Friday, September 30, 2011

Basic Grammar

I continue to be appalled at people who grew up in the United States and who write with the most fundamental errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Here is a snippet of a message that I received the other day:

I bought a Beautiful Pair of Old Gringo All Leather Cowboy Boot's With Wooden Peg's Through The Sole's Great Quality Cowboy Boot's.

And from the same author, another in a follow-up:

Hey dude, I love your cowboy boots there the bomb!

Here is another:

U R good to lern from.

Here is another:

I think, that, you should, create, another video.

Oh please... come on, folks! I am accepting and understanding when English is not a primary language, so I do not criticize messages that I receive from people who live in other countries where English is not the primary language. I recognize that many of these people are trying to communicate with me in my language because I may not understand their language.

However, each of the above examples came from people who identified themselves to be from the United States. I have no clue why someone would capitalize the first letter of every word in a sentence and use an apostrophe before each "s" to make a word plural. The plural of boot is boots. That's it. The only time one may use an apostrophe with that word is in this example, "the left boot's heel needs repair." Apostrophe "s" is used to indicate a possessive -- such as the boot's heel.

Do NOT get me started on how many people do not understand the differences between "there" (designation of place), "their" (designation of plural ownership), and "they're" (contraction of "they are.") These words are used incorrectly all the time! Arrrgggh!

Abbreviations through text-speak, such as "U R" drive me crazy, but for purposes of keeping a message shorter, it is understandable. However, if writing a message for email, please spell out these short words. Do NOT use the single-letter abbreviations just because you usually communicate via text message. Some of us do not.

And finally, one does NOT use a comma when taking a breath. Seriously -- a comma after every two words? Really? Oh brother.... if in doubt, leave the comma out.

Okay, end-of-rant. I cannot anticipate that everyone may communicate using the language and skills of a college graduate, but I do expect U.S.-educated residents to employ the most fundamental of grammar, spelling, and punctuation skills. Is that too much to ask?

Life is short: Write right!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Viewership: Zing!


It is not surprising to me, but I remain amazed at the sheer volume of interest in my motorcycle police galleries that I posted on a photo gallery software system on my website.

I announced it on this blog, and probably had a few hundred visitors come from here.

I announced it in the "what's new" section of my website, and also saw a few hundred visitors originate from there.

Google is bringing lots of visitors, too. Amazing how quickly Google indexes this blog with its search engine, and sends people searching "motorcycle cops" and related key words to that gallery.

I announced it on the "Boots on Line" board on hotboots.com, and man, oh man, the "visitorship" went ... zing! Not a minute after I posted a message there, someone from from my home town immediately followed that link to check it out. (Hmmm... interesting... another follower of hotboots.com where I live? Well, I'm glad there is at least one other Bootman besides me in my hometown where boots are rarely worn except by real bikers.)

Throughout the day, hundreds and hundreds of visitors explored that gallery. By 5pm yesterday, my website logged the highest number of visitors and viewership it has ever had in one 12-hour period -- over 20,000 page views. Wow! All that in just a half day!

Well, I'm glad there is so much interest in those galleries. And if you are among those who have gotten tired about the prattling I have done about cops, boots, and this gallery, this blog will resume with a different line of thought tomorrow.

Life is short: enjoy the view!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Way of Showing Cop Galleries

Over the last several evenings, I have been experimenting with using a new-to-me software tool that allows for easier management of photo galleries on my website.

I think it is working -- Check it out to see the galleries from the recent Police Motorcycle Competition that I attended last weekend.

If you will, send me a message to tell me how it works for you.

I have had a recently retired cop friend check it out for me. He has nothing to do but ride his Harley and give me grief (using his witty charm) by sending ransom demands. He and another local cop who I have known since grade school both said that the new gallery seems to work for them. Yea! It will take time to integrate it throughout my website, but I've done a quick-n-dirty redirect to make it "go live" already.

Life is short: use new products that can help make life easier (especially if they're free! Thanks, Coppermine!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Desensitized to Cops and Boots

I guess it was bound to happen. When a guy like me who is particularly fond of tall motorcycle patrol boots and cops in uniforms surrounds himself with ... cops in uniforms wearing tall patrol boots -- like the situation in which I found myself at the recent police motorcycle competition that I judged -- I no longer thought anything other than "nice boots, good looking breeches, now how are you riding?"

I know a lot of guys in a certain group have a "passion" for this stuff. I did, too. Sure, I still like to put on my tall black patrol boots with leather or fabric breeches when I ride my Harley, or on occasions to wear around the house. I might even don a uniform to wear privately to play with my partner. Fun stuff -- like "arrest" him when he gets home from work for the crime of being too good to me. That kind of thing.

This past weekend, I saw lots and lots of uniforms and boots. After a while, I heard myself saying, "oh, there are a pair of Dress Instep Dehners. There's another-- that pair has a double sole. That pair has lug soles. Oh those are Chippewa Hi-Shine engineer boots. Those are Chippewa Patrol Boots." Then more Dehners. Lots of Dehners.

You see it so much you stop looking. Well, let's say you stop gawking. Sure, I admire a well-kept pair of tall patrol boots on a fit cop in uniform. I am a healthy, red-blooded, gay man. But that's it. I have no fantasies, no thoughts in any way about what I'm seeing.

I guess that comes from being in a monogamous relationship so long. I don't think "that way" about anyone other than my partner. And also because I have over a dozen pairs of tall black patrol boots of my own, seeing them on someone else is ... just ... seeing the same thing again and again. Further, I have several friends who are motor officers. I ride with them regularly (when they are not on duty). No.big.deal. They're nice guys -- the good guys whose service protects us every day.

Okay, I am "desensitized." That doesn't mean, however, that I don't stop taking pictures and working on a new photo gallery for my website. The gallery should be ready tomorrow. Look for the announcement soon.

By the way, why is there a copyright overlay on these images? Unfortunately, I have observed that some unscrupulous people have downloaded images from this blog or my website and reposted my images as their own elsewhere. So overprinting a copyright statement is one way to try to stop that bad behavior.

Life is short: know when it is no longer overwhelming.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Where You Want the Bike To Be

I see this all the time when professionals ride motorcycles in competitions, yet I remain in awe every time I see it -- look carefully at the photos below. My friend-the-cop is demonstrating a riding technique that is very difficult to master. The technique is, "look where you want the bike to be, not at the path of travel."

This is how such professionals -- and some friends in my motorcycle club who have overcome fear of dropping the bike -- get a heavyweight motorcycle to turn in a 16' (4.9m) circle.

Personally, while I have practiced, I cannot do that. You have to be able to turn your head 90 degrees to the left and to the right. Unfortunately, due to a past skydiving injury, my head no longer swivels like that. I barely have a 30-degree turn to the left and a 45-degree turn to the right capability.

Oh well, it's great to watch the pros do it.




Sunday, September 25, 2011

No Wet Cops After All


Thankfully, the threat of rain was only a threat. When I awoke yesterday morning, the radar indicated the skies were clear, and the roads looked damp, but not wet. So I donned my leather BDUs (because I like the cargo pockets), pulled on my Wesco Boss boots, a t-shirt, and my lightweight leather jacket. Got my Harley out of the garage and met five others from my club, then hauled our butts at oh-dark-30 to the location of the police motorcycle rodeo held some 40 miles away.

Fortunately, the rain never materialized. In fact, the clouds broke up and the sun came out -- and I got a bit of a sunburn!

I enjoyed serving as a judge in the competition again this year. Lots of cops who participate in it are very skilled riders. However, despite their level of skill, this year 15 riders dropped their bikes during the competition. Each time I saw a bike go down, I yelled "ouch!" Fortunately, no one was hurt (other than their pride.)

I will post more about the event in the next few days. It sure was fun!

Photo left is one of the skilled competitors -- notice that he's looking where he wants his bike to go, not down. The photo below is my friend from my local PD riding in the competition.

Life is short: learn from what you observe.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wet Cops

As you read this, I am serving as a judge at a multistate regional police motorcycle riding competition. I served as a judge last year and was asked back to serve as a judge again this year. I enjoy it -- I can be right in the midst of the activity watching the skilled riders weave through the course.

Unlike most years when this event is held and we have stunningly beautiful early autumn weather, this year the entire DC Metro area is under the threat of another day of rain. All day yesterday (Friday) ... rain, rain, rain. Bleccchhhh. I'm tired of it.

The police motorcycle competition goes on, rain or shine. A cop who I work with told me, "we have ridden in a hurricane before!" Hmmmmm....

Let's hope the rain holds off, but if not, there will be more than wet cops at this event -- I'll be out there in it, too. :-)

Life is short: keep dry!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Copnapped

A buddy who is a motor officer just called... he is having dinner with some friends who are in town for a motorcycle police riding competition. He invited me to go with him. He wants company for a long, sloggy, rainy drive to Outer Slobbovia across the river in another state.

Sure... sounds fun. I have had dinner with this group for three years now as they gather for this annual event. My usual Friday night dinner with my large and extended family will be missed this week.

Life is short -- go with a cop when "requested." LOL!

Distant

Lately, I have had a few people contact me by various methods of electronic communication to say that they were coming to Washington, DC, and thought perhaps we could "meet up." Actually, I have never met up or down or sideways, but that's a different issue. (I tend to be picky about the proper use of English.)

Depending on the medium used to reach me, I respond differently.

If contact is made through a fetish site (where I have a BHD identity to maintain it as me and not allow someone else to use the screen name and cause confusion or misrepresentation)... I generally reply with a gentle but firm, "no thanks." That's especially true if the person's screen name has these words in it: "bottom", "boy", "boi", or "4you". These names imply they want to be on the receiving end for sex. I am not interested in meeting "up" (or down, or sideways) with people who are looking for sex. I reply that I am in a monogamous relationship and I do not meet other men who have interests like that.

If someone writes to me through my website, which generates an email, or sends me an email message directly, then that's different. I read the message for what it says. Something normal like, "I am coming to DC for a meeting, and I would like to meet you for dinner" is better than, "Hey, sexy, let's meet up at The Eagle at midnight and see what happens." Seriously, I have received messages like that on rare occasions. I am not a night owl, and I do not go out for such clandestine rendezvous.

However, the lunch or dinner option is a possibility, though probably not likely. I do not work or live in the city, and I avoid going into the city if I can. I am long over giving tours to visitors, thank you, and I do not enjoy social venues in the city. Getting into the city is a hassle, plus I really do not have the time. I work in the downtown of my Maryland suburban hometown and by the time I got on the subway to ride into the city to meet someone for lunch, it would be time to return again.

Further, my partner and I never go out to eat, so I prepare all of our evening meals at home. We prefer it that way for a number of reasons (I'm cheap and on a very restricted diet; he's reclusive.)

I have also had some guys ask to come visit my home and have a tour of my boot collection. Sorry, I don't do that, either. My partner and I do not have visitors in our home. It's really all I can do to accommodate occasional visits from out-of-town family and my mother-in-law. My partner can't stand having his routine thrown out of whack. We do not entertain other people. Not being drinkers of alcohol, we don't have friends over for wine or cocktails. I know that not being interested in entertaining is quite the opposite from what most people expect of gay men, but so be it. My partner does not have any friends (at all, anywhere). While I have a lot of friends, I visit them elsewhere -- usually on the saddle of my Harley.

I know this sounds strange, distant, and unsociable. It's what I do to accommodate my ever-reclusive partner who can't stand social-anything. That's okay, he makes up for it in many other ways. I consider myself to be sociable and outgoing, but my partner is quite the opposite. I respect him and his wishes for privacy, and the sanctity of our home.

Thanks for your interest. A meet "up" (or down or sideways) probably won't happen. Thanks, but please understand why I say "no." It's not you -- it's me and my respect for my antisocial but otherwise adorable and loving partner.

Life is short: make your limits clear.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chippewa Boots Expensive?

Someone searched the internet with a question, "why are Chippewa boots so expensive?" which directed the visitor to this blog. But the post to which the question was directed did not answer the question.

The answer is simple: Chippewa motorcycle boots are still made in the USA, and are made with quality materials and craftsmanship. While the boots are not hand-made, the steps in their assembly and construction are supervised by humans. U.S. humans.

Then compare that process with boots made in China, for example: X-Element, Joe Rocket, River Road, and even some of the best-known U.S. labels: Red Wing, Frye, Harley-Davidson. Boots made in China are made with inferior materials and are assembled almost exclusively by machine. The quality is poor, and there is no "craftsmanship." You are paying more for the label (license) than for the product.

Boots made in China are inexpensive. The manufacturers use very cheap labor and low-end materials to offer their U.S. retailers a lower price. But believe me, they're still making a lot of money on the deal.

Compare these differences:

Chippewa Motorcycle Boots -- most are fully leather-lined; Vibram soles; soles stitched on; some have steel toes; hardware is resistant to oxidation (rusting); leather is top grain, smooth, and unblemished.

Chinese Motorcycle Boots -- mostly unlined; neoprene or other cheap rubber soles; soles are glued on, not stitched; steel toes are rare; hardware is not treated so it rusts easily; leather may often be a bottom of a cowhide split (see explanation here) so it is blemished, uneven, and lacks lustre.

So why are Chippewa boots more expensive than these Chinese-made knock-offs? Now that you know more about how the boots are made and what they are made of, as well as where they are made, you understand that it costs more for better materials and craftsmanship, and to support U.S. workers who are paid a decent wage and benefits. I support U.S. labor. I would far rather pay a little more to keep a fellow American employed than export the labor to China. (And I know that no one in China will read this blog post, because China still blocks Blogspot through internet censorship.)

I really did not mean for this post to go on the tangent to promote American labor and sound like I am bashing China. But facts are facts. Quality is quality. Workers need good jobs, and I support my fellow countrymen.

Life is short: know quality when you see it, and invest in that quality while supporting U.S. labor.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Leather Care

As the weather where I live has been cooling, I have been enjoying my leathers again. I wear my gear when I ride my Harley (naturally), but I also wear my gear "just around." While I go about errands in the neighborhood, grocery shopping, and caring for my legion of seniors who I look after.

Yeah, I have quite a bit of gear that I have acquired over many years. Biker wear includes leather breeches, jeans, chaps, vests, and jackets. Every-day wear includes leather shirts, and jeans. Boots always (I don't own or care to wear sneakers or shoes of any sort. Blech!)

Most of my gear is hung carefully in a rather large closet in my home office. I also keep some jackets and chaps hung in the garage near my bike. I have a few jackets in the hall closet as well.

As I prepare to renew leather-wearing again for Fall, Winter, and Spring, it's important to check it over and condition the leathers. I look for any threads that may be loose. Usually there are not any, but for example I found a loose thread on a hem of a pair of favorite lightweight leather pants. My partner is a whiz in the sewing department -- he fixed the hem nicely.

I do not go to great lengths with conditioning leathers, but I am careful to ensure the leather is clean and in good shape. I apply Lexol Leather Conditioner on my leathers, using a light lintless cloth and rubbing it on the leather lightly. I don't apply pressure or rub hard -- that could damage the skin. I "buff it up" so-to-speak.

When leather is kept in good repair, clean and conditioned, it will last forever. It will continue to look good, repel water if I get caught in the rain, and keep me warm.

I may bring a couple pairs of pants or breeches and a few shirts to our basement while my partner is watching whatever blather he recorded on his Tivo. I'll work on my leathers and watch TV with him. In no time, the gear is looking good and ready for another three seasons of regular use.

Yeah, I have a lot of gear and I wear it. I am not one of those gay guys with a trunk full of leather gear worn to the once-a-year event, fashion show or club run. My gear is "out there" and "on me" often.

No, I do not wear leather at my office, but I do wear my protective gear when I ride my Harley to get there. I store it carefully and wear regular clothes with good-looking motorcycle boots around the office all day.

When I get home, I take off the clothes that I wear to work (dress shirt and pants) and don the leather. My partner arrives home from work about an hour after I do, and I greet him as he walks in the door in full leather. He smiles, kisses me hello, and we talk about our respective days.

I may go out after dinner to check on a senior pal or attend a meeting. Whatever leather I have on stays on (but I admit, I do not wear a Muir Cap when I'm out and about; I wear a ballcap). Everyone who knows me has seen me in "full gear" and doesn't say a thing. Granted, I don't flaunt full fetishwear when I am in the community -- just a pair of leather jeans, a shirt, and a jacket. Boots, of course. No.big.deal.

Honestly, I don't know what the hang-ups are that some guys have about wearing leather in public, but I have blogged about that a lot, so I'll suffice it to say that leather is what I wear, and people are interested in what I have to say, not what I wear.

Life is short: keep your leather in good shape, and wear it often!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Leather on a Budget

A few guys have written to me asking me about my leather gear along with questions such as where I bought it. Some have commented that they admired the gear and wanted to get leathers like it, but have not saved up enough money yet. Recently, someone asked me to make a video about "leather on a budget" like I did recently on "Biker Boots on a Budget."

While it may take me longer to think about what I might put into a video on "buying leather on a budget," let me address the question in a blog post. I'll get around to doing a video sometime later.

First very important point: do not buy cheap leather from on-line retailers that sell gear made in Pakistan or China. You'll be very disappointed. The leather is all shiny and smells great when you get it, but soon enough, the garment starts to fall apart at the seams. The leather discolors. Hardware rusts. Leather stretches. Blemishes become obvious. So by all means, before you buy leather (especially from on-line vendors), ask about the origin of the leather and where the product is made. If the leather is from Pakistan or China, then forget about it.

The good stuff uses leather made in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, Germany, Mexico, or South America (to name most, but not all countries that produce quality leather).

You can usually tell quality leather origin in two ways: vendors of the good stuff will tell you on their website and on a label in the garment what the source of the leather was. You can also make a good guess by the price. If a price seems too good to be true, such as a pair of chaps or leather jeans for about US$100, then run! Something's wrong -- usually with the leather, but also with the construction.

Usually, leather garments sized in off-the-shelf sizes will fit "okay" but usually will hang funny on regular people who are not built like buff models used in photos on websites. The gear may sag or pucker in the wrong places -- such as off-the-shelf chaps may pucker around the crotch. The gear may be cut to fit men of different heights, and close with snaps along the bottom (many off-the-shelf chaps come that way.) The trouble is, chaps that are not hemmed, but rather are cut, eventually fray at the bottom and don't look right. Or the snap closures are bulky and they eventually oxidize, too, so they will not close correctly in a year or two.

The difference in cost between quality off-the-shelf, sized-for-the-masses leather and custom leather gear really isn't that much. But the fit is astronomically different. A good pair of quality chaps from any of the vendors listed on my website links page can make you great stuff for market prices. Yes, some of those market prices may seem very high. Shop around. Wait for sales. Usually leather vendors offer sales in advance of the holidays.

Oh, one other thing: don't buy a license. Huh? What I mean is, don't buy leather that has a Harley-Davidson logo on it and think you have a high-quality product because you were charged an arm and a leg for it. Check the label in the garment -- you may see a label indicating country of origin as being China, Indonesia, or Pakistan. You see, when a company that has a well-recognized brand name allows its name to be used in a line of related products (such as H-D branded leathers), the Motor Company is licensing the use of its name for that purpose. So what you're doing is buying a license rather than getting even better quality gear for the price. That's why you see me -- a Harley-riding guy -- with "non-label" gear and no H-D brand on it. I have the brand on my bike, and that's where it should be. Not on my lapel.

Back to the subject -- interested in leather gear on a budget? Save your money. Shop around. Use the vendors listed on the links page on my website. Wait for sales.

It is better to wait and buy the good stuff than go for the cheap and have it fall apart soon and look like a sack of potatoes when wearing it.

I wish I could offer some better news on how to buy leather, but the moral of the story is to buy the good stuff, and wait if you have to so you can afford to get quality gear that will last a long time.

Life is short: wear quality gear!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Twice Riding

Woo-hoo!  Sunday (yesterday), I spent the day on my Harley having fun!

The day began early with some motor officer buddies who are practicing for a major competition next week. I watched their practice and judged their riding like I would judge it in the actual event (which I will do next week.) It was great to observe such graceful handling of heavyweight motorcycles. I will post photos of the actual competition when I participate in judging it.

Then later in the morning yesterday, I led a motorcycle ride for my club through the Maryland byways and back roads. It was perfect "leather-weather!" Nine brave souls had the courage to follow me on a ride. (I say "courage" because my reputation for getting lost is legendary.)

We swooped through curves, rode up and down gentle sloping hills, and beheld vistas of the late-summer farm fields, barns, horses, and dairy cattle. It seemed like every turn brought another view of my lovely home state that was better that the one before it. I tell ya, it was stunning.

What did I wear? With mild but coolish temperatures, I chose to wear my retro leather chaps over a pair of lightweight leather jeans. I had the leather jeans tucked into Wesco Motor Patrol boots, which are very comfy. On top, I wore my gray short-sleeve leather shirt (with black accents) and my motocross jacket, which has my club colors on the back. I was perfectly warm, but not too hot.

Did anyone say anything to me about my wearing all leather? Nope, except for one guy who admired the shirt and jacket and asked me where I got them.

I had a great late summer but Fall-feeling day on the Harley with my friends.

Life is short: get out and ride!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How Do Gay Guys Wear Their Boots?

You can verify it for yourself -- someone from Houston, Texas, used his Android to search, "how do gay guys wear their boots?

Really?

I guess his smart phone is smarter than he is, because it directed him to two entries on this blog. The searcher spent almost 20 minutes on this blog, looking at only two posts (here and here). Hmmmm...

But these were not the posts that address the question, in my opinion. This one or this one would have been better.

Anyway, back to the question: How do gay guys wear their boots?

...on their feet like anyone else.

Sheesh. There are two ways one can look at this question:

1. A guy who is gay and on the "bubble," that is, he's not ready to come out yet, so he is wondering if how he wears boots may give away his sexual orientation. That's bullshit -- all guys wear boots the same way. Boot-wearing has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Contrary to stereotypes, gay men who wear boots do not prance around on their tip-toes.

2. The question was entered by another homophobe who in some idiotic way thinks that gay guys wear boots differently from anyone else. I shall refrain from making remarks about the origin of the query or the intelligence (or lack thereof) of the person asking such a question if it were asked with this intent. If he thinks for a moment that gay guys wear boots differently from anyone else, he has been indoctrinated too long by the culture in which he has been exposed all his life. So sad.

Life is short: give benefit of the doubt, but do not suffer fools; if they are old enough to have an Android phone and pay for it's monthly ransom, they are old enough to be better educated.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cool Weather Riding

The air temperatures around where I live in the DC 'burbs of Maryland have dropped considerably. When I left for work yesterday morning, it was 44F (6.7C)! Whew! Time for a warmer jacket and my warm retro chaps! Gloves! And insulated motorcycle boots!

I love this time of year. Crisp, sunny, dry days with cool, snuggly-with-my-man nights. Perfect.

Anyway, the mornings of just hopping on the Harley and taking off for work in whatever-I-am-wearing (shirt, pants, boots) are over. While it's nice not to have to take more time to put on additional layers and then take them off and secure them upon arrival at my destination, I still love autumn and enjoy what I often refer to as, "leather weather."

Yesterday morning, I tried out my new gray leather motorcycle jacket. It felt great. Lots of room to maneuver yet tight enough to keep the wind out and keep me warm.

As any visitor to the leather jackets section of my website knows, I have a variety of jackets from which to select. The lighter-weight jackets are worn when the temperatures are in the low 70s (22C), the mid-weight jackets are worn when the temps are in the mid-50s to 60s (15C), and the heavier jackets that have zip closures on the wrists and close all the way up to the neck are worn when it's cooler than that.

I plan to ride to work this year up until the temperatures reach freezing. I will not run the risk of hitting a patch of ice, which at the time I leave for work in the morning, I may not see because it is always dark.

But meanwhile, "leather weather" is here! Woo-hoo!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Communication is the Key

I was reading a blog post by a police officer who described whether it was good or not good to talk about the job with one's spouse, girl/boyfriend, or in my case, partner.

There is one school of thought that you should keep your job at your job and not talk about it at home. The officer's line of thinking was the opposite, and is consistent with my own. That it, he said, and I feel the same way, that "holding back what happens to you at work will eat your soul and will be the demise of the greatest reward of your personal life -- your marriage" (or in my case, all I'm allowed to call it is "my relationship" because I am prohibited from marrying the man I love. But that's another story for another time....)

Further, he said, "Too many first responders equate their whole identity in being whatever it is they are professionally. All too often, we are guilty of paying more attention to our lives at work than the one at home." He concluded that paragraph by saying, "It's like cheating on your family." That statement caused me to ponder, and agree very much with his profound insight.

While I am not a first responder, I can directly relate to what he said. I had a soaring career for almost 20 years with a respected national organization. I realize now in hindsight how "married to the job" I was. I lived and breathed that job every moment of every day. One may call that behavior "dedicated." I learned later that being so dedicated was taking me away both physically and spiritually from my best half -- my partner.

Bad things would happen on the job, and I would try to suck it up and say to myself, "I'm not going to burden him with that bullshit." But I would dwell on that crap in my mind, and it would affect my whole demeanor in how I related to my best half, my family, and my friends.

I kept rationalizing, "I have a life outside of work. I deal with work at work and can leave it there, and have a life with my partner, family, and friends outside of working hours." I was fooling myself. That was the biggest lie I ever told -- and worse, I told it to myself so much that I believed it for 20 years.

Things came to a head with a major conflict at that job in late 2004. I was so angry and frustrated with daily garbage that when I came home, I unloaded my emotions in unhealthy ways. If my partner didn't love me as much as he does, I'm sure he would have left me. But instead of fighting with me about my personal issues, he became the listener that he is and asked me questions in a gentle way to probe what exactly was going on. So I let it all out. What I had bottled up came flowing out in a torrent of yelling, screaming, and a lot of tears.

Sure, I made some mistakes and that led to this conflict at work. But my partner, being the loving, caring, man that he is, never once said that I did anything wrong. He defended me with absolute certainty that I was right and to hell with everyone else at the job who were making me so miserable. Within a week of finally opening up to him, I quit a job that was eating me alive.

My situation had gotten to the point of "my job or my life" and it was an "either-or." There was no compromise. No middle ground. My partner never threatened to leave me, but made it clear that my behavior was making me very difficult to live with. But more importantly, he pointed out what I was failing to see -- that my misery was affecting not only my mental health, but was making me that negative person that I never would want to be. He sort of held me to a mirror and said, "is this the man you want to be?"

He was so right. His intervention saved my soul, saved our relationship, and saved my sanity. Quitting a job that I thought I loved was the best thing in the world I ever could have done. And it would probably have happened sooner had I talked with him about it years earlier.

I am a fairly resilient man. I also know that my ability to bounce back to the man I want to be is absolutely dependent on communicating with the best reward of my personal life -- my partner.

I communicate a lot with many people, but there's nothing on the level of communication with your partner that is the same. Sure, my twin brother can read my mind and my senior pals are sensitive to share their wisdom. My siblings are close, listen well, and love me, "regardless." It's wonderful to be surrounded by people who "have my back." But there's nothing quite the same as your spousal-equivalent being there to listen, support, and ... as I always say,

... show those you love that you love them.

I definitely agree with Motorcop: "Communication is key." Keeping the dialogue going maintains a healthy relationship with your best half and maintains the integrity of your soul. Thanks, MC, for such a terrific and insightful blog post.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Signs of a Mascuine Gay Man

I am a masculine gay man. Here are my "signs" --






Life is short: know your signs.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Party Time

Yep, it's that time of year again -- in the last four weeks, I have attended 23 birthday parties within my family. Yikes! And there are four more parties this coming weekend! Double-yikes!

No, I do not have 23 siblings. 14 of them are enough, thank-you. Some of these parties were for nieces, nephews, and "The Greats."

I tell 'ya, I am all "caked out." LOL!

It's nice to see all the members of my family who live within driving distance of my home (not all of them do -- I have family scattered around the country and the globe!) One might think it is a bit too much. For me, no... but it does keep me busy riding from place to place. However, I love it.

With such a large family, we do not exchange presents. I give a card, a warm hug, smiles and good cheer. I think I may be among the few who knows everyone's names and their ages... but I have a little secret. I am the keeper of our Family Tree, and I reference it before I go to one of the parties.

While I have attended 23 such festivities over the last four weeks, I have not attended all of them. Some were far away, some were at very inconvenient times, and some conflicted with others.

That's okay... we love each other and do our best to keep in touch, even though this Uncle Martian Dinosaur still refuses to get a data plan on his cell phone and exchange text messages. The younger ones do not use email or the phone, so I communicate with them via Facebook. One way or another, we remain closely connected.

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Website Host Changed Yet Again!

In an uncharacteristic departure from my usual happy, peppy self, this is a "rant warning." Here goes....

My "bootedman" website went down when there was a server issue at Hurricane Electric on September 4. They were unable to resolve it quickly enough for my preferences -- eventually, it took them 60 hours to fix it.

Because I had encountered numerous times of service outages (but none as long as the last one), I decided to migrate my website to a different web host, "DWHS Hosting". It took about eight hours to migrate my site on September 4 - 5, and it got up and running nicely and seems to run quickly. So far, so good.

However, I learned on September 5 (which was a U.S. national holiday) when I had a technical problem that their customer service is unacceptably slow. You cannot call them on the phone -- you only get a recording saying how important your call is, and promises that someone will call back. They never did.

Then on September 11, I encountered another serious problem, and submitted several "support tickets" to explain what was going on -- only to get a reply via email many hours later with no solution and blameshifting the problem to my ISP.

On September 12, I submitted more updates about the problem, and I finally got a response asking if I had Skype. Sheesh... I don't want to Skype with anyone -- I just want the problem fixed. Arrrggghhh! Okay, don't use DWHS web hosting. Their service works fine when it works, and as long as you do not need technical assistance. If you do, forget about it. They have poor customer service. While DWHS is U.S.-based, I think their "customer service" is only one person. I have had to migrate my site again to another web host.... uggghhh. I hate this. What a mess.

I would go back to Hurricane Electric in a heartbeat if they could give me a better promise of up-time. But they are honest, and cannot make such promises.

Before finding another web host, I called the potential new company's support line to test it, as well sent them an email. In both instances, I received a prompt and courteous reply by a U.S.-based, English-speaking human being. How refreshing!

By the way, if you sent me an email or tried to use my "write to me" page on my website yesterday, the email may not have been received or the mail form may not have worked. Please try again. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Life is short: keep going until you get it right and get some form of response in a timely manner.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day Out

My partner and I had a great time visiting the Maryland Renaissance Festival on Saturday.  We saw some interesting shows, a jousting competition, and strolled around the grounds.  There were a lot of vendors (mostly for food). A couple vendors carried leather products, but of the nature of which I was not interested.

A few people dressed in period costume, but most attendees were the typical family with kids in tow... wearing shorts and sneakers... and a few of those awful flip-flops and crocs. I saw only one other guy (who was not a performer) wearing boots.

What did I wear? A pair of brown leather jeans tucked into tall brown Wesco harness boots. I chose not to wear a leather shirt or vest, because it was very humid and rather warm. I am not one of those who "gets into Ren Faire" by dressing in some form of costume, but it was fun to see those who did.
All-in-all, it was a nice way to spend a warm (and finally sunny) late summer day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Under a Rock Today

Today, September 11, 2011, I am under a rock. Or at least I want to be.

It is very hard to describe why I want to check out today, ten years after the heinous attacks that occurred in New York City, Arlington, Virginia, and who-knows-the-intended-location for the plane that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The local and national media have been droning on and on about the ten year anniversary of these events (it is not one thing -- not "9/11"!) I tell 'ya, I just don't want any more reminders of that tragic day in America's history. I truly regret that so many people were killed by senseless acts of terrorism and am sorry for the families and loved-ones of those who died, including the brave rescuers who were trying to save lives but lost their own.

I did not lose anyone in those attacks, yet I was personally affected -- permanently. I spent months in New York after the attack there from mid-September, 2001, through the following March providing direct long-term assistance. The personal stories, the sights, and even recollection of the smell (of burnt electrical insulation from the buildings that were destroyed)... all of that haunts me to this day. That is why I plan never to go back to New York City... too many bad memories.

Why do I want to be under a rock today? Mostly to deal with my own memories and observe my own way of recognizing those who died and their families in a respectful way. But that's it. I do NOT want to see images again of the attacks, the destruction, the buildings on fire or collapsing, or of the people and families affected. It just hurts too much -- plus, the media hypes stuff up so much to get ratings that they lose all meaning of what a respectful recognition should be.

I'm done. September 11, 2001, is a date which will live in infamy, even if the rest of the world still calls it 9/11 and forgets about it on 9/12.

Further, another reason that I want to check out today is that my Mom died on September 11, 1998. This date has many bad memories for various reasons, and I would rather remember my Mom's warm smile, her touch, and her lessons than any darn stuff that the media may be doing.

Life is short: remember those you love, and show them that you love them.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Is It Hard for a Gay Guy to be Straight?

This question, worded exactly as written, "Is it hard for a gay guy to be straight?" was entered into a search engine and landed on this blog.

I have written many posts over time about being gay, yet behaving in a masculine manner which some gay men call "acting straight."  I am not an actor. I behave the way I do because that's who I am.  I know there are some gay men who "butch up" on occasion -- to act "more straight" in certain situations.  I am not like those guys. I am who I am.

Meanwhile, back to the question -- my answer is, "yes, it's damn hard -- impossible -- for a gay guy to 'be' straight."   If you're gay, you're gay -- homosexual -- attracted to the same sex.  If you're straight, then you are heterosexual and attracted to the opposite sex. 

Contrary to what some Bible-thumping wackos affiliated with some fringe groups think or say, it is not possible for a guy who is truly homosexual to be or become straight.  Just doesn't work.  Won't happen.  Expose the gay guy to fringe-wacko therapy to try to convince him not to "be" gay, and likely the gay guy will be ripe for long-term therapy to recover from such exposure and to regain his sanity.  Seriously -- it's that bad, and that detrimental.

But perhaps that is not what the writer of the question was asking.  Perhaps he was asking, "is it hard for a gay guy to 'act' straight?"  In that case, it's different.  For some of us (gay men), it is not difficult to behave like straight guys do, because that is how we are and how we are wired.  But for the gay man who is effeminate, it will likely be harder for him to behave in a masculine manner.  I won't delve into stereotypes. Let me just say that I know some gay guys who could pull it off and some who could not.  We're all different. 

But let me reaffirm my understanding from science that if a guy is gay, he was born that way.  He did not "choose a lifestyle."  Heck, when did you "choose to be straight?"  It just doesn't work that way.  You're gay, you're gay.  You're straight, you're straight.  So be it.  How you behave is often what others use to judge whether you are (or are not) gay.  It's sad that people make these judgments, but they do.

My advice:  be who you are; be comfortable in your own skin; keep thinking that you are a valuable person and other people's opinions of your behavior are their problem, not yours.  I know that is hard to accept by some people, but let me affirm:  once you achieve this level of self-awareness, then a "whole new you" is revealed. For me, it was a man who was confident, self-assured, and calm. 

Final thought on the question -- is it hard for a gay guy to "be" straight?  Yes.  It is hard for a gay man to "be" comfortable with himself if he continues to live in the closet and hide his sexual identity from himself, his family, and his friends.  I know there are reasons why gay men do that, which have a lot to do with keeping a job in many cases and self-preservation in others.

But it is far more difficult for a gay guy to "be" something he is not. 

Life is short:  be who you are.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Biker Boots on a Budget

Someone sent me an email asking, "if you could only get one pair of motorcycle boots, what would it be?" He complimented my boot collection and suggested that I make a video to demonstrate my response to his question.

This is a very hard question to ask a guy who has as many pairs of motorcycle boots as I have.

I narrowed it down to three choices, which all happen to be made by Justin Brands under the Chippewa Boots banner here in the United States:

1. Traditional Chippewa Harness Boots -- Style 27868

These boots are rugged, solid, well-constructed, and a great value for the money. They have a Vibram 430 lug sole which provides decent traction. Harness boots are about the most ubiquitous (common) boots that bikers in the U.S. wear. Chippewa harness boots are made in the USA, and bargains for them abound -- usually around major holidays. (If you haven't seen it already, check out my video where I do a comparison of four different makes of motorcycle harness boots).

2. Traditional Chippewa 17" Engineer Boots -- Style 27909 with steel toe; 27908 without a steel toe

Engineer boots are also a very common choice that bikers wear. These boots are also available in a shorter (11") version, but I prefer the taller variety because tall boots provide better protection for the whole leg, instead of only the lower leg and ankle. The boots come with a regular nitrile (rubber) sole, which provides moderate traction. They are also unlined, so they will sag at the ankles, but that adds (in my opinion) to the overall character of the boot. Stompers Boots is about the only boot retailer where you can order the non-steel toe version of these tall, rugged, solid biker boots. You can also order the steel toe version from them, too -- and get the best price available.

3. Chippewa Firefighter Boots -- Style 27422

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the boots that I like to wear often when I ride my Harley. Chippewa Firefighter boots are not often considered by bikers, but they should be. They are very solid and sturdily built, as their primary users are wildland firefighters. What I like most about these boots is that they are very comfortable -- suitable for an all-day ride. While they are leather-lined, they don't get hot. Their Vibram 100 lug soles provide superb traction. I have been recommending them for years, and stand behind that recommendation. Great boots -- a bit more expensive than their traditional biker brothers listed above, but to answer that email -- if I had to pick only one pair of boots for use while riding my motorcycle, what would that be? Chippewa Firefighter Boots, feet-down (I would use the American expression "hands-down," but I haven't found a pair of boots to fit my hands and still let me type LOL!)

Here is the video that I produced that puts what I wrote above into a visual explanation:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Most Common Cowboy Boot Heel Style

An interesting search landed a visitor to my most-visited web page, wearing cowboy boots.

The question was, "what is the most common heel style for everyday wear on cowboy boots?" It was searched by someone in Texas, where cowboy boots are worn often.
Generally, there are three heel heights on cowboy boots -- a walking heel, which is about 1" (2.5cm); a riding heel, which is about 2" (5cm); and a heel height that splits the difference and is about 1-1/2" to 1-5/8" (3.8 to 4.1cm) high.

As far as heel style goes -- walking (roper) heels are usually flat and blocky, with little if any slant. Riding heels are usually what's called "underslung." That means that the heels are larger at the place where they are attached to the sole and taper to a smaller size at the bottom. However, unlike high heels on women's shoes, underslung cowboy boot heels usually have a fairly large area at the bottom, rather than taper to a point.

Walking heels are found on boots like ropers which are very commonly worn in the U.S. West and Midwest. Ropers are affordable and easy to wear while walking or working.

Cowboy boots worn for riding (a horse) are usually about 2" (5cm) high and are usually underslung (tapered). These heels make it easier to hold the boot in stirrups and control a horse. However, heels of this height are harder for men to walk in. Most men are unaccustomed to wearing "high heels." Also, some men are afraid to wear higher heels because of their fear of ridicule or labeling, but I won't go there....

The vast majority of traditional cowboy boots split the difference, and have heels that are half-way between a walking heel and a riding heel. Various bootmakers call this heel height by different names -- cowboy heel, low riding heel, or walking heel even. Regardless of what it may be called, heels of this height are the most common (to answer this question). These heels also usually taper slightly from the where it meets the sole to the bottom where it meets the floor -- but the tapering is minor in comparison with a true underslung heel.

This traditional heel height allows for pants (trousers) or jeans to stack (fold) softly across the foot of the boot and not come down below the place where the back of the leather on the foot is attached to the heel. If pants come lower than that, then they can become worn and frayed at the edges.

It is also easy enough for most men to learn how to walk in boots with a heel of this height. Men who do not wear boots often may at first have some trouble walking in boots with this heel height. Sometimes, men may miss a step (that is, catch the heel on a step because he did not raise his foot high enough to clear the heel on the next step.)

One thing to note as well about the physics of cowboy boot heels, besides how the height affects walking, is how the height affects sound. Generally speaking, the higher the heel and the more mass (size) it has, the more sound the heel will make on the floor, sidewalk, or pavement. Think about it something like a drum -- the bigger the size of the drum, the more deep, resounding sound it makes. About the same thing is true for cowboy boot heels. That's why many men's dress cowboy boots have rubber sole plates on them -- to dampen the sound.

Hearing the sound of a "cowboy boot clunk" is music to some guys' ears and an annoyance to others. I know some guys who have replaced a rubber sole plate with a wooden one they made themselves, so their boots can be heard! I know other guys who have a cobbler install a double-sole plate made of soft rubber, to dampen the sound. It really varies. (What do I do? I leave my boots the way they come. If they clunk, that's fine. If they don't, that's okay with me, too.)

So now you know -- what is the most common cowboy boot heel style? A heel that is slightly slanted, but not deeply underslung, and of a height that is about 1-1/2" to 1-5/8" (3.8 to 4.1cm).

Life is short: wear cowboy boots!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Web Hosting Challenge Resolved

With regret, I had to abandon Hurricane Electric to serve as the host for my bootedman.com website and migrate it to another web host. I say that I regret having to take this action because I have been very loyal to Hurricane Electric and they've been very good -- until now.

Originally, I started to create this website using so-called "free" hosting by my ISP. But I learned quickly that the ISP was very slow and cumbersome to use. After about four months of struggling with the ISP's hosting, I talked about it with Larry and his husband Bill of hotboots.com. Bill is a real whiz when it comes to this stuff, and gave me some good advice. Both Larry and Bill recommended Hurricane Electric to host a site. Hotboots.com is hosted there and Larry has had nothing but praise for their reliability of service. So I purchased web hosting from them in April, 1996, and "bootedman.com" was born.

Man, a lot has changed with that site over five and a half years. I also have learned a lot more in my self-taught manner on how to write web pages including HTML, PHP, and javascripts. What took me an hour to do in 2006 takes just a few minutes today -- and that's good because I do not nearly have as much time to tinker with it as I once did.

As of the time I am writing this post, the server at Hurricane Electric that hosted bootedman.com just came back on-line after a 60-hour-plus outage. Such a shame. By their own admission, they have never had such an extended period of having a server be off-line.

H.E. has about the best Customer Support in the business -- always available by phone and responsive to email. Even throughout our Labor Day weekend, they still had someone who would take a call, even if he could not help me much and did not have any answers as to the nature of the problem with their server.

Fortunately, I kept a complete off-line backup of the website, so I was able to upload it to another host. That took eight hours--it's a huge site with 500 individual pages that all are internally linked, over 360 pages on the "Boots Wiki" knowledgebase, and over 8,300 images.

Now I am doing a lot of background checks, correction of missing links and pics, and other details. The site is working again, as is my email on that domain. I regret having to make this migration and make it permanent, but I was left with no choice.

Life is short: don't let loyalty get in the way when it comes to making business decisions.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Is It Gay to Wear Boots Without Jeans?

Here we go again: someone searched, "is it gay to wear boots without jeans?"

Hmmm... this could be taken a number of ways. Possibilities:

1. Ignorant child who uses the term "gay" to mean "lame". Answer: no, it is not lame to wear boots with other types of clothing, such as breeches (ask a cop), khaki or other "dress casual" pants for work (ask an office worker in the summer), BDUs (ask anyone in the military), or leather (ask a biker.)

2. You are homophobic, and are afraid that someone else might call you "gay" because you may choose to wear boots with different types of pants (such as listed in #1). Answer: there isn't much I can do for your troubled soul other than to pray that you will grow up some day.

3. You might be considering wearing boots with no other clothing. Answer: please don't. I don't want to see you naked in boots any more than you want to see me that way.

Life is short: wear boots with pants (including jeans, khakis, suits, breeches, BDUs... you get the point. Anything but your bare butt and you'll be fine.)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Significant Server Outage

I am dismayed and extend apologies to visitors of my "bootedman.com" website because it has endured significant outages due to problems of some sort at the host, Hurricane Electric. My site was not available for over eight hours on the night of August 30 through the morning of August 31, then again on September 4 it became unavailable at 5am (my time) and is STILL DOWN on Monday! Worst friggin' outage I have observed, ever.

It seems like Hurricane Electric has had minor outages happen every now and then, but nothing this long. Short outages of a couple hours have happened to me before and I have grumbled about it to the extend that they migrated me to another server.

I know I am sharing a server with other accounts, but this duration of unavailability of my website is truly a sad reflection on Hurricane Electric's claims of reliability and up-time. I cannot afford nor want to pay for a dedicated server -- heck, this is just a hobby site, after all. I am just disappointed and know that it is frustrating for visitors to get a "not found" or "timeout" error when they try to visit my website.

Again, I'm sorry this happened. It is beyond my control. Hopefully, H.E. will get get the problem fixed for the benefit of others who share that server. I regret that I have lost all faith and confidence in this web host, and have searched and found another one. I will move my site and reconfigure required files. What a pain in the ass.

Life is short: If you are looking for web hosting, I suggest looking elsewhere.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Why Are Biker Boots So Tall?

Google directed a question to my website that asks, "why are biker boots so tall?"

It is a rather simple answer: for safety. Tall boots that bikers wear come from a long tradition where men want their legs protected from two main hazards -- heat from the engine and exhaust pipes, as well as from stuff that comes flying at the legs from the road. It's amazing how much junk gets kicked up from the front tire, striking the legs at high speed. Gravel and rocks really hurt and can do a lot of damage when they strike the lower leg through thin cloth of denim jeans. (That's also why many bikers wear chaps or leather -- to protect the legs). The lower leg has a rather thin layer of skin over the shin bone. That thin skin is easily damaged and injured when struck by even a small piece of gravel, pebble, or stone that comes flying at you from the front tire.

Plus, in my opinion, tall boots look cool.

So that's your answer to this question -- tall boots provide protection to the fragile skin of the lower leg, and they also look cool on a biker.

Life is short: real bikers wear boots (not sneakers, sandals, or flip-flops).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Show Those You Love That You Love Them

I frequently end this blog with a phrase, "Life is short: show those you love that you love them." Whether it be familial love, spousal love, sibling love, neighborly love, or friendly love, there are people in your life who you care about, and doing things to demonstrate that you care about them in return is so incredibly important. Why? Because life is short.

A number of years ago, I was like so many others: caught up in my own life, dealing with my personal situations, problems, and concerns that I did not take time to do things to show others that I cared about them. I would do the "big things," like give birthday cards to siblings, give a call or visit on the most important dates for various reasons, but most of the time, I was self-absorbed.

Then Mr. B died. Who was he? An elderly man who lived behind another neighbor (Mrs. T) whose lawn I mowed. Mr. B was a kind, elderly man. He lived alone in a house where he and his wife raised their family. His wife had died some years earlier, so he remained alone in the house that he owned and didn't want to leave. Sometimes he would ask me to help him with yard work. He would say, "the older I get, the larger the property seems to become!" I would help him if I thought I had the time and wanted to make a few extra bucks, but I didn't do it as much as I probably could have.

One August day, I was mowing Mrs. T's lawn, looking forward to being paid for my work. I had already spent the money (in my mind) on something-or-other that I thought I "needed." I noticed that Mr. B's back door was open, which was unusual. I would look over there from time to time as I pushed that mower around. I noticed that Mr. B's lawn was awfully high, which was unusual. He usually kept a spotlessly trimmed yard.

After Mrs. T paid me my $10 for the lawn mowing, I decided to walk over to Mr. B's house to see if he were around, and perhaps offer to mow his lawn since it was so high -- I thought another payment for lawnmowing would be nice.

That's when I saw him -- collapsed on the floor right inside the back door. He had died. I was afraid and didn't know what to do. He was the first dead person I ever saw. I ran to Mrs. T's house and began to cry. I do not remember what I said, but an ambulance was called and the cops came. I was interviewed and I remember being told that it wasn't my fault. My Mom came to pick me up, hold me, comfort me, and reassure me.

I found out later that Mr. B had died three days before I found him. He was there, all alone. No one cared. No one was checking on him. I felt profoundly upset and moved by this experience. Imagine -- dying in your own home and no one knowing about it for three whole days!

That is when I began to be much more attentive to what I call my "network of senior pals." I started reaching out, making phone calls, dropping by for visits, and offering to help out with yardwork and home maintenance. At first, my offers to do work was for the money -- I admit. I was a kid without an allowance (in as large a family as we had, we didn't have an allowance). I needed to work.

But I realized that some of these older folks with whom I had begun to develop friendships were reluctant to hire anyone to help with work at their homes for three reasons: 1) they were reluctant to admit that they could not do strenuous activities like they once did; 2) they were rather particular about how they wanted things done, and were under the impression that no one else could do it the way they wanted the work done; and 3) they were frugal. Children of the Great Depression often are quite miserly with their money; even though they had plenty, they wanted to save it for when "they really needed it."

I do not have a cast of thousands that I look after, although it feels that way sometimes. As I have gotten older and have worked "my senior pal attention" into my daily routine, I divide the attention these ways:

1) some of my senior pals are quite independent and routinely hire the services they require, so for these folks, I send a birthday card and give them a call or exchange email from time to time;

2) some folks need advice, like in determining when they must call a professional vs. having me or a handyman do something to help out. I am sort of an "on-call" adviser to these folks. About 2 - 3 times each week, I receive a call saying, "a mutual friend (x) suggested I call you...." That's sweet.

3) some folks are very lonely, and just want to spend some time with a younger person. They have often said how much they feel isolated, being surrounded by "all these old people." It's something that I have learned about the psychology of aging. One does not want to admit that one is "old" but looks around, sees people of the same age, and prefers to engage with younger people. For these folks, I stop by for a visit, give a call, send an email, give a shout-out frequently via Facebook (if they're on it), and send cards for more than birthdays. I dunno, I may spend about 10-15 hours each week focusing on my lonely senior pals.

4) some folks need help and will not admit it. I learn through conversations how to sense that help may be needed. Rather than ask, "may I take you to the store?" which will always be declined with a response, "I'm fine," I say this, "Look, I'll be going by your house on my way to the grocery store. I'm a guy -- I don't know that much about what kinds of groceries are good to get. Can you help me out by letting me pick you up and go grocery shopping?" What I do is turn the psychology -- older folks want to help others, but don't want to be offered help because they feel it is an imposition. I continue to find ways to suggest, "here is how you can help me" when I am clearly attempting to do the opposite. This method has been very successful.

5) I serve as a "kvetcher" on behalf of seniors. "Kvetch" is Yiddish and means "incessantly complain." If one of my senior pals has been done wrong by a company, particularly one of those monopolies like the phone or cable company, I write letters, get on the phone, and continue to kvetch until my senior pal's problem is resolved. Grrrrr... (I even have the President of the local phone monopoly on speed dial!)

I dunno, there are other ways that I involve myself with this network, but it is much more than a one-way street. These folks have done so much to help me in many intangible ways. I truly feel that my world is so much better. They give me a sense of purpose, continue to help me focus on the positive, and sustain my spirit. Every.single.day.

I am not suggesting by this post that I think that I am the only one who extends love to others in various ways, or that I am saving the world. I truly believe that all of us can make a powerful and positive difference in the lives of others. We just have to make room for it in our lives to try.

I suggest that you look around, and ask simple questions like at a grocery store, turn to an older person who may look lonely and ask, "what do you think is a good brand of (whatever) to select for my family for dinner?" or to someone in the pew next to you at church, "I find that lawn mowing helps me achieve my exercise goals. May I mow your lawn sometime?" or to the senior neighbor down the street, "I bought a new battery-powered drill and want to fix something -- like that broken door you mentioned. Can you help me try out my new drill by letting me fix your door?"

These are a few examples, taken from my "real" life. I know that everyone is different, and every situation is not the same. You may not know enough about someone to ask questions to frame them in such a way as someone else helping you by you helping them. But opening the door, having a conversation, and keeping the communication going surely are ways to show that you care.

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

Friday, September 2, 2011

Where Are the Leatherdudes?

I received a message via Recon, which is a site that I seldom check any more, but have a profile there to maintain my "BHD" identity and to prevent others from using that identity and cause confusion.

Anyway, I was asked, "can you help me find someone who likes leather and help me to learn about the leather scene?"

Gosh, it's been so long that I've engaged in that realm, I had to reply that I really don't know.

These days, there are very few leather-oriented venues where guys gather on a social and frequent basis. Back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, bars were the prime location to find other guys into this. These days, bars have been replaced by the internet, which comes with a completely different set of "rules" and methods of meeting other people. I've said before, I met my partner through traditional means -- joining a club -- long before the Internet was available to the masses.

I'm so old, stable, monogamous, community-oriented, and established in my suburban lifestyle that I have not gone out to a bar or attended events like IML, MAL, or Folsom in years. I have no intention of attending these events again. Been there, done that. Want some old t-shirts?

I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with going to IML, MAL, or Folsom. Fine for single guys or guys in relationships that they call "open". My relationship is absolutely closed, including any potential for going out by myself to such events. I wouldn't think of it. My partner is my life, and if he doesn't want to go, and I'm too tired to go, then we don't. That's just how it is as a monogamous gay couple ages.

To try to answer this guy's legitimate question, I suggested that he try to attend one of these events to meet other guys and perhaps attend workshops that may be offered. I'm not a fan of trying to find someone on-line, because there are so many posers out there who aren't who they claim to be. You never really know who someone is until you meet them in person. (And if you do, be safe and meet in a public place. By all means, don't invite someone you have not met to your home the first time you may meet!)

Where are all the leatherdudes? Well, in my humble opinion, there are three answers:

1. Like me, they have "aged out" of being interested any more in attending social events and don't go. Unlike me, they probably have closets full of gear that they don't wear any more. I wear my leathers regularly in my off-time as I go about my daily life. Heck, I've made such an investment in it, I don't want it gathering dust in the closet or in a trunk, never used again. What a waste.

2. Some attend events like IML, MAL, Folsom, and a few other, smaller, lesser-known "runs" or gatherings. Check around. There may be one that you can attend.

3. The younger ones have morphed from buying and wearing leather to other types of fetish gear such as rubber, latex, etc. I don't know much about that, as I'm not into that kind of gear or play. Face it, I'm an old-fashioned leatherdude and am not interested in less expensive alternatives to fetish interests.

I know this post hasn't been much help to those seeking someone who can help them learn about the leather life in the gay community. I have been out of it for so long, I just don't know.

Life is short: know who you are now and be okay with that.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cowboy Boots for School

It is (or has been) back-to-school time. Traffic is heavier as all the families with children have returned from summer vacations and school buses are back on the roads.

Over the last week or so, I have noticed that some people from high schools (that's what their servers show) have entered into a search engine, "Can you wear cowboy boots to school?" or "is it cool to wear cowboy boots to school?" or "How can I wear cowboy boots to school."

I won't bother correcting the English -- of course you "can" wear cowboy boots "to" school but the real questions remain, "do you want to wear them all day while in school?" as well as how you perceive what others may think about you wearing cowboy boots.

Here's the deal -- second issue first.

High school students continue to be exceptionally concerned with the clothes that they wear, including footwear. They notice what other classmates are wearing and usually choose to wear what is popular and considered the current style. Seldom (while there is a lot of talk about it), high school students cannot assert independent choices in the matter of clothing and footwear. They get all wrapped up in worrying about what other people will think of them.

Consider this a lesson of high school: as you become older and more mature, you will learn that worrying about current fashion and style, as well as what other people think about what you are wearing, is kiddie stuff. Seriously, it really doesn't matter.

Now, on the matter of whether you want to wear cowboy boots all day while in school -- that has a lot to do with how far you have to walk and how much you have to stand. Generally, well-made cowboy boots have well-constructed footbeds and insoles, meaning that they are comfortable to walk in and to stand in, such as in lines for various things. But walking miles in cowboy boots or standing for hours can take its toll on your feet. Consider that.

Also, let me warn you -- pay less than US$100 for a pair of cowboy boots, and you probably will be very sorry about buying them. Cheap boots are usually very uncomfortable. They are usually made in China by machine, assembled with glue instead of stitching, and the materials and craftsmanship are awful. You'll be sorry -- so if you can't afford to get a decent pair of cowboy boots on the entry-level (US$150 - $200), such as made by Justin, Dan Post, or Tony Lama, for example, then continue wearing sneakers.

A lot of guys choose roper-style cowboy boots, rather than traditional 13" cowboy boots. And that's of any age, not just younger guys. Personally, I'm old-fashioned and like the traditional cowboy boots instead of ropers, but that is a personal opinion and is not a reflection on the style of boot itself.

When I was in high school, I wore boots every day (except in gym class, when I had to wear sneakers.) That was back in the '70s, so the most popular boot style for guys was Frye harness or campus boots. But I also switched out and wore several pairs of cowboy boots throughout my high school years.

I admit, sometimes some other kids would make a wisecrack. At first I was way too sensitive and their comments hurt my feelings. Kids can be very cruel to each other. But I continued to wear boots because I liked them. Eventually my classmates stopped making wisecracks and remarks because I stopped responding to them. Plus, at least in the 70s, Frye boots were the "cool boots" to wear, and lots of other guys were wearing them.

These days, particularly on the U.S. East Coast where I live, few high school boys wear boots. But I have noticed at least one exception -- a student who lives down the street from me. I have seen him wear cowboy boots to school a lot -- I see him as he is walking home while I am returning from work. Sometimes I stop and give him a ride, particularly in bad weather. He has asked me about boots and told me that he likes to wear them. He thinks his classmates give a nod of approval, because he said that others have called the boots "cool." He also said that a few of his friends have begun to wear boots to school because he started the trend. Good for him!

In summary, some independent-minded, free-spirited, "I could-care-less-what-others-think" guys will choose to wear cowboy boots to school. I just recommend that if you do that, get good quality boots so they will be comfortable. I think you will be pleased at the compliments you'll get from others by wearing boots to school.

Life is short: wear boots!