Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to my blog visitors. This is an odd American holiday, marked by story-telling, tales of ghosts and goblins, and children dressing in a costume and going door-to-door in the evening to collect candy by yelling "trick or treat!" (Either you give them a treat or they play a trick on you).

Many adults enjoy doing something for Halloween as well. Some dress up in costumes and attend parties, usually held the weekend before October 31. From the number of visitors to this blog, many are curious and interested in dressing as a cop.

This year, my partner being the usual recluse that he is, did not want to go to a party on the weekend. Two of my friends invited us to attend an adult party, but ... nahhh... Partner didn't want to go and be around people. He hates that. I did not go anywhere not only because my partner did not want to go, but I also cannot stay awake past 9pm. I'm the party-pooper in this case.

We were invited to a family get-together yesterday afternoon, where the kiddos were dressed in their Halloween costumes and us uncles (and aunts) brought candy. I went (my partner didn't -- again, noisy kids are not his choice). We were encouraged to wear a costume, too. I went as a "biker dude." Simple enough to construct an authentic costume without going to a lot of trouble and expense. I was thinking about riding my Harley to get there, but was reminded that the mild storm that occurred on Saturday brought down a lot of leaves which remained wet (and slick) on the roads. I didn't want to run the risk of riding on wet leaves, so I drove my truck.

Tonight, I will continue the theme, dressed as "biker", when neighborhood kids come to our door and I distribute candy to them. Then we turn out the lights precisely at 9:00pm and go to bed. If kids can't complete their rounds before 9pm, they're probably up to no good anyway.

Happy Halloween!

Life is short: go with the flow.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Applying "Shoe Rules" to Boots

Sometimes I am annoyed when I read these on-line "style guides" whose authors have made some statements that are derogatory about wearing boots in particular situations, such as in a business settings. Oh well, their loss; some of them just don't get it.

Anyway, I found a silly "25 Shoe Rules" on the website, and thought I would offer a Bootman's perspective. Below, the "shoe rule" is in regular type. My suggested "Bootman's Rules" are in italics below each "shoe rule". Enjoy!

1. Your shoes should be darker than your pants.
Your boots should be darker than your pants if wearing dress pants. Otherwise, boots that contrast with jeans look great!

2. Your shoes should be the most expensive part of your wardrobe.
Your boots should be the most expensive part of your wardrobe.

3. No socks with sandals.
Men should not wear sandals. Period. Nobody wants to see your feet. Nobody.

4. Buy new flip-flops each summer.
Never buy or wear flip-flops for any reason. They are unsanitary, unsightly, and just plain wrong on so many levels for adult men.

5. Be careful when wearing sneakers with khakis, you run the risk of looking older than you are.
Wear boots with khakis for an interesting appearance of style and fashion.

6. Your socks should be a nice bridge between your shoes and your pants.
When you wear boots, no one will see your socks. But always wear comfortable socks that are part wool, part cotton, and part synthetic, to have the advantages that these materials offer (absorption of sweat, comfort, and durability).

7. Your dress shoes should always be shined and looking good.
Your dress boots should always be shined and looking good.

8. The darker your suit, the darker your shoes.
The darker your suit, the darker your boots.

9. No flip-flops at work. Unless you work at a surf shop.
No flip-flops, period. See revised rule #4.

10. Match your socks to your shoes.
This is repetitive. See revised rule #6.

11. Know how to shine your shoes, and if you can't do it, find a professional shoe shiner. You'll get great looking shoes and an interesting conversation.
Know how to shine your boots, and if you can't do it, find a professional shoe shiner. It will probably cost a bit more to have boots professionally shined, but you WILL have a great conversation (as those guys rarely have the chance to shine men's boots).

12. Always spend money on shoes rather than shirts or pants.
Always spend money on boots rather than shoes, shirts, or pants.

13. Loafers go with just about anything.
Repeat after me: loafers are what you find sitting on the couch. Boots are what you find on your feet.

14. When in doubt, go conservative over edgy.
When in doubt (about wearing boots), go conservative, but stop obsessing about what other people think. Wear boots!

15. Always choose fit over style.
For boots, always choose fit over style, even if that means having boots made custom to your size requirements.

16. Cowboy boots don't work with suits. Unless you are a real, honest to God cowboy.
This is bullshit stereotyping. Cowboy boots DO work well with a suit, regardless of your employment. Get over the self-imposed fear and learn that dress cowboy boots go quite well with suits! (proof here).

17. Be fitted for running shoes if you're going to push yourself.
Be fitted for tactical boots if you're going to push yourself.

18. Wingtips are cool again.
Wingtip boots are cool again.

19. Make sure you have one great pair of boots.
Make sure you have at least two great pairs of boots so you can let your boots breathe between wearings. As you obtain more pairs of boots, you can donate your shoes to charity.

20. Your shoes should match your belt.
Your dress boots should match your belt.

21. Replace your workout shoes at least every six months.
Replace your tactical workout boots at least once a year (boots last longer than sneakers.)

22. Don't wear sandals if you have gross feet.
Don't wear sandals at all. See revised rule #3.

23. Buy a nice pair of brown oxfords, they go with almost anything.
Buy a nice pair of brown dress cowboy boots to alternate wearing with your black dress cowboy boots. They go with almost anything.

24. Splurge once a year on that pair of shoes you really want.
Splurge once a year on that pair of boots you really want.

25. Try out the new athletic shoe trends before training with them.
Just cut to the chase, and buy tactical boots to wear if you will be engaging in sports or running.

So, there you have it -- a Bootman's take on silly "style rules for shoes."

Life is short: wear boots! Dump the shoes and never, ever, wear sandals or flip-flops.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Decision-Making for a Motorcycle Ride

As my regular blog followers know, I ride a Harley. One may think that given the opportunity, I would be out there riding all day, every day.

Well, not quite. While I ride during the week to commute to work, that's about all the riding I can do during the week due to time constraints. During the summer after work, I may ride my Harley to get to a meeting, but if I do not have a specific place to go, then the Harley remains in the garage and I stay home.

That leaves weekends. My motorcycle club offers a lot of rides from which to choose every weekend. But then again, my partner "offers" a number of activities that also have to be done to maintain our home and the rental properties that I own. My senior pals need some attention, too. Such is life with competing demands on one's time.

Fortunately, the rides that my club offers are scheduled far in advance, so if there is a ride that I want to go on, I can negotiate the time for the ride and get time off from my partner's never-ending list of "honey-do" projects when I know a date certain.

As I consider rides to go on, I think about the following factors:

* Where is the ride going? -- I enjoy discovering new places that I have not visited before, or riding on new-to-me roads.

* How long will the ride be? -- an estimate of the distance and time of the rides from which I have to choose is provided. If the ride is scheduled for the whole day, then I usually cannot go. I have a lot of things that have to be done crammed into a tight weekend and cannot spare a whole day and leave my partner at home (who will do lots of work while I'm away, making me feel guilty that I was not there to help him.)

* Is it an overnight ride? -- as I have mentioned before, I do not go on overnight rides. The guys like to sit around and drink after dinner. I don't drink alcohol, and though I don't mind if others do, what I do mind is that their tongues get loose when they get intoxicated, and they say things about gay people or about women that I just don't want to be subjected to hearing. So I avoid being in such a situation.

* What distance will the ride cover? -- distance is a major issue for me. Rides over about 200 miles are out. I have a physical condition that tires me faster than the average bear. Riding when tired is unsafe. I will not put myself in that situation.

* What is the purpose of the ride? -- is it a casual ride on back roads and byways, a ride to support a police or fire charity or memorial, or is it a poker run sponsored by another club? I like the casual back roads rides, and have supported more than my share of memorial and charity events. But I don't like poker runs and will not go on them.

* Who is leading the ride? -- every ride leader brings his or her personality to the ride. A ride leader known to "ride aggressively" is not someone who I want to ride with. I don't have any fun trying to keep up all the time. I realize that my riding skills are not the same as others, so I want to "ride my own ride" -- relaxed, casual, and unhurried. I will not go on a ride with someone who I know to ride too fast for my liking.

* What roads may be involved? -- I have learned my lesson. I will not (deliberately) ride on roads that are unpaved, covered with gravel, or that involve stream crossings over fords. I also will not go on rides where I know there will be turns that are too tight and impossible for me to handle. (Believe me, I know my limits!)

* Safety factor -- implied in the above considerations is how safe I think I will be on a ride. That's based on my health, the road conditions, and what I know about the ride leader's attention to safety.

* What's the weather? -- always a last-minute decision, but if I want to enjoy a nice, casual ride, I want to do it when the roads are dry and preferably when it is sunny. I won't go if the roads are wet or if it is raining or rain is predicted. I also have my low-temperature threshold. I will not ride when it is lower than about 40°F (4.5°C). That's about as cold as I can take it, despite all my leathers and gear.

So there you have it -- how I, personally, choose to go on an organized motorcycle ride (or not.) Every biker is different. Some have more time, some have better skills, some don't have a non-riding other-half with a long honey-do list. Most of all, the motto is, "ride and have fun." If I think the fun would be limited for me on a ride due to its purpose, destination, choice of roads, ride leader, or the weather, then I may go for a short ride by myself, or stay home and tackle the honey-do list.

Life is short: make your choices.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stunning Photo of My Brother

My twin brother, J, sent me this photo that his wife took of him on their recent extended second honeymoon throughout Europe during September. No, my brother is not about to walk into the Mediterranean from an island off the coast of Greece, but it looks like that.

Isn't the setting gorgeous? What a stunning photo! My sister-in-law has quite the eye for photography!

Life is short: celebrate joy and happiness with family!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Unto Every Biker's Life Falls Some Rain

I work with a bunch of meteorologists.  You know something is wrong when they say, "oops, seems that 'they' got the forecast wrong." Yep, despite a forecast of rain later in the evening yesterday, it began to rain hours before I was scheduled to leave the office -- on my Harley -- for my commute home. Yuck. I hate riding in the rain.

Fortunately, traffic was rather light and people were behaving. That is, I kept a good distance between me and the vehicle in front of me, and no one cut me off. Thank goodness.

I rode steadily. I had plenty of stopping distance for traffic lights. I applied the brakes slowly and evenly when I had to stop.

I came up behind a cop along my way, and began to follow him. He saw me, and drove steadily and slowly such that I could follow safely. He went almost completely on the route to my home, so I felt safe.

I was wearing good, solid boots with lug soles (Wesco Motor Patrol Boots), so I had good traction. The boots resisted road spray so my feet and legs did not get wet. I wore thick leather chaps and a solid leather jacket, with my full-face helmet. I didn't get wet, though my bike sure will need a good cleaning after the rain and road splatter dries.

Oh well... weather is not as predictable as one may think -- even meteorologists get it wrong sometimes. And reading the commentary on my Facebook posting about this situation (from a bunch of meteorologists and allied professionals) is hysterical.

Life is short: ride safe!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Three Things Bikers Expect

I ride my Harley as often as I can, which includes my short commute to work on busy suburban roadways.

There are three things that other drivers do that could kill me if I were not prepared for their thoughtlessness:

1. Three lanes of traffic, riding in the middle lane. A bus is up ahead in the right lane. People keep driving along but as soon as they see the bus slowing down to make a stop, they dart into the middle lane without looking. Some may say that they scan their rearview mirrors, and they might just "scan" but they don't really look. So yesterday, like many other days, I avoided getting clobbered by a nim-nose-ninny by expecting him or her to cut me off. Without fail, they will.

2. People yapping on their cell phones while driving. Despite that behavior being against the law in my state and many others, in their minds, the law applies only to other people. You can often tell who is doing that, because they drive 10mph below the speed limit. Then they react suddenly, or may swerve into another lane (my lane) when they discover that another car is in their way or traffic is slowing for a light or whatever....

Please, hang up and drive! Do not talk on a cell phone while driving. Even if you have a hands-free device, you are still distracted and your driving abilities suffer -- and sometimes us bikers "suffer" the consequences. Turn off your cell phone while driving a vehicle. Honestly, you are not that important, and neither is that call!

3. Animals. Yep, particularly this time of year, it is quite common in the early morning for herds of deer to be along the side of the road. They see your headlight, and you think, "they realize it is a vehicle so they will stay away." Not so. Just yesterday morning, like many mornings, a deer darts into the road, followed by the remainder of the herd. Those animals are dangerous, and won't watch for you so you have to be extra alert to watch for them and be prepared to stop or take evasive maneuvers.

I don't know which is worse -- the four-legged or the two-legged animals that make driving hazardous. I just wish the two-legged variety would pay attention -- completely -- to their driving while operating a 5,000-lb death machine on the road.

Hang up and drive. Really use your mirrors. While your taxes pay for the road so you own it, my taxes do too, and I have as much of a right to use the road safely as you do.

Rant over.

Life is short: pay attention!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bates Patrol Boots

I was the lucky winner of an eBay auction a couple weeks ago, and scored, rather inexpensively, a new-to-me pair of Bates Patrol Boots.

I have not seen any cops wearing this particular brand of boots in a long time, so I figure that this style of (tall patrol) boots haven't been made for several years. I visited the Bates website, and found that this style of tall patrol boots is not made any more. They only make short tactical and military boots these days. Further internet searching indicates that Bates was bought by the same company that makes boots under the Wolverine brand in China... so there goes another quality bootmaker down the drain.

But I digress.... These Bates patrol boots are similar in construction to Chippewa Motor Patrol Boots. That is both a good and bad thing. The boots are made of all leather, which is good. However, the leather is rather thin. I estimate the leather is of 4 to 5oz weight. Perhaps that makes a lighter-weight boot, but it also poses some problems with durability and creasing with wear. (Notice in the photos how the boots are crinkled -- and they should not be that way when worn with motor breeches.)

The boots have a bal-laced instep. They also have lacing on the outside of each boot shaft to adjust the fit. A different feature of these boots is a leather-covered expansion band found at the top of the inside of each boot shaft.

What I dislike most about these boots is that they have a seam both down the middle of the front as well as the back of the boot shaft. To me, that seam is both unnecessary and unsightly. The boots also have a cheap nitrile rubber sole, so the traction offered is not all that good. Fine for a dry day, but probably not when the roads are slick with rain.

Oh well, I got these boots inexpensively. They are okay, but I can understand why Bates does not make these boots any more. They were cheap to make, and look it.

More photos of these boots are here.

Life is short: know your boots!

Monday, October 24, 2011


I had a very busy day yesterday catching up after returning from a week-long business trip. I did a lot of work around my house, took care of six senior pals by doing various home repairs for them, took four senior pals to the grocery store, and returned home to do more home maintenance.

With all that going on, I had no time to write a blog post. Check back tomorrow for another story on ...

Life is short: doin' whatcha gotta do!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Men's Footwear at Airports

I flew home yesterday from Seattle and had to change planes in Chicago. I looked at what guys had on their feet.

I know going through security is a pain-in-the-butt; however, it is so routine now -- all you have to do is slip off your boots (or if you must wear them, shoes) and run them through the x-ray. But so many men (and youngsters in their teens and 20s) do not want to do that, so they wear the most awful crap on their feet. I saw more guys wearing flip-flops at the airport than I have seen wear those things on a beach. Ugggghhh! And it was cold, too. Wearing crappy footwear like that must be uncomfortable.

Oh well, I wore my cowboy boots, took them off before security, and got two "nice boots" comments from other guys when I was putting them back on after security. I doubt anyone looks at a guy wearing flip-flops and says, "nice feet." (LOL!)

Life is short: wear boots!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Headed Home

I had a long but productive week in the Seattle area. I had a chance to speak, to lead, to facilitate, to write, and to learn. I enjoyed seeing some of my long-term colleagues and friends who have made me more of the person and professional I am.

After a rather dull day yesterday, I became energized again by meeting a friend and her partner for dinner. This friend did a lot for me. She picked me up from my conference location in Outer Slobbovia, took me to dinner at a really nice restaurant, then brought me to a hotel where she made a reservation for me. The hotel is very close to the airport, so my departure for my early flight will be simple and uncomplicated with traffic delays.

My friend and I caught up on each other's lives, then began to "talk shop." She picked my brain and I picked hers. At the end of a lively conversation about geeky stuff, my friend surprised me by saying that her boss authorized her to pay for our dinner. How nice! (Her boss is someone I also have known for a long, long time.)

I am glad to end the week on such a high note, but man, I am tired and I really miss my man. Time to head home, snuggle close, and get reacquainted with the man who means the world to me.

Life is short: enjoy life where you are and make the best of it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Restricted to Two Pairs of Boots

During my business trip this week to the Seattle area, I "only" brought two pairs of boots. I packed one pair in my luggage and wore one pair.

What boots did I bring? Lucchese cowboy boots -- dress black and brown wingtips. Both are comfortable and fairly lightweight on my feet.

However, for a Bootman like me, this "restriction" to "only" two pairs of boots for a whole week is driving me crazy. For example, I wanted to go for a long walk in the morning, but these boots aren't really suitable for hiking. The weather was nice most of the week, but began to rain later in the week, and not having Vibram soles for better traction bothered me. I do not want to risk a slip and fall caused by wearing boots with smooth leather soles.

During a short few-hour break on Thursday afternoon when I went into downtown Seattle with some colleagues to stroll around and have dinner, I wore a pair of lightweight leather jeans, and would have preferred to wear a pair of black motorcycle boots with the jeans, but ... I only had black cowboy boots so they are what I wore.

Yeah, I own many pairs of boots. My usual custom is to wear 3 - 5 pairs of boots each day, changing my boots depending on what I am doing and where I am going, and how much walking I will do, or what transportation I will use. Having "only" two pairs of boots with me while traveling does not offer me the choices of boots to wear for various activities outside of my meetings.

Oh well, I'll survive.

Such is life of a Bootman.

Life is short: wear boots!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Engaging Activities

Reporting from (near) Seattle...

I am having meetings all this week at a federal agency facility north of Seattle. Kinda funny -- each time I enter the facility, my cowboy boots set off the metal detector at the door. I just turn to the guard and say, "it's the boots" and he laughs and lets me go through.

The meeting that I am engaged in facilitating is going very well. So well in fact that we're getting done earlier than anticipated. I expect that we will be "done" for the day today (Thursday) by noon-ish.

I will be picked up by a friend who is a local big-wig in my profession. We will have lunch and then she and another friend and I will go into the City of Seattle and be touristy. Unfortunately, the weather is degrading, so I expect some rain during the only time I can go play tourist. But that's okay -- it's the company that is most important.

I transfer locations to support another all-day meeting on Friday at a laboratory where research is done about hazards that can happen on U.S. coastlines. After the thrill of the conference is over, another friend (a former student of mine 25 years ago) who is a big-wig now in her own right will pick me up and take me to dinner with her partner. I will enjoy catching up with this friend who I have admired and supported for so many years.

I will stay at a hotel close to the airport so it will be quicker and easier for me to catch my very early return flight home on Saturday morning. I can't wait to return home to my man and get my life back into its usual routine.

One benefit or shall I say, consequence, of facilitating a meeting well is that I have been invited to return to speak at two more events next year back on the West Coast -- in California and Oregon. Sure... happy to help. It's what I do.

Life is short: be engaged and love what you do!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Peddlers From India Try Too

Tell me what about the following commenting policy statement on this blog is so hard to understand:
All comments are reviewed prior to posting. If you do not have a Google ID or Blogger ID, you may use the Anonymous ID option, however, you must type your name with your comment. Comments without a way to know who wrote it may be rejected or deleted. Comments with embedded links to commercial websites WILL BE DELETED--NO EXCEPTIONS!
Unfortunately, about once each week, some boot or leather peddler from India attempts to leave a comment on this blog. (I also get them about once each month from Pakistan.) The comment is usually worded as a compliment, though often includes significant errors in grammar and spelling. One would think that the country of the world that has the largest English-speaking population might have people who can write coherently in the language.

I digress...

Despite my warning against it, inevitably the commenter from India includes a link back to some website offering cheaply-made, inferior boots or gear.

Delete...delete...delete... those kinds of comments are gone. Always. That is what "comments will be deleted ... without exception" means.

Here is a recent example of the source of one of those types of comments -- and how I can tell where the commenter came from:

I will not be a party to cross-promotion of junk.

Life is short: think before you act, and act responsibly.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NoBerry for an i-Nothing

Have you seen the automated signatures on some people's email, that says, "sent from my Blackberry handheld" or "send via my iPhone"? Oh please, gimme a break.

I once was forced to have a Blackberry in a previous job, and I know that those devices come with software that you can use to delete that canned signature line, so you do not have to tell everyone how important you are because you can send email via a wireless device.

I have modified my email signature to close with, "sent via my NoBerry for an i-nothing." Seriously, I'm not that important.

I find that those who live where I live in Snoburbia, things like this -- having a personal Blackberry or an iPhone, and using that standard signature -- is de rigueur. However, most people who are above playing those status games and who are not out to impress others turn that automated signature off or delete it.

I find it amusing that adults play these games. Honestly, life is good out here in the quiet, disconnected Universe. Try it sometime... you'll like it!

Life is short: have a NoBerry for an i-Nothing, and enjoy saving lots of money instead of paying the monthly ransom that makes rich companies richer.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Life of a VUP

I do not travel nearly as much as I once did. Back in the day with my former employer, I would travel, on average, about 150 days each year and go to about 70 cities both large and small across America. I might also have traveled once or twice a year internationally.

I would try to choose the same airline, so I could build miles and status to receive perks like early boarding and an occasional free upgrade to first class.

My travel is not nearly the same any more. I travel domestically about 5 - 8 times each year, which is a bit more than my travel was between 2005 and 2009. I have to use different airlines. Thus, I have no status on any airline and am like anyone else. When I do fly, I wait for the cattlecar placement on the plane.

Take, for example, the recent boarding experience that I had for my flight to Seattle yesterday:

Passengers who were boarded before me include active duty military and first class; 1K mileage, platinum, gold, silver, bronze, iron, steel, aluminum, tin foil; the airline's credit card holders, ransom-payment "express" payers, and holders of today's whatever-special card-of-the-day is; families with babies, disabled people, people with wide-set eyes, purple left thumbs and green feet, then everyone else.

"We are boarding by zones. Only board when your zone number is called."

Everyone queues up anyway. (But the agent enforces the "boarding by zone" rule.)

The gate agent calls, "Attention, we are now boarding Zone 2" (which by the time all other priorities are called out, it really is about Zone 90 in sequence).

Finally... That's me. I am a "very unimportant person (VUP)". This is now when VUPs board the plane.

"Sir, we have run out of middle seats in the back of the plane. Would you prefer to be strapped to the right or left wing?"

Ummm... I guess the left. I do not have it in me to be a right winger.

"Okay, sir, step out here. Good! Straps nice and tight? That's great! (Who says you're not into bondage!) It may be a little windy, but the view is excellent!"

This is a joke. This is only a joke. For the above post, this blog tested your bad joke deciphering system. This is only a joke. Actually, I got to sit on the tail...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Leavin' ...

This is for my man... I will sure miss you while I'm away in Seattle for business!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Motorcycle Helmets

I have been riding a motorcycle for some 35 years now. Throughout my riding experience, I have acquired, owned, and used a number of motorcycle helmets.

Before I bought my Harley-Davidson Road King in 2008 that comes with a built-in windscreen, I had a H-D Low Rider, which is a cruiser that does not have a windscreen. All of my previous bikes also were a cruiser type without windscreens.

Because wind is not a biker's friend when cruising down the highway, I would wear a full-face, DOT-approved, helmet. I found of the different models out there that Shoei helmets fit best, were well-ventilated, and comfortable. Particularly for long rides, comfort is important. Nothing like getting a headache from having the head squeezed by an ill-fitting helmet.

When I got my Road King, my partner got me a new helmet painted to match the bike's colors. It was a great gift!

But as I looked around and spoke with my biker buddies who ride Harleys that have windscreens, I noticed that almost all of them wore 3/4 helmets because the windscreen takes away the full frontal assault of the wind. These types of helmets cover the sides of the head, but are open in the front. One wears motorcycle glasses (like sunglasses but with rubber fittings around the eyes to keep the wind and bugs out) for eye protection when wearing such a helmet.

I did some research, and spoke with some motorcycle police officers, and found that Seer (see-er) helmets were highly recommended and worn by many cops. So I visited the SuperSeer website and ordered a 3/4 helmet -- and had it custom painted to match my bike's colors.

I like that helmet a lot. It is comfortable, well-fitted, and well-ventilated. It accommodates a microphone attachment for my radio so I can communicate with other bikers when I am on group rides. It also has two speaker fittings inside so I can insert speakers to hear the radio. Using earbugs is against the law, and also a pain in the butt. Speakers inside the helmet allow me to hear the radio but also hear sounds while riding (like other vehicles, sirens, etc.), which is important.

I will wear my full-face Shoei helmet that my partner got for me when it is really cold out. It keeps my head warmer and provides better protection from cold, biting winds. (I know, some bikers wear a neck and face fleece warmer, but I don't like feeling choked as those things make me feel when I put one on then zip up my jacket and close the neck opening tightly.)

You will never catch me riding without a helmet, even in states where helmet laws are not in place. I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid. To me, riding without a helmet is both "uncool" and idiotic; begging for death or permanent brain damage if struck by a cage driver. Also, I don't wear a half-helmet, because I don't think they block wind noise that well, and I don't want to wear ear plugs. And I'd never wear something stupid like a "skid lid" (aka "beanie") that provides as little protection as not wearing a helmet at all.

A little-known fact about motorcycle helmets: the interior shell degrades with time. The shell is made with soft foam and resins that can be affected by vapors of gasoline. I do not store my helmets in my garage, because gasoline vapors from my truck and my partner's car can cause the helmet interior to degrade faster than it should. I store my helmets inside the house, away from the potential damaging vapors in the garage.

Also, helmets don't last forever. The industry recommends replacing them often. I get a new helmet about every three years. I may use an old helmet for an occasional passenger.

Following are some more photos of me riding with my favorite helmet.

Life is short: ride with a helmet secured to your head -- always.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Can You Dress As A Cop for Halloween?

It is inevitable at this time of year that a number of internet seaches for "Cop Uniform for Halloween" or "Police Costume" are ending up on my website, especially on my page related to how to assemble a CHP uniform.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) uniform is the classic, most sought-after cop uniform in existence, made popular by the TV show, "CHiPs" which was broadcast on American television from 1977 to 1983. I tell 'ya, a LOT of people are looking for that uniform -- and not all of them are gay uniform fetish guys, either. Lots of straight guys like to wear a uniform for Halloween, or dress their kids in one.

For those who thought it might be easy to find a source of a complete CHP (or other law enforcement) motor officer uniform via the web, I am sorry to disappoint you. It is not possible to buy an authentic, complete California Highway Patrol (or other) uniform. In fact, it is illegal even to sell such a uniform to someone who is not authorized by the CHP to buy one. (This is due primarily to laws that went into effect after the U.S. terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They don't want the bad guys to have easy access to a uniform that they could use for nefarious purposes.)

However... it is possible, and legal, to put together a replica CHP uniform yourself, as long as you do not wear it anywhere within the State of California OR assume behavior while wearing a uniform that implies you are a cop. (If you ARE in California, choose a uniform from a different state.)

Impersonation is evaluated on two factors: how you look and what you do. If you try to act like a cop in public, such as by pulling someone over, frisking or handcuffing a "suspect," interrogating someone, etc., then a real cop may think you are trying to impersonate an officer and take you in for questioning and possibly place you under arrest on criminal charges. Keep the cop-acting behavior behind closed doors, and don't wear a uniform in the city, county, or state where cops in that uniform have jurisdiction, and be cool. You will be okay.

It is not hard to assemble and create a CHP (or other agency) uniform, but it takes some advanced planning. Here goes:

1. Get a uniform shirt (any shirt supplier can sell it) in the color "silvertan"

2. Get breeches (if you want to go with the look of a motorcycle officer). You can have "braiding" (stripes) applied from your supplier. Intapol is one source of breeches; there are others.

3. Get Dehner Patrol Boots (or a similar-looking pair. For a Halloween costume, no one will notice if you have cheap knock-off imitations.)

4. The insignia (patches) are worn on both the right and left sleeves up high near the shoulder. They are a bit harder to find, but it is possible to find them at leather fetish shops (choose your favorite) or on eBay. Sew them on.

5. You probably can not find a real CHP or other agency badge. And it's probably not a good idea to wear one. You can find a replica badge on eBay, but try to avoid getting one that says "security officer" or something generic like that. IMHO, badges like that are cheesy and make you appear like Deputy Dawg.

6. Get a regular belt (to serve as an underbelt) and a Duty Belt (called a Sam Brown Belt), attached with keepers. Get a few doo-dads to hang onto it -- see my duty belt description on my website for ideas. Here is a source.

7. Consider a good-looking, tough leather cop jacket to complete the look. This is my Taylor's Leatherwear authentic motor officer jacket that I have enjoyed wearing for many years. (Notice, no insignia on the sleeves, so I can wear it over a shirt with insignia when I am out in public, so I do not have an appearance of wearing a uniform where doing so could be misinterpreted.)

8. By all means, do NOT wear a weapon (gun, baton, billy club.) Such devices are illegal for an unauthorized, unlicensed individual to wear on the street of most cities and towns in the United States, Australia, and probably many other countries.

9. Optional Damascus cop search gloves set an interesting "tone."

10. Go hatless or if you wear a hat, choose as authentic a ballcap as you can find. A motorcycle helmet with CHP colors is good, but likely not easy to find. If you choose to wear a ballcap, avoid a generic "security" hat. Remember the "Deputy Dawg" warning above?

That's about it. It isn't hard, but takes planning. Go get 'em (at home, privately!) Have fun!

DISCLAIMER: All the information contained in this post is provided solely for the benefit of collectors and fans of the show "CHiPs" to assist them in constructing a "CHiPs" replica costume. In no way is it intended for use in any attempt to impersonate any law enforcement officer. Apologies to long-term visitors of this blog for repeating a post of two years ago, but this is a very frequently searched question this time of year, so I thought it was worth repeating.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Slippery When Wet

An old adage of experienced bikers: If it looks slippery, assume it is.

While autumn is my favorite season, it comes with one of the worst road hazards for motorcyclists: wet leaves on roadways. Wet leaves are worse than ice. At least with ice, you know you have absolutely no traction, and it's not likely you'll be on the road. With wet leaves, it's usually still warm enough to be riding weather, yet you can and you can't have any traction and you don't know which -- so always assume that wet leaves are slippery. Period.

Lately, I have not been riding my Harley very much. We had a stunningly gorgeous weekend, weather-wise, last weekend. However, I had to make my biannual visit to the mother-in-law's, and was stuck in a cage for the entire weekend. Blechhh...

I did ride my Harley to work on Tuesday, but then the rain started again Tuesday evening and rain is forecast for the remainder of this week. Blechhhh....

Unlike some other places, we do not have a "wet season" or "dry season" here in Maryland. It is customary to have rain throughout the whole year, about once a week or so. But we go in cycles of no rain for weeks and then days like these past several weeks, where it rains for several days in a row. Blechhhh....

Wet roads are enough to cause me to think twice about riding. I don't like to ride when visibility is poor, because "cage drivers" can barely see me in broad daylight, much less when the skies are dark and leaden with rain. However, wet roads covered with wet leaves is the decider to make me hop in the truck if I have to go somewhere instead of hop on the saddle of my trusty iron steed.

In doing some research, I found the following information on various websites, but it all said the same thing. Thus, I believe it was pre-written by a knowledgeable author and distributed for publication on these websites. It is useful information. I abide by it, and recommend it:
Riding a motorcycle in slick conditions requires the rider to make every movement s-m-o-o-t-h. Slow down and concentrate on making each input into the bike gentle and gradual. Try to avoid turning the bike while you are passing over obstacles. Reduced traction could cause you to slide. Don't panic if the rear wheel slides a little. It may not feel stable, but as long as the front tire is going where you want it to, physics will hold the bike up.

Besides the misuse of the term 'panic' (which means an irrational response to fear), the content of this article is right on. And that's how I ride: smooth and steady, with very careful application of the brakes when needed.

And I always ride with full protective gear. My cool/cold weather gear includes: solid, tall motorcycle boots with good tread on the soles, layers of clothing for warmth and protective leathers as the outer shell (if not inner, as well), gloves with gauntlets, and a DOT-approved helmet. Always, without exception.

Life is short: ride safe!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Relaxed Biker

As the weather has cooled off and the leathers have returned to my choice of daily wear when I get off work, I often choose the "relaxed biker" style.

A leather vest with a t-shirt, along with side-laced leather jeans over traditional harness boots becomes a comfy, casual biker style.

Well, perhaps the Muir Cap may not be on my head when I go about my daily business, attending meetings, visiting and helping out my senior pals, running errands and going grocery shopping. But it is an image of "me" that is frequently seen. Comfortable, casual, simple.

I may use vest extenders to hold the vest closed while I get about on my Harley. The jeans are among the most comfortable I own. I got them from Mr. S. Leather of San Francisco years ago. They fit well, and continue to look good as I occasionally treat them with leather conditioner to keep the leather soft, supple, and shiny.

Leather in public? No sweat! Honestly, no one says a thing other than the occasional question about where I got the jeans and how nice they look.

Life is short: be casually comfortable in leather!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


My Great Nephew, about whom I wrote last May, called me a few weeks ago. I could tell that he was very upset. It was hard to understand him on the phone through his crying. I went to see him on the evening on which he called me. I found out that he is being bullied -- again -- by some bigger guys physically abusing him, as well as calling him names and making his life miserable.

Apparently the bullies hide their tormenting quite well. No adult at his school or anywhere else has seen what has happened. Even these days when adults are much more attuned to bullying and will intercede to prevent it, they have to witness an assault, or it becomes a "he said/he said" trade of accusations where the bullies deny doing anything, and the person who is bullied is afraid to say anything for fear of making the bullies more angry.

My Great Nephew's father tried to teach him how to throw a punch -- not strike first, but know what to do and how to strike back if punched first. The thing is, my Great Nephew doesn't want to fight. He doesn't want to hit anyone, even if the person deserves to be clocked sideways and screwy. Gosh, he is so very much like me when I was his age.

Since he doesn't have a "big-jock-twin-brother" to hide behind, I suggested the next best thing, which I did when I was in school. I was very good in my studies, and knew that some of the jocks were not, and would be potentially suspended from playing on the teams (football, basketball, baseball, etc.) if their grades were not above a certain level. I offered to tutor some of these guys. I volunteered many hours of my time after school to help the jocks do better in their classes. That worked -- their grades improved and they learned that I was not such a dorky dude after all. They became my friends. When the bullies saw that a number of big jocks were truly friendly to me, and I seemed to be around them a lot, the bullies left me alone and picked on someone else.

I used that analogy to explain a strategy for my Great Nephew to try. And I am very happy to report that so far, it is working! My Great Nephew tutored one of the biggest jocks in his school. The jock got some good grades on recent tests and credits my Great Nephew for his help. In turn, the bullies are leaving my Great Nephew alone. Apparently some of the jocks overheard some of their bullying of my Great Nephew, and taught the bullies a lesson. (I didn't really want to know exactly what lesson was taught!)

So this is something to remember. If you are not the type to defend yourself by fighting, you can defend yourself by recruiting defenders by offering something you can do to help them. It is the most fundamental form of barter -- trading for services. Tutoring for protection. Whatever you want to call it, my Great Nephew is happier today than he has been since school started in early September.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Big Test

When a guy reaches "a certain age," that is, age 50, you begin hearing from the medical community about having a colorectal screening, including a prostate exam. I also should acknowledge a nudge to get this test from a cop whose blog I follow. He wore a kilt in his off-time during the whole month of September on a self-proclaimed, "Kilted to Kick Cancer" campaign.

I tell 'ya, I am a real wuss when it comes to medical procedures. Like most guys, I avoid doctors unless I'm really sick or do something stupid like trip, fall, and break my leg.

Well, anyway, I finally "sucked it up" and made an appointment for a colorectal screening, which included the doctor having to stick a tube up my rectum and look around for signs of cancer and polyps in the rectum and lower part of my colon. Since I have a diagnosed chronic illness of the colon, which I have been enduring for many years, I wasn't surprised when the doctor remarked that my colon looked different from most -- his words, "like a truck has driven up and down your colon."

He knows that I am gay, so he felt that he had to ask a follow-up question, which for purposes of this blog remaining "G-rated," let me say that my answer was "no, my partner doesn't do *that* and I never have had *that* happen." (Sorry, fellas, but if you can't figure out what *that* is, don't worry about it.)

I have to admit, I requested and was provided a sedative before the exam. There is absolutely no way that I can take anything up my ass. Nope, can't do it. I was also afraid, mostly because most doctors I have had treat me in the past have made me uncomfortable or caused pain and laughed, "it doesn't hurt (much)". Yeah, doc, it doesn't hurt you, but you're not the one getting something shoved up your ass.

Well, they've learned how to make these tests less painful and uncomfortable than in years past. I can honestly say that during the actual test, I didn't feel much of anything, other than a mental aversion to knowing that someone was poking something up somewhere that I didn't want to have anything poked.

After the exam, which only took a few minutes, and leaving some "samples" of urine and feces for lab testing, I was on my way. Fortunately, my partner took me so I didn't have to drive. Remember -- I'm a wuss. I was afraid that perhaps I couldn't drive after the procedure. I really didn't know what to expect, so I prepared for the worst.

I also have to admit that the worst part about it was that it was hard to walk normally for a couple days. I kinda swaggered like I had been riding a horse. Yeah, I was uncomfortable afterwards. It wasn't painful, but it was hard to sit down and there was no way that I could ride my Harley and sit on the saddle of my bike. But that discomfort resolved in two days.

Good news is that the doctor found nothing (other than signs of my ongoing chronic illness, which is always under observation). The return of my "samples" indicated nothing bad, either. I'm okay.

I now have convinced my partner and three male friends "of a certain age" to get the screening, too. Heck, if I -- a big wuss -- can do it, anyone can. If you are a male, age 50 or older, go get a colorectal screening. It's important.

Life is short: do what you need to do, even if you don't want to do it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My Brother Has Landed

My wonderful, tall, dark, handsome, energetic and enthusiastic twin brother and his lovely wife have "landed" (so-to-speak) in Italy. He retired from 32 years of service to the United States this past August. He and his wife took the month of September to roam Europe by train. They had a great time visiting 19 cities in eight countries. They ate well, and saw interesting events and sights. I think when my brother phoned me the other day, he was still in Bavaria, Germany, enjoying Oktoberfest.

Now they own a small villa in the outskirts of Rome, where my brother now has a job working in the private sector, doing what he does best -- negotiating and resolving conflicts and differences toward a calm outcome. His wife has relocated her work to their new homestead.  She does all of her work by computer, while my brother has an office in Rome, and another "office" aboard the train (so he says. He does a lot of traveling throughout Europe, and uses trains to get there.)

I am delighted for their good fortune, and hope perhaps I can visit in the Spring. That time of year is beautiful in Italy, but I have to be honest, what I want to see most is my brother's goofy grin. I love that guy.

He has worked very hard to earn the place in his life where he is now, and I celebrate his new life. While I miss him terribly, we communicate often. He is encouraging me to use Skype. So far, without much success because I am such a "slow adopter" of technology. Nonetheless, we exchange email 2 - 4 times every day, and speak by phone at least once each week.

How blessed I am to have such a close relationship with my first "bestest" friend in the world, and to share his joy and happiness!

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

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Usual Columbus Weekend

This weekend includes a holiday on Monday to recognize that Christopher Columbus and his shipmates were greeted by Native Americans upon arrival in North America. Yeah, my maternal ancestors were here before he was, yet he gets all the recognition for "founding America." Ha!

It also marks the weekend that my partner and I visit his mother up in da'Burgh, where we will redd up her homestead in preparashun for winner. Yeah, she lives up dere in Alahgany channy, near where da Mon and Agony rivers form da Ahia, nof-ees of da sitty in a tahny tahnship. Or is it a burrah? Anyways, it's called Mickeys Rocks, or just "da Rox" for short.

Now, back to "normal speak" ... LOL! But I tell ya, it has taken me years to learn how to translate Pittsburghese until my dear friend, AZ, pointed out an on-line translator. Once we are within 50 miles of his hometown, my partner begins tawkin lahk dat.

If any of this blog's visitors are not from the United States, I extend my apologies, because I know these phrases must be very difficult to understand. Believe me, it is hard for me to understand, and I am a native speaker of American English!

Well, home repairs and yardwork await. My mother-in-law is anxious to have us visit, and she truly appreciates the help. While she sometimes is not all that easy to be around, she is the only mother my partner has, and she has learned to care for me in her own quirky way, so we will be fine. I do what I need to do, always... 'cause I love my partner. That's what it is really all about. Giving up two three-day weekends each year (Memorial Day and Columbus Day) is the least I can do to show my partner that I mean what I close this blog with regularly:

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

Friday, October 7, 2011

Travel Planning

After a summer without any business travel, the travel calendar is getting kinda busy for ol' travel-hardened BHD.

Seattle beckons me again -- for a whole week! This time, to facilitate a meeting. It's something I do, something I enjoy, yet is draining. Nonetheless, I look forward to returning to Seattle again; second time this year, in mid-October.

In mid-November, I am leading a major session at a professional conference in Las Vegas. I really get jazzed when I have a chance to do public speaking -- and before several thousand people, it becomes quite the "energizer!" Personally, I don't like Vegas. I don't gamble and am not interested in the night life. But I will look forward to seeing hundreds of colleagues and friends while I'm there in mid-November.

Mid-December will see me make that trip I have written about before. To the farthest-flung U.S. Commonwealth way out in the Pacific. I will be doing some training, participating in meetings, and getting to know people with whom I have only communicated via email. I look forward to it -- and while I have been there before, this will be the first time that I am not going there to pick up the pieces after a severe storm wiped out all of the infrastructure. On my return, I look forward to stopping off on Guam and then Hawaii for more meetings and to decompress.

Too bad my partner is unable to travel. I would love to have him with me. Alas, he will keep the home fires burning while I'm firing up a storm in the western parts of the United States, its commonwealths and territories.

Have I said recently, "I love my job?"

Life is short: show your passion!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Can A Masculine Man Be Gay?

Yep, it continues -- the ongoing queries entered into search engines about masculine men and sexual orientation. Here is one of the latest searches:

This is yet a different twist on the age-old question that directs many visitors to this blog. "Can a masculine man "still" be gay?"

Simple answer is, "yes." Masculine traits vary for each man. Some men are hyper-masculine -- some have a very deep voice, lots of facial hair, are muscular, and walk with a kind of a swagger. There are other types of masculine men who do not display all of the most obvious (and perhaps "looked-for") masculine behaviors. What I am saying is, it is a range.

Gay men display various behaviors that range from a few on the hyper-masculine end of the scale to a few on the hyper-effeminate end of the scale, with the scale "tilted" if you will toward gay men being a bit more effeminate than masculine in their behavior. But most gay guys are in the middle, displaying both characteristics of a masculine man as well as some softer behaviors which some people might characterize as being effeminate.

Trouble is, many television shows that include gay characters have those characters display the most "queeny," effeminate behaviors. So the media causes many people to believe that all gay men are frilly-froo-froo effeminate queens.

That's not the case. Just as there are gay men who are effeminate, there are gay men who look, act, and behave like any other guy. However, you won't see him making out with a woman, enjoying himself at a (straight) strip club, or oogling women on the street. But you may indeed see him at a local sports bar cheering on the local team, or playing sports himself in a recreational league, or riding a motorcycle, sailing a boat, chasing children on a playground (e.g., being an uncle), or a zillion other things that guys do.

So the answer to this query again remains, "yes, a masculine man can be gay." The thing is, he's probably very good at hiding his sexual orientation.

For more on this topic, see some past posts on this blog.

Life is short: be who you are.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Budgeting for Boots or Leather Gear

Some people have commented from time to time about the size of my boot collection and the variety of leather gear that I have. I wear the boots and the leather regularly. I have been asked about the budget required to acquire the boots and gear.

First off, I should note that I have owned some pairs of boots for over 35 years. The boots and gear have been acquired over a long, long time. These items are not something that I went out and purchased entirely at one time.

I operate on one simple philosophy: I only buy what I can afford, and do not extend myself on credit. That's right -- I never carry a balance on a credit card.

How do I do it? I have a budget. Yep, a plain, old-fashioned plan for where my income will be allocated toward expenses.

The first person I pay with each paycheck is myself. I put 20% of my net income into savings. I divide the savings into 75% that I can't touch until retirement, and 25% into my "rainy day" fund. I have figured out how much money I would need to live on to cover costs for my home, vehicles, food, utilities, and other regular expenses. I have 12 months-worth of savings in this "rainy-day" account that, if needed, I can use to cover a major, unplanned expense. That expense may be something like having to pay the deductible on my auto insurance in case I get into a wreck, up to and including losing my job. I have enough money saved that I could withstand -- not to my liking mind you -- losing my primary source of income by losing my job and still survive for at least 12 months without another paycheck. Not that I plan to get laid off or fired, but I have left jobs without another job lined up twice in my life, so I know what it's like to have ongoing expenses without income, and still need to keep a roof over my head and food on the table.

I then allocate the remainder of my net income across expenses. My share of our home's mortgage, utilities, and groceries. I include in my allocations the costs to own, maintain, and operate a cage (4-wheeled vehicle) and a Harley -- not cheap! I also allocate a small amount toward what I call my "boot fund" which is really a small savings account that I tap into when I want to buy boots or leather gear or buy other things that I want -- but do not "need."

Some people have various amounts available after major expenses are paid. But even saving US$10/month can add up.

I also work pretty hard at preventing (or reducing) expenses that can suck my bank account dry in a hurry. I don't, for example, pay for pay channels on television (such as HBO, etc.) I do not subscribe to a data plan for wireless services, so I do not pay the monthly ransom demanded by the wireless "providers" who charge such outrageous monthly fees. I walk at lunchtime and around my neighborhood -- instead of paying for a gym membership. Since I do not carry a balance on credit cards, I do not have to pay what is essentially "debt service" -- that is, paying someone else for your own money. Also, I pack a lunch that I bring to work and prepare our other meals at home, each and every day. Avoiding going out to eat except on rare occasions saves me about US$5,000 each year (I calculated that based on eating lunch out 4 days/week and dinner out 3 days/week, which is about average for my fellow residents here in Snoburbia, and offsetting that with the cost of buying more groceries instead).

You do not have to make it more complicated than it really is. Just employ the lessons that those who lived through The Great Depression learned, and taught me: save money for a rainy day and for your future; be a good steward of your money so you can pay your bills and not get upside down (that is, owe more than you take in); then, and only then, allocate funds toward purchase of "wants" vs. "needs."

This is another reason why my partner and I are so closely synced -- we think about finances exactly the same way. Some may call us "financially stable" while others may call us "cheap." The thing is, we are able to cover our living expenses, reduce expenses that are financially draining, save for retirement and unplanned major expenses, and still have money left over to enjoy things -- like our hobbies, interests, and activities. (One thing that many couples fight about is money. Thankfully, that has never been an issue with us!)

My philosophy on finances was best quoted by a dear friend in an email that I received yesterday: when there is something pricey you really want to do or someone you really want to help, the money is there. And when the economy tanks, you have the funds to ride the tide ... comfortably.

It's all about that "B-word." Budget. Figure out how much it costs to live, see what you can eliminate from reviewing where you are spending your money and don't really have to, and saving for a rainy day.

Life is short: live it well by budgeting.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chippewa or Frye Harness Boots?

Recently, someone sent me an email asking about the current boots made under the Frye boots label. He noted that a new pair of Frye 12R harness boots were already falling apart after just one wearing. One boot pull was not sewn on completely and was coming off.

His original question was whether those Frye boots are really made in the United States, despite the label saying, "made in the U.S.A."

I replied by saying that yes, the boots are assembled ("made") in the USA at a plant in Arkansas, in a location that Frye will not tell you where it is (which adds to the suspicion.) However, I assert, unless the owner can prove otherwise, that the leather and other materials from which these boots are assembled comes from inferior sources outside the U.S. Further, because the current owner of the Frye boot label is the Chinese company Li and Fung, known for producing the cheap clothing and footwear imported by Walmart, the boots are assembled by non-union labor using inferior lasts (boot forms) that were not from the original John A. Frye Company.

Current Frye harness boots have a cheap off-brand rubber sole. Further, you can see from this image from Frye's website that they imprint a pebble grain on the boots to hide blemishes that otherwise would be noticed if the leather were smooth. That is a way to hide that the leather is not Top Grain, the best leather for boots.

I assert, then, that today's Frye boots are cheaply made from inferior materials. While the going price for a pair of these boots is about US$300, the company and all the middle-men involved are making a huge profit from the well-recognized name, and are not purchasing quality materials to go into the boots in the first place. This is definitely where the adage caveat emptor (buyer beware) applies.

Chippewa harness boots are a fair comparison in today's harness boot styles. The Chippewa company is owned by another conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway. (Actually, the U.S.-based Berkshire Hathaway owns Justin Brands, of which the Chippewa label is a subsidiary.)

However, in my humble opinion, Chippewa boots are made better. They still use the same lasts (boot forms) for their boots that they used before the company was bought out by Justin Brands. The boots are still made in the USA. From my direct observations of the materials and craftsmanship with which Chippewa boots are made, I feel that they leather and materials that they use to make Chippewa boots is of better quality. The boots are made of smooth leather. Blemishes are not observable. Double-stitching is used on stress points, including the boot pulls. Quality Vibram soles are used, which are far superior for a biker's required traction (and will last long.)

And Chippewa sells a pair of their "Street Warrior" model 27868 harness boots for about $100 less per pair than Frye. Go figure -- are you getting what you are paying for with Frye? I don't think so. You are paying for a label, not quality.

Just because boots are made in the USA does not mean that they are all made with quality materials and craftsmanship. Look closely and compare, and be a well-informed consumer.

Life is short: do your research before making a purchase.

Monday, October 3, 2011

More than 1300 blog posts later...

I usually note the milestones of this blog by the 100s, but when the 1300 mark arrived, which was my post about a new way of displaying bike cop galleries on my website, I did not want to delay announcing that gallery. Then I plum forgot (until now).

Not much has changed in the last 3-1/3 months since I celebrated the 1200 blog post milestone. What has been most popular on this blog? Finding a masculine gay man -- a perennial favorite search that lands thousands of visitors on this blog; How To Tell If You Have Vintage Frye Boots -- also an ongoing favorite, with many inquiries trying to determine what is "vintage" from the current Frye-branded much lower quality boots available these days; and finally, another ongoing favorite -- how, when, where, and with what to wear cowboy boots. Man oh man am I surprised by the vast number of guys who search the web anonymously about how to wear cowboy boots.

During the last 100 blog post timeframe, my partner had successful brain surgery, my twin brother and his wife visited for a month while he retired from 32 years of service to our country; and I rode my Harley around my lovely home state and didn't get lost (much.) We had a hot July, decent August, and very rainy September.

My "new" job at which I started working last November is going well. Four articles or papers that I wrote were published in two peer-reviewed journals, one monthly Association newsletter, and as a chapter in a book edited by a well-respected researcher and professional colleague. One of the papers received a lot of attention internationally and was nominated for an award from my professional association, which I will find out about later. As a result of that (and perhaps doing a few more things right,) I got a promotion of sorts by moving off of conditional probation earlier than the one-year timeframe originally set out in my employment contract and getting a small raise.

Life is going well, smoothly, and quietly. Not much else to report! Keep blogging!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Closed Relationship

I read often on various gay forums, blogs, and fetish sites about gay guys who have an "open" relationship. To them, it is okay to "play around" (i.e., have sex) with men other than their partner. That is how they live their respective lives and understand their relationship to be.

I have a rather strong opinion that such relationships do not work for the long term, but who am I to judge -- a guy who is for all intents and purposes, monogamously married.

The common marriage vow expresses a couple's relationship to each other "to have and to hold, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."

I know that is rather hokey in today's society, but I have to say that this is exactly how my partner and I feel about each other. We live by the meaning of that vow even though the law does not allow us to express it to each other formally and have it be recognized by the state.

We have a "closed" relationship. We love each other without question, without judgment, and without reservation. I almost said, "without condition" but I have to say that there are indeed some conditions. We didn't put these conditions in writing; rather, we obey the tenets of the conditions by what we do (or don't do.) We must remain honest with each other. We will strongly protect the other as best we can. We must communicate with one another clearly and meaningfully without using words that can be hurtful. We must respect each other and show that respect by our behavior.

These are the conditions of our relationship, and we are proud of it.

And notice in all that I said above, I have not yet said anything about sex. Another important "condition" of our relationship is that we remain faithful in a sexual way to the other.

There are some who believe that it is okay "just to have sex" as a casual fling, but since "it's just sex" then it cannot (or should not) cause problems in a couple's relationship. To my partner and me, though, sex is a part of our intimate relationship that we hold dearly and sacred. That's why neither one of us would consider having "just sex" with someone else. It is not "just" anything -- in our opinion, sex with someone else would destroy the most intimate relationship that we have and break our bond of trust.

I realize that many gay couples struggle with maintaining monogamy. Some have said to me, "hey, we're not married; we have no Contract in the eyes of God." That may be true, but in our opinion, we have a contract to remain true, faithful, and honest with each other.

I have to say, that is one reason why we have been together for over 18 years, and plan on being a couple in love (as well as "in like") with each other until we die.

Life is short: maintain trust through personal integrity.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Boot Heel Plates Squeak?

A friend sent me a question asking how to stop (or reduce) severe cowboy boot heel squeaking that he was hearing.

Most cowboy boot heels have a thin rubber plate attached to the bottom. This rubber plate can easily pick up oil from a surface that you walk on. Even if the surface doesn't look oily, it's possible that some type of oil may be on a roadway, sidewalk, or even a linoleum floor, for that matter. Oil from what you walk on forms a thin film on the rubber plate on the bottom of boot heels. Then you hear a very annoying noise -- squeak, squeak, squeak, when you walk.

It does not take much oil to cause an interaction between the rubber and certain flooring products such as tile, hardwood, or other finished surfaces. The interaction results in that annoying squeaky noise.

To get rid of the noise (or reduce it), try this simple and inexpensive home remedy:

1. Find an old toothbrush or any form of small bristle-brush.

2. Pour a little bit of laundry detergent -- the best type to use is the powder form -- into a small, flat-bottomed, container (dish or bowl.)

3. Drop a few drops of water onto the detergent and mix it with the brush, so you have a paste. It really doesn't have to be any certain consistency. I'm just saying that a paste works better than a liquid.

4. Using the old toothbrush, rub the detergent paste across the bottom of the rubber heel plate. You do not need to create a bubbly foam. What you are doing is using detergent to break down the oil. That's what detergent does (and much better that regular soap, so that's why you should go for the laundry stuff instead of the dishwashing stuff.)

5. Once you have brushed/scrubbed the heel plate with the detergent paste, then rinse the heel plate with water. Remove all residual of the detergent.

6. Let the boot heel plate dry in a well-ventilated area but not in direct sunlight.

Once the boot heel plates are dry, pull your boots on again and see if the squeak is gone.

If you still hear squeaking, then the noise is probably coming from the boot itself, not the heel plate. That's a topic for an entirely different blog post.

Life is short -- hear a good solid cowboy boot heel clunk, not squeak-squeak-squeak!