Thursday, March 31, 2011

Traveling With Boots

I travel more now than I have been traveling in a while. Work-related trips have brought me to the U.S. West Coast three times in the last three months, and also to Puerto Rico. I anticipate more domestic travel in the coming months, including a trip to a U.S. Commonwealth way out in the Pacific.

As readers of this blog know, I choose to wear boots exclusively. I don't own any shoes or sneakers or sandals. I have expressed my opinions before about those types of footwear. Sum it up as, "yuck."

Recently, a close friend who has contributed a lot to this blog with comments and guest blog posts traveled for his work to Houston, Texas. He remarked about taking the trip on Facebook.

One of his Facebook friends asked him, "Sportin' the boots?" to which he responded: "Not this time. Traveling with them has become such a pain these days."

I replied also, saying, "oh my lands, what's this world coming to?"

My friend, chagrined, admitted in a follow-up email that he was concerned about the amount of walking that he would have to do in the airport, which is why he chose not to wear (or bring?) boots with him.

Hmmm... well, buddy, I have some comments about this matter:

1. If the boots you currently own are uncomfortable to walk in, then you should consider getting gel insoles, which I wear in many of my cowboy boots that I wear when I travel. The insoles add a spring to my step, and make walking a pleasure.

2. Alternatively, perhaps, you should consider a different size for a new pair of boots? I have found that boots that fit me perfectly do not have adequate room to accommodate a gel insole. The insole in well-fitted boots causes the top of my foot to press against the inside top of the boot, and soon enough, the bones in my feet begin to hurt as they rub against the inside of the boot. I solved that problem by getting boots a half-size larger. The insole takes up the room so the boots do not slip when I walk, and the slightly larger size accommodates the room required for the insole. Plus, as an added bonus, I found that insole-supplied half-size larger cowboy boots give more toe room, so I can wear pointed-toe cowboy boots more comfortably, as well.

While my friend didn't directly address concerns about hassles in going through airport security with boots, let me address those issues as well.

First of all, these days, everyone has to take off footwear, regardless if the footwear is a pair of boots or anything else: sneakers, shoes, etc. Therefore, don't think that if you wear shoes or sneakers that you'll be able to get through without having to take them off. (I have observed that in larger U.S. metropolitan airports, everyone has to take all footwear off. Perhaps one can get through wearing sneakers in smaller airports, but not in the big ones where the TSA staff are more formal and drone-like in enforcing "the rules.")

Wearing boots at an airport is no big deal. One just pulls them off like any other footwear. Therefore, keep in mind that since you have to pull boots off while balancing at a table before the magnetometer, the boots should be easy to pull off, and not require untying laces or a helper to remove them for you (such as my situation if I were to wear tall motorcycle patrol boots).

Once the boots go through the magnetometer and you go through the x-ray, you should have boots that are as easy to pull back on as they were to take off. For me, I carry them to a seat, then sit down and put them on while I also put my laptop back in its case, retrieve my cell phone and pocket change and put it away, etc. I abhor the slogs who bunch up at the end of the magnetometer who try to put their shoes on right there and put their stuff away. That behavior causes the lines to slow down significantly. Just get your stuff and walk away (in socks) to a nearby seat and put yourself back together. Don't make the rest of us behind you wait for you to get your act together and move on.

While addressing the issue of boots and travel, let me point out that if you will be in the air for more than a couple hours, take your boots off when you get seated on the plane (provided you have room enough to do that; some airlines make you pay a ransom for more leg room, and if you don't pay the ransom and don't have status to get you priority seating, you may not have enough room to do that.)

The reason why you should take your boots off is to allow blood to circulate in your legs and feet. As we age, we become subject to all sorts of maladies when the circulation slows down and blood flow becomes sluggish. You need to stretch your feet, circle them around at the ankles, bend forward and back, etc., several times an hour. Doing so will help several ways: 1) it prevents DVT (deep vein thrombosis), which can be deadly; 2) it helps your feet feel refreshed so your boots feel better when you put them back on your feet; 3) your feet won't sweat in the boots, so your boots won't get as stinky. My recommendation: take your boots off in flight. You will feel much better. And who knows? Maybe your seatmate is a secret Bootman and will notice and strike up a conversation about your boots with you. :-)

Another thing about air travel: wear comfortable clothing. I shudder when I see men dressed in suits and ties on the plane. They look so damn uncomfortable. They worry about wrinkling their jacket, and make the rest of us wait while they carefully fold it and put it in the overhead bin. I know, I know, sometimes some men can't avoid it -- they go right to a meeting upon arrival, or they work for the airline which requires their employees to wear a suit when flying their airline. But most of us don't have these situations. I usually wear a comfy pair of jeans (denim or leather) and a shirt with two pockets (helpful to carry ID and boarding passes, cell phone and glasses). Be comfortable when you fly, as most airlines these days make air travel cramped and uncomfortable.

In summary, I will forgive my friend for his transgression, for he knew not this advice (because he didn't ask, yet. LOL!)

Life is short: wear boots!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Differences on Skins of Cowboy Boots

Once again, Google brings interesting questions that drive some visitors to my website.  In this case, the question is, "what is the difference between lizard skin boots and alligator skin boots?"

The answer to that question is simple: alligators are alligators and lizards are lizards. Two different animals whose skins were harvested and treated to fit over molds (called "boot lasts") and sewn onto leather soles, had leather vamps (rear part of the foot) and shafts attached ... and voi-la! They became boots that are called "alligator skin" or "lizard skin."

These type of cowboy boots fall into the general category called "exotic skin" boots. "Exotic skins" means anything made of an animal that is not an animal from which traditional leather products are made.

This gets a little complicated, but leather is made from more types of animals than cows. While cowhide is the most common, leather can (and is) also made from goats, deer, bulls, lamb, elephants, and even horses. When another kind of animal has its skin removed and used to make boots, then the resulting boots are called are called "exotic skin boots."

There are a number of exotic skins that are used to make boots. The most common are ostrich, teju lizard, and python. Each of these animals is "farmed" (that is, grown specifically to produce skins from which to make boots and other products). Other animals with skins that make interesting boots are alligators, crocodiles, cobra, rattlesnake, eel, shark, and sting ray. There are probably more.

I have a variety of cowboy boots with exotic skins. I think they look cool. While most of these skins are durable and strong, some are not. Especially snake skins. Boots made with snake skins can be easily damaged by scuffing as well as by getting wet. Snake scales on boots will curl when they get wet and will not "uncurl" when they dry. So it is important to wear those boots only in dry weather, and not in the rain.

You can see the variety of exotic skin cowboy boots that I own here, on my website.

Life is short: wear boots!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Flowers for Leatherdude

My partner is a hopeless romantic.  He missed me as much as I missed him when I was away for a week in California.  While I called him every night, and sent him several email messages every day, it's not the same.

I failed to mention that my partner drove me to the airport to drop me off, saving me (well, my employer, anyway) the cost of paying for long-term parking. Also, I didn't want to leave my truck in a lot for a whole week.

When I returned to the airport, my partner picked me up. He doesn't have or use a cell phone, so there wasn't any waiting in a cell phone lot. Nope, he parked in the short-term nearby parking garage and came into the airport to find me.

So when he saw me at baggage claim, he called out, "hey, leatherdude" and handed me a big bouquet of flowers. He gave me a kiss, embraced me, and said, "welcome home!" I smiled, kissed him back (yeah, in front of "all those people"), took the flowers and shed several tears.

Man, it sure is good to be home with the man who makes every day worth living: my partner, my love, my hunk, my bestest friend in the whole world ... my "better half."

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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Traveling in Leather

My flight from San Francisco to my home airport departed on time and actually arrived 45 minutes early. Better yet, my suitcase made it onto the luggage carousel in under 20 minutes -- a new record for BWI, which has, I believe, the world's worst record of timely luggage delivery. Most of the time, I have had to wait an hour or more for my luggage to come out.

As soon as my bag came out, I pulled out my jacket and then my partner showed up. Great timing! We got home by midnight and I crashed.

So much so for the logistics of the return -- let me tell you about a totally non-scientific "experiment" that I did. I brought leather jeans and a leather shirt with me on this trip. I wore these garments sometimes in my off times. I mean, after all, I was in San Francisco.

I recommend in my tutorial on "Air Travel with Leather Gear" that if you have expensive leathers, to put them in a carry-on instead of checked baggage. That's because if the luggage gets lost, you will not lose an expensive investment.

While I was packing my things at the hotel for my return trip, I decided to wear my leather shirt and jeans instead of pack them. So there I was: dressed in full leather as I checked out of the hotel, rode BART to the airport, got my boarding pass, went through security screening (no problem), stopped to have some lunch, and made my way to a free wi-fi carol (sorta like one would find in a library). I used the internet until they began to call my flight.

I walked on board the plane, put my carry-on bag in the overhead compartment, sat in my window seat, and got comfy.

Throughout the two hours leading up to my flight, I was watching how other people looked at me. To be very honest -- hardly anyone did. One guy said, "nice leathers!" and another one said, "woof!" (which made me smile) but that was it.

On the packed flight home, a guy in a business suit was seated in the middle seat next to me. He had all the toys of the rising star -- laptop, not one but two Blackberries, AND an iPhone. He was busy juggling his gadgets and synchronizing them (or something) when he turned to me and said, "man, I wish I could be as comfortable as you."

So there 'ya go! Even the business-suited yuppies think that leather clothing is comfortable. I know it is, but not everyone knows it.

Upon arrival home, my partner's first words when he saw me at the airport were, "hey, leatherdude!" which caused a few guys to spin their heads and look. I just smiled, embraced my partner, and we took off.

I still see a number of questions entered into Google that land on this blog asking about wearing leather in public. Honestly, it is no.big.deal.period. Nobody cares. As long as your leather gear is decent, doesn't leave certain parts hanging out, then wear it.

Life is short: get in gear!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reunion

I am writing this post on Saturday prior to departure from San Francisco for home. Let's hope the flight departs on time and gets me home to find my partner waiting for me at the airport. Then he will take me home, and we will snuggle closely in bed for a gentle, "welcome-home" reunion.

No plans for Sunday other than catch-up on household chores, visiting some of my senior pals, and getting reacquainted with my beloved partner.

No rest for the travelin' weary, as I return to work on Monday, starting with a meeting at 0600. Yep, early!

Life is short: be joyful with reunion with the one you love.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

San Francisco Reprise

I returned to San Francisco late Thursday night, checked into the hotel, and slept well. Ordinarily I have trouble sleeping in strange places, but I was so tired and (fortunately) the room was quiet and comfy, I drifted off quickly.

Friday saw me doing more work, going to meetings, and getting a tour from a San Francisco County sheriff's deputy of risk areas related to my job. We had a great meeting and discussion. I am confident that my friends in San Francisco are well cared for by their emergency planning and response officials.

I had the afternoon "off." I thought, "hmmm... I am in San Francisco, so what do I do now and where should I go?" I dropped in to visit my friend, Mike, the Owner of Stompers Boots. We went down the street and had a cup of coffee (well, me ... I had a Coke, since I don't drink coffee) and then Mike got back to work and I took a walk.

... A long walk. I walked 10 miles, from the Bay at SOMA all the way around the ballpark then across the Embarcadero then down to the piers for tourists, then up a hill (until it got too steep)... then hopped on a trolley and took that back into the Castro. I had a late lunch, then walked back to my hotel. So I really walked ... though I have not been walking as much as I should. Gotta keep the weight under control and not disappoint myself by getting lazy.

So what does a gay leatherdude do in San Francisco for a night out on a Friday night? Well, this monogamously-partnered guy who doesn't fool around behind the back of his partner was met by his cousin (and family) who drove in all the way from San Jose just to see me. We went to a great local seafood restaurant. I returned early and went to bed. I'm just not a night-owl and even though my hotel is right in SOMA, the heart of gay leather San Francisco, I don't want to go out to a gay bar or other gay-oriented places. Been there, done that.... I guess I really have become an old married fart.

However, there was a spark of "hope" for me -- I wore leather jeans and boots for the evening out with my cousin. :-)

It has been a great visit, but I am very much looking forward to returning home to the arms of my man, to my home, to my long list of chores that have undoubtedly built up, to my senior pals, and to life as is my routine. Maryland My Maryland, the Free State... callin' me home. Returning as you read this... wish me a safe flight.

Life is short: enjoy the love of family and unexpected surprises, such as a "DC Trolley" (which at one time served the area where I live in Maryland)... rolling down tracks in San Francisco.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Thursday Delay

Spent most of the day on Thursday in "Wittle Bitty Airport" ("WBA") in far Northern California waiting for a flight back to San Francisco, but Mother Nature had other things on her mind. My flight was supposed to depart at 10am, but as I am writing this, I'll be lucky if it takes off at 6:30pm. Long day....

I am writing to describe the day at a small airport. Some interesting and fun things happened.

First of all, I was very pleased that as small as WBA is, it offered free wi-fi. I was able to catch up on backed-up email and continue responding to things for work. So far, so good -- especially because I am so cheap that I refuse to buy a smart phone and pay the monthly ransom that wireless carriers demand.

I stood near the door for about five hours and interviewed people about what they did up in this area of the country on March 11. There was a serious disaster threat going on that day, and I wanted to know what they heard, what they did, and what they thought about it. I interviewed over 250 people. And yeah, this *is* related to my job. Very interesting commentary!

I took breaks from time to time, as standing for hours is not my choice of "fun." I got lunch, took a walk, and fired up the laptop to deal with more e-mail.

Most people took me very seriously when I stopped to ask if they had a minute to answer a couple questions. I guess having an official "Big Brother" I.D. helps, but a few of them told me that they thought I was "official" not because of the I.D., but because I was wearing leather jeans with a blue stripe down the side.

Heck, I hadn't even thought of that! I just put these leathers as I was dressing because: a) they are warm (and it was cold); b) they are comfortable; c) I was going to San Francisco, after all. I wasn't even thinking of the perceptions by the non-leather straight crowd that wearing leather jeans with a stripe down the side could be interpreted as anything other than an interesting pair of leather jeans. Okay, SK, you've convinced me why I need to have breeches with no stripes when I ride around with my club. Got it.

I saw about 20 or so guys with boots on, and about half of them were wearing tall rubber boots. After all, the primary industry in this area of the country is fishing, and tall rubber boots are worn by guys who do that work. There were about 5 guys in tall logger boots, and obviously, these guys were in the logging industry. The rest of the boots that I saw on guys were black harness boots. No cowboy boots, and far too many sneakers for my taste, but at least there were not any men wearing those horrid crocks or flip-flops or yuppie sandals.

All-in-all, I made the best of the day that I could, and did things related to my job so I would earn a day's pay while postponing the meetings scheduled for Thursday to Friday, since I realized pretty early on that the entire day would be shot. Oh well, that's how things go sometimes.

Life is short: make the best of it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Working

Yesterday was a busy day on this trip for work.  I co-taught a class and loved it.  Over 100 participants said that they thoroughly enjoyed it, and they will be tested through application of their new skills over the next weeks and months.

Meanwhile, I am happy that my camera found me again (long story, but FedEx had to bring it to me from South San Francisco.... don't ask.)

Here are some random shots taken along the rugged Northern California Coast:

Life is short: love what you do and bring all you have to make it great!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Eureka!

I have had two "Eureka!" moments yesterday. I think the term dates back to Archimedes, a Greek mathematician and physicist. It means, "I have found it." Albert Einstein is often given credit for this expression, but Archimedes beat him to it by 1,750 years (give or take).

Foolery and bad attempts at humor aside, my two "Eureka!" moments were:

1. Arriving in Eureka, California. They're right, this place is not anything like the rest of California. As the locals say, they consider themselves more aligned with Oregon and Washington, or "the southern end of the Pacific Northwest." Before my Canadian friends get their knickers in a twist, I will confine this expression to the Pacific Coast of the Northwestern United States.

2. Participating in a meeting among very dedicated, committed professionals who want to learn how to apply lessons learned from a recent major emergency toward future application to enhance public safety. Listening to their discussion, I was fascinated and admired great passion. I was pleased to be recognized for my past work in this field, and my thoughts and opinions were eagerly sought in the discussion, which was quite lively and animated, but very on-target and ... well... "fascinating."

I love my job. Tomorrow, I will conduct a training class for newer-but-eager people who wish to join the effort. That will be ... "fascinating."

Oh, how was I dressed, you ask? Beige fatigues in combat boots and a denim shirt (with a logo of my employer). I am delighted that my field work does not require dressing up. I am even more delighted that my work at my office doesn't require dressing up beyond slacks and a collared shirt. I have long outgrown patience with the jacket and tie foolishness. I can be the flaky academic who gets by with a more casual and comfortable choice of apparel.

Life is short: keep it fascinating!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Imagine the Bootmen

Well, I'll have to say "imagine" because I have misplaced my camera and none of the other eight guys who joined me for dinner in the Castro in San Francisco last night had one (or thought to take a pic with their i-gadgets.)

Nonetheless, I was delighted to enjoy dinner with Larry and Bill of hotboots.com fame; MichaelSir and his partner; Mike McNamee (aka "Mr. Stompers") and his new business partner, Ken; WetInSF; and Boots SF (umm-humm! Woof!). What great company! Very interesting men, with lots of fascinating stories to share. They are really great guys -- knowledgeable, friendly, and delightful company. Sure makes a business trip to San Francisco enjoyable.

And, of course, all were in boots. Tall Wescos won the day. All looked mighty fine in them, too. Boots SF was in Dehners, and was especially handsome in full leather.

I was glad that Larry could arrange this for me, and that so many guys showed up. What a great evening!

Now... time to head north. Return later for another entry of "as this Bootman travels."

Life is short: measure it by the quality of the company you keep.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stompers Boots!

I arrived in San Fransisco yesterday about mid-day. My friend, current Owner of Stompers Boots, Mike McNamee, came to pick me up and take me into the city for a pleasant afternoon visit. We enjoyed lunch with his new business partner, Ken, and talked a lot about the business of boot retailing in today's internet world.

Following lunch, Mike and I hung out in the city, and went to visit a store that makes custom motorcycle leathers. I saw a lot of very interesting possibilities here. Mike did too!

I truly enjoyed seeing my ol' pal, hanging out, talking boots, and catching up on each other's lives. Mike is a wonderful man. I am honored to have him as a good friend, and to have him take so much time to visit with lil' ol' me ... just some boot guy from the East Coast.

Life is short: get your boots at Stompers! One of the most ethically run businesses in the world.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Headed West

Alas, the City By The Bay is indicated on my airline ticket, and my boots are carrying me to a place in which I have spent many, many years learning and refining my professional craft, and making a number of friends while I was at it.

Yeah, "back in the day," I spent five years doing some tremendously creative work with some exceptionally smart people in an office based in this town (though I served seven counties surrounding the area). Most of the people I worked with 20 years ago have moved on, retired, or changed jobs, except for a few who I will see while I'm out here. The work that we, as a team, inspired is continuing. Part of what brings me back is measuring that work and how it has been ingrained in the culture since we started it 20 years ago.

Sure, while I'm there, I will take some time to visit personal friends. My buddy, Mike, the Owner of Stompers Boots, will pick me up from the airport today, and we'll hang out for the afternoon and catch up. Monday morning, I am having breakfast with one of the world's most eminent and talented professionals in my field. Then I'll do some field work, and at the end of the day, will relax over dinner with several of my friends from BOL, including Larry, his husband Bill, and several others. I look forward to seeing them again.

My travels for the remainder of the week have me on the move significantly up and down the California Coast, so I'll be busy. Lots of meetings, giving a speech, doing an all-day training, some more site visits, and other stuff will confirm that my work is what brought me there.

I very much look forward to a highly productive week, filled with work and friends and fondly remembering past activities and making new memories, too.

Life is short: love what you do. I think it was Confucius who said, "choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." Oh, so right.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Why Do Bikers Wear Engineer Boots?

Another google search: "Why do bikers wear engineer boots?

Well, perhaps because engineer boots were worn by James Dean and others back in the 50s movies and they made the style popular among the mainstream.

Perhaps because they are affordable.

Perhaps because they just look tough, rugged, and sturdy.

Perhaps because they're comfortable.

I dunno. Why do bikers wear engineer boots? Because they're smart. Wearing boots when operating a motorcycle is the second smartest thing a biker can do. The smartest is wearing a helmet. After that, boots are incredibly important to protect the rider's legs, ankles, and feet when operating a motorcycle.

Life is short: wear boots!

Friday, March 18, 2011

What Should I Do With My New Cowboy Boots

Ah, Google, you never cease to bring me amusement when you reveal what questions people enter into your search engine.

What should I do with my new cowboy boots?

Of course, the simple answer is: wear them.

Perhaps this person is wondering how to break them in? Answer: wear them.

Perhaps he wants to know how to keep them in good shape? Answer: keep them clean, polish them if they are all leather, and avoid damaging them by getting them (soaking) wet or scuffed by knocking them against concrete steps or other obstructions.

Perhaps she wants to know if she should wear them every day? Answer: no, have at least one other pair of boots, and let your new boots get some air between wearings so the sweat that naturally builds up and absorbs into the lining of boots (and the foot pads) evaporate. Some people refer to this as "rotating boots." I do not mean turning them around and around (I actually was asked that once), but I mean giving them a chance to "breathe" between wearings.

Perhaps he is wondering where to wear them? Answer: everywhere. To work with dress clothes, and casually with jeans. Just wear them.

If he is a boot fetishist, he doesn't need advice from me and I'll keep that stuff out of this G-rated blog (giggle.)

So what should someone do with new cowboy boots? Answer: WEAR THEM!

Life is short: wear boots!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Choosing Motorcycle Boots

This is an article that I wrote and appeared in a mainstream motorcycle magazine last year, and is based on my Guide to Motorcycle Boots on my website. I am repeating it here because for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere, motorcycle riding season is just about upon us!



Since I have ridden motorcycles for more than 30 years, and have tried and have worn many pairs of motorcycle boots, people have asked me from time to time about how to choose "the best" pair. Over time, I have learned a thing or two about boots. I thought I would share what I have learned, from the experience and knowledge of some fellow riders and friends in the business of boot sales.

Today's biker is looking for classic styling, high performance and unmatched quality--from his or her boots and  bikes. So what should you look for when buying motorcycle boots? There are a lot of boots that look good, are great to ride in and are versatile enough for everyday use. So take your time selecting the right pair.

When you have the task of looking for the best motorcycle boot, it can be overwhelming at times. There is no such thing as the "best" motorcycle boot because the type of boot that is suited to a person depends on his needs and preferences. Below, I will list some basic boot features which will help you make the best choice for your needs.

When choosing motorcycle boots, you have to ask yourself, "what is the main purpose of the boot?" Will the boots be used strictly for riding or do you need ones that are multi-functional -- which can be used for riding, working, and walking? In order to get the best boot for your needs, first determine what purpose your boots will serve.

Styles of Motorcycle Boots
All motorcycle boots are not the same. There are several styles of motorcycle boots you can choose from. The most common of these styles include racing or motorcross boots, "shorty" or tactical boots, tall "biker" boots, and police motorcycle patrol boots. There are cowboy boots made for motorcycling, but they are rare.

Tac Boots

"Shorty boots" are called that simply because they are 10" (25cm) or shorter. Actually, most "shorty" boots are 6" (15cm) to 8" (20cm) tall. These boots are also called tactical boots, because some police officers or wildland firefighters wear them. These boots are perfect for motorcycling and everyday wear. In fact, in my opinion, my Chippewa Firefighter boots (pictured) are absolutely the most comfortable boot I have worn while motorcycling.

Tall biker boots

Tall biker boots are usually 14" (35cm) to 20" (51cm) tall. They come in either harness style or engineer style. Harness boots have a strap that wraps around the foot across the back of the heel and attached with a ring at each side, and usually have a square toe. Engineer boots have a single strap with a buckle across the instep, and usually have a rounded toe. Both styles of motorcycle boots are equally as common, and it is a matter of personal preference as to which style to choose. Some bikers like to wear taller boots because of the added protection the boots provide to the legs, especially if the configuration of the motorcycle being ridden puts hot exhaust pipes close to the legs. The most well-known brands of this style of boot include Chippewa and Wesco.

Motor patrol boots

Motorcycle police patrol boots are a specialty style of motorcycle boots. The boots are usually 17" (43cm) to 18" (46cm) tall, but may vary if made custom. These boots are almost always black. They may have laces at the instep (a "bal-laced" style) or no laces (dress instep). The boots usually have a Vibram® sole, with a rubber or lug tread design. The most well-known brands of this style of boot include Dehner, Chippewa, and Wesco.

Boot Shaft

Upper (boot shaft) design

Select motorcycle boots that at least cover your ankles. This has two advantages (1) your ankle is protected (2) and your foot becomes stronger and thus better able to handle anything the bike wants to do (eg. tip over, slide away from you and onto your foot, or burn your legs or feet.)

It helps if the shaft section has shell protection, such as a leather lining. Without a doubt, boots with such protection are the safest. It also adds much to the durability of the boot. A leather-lined boot will last longer, stand up on its own, and will be more comfortable for all-day wear. A leather lining "breathes" and if fitted correctly, will allow ventilation so the boots do not become uncomfortably hot.

Shaft Height

Bikers must be able to operate all of the controls of the motorcycle safely. Safe operation requires the ability to bend the knees and move them quickly. Bikers who prefer tall boots should consider a shaft height that comes below the back of the knee. If the boot shaft is higher than that, then the ability to move the knee quickly is reduced significantly. Further, boots that come above the knee may cause sores to develop from the boot grazing or cutting the back of the knee. It is for these reasons why "crotch-high" boots are not a practical choice for wear by a serious motorcyclist.

Calf circumference

This is sometimes called calf width, and is an important consideration. The circumference is the distance around the outside of the leg. Boots should be wide enough to accommodate the leg, and also wide enough for jeans or leather to fit inside the boots if desired. Stock motorcycle boots that are 12" (31cm) or lower in height usually have a circumference that accommodates most legs. When boots are taller than that, then you may find standard boot shaft circumference may not fit your legs. Wrap a tape measure around your legs around the widest part of your calf muscle (and if you want to wear leather or breeches inside the boots, put them on before measuring). The best place to measure your calf is about 6" (15cm) lower than the back of the knee. Most tall stock motorcycle boots have a 16.5" (42cm) circumference. If your calf circumference requirement is wider than that, then order custom boots.

Boot Foot

Lower (vamp) design

Three important considerations: (1) A good fit prevents heel from lifting and makes for a more comfortable ride. (2) Does the motorcycle boot have a shifter pad? The boot is going to be used a lot in this area, so such a pad helps with wear. A shifter pad protects the toe and arch from fatigue and damage due to gear shifting. Some motorcycles, particularly those in the touring class, have a heel-toe shift, so a shifter pad is not required. (3) Shape of the toe. It should function smoothly with the rider as well as the bike.

Boot Sole

The main purpose of a motorcycle boot sole is grip, on and off the bike. Motorcycle boots should include a heel under the sole so you can rest it easily on the foot peg. On the road the motorcycle boot should give you great grip in mud, water, sand and oil.

A good motorcycle boot sole will be oil resistant and will provide good traction due to its high surface contact area. Roads, particularly asphalt, collect oil which becomes slick as ice when the least bit wet from rain. Do not buy motorcycle boots without oil-resistant soles. Oil will eat away at ordinary soles.

The uppers are going to last much longer than the soles, so make sure the soles are stitched on, not glued, so they will be able to be replaced when the time comes.

The best sole for a motorcycle boot is a Vibram® lug sole. There are several varieties of Vibram soles available. The "big lug" sole is a Vibram® 100 -- and the best of this variety of big lug soles is the Vibram® 100R. The "R" designation is for a sole that resists heat, such as from motorcycle pipes. This sole also does not mark or mar floors, such as vinyl, linoleum, tile, or hardwood.

Alternative Vibram® soles for motorcycle boots include the 430, which has small lugs on the interior of the sole design and a smooth rubber perimeter. These soles are used almost exclusively on motorcycle police patrol boots. The Vibram® 700 sole is of a waffle design -- which is good for wear in snow and ice, since snow will not accumulate between the lugs nor will the sole harden in very cold weather and turn the boots into ice skates. This sole provides moderate traction.

In my opinion, a poor motorcycle boot sole choice is nitrile, which is a soft rubber. These soles have a low melting temperature, and are known to leave black melt marks on hot motorcycle pipes, and may also mar floors. The traction is minimal and the soft nature of soles made of this material causes them to become damaged and unusable much more quickly than a Vibram® sole.

Boot Construction

Most motorcycle boots are made of leather with reinforcements on all the essential places. The leather can be supplemented with newer kinds of materials like Gortex® (which increases the breathability).

Another thing to look for is Goodyear welted construction. This greatly adds to your motorcycle boot durability. Make sure the motorcycle boots are stitched, not glued, meaning that the soles are completely replaceable when you do finally wear them down, and let's face it: motorcycle riders are tough on their boots.

Make sure the motorcycle boots you buy have quality non-tarnishable hardware. You want your motorcycle boot hardware to look as polished and shiny as your bike. Look for brass or nickel hardware on buckles and harness rings.

Ventilation


Ventilation is another factor you should consider when buying motorcycle boots. Your boots should be waterproof yet should allow your feet to breathe. This can be achieved with special exterior surfaces as well as interior linings. Contrary to what you may think, leather-lined boots are not warmer than unlined boots. Leather is used for motorcycle boots because it breathes. Even leather-lined boots breathe well. Boots made with Gortex® or Cambrelle® linings are designed to keep feet warm and dry in cold, wet weather, but are not necessarily a good thing to have on your feet when riding in hot weather. That's why most bikers who ride in all seasons have several pairs of motorcycle boots, to fit the season and how s/he will use them (just to ride, or ride, wear to work, and walk in).

Water Resistance

It is great to have water-resistant motorcycle boots! While it's no fun getting caught in the rain, it can happen. I highly recommend finding good water resistant motorcycle gear but especially boots. Leather motorcycle boots can be quite water resistant if treated appropriately with a good conditioner and water repellent made for that purpose. You can find these products in any well-stocked shoe store or luggage repair shop.

What boots NOT to wear when operating a motorcycle

While cowboy boots are a popular style, most cowboy boots have smooth leather soles. These soles slip easily even on dry pavement, not to mention wet pavement. It's very easy for a rider to lose control of his/her bike when stopped at a light or when parking if wearing boots with leather soles.

Also, avoid boots that have long laces or other parts that dangle and can get caught in moving motorcycle parts, gear shifter, or brake pedal.

Finally, boots that are cheap are cheap for a reason:  the construction can be such that the boots cannot withstand the heavy demands of motorcycling, and wear out quickly, the sole comes off or crumbles, or the leather discolors quickly.  The old adage, "you get what you pay for" certainly applies.  Invest in quality and pay a bit more, and you will have boots that can stand the gaff and remain comfortable for years to come.

And please, don't think for a minute that high-top sneakers can substitute for providing the protection of a quality motorcycle boot.  They can't.  Repeat after me:  "sneakers are for gyms; boots are for bikes."  Period.

Summary

Wearing boots while operating a motorcycle shows a good application of intelligence by the rider:  s/he is indicating an awareness of the possibility of injury to the lower leg, ankle, and foot by exposure to the high heat of motorcycle pipes or the possibility of being involved in a crash.  Boots provide protection and comfort.  Plus, you want to be a cool biker dude, right?  Cool dudes wear boots, not sneakers.

If you have any questions, drop me a message.

Life is short: wear boots when riding a motorcycle!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tactically Booted

When I went to Puerto Rico, all the men who I worked with were dressed in lightweight BDUs and tactical boots.  While my Chippewa Firefighter Boots were comfortable and suitable for the terrain, they were not quite the right boot for field work.

Upon return home, I looked at the combat/tactical boots in my boot closet.  The boots that I have are "old-school" military jump boots.  I wore them a lot when I went skydiving back in the day. But honestly, those boots are hell on the feet. They are hard to wear, especially all day long in hot sun.

These days, modern tactical boots are made of a combination of materials:  leather uppers with nylon shafts, and waffle soles.  (My partner will like that part... waffle soles don't get mud caked in them to dry out and be left in clods all over the house.  Oooops....)

I have several pairs of BDUs, or utility pants. Lots of pockets and made of a cotton/poly blend that dries quickly if it gets wet.  The material also washes easily.

So I took the hint from my colleagues in Puerto Rico. I did my homework, and selected a pair of Belleville Air Force Tactical Boots. They are standard military spec, 8" high, and in sage green. (I didn't want the desert tan version; I am not in the Army and I am not going on field assignment in the desert.) What I particularly like about these boots (besides their comfort) is that once you lace them up, you do not have to lace them again. Each boot has a zipper on the side which makes it easy to pull them on and take them off.

I found them for sale from an on-line military boot supplier that happened to be having a sale the day I landed on their website. I snagged 'em, and soon enough the Man-In-Brown brought them to my doorstep. A few days later, I checked the supplier's website, and found these same boots were priced US$20 more than what I paid for them, so I truly think it was a short-term sale that I was fortunate to find.

Now I am "tactically booted" for my next field assignment... whenever and wherever it may be.  I anticipate (eventually) a trip to the far outer reaches of the United States Domain, waaaaaaaaaaay out in the Pacific.  These boots will travel well and be comfortable for all-day use on rough terrain.

I have already worn them while taking my loooooong morning walks. They are very comfortable. Almost feel like sneakers (if I knew what sneakers felt like; I have not worn sneakers since gym class in junior high school.)

Life is short:  choose the right boots for the right application!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Marriage Is Postponed

I was deeply saddened, but to be honest, not surprised, that the bill in my home state of Maryland that would afford my partner and me, and all same-sex loving couples in my state, the ability to marry, was referred back to Committee on Friday, March 11, by our state's House of Quivering Delegates. That action (or inaction) effectively killed it for the year.

There were many articles about this decision that appeared in various media outlets and political blogs. I also read many messages about it from some Delegates who represent areas of the county where my partner and I have our home.

The only good news, if there is good news, is that the bill was referred back to Committee, so it can come up again in the House next year and not have to be re-introduced and go through our State Senate again. Just because it passed in our Senate this year doesn't mean that it will next year. Elected leaders change minds sometimes.

After reading through the wailing and the political stuff, what became apparent is that the reason why the bill didn't pass our House of Delegates was last-minute pressure put on Delegates who serve a county south of us, whose population is predominantly African American, many of whom belong to organized megachurches. While this bill was never a religious matter -- in fact it's title and content called it, "Religious Freedom and Protection" because it clearly stated that a religious institution did not have to conduct same-sex marriages if it didn't want to -- nonetheless, the members of what the media describes as "Black Megachurches" became active on the matter when our State Senate passed the bill. The church members took that action as a "wake-up call" and began calling and visiting their Delegates, telling them to oppose the bill.

This puzzled me, but after looking into it, and with the help of a good friend who is much more knowledgable on these issues than I am, I learned what happened and why it happened. My friend wrote me an explanative piece which I would like to feature, below, as a guest blog post. Read on.

-------------------------
I had very high hopes for a positive outcome and it saddens me that once again our rights have been denied in the name of Christianity. I have to remember that the fight for civil rights is an ongoing struggle. Thanks for thinking of me as you wrestle with this matter. As one who grew up in the black church and with family members who have been very active and have led churches, I think I can shed some light. There are several points that come to mind.

By and large, black churches are represented by evangelical denominations that focus on a literal and conservative interpretation of the Bible and believe the words written there were not influenced by those societies and are timeless.

Historically, Baptist and Methodist denominations have been most influential in establishing black churches throughout the country from the era of slavery through Jim Crow. Maryland, Virginia, and other southern states with large slave populations were fertile grounds to these denominations. In my experience, these dominations believe in a literal Biblical interpretation. Each will point to the clobber passages, the verses about Sodom and Gamorrah, and Paul's writing in the New Testament to say that homosexuality is a sin. Combine that with the evangelical position that to be a true Christian you must denounce sin and ask God to change your sinful nature, you have a recipe that doesn't allow room for the consideration that homosexuality is another variant of human sexuality, and no more or less sinful than heterosexuality. Once you are baptized, by full immersion, you are a "new creature" who is expected to reject your sinful past and embraces everything holy.

When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, it used to be common practice for churches to require young women who became pregnant out of wedlock, to come to the front of the church to apologize to the congregation for ther sin. In fact, about 10 years ago a cousin my age did just that at the church her father pastored in Tennessee. It was only after she did so that she was considered to be fully repentant of that sin. I'm sure my uncle took that memory to his grave feeling that he could rest easily. So, it's not that homosexuality is a greater sin than any other, it's just that, like pregnancy out of wedlock, it's readily observable, easily identified, and in the mind of the devoute, the result of willful behavior.

I give that example to show the conservative nature of many black churches in rigid belief systems that tend to make no allowance for any position that does not fit squarely into what a literal interpretation of the Bible affords. It's not just their belief that we as gays are sinners, but that we're unrepentant sinners that forces them to fight so diligently against our rights. They truly believe that if we just stop the sinning, there will be no need for special rights and considerations.

This rigid belief system makes them very easy prey to the exploitations of organizations like NOM, Focus on the Family, and others like them. Because, at the end of the day, this only became an issue for the black churches to become involved in at 11th hour. This is not a platform that black churches routinely focus upon. Employment, education, and adequate health care in the black community are the issues of greatest interest and need. The megachurches no doubt were willing to enter the fray given their view of the role of civil government. According to the website of Metropolitan Baptist Church, a black megachurch in that area, "We believe that civil government is of divine appointment, for the interests and good order of human society (1); and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored and obeyed (2); except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ (3) who is the only Lord of the conscience, and the Prince of the kings of the earth (4)." I'm sure the anti-gay organizations played upon this to elicit their support.

What LGBT organizations have to learn is that marriage equality will never be seen by these types of black churches as a civil rights issue until they can demonstrate that black LGBT families suffer disproportionately when these rights are not preserved.

Marriage says to my employer that my spouse is covered by my health benefits with no questions asked. Even a progressive employer might provide benefits for my partner, but as you know, they're taxed. That represents less money for basic necessities for your family. Couple that with the fact that black households typically earn less than white households, you begin to demonstrate the unfairness that not having marriage equality produces.

I took a look at the website of your state's LGBT-serving organization and my suspicions were confirmed. They suffer from a lack of diversity that make them appear to be an organization interested only in the rights of middle and upper middle class white gays and lesbians -- a population that's very foreign to the black church community. So, at first glance, gay marriage is not a issue of concern for the black community.

The role of the black megachurches in Maryland can be seen as comparable to the Jerry Falwell Christian Right of the Reagan era. The Maryland Delegates were no fools in not ignoring their voices. Megachurches have million dollar budgets and the loyal financial support of thousands of congregants. The black church teaches the principle of tithing. So, devout members regardless of income, willingly offer 10 percent of earnings each Sunday morning. The message to a Delegate is that he can either listen to this voice, or be replaced in the next election by someone who will. Harry Jackson has said as much in a recent statement.

So, where does this leave us? Will the black church move to a more inclusive stance? It's doubtful as long as it holds steadfastly to its evangelical stance. I wrote to you earlier this year that I have become an Episcopalian. In addition to being a gay affirming and welcoming denomination, for the most part, the church's history of facing and working through its race, LGBT, and gender issues is very appealing to me. There will be hope for black churches when they go the same exercise and realize that welcoming those who only look, think, and behave like you isn't what you've been called upon to do. Many seem to have forgotten that those Jesus associated with were those on the fringes of society...tax collectors, lepers, non-Jews, and women. And those he had the harshest lessons for were the religious.

-----------------------------
[BHD back again]: I should point out that it is not "all" Black churches or clergy in my state who oppose same-sex marriage. Several brave clergy members representing those churches stood up to be counted and made impassioned pleas on behalf of those of us who are gay. However, there were not enough of them, and the majority (closed-minded) opinion won the day.

I appreciate my friend's knowledge and insights which help me to understand what needs to be done next year. The battle ain't over by a long shot, and some day, I will stand in a civil proceeding in my state and look my partner in the eye, and say, "I Do."

Life is short: let us marry.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Is It Spring Yet?

A buddy of mine who rides a Harley and lives in a state much farther north than where I live in the U.S. sends me email regularly asking, "is it Spring yet?" ... then regales me with some humorous remarks about how he is enduring cabin fever. He is a regular reader of this blog, too.

Man, I'm sorry the weather remains cold and unsuitable for regular riding up there where you live. It's been cold and wet these last days of astronomical winter in Maryland, too. However, it is warming up. I have been able to get out for at least a short ride on sunny, "warmish" weekend days. Soon enough, I'll be riding every day.

For now, I will enjoy just getting out for a little bit, getting some fresh air, and the chance to break in some new boots.

New boots you ask? Well, it's like this: barter and negotiation resulted in a new pair of really cool brown Chippewa harness boots with a full-quill ostrich foot and rubber tread soles delivered to me at half-price. These are the best combo "biker/cowboy" boots I have had (lately, anyway LOL!)

So I geared up in brown -- brown Wranglers, my old and trusty brown Hein Geriche motorcycle jacket -- and off I went. It was a "tad" chilly, so I'll be looking for some brown chaps to match... sometime. But for now, "it'll do."

Life is short: take advantage of every opportunity to enjoy it -- in BOOTS!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Weirdness

I tell 'ya, loyal blog readers, I am feeling pretty damn weird.  Let me explain.

For more than 20 years, I worked for an organization that had me traveling a lot. Mostly what I did was conduct training, give speeches, and attend thousands of meetings all over the United States and its territories. Occasionally, my work involved travel to other countries, too. Not often, but enough to make things interesting. When big disasters happened, I engaged my "cross-training" and joined responders to do ... whatever ... on-scene and in the trenches, getting the job done side-by-side with very hard-working people with big hearts and caring service delivery.

I left that job at the end of 2004 for several reasons, and I will not belabor the rationale here. I went on to take care of an uncle through the winter of his life until his peaceful passing. After that, I accepted a "place-holder" job which was interesting, but removed from my passion (that is, my specific field of expertise.)

I was laid off from that job in June, 2010, and I think it was for a reason (besides the funding that supported it running out.) My sweet aunt needed a lot more attention, and I had the time to care for her through her life's winter, until her peaceful passing in January, 2011.

Meanwhile, I accepted a position in late November and I am pleased as punch to be back in my direct field, working with colleagues with whom I once worked before, and doing many things that I enjoy (again).

The thing is, this job does not have any "cross-trained response role." That means that when a big disaster happens, like the events of March 11, I did not run to the rescue... or run with colleagues to help. Sure, it was busy in the office and I was involved with media work, but it's not the same. Honestly, I kinda miss it.

Well, I do and I don't. The long hours and sleepless nights in crowded and noisy conditions become harder to bear the older one gets.

I did get an offer from a major player in disaster relief to go work with them for several weeks, but my current employer couldn't give me paid time off and I couldn't afford the financial hit to take time off without pay. So I'm still home, watching the news and emailing colleagues and tracking what's going on via social networks. But it's not the same. It just feels really, really, I mean really, weird.

Life is short: manage conundrums!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Can I Come See Your Boot Collection?

From time to time, I receive messages complimenting the size, quality, and variety of boots in my collection. I appreciate that. Follow-up email has asked if a visit to see my boot collection could occur.

My response is, "sorry, don't take it personally, but no."

I do not have visitors other than family into my home, and family visits are few and far between. My partner is a very private man and detests (word selected for a reason) having people over. I will not have visitors when he is not at home. While he trusts me, having "Bootmen" come to my home is suggestive of interest in something beyond my boots. Sorry, ain't gonna happen. It's best to avoid anything like that.

Plus, while most of my boots are in my Boot Closet, there are others in my bedroom closets and a few other places here and there in my home. I'm not going to have someone parade through my house and look in my closets. While I have nothing to hide, a bedroom is a private space, and I don't bring anyone other than my partner into our bedroom.

'Nuf said. Thanks for the compliments and your interest. You can see all of my boots on my website.

Life is short: define your limits, and live within the established "house rules."

Friday, March 11, 2011

What Is Wrong With Regular Old Email?

I registered Booted Harleydude on several websites years ago. Some of them (Recon, for example) have internal message systems. That is, you can send another member of the site a message. Then it requires the person to log on to the site to read it.

Unfortunately, most of these sites do not notify the recipient that a message is waiting. The only exception is Blogger (host of this blog) and YouTube. Both of those systems are owned by Google, and both send a message via direct email to let me know that a comment is ready to be reviewed and approved, or a message is waiting.

I say very clearly on my Recon and other profiles that I do not check their sites every day. In fact, I probably only check them once a month. The reason why I registered BHD on those sites is to preserve my screen name. So contrary to what Recon says "the world's largest hook-up site for men into fetish gear" -- I did not join that site to "hook up" with anyone, but to share and see others in gear that I enjoy wearing and using on a regular basis (and to keep nefarious scoundrels from committing cyber-identity theft.)

Well, anyway, lately I have received some messages, such as:
  • Send me a text and let's skype
  • Let's chat. What's your IM name?
  • Meet me in the chat room.
  • I have some questions about [brand] of boots
Here are some answers for 'ya....

1. I don't text and I don't Skype. Sorry, but I'm not into texting and have even blocked that feature from my cell phone so I don't have to pay for data that I do not use. Skype is interesting, but again, I do not use it and don't see why I should. I communicate with my twin brother in France via this funny old thing called a "hard-wired telephone." I know what he looks like. I don't need video to add to it.

2. Gosh, I am really old-fashioned, as I do not use instant messaging at all, nor do I have time to visit chat rooms. I tried I.M., and was annoyed with it popping up during my work day. I did not want that distraction while I was working. I do not use the computer much when I am off the clock (except, perhaps, to post on this blog! LOL!) and when I am composing a blog message, I do not want to be distracted by I.M. Contrary to what some may think, I have a life and a lot of my life does not involve using a computer or surfing the net or exchanging messages with other people. I know that sounds harsh, but I'm an old fart so forgive me. (This is another way of saying that I took I.M. off my computer and do not use it.)

3. Chat rooms? They are ubiquitous now. There's "boot chat" on hotboots.com and many others on all these various forums. Chatting on-line requires time -- that I simply don't have. Or don't want to spend on it. My partner asked once, "don't you want to talk with me?" He's right -- he is my main "chatterer" and focus of my attention. If I spent time chatting on-line and not with him, it gives a mixed message that I don't want to give. Plus, honestly, I really do not have the time.

4. If you have questions for me about boots or leather, why put such questions into a tiny little text box in an on-line program's communication box? Wouldn't it be easier if you sent me an email and we could exchange messages? Honestly, I don't get it....

This all boils down to my asking again, "what's wrong with regular old email?" Am I just so old-fashioned that I am communicating with the proverbial tin can and a string?

Just wondering....

Addendum: someone sent me an email recently and I replied. I received a response two days later advising me that my email went into his spam folder. I suggest that if you send me a message via my website or this blog, to make sure that you 'whitelist' the domain bootedman.com so email from me will reach you without being screened as possible spam. I do not know why that happens, and it seems to happen inconsistently with various email systems -- Comcast email being the worst.

Life is short: communicate via methods that work for the person with whom you are communicating.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sale On New Custom Wesco Boots

I received an email from Stompers Boots yesterday that said:

Wesco Boots sent us an email that for two days only, March 10 and March 11, they are having a 25% off sale on custom order options for their boots.

For example, if you want a leather lined boot option, then instead of paying  the regular $99.00 cost, the leather lining will be $75.00.

To take advantage of this flash special, go to Wescoboots.com, custom design your boots on the demo build. Copy and paste the results, and send to ken@stompersboots.com.  Ken will then send back an email with the Wesco discount, the Stomper's 10% discount off of Wesco's standard prices and the "Ken2011" Coupon special offer -$25.00 off for the price on orders over $200.00 during the month of March, and a special link to order your boots.

The cut off for this offer is 6:00 PM California Time, on Friday March 11, 2011. Payments sent after this time will not qualify for this special offer. 

Wow, that's a great deal for someone who has always wanted to get a new pair of custom Wesco boots for a great price. I definitely recommend it for the Wesco-oriented guys and gals out there.

Will I order a pair of new Wesco boots? Personally, I am working hard at maintaining my sales resistance. As much as I want to support my favourite Boot Store, Stompers, I know in my heart (and in my boot closet) that owning and wearing 12 pairs of Wesco boots is sufficient :-).

While I did receive a substantial income tax refund, I have been a very good boy and put that away into a savings account for future rainy days. While I love boots, and motorcycle riding season is just around the corner, I really have to admit that I have "sufficient." I have to keep repeating that to myself, but so far, I am doing well. So far...

Life is short: order your Wesco Boots from Stompers on March 10 or 11 for terrific savings!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blog Post 1100

Quickly enough, I have reached the 1,100 milestone for blog posts. Interestingly, five of my previous posts continue to rank highest in overall views. The data hasn't changed much since I posted about that before.

Number One: Bulges and Breeches. Often people use a search engine to look for images from Tom of Finland, and end up here.

Number Two: Where Do You Find Masculine Gay Guys? Searching for masculine gay men is a common occurrence, and this blog post is most frequently found. It does not provide all of the answers, but addresses issues about masculine gay men that some people may not have thought about.

Number Three: How To Tell If You Have Vintage Frye Boots. There are a lot of searches for information about those classic and nostalgic boots.

Number Four: Cowboy Boots and Jeans. I am convinced: there is an obsession among many people about how to wear cowboy boots with jeans. Lots and lots of people use search engines to inquire whether someone should or should not wear jeans tucked into cowboy boots, as well as what "stacked jeans" means and what kind of jeans to get.


Number Five: Best Motorcycle Boots. Again, it is my opinion that Chippewa Firefighter Boots serve superbly as motorcycle boots, and fit the current custom and style of today's biker.

It has been fun blogging, and I'll keep at it. I notice what others look for, but my life is complex and fulfilling, so I blog about a lot of different things -- not just leather or gay life or cowboy boots or motorcycle boots. As I was telling someone via email recently, "I have a life." Yes, I do, and it is reflected, in part, on this blog.

Thank you, my loyal blog readers, for visiting. Come back soon!

Life is short: keep blogging!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Negotiation and Barter

Americans as a whole tend to abhor negotiation and barter. They see something that they like, and often just buy it for whatever price is listed. Sometimes people shop around and compare prices for the same (or similar) things on various websites, but usually people "go with what they know" and buy from vendors they have dealt with before at whatever price is listed.

I admit, I have done that too. But having spent a year in my college days in Europe, living with local families and learning about life in situ, I learned a lot about barter and negotiation.

Barter: trade something of value for something considered to be of equal value. Think about it, kids barter all the time. Why do we forget that technique when we become adults? I do a lot of barter with services. I need contractors who can replace a tub in a rental house. In exchange for their labor, I have done some electrical repairs for them. Barter applies well to both services as well as goods. While I do not trade boots or leather gear, I know others who have done that and such exchanges generally have worked out well.

Negotiation: the old adage, "you don't 'get' unless you ask" applies. If you see something you like -- such as a leather jacket or a pair of boots -- it is perfectly fine to ask the seller if he/she would accept a different price. That's called negotiation.

One very important thing to remember: "MSRP" means "Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price." It does not mean "final" price.

When approaching a negotiation, don't be stupid and offer, for example, $200 for a pair of new stock Dehner boots that retail for twice that. No retailer in his right mind will accept such a low-ball offer. However, many retailers will match prices offered by other vendors if asked -- and even if they do not offer to do that on their website.

I have saved between US$25 and US$200 on a new pair of boots simply by asking for a different price, and giving specifics. "That pair of boots is on sale here ... " (and provide the link.)

I have avoided turning my website (or this blog) into a sales gimmick -- promoting one vendor's products over others so that I can get free stuff or reduced prices on goods and gear. My website is a personal hobby, not a vendor forum. However, I will state where I obtained a product and how others interested in it can get it. In exchange for that, I sometimes have offered data (website visitor logs help) and asked for a reduced price on something. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I do not. But again, if you don't ask, you don't "get"!

A lesson that I learned (and that's darn hard for many Americans for reasons that escape me) is "when to walk away." That is, if you want something and you think you made a reasonable offer for it, be prepared to say "no" if you do not get the price you want.

Back in the day, that is how people bought automobiles. They would go into a dealership and get a price, then walk out if the price were too high and go to another dealer to see if that dealer would beat the first dealer's price. Some people still buy cars that way, while others think that comparative shopping on the internet is sufficient. Remember: the listed price (including the price that appears on the internet) is what the vendor wants for the item, not necessarily what he/she will ultimately get for it (this is particularly true for automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles.)

By the way, that's how auto dealerships fool you. They all will negotiate, but most people fall for their "no-haggle pricing" policy by stating prices on websites. Don't be a sucker. I saved over US$2,000 on my last truck by negotiating hard for a good deal, and by visiting six dealerships in the process. It was a lot of work, but was well worth it!

Anyway, if you make a reasonable offer and can't get it, then just suck it up and say, "no, thanks" and walk away. Most of the time, the deal ends there because most vendors either think that you'll come back and say, "okay, I'll pay what you want" or they simply will not negotiate.

I have some experiences where a vendor said, "no, we will not give you your price" and I said, "no, thanks." Several days later, the vendor contacted me again and said, "do you still want this?" and I replied, "yes, but my price is [same one as before]." The vendor then replied, "okay, you can have it at that price after all." That did not happen all the time, but more often than not, so it is valuable to learn to say "no" and be prepared to stick to your guns.

Negotiation is not hard to do, but requires some courage. Americans on the whole have become spineless in even thinking about negotiating for a price. But as I said above, "you don't 'get' unless you ask" -- so ASK! The worst that can happen is that the response will be, "no." Then you are no worse off than before.

Hmmmm... let me take you to an auction sometime. That's always a barrel of laughs.

Life is short: it's always a negotiation.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Random Boot Shots

While organizing photos on my computer, every now and then I see some pics from the past that for whatever reason, recapture my attention.  Here are a few which have appeared on my website and this blog in the past. I am reposting them for no reason other than I like 'em.
Above, my Chippewa Firefighter Boots, which are a favorite for hot-weather motorcycle riding.

Above, Chippewa High-Shine Boots with Lug Soles that I saw on a cop in May, 2008 (this photo). I had lug soles added to a pair of them for myself. Great boots!

My old Wesco Boss Boots that still look and feel great, even after 20 years.

My newest pair of custom Wesco Roughout Harness Boots that are burgundy and brown in color. Very different boots that get many comments when I wear them.

My All American "Blue Knight" patrol boots. Very well-made and rugged boots made completely of leather.

My newest pair of Dehner Field Boots that a buddy thinks are "the bomb." I like them too!

My Dehner patrol boots with Vibram 100 lug soles. While these boots have shafts made of that plastic stuff called "Clarino Leather" (aka "Dehcord"), they still have a classic appearance that I enjoy wearing from time to time.

A random pair of Dehner motorcycle police patrol boots that I have seen among hundreds of pairs at police motorcycle competitions.

Life is short:  wear boots!