Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nice Not To Be Missed

I was exchanging email with a friend who was telling me that he wanted to go out for a motorcycle ride this weekend, but he had to drive out-of-state to attend his niece's wedding. I commiserated with that unfortunate situation. This exchange reminded me of one of the unintended benefits of being from a large family. That is, it's nice not to be missed.

Let me explain. I have mentioned before that I can't dance worth a lick, and don't like to be subjected to dancing if I do not have to. Further, I don't like to be around straight people whose tongues are loosened with alcohol. Sometimes they say some things that can be downright stupid, ugly, or inappropriate in my presence. You know: typical stuff that falls out of guy's mouths when they are posturing for the Alpha Male position at social gatherings (like wedding receptions or club banquets.)

Then I remembered what I have been doing for the last decade (or longer) since at least 1995 when my partner refused to attend any more weddings with me. He absolutely detests social gatherings, and won't go with me (especially to wedding receptions with my family. Admittedly, those events can get rather large and loud). Going alone isn't any fun for me. I feel like a third wheel or ... worse.

Anyway, what I explained to my friend is that these days, if invited to a wedding, I decline if it is out-of-town. Traveling to an out-of-town wedding is not my idea of "fun." It is more like an unnecessary expense.

If I am invited to a wedding that will be held nearby, then I attend the church service, then split. Yep, I'm a real party-pooper. I may show up to the church on my Harley in a suit and polished motorcycle boots, go in, say hello to the family, say my Dominos and Biscuits and all that, then once the bride and groom have left, I hand my gift to someone else who is going to the reception, mount up my iron horse, throttle up and skedaddle.

It really IS a benefit to be in such a huge family, because no one really misses me. Sure, some say they do, but they're just being nice. Most get so drunk that they can't remember the next day who else was there. So it does not matter if I do not go. No big shakes.

I guess I am continuing to disprove some typical stereotypes about gay men. Not all of us: 1) like to dress up; 2) can dance or enjoy it; 3) like weddings or wedding receptions. I guess I could add another: I couldn't tell you what the bride was wearing, and I don't give a flying frig, anyway. I guess this commentary flows from being about the only gay man I know who didn't give a rat's patootee about the wedding that happened in London yesterday.

Life is short: be thankful (sometimes) not to be missed.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Juggling Act

Man, this week has been nuts. Believe it or not, I am still recovering from jet lag from my trip to Alaska last week. Either that, or I'm reacting to tree pollen which is extremely high this time of year. The trees in our backyard forest were slow to leaf out this year due to a damp, cool Spring. But this week it has warmed up quite a bit, and the trees have "popped" with lots and lots and lots of pollen. Greenish-yellow film is all over everything. I've had to keep the windows closed to keep that stuff out.

My work is going well, but has really ramped up. A huge conference now to plan and conduct in early June, mandated by action in Congress. The short notice isn't really that much of a surprise, but now I've got 14 - 16 hour days running up to that event. The Boss said, "we are relying on your unique set of talents." How's that for pressure? LOL!

I thought that was enough, but then the Super-Big Cheese -- the one in charge of the whole agency for whom I work -- sought me out yesterday to give me his insights on what he wants done. Man, I didn't even know that he really knew me. I mean, he knew I was here, tangentially, but apparently last week several people advised him that I was who I was and was at his service, so Boom! Busy! Colleagues trying to be funny said, "that's why you're paid the big bucks." Ha!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my twin brother is in town and is also working long days by attending a lot of meetings in the city. He arrived home the past two nights late and tired. I give him something to eat and chat for a few minutes, then head to bed. He stays up for hours, working. I see him in the morning, and have the pleasure of preparing breakfast for him before he heads out to conquer the world of his diplomatic mission.

My partner remains steady as a rock. His work is busy, but not overwhelming. His schedule is dependable and predictable. He isn't fussing that I'm having to work so many hours this week. As he said, he figured this would happen once they got to know me at my new office and learned how I could apply my skills and talents to meet dynamic and ever-changing demands and needs.

No more travel for me for a while except from home to countless meetings related to this big deal event coming up. That's fine. It's what I do. It's what I enjoy. I have an incredibly talented and dedicated group of colleagues and collaborators on whom I will rely to get this done.

Confucius said, "choose a job you love, and you won't have to work a day in your life." I do love what I do... but it IS exhausting!

Life is short: keep busy!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pause to Remember

This is a brief pause to remember what happened on April 28 during the year I was 12 years old. That morning one of my older sisters came into my bedroom early in the morning to tell me that my father died.

It was a Tuesday. I had last seen my father the previous Sunday in the hospital. He was gravely ill, and I think he sensed that would be the last time he would see any of his children. He struggled to remain conscious and alert. I remember that he held our hands, one by one, and told us that he loved us, he loved our Mom, and that he wanted us to be good -- good people, good citizens, and good to each other.

That Tuesday morning was hazy. I remember calling my closest friend and gave him the news. My friend went to school and told everyone else. I think one of my older siblings called the school to give them the official news and to explain why none of us would be going to school the rest of the week.

My sister took me to her house. I remember that a lot of people were there. Family, family friends, neighbors, and so forth. I dunno, it all was a daze. I knew that my father was dying, but when the death actually happened, I went into shock.

I don't remember quite when I saw my mother next. Perhaps it was even the next day. She also was in shock. But she was a strong, strong woman. She held us close, and looked after our needs. I remember that she even took me to a store to get a suit to wear to the funeral. She even let me buy a new pair of boots to wear with it, while my twin brother who already had several suits got a new pair of dress shoes. Always looking after us kids -- not herself. I don't know how she did it.

I was discussing these memories with my twin brother who is visiting this week. His memories are about the same as mine. He said that he remembered sitting next to me for almost the whole week. We were inseparable. We both remember that our siblings -- all 13 others of them -- each spent time with both of us, hugging, thinking, talking about our respective memories and stories about our father. We had a lot of sibling bonding going on that week, and no sibling squabbles. I think my Dad would have been proud to know that his last wishes -- that we all take care of each other and show our love and respect for one another -- continued in the immediate period following his death, and to this very day. His legacy holds us close.

Our huge family surrounded us. My father was the first of his siblings to die. All 21 of his brothers and sisters and their families -- aunts, uncles, cousins -- came to pay their respects and did things (or tried to do things) to show that they cared. One particular cousin, closest to me in age and with whom I had fought like she were a sibling -- was particularly close and good to me. I think my father's death was a turning point in our relationship. We have been and remain fast friends and very very close.

The funeral was also a haze. The long black limos, the police escort from the church to the cemetery, the pictures in the paper and front-page news story -- I have copies of those papers that we looked at last night, and I didn't remember that well at the time. My Dad was a very well-loved man by many people, and highly regarded for his diplomatic work in Europe during its post WWII reconstruction.

I think what I remember most outside of the funeral and such was what my Uncle Joe did. Instead of sit around looking forlorn, he took several of us kids out for ice cream, then to a park to play (or swing, or whatever), and just spent time with us. Getting us out and away from the heavy feeling at home was the best thing he could do for us. He just knew intuitively what to do. No one asked him -- he just did it. I sure miss him. He always took such good care of us kids, especially after my father died.

Later today when my brother returns from his meetings in the city, we both will head over to the cemetery where our parents were buried to leave some flowers (from my yard) and to reflect on a man we would have liked to have known longer than we did, but who we loved, admired, and cherished. This cemetery is just a mile from my home; I go there fairly often to reflect and to remember. My twin brother is lucky: he gets to work in the very same office that our father once did in Paris. He has photos of my Dad and various heads-of-state throughout his office. That's gotta be impressive (and he says "daunting" to live up to that legacy.) (My opinion: if anyone can do it, my twin can. He's the impressive one!)

Anyway, thanks for reading this brief pause and flow-of-memory. It's never easy when one's father dies, especially at such a young age. With the support of loving family and friends, we got through it, together. That's what Dad wanted.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Benefits of Wearing Leather Every Day

As my partner was doing our laundry, he remarked, "there's less laundry than usual since you have gone back to work and telecommute most days."

I said, "yep, do you know why?" He smiled, looked at me, then came over and said, "I love to hug my man in leather."

I wear full leather most of the time when I do not have to go to a meeting or my "real" office. Thus, fewer clothes have to be washed. And continuing with my thread of explaining how we make financial decisions, we do not bring our laundry out to be cleaned. We do it ourselves. Easier, cheaper, convenient. And since we don't dress up much, we do not wear clothes that would have to be cleaned at a dry cleaner. Okay, there I go again with my "anti-suit" prejudice, as well as my frugality. So be it -- I admit to both.

Life is short: wear leather! (and save water by doing less laundry! LOL!)

PS: Now that it is significantly warmer, the days I telecommute may find me just wearing a pair of shorts (no boots, either!) Too warm for leather and it doesn't make sense to pay for air conditioning just to cool the indoor air enough to make leather clothing tolerable. I'd rather keep the AC off during the day and be (almost) naked. Shhhh... don't tell the boss that a conference call I was on from home found me in that state. I am so glad (for their sake) that these calls do not have a video component! LOL!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hey, Bro!

My twin brother is here!  What a surprise!

He was scheduled to visit and attend a meeting in Washington, DC, in mid-April. The date of his meeting changed indefinitely, so I did not think that I would see him until perhaps this summer. He even posted a reply on this blog yesterday (to throw me off the track).

Meanwhile, his meeting got rescheduled -- to begin today -- and that big lug didn't tell me! He just showed up and surprised me yesterday morning!

Yesterday, I was working at home and heard a truck on the ordinarily very quiet street. I peeked out, and saw a DHL truck. That is a freight carrier ordinarily used in Europe. My brother told me in his blog comment to expect something from DHL.

I was in the middle of something, so I finished my thought, saved it, and as I ws getting up to go to the door, the doorbell rang. I thought that it was the DHL driver asking me to sign for a delivery. I opened the door -- and there was my twin brother handing me a box. Apparently he arrived about the same time that DHL did, so my brother delivered it personally. What a character, that guy!

Technically, I had the day off work on Monday, but was working anyway to catch up on a backlog due to all that travel last week. However, once my brother arrived, I said, "that's enough for the day," and turned the computer off. We caught up, laughed, had lunch (at home) and while waiting for my partner to arrive from his visit to his mother's home in Pittsburgh, I prepared a home-made lemon meringue pie (my partner's favorite).

My partner showed up about 2pm. We helped him unpack and settle in. Meanwhile, I baked some potatoes, grilled some fillets, made a salad, and enjoyed dinner with two men who mean the world to me: my beloved partner and my twin brother, my two best friends in the whole world. What a great day!

My brother will use our home as "home base" and commute to his meetings in DC this week. I will enjoy having him around. My partner likes him a lot too, so this is great for all of us.

Life is short: cherish family!

Monday, April 25, 2011

18 Years and Going Strong

Today marks our 18th anniversary ... yep, my beloved partner and I have been joined at the heart for 18 years now, going strong, loving life, and each other.

The tune, "If There Hadn't Been You" by Billy Dean (released in 1991) makes many points in its lyrics and hauntingly beautiful melody that means much to me, speaks of our relationship, and sounds like what I would say. Seriously, I truly believe that I would have been lost and incomplete if it had not been for the loving graces of my partner and what he has done for me.

Read the lyrics, then play the video embedded below and have a listen. Share our love.

"If There Hadn't Been You" ©1991 by Billy Dean

A man filled with doubt, down and out and so alone.

A ship tossed and turned; lost and yearning for a home.

A survivor, barely surviving; not really sure of his next move.

All of this, I would have been, if there hadn't been you.

[refrain]
If there hadn't been you, where would I be?
If there hadn't been you here for me?
I made it through times
I never would've made it through.
If there hadn't been you.

A man filled with hope who finally knows where he belongs.

A heart filled with love more than enough to keep it strong.

A life that's alive again, no longer afraid to face the truth.

All of this, I would have missed, if there hadn't been you.

If there hadn't been you, where would I be?
If there hadn't been you here for me?
I made it through times
I never would've made it through.

If there hadn't been you on my side,
You In my life,
All my dreams would still be dreams,
If there hadn't been you.

All my dreams would still be dreams,
If there hadn't been you.




Happy Anniversary to my best half, my best friend, and the love of my life. :-)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Leather on Easter?

Someone sent me an email asking, "can you wear leather on Easter Sunday?"

Well, you can. Question is, do you want to?

I do. Happy Easter! (for those who celebrate this holiday). Today I've got a lot to do, and I'll do it in leather (or in a pair of dressy leather pants, anyway.)

I will begin the day by taking several of my senior pals to an Easter Sunday sunrise service at oh-dark-30. The weather is promising to be cool and dry -- perfect for an outdoor service. I plan to wear a light blue regular dress shirt, my dark blue leather tie, and a my dress leather pants over a pair of dress instep Dehner boots. I do not have a leather blazer that fits, so I probably will wear a light leather jacket if I wear any jacket at all. But not a suit jacket or sport coat (blech...).

Some among you may be aghast: No.big.deal. It's what I wear. The leather pants are dressy, and look nice -- as nice as (or better than) a pair of dress slacks. They look good with the boots, too ... or the other way around: the boots look good with them. Not with leather tucked into them. There are times when it is not quite appropriate to wear leather tucked into tall boots, like at Mass.

After the early morning service, I'll return home. I have to drive my truck to the service, as I am giving a ride to four other lovely ladies. After I drive back home, I will yank off the tie. No ties where I go next! I will take off the dress shirt, too, and put on a blue denim shirt and wear a thicker leather motorcycle jacket, hop on my Harley, then go pick up a senior pal who is celebrating her 85th birthday and take her to a celebratory brunch. After that, I will ride over to a sister's house. She and her husband are having an Easter Egg Hunt for the grandchildren -- some of my Great Nieces and Great Nephews. I will enjoy playing with the kiddos and having (another) Easter Brunch with the fam.

But the day isn't over. After that, I'm heading over to a brother's house to do the same thing with his and his wife's grandkids -- all 18 of them. Then we will enjoy lunch.

Where's the partner, you ask? He's up in da 'burgh (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA), visiting his mother for Easter. He wouldn't join me anyway with my family festivities. Kids and noise and joshing and loudness bother him quite a bit.

After a long lunch with this part of my family, I plan to drop by a niece's house. She and her family just moved into a new home, and they are having a cookout as an informal housewarming.

So yeah, I'll be in leather and boots for the day. Perhaps riding the Harley gives an "excuse," but even if the weather were cold and lousy and I had to drive my "cage" all day, I would still have my dress leather pants on.

I don't know quite what it is about guys having conniption fits about wearing leather pants or jeans. I think a lot of guys would *like* to do it, but have hang-ups about being thought of as "gay" or a "rock star" or a "punk." Oh cripes, not the case. These guys need to think about what makes them believe this stuff. Who told them that or what did they read that influences them to abhor wearing leather pants? If they are dressy, then my opinion is: wear leather pants and enjoy. 'nuf said. (I sure have said enough about that on this blog!)

Happy Easter! To answer that email: Yes you CAN wear leather on Easter, and it's okay to do so. It is not a fashion faux pas to do so. At least not in my world.

Life is short: be the man you are, and comfortable in your own skin (and the skin of cows!)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's All About Attitude

Not unexpectedly, my circuitous route from Alaska to my home in Maryland hit a severe snag with ugly weather. By the time I arrived in Chicago to connect with my last flight home, the flight to my home airport was canceled.

I kinda figured this would happen.

I was not the only one in this situation. Most flights for the remainder of the night were canceled. Hundreds of people got stuck in this unfortunate situation.

I observed many people becoming upset and angry, which caused the airline representatives to respond in-kind. Bad behavior begets bad behavior, so it seems. While being delayed and stuck overnight isn't fun, it is not the airline's fault. Yelling at them, demanding that "I have to get home for [insert lame excuse]" does not help anyone.

When I arrived in Chicago and saw that lovely word "canceled" next to my flight number, instead of going ballistic, I found a quiet place and called the airline. I was pleasantly surprised that a real human picked up the phone after I pressed zero at the automated annoyance (sometimes called "automated attendant" or "call router.") While the agent began her conversation with me intensely, expecting that I was going to yell, I maintained my composure. I simply said, "I was on flight number ### which has been canceled. Have I been automatically rebooked or will you rebook me?" A few keystrokes on her computer later, I got the last seat on the first flight out in the morning. Had I waited in line at the ticket counter, goodness knows what flight (next week?) I might have gotten stuck on.

However, I still had to wait in that long line to get a discount coupon for a hotel stay. While the airline will not pay for a hotel room if the flight is canceled due to weather, they often have negotiated rates with major hotels, so it is worth it to wait (and wait and wait and wait) to get that coupon.

Five ticket agents were helping customers at the ticket counter. The line was moving slowly. I observed that the agents were just nasty. Some of them made snarky comments that, in my humble opinion, were not deserved. Sure, the jerk who yelled at one of them needed to be dealt with in accordance with his negativism -- but the rest of us do not deserve to be treated as if we will all act like that.

While waiting in line, I observed two agents say loudly, "I'm off shift" and walked away. It is a very sad situation when any airline does something like that. They know they have a lot of customers who are unhappy. Abandoning them that way -- even if the shift is over -- is a poor way to maintain any form of customer relations.

When I finally got to the ticket counter, I smiled a big, broad smile and said, "I'm sorry about this situation. I have gotten rebooked, so I am only seeking a hotel discount coupon." The agent was so surprised that I was smiling and nice about it, she called the hotel to make sure they had a room for me, and then gave me a voucher for breakfast at the airport. She said that she knew that the hotel offered free breakfast, but did not start to serve breakfast until 7am. My flight is at 6am. She figured out that I wouldn't get the free breakfast, so she helped me out. I thanked her profusely. She said that she did it because "you were the first nice customer I've had all night."

Hmmm... there's a lesson here.

I waited for the hotel shuttle, got to the hotel, checked my email and wrote this post, then crashed into bed.

I hope to be home on the day this post appears on this blog. Wish me luck!

Life is short: you can get better service if you maintain composure and be pleasant -- even in unpleasant situations.

Friday, April 22, 2011

How Much Do Leather Cowboy Boots Cost?

Yet another question entered into a search engine and landed on my website.

Frequently I receive questions, "how much did those boots cost?"

Honestly, it varies. New cowboy boots can cost as little as US$50 (if they're machine-made plastic) to well over several thousand dollars for one pair of custom-made  all-leather boots. For my preferences, I usually choose commercially-made cowboy boots from reputable makers, such as Tony Lama, Dan Post, Nocona, Lucchese, and several others. I choose boots that are comfortable, good-looking, and generally go with "business casual" clothing which is what I wear to my office. I like my boots to be made of all leather. Further, I want them to be comfortable and to wear well, so I look for a pegged sole.

I have some custom cowboy boots made by Champion Attitude, and a few pairs of Buckaroo boots by Olathe. However, while those boots are nice, their heel height and style don't quite work for how klutzy I am when I walk, so I wear those boots when I don't have to walk very much.

I do not have boots made by some of the top custom cowboy boot makers, such as Paul Bond. While I like the beauty of these top-notch bootmakers, I realize that having boots that cost well over US$800 per pair (most of them are in the thou$ands), it is not worth it to me. I feel that I would have to frame them and admire them as art. Well, in reality, I would wear them, but not enough to justify in my warped way of thinking that the investment was worth the cost.

Having said all this, I have not yet answered the question: how much do leather cowboy boots cost? Boots that meet a minimum of my standards -- all leather, comfortable, pegged sole, reputable manufacturer -- cost in the range from as low as US$180 to as much as US$400. Beyond that, I usually don't consider buying them. Sure, I may look, but I often ask myself, "why on earth do you want a pair of cowboy boots that cost over US$600 when you already have so many pairs?" -- good question. That self-questioning holds me back from making many purchases (believe it or not.)

Life is short: have (and wear) at least one pair of cowboy boots.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gays and Black Boots

This stuff drives me nuts, but honestly, I don't pay much attention and do not let it bother me because I do not suffer fools well.


From Bothell, Washington (a suburb of Seattle): "Why do gays wear black boots?"

I can tell that it was written by someone who is not well educated and who is straight -- the pejorative term "gays" is a give-away to both conclusions.

Now, to address the question. Well, there is no answer for stupid assumptions. Honestly, where do some people come up with this garbage?

Most men's boots come in black or brown, and you'll find cowboy boots with more colors -- the most common besides black and brown is black cherry, cognac (orange-burnished), tan, and there are also men's boots that have inlays or accents of blue, red, white, and other colors.

So, ding-dong from Bothell, hear this:

Not all men's boots are black.

Not all gay men wear boots.


Granted, most motorcycle boots are black -- but then again, I would venture to say that the vast majority of bikers who wear black boots are not gay.

Gay men who wear boots wear more colors of boots than only black. Sheesh -- look at my cowboy boot and motorcyle boot collections. I have boots of all colors. And I'm gay. So what?

Get an education, friend. Wise up and then go speak with some gay men. You may be surprised to learn that they're people too, much like you -- and me!

Disclaimer: I have been to Bothell, Washington, and know that most of the people there are fine, upstanding, well-educated people. There are exceptions everywhere, so this post was not meant to take a swipe at everyone who lives or works in Bothell. I betcha you can find some equally ignorant people near where I live, too.

Life is short: stop looking for stereotypes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Working, Teaching

For reasons that I do not want to say in searchable text, this post has been removed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Temporary Change of View

Yes, this is Alaska, USA. Yes, I happen to be in the same town made famous by someone saying (and later spoofed on national television) "I can see Russia from my window!" No, I cannot see Russia from here, but I can see America the Beautiful.

"Up" here to teach a course this week for work.

Meanwhile, the blog will go on "auto" until the course is over and I return home.

This is my personal Moose. He is keeping me company and keeping me safe. Admiring the long hours of daylight (before I pulled the blackout curtains shut so I could get some sleep!)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Blog Comments

Lately, several attempts to leave comments on various posts on this blog have had to be deleted. A ding-dong from India has been commenting using a fictitious American-sounding name, leaving compliments on certain posts (with bad grammar and incorrect English) with an embedded link to a cheap leather goods website. Someone else from the Philippines attempted to comment on a post and had a link to a motorcycle vendor in Australia. Someone else from Pakistan has been active, leaving comments with links to cheap Pakistani leather vendors. A while ago, an operator of a gay resort in Mexico also attempted to leave a comment. The comment was good, but the link back to the resort was not.

Once again, I remind readers that I welcome comments, but I have a firm blog comment policy: 1) you have to use a name (screen name is okay) and 2) you can NOT embed links to commercial websites. That link could be within a comment or I have also found them in the "screen name" of the person leaving a comment.

When you go to my comment area for any post on this blog, you will see this:
All comments are reviewed prior to posting. If you do not have a Google ID or Blogger ID, you may use the Anonymous ID option, however, you must type your name with your comment. Comments without a way to know who wrote it may be rejected or deleted. Comments with embedded links to commercial websites WILL BE DELETED--NO EXCEPTIONS!
I don't know how much clearer I can state it. Please comment, but please do not attempt to use this blog to promote commercial websites.

All comments are held in moderation for me to review prior to posting. I will approve comments that add to a post's content or share opinions about it, even if opinions are different or contrary, but not rude, racist, homophobic, or malicious. I delete posts that violate my blog policy. As it says above, "no exceptions."

Life is short: follow the rules.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Soured on International Boot Sales

Oh rats, what a dilemma. Back in March, someone contacted me expressing interest in an old pair of Wesco Boss boots that I had on my website. While I say, "none of these boots are for sale," I did have a note on the page about that particular pair of boots that they were small on me and I would entertain a bid to buy them.

A guy from the U.K. and I exchanged several email messages, and agreed on a direct sale. He offered to pay me in two payments, splitting his payment over two paychecks. I agreed. He said that he wanted them before going to a boot party in London on 25 March. He sent me a deposit, and we agreed on the amount of the remainder to be paid the following week.

In a gesture of good heartedness, I offered to send him the boots before I went on a business trip, which would have been during the week that he would have sent the last payment. That way, he would have the boots in time for his desired date. I felt assured that everything would work out, so I shipped the boots, then went on my trip... then didn't hear a thing.

I contacted him last week. He said that the boots were not received. I went to my post office and they showed me the tracking number (which I hadn't noted correctly) and validated that the boots had been shipped and delivered (but only says "delivered - Great Britain"). However, the guy to whom I shipped the boots said that he never received them.

I don't know exactly what's going on here. I accept the buyer's word that he hunted for the boots but couldn't find them. He's blaming our U.S. postal system for not having a record of their exact delivery -- other than "delivered Great Britain" on (date.)

I'm not out of money, directly. That is, I received a deposit which adequately covered the expensive shipping charge.

This whole fiasco has completely soured me from entertaining any thought of selling any more boots to anyone outside the U.S. or Canada. I am not saying that I will never do that again; however, I will insist that the buyer pre-pay all of the money, and also pay for a higher-cost but assured delivery process, such as by FedEx which has a much better process of assuring delivery and getting a signature of the recipient than the U.S. Postal Service.

By the way, if you are in London and see anyone wearing these boots, ask him where he got them.  More photos of these boots are here. Seriously, if you see someone wearing them, let me know. Be assured, I will keep your confidence. I just want to find out what's going on.

Life is short: learn from your experience.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Alpha-Male, Boots and Leather

A friend sent me a guest blog post which appeared yesterday, titled, "Is the Alpha-Male a Real Person?" He described his emergence through youth to adulthood, and pondered a question that I have asked myself a lot -- does wearing boots (and in my case, leather garments as well) indicate anything about one's self-perception of his masculinity?

Like my friend, I wasn't good at "guy things" when I was a kid. Throw a ball to me, and I would miss it. When he talked about "being beamed by the ball in dodgeball," I could so relate. Last picked for any team in physical education classes in school, picked on and bullied by others who felt a need to demonstrate their self-perceived superiority, and being interested in activities like cooking -- all of these things were "me" in my teen years, too.

Also like my friend, when I was a kid, I found a pair of boots that belonged to an alpha male. In my friend's example, the boots he found and tried on were his father's. In my case, the boots that I found belonged to a ranch hand on a family horse ranch in Oklahoma where I spent a lot of time as a kid. The boots I found were an old pair of well-worn, dirty cowboy boots. Man, I admired those boots for the ruggedness that they presented by the the Marlboro Man who wore them.

I have said that I got into boots when I was ten, and haven't worn other footwear since then. I just liked to wear boots. Made me feel a bit taller, and a bit more proud. I guess one could say, boots made me feel more masculine, too -- though as a teen and 20-something, I continued to have doubts.

I got into motorcycling in my very late teens, and have enjoyed riding ever since. I was influenced to learn to ride a motorcycle by an alpha-male friend who was a year older in high school -- the taller, leaner, graceful and athletic guy who befriended his "little buddy." He wore engineer boots to school with a Levi jacket with the sleeves torn off, white pocket t-shirt, shoulder-length hair, and in many ways appealed to my inner sense of "coolness" as a guy. He was admired by many, dated a lot of girls, and usually was the center of attention though he didn't seek it. Yet he took time to spend with me to take me as a passenger on motorcycle rides and then teach me how to ride when I was old enough (and helped me convince my Mom to let me.)

Becoming a "biker" meant adopting certain attire -- the leather. First a leather bomber jacket, then chaps, then some vests, then I took the real plunge and got a pair of leather jeans and a leather shirt. Man, I loved how the gear felt -- and used the "excuse" that I had to wear the gear for my protection when riding my motorcycle. My Mom "bought it" in that she actually bought me some leather gear for Christmas and some birthdays during my first few years of motorcycling.

As I often say, I wear leather garments regularly, not just for once-a-year events. I ask myself (and have been asked by others,) "do you wear leather because you want to project a masculine appearance?" Come to think of it, the answer to that is "yes" -- but it is not the main reason why I do. I return to restating that I like how it feels, keeps me warm, protects me from road hazards when I ride my Harley, and is so versatile.

Sure, most guys do not wear leather as much as I do. And these days, there are some perceptions from some people that guys who wear leather all the time are always gay. I think that comes from perceptions still held from the campy performances of The Village People and the tune, in particular, Macho Man. One of the performers was always dressed in full leather, and they all were gay. Thus, the linking of wearing full leather and being gay stuck in the minds of many men and women who grew up when The Village People were popular.

In converse to this, there are some guys -- particularly motorcyclists -- who probably would like to wear leather more often, but choose not to do that because they do not want people to think they are gay, or they themselves believe that wearing leather is a "gay thing." Thinking aloud here, perhaps I am fulfilling that prophecy by showing up in full leather at all my straight-biker events.

Regardless, I have learned that there are differences in what makes a man a man -- not by the choice of what he wears (boots, leather, etc.), but by how he behaves and interacts with others. To me, a "real man" is a guy who is successful in his work and in his relationships with people. He demonstrates that he cares by the actions he takes. Fortunately these days, one's masculinity is not questioned (much) if a man takes care of children, pays attention to his parents and elders, and is involved in community groups like the PTA or civic organizations.

Yes, I choose to wear boots and leather, but that's a reflection of the person who I am, as well as my disdain for dressing in suits & ties or gym clothes or wearing sneakers.

According to many websites and blogs, like this one as an example, an alpha male is comfortable in his own skin, doesn't care what other people think about him, can and often does put his ego aside and knows that only insecure men need to protect their ego at the expense of learning and growing, has a good sense of humor, and is dominant.

By hook or crook, perhaps practice, or due to my upbringing, I have most of those characteristics: I am definitely comfortable in my own skin (and the skin of cows), I don't give a rat's patootee about what other people think of me (personally) or what I'm wearing, and I do not have much of an ego. I would not say that I am dominant, but in a way if you observe me in a group, I am usually in the center and serve in leadership rather than following roles. I guess the only alpha male trait that I don't have is a good sense of humor. I really struggle with that; my humor is more like bad puns, corny jokes, and double-entendre.

But I am not self-centered nor think that I am superior to others. That's just not me. I work hard at caring for other people, and consider most people my equal (save for the few who feel that they have to take shots at me, this blog, my videos, or my website because they have issues of their own to resolve. People who behave like that are below my standards and I choose not to associate with them if I can avoid it.)

As my friend summed up in his post yesterday, "be who you are, and be proud of who you are." I have learned to be who I am and proud of it as I have matured and have become self-confident. I give no credence to what other people think (or sometimes say) about my wearing leather or boots. Those in my life know the man I am. I would hope they would say, "he is a caring, thoughtful man." That's it -- my "manliness" is defined by my actions and behavior, not by the costume I wear or trying to be someone I am not.

It took a long time for me to learn that. And it also took a long time for me to learn that one can be a Man -- and be gay. One can carry himself in a masculine manner -- and be gay. To me, the two are not related.

Life is short: know yourself and be yourself.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Is the Alpha-Male a Real Person?

This is another guest blog post from a friend whose experience and background is similar to my own. The photos of the boots shown in the post below are from my friend's collection.

By: the Only Booted Man in Town

In a previous guest blog, I talked about why I wear cowboy boots in a US state where doing so is an oddity. Not unheard of; just a rare occurrence. Here I delve into the correlation between boot-wearing and that scary thing called Masculinity.

Let me talk about my own personal story a bit before I jump into generalities. I grew up in a stable home. No dysfunction, or no more dysfunction than is found in typical families. I had a happy childhood. But I was a loner for the most part. I did have friends, but a lot of times, when I got a good friend they moved away. Or they started playing with other kids. I was bullied in elementary school (sound familiar?) because I wasn't that typical boy and didn't do typical boy things, and wasn't good at sports. Picked last on the team, beamed by the ball at dodgeball -- you name it, it happened to me. I was a crybaby -- don't know why I did, but the waterworks opened uncontrollably without warning and oftentimes for no great reason. And the things I where I excelled were things that weren't manly back in the 1970s, like cooking and baking.

I longed to be a guy and to be good at guy things.

As the years went by, I did find my niche among other kids. I stopped dressing like a nerd and had friends. We weren't the most popular kids at school, but I held my own and didn't get picked on any more except by one or two bozos. I learned to play the bagpipes in my 20s, and bonded with a pretty wild bunch of guys -- it takes a lot of balls to wear a kilt in public, and don't mess with a group of rowdy pipers. We carry knives. I learned to weave and work with textiles -- and felt guilty that those things that I liked to do weren't manly enough. It took years before I realized that weaving is okay, and that most professional weavers were men.

I turned out okay. I got married and have two sons. I teach cooking classes at a living history museum where I work. Those classes, filled to capacity, are for boys only. I still can't ride a bike or throw a baseball. But I am starting to realize that that is okay too. Yet, still, there is that part of me still searching for a masculine identity that escaped me as a child. And I don't want my kids to go through what I went through.

How do boots reflect my struggle with Masculinity? When I was younger, I fell in love with boots because of their rough manliness. I remember finding a pair of my dad's rubber boots in the basement one day when I was about 5 and putting them on, and suddenly feeling more manly. I have talked about getting my first pair of cowboy boots in a previous guest blog. When I put them on, I felt more manly too.

And now I wear cowboy boots all the time. I admit that I wear them in part because they make me feel manly and powerful. Like a cowboy. Silly, well, yes, but so be it. But I have come to realize that it is okay to wear boots because they make me feel good. It took a lot of inner struggle to come to this realization. The questions kept popping up in my head: am I being TOO male? Don't only gay guys wear boots? And if a guy looks at my boots in "that way," won't it bother me? All those questions come up in my mind from time to time. The answer is no, gentle reader, to all of the above.

Maybe this whole tale hits a nerve with some of you. Maybe not. But I think we all try as men to be the best men that we can be, regardless of sexuality or whatever. We all struggle with that ideal picture of the great testoterone-filled Alpha Male that we wish we were. Society's latest penchant for male-bashing doesn't help, either.

As I get older, I realize that I am who I am, and will be who I will be. I have started to understand that that testosterone-laden, cigar-chomping, booted leather-clad Alpha Male never was a real person, and only serves to cause us problems when we pretend he IS real.

It isn't bad to wear boots or leather or whatever if it makes you more in touch with Masculinity. But don't let that dreamed-up image overcome reality.

So, we press on.

Be who you are, and be proud of who you are.

Something to ponder in your own struggles in this thing called life...

Note from BHD: thanks again to my friend for sharing great insights and sharing some more photos of his great boot collection. Return to this blog tomorrow for my thoughts on this matter.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dress of the Day

Being the self-assured, confident, "leatherdude" that I am, I thought I'd show my loyal blog readers what my "dress of the day" was on Tuesday. Here I am, in my long-sleeved leather shirt, biker vest, side-laced leather jeans, and a pair of Wesco boots. Okay, for this photo, I'm wearing a Muir Cap and shades, but didn't have the cap or sunglasses on as I went about my day.

The day? Began early at the usual 4am time by getting up to bake not one but two birthday cakes for two senior pals. While the cakes were baking, I prepared lunch for my partner and saw him off to work. I began my work day by answering email for about an hour. When the cakes were done, cooled, and iced, I drove over to my pals' homes at 7am. (No, I wasn't on my Harley -- it was raining!) These pals are early risers, so I appeared at each of their doors, singing a song and giving each one her cake. Warm smiles and hugs started my day off right!

I returned home and got to work. I work from home most days. I left to go to lunch with a colleague and discuss some pressing issues. Again, I drove my truck because it was still raining. But there I was, in full leather. No.big.deal. (Ball cap, though, not a Muir. I did take a step back from the "full leatherman" depiction).

I stopped at the grocery store on my way home to get some things that we needed at home, plus a few items for a neighbor. I dropped off the neighbor's groceries and she invited me in for some cookies (she called it "coffee" but she knows that I don't drink the stuff, so I restrained myself, ate one cookie, and had some water.) Then I went back home because my work day was not over by a long-shot!

I worked and worked some more. Many telephone calls and emails and writing and reviewing and such. Keeps me hopping.

My partner came home, and I prepared our dinner, as usual. I always prepare a home-cooked meal. This time it was home-made ravioli, salad, and a sliver of cake. Milk for me, juice for my partner. (We don't drink wine or alcohol.)

After dinner, I attended a meeting at a county office building. No change in clothing (or even boots for that matter; these Wescos are comfy.) Ball cap again.

Came home, chatted with my partner about the shenanigans that went on at the meeting. I am sooooo glad I'm not chairing those sessions any more. It's nice to be the "emeritus" past President and not have to negotiate the results. My mentee who was elected last year to my former position did splendidly, and has a lot more patience than I do.

Off to bed by 9, as usual. That's when I finally pulled off the boots, carefully hung up the leather, and crawled into bed to snuggle with my hunk, and slept soundly.

I went into all of these details to describe that I really do wear leather regularly, in public, and not only when I ride my Harley. No.big.deal. My Harley can be used as a side-story for why I have the gear, but the leather-wearing for me is commonplace, comfortable, and appropriate for the coolish, wet weather we have been having lately.

If you wondered -- nope, nobody said a thing about the leather. Not at my senior pals' homes, not at lunch, not at the grocery store, not at the neighbor's, not at the meeting. There were people in all these places who do not know me, yet none said a thing. If you think someone might make a snide remark, think again. It really doesn't happen and the concern is more in your mind than anywhere else.

Life is short: get over your hang-ups about wearing leather in public and get a return on your investment! Wear it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Leather Pants: Inside or Outside Boots

Search engines drive interesting results to this blog and to my website.  Recently, someone from Sacramento, California, searched a question, "Do leather pants go inside the boots or on the outside?"

Answer:  yes.

I am not being flip.  Well, yes I am but let me explain.

The choice to wear leather pants inside or outside boots depends on two things:

1. The look that you want to have.
2. The thickness of the leather.

I'll tackle this in reverse, because ultimately whether it is possible to wear leather pants (jeans, breeches) inside tall boots depends a great deal on the thickness of the leather from which the garment is made.

If you have very thick leather pants, then stuffing all that leather inside tall boots will likely cause it to bulge or bunch up at the knees and look dorky. You just can't get it all in there. The calf circumference of the boots you choose to wear (sometimes called "calf width") has a lot to do with that, too. If the boots fit you tightly, there will not be enough room for leather, particularly thick leather, to fit over your lower leg and allow you to pull the boots on so you end up with a smooth appearance of where the leather pants fit into the boots.

Ultimately, that's what you want: smooth, clean lines of leather meeting leather. This is what I referred to above by "the look that you want to have."

Wearing leather isn't rocket science. If the pants fit into boots smoothly, and that is the look that you are going for, then wear them that way.

Leather pants made as breeches are specifically made to be worn inside tall boots. Breeches become more narrow at the ankle, and usually have a closure like a zipper to fit them closely at the ankle. The tapering leather and closing holds the breeches down inside boots.

If you have leather pants or jeans with a regular opening at the bottom (that is, about 16-1/2" to 17" around), and if you want to wear them inside tall boots, then you have to wrap the leather at the bottom of the leg carefully around the ankle. Most guys pull socks up over the leather at the ankles to hold it wrapped there. Essentially, a sock wrapped around the leather serves a similar purpose as tapered legs with zipper closures -- it forms a way to hold the leather down smoothly so boots fit over the legs neatly.

If, however, the leather pants are long (that is, come down to your foot) and the leather is thick, you probably can't do that. You end up with a 1" to 3" mass of leather bunched up at the ankle. When you pull boots on, the extra leather presses against the foot, and may cause some pain.

A trick that I learned when I want to wear tall boots over leather pants is to pull the pants on, but leave them open at the waist while wrapping the leather at the ankle, pulling the sock over it, and smoothing it out. Then I will pull on my boots, stand up, and then pull up my pants, tuck in my shirt, close the fly, button or snap the pants at the waist, put on and close my belt.

I know this is not the usual way that men pull on their pants -- they put them on, close them up and tighten the belt, then they put on their boots. However, if you do it the way that I described, when you pull your pants up after pulling your boots on, the leather will smooth out at the knee and won't bunch up. The result is a cleaner, smoother appearance, which is ultimately what you want.

Now, to explore the searched question further: DO leather pants go inside or outside boots, with my answer being, "yes," not only does it matter what kind of leather pants you have and how thick the leather is, but it also depends on your confidence and self-perception. If you are afraid of what other people may say, call you "gay" or make jokes like, "playing cop today, are ya?" -- then you either need to develop more confidence and be prepared to respond to comments like that with a well-rehearsed reply, like: "yeah, aren't the pants and boots cool?" or "I like how they look" or "you know I'm not a cop, but I like the appearance" and just chill out.

If however, you are unable to develop that confidence level or are truly afraid of what other people may say, then put the leather and boots away, and reduce yourself to wearing jeans and sneakers and call it a day (but by all means, do not ride a motorcycle in sneakers!)

Life is short: wear leather!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Back to My Blog

I have enjoyed having guests post things on this blog for the past several days.  I expected three of them, and the one from my local Community Hero was not expected, but appreciated.

Now, back to my blog. Content: hmmm, what to blog about.

Things on the gay scene are typical and moribundly boring. Same old stuff with no new news to reflect on. (At least from this monogamously-partnered gay guy's vantage point.)

Things on the "amusing google searches" still show up. I have captured a few which I will blog about in the future. It amazes me that the more technologically-advanced toys that people use (a lot of Android processors showing up), how absolutely awful their spelling and grammar is. It's not just short-hand text-speak. It's fundamental stuff like not knowing the difference between "wear" and "where" and things of that nature. I fear that the more texters use their gadgets, the grammar and spelling of our language continues to go into the toilet.

Nota bene: I was forwarded a resume to review by a colleague as we were looking for short-term professional technical help on a project. The resume was one page, and had 38 spelling, grammar, and other major gaffs in it. 38 of them! My colleague and I both decided to pitch the resume in the electronic trash. If the person can't write, he should at least have had someone proofread his resume before submitting it. Embarrassing!

I sat in on two interviews last week, observing and taking notes. One person actually answered his cell phone during the interview to take a personal call. Another kept fidgeting. We realized that she was texting under the table. Needless to say, these characters didn't make the final cut.

As far as boot-oriented matters are concerned: I remain happily booted. The weather is warming, so I am changing boots more often, several times each day. When I hop on my Harley, I wear boots with solid tread, not smooth leather soles. I had to dress up for those interviews last week, so I wore good-looking, polished cowboy boots. Over the weekend, my partner and I did a lot of work on our house, including building a memory garden in honor of my aunt who passed away. I wore Timberland work boots and my newly-acquired Air Force tactical boots for that.

Which reminds me of a sorry web posting that I saw over the last weekend. Some guy wrote on a public board to ask if Timberland boots were acceptable for "white guys" to wear. He continued with his statement that it appeared to him that only black guys wore "Timbs." Oh, gimme a break. Timberland boots are work boots. Work boots like for doing labor -- construction, etc. I like my Timberland boots because they are comfortable and durable, and I don't care if they get dirty or messed up with garden mud. So be it -- that's what they're for!

One thing, though: my partner preferred that I wore my AF tactical boots instead of the Timberland boots because the AF boots have waffle soles, so mud and dirt don't get caked up in the lugs, they way it does on Timberland boots. After a hard day's back-breaking labor in digging that garden last Saturday, my Timberland boots had quite a bit of mud stuck in the soles. I had to hose them off with a jet stream, and even then, not all the dirt came out. So now I have created some outdoor boot storage just for gardening boots. Hell to pay if I wore those boots in the house and dropped dirt clods everywhere. (And my partner has a right to get upset when that happens, because he works hard at keeping the floors and carpets clean.)

On the leather front: yeah, I got a new leather shirt. It's really cool-looking. I bought it on sale while I was in San Francisco a few weeks ago. I'll describe it and show it to you in a future post on this blog.

Not much new news. I remain very busy with work, which is both fun and consuming. My partner remains busy planning our Spring gardening chores, which I vow to make as enjoyable as I can. This is something that my partner loves to do, and is a hobby that we both can share.

Oh, one thing: my twin brother chided me to "chill" on a recent post on this blog. Okay, bro'. I did. I took a few hours off on Sunday afternoon, cuddled up next to my partner, and we watched a streaming video full-length "tear-jerker" movie. Usually I am the one to break into tears over the littlest things in movies, but I caught my partner drying his eyes when it ended, as well.

Life is short: keep busy, and keep blogging!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Chill!

Guest blog post by BHD's twin brother, J

Okay, bro, I'm joining in, too, and then we will let you take your blog back tomorrow. (giggle.)

You say "life is short" then give a little quip about what the particular posts means. To me, life is short and you show us how to live. How to really live. Your exuberance is exhausting, man! I don't know how anyone can do all the things that you do and still get 8 hours of sleep each night, take care of your partner, your senior friends, your home, and still appear at a public hearing now and again... board meetings, community events, and so forth and so on.

Embracing life is a wonder, and I wonder each day about it. I wake each morning and ask, "what would my brother do?" ... then add three more things on my "to-do" list! (Smile.) Seriously, you have taught me how to make priorities to engage in things that I might not have done otherwise -- outside of work, of course!

Meanwhile, I have one strong recommendation for you: Chill! Go sit out in your backyard park with your partner, lie on the hammock, and just chill.

You were telling me the other day that you have picked up two more seniors in your cadre to care for. It's not the same as taking care of our beloved aunt, and I know you are trying to fill the hole left after her death. But you need to take care of you. Go ride your Harley, take a walk with your partner, read a book. But not all at once as you are wont to do! Chill!

Meanwhile, I'll embrace your joy and how you love to live, and share it with us.

Loving you from afar, ore e sempre. J.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fire Guy Responds

Not to be left out, my local Community Hero has written the following piece as a guest blog for me. Thanks, buddy. I value and appreciate your contributions to our community and its safety, and our long and enduring friendship.

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Call me "Fire Guy." I work in the Fire Department that serves the county where BHD lives. I've known BHD for a long time. We have worked together on a lot of community projects over the years -- mostly on senior citizen home safety projects.

He calls me his "Community Hero." Actually, BHD is MY Community Hero. This is what he has done for us:

1) He speaks up and attends a lot of public hearings when issues related to our Department are on the block. He continues to communicate behind the scenes with elected leaders in our county, never letting them forget what he (and our Department) consider to be important.

2) He advocates for legislation that helps residents of our County be safe -- from home fire sprinkler systems (like he has in his home) to fire drills in businesses to safety checks for kids' car seats -- he's always someone we can rely on to keep the focus on these important matters. I'm not allowed to "lobby," but since BHD knows all these people from his long service in our County, it's nothing for him to pick up the phone and get these people on the line, and passionately articulate the finer details so we get the support we need. I haven't seen anyone who serves purely as a caring citizen-volunteer do that better.

3) He voluntarily leads a "home fix-up for safety" effort twice a year. Over the past 12 years, his work has led to over 1,100 homes of seniors have improvements installed so they can live there more safely. He gets donations to provide better lighting, new smoke alarms, CO detectors, non-slip mats for the bath, grab-bars, and similar things for people. He has raised over $90,000 in donations to support this work, which is an amazing feat. (He claims he's not a fundraiser. Ha!)

BHD calls me his "community hero" because I go around and give fire safety talks, work with local fire departments to train them on how to do fire safety education with kids and the community, and keep our Facebook and Twitter feeds up-to-date with relevant information. He frequently comments on my Facebook posts to strengthen our Department's message.

To me, he's the true hero. He does this because, as he says, the paybacks are two things: knowing seniors and the community are more safe, and also for the smiles. He says that a smile is worth more than anything he could be paid in dollars.

I have read his blog and the posts over the last few days, and asked him if I could join in. So here I am, paying tribute to my Community Hero. Thanks for all you do!

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Closing note from BHD: I did not edit what is written above, though I wanted to take out some of the superlatives. Honestly, I am not all that. I am honored to work closely with a man who does so much in service for our county and our community. I think we make a great team. Thanks again, my friend. See you soon!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bloggetory Commentary

Some people have commented to me, privately by email, that they noticed that I had two guest blog posts from straight men in a row on this blog, owned and (mostly) written by a gay guy.

My point all along has been that I am really no different from anyone else, gay or straight. I am a man who cares for his partner, family, and community; works hard in a professional position and enjoys his work; likes to ride his Harley and regrets not having enough time to ride as much as he would like; wears leather garments that he has invested in over the years; and likes boots (and has a rather large collection.) Some guys collect stamps. I collect (and wear) boots.

I most sincerely appreciate the guest blog posts that I have received and posted on behalf of two men with whom I have communicated about boots, about motorcycling, about life, and about similar interests. I have also posted dozens of blog entries from my (straight) twin brother, as well as several guest posts from some other straight guys, here, here, here, and here. And not to leave anyone out, collaborated on a post with a gay man, here, and posted one from a gay cop, here. Just goes to show two things: 1) I look forward to receiving and posting guest blog features that relate to themes of this blog (boots, leather, gay/straight relationships, motorcycling, caring for others). Also 2) gay guys and straight guys aren't that different -- the only major difference is the sex of the partner we have. No.big.deal.

If you haven't read the comments on these recent blog posts, you should. The comments commend this blog for not going into the gutter with porn-type writing, images, and such. I keep this blog G-rated for a reason. It is a public blog. If you want that kind of stuff, you know where to find it. The internet is full of it.

What my partner and I do behind closed doors is our business -- sorta like what my siblings do with their opposite-sex spouses is their business, respectively. We are adults in monogamous relationships. That's it; 'nuf said.

We all can get along just fine in this world where we have common ground. We really aren't all that different, but it IS the differences that we each have that makes life interesting. Gosh, life would be awfully boring if we were all the same.

Life is short: enjoy solid relationships with good people. Sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Motor Officer's Story

This is a guest blog post by a motorcycle police officer who works in a county sheriff's office in a U.S. southern state. He wrote to me two years ago to ask some questions, and then noticed my "writer's block" post a few days ago, and wrote to me again. He contributed the following post to appear on this blog.

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My name is ... well ... it doesn't matter. Call me Officer X. I have been serving the citizens of my community for ten years, and have been riding a motor for the past seven. It's not easy work. Lots of hostility sometimes when I write a cite, but as an officer whose blog both BHD and I follow says, "if you got stopped, you deserve it."

I found BHD's website when I was searching for information on why my Dehner boots hurt my ankles when I wore them. I discovered -- after the fact, of course -- that Dehner boots need to be broken in manually by bending them at the ankle to get a straight crease BEFORE putting them on. I found that out on BHD's website and his blog.

I asked him some questions a few years ago, and appreciated the informative and cordial response. I haven't written to him since ... until the other day ... but have been following his blog since I found it.

I have a wife, three kids, a dog, and another child on the way. It's fun being a father. It is also interesting to serve as a motor officer. But you can find out about that in other places on the web, on blogs, and such. What I'm saying is that I am a straight guy; yet, I find BHD's blog informative, interesting, eye-opening sometimes, and helps me understand what a life is like being a gay man in a straight environment. There were a lot of things that I wasn't aware of. I think his blog has helped me serve the citizens where I live, gay or straight.

BHD asked me to answer some questions. Here goes:

1. What do you think about the boots and uniform?

I like to wear a uniform. Sharp, clean, pressed, with shined boots. Comes from my background in the military. I get perturbed when I see fellow motor officers with dirty, crappy boots. It makes them look like they don't care about their appearance. Otherwise, I don't think about it very much. It's what I wear. The boots are a requirement. I like to wear them, but when I get home, the boots come off, get cleaned and shined, and then I put my sneakers on and go play with the kiddos.

2. How many pairs of boots do you have?

I have 3 pairs of motorboots. I get a new pair every year (except this year because of budget cutbacks). I wear older boots when I am on traffic duty, especially in bad weather and when I am stuck in a cruiser instead of on my motor. I wear my newest boots when I have escort duty or in court. I don't own any other boots. (Sorry, BHD, I don't wear boots off the job.)

3. What do you do with your old boots?

Throw them away. By the time I toss them out, they're trashed. While BHD has told me that there would be a market for "cop worn boots" ... I'm not into that, and I don't want to deal with ebay or having strangers contact me about my boots. No way.

4. What manufacturer of boots do you prefer?

I like Dehner boots, but as BHD said, Dehner boots get damaged easily. I ride a Harley and there are times when the bike's exhaust pipes have melted the side of the right boot. Never happens to the left. My Department will buy regular Dehners for me. I have also worn Chippewa motorboots. They're fine, but the leather seems to be thinner and they wrinkle and sag at the ankles. I don't like that. My Department doesn't allow engineer boots, so I don't have any of those chippewa high shine boots that BHD has.

5. Do you ride a personal motorcycle?

I had one, then the kids came along and my wife "suggested" that I get rid of it. I wasn't riding it very much, so I sold it. Other officers in my unit have personal bikes. I seem to be carting the kids around in the minivan a lot these days, anyway. No time to ride when I'm not on duty.

6. Last question: you said that you learned something from reading my blog. What did you learn?

Lots of things... I guess first of all, not all gay men are prissy. No really, that's what I thought for a long time. I'm being honest. Seriously, though, I learned that there is embedded discrimination in the law. I am a man of the law, and enforce it. The laws I enforce are not about gay things, but being a servant of the law, I have learned that some laws force some people to have to deal with things that hurt them. That bothers me. Like BHD can't get his partner's health insurance coverage like my wife can. BHD's partner may have an inheritance tax if he outlives him, where my wife automatically gets the house and our assets tax-free if I die before she does. Things like that. It's not fair. I'm all about fairness.

Another thing that I learned is that people are people and everyone is different. I knew that, of course, all along, but I had some misconceptions and held stereotypes about gay men. Like many people, I called them "gays" until I realized the term is insulting. BHD has done well to explain how labeling hurts.

I didn't know any gay people and didn't know much about them. Then I found out that two guys in our Department are gay. They act like BHD does -- just regular guys. I had thought that if we had any gay cops, they would wash out during training or say or do things that would be noticeably ... well ... "gay." I learned how to look past the stereotypes and look at people for who they are, not for behaviors I might have been told (incorrectly) to expect from gay men. And my fellow cops who are gay will have my back and I'll have theirs -- first they are trained officers. Being gay has nothing to do with it. (I have had to sit some of my fellow officers down and explain that.)

Through this blog, I learned that the lifestyle isn't about being gay. BHD's lifestyle is being a decent, honest, hard-working, and caring man. Someone I'd like to have as a neighbor. So to sum up, I learned that there isn't a "gay lifestyle" as others have said. This newer understanding about people (gay or straight, black or white or whatever) got me appointed to a special Task Force in our County that draws together reps from county agencies with reps of various groups so we can understand each other better and suggest policy changes. (You didn't know that, did you BHD?) I enjoy it.

Thanks BHD for the information that you provide, and for the dialogue.

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Closing note from BHD: thank you, Officer X, for this great blog post and for answering my questions publicly. You embarrassed me a little bit, but thanks for the compliment on my character. I'd like to have you as a neighbor, too. Congratulations on your appointment to the community Task Force. Your attitude is spot on for this assignment. Ride safe, and thank YOU very much for your service.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Booted Man in an Unbooted State

This is a guest blog post written by a man with whom I have been exchanging email for a while. He has written to me about some of the posts on this blog which he told me have been both informative and some have been amusing (like my "amusing google search" posts that appear from time to time.) He's a teacher and enjoys wearing boots, but in a U.S. state where few men wear cowboy boots on a regular basis. The photos with this post are pictures of some of the boots in his personal collection. Here's his story.

By: The Only Booted Man in Town

I am a nonconformist by nature. I hate doing what other people do, and despise doing things because they are trendy. Maybe that’s part of why I wear cowboy boots in a part of the country where most guys don't.

But there's more to it than that. Let me get on the leather couch for a minute and relax, and let my mind wander to the past. Ahh, there we go.

Here is my bootman story.

When I was in high school, cowboy boots were cool for guys. We were just coming off the "Urban Cowboy" thing, and boots were all over the place. Except on my feet.

I was a nerd by nature, and not well-respected by my peers. I was shy as well, which didn't help things. Yet I lusted after a pair of boots. Don't know why. Just really liked them. Finally right before Christmas, my mom and I were in the mall browsing around. We passed a display of cowboy boots in one of the stores. Looking at them, I thought, "Man. Do I actually ask for a pair?" I did. That Christmas morning I found a pair of new boots under the tree. I was in love. I put them on and wouldn't take them off. Now as I look back, I think, man, those things were terrible. They were made by Fortina in Brazil, tan, with buck stitching on the side. They had two-inch stacked heels, and really were not that great to walk in, but I loved them nonetheless. I wore and wore those things. I still have them and occasionally still do wear them. Did I become the most popular guy in school? No. But girls still did notice them, which is more than what had happened to me before. I kind of liked being a couple of inches taller (once I learned how to walk in them.)

Other trends happened. Boots were replaced by Jazz Oxfords (ick), and my beloved pair of cowboy boots sat in the closet. But I couldn't get rid of them. So I kept them. High school turned in to college and grad school. Marriage and two sons happened. And yet those boots sat in the closet. My wife even asked me once, "How come you never wear your kickers?"

Then, out of the blue, one day, I put them on. And fell in love all over again. I was that couple of inches taller, walked a little prouder, felt a little more manly. Hmmm…. I wonder if there are any cowboy boots on ebay. Let me look here for a minute.

Alakazam. Boot Acquisition Disorder (BAD) hit really hard. Before I knew it, I owned over 35 pairs. Yes, a modest collection by bootman standards, but a lot for me. I have more shoes than my wife! I wore them every day at home and around town. At first I was self-conscious. Too gay, I thought. Too manly. Too whatever. I googled "are cowboy boots gay" and ended up a BHD's website (yes, BHD, I was one of "those guys" with the weird google questions). Slowly, but surely, I stopped being so self-conscious about them and wore them in different places, like the junior high school where I work. That took a lot of guts. At first there were a few comments, some by kids, some by male teachers, but they have stopped. (Where’s your horse, pardner?) Now boots are a bit of a trademark with me.

That's the story. But why? Why do I wear cowboy boots here in the North country where we are thousands of miles away from the South and the West?

Part of it is that they are masculine. I am a quiet man by nature, and definitely not a jock. Can't throw a football worth a damn. I'd rather work with textiles than power tools. Never even learned to ride a bike. But I love to ride horses. English, though. Not Western. Go figure.

Part of it is the fact that not everybody else around here wears them. I kid that I am the only booted man in town. And for the most part I am. I am also only one of two men in town with a handlebar mustache. But who cares?

I wear them because I like them. I wear them because they are comfortable. I wear them partly for the Marlboro man mystique. I wear them because my wife likes it when I wear them. I wear them too because they represent independence, individuality, and strength.

Most of all, I wear them because I am me.

So there, in a nutshell, is why I wear cowboy boots.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Writer's Block Broken

While this blog has been "on pause" for a couple days, I am happy to report that I have received not one, not two, but three guest blog posts, and two questions that are appropriate for blogging about.  One guest blog post is cowboy-boot related, another is from a motorcycle police officer, and another is from my twin brother, who contributes here frequently.  These posts will appear over the next week.

I sincerely appreciate that my appeal for ideas worked. I am always open to suggestions for things to write about, questions to answer, or guest blog posts from others who have something to day about wearing boots, leather, or other issues that I deal with on this blog from time to time. It's great when people contribute and help out.

If you have any questions, blog suggestions, or wish to contribute a guest blog post, write to me using this form or send me an email if you have it. (I do not publish my email address because nefarious spambots find it and then go crazy.)

Life is short: appreciate contributions!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pardon the Pause

Pardon the pause... I am plumb out of ideas for what to write about.  I haven't had much time for it. That darn thing called "work" gets in the way (LOL!), as well as some emergencies at home.  (Don't worry, my partner and I are well... just having to deal with the challenges that home ownership presents from time to time.)

Come back again... or give me some hints of something you would find interesting to read about on this blog. Thanks, have a nice day!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Riding to Nowhere

I had a very productive weekend doing some activities for my senior pals, then working on our home with my partner.

The weather finally got warm enough on Sunday afternoon to go for a long ride on my Harley. By noontime, it was 55°F (13°C), which was a bit cool, but with thick leather pants, a leather shirt and leather jacket, thick gloves, and tall Wesco boots, I felt fine.

I went on this ride with a buddy who knows the back roads of our home county exceptionally well, and is a very skilled rider. We rode and rode and rode ... to everywhere, and to nowhere. My friend took a turn on what he thought would be an interesting road... until it dead-ended at a farm with sheep and cows. We about died laughing.

It was great to get out, have some practice honing my riding skills which had become rusty after a long winter without much riding. I enjoyed riding with my friend who is such a great guy to ride with. He rides very safely, has a great sense of humor, and is a very nice person.

Pics follow. Enjoy! Riding season has begun!



Sunday, April 3, 2011

Out Riding

Today I finally will break out those biker boots and leathers and go for a ride with a friend.  Each of us wants to get out to enjoy a short ride, each on his own Harley. I haven't ridden much since last fall, and I need some gentle reintroduction and experience, as does my buddy.

When riding for the first "real ride" of the season to blow out the dust in the engine (so to speak) and to regain experience in motorcycle operation, I need to be by myself on my own bike, so I can practice starts, stops, and emergency maneuvers. I have a friend who would enjoy riding with me as a passenger, and I'm looking forward to having him back in the saddle with me -- but not today. I need some time to regain my comfort in motorcycle operation, and the weight of a passenger and concern for his safety would make the day's agenda (regaining my comfort-level) too complex.

I am not sure how far or how long we will be out -- but just getting out has been long overdue for this biker whose cabin fever is just a few degrees shy of the cabin fever that a buddy is experiencing in Vermont. :-)

Pardon the dust, enjoy the rumble, and feel the throttle give thrust to my bike. Finally... April... It.is.about.time!

LC, hit me up and let's plan a ride soon! Can't wait to see you and ride with you again as my passenger.

Life is short: RIDE!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tree Viewing - Not

This is the time of year when the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, are in full bloom.

In years past, whilst working in the city, I would take some time out to go view them. Now that my current job is in the suburbs, going into the city just to see the trees is not something that I want to do any more. I mean, they look the same each year, and as lovely as they are, this year we've decided to take a pass.

My partner works in the city, close to where the trees are in bloom. I asked him the other day if he took a walk to see them. He replied, "are you kidding?" When I probed further, he explained that the crowds of tourists were too much to bear. I understand, I've seen it.

I guess we can say, "been there, done that" and thus, we don't plan to make a trek to see the trees this year. They are lovely, adding to the grace and beauty of what makes Washington, DC, so special. I am glad the crowds are plentiful, as their tourist dollars help the local economy.

If you go to see them, enjoy. If you don't, I understand why.

Meanwhile, if you wish, you can see pictures that I have posted of past visits to see the cherry trees in bloom on my website, here.