G’Bye, Starsucks

It’s all my fault, blame it all on me. I just read the following in a local blog:

The latest round of Starbucks store closings hits East County, with close-by locations soon to shut down among 300 worldwide.

[Photo from the ‘net; I’m not in it.] Both of the soon-to-close Starsucks locations are close to where I live. Okay, I’m not a wuss, I can take it: blame me! I really don’t like the urban guppie/yuppie-ism to which Starsucks appeals, and the almost zombie-like drones who fall for it and spent $5 on a cup of coffee! Are they nuts or just made of money? (probably both. Just check their cell phone bills.)

Did I have something to do with the closing of these two stores because I never patronized them?

… I doubt it. But will I miss them?

Nope.

Life is more simple and cost-effective when we do things like prepare our own meals and brew our own coffee at home. In a month, you can save the world by donating the money you save to a good cause (or two, or three.) Donating to “good causes” is a great appeal to the save-the-planet guppies.

Blog Post 400

I’ve really gotten into this blogging thing… just a daily thought about a variety of things that compose my life.

In reviewing how the blogging has been going, here are some things I have learned:

  • Write when it comes to you, and schedule it for future posting.
  • Blogger is owned by Google and seems to auto-index as soon as your post “goes live.” Thus, you suddenly get a lot of visitors to your blog who use Google to look up certain key words that match what’s in your post. Google seems to favor with higher ranking key words on more recent blog posts.
  • You get many more visitors to a blog post than you may think. My average is 500 unique visitors per day, from all over the world.
  • People who live in your town will find you, and read your blog almost daily, but never reveal themselves to you. That’s just part of internet behavior that bloggers have to accept.
  • Some people will “follow” you publicly, and some will follow you privately. It works both ways.
  • When your life gets really busy, it’s helpful to have a pre-written “bank” of blog posts.

What’s been most popular on this blog recently as well as over time? These titles:

How do I know this? I have simple tracking software that provides counts of visitors to blog posts, but be assured, it does not reveal your identity.

Life is short: Keep blogging! Share your joy with others!

Hey, Dad

Today, April 28, is the date when my father died so many years ago. I remember that day clearly, though I’d rather not. And it was a Tuesday… just like today. My sister woke me up, told me the news about how he had died a few hours earlier at the hospital, and took me and my siblings who were at home to her house.

Rather than be morose, I decided that today of all days, I would remember my Dad and the things he liked to do and share with us kids.

I made arrangements a few weeks ago to eat lunch at his old office, though I don’t know anyone there now. I will go visit the reservoir where we used to go fishing, and skip a rock. I will sit in our garden and admire God’s handiwork. My Dad didn’t have much of a green thumb, but he loved to spend time in the garden. He would love what my partner has done with ours.

I will communicate with my family, and share our love. I’ll drop by the cemetery, and bring some flowers that he and Mom liked. I’ll sit cross-legged and have a chat with him about life.

I have benefited a great deal from my Dad, in learning, loving, caring, thinking, and yeah: smiling. Thanks Dad for everything — especially for sharing your smile and encouraging us to do so, too.

Life is short: if your Dad is alive, give him a call, pay him a visit and give him a hug, let him know you’re thinking of him. Don’t wait for just Father’s Day: your Dad is your father every day. Say those magic words: “I love you.” It really means a lot.

From Winter to Summer

A while back, I conducted a poll on this blog when I was wondering about getting a new pair of cowboy boots. Eleven visitors voted, helping me choose among three choices: Lucchese full quill ostrich boots, Nocona caiman boots, or Dan Post wingtips. The majority confirmed my thinking, and helped me select this pair of Lucchese cowboy boots (more pics on my website, here). I wore them yesterday when my partner and I did a very rare thing: we went out to dinner. We celebrated our anniversary at Outback Steakhouse. There’s one close to us, and enabled us to use some gift cards that each of us had received. We enjoyed our dinner, but the quality of the food has declined. Then again, I may only eat there once a year, so it’s hard to tell.

While I was considering wearing a full leather suit, when the temperature on the thermometer read 90°F (32°C), the leather remained in the closet and I went “cowboy.” I pulled on these Lucchese boots and my favorite Wranglers and a Harley t-shirt, and that was that. The boots are cool and comfy.

Man, we have gone from winter to summer, as I thought we might. Last week it barely broke the 50°F (10°C) range. However, in the past three days, it’s been hovering in the very warm range. Good thing, though — our trees are finally fully leafing out. As my partner and I were having our usual snuggle at dawn on Saturday, we looked out the window and both remarked simultaneously that we though the leaves were slow in developing. It just took persistent warm weather for the leaves to pop. (And the tree pollen, uggghh.)

Now that it has finally warmed up (and it is not zero or thereabouts with rain or severely damp roads in the morning), I am riding my Harley regularly to the Metro to get to work. Yippie! That’s one good thing about the warmer weather returning… bad thing was that it became so hot in the bedroom last night (not necessarily for reasons you may suspect), we had to break down and turn on the air conditioning. Go figure… no middle. In past years, I have always enjoyed sleeping with the windows open from mid-April to May, and listening to the birds greet us awake in the morning. But as our Koala reminds us, “our seasons are backwards.”

Thanks again for visiting this blog, and share joy with someone today! (Keep ’em wondering LOL!)

Beefcake Anniversary Surprise!

Yeah, man! One who looked like this, but not anyone in this particular photo, “dropped by” to deliver a lemon-meringue pie for our anniversary and sing us a little song.

The context: yesterday was the 16th anniversary of the day we met. But that didn’t preclude tackling the long-list of “Spring gotta-do’s” on my partner’s list. We began by doing our weekly grocery shopping very early in the morning. After we got back home and put things away, it was time to mow the lawn, trim it, and edge the sidewalks. Take down the old planters, dump the dirt, and refill them from the compost. Clean 900 square feet of our decks. That, plus the usual visit with my aunt to see how she’s doing, get her groceries, pay her bills, etc.

My partner and I are out back on a hot, sunny afternoon doing all this work when we hear a “hello?” from a husky male voice. I said, “back here!” while my partner gave me one of those looks like, “who’s that? Tell ’em we don’t want any.” (He doesn’t like visitors and in particular, he can’t stand door-to-door solicitors. We have friends over only once each year, so the voice wasn’t likely from someone we know.)

Around the side of the house walks this gorgeous, tall studly hunk with no shirt, tight leather pants, boots, formal cuffs, bow tie, and carrying a pie. He was incredibly handsome. He walked up to us and said that he was sent “by a friend” to wish us a happy anniversary. He sang a song (with a lot of sexual innuendo), smiled a big pearly-white smile, handed us the pie, and wished us a very happy day.

My partner and I just stared, dumb-founded. Honestly, neither of us knew what to say. When I realized he was through and was about to leave, I thanked him for coming, and tried to find out who sent him. But he wouldn’t say. I know it’s somebody who knows us well, because that person knows what type of sweet is my partner’s favorite in the whole world. And damn! He was gone before I could remember to go find my camera!

If you were the one who sent this gorgeous pie-bearing guy, fess up!

Wow… thanks! Woofity-woof-woof and whew! And I thought the outdoor air temperature was HOT!

Our Anniversary: What I Have Learned in 16 Years

Sixteen years: it seems like yesterday and it seems like forever, both. On April 25, 1993, at precisely 8:10am, in the basement of a house on T Street, NW, Washington, DC, I met the man who has fundamentally changed my life so much for the better: my partner, my man.

I explained in last year’s anniversary blog post how we came to meet, so I won’t repeat myself.

I have learned many important life lessons over these years:

  • Love is indeed something you get back more of the more you give it away.
  • That by being faithful, honest, and true that the same qualities are returned equally.
  • It IS okay to be completely “me” with someone who composes the richest part of my life. He has definitely seen me at my worst, at my best, and in all phases in between. He truly loves all of me: physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. My love is returned to him exactly the same way.
  • To have faith that no matter how you blunder, no matter what you’ve goofed up, if he loves you, he will forgive, move on, and continue to love.
  • That being goofy and silly and giving voices to our little farm of stuffed animals is not only endearing to him, it is appreciated for the fun it brings to our lives.
  • What “dependable” really means: What it means to depend on someone and for others to depend on you — and how reliability and dependability are synonymous.
  • What a conversation is, rather than babble; what listening really means, rather than cursory “uh-huhs”; and how words convey thought. But I have also learned that action following those words proves more than just talking about it.
  • That civic responsibility is valued.
  • The reason why we never fight about money is that we have no reason to do that — we think exactly the same way when it comes to handling individual and shared finances. We don’t spend what we don’t have.
  • That trust is built through ongoing demonstration of the reasons for that basis of trust, and that it isn’t a one-time thing. Trust is tested in a variety of ways, and the response to those tests proves what integrity means.

Do we have a perfect relationship? No, but we’re working on it. We’re very different men, with different backgrounds, experiences, and interests. But what has formed the foundation of our solid relationship is that we respect that we have these differences. We don’t criticize or put the other down because he doesn’t understand. We help each other learn and as a result, we continue to grow as individuals and as a couple.

16 years… who woulda thunk? Today, I really can’t imagine what my life would be like without my man. He isn’t my “other half.” He IS me and I am him and we truly are bound at the soul. (Te he, now I have found a form of bondage that I can say I enjoy!)

I looked on the Internet to try to find what the appropriate gift would be for a 16 year anniversary. It says, “silver holloware.” What’s that? A sugar bowl. Heck, I can do better than that. And my partner doesn’t use sugar anyway.

The gift I give my man today (and always) is the same gift he gives me all days: unconditional love, support, gratitude, joy, happiness, and smiles, with a mix of faithfulness, honestly, devotion, sexual energy, attention, and integrity thrown in.

I blog often about the importance of smiling, and I can honestly say that I DO have a silly grin on my face most of the time because my life with my man is so strong and solid that I have a real reason to smile often. It’s easier to take the lumps of coal that life deals out on occasion when I have that sugar bowl at home. (Metaphorically speaking only.)

Today is the anniversary of the day we met. I am so richly blessed, and I remain head over bootheels in love with the man of my life. He is my very essence of being. Happy Anniversary, my love! Always: ILYAWM BB!

It Happened To Us 16 Years Ago

It happened to us 16 years ago on April 25. I shall begin with a bit of history.

Back in high school, I went on dates with the same girl from homeroom from my sophomore through senior year. She was easy to talk to, fun to be with, and enjoyed many of the same activities and groups that I did. She didn’t demand sex, and I wasn’t interested.

I didn’t know then that I was gay. I thought I was supposed to date girls, so I tried. But because I was born gay but didn’t know it yet (or accept it on a conscious level), I went through the common rituals of high school (or tried to, anyway).

This female friend and I went out on lots of dates. But at the end of the evening, it was always a quick peck on the cheek, and I’d be off. Later in life, we remained friends and it was only through a conversation we had a few years ago that I realized that she was hoping for more… (sexual stuff) … with me, but I never even thought about it, much less try anything.

At University, I poured myself into academics and into campus activities. I became a BMOC while maintaining a stellar academic standing. I was active with various student groups and a college fraternity, even becoming President of several of these groups during my tenure as a student. I walked out of there 5.5 years later with a BS, BA, and BSE awarded Magna Cum Laude.

With all that going on, I had little time to date. Again, I went through some rituals of taking women out to fulfill certain expectations, but nothing ever happened. Because I was so busy, I barely had time to breathe. Did I keep so busy because I didn’t want to acknowledge my sexuality? Only my subconscious knows the answer to that question.

After undergraduate school, I began to teach in public school. As a teacher, one had to keep one’s personal life very private. That I did. No dating, either. (Though I did have my first experience with another guy one exceptional weekend, so I finally figured it out.)

While attending graduate school, I left teaching and got a full-time job in a non-teaching profession. I bought and renovated four single family homes in five years. Again, no time to breathe, much less go out and meet anyone.

Once that all calmed down, more degrees awarded, etc., I settled down. I decided that I wanted to ride my motorcycle with a club whose members liked to wear leather, like me, and who were gay (like me.)

I joined a club that was just forming. That was great since I wouldn’t have to endure hazing which was the reason why I joined a newly-forming college fraternity back “when.” The first club meeting that the man I lovingly refer to as my partner and I attended together is when we met, and frankly, never parted. I honestly have to say that he was the only guy I ever went out with on dates. I never dated anyone else. We both just “knew” that “he is my man.”

We have been though a lot together. Good times, extensive interesting international travel, building our own home together, and bad times, too. But through thick and thin, he’s my man, my love, my hunk, my one-and-only to whom I am committed for the rest of my life. And I know he believes the same in me.

I am a very fortunate and blessed man. I didn’t have to go through the heartbreak of meeting someone and being let down. Of getting into a relationship and perhaps living together only to find out later that it’s not a good fit, or to have him steal from me, lie to me, or play behind my back. I know these things have happened to other guys. It hasn’t (and won’t) happen to me. I love my man, and he loves me. THAT, my friends, is what it’s all about. Come back tomorrow to read my anniversary tribute to the man of my life.

Leather in Chicago

Greetings from the Windy City: Chicago, Illinois, USA.

I am here to give a short presentation and to attend a conference. It’s been really busy, from morning to night — sorry, Chicago buds, no time to visit. I have been meeting and strategizing and such from early morning breakfasts through the conference during the day to way-too-late pizza at Lou Malnati’s. (Chicago is definitely a pizza town, and Lou’s makes a great one, or two, or three….)

Chicago is also a leather-friendly town. While I am in professional meetings and business clothes during the day, after the official meetings ended, I returned to my room and took off the business duds. I put on leather jeans last night with a regular shirt, and tonight, I went “all leather” with the leather jeans and a leather shirt that’s cut like a regular shirt. Accompanying the leathers were my Chippewa Hi-Shine lug-soled Engineer Boots.

No one in my group attending the conference or with whom I had dinner last night or tonight when I was wearing my leather said a thing. No one. Not a word. Nada. As I have said often, nobody really cares. And believe me, if someone had anything to say, this group probably would have. I had the confidence in myself enough to wear my leathers and take my jacket off for someone in the group to take these pictures. She just smiled and snapped the pics, then said, “lets go eat.”

The only person who said anything was a bellhop at the hotel. The hotel where I am staying is the same one where International Mr. Leather will be hosted in late May. He said, “here kinda early, aren’t you?” He gave me a wink and a smile. I just said, “been here for that… (my partner and I attended in 2007)… not this year.” Then he helped someone with his luggage and that was it.

I return home to my man early Friday, and to enjoy a nice anniversary weekend with the man who means the world to me.

Life is short: wear your leather, confidently and proudly, wherever you go!

Website Milestone

I uploaded new photos on my website over the last weekend. These photos were of the assembly of a full leather suit.

Whenever I create a new web page or upload photos, I run a scan of the full site to make sure that I didn’t accidentally write errant code which would result in an image or page not displaying properly. The software I use to scan the site also counts all of the images that are on it.

This week, the number of photos on my website broke the 5,000 mark. Not bad for a personal site!

What are the most visited pages and viewed photos on my website? Not hard to guess if you think about it: galleries of motor officers. Interestingly, the next most-visited pages are my tutorials — how to wear cowboy boots, then the detailed Guides on motorcycle police patrol boots, motorcycle boots (in general) and my Complete Guide to Fetish Leather Gear. I remain amazed at just how many people visit my website and go to certain pages directly by using search engines, primarily Google. That search engine drives 80% of my site’s visitors to it each day, on average.

I am observing that what was once a way to organize and virtually display my boot collection and leather gear has evolved, morphed, or changed over the last year, in particular, as I have added my own version of tutorials, galleries, and displays that lots of people look for, and have commented from time to time that they think is helpful advice from a guy who has been around the block once or twice. I see myself changing my website into more of an “information/reference service” than a “see my boots” display as it began. I continue to learn, and appreciate your feedback.

Life is short: enjoy your visit!

Breaking Down the Door

Good news! The house I bought a few weeks ago is now all completely renovated. I installed new electrical wiring (upped to 200 amp service), some new plumbing, and put in a more fuel-efficient burner and fan in the furnace. Through contractors, there is newly installed central cooling and new Corian countertops in the kitchen. That old horrid baby-blue tile on the floor and walls of the kitchen is gone, gone, gone … replaced with neutral-colored resilient flooring that was a snap to install and is easy maintain, and new drywall where that stuff was on the wall.

I did most of the renovation work myself with my partner handing me tools and helping as best he could. I found it was actually cheaper to have a company provide and install the countertops than for me just to buy the countertops myself. Plus, I had painters do the painting (I really dislike painting) and carpet-layers install new carpeting (doing that makes me sneeze like crazy). Anyway, it’s all done! Yippie! Now I can concentrate on the work on my partner’s list of “Spring gotta dos” in our yard and gardens.

Knowing that the house would soon be ready, I listed its rental availability on an on-line bulletin board used by teachers in our school district last Friday. Within an hour of listing it, I had over 50 email messages. By Saturday morning, I literally had people lining up to see it. I was astounded. I think the demand and the interest — which is dramatically higher than when I have listed any other property — is a function of the current bad economy and the reasonable monthly rent I will charge.

Rather than struggle to learn which potential tenant had the most heart-compelling story (they all did), I decided to interview the first five serious applicants who inquired, and pick one of them. I ran a background check (I can’t be too careful as a landlord), and it came back squeaky clean within hours. The lease is all signed and sealed. She and her family will move in next week. I’m still a bit dumb-founded. Less than a month ago I had no idea this was going to happen!

Life is short: wear your work boots and productively assist your community heroes!