Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Leather About Town

It has been incredibly cool and pleasant after the visit by the tropical storm last weekend.  In fact, it's been downright "coolish" in the morning and early evening. It is so pleasant to have the windows open and have fresh air circulate through the house.

It also means that I am breaking out the leathers again. In the mornings when I saddle up on my Harley to ride to work at oh-dark-30, I have been choosing my thick "Retro Chaps" that I bought last summer. These chaps are made of heavyweight (8-9oz) drum-dyed leather. They have outside zips so the zippers won't scratch the paint on the Harley. They are a perfect choice to wear over my regular pants that I wear to work when the temperatures are in the upper 50s (F -- 14C).

These past two evenings, I have had some meetings to attend. Yeah, things are gearing back up after a summer of inactivity with my community groups. I use my Harley to ride to the meetings, but instead of wearing chaps over jeans, I have been wearing my new grey leather jeans instead. It is warm enough that I can ride with only one layer.

Wearing leather in public -- in August??? Yep -- no.big.deal. Nobody says anything. Probably because they know that I ride a motorcycle when I can and also they have often seen me wearing leather jeans, shirts, and vests over many years. The leather-wearing is just what makes up one of the quirks of my personality. And nobody cares. Really. They want to know what I think and have to say, which is what is most important, anyway, rather than obsessing about what I'm wearing.

Life is short: wear leather when the temperatures support it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gay and Lonely?

Someone left a comment on my blog piece titled, "Is It Hard for Gay Men to Socialize with Straight Men?" where he said, "I know exactly what you mean and I personally have trouble making friends because I'm so uncomfortable or uninterested. It's a thin line I guess. I don't have any friends."

Oh man, that's sad. What I was trying to say in my blog piece is that it is hard, but not impossible, for a gay man to make friends -- good friends -- with straight guys. It takes three things: 1) a straight guy who is secure and open-minded enough to accept that his friend is gay; 2) the gay guy not having sexual interest in his straight friend; and 3) having something in common that they share.

I am a happy, confident, secure gay man. I am in a monogamous relationship with one man. I like other guys -- for who they are and what we share in common interests -- but not in a sexual manner.

I am fortunate that I live in the same area where I grew up. I have a number of friends who I have known since I was a child. I still see them regularly. I also have friends who I have met as an adult through various community activities. We help each other out -- I help them with home repairs, ride motorcycles together, engage local elected officials about community issues important to the residents where we live, and even helping to coach some of my friends in dealing with their parents developing dementia or Alzheimer's Disease. I've been through that with my lovely aunt and know how rough it can be to be a caregiver.

I never said that making new (straight) friends was easy, but as this website points out, a gay man who wants to make friends should get involved in activities where he shares common interests, and can use his talents for a cause or the greater good.

So what if you don't like sports and can't hit a ball or catch one? There are a lot of other things you can do! Get out, meet people, share your skills, and learn new things. You don't have to have only gay friends. Like the person who left the comment implied, he doesn't have any friends because he is uncomfortable and disinterested in things that other guys may be interested in.

There are many, many ways to overcome lonliness as a gay man. But you have to take the step of getting involved in the straight world. Face it, there are many more straight people around than gay people. I have felt that having "only" gay friends is unhealthy because you get stuck with a singular world-view. You need to expand your horizons and do things that you enjoy together with other people (gay or straight) who enjoy those things, too.

An interesting side-note: in the three-plus years that I have been blogging, I have been contacted by and have developed good on-line friendships with more straight guys than gay guys. These guys learn pretty quickly that we have common interests -- boots, leather, motorcycling, caregiving, community activism -- and also learn by my style of communicating that I am interested in them as a person, and that's it.

Life is short: you are only as lonely as you allow yourself to be.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sales Resistance

Man oh man, the ads and the offers keep coming. I'm good about throwing away advertisements that come in the mail -- my recycling bin is right by my entry door, so I can easily discard "junk mail" before I enter the house and therefore have less clutter.

But the electronic forms of promoting items is increasingly insidious!

Should I receive unsolicited offers via email, I just delete them -- I don't even open the message. When I visit certain websites, I do not click on links that lead to on-line stores. I may visit those stores on-line sometimes, but only when I am looking for something in particular. I have learned to stop following links and looking around -- because that's how those companies get you to make "impulse buys." I don't buy on impulse.

Speaking of having sales resistance -- you should observe my partner and me at the grocery store. We have a written list that we follow, and stick to it. We don't buy anything we see on a shelf or an end-cap (end of aisle display) unless it is specifically on our list (and on sale.)

Should I receive a call on the phone trying to promote some product or service, I take the name and phone number of the caller, then report them as a violation of the U.S. Federal "Do Not Call" list, because companies are prohibited from making "cold calls" (with a few exceptions.) But I certainly do not buy anything that someone tries to sell me on the phone.

Should someone come to the door and knock -- if I don't know them, I don't answer. And my partner doesn't even bother to look in the video display to see who it is. He never answers the door or the phone (which when I am at the door or on the phone, his non-response is very annoying!)

And one final but very intrusive gimmick are the ads that are targeted to viewers of some websites. The ad sales read cookies on your computer, then target you for ads related to website that you may have visited in the past. For example, Sheplers (western clothing and boots) comes up in ads on certain other websites that I visit, and a bank that I now detest shows up on another website that I visit. Google ads show up on many YouTube videos... it goes on and on.

I try, as best I can, to reduce the clutter and avoid ads, delete, or discard them. I clear the cookies from my computer daily. But it all boils down to this: don't click on the links on those ads, because they are indeed enticing, and the active marketing techniques that use high-end technology to target your weaknesses (in my case, boots), are used much more frequently now.

Life is short: have sales resistance!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

We Are Okay

The winds and rain from Irene visited us Saturday night into Sunday morning. My partner and I were prepared -- I'd say, "very prepared," and weathered the storm safely. We had better be prepared -- that's what I do for a living, and I practice what I preach.

Lots of debris everywhere (leaves, small tree limbs down, etc., but not much else). Fortunately at our home, no trees down. Power on -- and I didn't expect that! It went out sometime overnight, but got restored quickly.

I got a call at 4:30am from a senior pal who was frightened by a tree limb crashing through her bedroom window. I went over there (during a lull in the storm), picked her up and brought her to our house. Her sons arrived at daybreak and we went over to cover the broken window with a tarp and seal it until she can have it repaired by a professional later this week.

It could have been worse. But we're okay. We will clean up the storm debris later after it dries out a bit here in Maryland. Hopefully, my brother's flight back to Europe will take off tomorrow as scheduled. His wife has had enough with our hurricanes and earthquakes (smile), and is ready to return to her home. But all is well, quiet, and manageable.

Life is short: be prepared!

He Is Not My Roomate

The other day, someone at my office asked me, "how is your roommate?" She had heard that my partner had brain surgery and wanted to know how he was doing. Internally, I sighed. I knew she was only trying to be nice. But he is not my "roommate." That implies such a casual relationship.

I answered her question, but then followed with, "and he is not my roommate. He is the equivalent of a spouse. I call him my partner." She did not know how to respond, but said, "well, I'm glad he's okay."

I don't know why that particular phrase made me angry, but it does. After 18+ years, he is much more than just a roommate.

Okay, rant over. I love my partner, my spouse, my hunk, my best half.

Life is short: be calm but be clear.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Preparing Others

As you read this message, we are less than a day away from a hit by a tropical system. We are prepared at home, and throughout the day today, my brother and I are visiting my senior pals and helping them bring things indoors that may become wind-blown debris, pick up refills of prescription meds that they may need, make sure they have flashlights, a battery-powered radio, and extra batteries, and help them fill voids (empty spaces) in their refrigerators and freezers. Doing that helps keep foods fresher and colder longer if the power goes out.

We are helping our elderly and disabled friends and neighbors prepare and do things that they cannot do for themselves. It will be a busy day!

Thank goodness we do not have to go to a grocery or building supplies store. Those places are crazy-busy, being overwhelmed by who I call "the woefully unprepared who just woke up and are overreacting." Happens every time, with every event. Everywhere.

I am now entrusting blogger to "go on automatic" and post a new blog post every day until I get back. I'm not going anywhere, but we probably will lose power and internet connectivity. Though we have a generator, it only operates essentials and the internet isn't "essential." We'll survive. I'll update you on how we fared after the storm passes and when our power and internet service are working again.

Wish us well.

Life is short: be safe.

Friday, August 26, 2011

What I Do

Above is an image that predicts the amount of rainfall that will be generated from a major storm that will strike the U.S. East Coast starting today and through the weekend as the storm progresses north. Huge amounts of rain will fall in a large swath, and strong sustained winds will blow, too. The rain will cause massive flooding to already oversaturated land, streams, and rivers all the way up the (US Interstate Highway) I-95 corridor. Together, the wind and rain will likely cause a lot of damage and power outages.

Seems like New Jersey is going to be Ground Zero for the most intense effects of this storm. Having suffered severe flooding in March, and lots of rain hence, they're already saturated. It's going to be really, really bad.

I also worry about family and friends who live in the New England states (New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine) who are generally not prepared for a hurricane. Indications are that they will get socked by this one big-time.

Concerned as I am, I called my brother who was in New York City and advised him and his wife to high-tail it back home immediately. Glad I did: Amtrak has canceled train service effective Friday and for the rest of the weekend. My brother and his wife got the last of the few tickets left for a train back to DC on Thursday. They are safe with us now in our storm-prepared home (that we will not have to evacuate because it is well-built and on high ground, far inland from any bodies of water.)

This is a peek into what I do for a living: I explain this stuff so it makes sense to people and so they can prepare themselves, their loved-ones, and their communities and prevent injury, death, and lessen damage.

Just so 'ya know. This is what I do.

If you live in the areas of the U.S. that will be affected by this storm, pay attention and take steps to prepare. It will be rough. Read this and Get ready NOW! Read this to keep informed.


Life is short: be prepared.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wearing Cowboy Boots

This message was posted on schedule on August 24, but got overshadowed by a fresh post I did that day, so I moved it to today. Enjoy.

One might think that maintaining a website that catalogs a large collection of cowboy boots and motorcycle boots, as well as leather gear, might generate a number of visits for various reasons.  What has amazed me is that for more than a year now, over half of my daily visitors land on my web page titled, wearing cowboy boots.  Not leather, not any particular brand of boots, and not even cop galleries (which remains second highest in daily visits.)

Take a look at the list of internet queries on the left. That's a real-time image of the internet searches that bring visitors to my website.  The most frequent keywords or questions entered into an internet search engine that drive visitor's to my "wearing cowboy boots" page are:
  • Tuck jeans (or pants or trousers) into cowboy boots or not?
  • how to wear cowboy boots
  • What are stacked jeans?
  • Is it okay to wear boots with a suit?
  • Can you wear cowboy boots with khakis?
Oh, and I loved the one that said, "where cowboy boots with a suit."  That guy has to go back to school... but I digress.

Sheesh... it continues to cause me to wonder why so many people -- literally, thousands per day -- use the internet to ask these questions.  Well, I know one reason is that an internet search is anonymous. Nobody really knows who is asking such questions.  But I wonder if the sheer volume of these kinds of questions poses a larger question:  are guys that insecure? Curious? Inquisitive? Looking for confirmation?

I really don't know.  However, because of the volume and frequency with which questions like this direct people to my page about how to wear cowboy boots (with jeans, khakis, and suits), I updated that page, compleat with images that demonstrate how long jeans should be, what color boots go well with certain clothes, and that it IS okay to wear boots with khakis and suits in an office (or a wedding, etc.) 

It really IS okay to wear cowboy boots, guys.  If you're asking, you will get that confirmation from me. Heck, I wear boots every day, including with dress clothes in an office.  No.big.deal.

Life is short:  wear boots!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake?

Yes, an earthquake happened yesterday. It was epicentered in Mineral, Virginia (about 90 miles south of DC), and the shaking was felt as far south as Georgia and as far north as New England. What you see in the photo above is the visible earthquake "damage" in my home -- Guido was knocked off his (replica Harley) motorcycle. That's it. No.big.deal. But from the reactions related in news stories, one would think that Armageddon happened. Oh brother....

I felt it. I was in my high-rise office building in the downtown of my hometown in Maryland. Immediately when I felt the floor shaking and then rolling (literally), I yelled, "earthquake! Drop, Cover, and Hold On!" -- then dropped under my desk, grabbed the back of my head, and waited. The slow, undulating rolling of the quake lasted for about 15 seconds.

After the shaking was over, I got out from under my desk and, like most others, gathered with my colleagues to verify, "was that really an earthquake?" None of them did the "drop-cover-hold on" procedure, but none of them have experienced an actual earthquake as I have in other parts of the U.S. (California, Alaska, Hawaii) and the world (Italy, Japan, Turkey).

Then to both my bemusement and dismay, the fire alarm went off and we were all told to evacuate. Down the stairs we went, and gathered across the street in a parking lot. A half-hour waiting in the strong sunshine, then we were told to gather our personal belongings and go home.

I didn't even bother to return to my building. I just walked to where my Harley was parked and joined the long queue to leave the garage, then crawl home. What a nightmare -- everyone was leaving at the same time. I think I was slightly ahead of the curve, and was on the road home before the majority of others. Most everyone in DC was evacuated and sent home, so traffic gridlocked for hours. Thank goodness my partner was at home instead of at his office in downtown DC. He did as I have instructed and as we practiced. He dropped, covered, and held on, too.

What a friggin' disaster. People should have stayed put and waited to leave in a staged, orderly manner. Trouble is, security types in DC are conditioned and trained in their responses to expect that when buildings shake, it's due to something like an airplane or vehicle crashing into it -- shades of memories (and subsequent over-reaction training) from September 11, 2001. (Please don't call it "9/11". Thanks.) So everyone was evacuated and told to leave. Not the right response to an earthquake, but their heart was in the right place.

It's just crazy in DC when anything happens -- even what my world-class mentor in disaster work called it, "an earthquake of no significance."

I just love DC. Hot air, media hype, and craziness. Welcome to my world.

Life is short: be calm. Drop, cover, hold on. If you can't do that, then just stay home.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Moving On

Guest Blog by BHD's Twin Brother



I have enjoyed visiting with my brother for the past three weeks, and having my wife here with us for the past two weeks. It began with my retirement, and a great send-off from my colleagues at work. That's all behind me now.

My brother was concerned about what I will do now that I'm retired. Well, no worries, I was selected for a great job back in Europe with a company that does consulting in my specialty field. The new job will involve a move to Rome, Italy. My wife and I will be happy to return to her country of birth, and be closer to her family. Plus, I just love Rome. It is a fun, exciting, energetic, and vibrant city. We have secured a flat in the city close to public transit, markets, and international businesses with whom I will be working. The new job doesn't start until October, so we will have plenty of time to pack up our belongings from our small apartment in Paris and move.

This week (actually, yesterday), my wife and I took the train to New York City. We will visit family who live there and see some shows and the sights this week. My brother needs to return his full attention to his work, and now that we are assured that his partner is well on the road to recovery, I think they will enjoy some peace and quiet. He assures me that we have been non-intrusive, but I sense that they both would appreciate a return to a sense of normalcy in their home.

We will return on Friday and stay for the weekend, the last weekend of our visit to the U.S. Then we return to Paris next Monday. But before we begin packing up and moving to Rome, we will take two weeks to visit my wife's family in Northern Italy and take a holiday (second honeymoon) in Venice, where we were married.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this visit. It has been relaxed, comfortable, and fun. We did not plan to do anything but visit with family, see friends and (former) neighbors, including some of our high school classmates who still live in the area. Sometimes, the best vacation is one that is unplanned.

I will miss having my brother's physical presence when we leave. I have enjoyed watching him orchestrate the functions of his household, community activities, and riding his beloved Harley. He shows by his actions how much he cares for those in his circle -- especially his partner and our family, as well as his "senior pals". Man, I wish I had half his energy. (He claims it's all about scheduling and balancing time, but he makes it seem so darn effortless! Especially as he naturally switches speaking in Italian to my wife and me, in English with his partner, and in Spanish with some of his community group leaders. He's good, really good, with the languages.)

As my brother always says, life is short. Enjoy it, love it, and care for those you love. He's an amazing man, who I love with all of my heart.

Be well, bro'. See my smile each day, and feel my heart surrounding you.

J

Monday, August 22, 2011

What I Did On My Summer Staycation

One might remember that the first writing assignment upon return to school was an essay describing, "what I did on my summer vacation." Back when I was in school, I could describe riding in a car with my family going cross-country, and over a six-year period, we stopped in every state in the contiguous United States. It was mandatory to stop in the state's capital, but we also would see whatever sights there were to see while in that state (for example, we spent three weeks in California alone.)

These days, I do not travel for vacation any more. My partner is unable to sit in an airplane for any length of time due to his disability (not the brain surgery, but his chronic hip condition which is inoperable). I can't stand being cooped up in a car for more than a few hours. I just go crazy. And regretfully, I have a chronic health condition that makes it difficult for me to ride my Harley more than a few hundred miles each day. Altogether, I have found that it's easier to stay home. (It's cheaper that way, too.)

I had the last week off from work -- my first time off since I started the new job. I began my "staycation" on Friday the 12th on a high note, by going on a motorcycle ride with some friends on a lovely day. We had a great time, and didn't get lost.

Frankly, I forgot what I did on the weekend... usual activities in caring for my senior pals, repairing or installing things for them in their homes, taking them grocery shopping, and spending time with my partner and my brother (and his wife) who are visiting.

I got busy on Monday the 15th with work in our yard, repairing a garden wall that had been damaged by the freeze-thaw cycle over some harsh winters. I got very tired of being stung by yellow jackets (bees/wasps) that had built a nest in the soil of that garden.

Tuesday was my birthday. It began brightly with a warm snuggle with my partner who had taken the day off. I was "kidnapped" by five senior pals and taken to breakfast. That was fun. Then my brother, his wife, and I went to visit a niece who had delivered twin boys three weeks earlier. It was great to meet our Great Nephews.

Late that afternoon, my partner bought a bushel of Maryland steamed crabs fresh from the Chesapeake Bay. We picked crabs for hours. This is my favorite meal, and is easy for my partner to "prepare." My brother and his wife enjoyed it, as well, though I think my sister-in-law grew tired of crab-picking after the first two. It does take patience -- and we kept telling her that it's really not the crabs, but the social experience of crab-picking that makes it so much fun.

Wednesday, I brought my partner to a world-class hospital where he had his non-cancerous brain tumor "resolved." He was released later that evening. I spent Thursday and Friday by his side as he recovered. He recovered very quickly and well.

Saturday was promising to be a gorgeous day, so I brought my brother to a Harley dealership up north of us to rent a Harley for a day. He rented one like the one that I have, and we rode together for about 150 miles, stopping for lunch and gas and stretch breaks. We didn't know where we were going, but we had a great time riding together. His wife, by the way, was picked up by one of our sisters to go do girly things (like shopping.) I had a senior pal who my partner likes very much stay the day with him, just in case he needed anything and to make me feel less guilty leaving him alone so soon after surgery while going to ride motorcycles with my brother.

Sunday, yesterday, was sort of a wash-out. We awoke to the sounds of a thunderstorm and heavy rain. I was dismayed, because my brother and I were supposed to return that rental motorcycle before 10am to avoid another day's rental fee. Fortunately, the rain stopped and the pavement dried, so my brother and I could return the rental Harley, and then I could take him back home. And yes, he rode as my passenger on my Harley -- two guys on a Harley. No.big.deal. (Though some nutcase at the Harley rental shop had to make a homophobic wisecrack. My brother said something to him and shut him up. I detest narrow-minded ding-dongs who think that they always have to say something... stupid.)

As soon as my brother and I got home, my sister-in-law had prepared lunch for all of us. I parked my Harley in the garage and then the storm warnings began to sound again on my alert systems at home, and soon enough, it was raining hard again.

After lunch, my brother and sister-in-law took my truck and left to visit more family, while my partner and I sat in our basement and watched a movie together.

Back to work today (Monday).

Kinda boring, rather bland, but this is what I did on my Staycation. No more time off again until Christmas. It's great that I love my job, though, because it makes work something that I look forward to doing (and using my Harley to get there.)

Life is short: keep busy, share joy, and show those you love that you love them.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Missed Dore Alley Because of Poppers

This is a message that I received from a guy who tried to travel on a commercial airline within the United States and carry poppers (Isopropyl Nitrite) in his checked luggage. He gave me permission to reproduce this message on my blog:

Hey BHD,

I found your guide to traveling with leather fetish gear when I was looking for information about whether I can bring poppers [ed.: Isopropyl Nitrate] with me on a flight when I was going to Dore Alley in San Francisco. [ed.: a gay fetish event called the "Up Your Alley Fair" and usually referred to as "Dore Alley". It was held July 31, 2011.]

You said that people shouldn't bring poppers with them in either checked luggage or a carry-on. You said that drug-sniffing equipment or dogs are used at airports to detect chemicals in luggage.

I found other information on the internet where guys were suggesting ways that you could carry poppers in your luggage if you sealed them tightly in a plastic bag, and used wax to cover the bottle. I didn't want to believe you. A few other websites said that the chances of the poppers being caught are remote, because they can't possibly check every suitcase -- especially at a small airport where my flight was leaving from.

I sealed up a small bottle of poppers, buried it in a sweaty gym sock, and put it in a pair of sneakers inside my suitcase. When I got to my airport, I checked the suitcase and went through security to wait for my flight. So far, so good.

I was waiting for my flight at the airport when a guy from the TSA came to the gate and the agent called my name. I went up to the desk and asked what was going on. The TSA guy asked me to go with him.

We went into a room and a sheriff deputy was there. He pointed to my suitcase and asked, "is that yours?" I said to myself -- oh shit! Why is my suitcase here???

I told the deputy "yes." He asked me for ID. I pulled out my driver's license. He then said, "what's this?" and held up my bottle of poppers.

I told him that it was video head cleaning fluid. He asked me where my VCR was. He knew what it was. Oh shit! He told me that poppers are illegal, and that I was attempting to carry an illegal substance that is not allowed to be carried on an airplane.

I was taken to the sheriff station and asked a lot of questions. I was given a citation, and then released hours later.

I called a friend to pick me up. While I was waiting for my friend to come get me, I called the airline to rearrange the flight that I missed. The airline told me that because it was my fault that I missed my flight, I would have to buy another ticket to San Francisco for $750 more, and the next available flight was 2 days later. I told them to forget it.

When my friend arrived to get me, I asked him to take me back to the airport so I could get my car and then I drove home. Never made it to Dore Alley.

Now I will have a police record and have to pay a fine. I just got a new job, too, and I'm afraid if they find out about it, I'll be shit-canned. They have fired people who have drug offenses on their record. Shit! All for a little bottle of poppers. Shit!

I've learned my lesson. I hope other guys do, too. Don't try to travel with that stuff. Hell, if you really want it, you can buy it when you get where you're going. But don't try to bring it with you!

Man, I'm sorry this happened, and I appreciate your candor in describing what happened. I am rather conservative and don't use drugs, but I know (unfortunately) that there are many gay men who do -- especially drugs in the "gray area" of legality like poppers. I hope this matter doesn't affect your employment. Good luck.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The "Twin Thing" in Boots

I have commented fairly often that my twin brother and I share an indescribable bond. We know what the other is thinking, what he likes, what he dislikes, what he will say before he says it. It's eerie sometimes -- not to us, but to those who love us, who observe us speaking in shorthand and finishing each other's sentences. I'm not saying it's 100%, but it's darn close!

We are not identical twins. We are physically and emotionally different men. But rather than tick off a comparison of our similarities and differences, let me share a funny thing that this "twin thing" did with boots.

I blogged on August 7 that my brother bought me a very good-looking, classy, and comfortable pair of black Lucchese Classic Goatskin cowboy boots. I wore them with a suit to his retirement reception, and plan to wear them when dressing up is required (which for me, fortunately, is not often.)

What I did not describe is that the day before he gave me these boots as a gift, I had ordered an identical pair in dark brown. I was looking at them in black, but my size wasn't available and would have been back-ordered until November. The dark brown version were immediately available -- one pair left in my size, at a really good price considering the quality of these hand-made, American-made beauties.

I ordered the brown version and they arrived a week ago. (More photos of them here). Again: identical in almost every respect except for the color and the toe style. My brother got me boots with a pointed toe (which I prefer) and my brown boots came with a narrow-rounded toe.

Okay, so I knew the boots that I ordered were in process when my brother gave me his gift. I thought that I didn't need to spend the money since I had received the same style of boots already. I went on-line and tried to cancel the order, but it was too late. The boots had been shipped. Yeah, I could have gone through the process of a return, but decided not to do that. I will wear these boots on dressy occasions, too. Heck, I will wear both pairs during winter months when I cannot ride my Harley to work and have to commute in my truck. (I will not wear boots with smooth leather soles when I ride my motorcycle, as smooth soles provide no traction.)

I assure you, my brother and I did not talk about this particular brand or style of boots before each of us ordered them separately. My brother arranged for his order to be shipped to a sibling's house so he could keep them as a surprise and have a chance to wrap the box. I didn't tell my brother that I was looking at this style of boots, either, nor did I tell him that I ordered them.

Imagine the surprise that my partner and my sister-in-law expressed when they discovered that both pairs of boots were ordered by each of us separately -- same maker, same quality, same style. Weird (to them.) Natural (to us.)

Life is short: enjoy quality boots!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Medical Wonders

Sometimes I feel as if we are living in the future that was projected when we watched Star Trek as a kid. By that, I mean that my partner's surgery and subsequent recovery has been nothing short of amazing.

On Wednesday of this week, I brought my partner to one of the world's leading teaching hospitals and had his brain tumor "resolved" by an outstanding neurosurgeon.

Using a laser knife, the doctor cut and cauterized the blood vessels that fed the tumor, but did not actually remove it. Because it is not cancerous, it does not have to be removed. It will shrivel and be absorbed.

I brought my partner home on the same night as his surgery, as he didn't have any complications or need to be admitted to the hospital. And you know, that's amazing. Imagine -- having brain surgery in the morning and being released on the same day!

Yesterday, my partner awoke with a huge smile and tears of joy. He told me that it was the first night in over six months that he slept the entire night without the tinnitus caused by the brain tumor keeping him awake. Later in the day, he rose, got dressed, and read several chapters in a book. He ate well, and even watched some TV. He has no pain anywhere; in fact, my partner refused a prescription for a pain killer. He didn't need it.

The only down-side to all of this is that he has become deaf in his left ear, but each doctor consulted through this ordeal told us to expect that.

We anticipate that the neurosurgeon will clear my partner to return to regular function when we see him on Monday of next week when the follow-up appointment is scheduled.

Be thankful for employer-provided health insurance, and that you can get the correct care at a very highly-qualified place if you know what to ask for and how to advocate. I thank my lovely aunt who passed away in January for giving me the "advocacy skills" with insurance companies. It is possible to get what you want, but you have to know how to ask for it.

Life is short: get the best care you can.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I'm In Love

Presenting the newest additions to my family, my twin Great Nephews. They are 22 days old in this photo. My brother and I enjoyed hours of cuddling and bonding with them on our birthday, August 16. Best birthday present ever. Ever!

I love and enjoy all of my family, from my nieces and nephews flung far and wide, to their children, my "greats," who range in age from 22 days to 18 years -- about the same age range between the youngest of my siblings (my twin brother) and our oldest sibling, who happens to be the grandfather of these two boys.

I'm in love, all over again. I think I can speak for my brother, too: the look in his eyes matched mine when we were cuddling these little guys -- bliss, peace, and love. (Sorry, no photos of him. He retains internet anonymity).

We have much to share about twinship, but the most important lesson is how to raise twins as independent and different people. Our parents helped each of us achieve our best by nurturing our various talents and supporting our different interests. They established a firm foundation -- truly, it was love at the base of our bond, from which great things emerged.

Funny, at age 22 days, these boys haven't discovered that each other exist yet, but when one fusses, the other does. Such is the start of "that twin thing." One knows when the other is happy, distressed, hungry, poopy, or sleepy. Their cycles are almost identical, even though they don't know that they are communicating through a bond that cannot be described. It's just there. My twin brother and I know how each other feel every minute of every day despite vast geographic distances or even when he's just down the hall in the guest room. We know.

Life is short: cuddle with those you love, and fall in love all over again. (And being the Uncle-ing sort, when they get poopy, hand 'em over to their Mom! LOL!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Diverted

My usual happy-peppy-booted-and-leathered blog posts have been temporarily replaced today. As you read this, my partner is having a non-malignant brain tumor removed. He is at one of the world's best facilities to have this procedure done, right here in our home state.

The doc said that it should be a simple and quick procedure, and will not require cutting bone or muscle tissue since he can access the tumor through the back of the neck. But it still is brain surgery... a very frightening thought.

Your well-wishes, thoughts, and prayers will be appreciated for my best half. I'll post more later this week about how it went.

In the meantime, I have about a week's worth of blog posts that will appear each day until I have time to get back to blogging. I am focusing on caring for the one I love.

As I often say: life is short -- show those you love that you love them.

10:30am Update: writing from a computer in the hospital waiting room. Surgery is done, and was successful. Very tiny incision used to insert a laser knife. Blood vessels feeding the tumor were cut and cauterized. The tumor was not removed. Because it is non-malignant, it will shrink and be absorbed.

My partner looked okay, but obviously is groggy while still recovering from the anesthesia. But the best news -- he nodded yes when the doc asked him, "is the ringing in your ears gone?" Yippie!

Headed back into the recovery room to hold his hand.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy Birthday to My Best Friend!

Today is the birthday of my very best friend in the whole wide world: my twin brother. Yep, he turns another year older four minutes after I do! (LOL!)

He is wise, wonderful, athletically talented, smart, funny, and a warm & caring man. He is the best husband his wife could ever have; the best uncle and Great uncle the kiddos could ever have; and is the bestest twin that a brother could ever have!

I could pour out my heart with accolades, but I would probably suffer direct repercussions because he is staying with my partner and me this month. I fear a bonk on the noggin, or worse (giggle.)

Let me suffice to say that I am thrilled to have my twin as my best friend, my partner as my best half, and a family who loves us, cares for us, and helps us be the best men we can be. (Thanks, Mom and Dad! You led and taught us well!)

Happy birthday, bro'! I look forward to spending the day with you, and the crabfeast for dinner tonight!

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Birthday Wish List: PDA

My birthday is tomorrow. I am following great leadership of a friend who published an inspiring birthday wish-list on Facebook. Here's mine -- please take a few minutes to read, and then act.

As one gets older, the desire for material goods is replaced by the desire for PDAs -- and not what you think. I'm not into toys. I seek Personal Displays of Affection. Not for me, but for others.

These PDAs may be demonstrated by:
  • Visiting or calling a parent, grandparent, or other senior and listening. So many people talk-talk-talk, but we have much to learn if we shut up and listen to the wiser generation. Spend an hour listening and you will be amazed how good both of you feel.
  • Sharing your talents with others. Help with housecleaning, home repairs, mowing the lawn, taking folks grocery shopping, making a home-made meal, and just spending time with people who won't ask for help, but who will benefit (and this applies to people of all ages.)
  • Making regular phone calls to house-bound family and friends. Your smile on the phone may be the only sunshine heard today. I truly wish for a reduction in the lonliness that seniors experience as they age and become less important in American's lives. (Our culture has much to learn from Asia.)
  • turning off the computer, TV, and the gadget-du-juor (Blackberry, iPhone, etc.) Reach out and hold the hand of the one you love. Experience serenity without technological distractions. Do this for me. You will be surprised how delightful, energizing, and empowering this down-time can be.
This is what I want for my birthday: open your heart, listen with love, show you care. Show YOUR PDAs! As I regularly say, "show those you love that you love them."

Thank you for making my birthday a happy one by doing one or more of these actions. I would dearly love to have you comment on this blog to describe what you did!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What Footwear Do Guys Wear on a Motorcycle?

I really can't believe this, but some asked via Google Canada, "What Footwear Do Guys Wear on a Motorcycle?


Well, the footwear is called, "motorcycle boots." These are nifty, cool-looking things that protect your legs and feet, while providing traction. They make a real biker look cool. Here is a recent blog post that gives an overall review of motorcycle boots.

There are many different styles of motorcycle boots. Harness boots are the most common boots worn by bikers, followed by engineer boots. Short tactical boots are also quite common, especially in warm weather.

What a biker needs is function -- protection, security, and that "cool factor." Motorcycle boots offer that.

Now, what footwear do some guys (going for the Darwin Award) wear sometimes on a motorcycle? -- Sneakers (trainers), sandals, or (the worst), flip-flops. These things offer no protection from injury and heat, and are the most stupid footwear to consider wearing while operating a real motorcycle.

Okay, now you know (as if you had to ask.) What footwear do guys wear on a motorcycle? Motorcycle boots!

Life is short: wear boots on a motorcycle. Nothing less.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Day in Gay America

This is the photo I submitted to The Advocate representing my day (yesterday) in America.


I enjoyed a day off and went for a ride on my Harley, leading four friends through spectacularly gorgeous Maryland backroads and byways on a delightful day. Yep, we got slightly lost, but we turned around and found our destination. The ride back was uneventful and equally as stunning in the beauty of my home state's green forests, farmlands, and countryside.

My brother didn't join us. He couldn't find a rental Harley that was available (not until next week). He thought it would not be safe for me to ride on unfamiliar, twisty and hilly roads with a passenger of his size and weight. I agreed with him, though I missed him.

Life is short: be out and open. Enjoy your day in America, gay or not.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Day In My Life

I live a fairly ordinary life, but there are some people who wonder, "how do 'gays' live?" thinking somehow that our "lifestyle" affects how we live our lives. Well, that's true -- my partner and I enjoy a relaxed, easy, comfortable lifestyle in the home we built and in the town where I have lived my whole life.

But I digresss.... The Advocate magazine is sponsoring an event today titled, "Day in Gay America."

Today begins the first day of a week's "staycation" for me. Yeah, unlike many others, I do not travel somewhere else when I have time off. I love my home and the community where I live -- so I take some time to enjoy it!

The weather is promising to be absolutely stunning: bright sunshine with warm but not hot air temperature, with a low dew point (meaning the humidity usually abundant this time of year will be noticeably absent.) My personal meteorologists (colleagues with whom I work) all advised, "take the day off -- go ride your Harley and have fun!" (They all agreed that Sunday's weather, when I have another ride planned, will not be good--more likely rain. My colleagues really look after me. They interpret the weather models specifically for me and my planned activities. I truly enjoy working with them.)


So that's what I will do today ... go take a ride with my brother and several of my friends. I will take some pictures and submit the best one to The Advocate that demonstrates what, to me, is representative of my day in Gay America. A guy out enjoying a ride with a group of friends. You know, bikers can be gay, too (or is it, "gay men can be bikers, too?"). Either way you say it, I are one (giggle.) My brother and buddies are not gay, but who cares? We genuinely like one another regardless of sexual orientation, and I am not one of those gay men who must hang out only with other gay men.

That will not be all of my day. I'll begin by preparing a nice breakfast for my partner before he goes to work, doing some laundry, and other mundane but important chores. Then I'll go for my ride. After I get home, I will visit some senior pals and help with some maintenance needs that they have. I'll also get on the phone with several more senior pals who I check on every.single.day. Make sure they are safe.

Then in the early evening, my brother will take his wife in a car and I will ride my Harley to another brother's home where the family will gather for our weekly dinner gathering. Partner will stay home -- the family intimidates with noise and little monsters (smile)... but I love it, and love them. I'm not sure how many will be there... probably the usual 40 or so. Nice intimate gathering of a raucous group (LOL!).

I'll come home early, but anticipate that my brother and his wife will stay longer to visit. When I get home, I will snuggle closely with my partner in a media-free zone, hold his hand, and do what I advise on this blog often: show those you love that you love them.

We'll head to bed at the usual early hour, about 9:00. Snuggle close again, peacefully and happy.

Life is short: enjoy your day!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sendra Boots Dismay

Over the years, I had heard a lot about Sendra Boots, which are made in Spain. They are very well-made, attractive boots, but I have to say, at least for the three pairs of Sendras that I own, they are very uncomfortable. I cannot wear them for more than an hour without my feet aching. The footbed is hard, and the boots are sized in such a way that I cannot insert a gel insole to make them more comfortable. The boot shaft is narrow, so they squeeze my legs. Ouch!

Back in 2006, I bought my first pair of Sendra "Texan" cowboy boots. Black, traditional style, with a low heel (1"/2.5cm). I don't like boots with that low of a heel. They looked good, but wearing them became a chore. Often, they would just sit in my boot closet taking up space.

In 2007, I received a gift of a pair of Sendra boots from some friends who visited Spain. The boots are shiny and very attractive. But like their black brothers, the shaft is narrow and the footbed is hard. They occupied a space in my boot closet next to their black brothers, gathering dust.

I don't know what I was thinking when I bought a pair of 18" tall brown Sendra harness boots a few months ago. They are very good-looking boots, and very well-made. However, the foot is small (despite ordering a whole size larger than I usually wear) so I cannot insert a cushion insole. The shaft is narrow. I stretched the shafts using a boot stretcher for several weeks. I can put them on, but I cannot wear them for more than an hour without the boots feeling hot on my legs and feeling sweaty.

I know other guys who love Sendra Boots and do not have any problems like I have had. They say that their Sendras feel comfortable and they can wear their boots all day. I can't. Again: ouch!

Over the next few weeks or months, I will put my Sendra boots on eBay and hopefully find someone who would like to buy them -- and enjoy them. Sendra boots do not work for me.

If you want to make me an offer to buy these boots (and you do not live in the U.K.), write to me here.

Life is short: realize that each boot manufacturer makes boots that have size issues for some guys.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dehner Boots 3 Years Later

I have mentioned before that I have a "love-hate" relationship with Dehner Patrol Boots.  I love how they look, fit, and feel, but I dislike that the shafts on stock patrol boots are made with plastic stuff that the Dehner Company calls "Dehcord."

While it is possible to custom-order Dehner boots with leather shafts and feet, the cost is prohibitive. Seriously, few guys have over $800 to fork over for a custom pair of Dehner boots, despite how seriously beautiful they are.

Since Dehner makes stock boots with a 1" wider calf circumference as a standard option, I have found that their stock boots fit me fine, and I don't need (or want to pay) for custom boots. I have only ordered custom boots from other manufacturers when I have had a sizing issue.

Three years ago, I ordered and received this pair of stock bal-laced Dehner Patrol Boots. It was my objective to see how they would wear if I wore them fairly often and yet was careful with them. I never exposed these boots to heat, including the hot exhaust or engine of my motorcycle. But I have worn them -- a lot. I wear them to work, I wear them while riding my Harley, and I wear them just around the neighborhood.

Every now-and-then, I spray the shafts with good quality furniture polish and buff them. Amazing how they shine up again. Also, about two or three times each year, I give the leather on these boots (feet and backstay) a good wax polish and buffing. I hate to polish boots, but in this case, I make an exception. They really do look good when they shine, though I don't go all crazy about shining them like some other guys do.

So here they are after three years of cautious care but regular wear:


BTW, the dimpling on the back of the heels is caused by my bootjack -- where it squeezes the back of the boot when I pull it off. The dimpling seems more pronounced in the photo than "in real life."

Oh, and before you ask, how "regular" is "regular" in how often I wear these boots? I'd say I wear them to work 3 - 4 times each month; I wear them when riding the Harley when I ride to work and also 3 - 4 times each month just tooling around the 'hood; and I wear them about 3 - 4 times each month otherwise. I'd say about 60 - 80 hours/month.

Life is short: enjoy your boots!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How Do I Make My Cowboy Boots Not Look Gay?

Yep, here it goes again:


Another Google search landed this question, "How do I make my cowboy boots not look gay?" on the cowboy boots and jeans page on my website.

I feel very sorry for the guy who actually asked this question. Well, anyway, I will give a serious answer to this silly question:

Regular cowboy boots are worn by many men, and the vast majority of those men are straight. They wouldn't wear boots if they thought the boots "looked gay" because the last thing a straight guy wants to have happen is to have anyone cast doubt on his "straightness" by what he is wearing on his feet.

Therefore, in my opinion, boots themselves do not "look" gay -- this question relates a seriously misplaced concern. The misplaced concern is about the person -- not the boots. The person is probably afraid that when he wears boots, he may display characteristics that sexual stereotyping cause people to believe someone is gay. I will not describe those characteristics, because as a gay man, I believe that my doing so could reaffirm that I believe those stereotypes are accurate and true, which they are not.

Back to the point: how do you make the wearer of cowboy boots not "look gay?"

1. Stand tall and have an outward appearance of a happy, relaxed, and confident man. SMILE! Nobody likes a sourpuss.

2. Look other people in the eye -- not downward or away.

3. Make sure your boots look good with what you are wearing -- polished smooth leather, clean exotic skins, or if you're going for that bad-boy rough-and-tumble biker-look, then wear appropriate "biker clothing" like denim or leather jeans -- not shorts.

4. Make sure your boots fit properly. Boots that are too large make a guy walk oddly, which can be presumed to be one of those stereotypical behaviors that I referred to above.

5. Have a confident and secure stride. That is, walk normally. Don't clunk your boot heels or tip-toe. If you are not accustomed to wearing boots, watch how you walk on stairs. It is very easy to trip up a set of stairs when wearing boots if you're not used to them.

Boots unto themselves are not gay (this is a link) but if someone has to ask this question, then perhaps he should consider getting professional counseling. Seriously, I worry about people who think like that -- it's a sure sign of something else behind the curtain. The guy is trying to blame an inanimate object as a method of hiding repressed feelings. Go talk to a professional.

Life is short: wear boots confidently.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bigger Isn't Necessarily Better

Harley has introduced its new 2012 lineup of motorcycles, and despite the hype wrapped around new motorcycles, I have some concerns.

The new touring class bikes, among a few others, will come standard with 103 cubic inch (1688cc) engines. They promote this engine as having more power and will cruise at lower rpm. What they also don't say but another on-line article says that these engines will be water-cooled (for the first time) which means that they will have a small radiator.

I thought that the larger engine and radiator would mean that the new bikes would be heavier. So I did some sluething, comparing specifications of the 2012 Road King (812 pounds on-the-road weight) with my 2008 RK (775 pounds on-the-road weight). 37 pounds heavier. Hmmm...

Will 37 pounds make that much of a difference? Well... it could.

One of the first things that I noticed on my 2008 Road King when I brought it home was how much harder it was for me to handle -- not while riding, but while trying to park it or even move it around in my garage. Its weight and physical size makes it a bear to move when it is not running. I worry that the newer, bigger engines (and radiator) will make the new bikes beyond my ability to handle.

Frankly, I had no trouble achieving cruising speed on my old Dyna Low Rider, which had an 88 cubic inch (1422cc) engine (and no radiator). That bike was sooooo much easier to handle when it was not running. Its on-the-road weight was 630 pounds -- 145 pounds lighter than my current Harley. (Of course, it was a cruiser, not a touring bike, and that is a huge difference. I know that I am comparing apples and oranges.) However, my partner and I rode two-up on that Low Rider regularly and we rode cross-country three times (with a week's worth of clothing packed aboard!) The bike did fine; a larger engine wasn't needed (in my opinion.)

While I have no intentions of getting a new Harley any time soon -- I'm happy with my 2008 Road King, and want to get the investment out of it that I put into it to make it fit me comfortably -- when it comes time to consider a new bike, I'm not so sure I would get another touring-class Harley.

And who knows, by the time I get around to considering my options about another motorcycle, one of these things will happen: 1) I may consider another type of motorcycle, more suitable for how I will use it (which is pretty much just riding around where I live, not going on long trips), or 2) not get another motorcycle at all. As I age, I find that my riding skills are slowly getting worse, such as slower reaction time and fear of riding in the dark because I can't see as well.

I am not ready to give up riding yet -- but I am open to ideas of downsizing to a bike that I can manage more easily. I had dreams of touring which, unfortunately, cannot be met. I can't ride more than 250 miles/day due to my chronic health condition, and my partner cannot ride as a passenger with me. I miss him so much, I find there are times that I choose not to go for a ride because I want to spend time with him.

uggh... listen-up Harley: not all of us want bigger, heavier, bikes. As we age, those things are harder and harder to handle. And no, I'm not ready for the ultimate "geezer-glide": a trike.

Stay tuned....

Life is short: evaluate your options and know your limits, too.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cowboy Boots with a Suit

I see fairly frequent internet searches that direct visitors to this blog and my website asking, "can you wear cowboy boots with a suit?" I have blogged about this before.

The answer is, of course you "can" -- as in, yes it is possible -- but the real question is, do you want to? So many men worry about what other people think about what they wear on their feet. Men who are mature, confident, and enjoy boots wear them with suits regularly. While I rarely wear a suit, cowboy boots are my choice of footwear when I have to dress up.

My twin brother was born in a suit. Well, almost. But he has always enjoyed dressing up and his profession required that he wear a suit almost every day. Thankfully (from my perspective), he got the suit genes and I got the jeans genes. I am much more comfortable in blue jeans than a suit. In my profession, I do not have to dress up, and appreciate that. I think I'd die if I had to wear a suit every day.

But I digress... I had the pleasure of attending a formal reception in honor of my brother as he was retiring. He knew that he could get me to wear a suit, but the footwear always would be boots -- I wore boots with a tux when I was Best Man for his wedding, and have worn boots at other formal occasions over the years, including receptions at the White House and various foreign embassies in Washington, D.C.

He and his wife are staying with me this month. Their home is in Europe, but they are here for him to go through the shenanigans of his retirement, and then spend significant time visiting family and friends in the area where we grew up (where I live.)

My brother bought me a pair of very nice black Lucchese Classic goatskin cowboy boots as a gift to thank me for hosting him, as well as for an early birthday present. He didn't have to do that, but the boots are very much appreciated. They are comfortable, very good-looking, solid boots. I wore them at his retirement reception, and met and spoke with very high-ranking officials who came to present my brother an award and to wish him well.

There were hundreds of people there, and all the men wore suits. I am happy to say that I was not the only man in boots -- there was another senior statesman in boots, too (that looked like my new boots -- classy black dress cowboy boots).

No one said anything about what I had on my feet. No one. Honestly, nobody cares. All the fashion advisers who have tantrums about men wearing boots with a suit or formal wear should review their narrow thinking, because good-looking boots can look good on a confident man in a suit.

'nuf said. Bro', thanks for the boots; they're great.

Larger and more photos of these boots are here (link).

Life is short: wear boots!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Brother Is Now Officially Retired

My twin brother, J, has been in town since 30 July, and he is staying with my partner and me in our home. It is great having him around again. All week this past week, though, he has been involved in a lot of meetings leading up to his official retirement, which was yesterday.

My partner and I were invited to attend a reception in his honor at his place of work yesterday afternoon. We knew this was going to be very special, so one of our sisters arranged a surprise for him. You see, he told his wife that he would be busy all week and that she should not plan to travel from their home in France and arrive in DC until tomorrow (Sunday), since he wouldn't have time to spend with her during his last week of work. She bought a non-refundable air ticket that would bring her to DC on Sunday, 7 August.

Then we found out two weeks ago that his boss was going to have this reception, and a very, very special guest was going to attend it. Alas, my sister-in-law found that the cost to change her airline ticket would have been more than 500 Euro -- waaaayyy too much.

However, one of our sisters arranges travel for VIP travelers in the same place where my brother works. She made some inquiries and pulled some strings, and arranged for my sister-in-law to travel on Thursday. Keeping her early visit a surprise was hard to do -- but I kept my brother distracted on Thursday (so he wouldn't phone his wife) and our sister picked up his wife at the airport and had her stay in her home that night.

Back to the reception -- it was quite an affair. Several hundred people attended, which didn't surprise me but I think my brother was in shock. We were mixing and mingling, then his boss got everyone's attention. The boss said the usual pleasantries, then said, "and to present your award and official retirement certificate, we have some special guests. First, let's ask someone special to you to be with you as you receive it..."

...then my sister-in-law stepped out from behind a curtain. My brother rushed to her, hugged her tightly, and I could tell that he was asking, "how did you get here? When did you arrive? Who arranged this?" ... while I didn't hear exactly what he said, my "twin thing" was communicating 100% of his feelings through me. I tell 'ya, tears began to well up.

But the boss wasn't done. He continued, "now let's have our special guest make the official presentation...." and out walked one of the highest ranking officials in the entire U.S. Government. I can't say who it was or the title, because I don't want to attract media attention to this blog. But let me confirm, that person is impressive!

My brother went into shock. His jaw dropped to the floor (almost) and I could tell that he was shaking. Seriously nervous. The official was gracious, kind, and thoughtful. The official gave a very heartwarming speech and congratulated my brother on his 32 years of service to our country.

The room burst into applause. Then my brother was asked to speak. He stood before the group at the microphone and I could tell that he was struggling. He was still shaking. He looked at me, and I smiled warmly at him and gave him a hand signal which between us means, "go for it".

He composed himself, and said, "my brother should be giving this speech. He's the public speaker in the family and we never could shut him up." That crack lightened the mood and caused everyone to laugh. My brother thanked everyone very graciously. Then he called me, my partner, and my five siblings who were there to join his wife at the front of the room, and gave an impassioned thanks to us for our support.

It was then that both he and I broke into tears. But good tears.

Now my brother turns the page on a new chapter in his life. His wife, me, and our wonderful family will be by his side, always.

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

P.S.: I was wearing a suit (yuck), silk tie (double-yuck), and a new pair of very dressy black Lucchese goatskin cowboy boots (yea!) that my brother bought for me for our birthday that is coming up. I'll feature photos on my website and this blog at a later date.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cowboy Boots and Shorts

I am not the only one who thinks that cowboy boots and shorts do not go together. I found this on a popular mainstream blog, linked from a Facebook friend. LOL!

If you wear shorts, then wear sneakers (and don't ride a motorcycle). If you wear cowboy boots, then wear jeans or khakis or casual to dressy business clothes. Even a suit and boots go well together. But not shorts and cowboy boots! No no no no no!

Life is short: find your kindred spirits.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Do Men Wear Pants Inside Boots?

More internet searches continue to come up with people entering the question, "do men wear pants inside boots?" or "tuck pants into boots?" or "do guys wear jeans inside boots?"

Okay, I have blogged on this matter ad naseum but this one summarizes it.

I really, really, I mean really wonder, why in the heck do so many people search that one question every day? For the past 30 days, over 200 people have search that question (or related) EVERY.SINGLE.DAY! They have been directed either to this blog or to my website from search results.

I am completely befuddled. Why do so many people ask that question? It's like an obsession!

To save you the pain of clicking through this blog, I'll address this issue once more:

1. In the United States, men who wear boots wear them with jeans or slacks or even business suits over their boots. Myself included. I wear boots every day, but only a few times, like when I am wearing breeches, do I choose to wear pants inside my boots. Breeches are made for that purpose -- to have tall boots over them.

2. If pants (or breeches or leathers) are tucked into boots, it's done with tall boots, like a cowboy's buckaroo boots, or a biker's tall engineer or harness boots. Civil War re-enactors and Renaissance Fair participants also show their tall boots with the clothes they are wearing, because that is how men wore their boots during the period they are recreating.

3. Most traditional cowboy boots and the majority of "biker boots" are short(er). Most cowboy boots are 12" - 13" tall. Many biker boots are 11" to 12" tall. One doesn't have much boot to show, and pants tucked into shorter boots just doesn't look right. So that's why most men who wear boots wear them with pants over them, not tucked inside.

4. There are always exceptions -- certain uniforms specify pants tucked into boots, like motorcycle police officers and military. Exceptions also extend to equestrian riders, doormen, and a few other professions.

That's it. Ask the question, "do men wear pants inside boots?" -- the answer is, "yes, sometimes... in the right setting with tall boots and the right clothing."

Now you know.

Life is short: stop obsessing!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Even Cops Think Their Boots are Hypnotic

As demonstrated by this brief exchange on Facebook, it's evident that even motorcycle police officers like how their boots look.

There's something about how the boots look with a uniform that attracts a lot of attention from many people -- women and men, straight and gay, cops and non-cops alike. 

I'm glad to have my thoughts about the boots confirmed in writing by a Motor Officer. (giggle).

'nuf said.

Life is short:  wear boots!  (Police patrol boots or otherwise!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Motorcycle Harness Boots Review for Bikers

I have been a motorcycle operator for more than 33 years. During that time, I have also acquired, tested, worn, and worn out many pairs of motorcycle boots.

The harness boot has a rugged, masculine design. It has harness straps wrapped around the instep and across the back of the heel, attached to brass or nickel rings on each side. The harness straps serve no other purpose but to add an interesting detail to what is otherwise a plain boot. The boots present a solid appearance. Many men like to wear harness boots -- about equal to the bikers who choose to wear engineer boots. (And choosing to dismiss the kids on crotch-rockets who wear sneakers.)

I have many pairs of harness boots and choose to wear them frequently. This blog post presents my opinions about traditional 12" (common height) harness boots made for bikers to wear while operating a motorcycle. (I should note that because I am talking about shorter harness boots, these boots are worn by bikers with jeans or pants over them, not tucked into them.)

1. Chippewa Harness Boots (Style number 27868)

By far, these boots present the best value-vs-quality of 12" harness boots. They are fully leather-lined, yet the boots remain flexible and thus comfortable to wear all day long. The boots have Vibram 430 ("mini-lug") soles, which provide good traction. They are made in the USA, and have many features that demonstrate quality construction. While not designed to be water-proof, they will resist water from rain or puddles quite well (I know from experience.)

I have worn Chippewa harness boots for a lot of years. They are durable, rugged, and look great, even after years of wear. The soles are stitched, so it is possible to have a cobbler replace them if you wear them out (unlike soles that are glued on which cannot be replaced.) I highly recommend these boots if you're looking for a pair of good quality, durable, traditional motorcycle harness boots.

2. Boulet Harness Boots (Style number 6082)

Boulet boots are made in Canada. The quality of manufacture is superb. The boots are leather lined, though the lining is a bit less thick than found on Chippewa harness boots. Therefore, these boots flex a bit more, but do not flop over. The boots have a typical and traditional nitrile oil- and acid-resistant sole, which provides moderate traction (not as good as a Vibram sole, but decent.)

One thing to note: apparently they specify measurements of boots differently in Canada than in the U.S. Boulet lists these boots as being 14", but the height of the leather from the top of the heel (where it meets the sole) to the top of the boot is 12". I guess they include the heel in their measurements. Also, the boots come in only "E" and "EEE" width. However, the Boulet "E" is equivalent to a US "D" with, and a Boulet "EEE" width is equivalent to a US "EE" width.

These are good boots and also present good value-vs-quality.

3. Wesco Harness Boots (Model: standard short [11"] harness boot. Wesco does not use stock numbers.)

The West Coast Shoe Company ("Wesco") of Scappoose, Oregon, USA, has been making exceptional-quality boots for a long time. These boots are the most rugged of all boots that bikers may wear. They're built like a tank, and will last forever. But because each pair of these boots is made by hand to high standards, the cost to buy them is the highest of all similar-designed and similar-height harness boots. A new pair of these boots costs US$429 (as of August 2, 2011) from Stompers Boots and US$475 from the manufacturer.

The boots are 11" high (but can be made higher by custom order). The soles can be selected, but most bikers get Vibram 100 (big lug.) The leather is the thickest of all leather for boots I have ever seen. Even unlined, as my pair of these boots is, the boots do not flex very much. Due to the thick leather from which these boots are made, they are the heaviest of all in this category -- they weigh twice as much as Chippewa or Boulet harness boots. Therefore, in my opinion, these boots are not as comfortable -- because they don't flex much and are so heavy. They have made my feet feel uncomfortably warm when I have worn them while riding on a hot day, so I reserve the times when I wear them for cooler weather.

While they say that these boots are not water-proof, I can attest that they are definitely water-resistant. I have walked through mud and streams in my Wescos and my feet have not gotten wet.

By far, these are the best harness boots on the market, but they also have their drawbacks due to their weight and less flexibility. If you are a typical biker who has one or two pairs of motorcycle boots, then I would rank Wesco boots lower on my list of recommendations due to the cost and that they can be uncomfortably warm and heavy on the feet. Don't get me wrong -- the boots are great, but they're not as comfortable as Chippewa or Boulet harness boots.

4. Harley-Davidson (branded) harness boots (Various stock and model numbers, which change with whatever Chinese manufacturer that H-D has licensed to make boots using their name and logo.)

Okay, so you picked up on that -- H-D boots are not made by the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Think about it: Harley makes motorcycles; darn good motorcycles. They don't make footwear, jackets, shirts, or helmets. The line of H-D "motorclothes" is farmed out to various third-party manufacturers to make these products on behalf of the Motor Company.

Because of that, boots with the H-D name are made by the cheapest sources that H-D can find -- which these days is in China. The quality of the leather hides used to make the boots is poor. It is often blemished, thin in some spots and thick in others. The soles are rubber of some sort -- don't let the Harley "plug" in the sole make you think the soles are Vibram. They're not. The boots are all machine-made, and often have soles that are glued on, not stitched (so the soles cannot be replaced.)

Note: Ad-tec, Guide Gear, and X-Element harness boots are made by the same company in China that makes H-D harness boots. Not recommended!

As you can tell, I do not recommend these boots. They present poor value-vs-quality. You are paying for the name, not quality. Don't fall for that. If you're looking for decent, typical biker's harness boots, get yourself a pair of Chippewa or Boulet boots and you'll be happy. Best yet, your feet will be happy.


The majority of guys with whom I ride motorcycles often choose to wear harness boots, though some could benefit from the information in this blog post (that is, the guys who bought H-D boots). I hope this post has given you information to make an informed decision.

And if that's not enough, I created a video where I visually describe and demonstrate this information. The video is embedded below. Learn and enjoy.

Life is short: choose motorcycle harness boots well -- and always wear boots and long pants while riding. Remember: boots for the bike; sneakers for the gym. Period (don't be a Darwin Award Winner.)





Note: there are other manufacturers who make short harness boots, such as Durango, Red Wing, Double-H, Frye, and others. Believe it or not, I do not have them all. (For example, new Frye harness boots are way overpriced for the quality, even though they are U.S.-made. My 14" vintage Frye harness boots of the '70s do not compare with the cheap-o quality 12" Frye harness boots made today.)

The opinions above are about boots that I actually own and wear. If you have shorter harness boots made by other manufacturers, please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion about them. Thanks.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Worst Gathering Spot for Men's Footwear

The other day, I went to a strip shopping center to go to the drugstore to pick up a prescription for a senior pal.  It was busy; I had to park quite a ways away from the drugstore. The walk to the store took me by a Starbucks.

Oh-my-gosh... all the men there had on shorts with the most ugly footwear ever made -- mostly flip-flops, some upper-end sandals (that they buy for the name), and even crocs. On men!  Blimey!

Two guys had on sneakers, but that was it...

I didn't expect to see any guys in boots, and I guess in summer's heat, what could I expect? And being SB's typical clientele -- more than half of them were fidgiting with hand-held gadgets, texting away. Oh, fiddle-faddle.

I tell 'ya, it was u-g-l-y. When I left the drugstore, I took a longer, more circuitous route so I didn't have to pass that place on my return to where I parked my Harley.

Blecchhh... I don't like Starbucks anyway. Not being a coffee-drinker, they never appealed to me.  Plus, I just can't fathom paying US$5.00 for some sugary frothy latte-this or smoothie-that. Yuck.

I never was cut out to be a yuppie.

Life is short:  avoid unbootedness.