Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Office Halloween Party

On Thursday I learned that the usual company dress code would be suspended on Friday so we could (and were encouraged to) come to work "in costume" for Halloween.

What a dilemma. What to wear? At first, I thought of wearing a business suit. That would scare most of my colleagues to death, since I do not dress up unless I absolutely must. Then I thought, "why should I make myself so uncomfortable? I am much more comfortable in leather than in a suit!"

Over lunch on Thursday, I overheard some of my colleagues talking about what they were going to wear. The usual stuff -- witches, goblins, and even some who said they would dress up to be a lookalike for some prominent Members of Congress and the current Presidential administration.

When I got home on Thursday night, I discussed the matter with my partner. I suggested various ideas -- motorcycle cop, cowboy, punk rocker -- all of which I could easily create from my gear and boot closets. He suggested that I be careful about what I select, as I shouldn't go "too far" when it comes to displaying fetish interests. Even though it is Halloween, wearing a cop uniform in the office would cause some people to ask the obvious questions: "you own that outfit? Why?" I really didn't want to "go there"....

I settled on "biker." Just regular-old "biker." People in the office know I ride a Harley. There are some photos on my desk of me on my bike, and I have shown up on the bike at occasional office gatherings like the annual summer picnic.

I donned a pair of black denim jeans, regular "biker chaps," a Harley T-shirt, a leather vest, and wore a pair of light-on-my-feet Chippewa engineer boots. I was comfortable in this attire all day, and other people smiled and said, "Happy Halloween," without saying much more. I went along with the spirit of the holiday at work, and got to wear my leather, but didn't overdo it.

Man, what a dilemma for a leatherman....

Life is short: wear your boots and leather!

P.S.: I won "honorable mention" for "most creative." Go figure.

Friday, October 30, 2009

If It Looks Slippery

An old adage of experienced bikers: If it looks slippery, assume it is.

While autumn is my favourite season, it comes with one of the worst road hazards for motorcyclists: wet leaves on roadways. Wet leaves are worse than ice. At least with ice, you know you have absolutely no traction, and it's not likely you'll be on the road. With wet leaves, it's usually still warm enough to be riding weather, yet you can and you can't have any traction and you don't know which -- so always assume that wet leaves are slippery. Period.

Lately, I have not been riding my Harley very much. My main reason for not riding has been a busy schedule at work. But beyond that, it has been raining a lot. It has been drizzly and sprinkling more days than usual for autumn here in Maryland. Unlike some other places, we do not have a "wet season" or "dry season." It is customary to have rain throughout the whole year, about once a week or so. But we go in cycles of no rain for weeks and then days like these past several weeks, where it drizzles for two or three days at a stretch, much more like the damp weather in the US Pacific Northwest than the US East Coast.

Wet roads aren't enough to stop me from riding, but wet roads covered with wet leaves causes me to think twice, and hop in the truck if I have to go somewhere instead of the saddle of my trusty iron steed.

In doing some research, I found the following information on various websites, but it all said the same thing. Thus, I believe it was pre-written by a knowledgable author and distributed for publication on these websites. It is useful information. I abide by it, and recommend it:

Riding a motorcycle in slick conditions requires the rider to make every movement s-m-o-o-t-h. Slow down and concentrate on making each input into the bike gentle and gradual. Try to avoid turning the bike while you are passing over obstacles. Reduced traction could cause you to slide. Don’t panic if the rear wheel slides a little. It may not feel stable, but as long as the front tire is going where you want it to, physics will hold the bike up.
Besides the misuse of the term 'panic' (which means an irrational response to fear), the content of this article is right on. And that's how I ride: smooth and steady, with very careful application of the brakes when needed.

And I always ride with full protective gear. My cool/cold weather gear includes: solid, tall motorcycle boots with good tread on the soles, layers of clothing for warmth and protective leathers as the outer shell (if not inner, as well), gloves with gauntlets, and a full-face DOT-approved helmet. Always, without exception.

Life is short: ride safe!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh Brother, It's My Brother!

Guest blog by BHD's twin brother, J

Hey, Bro!

My goodness gracious, big guy, from reading your blog, you outdid yourself on your day off! I have always called you jokingly, "Taz," because you remind me of the Tazmanian Devil in the Looney Tunes cartoons that we watched when we were growing up. Well, Taz, what did you do after dinner? LOL!

I spoke with you on the phone on your day off, and you sounded as if you had all the time in the world to catch up with me. I can imagine, though, you had the phone cradled between your ear and shoulder while you multi-tasked. (I have seen you in that position before.) I cannot imagine how you get all those things done and still go to bed by 8:30 or 9. I'm sure [your partner] noticed the clean baseboards! Ha!

Things are going well here in Europe. Work is busy and setting up our new flat is going great. S (J's wife) has begun teaching again at University, and is enjoying it immensely. Thank you for sending us a couple smoke alarms! You are always thinking of our safety and well-being.

All things Christmas are breaking out in the stores around here, like I bet it is back home. And speaking of that, S and I are coming home this year for Christmas. We can't wait to see you and [your partner] again, as well as our brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, the "greats" and everyone else. I want S to experience our family's Christmas traditions, and I hope we are there in time for the annual caroling back in the old 'hood.

I know it has always bothered you that there is all this Christmas stuff in the stores before Thanksgiving. Remember, we don't have that holiday here, so there is no official "rule" on when it is okay to display that stuff. With the economy the way it is, I don't blame them for trying to start their sales early.

But I remember: all your Christmas shopping is done! Bully for you. I'm nowhere near ready.

You will still wait until after Thanksgiving to get out Christmas decorations. In fact, as I recall, you will be having another large joyful feeding frenzy all day on Thanksgiving with your senior friends, so I presume you need all the space you can get without having it taken up with a Christmas tree and our Lionel train set.

I hope you will post this email as a guest blog, to give you a day off from the blogging and to let me express, once again, how much I admire you. Io ti amo sempre.

Warmly,

Your little bother, J

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What I Did On My Mini-Vacation

I enjoyed my rare day off yesterday, despite rainy crappy weather. I accomplished a lot:
  • I checked in on a few friends and found that blogger is misbehaving, not showing recent blog posts on this blog to some of the people to whom I link. Glad you're okay, Roland.
  • I put on what I am going to wear for Halloween and took some pictures, but you will have to wait and see....
  • I wrote 20 blog posts which will appear here over the next few weeks.
  • I wrote the template code for a website for a 2010 political candidate for whom I am serving as webmaster. I am waiting for the candidate to send me the content to put in the various blocks.
  • I cooked and cooked. My man and I enjoyed a great meal last night featuring all my "home-mades" (pasta, tomato sauce, breads, and dessert)-- lasagna, home-made dinner rolls, and a mixed side salad, finished with a tasty apple pie. (I admit that while I used six different apples to vary the flavors, I cheated and used a pre-made pie crust.)
  • I took my lovely 94-year-old aunt to lunch, just because... I love her so.
  • I scrubbed baseboards with Comet and a toothbrush. It won't be long until Thanksgiving, and we anticipate another huge crowd of seniors.
  • I spoke with two brothers and three sisters on the phone. It was great to catch up!
  • I did the laundry so my partner doesn't have to worry about it on the weekend.
  • I updated my website in several places, including photos of a new pair of CHP leather breeches.
  • I cleaned up and shined a pair of Bal-Laced Dehner Patrol Boots that needed some attention. I seldom polish boots, so this was a big deal for me!
  • I received a suggestion via email to take pictures of my black campus boots that look like Fryes. I learned recently that these boots were made by Boulet when I exchanged some email from the guy who sold them to me. I tried to pull those boots on, and realized why I had not updated photos of them: they were too tight on my calfs. I hauled out my boot calf stretcher and began the slow, deliberate, process of stretching the calfs of those boots. It will take about three weeks for each boot to do it permanently without damaging them. Check back around Christmas for updated pics!
  • I took a half-hour nap! Lazy, lazy, lazy!
A great day! I should do this more often! But to tell you the truth, I am looking forward to being back at work today. I am exhausted!

Life is short: have fun in boots, leather, with family, and take care of things at home. Spend the time to show those you love that you love them!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Rare Day Off

I have been working a lot of extra time lately at my job, in writing huge reports and proposals then going on a three-day out-of-town trip. In exchange for all that time at work, keeping me away from my duties to my community, my partner, and my family, I have been given a rare mid-week day off today.

What am I up to? as you read this, I am probably tending to a number of things around home, my community, and perhaps updating my website. Whatever I am doing, I am doing it in boots and leather. You'll see. I'll tell 'ya later....

Meanwhile, remember--

Life is short: wear your boots, wear your leather, and by all means, SMILE!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cop Galleries: Internet Viewing Observations

These are results of a totally unscientific study of internet viewing of my Bike Cop Rodeo Galleries.

I announced these galleries first on the hotboots.com "Boots on Line" board on October 12. I am fairly well-recognized on that board as a regular participant, so lots of people read my posts, regardless if they reply to them.

During the one-week period from that announcement until October 19, my statistical analysis software indicates that about 4,400 different computers were used to follow the links from that post to my website. I can not say that 4,400 individuals were counted, as I think that some people used a computer at home and a computer at work (or elsewhere) which counts as separate "visitors" where the visitor may be the same person.

Of the visitors generated from links on the BOL board, 80% of these visitors looked at both sub-galleries (one gallery is of the boots and one is of the cops). Those looking at the subgalleries often viewed most or all of the individual photos by clicking on each one which results in a larger image than that shown on the thumbnail image in the gallery. These views totalled over 20,000 in a week. Not bad... lots and lots of interest.

One does not have to register to view the Boots on Line board, so there is no way for me to know how many people actually read my posting there but did not follow the link to my website. However, I think a large number of readers of my post actually did. Larry (webmaster of hotboots.com) makes it very easy for people to follow links posted with a message.

Interestingly and in comparison, I posted a message about these galleries on the "abootfetish2" Yahoo Group, which has been around for a long time, and shows about 1,545 members. Not all of these members are active nor all receive or read messages sent via that group. Yahoo group list maintenance is a devil of a task, and I don't blame Jared, the site owner, for not deleting members who have bouncing email addresses.

Nonetheless, the posting of a link on the "abootfetish2" Yahoo Group resulted in about 300 visits from different computers in the same one-week comparison period. That is just a drop in the bucket compared with users of the "Boots on Line" board. Further, only about 25% of those visitors actually clicked on a link to either of the two subgalleries of boots or cops. Most visitors generated from the ABF2 group just viewed the entry page which explained the event and showed one image for boots and one image for cops. Then left... that is, they surfed on somewhere else.

I cannot explain nor would try to guess why the population of viewers of this gallery who came from a link from the "Boots on Line" board viewed the subgalleries and most if not all of the photos that I painstakingly cropped, edited, and posted -- compared with visitors from the ABF2 group who did not. Perhaps it is because the BOL Board is truly web-specific, meaning that you're already on-line viewing a page on a website, and it is easy to click on a link and view what's there. With the ABF2 (or any Yahoo Group), most viewers come from a link embedded within an email message. They may click on the link, but then return to their primary task of reading their email and responding to messages. Their "purpose" for using the computer then-and-there is related to email, not web surfing.

I have no other ideas as to why the viewership from the BOL Board is so much higher than from the ABF2 Yahoo Group. Participants in both internet activities are definitely guys into boots (and cops, and leather, etc.)

Your thoughts?


Sunday, October 25, 2009

IQ Test Requirement

I had an uneventful flight back home from Charleston, South Carolina, on Saturday morning. I just wonder, though, with all the security restrictions in flying these days, why they do not require an IQ test before issuing airline tickets. The following is a true story, which I wrote down as it happened so I wouldn't miss it. It was hilarious (to me), as well as sad.

[Preface: nobody wants to pay Useless Airways its rip-off fees that they charge for baggage handling at US$20 - $30/each, so for puddle-jumper flights like this, most folks do like I do, and carry their small suitcase with them. We know that we can leave it with a ramp attendant who will load it into the plane's baggage compartment without charging a fee. Plus, when the flight lands, you get the bag back immediately as you leave the plane, so you don't have to wait at baggage claim to get it back.]

------------------
The gate agent called for people to board our small regional jet bound from Charleston to National Airport (please, don't call that airport by the name of the former President who fired all of the air traffic controllers!)

My fellow passengers and I walk down the jetway and then down a set of stairs at the end of it, onto the tarmac. We see our plane and walk toward it. We put our small suitcases with the gate tag next on a cart near the stairs that go up to the plane. This is standard, normal procedure. What was a bit unusual, though, is that the flight attendant wasn't anywhere to be seen as we walked aboard the plane.

I find my way to my seat, which is near the back of the plane. Then I see this, umm, "individual," moving down the aisle carrying a rather large rollaboard suitcase. He lifts it up and tries to push it into the overhead bin. The problem is, the overhead bins on these small regional jets are not very large. His suitcase was at least 4" (10cm) wider than the opening of the bin.

Instead of it dawning on him that his bag is too wide, he turns it 90 degrees and tries pushing it into the bin again. Duhhh... still doesn't fit.

By then, a line is queuing up as he is blocking the aisle. But no matter, after all (to him), he's the only one in the plane.

So instead of figuring out that the darn bag won't fit in the bin, he turns it 90 degrees again. I kid you not. He pushes and pushes, and the bag won't go in. It's nowhere close.

The person standing nearest to him (who he is blocking to get to his seat) politely suggests, "why don't you put the bag under the seat in front of you?"

The guy doesn't say a word. He apparently is getting frustrated, and scrunches up his face like he is trying to solve a complicated jigsaw puzzle. So he drops the bag 45 degrees and gets a corner of it into the bin, and then pushes and pushes until he turns so red in the face, I thought that he was going to explode.

The bag ain't goin' nowhere. And by now, the line of passengers is out the door.

The flight attendant works her way down the aisle to see what the problem is, and tells him flat-out, "sir, your bag won't fit. You should have bag-tagged it and left it on the cart outside. Here..." (she pulls the bag toward her and attaches a bag tag to it). "Let me take it for you and have it gate checked."

But instead of releasing his grip on his bag, Mr. Struggler says, "well, it fit on the other plane."

"What other plane?"

"The one that I flew here on."

"Well, sir, some of the larger jets have larger overhead storage bins. This jet doesn't. Just let me gate check it for you so these people can get to their seats."

"Well, let me try one more thing..."

Believe it or not, he wants to try again and Einstein has figured it all out. He reaches up with one hand and grabs the bottom of the storage bin and pulls down on it while trying to stuff his suitcase into the bin. Thank goodness those storage bins are made of strong stuff. While it bowed a little bit, it did not break. And all the time, Mr. gotta-store-his-bag has an expression on his face like, "I know I can make this work if I pull down and push the bag hard enough!"

By then, the flight attendant is getting anxious. Passengers waiting to take their seats are beginning to call out and tell the guy to move out of the way.

The attendant grabs the bag and says, "sir, I am going to gate check this bag. Have a seat!"

She took the bag and everyone standing between her and the door moved so she could squeeze by them to take the bag out. Mr. Einstein, however, stands there with his mouth agape, still blocking the aisle. Someone finally told him to please move so they could get by. He finally did, and when he did so, some people exclaimed, "yeah!" and clapped.

Okay, Mr. Einstein may not travel very much, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that his bag wouldn't fit. I don't know why he was so insistent on trying to stuff his big bag into such a small space.

This incident gives me renewed respect for the crap that flight attendants have to put up with all the time.

The rest of the flight was uneventful, and we even landed early. My partner picked me up at the Metro station on my end, and we got reacquainted.

Here is a photo that I took out of the window of my plane as we were about to land at National Airport.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Afraid of "Looking Gay"

Like a lot of people, I surf the internet and use Google as my guide. Sometimes I find the most amusing writings posted on various forums.

Most internet forums allow people to go by anonymous screen names, so they say a lot of things without fearing that people will know who they really are. But what they say reveals more about who they are than their name.

Among the biker community, there are a lot of people who express some form of fear that by being seen wearing a certain type of motorcycle clothing (chaps, for example), or having a particular brand shown on the clothing implies that one is gay. So they use a slur "that's gay" to associate their negative opinion. Here is a cut from one such forum:
I see a lot of people on here who are more worried about being considered a "HARDCORE" biker, instead of just riding and enjoying life. These same guys absolutely won't ride ANYTHING else except a Harley, yet claim they won't wear anything Harley, cause then you look gay and are a billboard for the brand. Content Source
What is it about straight guys who make blatent statements such as "wearing a Harley-branded jacket looks gay?" I guess it's alright to wear Harley T-shirts; man, there are zillions of them and bikers (even riders of other brands of motorcycles) wear them.

I'll tell you what it is about straight guys who make such statements:
  • They are insecure.
  • They are immature.
  • They are afraid of what they don't know (gay people)
  • They reveal that they sit on whatever brains they have.
I was also going to say that they are young, but unfortunately I have read or heard such statements by people older than I am, and who should have matured by now and know better.

I do not own much Harley-branded gear, but that's because I have found alternatives that have a better value for the price paid. I have taken time to get measured for and buy top-quality, custom-made leathers that fit me well. Most Harley-branded gear is overpriced for the name. A lot of it is made in China, where quality control is suspect. I tell 'ya, leather fetish stores like Mr. S., 665Leather, or Northbound have surpassed leather-for-the-masses retailers like The Motor Company (Harley) in producing superb, functional, and good-looking gear. After all, I own and wear a lot of leather gear so I know what I'm talking about.

As the original author of the post I quoted above began his statement, there seem to be a lot of people on internet forums who are much more concerned about portraying the image of a "hardcore biker" than by just getting out and riding to enjoy life. There are stereotypes that they have been brainwashed to believe that, to them, implies that the "tough-guy bad-ass biker image" (a "hardcore biker") is the opposite of "gay." By extension, these are some who believe that it is not possible that some bikers can be "homosexual." (oooohhh, "that" word!)

I have said before and I will say again: Bikers can be gay and gay men and women can be bikers, as the two are not mutually exclusive.

Ignorant and fearful forum posters should get over it, and get a life. Get out and ride, and enjoy it. That is what it is all about.

Life is short: ride and have fun!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Boots on the Cobblestones

Greetings from Charleston, South Carolina, USA. I am here for a meeting for work. The meeting is going well. It's busy, and nice to meet some new folks and get reacquainted with some people I have met and worked with years ago.

Last night, the group went to dinner at a pub not far from the hotel where I am staying. Charlestown is a very old city, and the downtown has many cobblestone sidewalks.

After dinner, several of the others wanted to go out for a drink elsewhere. I was tired and wanted to return to my hotel, call my partner and catch up on the news and hear his voice. I miss him a lot when I travel.

As I was walking alone back to the hotel down the lonely cobblestone walk, I heard my cowboy boots making a very distinctive "boot clunk" as a walked along. The clunk was reverberating on the buildings and walkway. It was an interesting sound -- a Bootman on the street.

I thought no one was around, but a guy came up behind me. I was startled a little bit, and he apologized. "Didn't mean to scare you, man. But I heard those boots and wanted to get a closer look."

Turns out he is a Bootman himself. He admired my Nocona ostrich cowboy boots, and told me about his Justins. Soon enough, I was at my hotel. He smiled, and said, "keep the boots on." I smiled back, thanked him, and told him to do the same.

A nice encounter on my way back. My partner laughed when I told him about it.

Life is short: wear your boots!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Is Not Mutually Exclusive

To me, there are some things that people write or say that implies that they believe that the following things are mutually exclusive:
  • Being a 'biker' and being gay. I've blogged a lot about that. I am both. There are a number of gay men who like to ride motorcycles, and who enjoy the "biker presence" (however that is defined.)
  • Being gay and masculine. Yes, I am both. The former is my sexuality and the latter is my observed behavior.
  • Being gay and not being into fashion. Yep, that's me. I'm just a regular guy who prefers boots, jeans, t-shirts, and leather versus suits, ties, dress shoes, and formal wear.
  • Being gay and not being able to dance. Yes, it is true, and I am evidence of it: not all gay men know how or like to dance. (I, for example, am a quarantasinestrapede).
  • Wearing leather jeans and shirts in public (and no one saying anything). I still don't get it, but I get an email at least once each week from someone who has questions about wearing leather in public. I have blogged ad naseum about that matter. Suffice it to say that I wear full leather often in and around my community, and hardly ever does anyone say anything, or if they do, what they say is complimentary.
  • Wearing leather or denim jeans tucked into tall boots (and not being called 'gay' pejoratively for doing so). There are some who rant on various forums that "only gay guys wear jeans tucked into boots," or when they see a guy with jeans tucked into their boots, they say, "that's 'so gay'!" Oh fiddle-faddle... a demonstration of a weak mind. If you have nice boots and want to show them off, draw on your self-confidence and do it. Nobody gives a darn, and if they do, it's their problem, not yours. See my Jeans and Cowboy Boots info on my website for more details.
  • Being nice and being honest. Yes, it is possible to be both. It has to do with living up to high standards of integrity and decency. Just goes to show why my partner is my life-mate, and what my real friends are like. I value integrity and being nice about it.
I am more than weary of on-line boards and forums where some people rant about some of the above-mentioned characteristics and claim that the two cannot possibly be shown by one person. They can, they are, and they do.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pasta and Leather?

Here I am, in brown leather jeans and tall Wesco harness boots (you'll have to trust me to know I had on tall boots)... running home-made pasta through the press attached to my mixer.

I love to "make my own" ... pasta, bread, and other great stuff to eat. My partner and I enjoy doing this together. I roll out the pasta, cut it, and my partner applies egg white to the edges of the cut ravioli (the egg white serves as an organic "glue" to hold the pasta edges together). I put on some cheese filling, then fold the pasta onto itself.

There you have it: a raviol - o? (Is one piece of ravioli a "raviolo?" Hmmm, I have to check. Certainly, it's not a "raviolus" since I have no evidence that Julius Caesar enjoyed this pasta dish LOL!)

We did this on Saturday afternoon after I got back from my homecoming visit with my college fraternity. I peeled off the black leather and put on the brown (I change boots and leather often.) It was really yucky weather outside that day, so it was a great time to stay inside and cook. I try to "batch cook" several dishes in advance and freeze them. Then we can still have a home-cooked meal during the week when preparation time is limited.

I also made another huge batch of "salsa del Guido" -- it is Guido's 'secret recipe' pasta sauce. (Guido is my chef inspiration). The sauce is great, and goes well with the ravioli, lasagna, stuffed peppers, manicotti... you get the idea. Umm, umm, umm...

Life is short: buon appetito!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You Want A Cop Uniform for Halloween?

It is inevitable at this time of year that a number of internet seaches for "Cop Uniform for Halloween" or "Police Costume" are ending up on my website, especially on my page related to how to assemble a CHP uniform.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) uniform is the classic, most sought-after cop uniform in existence, made popular by the TV show, "CHiPs" which was broadcast on American television from 1977 to 1983. I tell 'ya, a LOT of people are looking for that uniform -- and not all of them are gay uniform fetish guys, either. Lots of straight guys like to wear a uniform for Halloween, or dress their kids in one.

For those who thought it might be easy to find a source of a complete CHP (or other law enforcement) uniform via the web, I am sorry to disappoint you. It is not possible to buy an authentic, complete California Highway Patrol (or other) uniform. In fact, it is illegal even to sell such a uniform to someone who is not authorized by the CHP to buy one. (This is due primarily to laws that went into effect after the U.S. terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They don't want the bad guys to have easy access to a uniform that they could use for nefarious purposes.)

However... it is possible, and legal, to put together a replica CHP uniform yourself, as long as you do not wear it anywhere within the State of California, USA, OR assume behavior while wearing a uniform that implies you are a cop. Impersonation is evaluated on two factors: how you look and what you do. If you try to act like a cop in public, such as by pulling someone over, frisking or handcuffing a "suspect," interrogating someone, etc., then a real cop may think you are trying to impersonate an officer and take you in for questioning and possibly place you under arrest on criminal charges.

Keep the cop-acting behavior behind closed doors, and don't wear a uniform in the city, county, or state where cops in that uniform have jurisdiction, and be cool. You will be okay.

It is not hard to assemble and create a CHP (or other agency) uniform, but it takes some advanced planning. Considering that this post is first appearing on this blog on October 20, 2009, you may not be able to pull this off for Halloween 2009, but here goes:

1. Get a uniform shirt (any shirt supplier can sell it) in the color "silvertan"

2. Get breeches (if you want to go with the look of a motorcycle officer). You can have the gold/blue "braiding" (stripes) applied from your supplier. Intapol is one source of breeches; there may be others.

3. Get Dehner Patrol Boots (or a similar-looking pair. For a halloween costume, no one will notice if you have cheap knock-off imitations.)

4. The insignia (patches) are worn on both the right and left sleeves up high near the shoulder. They are a bit harder to find, but it is possible to find them at leather fetish shops (choose your favorite) or on eBay. Sew them on.

5. You probably can not find a real CHP badge. And it's probably not a good idea. You can find a replica badge on eBay, but try to avoid getting one that says "security officer" or something generic like that. IMHO, badges like that are cheesy and make you appear like Deputy Dawg.

6. Get a regular belt (to serve as an underbelt) and a Duty Belt (called a Sam Brown Belt), attached with keepers. Get a few doo-dads to hang onto it -- see my duty belt description on my website for ideas. Here is a source.

7. By all means, do NOT wear a weapon (gun, baton, billy club.) Such devices are illegal for an unauthorized, unlicensed individual to wear on the street of most cities and towns in the United States, Australia, and probably many other countries.

8. Optional Damascus cop search gloves set an interesting "tone."

9. Go hatless or if you wear a hat, choose as authentic a ballcap as you can find. A motorcycle helmet with CHP colors is good, but likely not easy to find. If you choose to wear a ballcap, avoid a generic "security" hat. Remember the "Deputy Dawg" warning above?

That's about it. It isn't hard, but takes planning. Go get 'em (at home, privately!) Have fun!


DISCLAIMER: All the information contained in this post is provided solely for the benefit of collectors and fans of the show "CHiPs" to assist them in constructing a "CHiPs" replica costume. In no way is it intended for use in any attempt to impersonate any law enforcement officer.

Monday, October 19, 2009

765 Safer Homes

All day on Sunday, I carried out my annual project to ensure seniors remain safe: a cadre of some 70 volunteers and I visited 544 homes and replaced 700 batteries in their smoke alarms (some homes had more than one smoke alarm). We also replaced 65 smoke alarms that were over ten years old, which is the recommendation for when a smoke alarm should be completly replaced.

Two major home supplies retailers donated the batteries and smoke alarms. Another major restaurant chain donated pizzas for the volunteers who shared a joyful lunch with some local dignitaries who thanked our donors, the volunteers, and celebrated Fire Prevention Month. We appreciate the donations, even though we got 300 less batteries this year than last. (Honestly, due to the crappy economy, I was really worried that the donations would not come through this year.)

Being "football oblivious," I had forgotten that the local football team was playing on Sunday afternoon. That's why most of my volunteers wanted to work an "early shift." That's okay, it made for a much quicker and lighter afternoon. It was funny, when I went to an elderly man's home to swap his smoke alarm's battery, he thanked me several times for coming, and it was only when I was leaving that I realized why he was thanking me so much. He closed with, "I know you could be watching the game with your buddies, but instead, you're doing this. Thank you!" I didn't have the heart to tell him that I don't care for football and did not even realize that there was a game being played, until someone told me about it.

What did I wear? I "went brown" since it is Autumn -- brown sweatshirt, brown leather jeans, and my tall brown Wesco harness boots. Once again... I heard no comments about the leather, though one younger guy volunteering with us asked me about the boots. (Another Stompers referral!)

Due to his disability, my partner didn't run around to do installations with me, but instead, remained at the check-in site making sure the volunteers were all accounted for and had the supplies, directions, and release forms that they needed.

We were all done by mid-day. It was time to come home and have some hot chocolate. Man, even though it finally stopped raining, it was cold all day! My partner and and I were completely wiped out, but we felt great about doing this important civic volunteer work. Once again, everyone rallied to a great cause and carried out a huge project superbly, just like they did last year. It really makes me smile and feel good to know that so many people are safer.

Life is short: replace your smoke alarm batteries today!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Soggy Homecoming

Saturday, I went to a homecoming party hosted by my college social fraternity at my Alma Mater. Man, what a wet and miserable day. But at least it was only rain, and not snow as has been falling unusually early north of me.

I regret that I couldn't ride my Harley to the fraternity house. It would have been easier to find a place to park, and "cooler" to arrive on such a ride. However, when it was only 43°F (6°C), raining, and with lots of wet leaves on the ground, even this hard-core biker knew his limits.

It was interesting to meet the new guys and to celebrate the rechartering of my old college fraternity which had closed in the '90s and only recently was rechartered. They were friendly, greeted me warmly, and were deferential to this "old alum" by bringing me a burger and a Coke and making sure I was comfortable and welcomed.

I realized, though, how much I've changed, or should I say what the generation gap displayed. The guys were texting or had cell phones joined-at-the-ear. They had on rap music, and talked about their "techno rave" they had the night before and how much fun they had. I'm glad they had fun, though I told my partner when I came home that such an activity would not have been something I would have liked to do when I was their age. I guess I was born old.

How was I dressed? Well, unfortunately, all of the shirts and t-shirts that had my college fraternity name or logo on them are long-gone, so I wore a black shirt, leather vest, a pair of leather jeans and Chippewa Hi-Shine boots. As usual, no one said a thing about the leather. (I repeat this because some guys who read this blog and continue to tell me that they are concerned about wearing leather in public. Honestly, it is no big deal! Nobody cares!)

Life is short: renew the spirit and enjoy your memories (while doing it in leather and boots!)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Brown Equestrian Boots

This is a little story about following links provided on the "boots on line" board. About two weeks ago, someone posted a message about an interest in patrol boots in any other color than black. I've seen tall patrol boots worn by some outfits and a certain corps of cadets who are very well known for their good-looking brown boots. However, those boots are expensive and waiting lists are long to get them. The message poster provided a link to an eBay retailer who is selling tall brown boots. So I took a look.

The eBay retailer claimed that the tall brown boots I saw were patrol boots, though the images were clearly of an equestrian boot style. They have a single strap across the instep closed with a buckle. But the boots looked interesting, and the price was reasonable, so I ordered them.

Soon enough a package from DHL was at my door. Inside was a pair of boots and a customs declaration indicating that the boots originated in Pakistan and were sent to me via Dubai. Yep, it's confirmed, Pakistani leather products are not of good quality. These boots are made of thin leather. They squeak already, and the fit is not that good. I ordered them a size larger than I usually wear, and I am glad about that. The foot size works for me, but the calf width is tight (despite the fact that they are marked "wide calf.")

Oh well, the boots look good. I'll figure a way to wear them and try 'em out on my Harley to see how they hold up. But it goes to show what I have said before about eBay: information may be accurate on the listing, but it is what is not said that makes a difference. Nothing was said about the origin of the boots, and had I known, I probably would not have ordered them. Oh well, the lesson is affirmed and my boot collection has grown by another pair. Have a look at photos of these boots on my website.

Life is short: wear your boots!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm Done

No, not done with blogging or with life, but with work this week. I have been exceptionally busy and "crashing" on a huge project that was due yesterday. After 70 hours of work this week alone, this project has consumed every friggin' moment of my time. In fact, I even had to bring it with me when I visited the mother-in-law last weekend.

My partner has almost forgotten what I look like, and he is probably appearing emaciated as he has had to feed himself these past several nights. (He still feels warm, though... I may be exhausted, but I am not dead! LOL!)

Anyway, if you have written to me lately and I have not replied, it's because I literally put everything else in my life "on hold" this week while I worked on that project. It was submitted by the deadline last night. I was "rewarded" with a day off today (Friday). Oh goodie, I can sleep really late like until 5am or something....

After I submitted the project via a complex on-line secure portal, I notified the team of professionals I was leading through this process to advise them that it was done. It's a great relief to all of us. You can hear big sighs of relief from California to Florida, from Washington (state) to Washington, DC, from Maryland to Hawaii.

In response, one of my team partners replied with these sayings, which I really liked:

Vision without Action is daydreaming
Action without Vision is wandering
Vision with Action is Destiny

Life has a way of making room for those who know where they're going


Life is short: do what you gotta do!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why Not Ride My Harley To Work?

Among my 500-or-so daily blog readers, I occasionally receive email and questions about matters about which I write. The other day, someone wrote to me to ask why I take the Metro to work at my office in downtown Washington, DC, instead of just ride my Harley there.

"Wouldn't riding your bike to work be more fun? Isn't it faster? Wouldn't you be able to have a more flexible schedule? Wouldn't it be cheaper?"

Actually, the answer to all of these questions is, "no." Let's examine each question in detail.

The fun factor. While riding my Harley is indeed fun, it is fun only when you do not have to compete with many other vehicles on the road at the same time. Remember, most of those other vehicle operators are driving cars, and because they are not motorcyclists, they often do not pay attention to the fact that a motorcycle is sharing the road with them. All too often, they are yakking on their cell phones and doing other things that draw their attention from their #1 duty: paying attention to driving. When traffic is heavy and stop lights are numerous, it is not fun to ride a motorcycle. Instead, it is tedious and exhausting to keep eyes out for the behavior of other drivers who are not paying attention to you, claim they do not see you, or are just bad drivers and make maneuvers on the road that if you were not paying close attention each second, could injure or kill you.

Speed of commute. In the pattern of my commute, it would take me well over an hour to drive to my office in the morning, yet via Metro, the commute time is cut in half because the train is faster and doesn't have to stop for traffic. While the train stops at stations, there are far fewer stations than traffic lights. Unfortunately since the terrible Metro crash on June 22, the train has been running slower and is more crowded. But overall, Metro is still faster for me. Portal-to-portal, if I rode my Harley to work, it would take about 80 minutes from the time I begin to gear up to the time I arrive, park, disrobe, lock up, and walk to my office. It would take about 90 minutes to reverse the process going home (traffic is thicker in the afternoon.)

If I ride my Harley to Metro, even by taking an extra five minutes to lock it up and cover it, my portal-to-portal commute is about 45 minutes in the morning, and 50 minutes in the afternoon. Plus, I can read or nap on the train -- an added benefit.

Flexible schedule. The train runs frequently enough when I use it (standard work day shifted to "early") that I usually do not have to wait more than five minutes for a train in the morning or afternoon. If I drove my Harley, I would be at the mercy of hoping that there are no crashes or road construction slowing me down, as well as the weather.

Cost. Riding Metro is more expensive than ever. However, if I were to factor in the wear-and-tear on my bike, added cost of insurance (my insurance premium is lower because I do not ride my Harley to work), and additional cost of gas, then using Metro every day is still less expensive than driving to work. While I can find a place to park my Harley for free near my office, I can also park for free at the Metro station. So the cost of parking is not a factor. But what makes a real difference is that my employer gives me a monthly commuting stipend for using public transit which I would not receive if I drove myself. Thus, my overall commuting expenses are lower than they would be if I drove myself.

Ease of tension. While this question was not asked, it is important for me to say that riding my Harley in traffic, especially in hot weather, is nerve-rattling. When I have ridden my bike to work, I have found that when I get home, my nerves are tense and my body aches from having gripped the handlebars hard and swiveling my head to keep aware of what other drivers are doing (or not doing). I don't have that when I ride the Metro, despite at times being annoyed by its decline in service quality or by the behavior of some of my fellow passengers.

Overall, riding my Harley to work is not a good choice for me, considering that I live and work close to a Metro station. Better yet, I don't even have to change from one line to another. In my former job, Metro was not an option, as it was nowhere close to where I worked, so I had to ride my bike and put up with the concomitant traffic and weather hassles. I realize that I am lucky in that Metro is convenient to me.

So now you know why I choose not to ride my Harley to work. Any other questions?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gallery of Bike Cop Pics

On October 12, I announced on the Hot Boots "Boots on Line" board that I had posted two new galleries of photos that I took while observing a motorcycle cop event on 19 September.

I got a few responses to that post. Some would think, therefore, that nobody cares and nobody's looking.

Quite the contrary. Using some simple statistical web software, I am "seeing" that over 2,500 unique visitors to my website have visited those galleries from the links embedded within the BOL posting. And that was within 24 hours of posting that message and link. Hundreds more continue to visit, and will continue to do so over the next few days, until all who want to see have "seen." Then Google will do its thing, and send a googlebot to that page of my website, thus increasing its ranking when people enter search terms such as "motorcycle cops" or "cop boots" into its search engine.

So for those guys who post on BOL and get few replies, don't fret. People ARE looking, reading, and following links. Few, if any, take the time to reply, say "thanks" or write an email. That is typical internet behavior -- surf along, surf along -- so don't worry about it. The viewership is indeed there.

In case you missed that BOL post and want to see the galleries, click here. Have no fear, while I can count visitors, I don't know who you are. Just that you visited.

Life is short: boot up and enjoy the viewing!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tests of Patience

I have returned from a weekend with the mother-in-law who lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. It is regretful to say, but each time I go see her, my patience is severely tested. In her worldview, everyone is out to get her and everything else that everyone else does is wrong.

I continue working on practicing what I preach. I smiled -- so much so that my partner said, "be careful, your face is going to freeze that way!" (That's a little joke between us.)

I prepared all the meals, which she ate with loud gusto. Umm, umm, lip-smackin' good. (Noisy eating is common, unfortunately.)

I had to work on a big project for my employer, so I had to plug away at my laptop when I wasn't doing something else. My patience was frustrated once again because I found that my collaborators -- all over the United States -- had documents and files they needed to share with me, but because my mother-in-law doesn't have internet access and I'm too cheap to buy an air card, I just had to suffer without.

Unfortunately, riding in a car all that distance tested my patience in just being "cooped up in a cage" which is really my problem, no one else's. My partner, on the other had, gets very stiff due to his disability. That makes him irritable and grouchy. He can't gripe at his mother, so I'm the lucky one to hear some things that perhaps he wouldn't say if he weren't so sore.

Columbus Day weekend is always one that tries my patience. But I continue to remember what I blog about, and find an inner resolve somewhere deep inside me to accept what I cannot change and just go with the flow.

And you know what? Overall, I'm okay. I could have had a more productive weekend and less taxing on my nerves had I remained home. But then again, going with him to visit his mother is something my partner asks me to do only twice each year. He does so much for me otherwise. It's only fair that I accommodate his interests and needs from time to time.

I have to say that I really appreciated the change in TV commercials. While I am not fond of television and don't watch it at home (no time, no interest), my partner and his Mom had it on. I couldn't help but notice the "regular" commercials, instead of the commercials run only on the DC television stations that try to influence votes in Congress on various issues. Or right now, additional commercials about the election for Governor of Virginia, which air in our market. All those commercials are awful and so darned one-sided; it was refreshing to hear something else for a change, and not all that political junk.

Life is short: grin and bear it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some Things I Have Learned

I found this on the Internet somewhere, but these sayings are so very applicable to me and many others I know:

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things:
  • A rainy day, elderly people, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
    • Rainy day: "oh boy! great time to catch up on reading!" or "let's cook!"
    • elderly people: show those you love that you love them
    • lost luggage: I hope I get frequent flyer miles for its travel!
    • tangled Christmas tree lights: that's why we now have a pre-lit tree (smile)
  • I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a 'life.'
    • My one year of 'unemployment' while spending time with my uncle during his last year of life was the best 'living' I have ever done.
  • I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
    • ...and third, and fourth... for all my foul-ups, those who care about me continue to extend more opportunities to learn from failure and to succeed eventually.
  • I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back sometimes.
    • I never learned how to use a catcher's mitt anyway (smile)
  • I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.
    • oh so true; happiness has found me, and I am blessed.
  • I've learned that a smile is a choice.
    • I decide to smile often. A smile may be the only sunlight a stranger sees all day!
  • I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
    • This is where my heart leading the mind works wonders.
  • I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.
    • It is easy to let aches and pains cloud what otherwise is a sunny personality. I take Excedrin and always remember to smile.
  • I've learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.
    • I send birthday cards to over 100 people throughout the year.
    • I check in on friends and family often by phone and email.
  • People love that human touch -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
  • I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.
    • Oh, how true!
Life is short: show those you love that you love them!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Where I Am Not Today

Today is the day for the National Equality March in Washington, DC, USA. It is supposed to attract hundreds of thousands of supporters for the LGBT movement, and particularly those interested in marriage equality -- a civil marriage is a civil right.

I have somewhat of a nostalgic point of view regarding events like this. It was during the March On Washington held on April 25, 1993, where I met the man who fundamentally changed and improved my life: my wonderful partner. If it were not for that event, I am uncertain if I would have met him, nor how the rest of my life would have turned out.

I hope attendees find the event interesting and have opportunities to voice their opinions and share in an experience that can only occur in Washington, DC, during a mass gathering such as this one is supposed to be. Personally, I hope some people meet each other, figure out that they are interesting to each other, and begin a relationship that may produce a partnership for them that has been as wonderful as the one I share with the love-of-my-life.

Alas, attending such events for my partner and me is a thing of the past. I have personal reservations about the effectiveness of such efforts. There is a lot of controversy about today's event, with various differences of opinion about how it was organized and managed.

But, to us, the controversial claims and counterclaims are not an issue. My partner and I will not be attending this event. Not because we don't support the various issues that will be addressed (particularly marriage equality), but because we are at my mother-in-law's home taking care of things for her. I will be doing some home maintenance and yard work, while my partner will be taking her shopping and do what a son should be doing for his elderly, lonely mother: just paying attention to her.

Why did we choose this weekend to go to Pittsburgh? Because we both have a three-day weekend (Monday is a federal holiday in the U.S. for Columbus Day), so we have more time for a trip like this. We have been going to Pittsburgh on Columbus Day weekend for many years.

Why not just reschedule our trip to Pittsburgh and go to the Equality March? Well, "been there, done that, got the t-shirt and the sunburn." We would rather not deal with the hassle of the crowds. Standing for long lengths of time is very difficult for my partner due to his disability. Also, he just hates crowds (and I'm not fond of crowds, either).

Anyway, we wish the attendees well, hope for the best, and again, I personally hope some guys will meet their lifemate guy, and some women will meet their lifemate woman. That chance occurrence of meeting my partner at such an event fundamentally changed my life so much for the better. I cherish those memories, and sincerely hope identical memories are formed in the younger generation.

Life is short: march on!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Boots and Masculinity

Does wearing boots make a man masculine?

A question like this was posed on the "boots on line" board a while back. Someone I know who goes by the screen name "KneeHighGuy" (KHG) wrote a great response to that, and I invited him to post that response here as a guest blog. I hope he will do that, eventually.

So... back to the question, "does wearing boots make a man masculine?"

My opinion: No. Simply wearing boots does not make a man masculine.

I have said it before and I say it again, masculinity is a set of characteristics that is demonstrated by self-confidence and a secure nature. Physical characteristics play a part, as well -- how a man appears to others, including the style of dress -- influences perceptions of masculinity both for the guy and others observing him.

Boots are a part of a man's choice of style of dress. Looking back over the ages, men wore boots. From soldiers to cowboys to construction workers -- all considered to be "masculine" professions -- men in these occupations wear boots. Boots convey a strong sense of masculinity. KHG said, "When I think of masculinity, words such as honor, courage, strength, and gallantry come to mind. A man with these qualities is the kind of man I admire and aspire to be, and wearing boots helps give me confidence that I can be that kind of man." I couldn't agree more.

Simply wearing a pair of boots does not "make" someone masculine. Boots, however, are something worn with clothing that has a masculine appearance: jeans, leather, uniforms, or even business suits (a uniform of sorts). How a man behaves and projects himself has more to do with his perception of being a masculine man than what he wears.

These are my thoughts. What are yours?

Life is short: wear your boots!

Friday, October 9, 2009

I Am Who I Am

I received an email the other day, generated from this blog, which said, in part, "it is gratifying to know that there are decent, well adjusted, friendly gay men like you. Honestly, I have been struggling with 'coming out' for years. ... Just wanted you to know that I have enjoyed your insights and interesting discussions in your blog. It has been quite therapeutic."

Wow... who woulda thunk? I mean, I am just a regular guy with some specific interests and passions that a blog is well-suited to use as a medium to talk about those interests. Also, I just like to write :-)

I am uncertain how my musings can serve to be therapeutic, but if it helps, I am happy to do so.

It really all boils down to one thing that makes me the man I am: my parents and family raised me well. They helped me to develop self-confidence and a self-assured nature. I was always a klutz, athletically disinclined, and more interested in reading books than throwing a ball. I saw my older brothers and other men in my life and wanted to be like them, but knew that I was different. I tried to do things that they did, like play sports or date women, but it never worked. And you know what? My family didn't make fun of me or mock my failures. Instead, they accepted me for who I am and asked me, "what do you like? How can I help you fulfill your interests?"

Perhaps they didn't ask questions exactly like that (I can't remember), but I never once felt ridiculed for being "different." I always felt loved and accepted for who I am. They let me try various things, and when it didn't work out or I goofed up, they just smiled and said, "okay, let's try something else." Honestly, never once did I feel humiliated or belittled by my family.

Sure, there were bullies in school and short-sighted nobodies in my adult life who were insecure about themselves, and felt better if they could belittle me to make themselves feel bigger and better. Sometimes their actions hurt me, both physically and emotionally. But my family -- and as an adult, my partner -- always and without fail point out why they love me for who I am and that my inner strengths make me a better person overall, encouraging me to rise above the hurt and anger and respond with sympathy, kindness, and compassion.

Actually, it is intriguing to me as I look back that my family never said bad things about other people, but only highlighted the good things in me and others around us. Their optimism, sense of hope, and strong belief in me inspired and empowered achievements beyond my wildest dreams. I became who I am and achieved what I have done because of how they transferred their strength to me through positive support.

I realize how fortunate I am. Not everyone has a family like mine. Not every gay person lives in a community where diversity is a way of life, not something to be "celebrated" on a particular day of recognition. Not every gay guy has a partner who is his equal in intelligence, financial security, and savvy. Not every gay guy has friends he's known for life (and some less long) who form the fabric of a rich net supporting him and his goals, failures, and fun regardless of his sexual orientation. Not every gay guy is appreciated by a cadre of seniors and neighbors for being "that guy who knows his stuff," rather than "that gay guy ...". Not every gay guy works for an employer that evaluates him based on skills and abilities, and doesn't make judgments based on sexual orientation. Not every gay guy is in a situation as I am to be able to "let go" and be who I am, out and open, free and honest, secure and confident.

In summary, I guess what allows me to be a decent, well-adjusted, and friendly guy is that I can freely be who I am. I can make mistakes, and be forgiven. I have learned to "let go" any concerns about what other people may say about me (boots, leather, being gay, or my appearance). I have learned that being honest (and not living in the closet) is absolutely refreshing and invigorating. I can learn, and adjust from my learning. I can do what I do best, and choose not to do what I don't do well. And that's okay. I am who I am.

Life is short: Love me for who I am, 'cause I am not someone else.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Martian Dinosaur

Ask twenty-somethings with whom I work, and each will tell you in her or his own way that I am a dinosaur from outer space. Here's why:
  • I don't text.
    I did not grow up with that communication method, nor find it easy to do. I have no need to be barraged with some text where the sender has an expectation of almost instantaneous response. I will reply to email or a phone message on my schedule, not someone else's.
  • I ask them to call me on my landline at home if they need to use the telephone to reach me after work hours.
    What's a landline? Who still has landlines? Why don't you just use your cell phone?

    Well, I don't have to give my personal reasons, but I prefer to use a regular old telephone, thanks. I often turn my cell phone off after work hours and do not use it on weekends, either. Call me, leave a message if I am unavailable, and I'll get back to you.

  • I don't tweet on Twitter, use Facebook, or use I.M. programs.
    "Oh, you're so disconnected," they say. Okay, so be it. It is much more peaceful and less intrusive that way. I don't use computer resources at work for personal stuff when I should be working, and I expect them to do the same. My partner has an understandable expectation that I pay attention to him when we are at home, not the computer (so I have significantly reduced computer time at home.)
  • I don't spend what I don't have.
    My goodness, I observe many younger folks spend money like there's no tomorrow, racking up credit card debt that they'll never be able to pay off. My first suggestion for getting back on financial track is make a budget (what's that?). Dump the cell phone and texting plan. There are so many people who have significant debt yet think nothing of paying US$50 to US$100 or more each month for cell charges. Buy groceries, learn how to cook, and eat at home. Pay off your debt before incurring more on an ongoing basis!
Yes, I definitely have that "generation gap thing" going on. I continue to work on and adopt technologies and ways of doing things that are helpful, but non-intrusive. I guess that's where the major differences are: I am annoyed by multi-stream intrusions, and my younger staff live a multi-tasking life 24/7.

Life is short: disconnect for a while and enjoy peace!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bike Cop Surprise

After work yesterday, I got on my Harley at the Metro station and began my ride home, as usual. I stopped at the light near the station, signaling a left turn. When it turned green, I carefully executed the turn. Knowing that the next light would be red due to the timing of the traffic signals, I proceeded slowly and stopped at that light. When it turned green, I slowly accelerated and maintained a steady pace until I reached my cross-street, where signaled and turned left. I stopped again at the next light. Then when it changed to green, I slowly accelerated until I reached my street, signaled, and turned right.

It was then that I noticed a bike cop riding behind me. I thought to myself, "what did I do?" which is a natural reaction, even though I know that I was riding well within the speed limit and didn't run a red light.

I stopped, and the cop pulled up next to me. He smiled and said, "I followed you from the Metro as I was headed out this way anyway. I thought I would tell you that I thought you were the most graceful motorcycle rider I have seen in a long time."

WOW!

Who, me? "graceful?" The guy who would trip over his own shadow if it were possible? Who trips himself walking on a flat sidewalk with no obstacles? Who calls himself a quarantasinestrapede when it comes to dancing? Who, as a kid, was always picked on for being such a klutz and uncoordinated?

The cop said that he sees a lot of bikers, and few ride the way I did. He then ticked off each maneuver I made: gentle stops, smooth acceleration, steady pace, sweeping turns well within the intended lane of travel, and using my turn signals where appropriate.

The cop and I had a nice discussion about motorcycle riding. I explained that I had been riding for more than 30 years, have participated in many training courses over the years, and continue to practice my skills from time to time. I like to ride with safe riders in my club, and continue to learn a lot from them as we ride together safely.

This "bike cop surprise" was delightful, and made me feel better after a rather difficult day at work. When my partner arrived at home, I told him what happened. He smiled, hugged me, confirmed his belief that I am a good rider, then asked (because he knows me so well), "what kind of boots was the cop wearing?"

Life is short: ride gracefully!

N.B.: the photos accompanying this post were captured from a video that I put on my YouTube Channel a while back. I was dressed more warmly yesterday (tall boots, chaps, motorcycle jacket, gloves) than I was dressed in that video, which was produced in the heat of summer.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cookin' In Leather

Here I am on Sunday afternoon running pasta through the pasta press from which we made several batches of home-made cheese ravioli. Simmering on the stove behind me is a huge pot of home-made pasta sauce. A homemade "scrumptious" apple pie is cooling on a rack on the counter.

The bread oven is baking four loaves of bread, three of which are intended for a few of my "elder buds" who like my home-made bread. Heck, if I am making one loaf, making a few more is very easy and quick to do.

My partner's "honey-do list" for chores around the house had abated, so I had time to bake and cook, which I love to do. My partner enjoys helping. It was a beautiful day outside; however, I was tired from being out late on Saturday night, and also I was experiencing some side-effects from the regular seasonal flu shot that I got on Saturday. Further, I had developed a rather bad case of "the trots" caused by the ice used for a soft drink served at the bar on Saturday night. Unfortunately, DC water does that to me.

So I chose to stay home and cook on Sunday, rather than get out and ride. I do not like to ride my Harley when I am not feeling well and not at peak performance. I felt divided, as I know the riding season is growing short, and there will not be many days like this when I could enjoy a ride without other obligations hanging over my head. But I just wasn't feeling strong enough.

Life is short: enjoy your home!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fetish Gear Mixer

UPDATED AUGUST 2010: Unfortunately, this "CODEDC" thing has degraded into an event focused on sex. My partner and I are monogamous and don't play with others. We will not attend any more "CODEDC" events.



This is my partner and me after we returned from our Saturday night out.

The "CODEDC" party bills itself as "not your Daddy's leather scene" though it goes on to say that if you're into leather, by all means wear it, but they're also open and very welcoming to any type of gear fetish, from athletic gear to uniforms to rubber & latex to skin, and all else. Specifically, they say, "we want to make CODE a place where our younger people who may not even identify as Leather will still want to come."

Congratulations; the organizers of this event did well. My partner and I were impressed with the huge mix of guys turned out in all sorts of gear. The "guy mix" included many bear-types, as well. All of it was there -- lots of younger guys who were mostly in athletic jock gear were joined by others who were in uniforms (such as me), lots of rubber and latex, and some others in full leather. Guys with bodies to show were shirtless, and provided a nice view.

What impressed us most was how outgoing and friendly attendees were. They mixed and mingled and really talked with one another. We didn't notice as much heavy "cruising" going on as much as there was true conversation and guys meeting one another. The music at first was at a low volume, which aided in having conversations because you could actually hear what the other guy said. It got a little louder as the night went on, but it wasn't so booming that you couldn't hear someone else. While personally my partner and I don't like techno "boonga-boonga-boonga" throbbing noise, we understand that such music is what they play at these events. So be it.

While they said that there would be a visit by a drag queen, I guess we left before she arrived.

The venue is great. It is long but narrow. The bar is against a wall, so there is not the "racetrack" feeling when a bar is in the middle of a room. We even could find a place to park not that far away.

Seating was available, from couches set up in areas to facilitate conversation, to a long bench across one side of the bar. That is where my partner and I planted ourselves. We enjoyed watching everyone arriving, mingling, and having a good time. I saw a few people I knew and enjoyed a conversation with them. We left rather early, but that's characteristic of us -- we just can't handle "late" (defined as remaining awake after midnight.)

Congratulations to the organizers. If you are in the DC area on the first Saturday of the month, you should check out CODEDC. It is fun, mixed, interesting, and welcoming to people of all ages (especially the younger guys) and fetish interests.

We will not be attending these events regularly, just because we are not the type of guys to go out much any more. But we will go back sometime, when we can.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Last Night In Leather

I have said on this blog that we don't go out much. Last night was a rare exception.

I leathered up from Muir Cap to All American Patrol Boots in my LAPD full Leather Uniform, leathered and booted my man, and we went out. We tried a new-to-us gathering called "CODEDC".

I took and posted this photo before we left home on Saturday night. The leather and boots felt very, very good. My studly partner is gorgeous, but shy of the camera so I don't have a photo of him, but let me say, "woofity-woof!"

Off we go! (Here is a link to our impressions of the event).

Life is short: enjoy your leathers!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Guppies

What do you see in this picture? (Click on it to enlarge it if you want.)

It was sent with an email from my state's LGBT advocacy organization. The organization is promoting acquisition of license plates that show the organization's symbol and by displaying the plates on your car, you are therefore supporting the organization and its mission. Okay, fine, I get it.

But what my partner and I both noticed immediately in the photo of these guppies is their vehicles -- a late-model flashy Mercedes coupe and a Jaguar. Oh come on, gimme a break!

Sorry, guys, this has no appeal to us. We may live in Guppyville, but we find the image a display of "see my expensive toys, fellas? Haven't we 'arrived'?" (I have deleted other comments muttered under my partner's and my breath, but I think you get the point.)

I wonder what the guppy term for "keeping up with the Joneses" is. I guess I don't know, because we don't.

Basta!

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's Leather Weather!

Of all four seasons we get in the DC 'burbs of Maryland, USA, I like autumn the best. We usually have an extended autumn, lasting from mid-September through early November. With warm(ish) sunny days and cool(ish) nights, the weather is perfect for enjoying outdoor activities. Of course, motorcycle riding is part of that mix!

Oh, BTW, I should mention that one of the best times to be a tourist in Washington, DC, is right now. Summer visitors are gone, thus making queues at tourist hot-spots much shorter. The weather is more pleasant to walk around and enjoy the sights. Prices for hotel accommodations have dropped to "shoulder season" rates. Most school groups that go on field trips to DC do that in the Spring, not this time of year when they are focusing on academics. So this is a GREAT time of year to be a tourist of our fair Nation's Capital.

During October, I have my usual obligations to my community and my cadre of "elder buds" as well, especially since it is Fire Safety Month. Once again, I have received a donation of batteries for smoke alarms, as well as some new smoke alarms, from a major home retailer which has supported my voluntary senior fire safety activities for many years. A gang of volunteers is being organized to go from home to home in mid-October to replace batteries (which need to be replaced once a year, not more often) or entire smoke alarms that have reached their ten-year life span.

During my time in Phoenix, Arizona, last week, I was giving my best friend some grief about how hot it was in late September (108°F, 42°C is just too hot!) I arrived home to find it pleasantly cool, with daytime temperatures about 70°F or 21°C, and early morning temps at 50°F or 10°C.

As usual, I prepared to ride my Harley to the Metro on Tuesday morning (and throughout this week), but discovered that with it becoming much cooler, I had to break out the riding leathers hung in my gear closet and used this time of year. Thick, durable riding chaps, my motocross jacket, and warmer gloves became necessary. I retired my summer 3/4 helmet for my full-face helmet, which is warmer, as well. I spent about 10 minutes rummaging around on Tuesday morning getting that gear out and on.

I didn't mention the boots, but of course I wear boots every day, and when I ride my bike, it's motorcycle boots on my feet. My Chip Hi-Shines have been enjoying re-entry into the daily mix, as well as my Chip Firefighter Boots, Dehner Patrol Boots, All American Patrol Boots, H-D Police Enforcer Boots... you get it. The only tall, warmer boots that I do not wear to work are Wescos. They are a bit too heavy, bold, and clunky to wear to my place of employment, which is a professional office. I will wear Wesco Boots on the weekend with casual leather jeans.

I look forward to enjoying autumn and wearing leather more often and with pride.

Life is short: wear your leather!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Oh, You Must Be Gay

One more story about my recent trip and then I'll move on to other topics.

Airport security screening has settled into an understandable routine, and is about the same in each airport through which I have traveled in about the past year. That's a good thing, because the unpredictability about what one would be asked to do next -- from placing no more than three ounces of liquids such as shampoo and toothpaste in a resealable plastic bag to taking off one's footwear while going through the magnetometer (sometimes called a "metal detector") -- was frustrating to many.

Infrequent travelers still hold up the line, but signage and explanations that are ubiquitous in airports helps a lot. "1-2-3" directions (show ID and boarding pass, take out liquids and laptops, remove footwear and jackets) have pictographic directions that are easy for almost anyone to understand.

So there I am on a Monday morning, which is a time when airports are crowded with business travelers, waiting for the screening agent to look at my boarding pass and driver's license. He is trying to be jovial and friendly, which is better than a surly attitude I have experienced sometimes.

I have learned that when dealing with officials in this capacity, it is better not to try to initiate conversation. A pleasant "hello" or "good morning" is enough. So in Phoenix I said, "Good morning!" and the agent smiled. Then he said, "well, it's not a good morning if you saw the [football] game last night. Wasn't it awful when [name of player] ... [did something wrong]?"

I replied, "sorry, I didn't see the game." I thought that would change the direction of the conversation, but the screener continued, "well, when [name of player] ... [did something wrong], I thought he should have [done something else] and the coach should have [done something about it or to him]."

I just shrugged. He continued to examine my driver's license, even by pulling out a magnifying glass to look more closely at it. I guess they don't see that many Maryland licenses in Arizona and he had to check the date to ensure the license was valid. Then he remarked, "What do you think about [name of player on the local football team]?"

I said, "I don't know. I don't follow this team."

ooops...

"I guess you're a [Baltimore football team] fan, being from Maryland."

I replied, "umm... uhhh..." I just tried to mumble and not say much, hoping he would just give me back my driver's license and scribble whatever he has to scribble on my boarding pass and let me go. This was taking much too long.

"Or do you watch the [team from Washington]?"

Finally, I said, "not really. I don't watch football."

Then he said, "oh, you must be gay, but you don't look it."

WHAT????

Instead of making a federal case out of it and filing a written complaint -- the guy wasn't really trying to be difficult as much as he was trying to make a very bad joke which, to him, was funny, I said this:

Yes, in fact I am gay. But tell me, do you think that all men who do not care for football are gay? Really? Is that what you believe? And what do gay men look like?"

His response was both amusing and telling. He stammered, then profusely apologized. He said that he was "just talking" and didn't mean anything bad. He quickly gave me back my driver's license and boarding pass, and escorted me personally to a magnetometer station that was just opening so I could go through first, ahead of others. He kept glancing around. I guess he was looking to see if other people overheard us and if he were going to get into trouble if I made a scene.

This happens from time to time. Straight people just don't get it, and sometimes say really stupid things without thinking. It happens more often after straight guys have been drinking alcohol which loosens their tongue and clouds rational thinking, but I have had it happen on several occasions in the most unusual circumstances where alcohol isn't involved (such as this situation.)

This guy works long hours and in a difficult job. I am sure that he gets his share of grief from various passengers who think nothing of yelling and screaming if they become upset. Rather than go nuts, I took a deep breath and calmly said:

Thanks for getting me to this line. And remember, everyone is different, and you can't make assumptions that if a guy looks like me that he is a football fan and that all football fans are straight. I know a lot of gay guys who enjoy football. I don't happen to be one of them, but it doesn't mean that it's fair that you can make broad generalizations like that. Be careful.

He meekly apologized again and returned to his station. I pulled out my liquids and laptop, pulled off my boots, and put these things and my carry-on bag on the belt, sent them through the x-ray, walked through the magnetometer, gathered my belongings, pulled my cowboy boots back on, reassembled my carry-on, and walked to a restaurant to have some breakfast.

I thought all was said and done when a man in a suit came up to me and asked if he could sit at my table. Sure... though it wasn't crowded, but I was at a table for four all by myself. He sat down and introduced himself. He said that he worked for the federal agency that oversees the airport security screeners. He said that he observed what happened, and listened to what I said. He commended me for my patience and calm demeanor. He also said that he documented the incident and will follow up.

I told him that I didn't want that screener to get into trouble. He said that training is offered to screeners on how to talk with passengers and how to respect differences and be tolerant of diversity. He said that he would refer that screener for more training. Well, okay... that's fine.

Life is short: patience is a virtue.