornaments on the side of the tree that faces outside, where it can be seen from the street. I hang my family heirloom ornaments on the inside, where I can see them and tell their stories. We are both happy.

Well, the stockings are hung, the wreaths are wrought (I mean, hung), the rest of the holilday decorations are all in place, so now it's time to get down to baking. More on that in future blog posts.

Life is short! Show those you love that you love them!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Consequences of Gay Marriage

This chart was provided by a Delegate to my state's General Assembly. Too bad I don't live in her district! Thanks, Adam, for the "mainstream" post on your blog!

Much more work to be done in my district with our Delegates. One is great, one is retiring, and one is awful. 2010 is just around the corner!

Friday, December 12, 2008

How Do You Wear Cowboy Boots?

Believe it or not, someone entering that question into a search engine is quite common. I get about ten or twenty visits each day to the page on my website about how to wear cowboy boots as a result of someone entering that question or one similar to it.

I've wondered why. I mean, what does the person really want to know? What to wear with cowboy boots? How to wear them (jeans inside or not?), or what?

I've quit being over-analytical, and just realized that this is a common question. So rather than just have a demonstration as I originally had on that page about how to get jeans to stay down inside cowboy boots if that's how someone wants to wear them, I provided some more detail and realistic information about just how men wear cowboy boots in the U.S.

Just put on your jeans, pull on your boots, and stand tall. But... there is a little bit more to it, if you care to read on. Here are three primary components to the topic, which really relate more to the clothing worn with cowboy boots than the boots themselves:
  • Do guys wear jeans inside or outside boots?
    -- outside. Sure you see a lot of pics of the cowboy boots on my website with me wearing jeans inside them. That's really just to show the boots for purposes of a boot-related website. But in the day-to-day, men wear jeans over boots. The only times I see men wearing jeans inside their boots is if they are riding rodeo or attending an event such as a "boot night" where you want people to see the boots.
Rattlesnake boots
  • What are "stacked jeans"?
    -- you want to have jeans that are long enough to come down to the foot of the boot, but not so long as to drag on the floor behind the heel. The jeans may form a soft fold along the foot of the boot. That is "stacked jeans" -- simply, the jeans are long enough to stack (or fold) on top of the boot foot. This is the way most men wear jeans with boots. If jeans are shorter than that, they don't look right with boots and sometimes the man wearing jeans that ride up the boot shaft suffers consequences of ridicule. Goodness knows, I've endured that when some people who "don't get it" have visited my website, linked to it from a blog or forum, and then made comments that reflect their lack of intelligence.
  • Wranglers, Levis, or designer jeans?
    --Cowboys, especially those who ride horses, and Bikers (that is, those of us who ride motorcycles), prefer Wranglers since the inseam of Wranglers is on the outside of the leg, whereas the inseam of Levis is on the inside. An "inside inseam" can rub against the leg and get really uncomfortable after a few hours. Levis were really popular years ago. But since their production was moved outside the U.S. in 1996, the quality is not in the product like it once was. And designer jeans? FuggetAboutIt (as they may say in New York City). Unless you're on a fashion runway, save your money and get Wranglers. Masculine men -- gay or straight -- wear regular-old straight-legged blue jeans. (Don't even ask about how silly baggy and low-rise jeans look on adult men. They're for kids.)
Now, back to cowboy boots, a few questions that search engines bring to my blog or website have included:
  • What color of cowboy boots should I get?
    -- if you wear boots in an office, then get solid-color, all-leather black, brown, black cherry, or grey. If you like a distinctly different style, snakeskin cowboy boots look really good, and come in a wide variety of colors. For more detailed answers, see my tutorial on choosing boots on my website.
  • How tall should the boots be?
    -- Since most men wear jeans or pants over boots, the height of the boot really doesn't matter. That's why most standard cowboy boots are 13" (33cm) tall. Tall enough to feel like a boot. There are taller cowboy boots available, either as Buckaroo boots or from custom shops, and I have some of those. They feel great on the legs. Answer is: get what you want.
  • Do men wear cowboy boots with suits?
    -- Yes, especially in the U.S. Midwest and some states in the South, it is quite common to see men dressed in a suit, tie, and cowboy boots. Don't worry about what others may think. Be a man. You like boots? Wear 'em. If you are worried about what other people may say, then you probably are better off wearing tassled loafers, anyway.
So, that's the story, as simple as it is -- How Do You Wear Cowboy Boots? Confidently, proudly, and with pleasure.

Life is short: Wear your boots!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chippewa Hi-Shines with Ultimate Traction

BHD's Lugged Chip ShinesHave you ever had one of those experiences where you saw something that someone else was wearing and you said to yourself, "I'd like to get that!"

That happened to me in May. I saw a motor officer at the Law Ride® in Washington, DC, who was wearing -- as a number of cops were -- a pair of Chippewa Hi-Shine engineer boots. What I liked most about the boots, though, is that they had a thick, Vibram® 100 lug sole. I blogged about it here.

I started hunting for those boots, and spoke with someone at Chippewa, who said that they don't make them, and confirmed it with Mike, owner of Stompers Boots of San Francisco, and Ron & Rich, owners of Big Black Boots. The boot retailers seemed to think that there wasn't much of a market for them. I beg to disagree.

I was hoping that perhaps Chippewa, owned by Justin Brands, Inc., might consider offering their Hi-Shine engineer boots with lug soles. Lots of cops that I spoke with then, and many more since, have told me that they would like to get the boots with that sole and not to have to go through the trouble of finding a cobbler to add the sole later. (Hmmm, perhaps my loyal lurker from Justin Brands might see this and pass it on to the appropriate people?)

There were some of us, for example, who were disheartened when Chippewa discontinued offering lug soles on their shorter oil-tanned engineer boots. Nothing is wrong with the soles on their boots now -- there are some of us, cops included, who prefer soles that offer the ultimate traction when we ride our big machines, plant our boot on the ground at stops, and when we ride in parades or other slow traffic, need to have a lot of control by using the boots to help us control speed (or crawl), very frequent stops, and maneuvering procedures, such as "walking" the bike forward and backward when parking.

Well, anyway, after all this talking and looking and thinking, I just got myself a new pair of Chip Hi-Shine Engineer Boots with Vibram® 100 lug soles! Whoo-hoo!

Since I already have a pair of these boots, some have wondered (my partner being among the first) why I wanted another pair of these boots. In fact, I had "lug-lite" soles added to my existing Chippewa Hi-Shines by a cobbler in June.

Well, the answer is in learning that my very favorite boot retailer, Stompers Boots, is in such a dire financial condition due to the crappy economy that Mike, the owner, may have to close the store next year. I thought, then, I'd throw some more business his way to try to help out, and get the boots now, rather than wait indefinitely. (And if you're a Bootman like me and like what Stompers has to offer, this is a suggestion to get your orders in now!)

Life is short: Wear your boots! (I sure do!)
Stompers Boots

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Gays Aren't Convincing Me

Today, December 10, 2008, is International Human Rights Day. The organization "Join the Impact" proposed (again, on short notice) that gay people are supposed to call in "gay" to work, and donate their time to voluntary service.

While I'm all for voluntary service, donating about 20 hours each week to serve others publicly and privately, the idea of "calling in gay" doesn't wash with me.

I read the "A Day Without A Gay" website, and didn't find anything of much value to justify calling in to work to take the day off in protest of violations of human rights. My employer doesn't violate human rights -- why punish them? More on that below.

In the past eight years under this President (whose name I can't even write because it makes me ill), the United States went from being a champion of human rights around the world to joining the league of the world's worst abusers of human rights. We've got A LOT of work to do on that front. Banning same-sex marriage in state constitutions, while homophobic and mean-spirited, isn't nearly the same thing as holding "detainees" in Guantanamo indefinitely because we think they knew where the WMDs were in Iraq. (Okay, I'm treating this with levity, but you get my drift.)

Then in reading the "day without a gay" website more deeply, there was one thing that really made me angry: it suggested that one way to "volunteer" today was to try to give blood. Man, that suggestion makes my blood boil, but before I explain why, some readers may not be aware of the regulations surrounding the situation. Here it is, quoted directly from their website (but also widely published elsewhere):
In response to the AIDS crisis of the 1980's the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 from giving blood. This 1985 provision argued that men who have sex with other men are at higher risk of contracting and transmitting HIV and hepatitis, posing a health risk to potential recipients.
While I find this FDA ruling to be absurd, particularly in 2008, nonetheless, you won't find an FDA representative at any facility that collects blood. So it places an exceptionally unfair burden on the poor intake worker at a blood collection center to have to turn someone away by enforcing a rule that they didn't write or have anything to do with.

A better option for service would be to stage a well-organized and coordinated protest with letter-writing campaign to people who can influence the new FDA Commissioners, when appointed, to change the rule. But don't send people to waste their time (gay men trying to donate blood) and cause a poor intake worker to have to enforce a rule that he/she had nothing to do with creating. It's just not fair.

Finally, I'm not participating in "A Day Without A Gay" because I like my work, I like my employer, my employer likes me, and treats me fairly. I work in an environment where it's known that I'm gay, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that I am respected and valued for my professional skills and knowledge, my strengths and capabilities, and my leadership. Further, in this day-and-age with the poor economy, the last thing anyone should do is take a day off. This is a time to be seen as working harder, working smarter, and being there.

That's my two cents (much as that's worth in today's economy). Today, for me, is as always, "a day WITH a Gay".

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More on Masculine Gay Men

I have received several messages in response to my post yesterday titled, Do Masculine Gay Men Scare Masculine Straight Men?" From what I'm reading, there are a number of masculine gay men who have been subjected to taunts, negative comments, and ridicule from straight men when the straight guys find out that they're gay.

So I did a little bit more research, and found a fascinating article titled "Straightjacketed," which I have linked to, here.

Several things in that article hit home:
  • Growing up, men are faced with the continual threat of being seen as gay and the continuous challenge of proving that they are not gay. In short, boys and men are kept in line by homophobia.
  • Masculinity is strongly molded by homophobia, the widespread fear of and contempt for homosexuals.
  • Homophobic beliefs are deeply embedded in our society. Even the many books about men largely ignore the fact that mainstream masculinity is heterosexual

I contend that masculine straight men behave as if they are afraid of masculine gay men only because when a guy looks, behaves, dresses, talks, and otherwise appears "as a man," it goes against what men have been taught by society since they were born. Straight men expect all gay men to behave the same way -- with effeminate characteristics, a high squeaky voice, limp wrists, and other characteristics enhanced by the social stereotyping process.

I know more than a few gay men who are not masculine in their behavior at all, and who serve as the role models for the social stereotype that all gay men are "queens." Well, not all are. Not all straight men are rugged outdoorsy-types, either. Many men these days take on what was considered not too long ago as feminine roles with regard to caring for children and/or elderly parents, cleaning the house, cooking meals, and such.

I also know gay men who are afraid of masculine gay men. Heck, I observe that right where I work, and in my neighborhood. But our differences have nothing much to do with whether we behave as masculine men or not. It simply has to do with being interested in different things. I'm interested in riding my Harley, and wearing boots and leather when I do so. Some of the gay men to which I refer are more interested in going to movies and to clubs. Does either behavior make either one of us more or less "gay?" I think not....

Then the same is true about straight men and gay men -- neither one of us is more or less of a man due to the biological expressions of our respective genes that determine whether or not we are hetero- or homosexual. (Yeah, I am clearly among those who believe that gay men are born gay, not "made" gay.)

It all boils down to the focus of the article that I summarized: homophobia is "taught" indirectly by society and men (and some women) react in ways to reject homosexuality because society expects them to behave that way. What some of them may be afraid of is to reject society's normative instruction -- that is, they are afraid to reject homophobia. It is quite possible for men to be straight, but not narrow.

I think it is important for gay men to help straight men learn about who we are, to accept us, and to become our allies. They are more likely to do that if we as gay men behave in ways that don't fulfill social stereotypes which frighten more men than we may know.

My two cents. What's yours?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Do Masculine Gay Men Scare Masculine Straight Men?

I have been following links back to sources of internet content that link to my website or this blog. Some of what I am finding is amusing, some of it indicates that the writer is nothing more than a grade-school dropout, some of it is rants from the Internet Generation, but some of it indicates to me that masculine straight men are afraid of masculine gay men, especially masculine gay men like me who ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and who enjoy wearing boots and leather.

I can't quite figure it out, but I am observing that there are a lot of people -- gay and straight -- who are insecure.

Insecure gay men demonstrate their insecurity by behaving in a way that gay people refer to as "drama queens." And man, there are many of them out there. But by referring to them as drama queens, that's how gay people put them in their place -- just little twits who should be ignored.

Masculine straight men demonstrate their insecurities by how vocal they become to ridicule gay men who choose to wear masculine attire, such as boots and leather. Some of these insecure men also have demonized gay men who ride a Harley (or any motorcycle, for that matter). They make
broad generalizations about gay men who are confident in their choices of motorcycle to ride and biker attire to wear.

Some have written that gay men only like motorcyclists who are clean-cut and wear designer jeans. Oh, gimme a break. That's another indicator of stereotyping, which is a sure sign of intellectual ineptitude (or just plain old lack of any intelligence), as well as insecurity.

Face it, straight guys -- there are masculine gay men out here, too. Some of us are the proverbial "guy next door" who happens to live with the man he loves. I am one of those guys. I care for my family, neighbors, and friends. I have a full-time job, a home, and a life. I volunteer a lot to serve my community in various ways. And yeah, I ride a Harley in boots (always) and leather (when it is cool/cold.) And I love my one-and-only man.

Did I choose a Harley because "it's the gay bike?" Ha... like most bikers, I moved up to a Harley after riding Japanese bikes for years, finding them to be unreliable. Great training wheels, but when one is a serious motorcyclist, then he's going to choose a serious bike: a Harley.

And I know I'm not alone. I've made some great friends who are masculine men, who live with their partners, have a life, and contribute to their community in various ways. I've met them through a mutual interest in boots, but that really was only a thread that led to an introduction. My masculine friends (you know who you are) have nothing to prove, yet demonstrate their confidence and security each and every day by living with (and sometimes coping with) others who are insecure and attempt to ridicule them, or engage in being negative. I gain strength from their friendship and their positive, secure attitude toward life and those they love -- gay and straight.

So that's about it: I conclude that some masculine straight men are afraid of masculine gay men, but that is because they are insecure, and won't admit it. So go ahead and link to my blog or my website and ridicule me. I'm man enough to take it. I quit worrying about school-yard bullies in second grade.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Doin' It In Motor Boots

Not much more needs to be said about some fun my partner and I had last night!

Life is short: Wear your boots!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Booted Travel

Someone asked me what other pair of boots besides Dehners did I travel with when I went on my recent trip. Pictured, I wore my Nocona Rattlesnake cowboy boots. Man, these boots are comfortable, look great, and are easy to slip off at security. They look great with jeans, which I wear when I travel on airplanes. (Fortunately, I do not have to dress up when I fly; that seems just so darned uncomfortable. Everyone in a suit on a plane grimaces all the time, like someone is pinching them or they are angry. Guess it goes with having a noose around the neck.)

Further, I was asked if anyone made any remarks about my boots. A few minor comments, but nothin' much.

1. When my airport shuttle van stopped at a hotel to drop off another passenger, a bellhop helping the passenger get out of the van noticed my boots and asked, "what kind of skin are they?" I replied, "Rattlesnake." He said, "Cool!" .. and that was it.

2. One day of the two-day meeting, I wore my Dehner Patrol Boots with a nice pair of dress black slacks. I sat at a table with law enforcement leaders from different jurisdictions around the U.S. One of them noticed my boots, which led to a conversation about bike cops in general, but alas, not much about boots.

And that's that. No one else anywhere -- at the airports, on transit, at the hotel, or during the meeting -- made any remarks about the boots on my feet.

To tell you the truth, most people had their noses buried in their Blackberries, writing email or reading it. They were so self-absorbed that they weren't looking at other people, much less boots or anything else. Most wouldn't have a clue if the sky fell in around them or what was going on in the conference. I saw one guy tapping away on his Crackberry at National Airport*, and he walked into a pillar. He really hit his nose hard, as I saw blood. He seemed to want to yell at the pillar for being in his way. What a fool.

There are a lot of people -- mostly men -- who become so oblivious to everything going on around them because they get so caught up with their electronic gadgets. If not a Blackberry, a cell phone. If not that, a PDA. Whatever, all those toys... sheesh, how did we survive without them?

I'll tell ya: easily! I don't have those things and I am so glad I don't! Well, I do have a cell phone but only because my work requires it, and pays for it. I usually have it turned off and check it for messages when I am on a break or after-hours. I figure if someone is paying me to come give a speech and attend a meeting, the least I could do is give my undivided attention.

Some people have told me that they feel self-conscious about wearing boots in public. I've blogged a lot about that before. I won't repeat myself, but only to emphasize that nobody cares. They really don't. Wear what you like, and as long as you don't cause trouble for other people (such as wearing boots that are very hard to remove at security), then don't worry about it.

* Nota bene: It is very easy to tell if someone is not a native of the Washington, DC, Metro area by what they call the airport with the designator "DCA". It is, and always will be, "National Airport." Anyone who calls it by the name of the President who fired all of the air traffic controllers is not a native, and unaware of the huge gazillion-dollar waste of taxpayer money to rename the airport after one of the worst Presidents of this century.

Life is short: Wear your boots!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Love-Letter from the TSA

I just love traveling with boots and leather gear in my luggage.

Well, not specifically just for that reason, but let me 'splain.

I just took a quick trip to Orlando, Florida, for a business meeting. Man, I despise that town more and more each time I have to go there. It's just so fakey! I stayed at a hotel with a Polynesian theme, and I was "aloha-ed" and "mahalo-ed" all over the place. The food was, well, undescribably inedible. But let me say that I don't eat cold or raw fish! Frankly, I wasn't able to eat very much at all of the food served during our meetings for risk of becoming ill. That's okay, I survived.

I brought two pairs of boots with me, including a pair of Dehner Patrol Boots. I also had a leather shirt that I wore in my off time. Just 'cause it was a bit cool, and I like how it feels and keeps me warm without having to wear a jacket.

Today when I got home and unpacked, I found one of those love-letters from the TSA in my luggage, saying that the contents were inspected.

As I say in my Air Travel with Leather Gear Guide on my website:

It's perfectly okay to travel with leather gear. Don't worry about the TSA boys getting all uptight. They have lots of other things to worry about and mostly just don't care what you pack or carry on, as long as it is within the limitations and allowances as described on the TSA website.

I betcha those TSA boys had a little fun figuring out the mix in my luggage -- dress shirts, pants, a tie, and Dehners, leather shirt.... socks, underwear, toiletries. Not much really, just a mix of this Leatherman Bootman Meeting-Goer. I just giggle about that, and not much else. I don't get incensed at my luggage being inspected. I have nothing to hide. But I still find it so disappointing that this has to happen at all. But that's not my war. I have other battles to fight locally, and I'm more successful at those, anyway.

Life is short: wear your boots and leather! (and don't worry about the TSA boys. If they get uptight about a little boots and leather in a piece of luggage, that's their problem.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Lost Art of a Thank-You Note

This smile (actually an old photo but the only one I could find quickly on my computer) reveals my pleasure in receiving over 50 written thank-you notes from the folks who attended our Thanksgiving event.

It truly is a lost art to write a card by hand, express a personal sentiment, write an address on it, put a stamp on it, and put it in the mail. My momma taught me to do that, which is a custom I still follow (along with a card on my elderly friend's birthdays, anniversaries, or at times of sadness upon the death of a loved-one).

I also want to give a special shout-out to my buddy WearinBoots of Mesa, Arizona. I helped him a little bit by putting together a draft profile that he had imported to hotboots.com. He expressed his thanks by writing a card and sending a gift of really cool boot Christmas tree ornaments. That wasn't necessary, but was humbly and deeply appreciated. What a thoughtful man.

I am humbled and gratified that some people still remember that a thank-you card is a wonderful gesture. Sure, I appreciate the phone calls, and email, but a card... well, that's really special. My legion of fun folks that I spend time with as I can -- changing a light bulb, replacing a faulty light switch, repairing that sticky door, or even continuing to practice my Italian while playing Bocci -- are truly special. I am so richly blessed.

Now that doesn't mean it's all love-n-roses. My ever-persistent-keep-the-house-clean partner has been asking, "how long are you going to keep those cards?" ... well, "for a while." I like to read them, sometimes over and over.

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

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Breaking in Dehner Patrol Boots

I am delighted to have a motor officer rent a house that I own. It provides him a home in which to live in the county where he works, and gives me a very reliable, trustworthy tenant.

The officer wears patrol boots every day. He has been wearing Dehner bal-laced boots, but told me recently that he has had his eye on the style with the dress instep (no laces). I have both bal-laced and dress instep styles of Dehner Patrol Boots, and we have "talked boots" on occasion. He's not due for a replacement pair of boots for about another year, but he said that he has needed a new pair because his current boots have "broken badly" at the ankle. He experienced the crease at the back of the boot turning at an angle, thus causing a nuisance and uncomfortable rubbing across the back of his ankles. Yep, it happened in both boots.

Unfortunately, those boots are broken in and can't be "re-trained." The ankle break is where it is and nothing will change it. But I've come up with a solution.

This cop is such an honest guy, he told me that he thought that he broke the dishwasher and paid to replace it himself. He only told me that he did it after-the-fact. He would not let me reimburse him.

So.... working with my friend and Owner of Stompers Boots, Mike, I bought my tenant a new pair of dress instep Dehner Patrol Boots which I will give to him since he won't let me pay him for the dishwasher. And to make sure that he doesn't experience the same problem with a bad ankle break, I applied what I learned from Ron Belanger and his informative "FAQs" on his website at boot.com (Big Black Boots). I broke these boots in for my tenant -- only at the ankle, and only to ensure that they creased correctly, horizontally across the back, not at an angle. The Big Black Boots website (link above) explains how to do that. Photo below is what the boots look like head-on (gorgeous, huh?). I can't wait to give them to him this weekend. I think he will be happy. And you know, a happy cop makes a great tenant!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mexican Boots

UPDATE: December 3: See the comment attached to this note -- one of my friendly lurkers who works for Justin Brands left me a correction, which I appreciate. I have adjusted the post below to be more accurate in what I said about where some major boot brands are made.

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Having a website and a blog generates questions from time to time from various people seeking information. That's the wonder and beauty of the Internet: just enter keywords into your favorite search engine, and soon enough, you find links to websites offering all sorts of content. Many of the links for boot-related key words link to my website.

Last night, someone found my website and then wrote me an email asking about boots made in Mexico. He was concerned about the quality. Here's a part of what I said:

Boots have been manufactured in Mexico for a long, long time. The area in the State of Guanajuato best known for bootmaking is Leon. I have about a dozen pairs of boots that were made there. They're all good. They wear well, and are fairly comfortable. I have no complaints.

I can understand your hesitation to buy boots made in China, because indeed the reputation for making cheap junk with cheap materials and automated methods is ongoing. But the same isn't true for Mexico, where boot crafting still engages many hand-made processes. In my opinion, bootmaking by hand results in a better-quality product.


Don't be afraid of boots made in Mexico. If you check the label or imprint in most cowboy boots sold by major labels in the U.S., such as Justin, Nocona, Dan Post, Tony Lama, and many others: some of them are made in Mexico (with others are still made in the USA). Boots are made in Mexico since quality materials and craftsmanship is still widely available there. The cost of labor and ongoing availability of quality materials and craftsmanship of workers were primary drivers for major USA boot brands to develop boot manufacturing facilities over the Southern border.

Most Mexican boot makers run very small shops. Many are one-man operations. When I took a stroll in Leon several years ago, I saw hundreds of small shops where boots were being made. I tried many of the boots on, and enjoyed long conversations in the dwindling sunlight at the end of the day over a cervesa and enjoyed learning from hard-working men who knew their craft, their materials, and their boots!

It is appropriate to be concerned about quality for a major purchase. Good boots aren't cheap. Consider them an investment to last for years. Go Mexican! I have no concerns whatsoever.