Sunday, July 31, 2011

Brother-to-Brother

My twin brother arrived last night from Europe. It's great to have him home, and I look forward to spending a whole month with him as he works through his official retirement, having his wife join us in one week, and visiting family.

It is very hard to describe how a guy feels to have his soulmate since birth be back home, and having significant time to share together. Just having him around to speak with (in person) means the world to me. He's smart, funny, and graceful. He keeps me thinking, and always reminds me how fortunate we are to be so close, as only twins can be.

Granted, I'm a lucky guy because my partner is my soulmate, too. I love him with every ounce of my essence. Through thick and thin, we are on a journey that is special because we make it that way -- because we always do what's best for the other, because we love each other deeply.

My brother and my partner are two different men, but together they keep me grounded. They know "the real me" and love me anyway :-) I am glad that they truly like each other, and enjoy the other's company. They talk about things in which they share mutual interests (like sports and world finance) and I appreciate that they have their own special bond.

Some people have asked me, "what's it like to have a straight twin?" Or, conversely, "what's it like for him to have a gay twin?" You know, as adults, we don't identify the differences of sexual orientation. I don't fault him for being straight. I've long gotten over that. (touché!)

I will cherish the time we will share together through August. I will do everything I can to make my brother (and his wife) comfortable and happy during their visit. I am a very happy, content man -- because my brother is with me physically, as well as in heart.

By the way, some people have asked me what he is saying when he signs his blog comments "ore e sempre." That's simple. That's Italian for "now and always." Yes, like how we love each other: now and always.

Life is short: show those you love them, each and every day.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Whiny Sport Biker

I ride my Harley to work, and park it in a parking garage near my office. The parking garage has a designated area for motorcycle parking tucked into a corner where cars can't fit. Best part about it, the parking there is free for motorcycles. (I worked to support legislation that assures free motorcycle parking in our county's public parking garages).

I am the first to arrive each day, considering my early work hours. When I leave in the afternoon, I see four or five other bikes in the designated parking area.

On Thursday, when I was leaving, I found a printed note (with no name) left on the seat of my bike whining about how I parked and implying that others couldn't park there. Heck, there was plenty of room on either side of me. Even I, among the most inept at walking his bike in and out of a parking stall, could have parked a clone of my big Harley next to my bike.

Seriously? Hmmm...

Let's revert for a moment to Thursday morning upon my arrival. When I got there, another guy on a sport bike showed up a few minutes after I did, and tried to park next to me but couldn't get his bike where he wanted to go, so he moved over and parked down a ways. Plenty of room. When he dismounted, I asked him, "is my bike in your way?" To that he said, "yeah" and then literally ran away. Like I am some big bad-ass Harley dude who's going to pick a fight with him. Not me, but he wouldn't even give me a chance. He ran away. How cowardly. He couldn't even talk to me or have a reasonable conversation.

I think he was the anonymous whiny note-writer. I sense that he is among those who ride sport bikes who have opinions about those of us who ride Harleys. This belief that I have is grounded in the fact that I have complimented him several times on his bike's paint job and styling. It's interesting and attractive. Not once, however, has he said anything (good or bad) about my bike. And my bike ain't so bad-lookin'!

He probably thinks that Harley owners have a low opinion of sport bike riders. Personally, I don't like sport bikes because of the physical position it puts your body into while operating it -- which to me, appears to be very uncomfortable (all hunched over.) I prefer to sit straight up.

I have no ill-will toward operators of sport bikes, though I notice that most sport bike riders do not dress appropriately and seldom wear long pants and motorcycle boots.  And, unfortunately, the younger operators tend to be more likely to ride way above the speed limit and zig-zag around traffic (which gives all motorcyclists a bad rep)...but I digress.

Seriously, if you have a beef with someone, try talking to them about it and don't leave a whiny anonymous note. Kiddy stuff.

Mr. Whiny McWhinersen (borrowed from another blogger who I follow): get a life. Really. If you have something to say, talk to me in person. If you don't know who I am, you could leave a note and say, "call me on (number)" and leave your name. Don't hide behind an anonymous note and leave it on the seat of my bike. 'K?

Life is short: be a man.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cacophony of Munching

I have always liked the word, "cacophony." It is so descriptive! The dictionary definition is, "harsh discordance of sound; dissonance."

My mother-in-law is visiting this week. Sweet old lady, but she has absolutely no table manners at all. And I'm afraid that when my partner spends time with her, his table manners fly out the window. This is what drives me most crazy about my M-I-L: her total lack of table manners. Honestly, I have heard pigs at a trough sound less noisy when eating.

Oh well, another visit in the books. We survived.

Thankfully, as you read this, my partner is taking his Mom back to her home in da 'burgh. I look forward to a peaceful weekend. I'm afraid, though, when my partner returns on Sunday, I will have to retrain table manners. Oh well, this happens every year. I'm not surprised.

Life is short: eat with utensils and chew with your mouth closed. Please!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

You Must Be With... the Fam

My sister M was involved in a very bad automobile crash on Tuesday afternoon, when some idiot didn't stop at a cross-street and t-boned her car as she was driving. Fortunately, she has a car with many airbags, all of which were deployed.

She was rushed by ambulance to the closest hospital, which is near where I live. The family "communications vine" lit up. That is, I received several email messages and two phone calls. All we knew was that she was involved in a very bad crash and that she was rushed to the hospital. One can't help but fear the worst.

I found out about it just about the time I was leaving work. I rode my Harley as fast (yet safely) as I could to the hospital. When I arrived, I had that anxious look on my face, that hospital staff know means, "where's my family in the emergency room?" Funny, though, the desk attendant said, "you must be with (my sister's name) ... lots of your family are here already" and she pointed to the waiting room. (LOL! yep, our family is known to show up in numbers when one of us is rushed to the hospital. They all know us.)

I saw my sister's husband, three of her children, five grandchildren, and two more of my siblings in the waiting room. Within the hour, 12 more of the family showed up. The hospital staff was getting a bit anxious because so many of us were there. I must admit, we were a bit noisy. A hospital staffer kept coming in about every five minutes to say, "now, only immediate family can be with her. You all can't go see her." I really think they were afraid that we were going to storm the room where my sister was being treated.

We know the rules... we waited. Her husband went to my sister's treatment room when they allowed the first visitor, and then reported to us about ten minutes later how she was: bruised and battered, but no life-threatening injuries. We were relieved. But to be sure, the docs had to take some more x-rays and tests to make sure there were no internal injuries or broken bones.

The hospital staff let us each have a short visit on a rotating basis (one out, one in). One of us at a time were allowed to go see her and spend five minutes, then come out and let the next person go see her. We kept this family visit rotation going on until she was released. (Actually, I left by 8:30pm, since I had to be in bed by 9pm, and I knew that my sister would be okay. I was informed via email that she was released about 11pm.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I knew that my partner would be worried if I did not arrive home when expected. It took me a while, but I finally reached him and told him that I wouldn't be home for dinner and did not know when I would get home, but I was okay. He was concerned about my sister, and relieved to know that my delay had nothing to do with a motorcycle crash in which I may have been involved (he always worries about me when he knows I'm riding my Harley.)

When it was my time to see my sister, I held her hand, told her that I loved her, then talked about what she has done that I appreciate so much. From the little things like making me food that I can eat (that is, is compatible with my chronic health condition) at the family dinners, to the big things like helping to educate my Mom that my being gay wasn't the end of the world. She helped my Mom learn about homosexuality and how to love a gay son. She is, and always has been, my "big sister." (Yes, I have six more sisters and I love each of them dearly; each one is special to me in her own way).

I am glad that my sister will be okay. I am also glad that -- each and every time I see my family -- I always make sure that when I am leaving that I stop and say to each one, "I love you." Honestly, you never know when something may happen that may take them away from you. These three powerful words mean so much.

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Considering Blogging?

Blogging has become a medium in which many people share their thoughts, opinions, ideas, and information about their interests. I started blogging three and a half years ago, and have learned a thing or two.

I have written 25 suggestions about blogging, and whether you haven't started to write a blog yet, or already have one, these ideas may be helpful to you.

However, in order to comply with Suggestion #3, all you will see on this page are the main headers. Much more detail, in a printable form, are here at this link (which complies with Suggestion #9.)

Take these suggestions for what you will -- my thoughts and ideas, not official direction.



1. Choose a stable blogging platform and stick with it.

2. Know that once a blog is around a while, most visitors will find it via an internet search engine.

3. Limit the length of what you write to what can be read in 30 seconds or so, and if you have more content to write, divide it into parts and publish over several posts.

4. Make it readable.

5. Use images on a blog post where possible.

6. Use visual contrast.

7. Don't get crazy with changing font size, use bold face, or italics too much.

8. Avoid using an underline in a blog post.

9. Use links in blog posts to provide background, references, citations, or to give readers a link to find more detailed information if they want it.

10. Set commenting to be moderated, not automatic.

11: Allow anonymous commenters within your blog comment policy (see below).

12. From the get-go, establish a blog commenting policy.

13. Follow a reliable and regular posting schedule.

14. Write when you think of it.

15. Have some friends on whom you can rely read certain potential blog pieces for you in advance to provide you suggestions on how to improve it.

16. Use good grammar, spelling, punctuation, and choose the right words for what you wish to say.

17. Give up on feeling you have ownership. You don't.

18. Post images you own or are clearly in the public domain.

19. Remember that once it's out there, it's out there.

20. Create a free account on statcounter.com and embed the code in your blog.

21. Create an interesting, personal image header image, not just words.

22. Remember that some readers are color-blind or color-ignorant.

23. A positive attitude is important.

24. Don't be a quitter.

25: Finally: Have fun as a writer!

Much more detail on these suggestions are on this page of my website in printable form.

Life is short: have fun blogging!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Great Uncle-ing

Yesterday, BHD's alter ego became a Great Uncle to twin boys. Makes #39 and 40 of "the greats" in the family (that is, children of BHD's siblings' children). His niece, the Mom, is doing fine, and her husband -- as usual -- showed pictures of the boys on Facebook. Amazing how Facebook has replaced all other forms of communication about the birth of children.

Honestly, BHD's alter ego wouldn't know who's who and born to whom in his humongous family if it weren't for that social media site. He kinda has a love-hate relationship with it, but it does keep him well informed about what his family, friends, and professional colleagues are doing.

"BHD" is not on Facebook. BHD's alter-ego, the guy on Facebook, does not "friend" people who he does not know. He uses it strictly to keep up with family, neighbors, motorcycle riding buddies, and colleagues from his profession around the world. This is another way that he strives to keep himself in different worlds. Blog here, Facebook there... LOL! (It is weird talking about myself in the third person! LOL!)

BHD's alter ego plans to visit the newest additions to the family this coming weekend. He is thrilled -- more twin boys in the family! BHD and his twin, J, can share some of our experience which may help their Mom and Dad understand how to be good parents to fraternal twins.

Woo-hoo! both BHD's alter ego and I are one very happy Great Uncle! (J is too, but this is confusing enough!)

Life is short: love your family!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lifestyle of the Gay Guy

Another internet search for "lifestyle of the gay guy" landed a visitor on this blog -- to my earlier post titled, Gay "Lifestyle" vs. Sexual Orientation. That post laid it all out fairly well, and does not require repeating, so read it if you have not done so.

I just want to re-iterate that there is a huge difference between a "lifestyle" and being gay (homosexual, same-sex sexual orientation -- whatever you want to call it.)

As every man is different, every gay man is different. I live a lifestyle of steadiness. I work for a living in a professional position; I care for my partner, family, and friends in various ways; I lead and participate in civic groups and activities for the betterment of the community where I live; I ride a Harley for fun as well as transportation; I am financially frugal (some may even call me "cheap") and do not owe any debt; I wear boots and not shoes -- and never wear sandals; I wear leather because I like it (though not in summer heat).

My partner and I are probably like many other gay couples, but because gay men like us usually don't have blogs or websites, there isn't much information about regular gay guys like us. Usually, guys like us are fairly quiet, and live a respectable life like any other couple -- gay or straight.

There are other gay men whose actions and behaviors are more visible on the Internet, and thus give other people false impressions that all gay men live a lifestyle of debauchery. Impressions abound of gay guys flitting around from this hot restaurant to that new dance venue to the gay event in such-and-such a place. Yes, some gay guys do that. Some don't. The lifestyle one chooses to lead is his choice.

We all know straight guys who do things that are problematic -- like not being able to hold a job, have a stable relationship, engage in unlawful activities, or are so overextended financially that they are barely avoiding homelessness. Same thing applies to gay guys. Some are stable and contribute to their niche of society, and some are not.

These are all lifestyle issues -- how one chooses to live. That has nothing to do with being gay or not. Seriously.

I do realize that my "lifestyle" in choosing to eat all of our meals at home, assiduously avoiding getting a smart phone, not traveling anywhere for vacation, and pretty much being a "home-body" is uncommon -- but there are straight "home bodies" too. These decisions I have made which form the basis of my lifestyle have nothing to do with my sexual orientation.

So back to the topic -- what is the lifestyle of a gay guy? Hmmm... look around. Ask yourself "what is my lifestyle?" and you will have your answer. If you're straight, there are gay guys who live pretty much like you do. If you are gay, there are straight guys who live like you do, too. No differences.

Life is short: don't let stereotypes and media hype cause you to be misinformed and use woefully inaccurate language.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

How to Pull Off the Cowboy Look for Men

My website has "made it" LOL!  I just discovered that the "eHow Style" website article by the title, "How to Pull Off a Cowboy Look for Men" used my Cowboy Boots and Jeans tutorial as a reference. That just cracks me up.

However, I can tell from all the internet searches that land visitors to that tutorial that a huge number of people look for that kind of information every.single.day.

Here's my take on this question.

First, if you're not a cowboy, then don't be a pretender. The old Urban Cowboy fad-trend is long over. (In fact, anyone under 40 probably doesn't know that I am referring to a movie that came out in 1980.)

Back on track... a lot of guys appreciate the relaxed, comfortable appearance of western wear. Jeans, t-shirt, ballcap, belt w/buckle, and cowboy boots... that's it. Simple.

Belt with belt buckle? Sure ... just don't wear one of those "plate" buckles that rodeo cowboys wear (at the rodeo). A simple 2" x 3" rectangular or oval belt buckle, that perhaps shows the initial of your last name or has an interesting inlay design ... that's enough. In my opinion, don't wear a buckle that advertises a brand of beer, boots, or cigarettes. That spells "dimestore cowboy" a mile away.

Stetson or Resistol cowboy hat? Really? You think cowboys wear 10-gallon hats regularly? Nope.... Perhaps for a semi-dressy occasion (as shown with a shirt and tie), or when actually riding a horse, attending a rodeo, or going to a stock show, you may see some guys wearing a traditional cowboy hat. Usually, when a cowboy hat is worn in warm weather, it is made of straw, because a straw hat is lighter and doesn't get hot. Felt hats are warmer, heavier, and are worn in cooler months.

Most guys into the western-wear look (because that's how they regularly dress) wear a ballcap. Yeah, a regular cap with a brim over the forehead, but not around the whole head. And don't be silly -- if you wear a ballcap, wear it with the brim facing forward, over your forehead -- don't wear it backwards. Again, guys who wear ballcaps backwards are fodder for ridicule because that's just not how that kind of hat is worn by adult men. And note: most guys wear a hat. The sun in the U.S. Midwest and West is brutal on the scalp! Wear a hat for your protection and keep the sun off your head so you don't fry your brains. Seriously. Hats help a lot in strong sunlight.

Boots? Well, there are a LOT of choices. Most guys wear plain leather cowboy boots, and occasionally exotic skins like ostrich, lizard, or python. Leather colors of black, brown, black cherry, or tan, and the boots have few accents or inlays. Usually you'll find rounded toes, but the more pointed toes are not unusual. Heel height is usually a roper heel (1-2cm) or a walking heel (3-4cm). Cowboys (and those into the style) do not wear heels higher than that.

I have to be honest, lots of guys in my (former) home state of Oklahoma wear sneakers more often than boots. But if you really want the cowboy look, you gotta wear boots. And definitely not sandals or shorts!

Jeans? Regular Wranglers look great -- or Levis, Carhartt, or Dickies -- but not the cheap-o jeans from Walmart (they may be more affordable, but aren't of good quality and often do not fit well.) Straight-leg regular blue denim jeans are most common. You don't really need "boot cut" jeans but you can get them if you want more of a flare of your jeans over boots. Don't get designer jeans, baggy, or low-rise jeans -- definitely not "in" for Western style.

Get your jeans long enough to touch the tops of your boots, and gently fold on top of the boot, with the bottom of the leg in the back coming to the top of the heel. When jeans gently fold on top of the boot when you are standing, this is called "stacking" or "stacked jeans." Don't get jeans longer than that, 'cause you'll trip, or shorter than that, 'cause it looks dorky.

And, guys, wear a belt. Nothing looks more ridiculous than seeing your underwear poking up around the back of your butt, or worse, your butt crack when you bend over. Have some dignity!

Tuck your jeans into your boots? Naaah... not really. I may do that for photos on my website, but when you look at guys who dress western on a regular basis, none of them wear pants or jeans tucked into their boots unless they are actually riding a horse or competing in a rodeo.

Shirt? As the referenced eHow-Style article says, a t-shirt is most common. While the article recommends a plain white t-shirt, I see lots of Western-style men wearing all sorts of t-shirts that have something printed on them. Your school, state, military branch of service, car or motorcycle brand, or supported charity -- that's all fine. A t-shirt that promotes drinking alcohol or has sexist or political statements on it is not a good idea. Nor are shirts that have various quotes (that shouldn't be repeated on a G-rated blog). They tend to reflect poorly on the wearer (and really aren't funny).

In cooler weather, a flannel or denim shirt is also a good choice. Many Western-style men wear shirts in all colors from blue to pink to red to yellow to green to purple. It really doesn't matter, despite what the eHow or design/style guys say (IMHO!) Just one thing about shirts: make sure it fits, and tuck it in. Nothing looks more silly than a really baggy shirt hanging over a beer belly. Even bigger guys with some girth look better with a shirt that fits well and is tucked in.

As I began this post -- many guys like the casual, comfortable style of western wear and like to "dress cowboy." That's fine, as long as you keep the look simple. It is easy to spot those who try too hard. You don't need to. A ballcap, t-shirt, belt with a buckle, blue jeans and boots do the trick. That's all you need.

Life is short: be comfortable in cowboy clothing.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Visitors

Oh goodie, some visitors have been here and more are coming! Loyal readers of this blog know that my reclusive partner hates having company stay with us, but there are a few exceptions.

Earlier this week, a cousin who I love dearly stayed two nights with us. Among the dozens of my first cousins, she is closest to me in age, and also the one with whom I fought like a sibling the entire time we were growing up. She lives in Florida, but came to DC for a meeting. I was tickled to have her stay with me two nights. Being a nurse by profession, she helped my partner understand some issues related to his brain tumor, and helped him be more comfortable and understanding about his situation.

I loved having her here, even so briefly. And despite how far apart we are in geography, our conversation picked up right where we left off, like no time had elapsed since we last saw each other earlier this year for a family funeral. Of course, we have ongoing and regular dialogue via Facebook, where she often leaves witty and humorous comments for me. Love ya lots, F!

Last night, I had an unexpected house guest. A senior pal who lives alone came to stay overnight because her air conditioning stopped working. There's no way that she could tolerate the heat. She did not want to stay in a hotel due to the cost. I insisted that she come stay with us. It was nice to have her here, especially since my partner had left to drive to Pittsburgh to pick up his Mom. I don't like to rattle around in our house all alone. (Plus, it was too damn hot to do anything, anyway!)

This afternoon (Saturday), my M-I-L (mother-in-law) arrives for her usual summer week-long haunting visit. I will do my best to make her feel welcome. I anticipate that, as usual, she will eat us out of house-and-home, but that's okay. I'm glad she likes my cooking. Unlike the last few summers, I will be working full-time at my (new) office on weekdays, so I will only see her when I get home from work and in the evenings. That's fine; my partner is taking vacation time to dote on her. Bless him; he is very dedicated to his Mom and I love him for how well he takes care of her every need.

One week from today, my twin brother will arrive. He has some meetings in DC, and will be officially retiring from 32 years of service to our country. His wife will arrive the week after that, and I expect they will stay with us for most of August. What a real treat to have my "little" bro and his wife with us for so long. I am very much looking forward to their visit.

In mid-August, my partner will have surgery to have that pesky non-cancerous tumor removed. We will be blessed to have family right here with us to assist with the care my partner will require as he recovers. I have not earned much vacation time yet in my new job, but I plan to take one week off from the date of my partner's surgery and for a week after that. But I am confident that he will be in good hands when I return to work, because my brother, soulmate, bestest friend, will be right here. (And my partner adores him as much as I do.)

No time for more blogging... gotta go clean house...

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

Friday, July 22, 2011

Straight Men and Gay Men, Part 3

This is the third (and last) in a series of blog posts about relationships between straight and gay men. See Is It Hard for Straight Men to Be Around Gay Men?" from July 20, and "Straight Men and Gay Men, Part 2" from July 21.

This is a guest blog piece from a straight friend who is sharing his thoughts about the issue of relationships between straight and gay men.

This guy has been a friend of mine since we met in first grade.


Dear (you),

I read your email and the post on that blog that you referred me to. I found that article mildly offensive at first, because I said to myself, "I'm not like that." But then I thought about it, and realized that indeed I am like that sometimes with gay people I don't know. I find myself creating more space between me and someone I know or think is gay, and I have found myself avoiding them (I don't go to the gay pride celebrations at work, for example.)

I realized that since I grew up in a strict Catholic environment, that my perceptions of what "gay" was were influenced by the Church, my family, and my friends. I know that I have felt uncomfortable around gay people, but did not realize why. I would not say that I felt digusted. That is a very strong word. But I agree that I never understood why a man would not enjoy intimate relationships with a woman. I also felt revolted (? too strong ... but highly uncomfortable) by two things: the mere thought of two men having sex with each other, and also how some gay people act -- frilly and flamboyant.

I know from knowing you for what, some 48 years?, that not all gay people are the same. You have remained the same, steady, strong friend I grew up with. You were there as an usher in our wedding, when our kids were born, and helped me finish our basement. Over my wife's objections, you taught our oldest son how to ride a motorcycle safely. You cut through the county red tape so that my twin daughters could do a significant service project and win their honors in the Girl Scouts. In so many ways, you have been closely entwined with our family, and we remain grateful and appreciative.

That made me think -- we have no aversion to you (as that blog post says.) Why? Because I knew you before you identified as being gay. I did not notice that you changed when you became more open about being gay, other than your self-confidence seemed to improve, and you became more relaxed and self-assured.

We have grown to admire and like your partner, too. While we don't see him that often, we know that he cares for you a lot and we can see how much you love him, and he loves you. Your strong bond of commitment is parallel to what my wife teaches through her work in the Church's Relationship Education program.

I also think that how I feel about you may be different from how I feel about other gay people because you act like a man. What I am saying is that I have never understood why some gay men act so flamey. You know what I mean. You have taught me that all gay people are not the same. I have to admit that I would be more distant if you behaved the way gay people come across on TV or on the news during those gay pride parades.

I remember one time that my older brother asked me about you and our relationship when he found out you were gay. I distinctly remember him asking me if I wouldn't be seeing you any more. I was put in the uncomfortable situation of defending our friendship. Then I thought about it, and told my brother that you're the same guy we always knew, and that he should change -- not you. He didn't say anything to me again.

Thank you for the chance to explain, and to comment. I have never written for a blog before -- or even read yours until this week. But I will always be your friend, and appreciate your friendship in return. See you next week at the crab feast!

T

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Straight Men and Gay Men, Part 2

This is a follow-up to my blog post from yesterday titled, "Is It Hard For Straight Men To Be Around Gay Men?"

The following is a guest blog piece. It was written by Kevin, a friend who frequently contributes to this blog. He is gay (so when he refers to "us," he is referring to gay men).

I appreciate having such an intelligent, thoughtful friend to bounce ideas like this off of. He always responds with well thought-out ideas. Tune in tomorrow for Part 3, written by a straight friend of mine with his perspective.

Kevin shares his insightful commentary with us:


I found the post you reference to be quite interesting. The author makes a good point as he is willing to address his fear. He correctly identifies the fear of what others will think as a primary motivation for homophobic behavior. It's also a fear of how he will be treated by those he now disagrees with.

Let's face it, many of us remained in the closet because of the fear of rejection. Where we risk rejection by choosing to live the lives we were intended to because that's the way we're wired, our straight allies risk rejection for choosing to say to their friends, family, and co-workers that they no longer believe in the same things in quite the same way.

As people we gravitate to those who make us feel comfortable and with whom we share common values and outlooks. I look to lessons learned during the civil rights struggles where sympathetic whites were sometimes subjected to even greater cruelties because they were seen as traitors. An even more on-point example is the reaction of some to Cuomo in New York in calling on the Catholic Church to deny him communion because of his support of same-sex marriage.

Sympathetic straights also come under scrutiny by both camps. The homophobes may question their sexuality, but the LGBT community will always view them as outsiders who truly don't understand us. Since "gay" has come to be far more inclusive than other differences, there's a pressure to accept all or nothing. Our own sense of identity as LGBT individuals vary widely as we strive to carve a niche for ourselves that incorporates this trait of sexuality but doesn't serve as our primary designation. However, sympathetic straights aren't always given this latitude. So we now have the fear of being judged because of an inability to accept the extreme as well as the conservative.

But those fears only scratch the surface since they deal with how to relate to others. I believe the true fear is that being exposed to that which makes us uncomfortable, forces us to examine what we believe and why we believe it.

As it relates to homosexuality, I believe the true issue lies in what we believe about men and women. We have a long way to go before men will view women as equals. The roles of husband and wife and attitudes about women are still fairly entrenched in the Victorian era. The man is dominant and the woman submissive. In those instances where dominant women existed, property laws were firmly in place to ensure male dominance.

For a straight man to physically distance himself from a gay man suggests that he views human interaction in terms of mating behavior. In his mind, when sexuality is introduced, the knowledge that another man is gay suggests that the man's only interest in him is sexually motivated. After all, his primary interest in interacting with women is based on this metric, so it stands to reason that the same applies to gay men in our relation to all other men. If he perceives himself as bigger and stronger than the gay man, he thinks of him as the woman. He views himself in the opposite light if the gay man is bigger and stronger. Either way he feels uncomfortable.

Some straight men profess to consider homosexuality wrong but have little problem with lesbianism when presented for their entertainment and control. The pornography industry has capitalized upon this for decades. Those same men have problems with gay men because those same rules of dominance and submissiveness don't readily apply yet they try to force the dynamic. One must be the woman and the other the man in the relationship.

Yet, when one looks at the top/bottom dynamic in some gay relationships, our society affords men with privilege that still forces one to look at the relationship as one of equals. Straight women may fall into a similar expectation of behavior. Those who offer the loudest protest to same-sex relationships seem to believe that somehow they lack something that only men can bring to the relationship. Talk of equal partnership is just talk at the end of the day. For these women, the Victorian sensibilities as they relate to men, women, sexuality, and sexual intercourse are what they seek.

I appreciate Kevin's insights, and hope you find his post and thoughts as intellectually interesting as I have.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 3 written by a straight friend of mine.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Is It Hard for Straight Men to Be Around Gay Men?

This is a bit of a reverse-take on a previous post on this blog where I opined about the difficulties of being a gay guy and socializing with (some) straight men.

I found an article on another blog titled, "Are All Straight Men Homophobic?" In that article, the author (who is straight) describes feelings and behaviors that straight guys have around gay people. He says:
  • "For the most part, when a gay man is in the presence of straight men it can be the most uncomfortable situation for the latter group."
  • "Straight men are so afraid of being perceived as gay that they act extra macho and get kind of nervous."
  • "...I don't want to make any kind of eye contact whatsoever [with a guy I think is gay]. My face screws up and my eyes trail down to the floor or off to the side. Anywhere but the direction of that individual. Uh uh, buddy, you’re not making googly eyes with me."
  • "I know I'm not alone, straight guys tense up all the time in the presence of a gay man. Why? It just makes us very uncomfortable for various reasons."
  • "I bet if a gay person were to walk up to a straight man and randomly pick lint off his collar that the straight guy would jump back like he saw a ghost. That, and probably be ready to fight. But would he have the same reaction if it were an attractive woman doing the exact same thing?"
  • "It's all about perception. It's like there are straight men who feel that just by being in the presence of a gay man that the gay will somehow rub off on them and make them look weak, soft or like a punk."
And from some comments on that blog post:
  • "Some of that fear or anger towards gay men may be some men's own personal anger with gay men being able to be so open and comfortable about their sexuality. If you look at our society, a gay woman is way more accepted than a gay man will ever be."
  • The LGBT Community would like to think that people are scared of them in attempt to shame people of their "cowardice". But the truth is people just flat out disagree with the lifestyle. [N.B.: He claims that he isn't afraid as he does not approve of the gay "lifestyle." Oh cripes, please review my previous post about the difference between sexual orientation and a Gay "Lifestyle". Many straight people just don't get it.]
  • .... Fear has nothing to do with the disgust some have in seeing something they do not value. .... [T]he truth of the matter, those who society deems as "homophobic" are in fact anti-gay." [N.B: so this commenter differentiates between being anti-gay and homophobic. Hmmm... interesting.]

I found this blog post enlightening, and it confirms a lot of behaviors that I see straight guys around me do -- they avoid eye contact, create an even larger physical personal space between them and me, and behave with even more macho mannerisms than I observe them behave around other guys who they know are straight. I had always thought that they were afraid of me -- and some of them seem to behave that way by backing off, being quiet, and totally avoiding any interaction with me whatsoever. Fear may be part of what drives this behavior. But it is also aversion -- aversion to being around something that they just do not like. At all. (Some may call it disgust.)

I can relate, in a way. I am disgusted when I am around some straight guys who use profanity in every-other-word that they utter; who make sexist comments regularly; or who oogle women overtly (undressing them with their eyes.) I am disgusted by that behavior and those remarks.

I learned (or shall I say, some of my thinking was reaffirmed) that there are some guys who are disgusted by the mere fact that I am gay. And it gets worse, sometimes, when they find out that I live in a same-sex relationship. To them, the mere thought that I might have sex with another man is disgusting -- and puzzling. They just don't understand why I would not want to have sexual pleasure with a woman.

As far as I am concerned, I have endured straight men being uncomfortable around me for most of my life, but I never really put a finger on the reasons for that behavior being caused by more than fear (homophobia). Now I have.

I am who I am, and am comfortable in my own skin and with my own sexuality. I don't talk about my sexuality as a "preference" -- it IS an orientation. I'm gay. So be it.

Some straight guys can deal with their own discomfort and minimize it. Some of these guys who have known me for a long time don't even think about the fact that I'm gay. We're tight, as buddies. None of my close (straight) buddies would flinch if I picked a piece of lint of his collar. But the (straight) guys who I see occasionally, such as in my motorcycle club, behave more like what was described in the reviewed blog post than my close friends do. They react with a combination of fear, aversion, and disgust.

Okay, I get it. But to the straight guys who behave this way -- know that your behavior is noticed. Sometimes the behavior of backing away, avoiding eye contact, and keeping a large physical distance between us can be taken very personally by a gay guy, and he gets hurt. I have to be honest, I used to feel hurt quite a bit by observing the "back away" reactions of straight guys when they figured out (or I told them) that I am gay.

I do not get hurt any more. I realize that some straight guys can't handle, or don't want to handle, the fact that I am gay. Some guys are insecure in their own manhood, like being associated with me can remove it from them. I also realize that some straight guys are anti-gay. More than dislike, they really hate the thought of anything involving a same-sex relationship more intimate than a handshake.

I get it. I truly get it. And in this case, the Serenity Prayer applies, "to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

And I continue to live as I always do: I care for my family and friends; I work hard for a living; I contribute to society through voluntarism; I lead groups and organizations; I ride a Harley with an organized group for fun. I am a confident, masculine man who happens to be gay. So be it. Getting to know me will not threaten your manhood and make you less straight, as it would not make me "less gay." We are who we are.

Tune in tomorrow for a guest blog contribution and follow-up to this piece by a good friend who has contributed a lot to this blog and whose thoughts on this matter are truly insightful.

Life is short: understand.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Riding

I enjoy riding my Harley, and being a member of a group that has many organized rides -- over 100 per year. I have the pleasure of leading some of those rides sometimes, as well as riding in a safety position in the back of the group (known as "sweep.") I wish I could ride with them more often; alas, my time is tight and since my partner cannot ride with me, I am often torn between being out riding vs. spending time with the man who means the world to me (and fulfilling his never-ending "honey-do" list! LOL!)

Here are some photos of me leading a ride last Saturday. I'm the guy up front in the first three pics. Last pic is of the bikes behind my friend who took the pictures. He has a camera mounted on his handle bars.





Riding a motorcycle with an organized group is fun. Being a leader in the group is enjoyable, too. The spirit is "ride and have fun." That's what it's all about. Doesn't matter if I'm gay, or that I am not the most skilled rider, or that I easily get lost. I am part of a group who share a common interest.

Life is short: ride and have fun!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Emerging Bootman in the Midst

On Saturday, I led an organized motorcycle ride. I enjoy doing that when I can; about once a month during riding season. I wrote about my concern about preparing for the ride in Saturday's blog post. I mentioned in yesterday's post that the ride went very well, despite trepidations. I'm no "map savant" as a good buddy is; he can ride on unfamiliar routes and never get lost. I am not as fortunate, and don't know why.

Anyway, the ride went very well. I didn't get lost and the two-dozen or so bikers who showed up truly seemed to enjoy it. We went in a direction and on roads that the group usually doesn't travel, so it made the ride more interesting for many.

We stopped along the way to stretch, and allow some of the bikes with smaller tanks to be refueled. I forget, having a six-gallon tank that I do not need to worry about running out of fuel on a rather short ride. But I know that is important to some of the guys with bikes that have smaller tanks. I also felt that we needed a break as the group needed to stretch, get something to drink, have a smoke, use the bathroom, etc. So we did.

At that stop, a younger dude came up to me and said, "those boots you have on are awesome! What are they? Where did you get them? They're cool!"

I have to admit, the last thing I was thinking of on the morning of that ride is what boots I selected to wear on that ride. Because the weather was moderate and actually a little cool when I started out, I selected my old, comfy, well-worn Wesco Boss engineer boots to wear. They feel great, and look good with jeans over them. Real, honest-to-goodness, tough biker boots.

This younger guy just couldn't get enough views of the boots, and wanted to know more. I sensed, though, that he was not ready for the full explanation of all the different varieties (and cost range) of tall engineer boots, so I kept it simple. I explained that the boots I had on were over 20 years old, and were made by Wesco. I added that new Wesco boots like that now cost in the range of over $500 at the 18" height. (I did refer him to Stompers Boots in case he were interested.)

He explained that his finances are on edge with the payment for his bike alone taking most of his earnings, and that he was still living with his parents because he can't afford to rent or buy a home for himself. (Still living with parents at age 32? Hmmm... my priorities would be different ... spent whatever money I had on a home, build up savings, then buy a Harley, but that's how I am. He seemed to be fine with his choices.)

So boots that cost over $500 were out of the question. He showed me his boots, which were, as usual, cheap Chinese-made Harley-branded harness boots. He seemed to be proud of them, so I didn't say anything about my opinion of their relatively low value.

Instead, I explained that a very good alternative to Wesco engineer boots that is more affordable and U.S.-made are Chippewa engineer boots. I have several pairs of Chip Engineers, and like them. Durable, comfortable, long-lasting and well-made, and less than half the cost of new Wesco Boss boots.

I explained that he can get a pair of steel-toe or non-steel toe Chippewa engineer boots from Stompers for less than $200, and even get free shipping.

Later, when I got home, I received an email thanking me for leading an "awesome" ride, and thanking me for talking to him about boots. He asked me again for the "kind of boots you recommended," and I answered him again with the information above. He replied with a genuine and appreciative thank-you. He said that he looked forward to riding with me again, perhaps in a new "awesome" pair of "real biker boots like you wear."

Happy to help.

Life is short: be an "awesome" biker in engineer boots!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Out Riding

Whoo-hoo! Two weekend days in a row, I'm out riding my Harley! Pardon the dust in the bloggetory, but I'm rollin' down the road looking for corn at a roadside stand... so many tassled corn stalks observed yesterday on my ride that went extremely well, I am now seeking a stand where I can buy some fresh corn for my partner to enjoy. (I can't eat it, but that's another story). Man, what a gorgeous weekend!

Actually, today marks the eighth day in a row I have ridden my bike, starting with last Sunday, and every weekday this past week to commute to work, then yesterday, and now today! I plan to continue the commuting pattern all of this coming week, too. I love summer... despite the heat, and provided storms happen at night when they occur, then I ride every.single.day. Who can beat that! Yippie!

See you tomorrow! I'm out ridin'!

Life is short: RIDE! (In long pants and boots! Leave the sneakers for the gym!)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Relaxing to Enjoy the Ride

I often include comments on this blog with suggestions to stop obsessing (such as whether you should wear boots or leather garments in public), to chill out (relax, stop worrying about stupid stuff), and enjoy the ride (smile, be happy, etc.)

I realized that I had not been following my own advice. Today (Saturday), I am leading a motorcycle ride. It's supposed to be a short, fun, just "get out and ride" kinda ride. No specific destination to go to. Just put your boots up on the highway pegs, lean back, set the throttle on cruise at a moderate speed, and enjoy the scenery of the Maryland byways through farmlands and small towns that have historical connections to the U.S. Civil War.

But I take things too seriously sometimes. (Some good friends call it "conscientious"). To prepare for this ride, I got out on my Harley last Sunday and began to ride, thinking that I would ride along and use the trip log on the GPS to track my ride, then save it, and use it for the "official" ride.

Well, no such luck. As I was riding along, I took a turn that led to another turn and before I knew it, I had doubled back almost to my origin. That is, I got lost on familiar roads. Heck, if I get lost on roads that I ride often, how in the heck am I going to lead a ride for a large group to places that are interesting, and have the ride take more than a half-hour and not go through rivers, fords, or involve mountain-climbing?

I had hoped that a buddy would be riding with me last week, but he couldn't make it. If I had a passenger, I might have pressed on. But it was exceptionally hot and I was tired and frustrated, so I gave up and rode back home. (Well, I took some pictures of my new All American 401 Firefighter Boots that I was breaking in that day for posting to my website, so the ride wasn't a complete loss.)

But that was all the time I had to attempt to pre-ride the ride. With our usual weekday routine -- we both work, I cook dinner, then my partner and I eat -- we usually have only a couple hours after dinner before we go to bed before 9pm (and I usually go to a meeting or two in the evenings during the week, to boot). No way I can find three hours after my work day ends to get out and ride.

So the anxiety was building. I was obsessing, worrying, and wondering just how I was going to lead a ride if I didn't know where I was going to go?

I got onto the computer and began trying to plan a ride. I found the motor company's on-line ride planner. It worked well, and I thought I figured out a really nice ride. But then I couldn't save it, or print it out. All the effort I put into it was for naught -- all due to some computer problem. This situation was making me even more stressed. (Turns out, the ride planning tool is not compatible with Win7. Who knew?)

The internal fret-meter continued. Self-pressure was mounting. Then a thoughtful, caring, special sister just happened to call me on Thursday afternoon for a routine catch-up chat. She noticed some tension in my voice, and thought my concern was about my partner's health condition. I explained that as of now, he's okay and we're in a waiting pattern, so that wasn't the reason I was stressed. Then I told her about my concern about the ride planning.

After she lectured me about getting my priorities straight (i.e., it is correct to be worried about my partner's health; it is not right to be worried about a simple 3-hour motorcycle ride), she helped me to refocus myself. She was absolutely right.

Friday morning, I approached the matter anew, with a more up-beat attitude. I found an old computer with Windows XP, and found that the ride planning tool worked fine on that one. I plotted the ride, printed it out, shared it with my sweep road captain, and followed it with Google Earth and Google Maps (satellite and street view.) It looks good... theoretically.

The attitude adjustment was critical. So what if we get out, ride, and make some wrong turns? As long as we don't end up in a river or on a roof of a building, we'll be okay. I have been on all the roads that I want to ride at one time or another, but not in this particular route. But that's okay... we'll try it, and if it works, that's great. If it doesn't, as long as we remain upright with the rubber side down and smiles on our faces, we'll be fine.

Life is short: don't sweat the small stuff.

Friday, July 15, 2011

How Much Can a Cobbler Stretch a Pair of Boots?

Another question entered into Google and landed here: "How much can a cobbler stretch a pair of boots?"

Good question. The answer to this question depends on what the boots are made of.

If boots are made of regular leather, then you need to know if the boots are lined with leather.

If boots are leather lined, a cobbler can usually stretch the shafts up to 3/8 inch (1cm) in additional overall circumference (which for those who are not math-inclined, is not the same as the diameter. Boot circumference is the distance around the inside of the boot shaft).

If the boots are not lined with leather, then the boot shaft can possibly be stretched even a little more, up to about 1/2 inch (1.3cm) if the cobbler takes his time and uses specialized equipment.

If the boot shaft is made from materials other than leather, like "Dehcord" (which is the synthetic product from which the shafts of stock Dehner boots are made), then it cannot be stretched. Attempting to stretch synthetic materials causes breaks in chemical bonds that form the product -- what results is cracking and visible breaks in the surface of the boot. It ruins it.

Boots that are made of leather but coated with a plastic top coat, like Chippewa Hi-Shine boots, Chippewa Trooper Boots, Intapol Patrol Boots, or All American Patrol Boots, also will develop surface cracks if they are stretched, so it is not recommended to try to have those boots stretched.

If you need the foot of the boot stretched, that is possible, too, with the right equipment. A cobbler has a device that can apply pressure from inside the boot's foot to stretch it. The amount of stretching that a cobbler can do for a pair of all-leather boots is about one width size wider (such as from a "D" to an "E".) However, no boot can be stretched longer, such as from a size 10 to a size 10.5.

How does one find a cobbler with the correct equipment to stretch boots? While the Yellow Pages (business telephone directory) is quickly dying, if you have one, you probably can find a listing for a cobbler in it. You can also use an internet search engine to find a cobbler on-line. Consider additional search terms of "shoe repair" or "luggage repair" as well. Most shoe and luggage repair shops have the equipment to stretch boots.

And for the do-it-yourselfers, there are various methods described on the internet about how to stretch boots. Some of the ideas work (more-or-less) and some do not. For more details on how to do it yourself, See this article on the Boots Wiki.

A word of advice to the DIY types: do NOT be fooled into buying "boot stretching liquid." This stuff is isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. No need to buy a product that has a label that proclaims magical results, when it actually is exactly the same stuff that you can find in any drug store for one-sixth the price. Just go to a drug store and buy a bottle of regular rubbing alcohol -- then be sure to follow the instructions referenced on the Boots Wiki on how to use it.

Life is short: get your boots to fit!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Are Cowboy Boots for Gay Men?

Here we go again:
AOL search results that landed a visitor to my website, "Are Cowboy Boots for Gay Men?"

Answer: no. Only people who are insecure about what they wear think that there is a relationship between boot-wearing and being gay.

See more posts:

Can Straight Men Wear Cowboy Boots?

Who Gets to Wear Tall Boots

What Do Gay Men's Boots Look Like?

Is It Gay to Wear Boots?

Why Do Gay Guys Like to Wear Boots?

Gay Boots

Life is short: stop applying social stereotypes to boots, or for that matter, to any form of clothing. 'nuf said.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

All American Firefighter Boots

I had a chance to lace up and break in a new pair of All American Firefighter Boots, model 401. I bought them through Stompers Boots which can handle orders for All American boots now.

What makes Firefighter boots rather different and well-suited for use as tactical boots for motorcycle riding are these features:

  • Laced-in zipper up the middle. Once the zipper is laced in, you don't have to fool with laces again, so the boots are easy and quick to put on and take off.
  • The laces lock in and the ends remain inside the boot, so the wind won't work them loose while riding.
  • Comfortable built-in insole and padded ankle collar. Makes the boots easy on the feet when out on an all-day ride.
  • Rugged Vibram lug sole which provides excellent traction -- particularly useful when maneuvering (i.e., "walking") the bike into a parking slot or holding the bike steady at a stoplight.
  • The boots don't get hot, even on a hot day. They provide superb support of the foot and ankle without roasting the foot.
  • Sturdy, attractive and rugged appearance. The "cool biker's" boot.
I have been enthusiastically recommending Firefighter boots since I bought a pair of Chippewa Firefighter Boots in 2007. I quickly learned how comfortable these boots were for motorcycle use. And, according to some of my riding buddies, they look more like the motorcycle boots that most other guys wear. Not that I have abandoned my tall Wesco and Chippewa boots; not in the long shot. But on a hot summer day, a station-boot style type of footwear is a frequent choice. And now, I have more choices :-)

See more pics of my All American Firefighter Boots here.

Life is short: get booted! (And repeat after me: "boots are for motorcycles and sneakers are for the gym." Period. Real bikers wear boots.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who Is Booted Harleydude?

Hi, folks. Booted Harleydude, or "BHD", here. This is an alter-ego for a guy who lives with his partner in a monogamous relationship in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC.

Of course, regular readers of this blog know that. The reason for this posting is that lately, several people from various places have entered, "Who is Booted Harleydude?" into search engines, and have landed on various places -- my website and this blog. I'm not sure why the sudden interest in who I am from people in Minot, North Dakota USA; Barcelona, Spain; and Jakarta, Indonesia. Nonetheless, I thought a blog post asking the very question being looked up might consolidate the links to that question in future search engine results.

So, who am I? Sometimes, I'm not sure. Seriously. I am a complex man. I have a variety of interests and disinterests. For example, I like to wear boots but can't stand shoes or sneakers -- especially on a motorcycle. I enjoy wearing leather garments (pants, shirts, vests, jackets, and boots) often (though not in the heat of summer!) I don't give a rat's ass about the court of public opinion. If I wear leather, so be it. Honestly, once you grow up, you realize that nobody cares and you can be your own man by dressing yourself in what you like, what feels good, and what 'works' for your personality and style.

I love to ride my Harley, but not for long distances. I get too tired due to a chronic health condition that saps energy much more quickly than the average bear. I have been riding a motorcycle for over 32 years on a regular basis. In the past, I have ridden across the USA several times, and I also have rented bikes in exotic places and have ridden in some beautiful country (in several countries!) But for the most part, my "adventure biker travels" are history.

Bear? I really don't like classifications like that in the gay community. I do not identify with any particular gay subculture -- bear, biker, cowboy, leatherman, etc. I am all of those to one degree or another. But I guess I can say that I'm not a twink, fashion queen, or guppie. I like leather, but am rather vanilla about it (that is, I don't engage in BDSM.) I'm a masculine man -- not "straight-acting" but just a guy who likes (most) guy-things and remains in love with one special guy.

Yeah, I'm gay. So what? Lots of other people are, too. I do not identify myself in particular as gay. It's just how my DNA worked out. I was very fortunate to meet and fall in love with one special man. I keep my pants zipped up when in the presence of others. Period. Honestly, I don't fool around with other men. (Frankly, at my age, the amount of "fooling around" I do is limited, anyway, since I don't use any form of drug to "enhance performance" [LOL!])

I work for a living, full-time in a respectable profession. While I like to wear cop boots, breeches, and cop-style leather jackets, I am not a cop. Though some fetish-wear that I have makes me appear like a cop sometimes, I don't pretend to be one, especially in public.

I am considered an international leader in a small niche of my profession, and speak at conferences and teach courses about what I do. My work currently occupies a great deal of my time, but only for the work day. At the end of the day, I turn it all off and concentrate on other things.

This introduces another quirk of my complex personality. I do not have a smartphone; I don't text, nor receive text messages. I do not live, eat, and breathe for the latest news or email or messages on an iPhone, Blackberry, Android, or whatever. I don't need it. I am very fortunate to have achieved a level in my profession where I don't have to run when the bell rings, so I do not need to have some gadget to keep me tethered to the office on a 24/7 schedule. (I used to be in that position, but younger guys, eager to pay their dues as I did, are doing that kind of work. More power to 'em!)

I have various hobbies besides motorcycling and keeping my website up-to-date. I also serve as a webmaster for four others (individuals and organizations.) I enjoy doing carpentry, electrical, and (some) landscaping work. I hate plumbing. I love to walk, but can't stand gyms. Generally, I don't follow or care for sports of any sort, and don't play. I love to cook, and designed the kitchen in the house where we live now to accommodate my every desire. Often you'll find me cooking away, singing, and puttering around my kitchen. (That explains why my partner and I don't eat out at all -- no need to pay for restaurant meals when I can prepare what we like at home!)

Another hobby is genealogy. I keep my father's family tree. It's huge. What with 21 aunts and uncles who each had numerous offspring, keeping that thing up-to-date is a frequent challenge. I have to admit, thanks to Facebook, I become more aware of when the latest addition to the family comes along -- much sooner than traditional methods such as email and phone (what's that???)

A little-known fact: I have developed some hybrids of roses that I grow at home. I learned this from my Mom who was quite the rosarian.

I have lived, worked, and traveled in 64 countries of the world. I attended college for a year in Italy. I spent significant time in Romania after the fall of its former dictator in 1989. I also spent significant time in Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland. I speak four languages fluently, and bits and pieces of about a dozen others. But again, my days of world travel are pretty much history (at least for now.)

I have lived part of my life in rural Oklahoma, USA, and most of my life in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. While I love my family in Oklahoma and enjoyed the time I spent on the family horse ranch, I can't say that I would choose to live in a small town where everybody knows everyone else's business and it's 50 miles to any major grocery store. While I identify DC as my "hometown," I really don't like going into the city and avoid it. I'm not an urban guy; rather, I am truly a suburbanite. That also explains why I avoid going to New York City, too. Haven't been there since 2002 and have no plans to return.

This leads to another facet of my personality -- I am quite the early-bird, rising at 4am every day, seven days a week. I collapse to sleep no later than 9pm, often earlier. Been that way almost my whole life. As a result, I don't like to go out for "nightlife" as I simply can't remain awake for it -- especially in gay venues that don't get going until after 11pm or later. I can't handle that.

I truly identify with my Maryland home as "my life." My partner and I built a house here. I also own several other properties that I rent to make available as affordable housing for employees of our county who need to live where they work, but can't afford it.

I have a large band of "senior pals" who live near me and who I care for in various ways. I serve the roles of handyman, transportation-provider, listener, and card-sender on a frequent basis.

I have and believe in the values of honesty, integrity, and personal financial stability. I don't carry balances on credit cards, or take out loans. My partner is the same way. We pay for what we want, and if we don't have the money, we don't buy it. We talk about our joint finances often, and we establish and keep to a budget. We don't subscribe to services that result in ongoing monthly charges for frivolity (that is, movie channels on cable, Netflix, or data packages for wireless devices.) I know being financially stable and living on a budget is not easy for some people, but I live among many who buy to excess and mortgage themselves into upside down situations and often end up paying the consequences. Call us "cheap" but also call us "frugal." We don't spend what we don't have, and don't get ourselves into situations where the income is less than the outgo. Ever.

I dunno... there's always more. Suffice it to say that I'm just a guy who works for a living, loves his partner, cares for his friends, contributes to society, and is financially stable. Oh yeah, I wear boots as my regular footwear and leather garments regularly... and ride a Harley. Thus, "Booted Harleydude." Simple, eh?

So what's my name? As I said, "BHD" will do fine. Yeah, that's not the same name as found on my birth certificate, but the birth name is so widespread in my profession, that I don't want this alter ego and that name to be co-mingled as the internet is wont to do.

Thanks for your interest!

Life is short: know yourself.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Ballgame

Well, I finally went to see a professional baseball game at the new stadium that was built a few years ago in Washington, DC. The owner of the company I work for invited the staff (and one guest each) and hosted us at a suite at the ballpark, complete with food, drink, very comfy seats, and an excellent view.

My partner and I took the Metro to get there. I had forgotten how awful that subway system of ours had become (slow, herky-jerky, expensive, infrequent trains, and very crowded). Nonetheless, we made it.

I was impressed with the stadium. You could see the game very well. There were LCD TVs all over the place showing the scoring, who was up at bat, what they did, and repeats of certain plays that were interesting to see up close.

Of course, I didn't know much about what was going on, so I appreciated that my partner was able to explain it all to me so I didn't come across to my colleagues as a complete idiot.

It was a nice outing, but I have to say, "been there, done that." I really don't want to go back. I'm just not interested in baseball and dealing with the hassles of getting into and out of the city.

Life is short: enjoy a ballgame (about once a decade)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Going Mobile?

I have noticed that over 20% of the visitors to my website are coming from mobile phones, or smartphones. Wow, that's a dramatic increase in recent months, but not surprising.

While I personally don't want one of those expensive gadgets, I realize that if I am going to run a functioning website that works on all platforms, including mobile browsers, then I should try to make modifications that make the website more "mobile-friendly."

Therefore, I have been playing around and have created a mobile-friendly home page, which is available at bootedman.net -- note, that is ".net", not ".com." The ".net" version is, or should be, mobile friendly. The .com version remains the website as you've always known it.

If you have a smart phone, try this for me:

1. Visit the regular website, bootedman.com and tell me if you are automatically redirected to the mobile-friendly version of the website (as shown on this post) or if you get some error message about "too many redirects."

2. Visit the mobile version directly at bootedman.net and let me know if it works for you (or not). (Note, regular laptops and desktops can view this site and see what it looks like.)

Please correspond with me directly if you know my email address, or use this form to send me a message.

Either way, I want to hear from you, because I want to know if it is working (or not), and have no way to test it myself since neither my partner nor I have a smartphone and do not plan to get one.

Thanks!

Life is short: embrace technology, even if you don't have the technology to embrace (giggle).

Saturday, July 9, 2011

All American Boots

I have written blog posts before about my impression of All American Boots. Wearing boots all the time and having as many different pairs as I have, I've learned a thing or two about boot construction and quality. I truly believe that All American boots are a great value for the money. They are made in a small shop in California, using equipment that once belonged to the Bond Boot Company (that made Effingham boots, for example.) I have had a pair of All American Patrol Boots that I wear a lot, and continue to enjoy their style, comfort, durability, and ease-of-maintenance. (For information on how to maintain a great shine on these boots, see this post elsewhere on this blog.)

The only trouble with All American Boots is that they were not as easy to get as other major brands, such as Dehner or Wesco. But the situation has improved!

I am thrilled that my favorite boot shop, Stompers Boots of San Francisco, California, can now order All American Boots for you, and arrange for the boots you want to be drop-shipped to your door. I bought a pair of All American 401 Wildland Firefighter boots on June 23, and they arrived on July 7, so the delivery speed was great.

I regret that I really haven't had time to take decent pictures of these boots yet to post a page about them on my website. I will... one of these days.

I am in the process of making a tutorial video about how to lace a zipper into firefighter boots using these AA FireFighter boots as a model, but that's going to take a while. I just don't have time to make and edit videos with all the other stuff going on in my life at the moment.

I am also pleased to report that Buds Work Boots is having a close-out sale on All American Boots for some damn good prices. Tall black bal-laced All American patrol boots for US $199 (plus $29 shipping) -- unheard of!

However, let me forewarn you -- three people I know ordered boots from Buds recently, and each one of them had problems with the size and fit of the boots they received. For this small shop, it really is best not to order from the website blindly. That is, measure your foot (width at the balls of your feet, length toe to heel), and measure your calf about 6" below the knee. Then call him (+1-619-721-2647) and let him know these measurements so he can see if he has a pair of boots that will fit you, and also let you know what other options (type of sole, overall height, etc.) are available. Then you can place the order on-line and pay with PayPal or a credit card.

Buds Work Boots sends boots using U.S. Priority Mail, and I have been very pleased to receive boots that I ordered just two days later -- and they had to travel from the West to the East Coast of the U.S.! Great, quick service. And Bud is very good about communicating by phone, so leave a message if you don't reach him directly when you try to call.

So those of you who noticed what I wrote above -- yeah, I ordered boots from Buds Work Boots recently. I really couldn't pass up a great sale on quality boots. I'll tell you what I got in some future blog posts and website updates, whenever I get time to do that (and it may be a while.)

Life is short: get booted in All American Boots!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Cost of Your Toys

I was joking around with a colleague the other day. He has an iPhone, iPad, iPod, not one but two e-readers, and several more of the latest electronic gadgets. He was moaning about the challenges of updating files across all of these gizmos, along with his laptop through "the cloud." I tell 'ya, he lost me with this cloud business.

I told him that I was cheap and wouldn't have any gadget like that (other than a laptop, I admit) because I will not pay exorbitant monthly service fees to companies that are rich enough already.

He then said, "but you have a Harley. Your toy is more expensive than mine!" As I got to thinking about that remark, I realized he was right. Later, I received an email from a fellow Harley owner who was lamenting about the high cost of routine service. He was right, too.

Yeah, we pay for our toys, alright. Initial acquisition costs notwithstanding, the ongoing cost to maintain it (service plans, maintenance, etc.) impose demands on the bank accounts.

I really have no defense, and admit it. I do not have to have a Harley. I don't even have to have a motorcycle. I have a four-wheeled vehicle, though driving it for any distance makes me crazy. I ride a motorcycle because it is fun, convenient, often free to park, fun, free, and joyful. Did I say, "fun"? Yeah, a lot of that. Also gives me a very good reason to wear boots and leather regularly. (But honestly, I would do that anyway.)

Back to the topic of motorcycle maintenance... yeah, it's expensive to keep a motorcycle operating safely and properly, especially if one follows the manufacturer's maintenance schedule. Tires, and even an oil change, can cost hundreds.

Some guys I know do a lot of motorcycle maintenance themselves, and more power to 'em. I have chosen to have my service done by a professional -- mostly because of space requirements (which I don't have). Further, the newer the bike, the more complicated it is, and sometimes doing something simple like changing the battery requires a huge amount of disassembly of other parts before you can even gain access to the battery compartment. It's an awful hassle.

Plus, when I bring my bike to a seasoned professional to have service done, I am assured that he knows what he's doing because he's done it before, lots of times. For me, I might miss a step or forget to check something because I do not do motorcycle maintenance for a living.

By the way, I choose to use an independent mechanic to do my work. Not only are his charges (a little) less expensive, I feel that since he knows me, he is taking care of me when he does maintenance on my Harley, as opposed to just repairing another bike in the long line of bikes to work on during any given day. And he can take me on a day's notice, instead of a week or more advanced scheduling required by the dealer.

Independent shops with skilled mechanics are hard to find, but when you find one, they want to do good work because they want you to come back and to refer friends. That's how I found out about the shop I use now -- referred by a friend. (I have to admit, I was motivated to go somewhere else when I experienced some problems at my dealership's repair shop when a new mechanic screwed up some rather simple repairs and I had to return three times to have those things fixed.)

In summary -- having toys is expensive if they require ongoing support, service contracts, and/or maintenance. It all boils down to choices -- "need" or "want" and for this class of things, you have to admit, it's all "want." No one "needs" an iPhone (or a cell phone for that matter). No one "needs" a Harley. However, if one budgets appropriately and has the financial resources with disposable income to pay the ongoing costs (or better yet, an employer who provides a stipend to offset monthly charges or directly pays monthly costs), then have your toys. (I wish I could find a way to convince my employer to pay for the maintenance of my Harley, but that ain't gonna happen LOL!)

Life is short: enjoy your toys (provided you can afford them!)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Biker Boots to Wear with Shorts

As this search engine result indicates, there are some people who actually search for information on "biker boots to wear with shorts."

Here are two options:

1. If you want to wear a functional boot as a hiking boot, and confuse that with what some people call a "biker boot," then get a boot that is about 6" tall and has good tread -- and go hiking.

2. If you possibly could have been considering wearing shorts while riding a motorcycle, all I can say is, "please don't." Wearing shorts while riding a motorcycle is silly, stupid, unsafe, and looks really dorky. Don't wear shorts while riding a motorcycle -- even if you choose to wear boots.

Life is short: wear long pants and boots while riding a motorcycle.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Brothers?

I received an email the other day from a frequent reader of this blog. He was confused. He read the post about my twin brother retiring, then another post about me going to "a brother's" for a crab feast.

How many brothers do you have?" was the inquiry. "I'm confused."

Sorry for any confusion. Regular readers of this blog have read occasional postings that I have written about my family. I am blessed, truly blessed, with seven brothers. I am also very blessed to have seven sisters. All from the same Mom and Dad. Yep, our Mom was "fertile"!

So when I write about doing this with a brother or that with a sister, or celebrating birthdays of nieces, nephews, and "the greats," I am fortunate to have many family members to do things with. I am exceptionally pleased that we all remain close. Granted, I may not be that close with some of my brothers- or sisters-in-law, but that's okay -- blood keeps the siblings close, regardless of a few rare disagreements brought on by some in-laws.

What's it like to be the only gay dude in a large family? Read this past blog post for details.

The most frequent question that I have received is, "in such a large family, are you the only one who is gay?" In our case, the answer is yes. I know that's against the regular law of averages, but so be it.

It's great having such a large family. We all are different, do different things, have different lives, work at different jobs. But together, we compose a close and loving family. That's what it's all about.

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

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Withering Stare

I rode my Harley to my brother's home yesterday for a crab feast. I saw the family, had some crabs, gave a few kiddos who were dressed appropriately (long pants, closed-toe shoes) a ride on "big bad Uncle's Harley," had a few more crabs, gave a sister a ride on the Harley (which was a hoot to watch), then picked out a half-dozen crabs and put them in a bag to take home for my partner, and took off. (He doesn't go to gatherings of my family because he prefers quiet -- and my family [bless their souls] aren't "quiet" by any means.)

As I was riding home, I stopped at a red signal. I noticed the headlight of another bike in my left mirror. This dude, who couldn't have been more than 25, rolled up next to me on a beautiful Harley. Unfortunately, the kid was wearing shorts and flip flops. On a Harley! Arrrrggghh!

I turned and gave that guy a really long, hard, stare. I pointed to those things on his feet, and mouthed the words, "flip-flops? Are you kidding?" then did one of those gestures that in America means "crazy" -- circling the finger while pointing to the head.

The kid just sat there, pretending not to notice, but I saw him look down at his feet then back at me then try to look away.

I noticed that the light was seconds from turning green, so I pulled in the clutch, dropped the transmission into first gear, and as the light changed, slowly let out the clutch for a smooth take-off.

Meanwhile, at the same time the kid noticed me getting ready to take off, he also put his bike in gear, but I think he forgot to pull in the clutch, or didn't pull it all the way -- anyway, he stalled his bike! The bike jerked a few cm forward, then died.

I hate to admit it, but I just about fell off my own bike laughing.

Goes to show 'ya, the Biker Lords exist -- perhaps the kid learned a lesson. Minimally, it's not to pretend to be a cool biker and ride up on a motorcycle next to me and try to get by wearing shorts and flip-flops without my noticing. Withering stares work! LOL!

Life is short: real bikers wear long pants and boots. No exceptions.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

Wishing my fellow residents of the U.S. a Happy Independence Day!

This morning, I will observe two friends be sworn in as our country's newest citizens. I helped coach them through the arduous citizenship process. They earned this special moment, and I am thrilled for their accomplishment! Once again, we'll be at a ceremony at the birthplace of the U.S. National Anthem, Ft. McHenry, near Baltimore, Maryland.

After that, I'll head back home and feed my partner lunch. Then I'll drop in at my brother's home as I always do on July 4 to have some Maryland steamed crabs. Um-um! I won't stay long, though, because my partner will not go with me, and I don't want to be away from him too long. I'll bring him back some crabs, which he likes as much as I do.

In the evening, we'll relax in our cool, comfortable basement, and watch fireworks and concerts on television. Yeah ... TV. My partner doesn't want to go out, and I can't stand the hassles. It's no fun any more with all the security garbage in place that wasn't there when I was a kid. Plus, we can see it better on TV than in person.

Happy 235th birthday, America!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My Brother's Retirement

My twin brother, J, who has posted guest posts on this blog and comments frequently, called the other day and freaked me out. He said that he will retire in August.

Retire? Already? Heck, he's not even 54 years old! If he retires at such a young age, how old does he make me feel? More than four minutes older, that's for sure (LOL!)

Unfortunately, his rotation of duty in France is coming to a close, and his employer offered him a very undesirable posting for the next three years. He tried to negotiate something different, but they weren't budging, so he decided to file for retirement after 32 years of faithful service.

He will come home (that is, where I live and where we grew up) for a visit and some meetings in August, and stay with us. By then, perhaps he will have decided what he will do, and where he and his wife will reside. My "twin thing" tells me that he will stay in Europe, because he speaks every major European language fluently, and his wife is Italian, with lots of family there. She works, as well, but her job is easily transportable (that is, she can work anywhere). My brother is so skilled and well-connected, I anticipate he will find something to do that pays a salary, rather than take up painting on the Champs-Élysées or hawk plastic swords at the Roman Coliseum (LOL!)

Gosh, bro, you really know how to make me feel OLD! And I'm nowhere near retirement. I've got too much to do!

Life is short: celebrate vicariously!