This was the single word that my Italian grandmother used when any of us kids became impatient with something. This was her way of saying, “patience is a virtue.”

That’s a virtue that is difficult for me to achieve. When I see something wrong and it is within my means to try to fix it, I certainly try.

Lately, my patience has been tried on various fronts. Fortunately, after several trials, I’m pleased to say that for the most part, some bad things are now rectified. Like the monopoly telephone company in our area that wouldn’t fix my 93-year-old aunt’s telephone when it shorted out due to rain last Saturday. Navigating that company’s horrid automated answering system is a test of anyone’s patience. I think they make it so difficult simply to drive people away from even registering a complaint. Excuse-after-excuse didn’t wash with me. Finally, after being deliberately disconnected more times than actually getting through to a human being, the phone got fixed and my aunt can move out of our guest room back to her own home. (There was no way she could stay at home alone without a working phone.)

Or the complete nitwits on some internet sneaker forum (and other forums too) who say silly, stupid things and link to my website. I hope it makes them feel better to be so nasty. They sure prove their ignorance, and that their momma didn’t bring ’em up right. I have tried to block them, as well as install a system to record every IP address from every visitor to my website linked from those forums. Next script to write and install is one that takes those IP addresses when they visit my website and automatically re-directs them to a … (hmmm, still thinking about where; perhaps the FBI’s website? Might they get a message?)

My patience was worn very thin when I saw someone fall in a store parking lot yesterday. After checking to make sure there weren’t any neck or back injuries, I helped him up, but needed some more help to get him stable. No one would stop — people literally ran past me. I finally got some more help, but it took much longer than it should have taken.

Then a challenge with my new ISP at home. We went with a new fiber optic internet service. It’s fast, that’s for sure. But when you register and accept the mandatory terms of service, they force you into signing up for entertainment services that you don’t want. No opt-out option is available. Now I have to call them and waste more time navigating through their horrible automated answering system to have them remove those auto-added, expensive services. I also will be spending time on writing a firm and formal complaint to our state’s regulatory agency and the State AG about deceptive business practices. (That’s me, “rent-a-kvetch”. I’m pretty good about writing formal complaints on behalf of myself and others when a company is clearly in the wrong.)

When my partner’s patience is tested, he repeats a phrase from time to time which comes from his Western Pennsylvanian roots: “hooray for me, to hell with you.” He says he hears people say that where he grew up, and behave that way. That tends to reflect how unfortunate it is that more people care about themselves than take a minute out to do anything for anyone else, or even consider how someone else may feel. I just can’t do that. It is not how I’m wired, or how I was brought up — nor my partner. Thank goodness we share the same values this way.

Life is short: show those you love, as well as those you don’t know but can help, that you care. Act. Responsibly. With thought and consideration for others.

We Are Alarmed!

Now that I have your attention, this is just a reminder that if you have smoke alarms in your home that use batteries, if you have not replaced the battery in the last year, DO IT.

If your smoke alarm is more than ten years old, replace it. Smoke alarms lose sensitivity with time. All responsible fire safety agencies and organizations in the U.S. recommend changing smoke alarm batteries once a year, and the entire alarm every ten years.

Don’t fall for the catchy marketing phrase that a certain battery manufacturer began in the 1980s: “change your clock, change your battery.” This phrase was invented to sell more batteries. You only have to replace smoke alarm batteries once each year — not more frequently. It is environmentally unsound to dispose of perfectly good batteries in the trash more than once a year. Also, since (in the U.S.) the time changes occur in April and November, the difference between the time changes is not half a year. It just doesn’t make sense to change batteries when you change your clock (if you are in a state where time changes from daylight to standard time; not all do).

This weekend marks our tenth anniversary in our house. Today, as a present to our house (and to ourselves), my partner and I replaced all of our smoke alarms with new units. All nine of them! We got new alarms that have easy-to-reach battery compartments, but are still hard-wired into the home. The new alarms also have a “hush” feature. That means that if I set off the alarm when I’m cooking, for example, I can press a button on the alarm and it silences it for about 15 minutes. This feature is great, because people who have it will be less likely to take a battery out of an alarm when it goes off for a nuisance situation, such as cooking smoke. The battery back-up feature is great to have in case the power goes out. All of our smoke alarms are interconnected, so if one goes off, all the rest of them do. (This was a code requirement and one that we think was a great idea.)

Almost every day we read stories in the newspaper about people who have died in the place they feel safest: in their home — because of a fire. I often read that there was no working smoke alarm in those fires. In fact, ongoing studies show that about one-third of smoke alarms in homes don’t work on any given day.

Don’t let your home be unprotected. Test your smoke alarm once a month by pushing the test button. Replace the battery once a year. Replace the whole unit every ten years.

In a future blog post, I’ll explain why we also have residential fire sprinklers in our home. These were not required by law, and we paid extra to have them. But our peace-of-mind was well worth the cost.

Now, I’m off to my aunt’s home and several of her friends with new batteries for their smoke alarms.

Life is short: show those you love that you love them — replace the batteries in their smoke alarms!


I have spent much of the day listening. I have visited with five older people who live in a retirement community near me. Each of my older friends lives alone. They get lonely. Sometimes, I just go visit, and listen. I learn a lot, and enjoy providing a way for my friends to share their stories, background, history, and occasional advice or insights.

I might lift a hammer, wrench, screwdriver, or a can of WD-40 and fix something while I’m there. That’s why I tell them I’m coming. But the real reason I am there is to give them someone to talk to, in person. It makes a world of difference — to them and to me. Meanwhile, that squeaky door gets fixed, or the light bulbs get replaced, and that ding-danged leaky faucet stops leaking.

Just a way to spend some time with some important people in my life. And a great thing to do on a rainy day. Kick off my boots at the door, give a warm smile, a big hug, share a cookie, fix something, and just listen.

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

Admiring Motorcycle Skill and Grace

On September 20, I had the pleasure of observing the Mid-Atlantic Police Motorcycle Skills Competition, which was held in Arlington, Virginia.

I have always admired the skill and grace that the motor officers display as they ride in these competitions. Their abilities to handle their big machines are quite awe-inspiring. Sure, they get a lot of training before they go out on the road, and they have a lot of daily “practice” as they engage in their duties. Way more than me, since I’m not a cop and I don’t ride nearly as often or under the challenging conditions that they do. Their grace, style, and capabilities are inspiring and daunting (at the same time) to watch.

This is why I attend these events. It’s not for fetish or other unstated reasons, as some may think. It is because I admire and deeply respect the skills, abilities, and grace of the officers who participate in these competitions. I support them by helping out when invited, such as for practice or for fundraising activities. Sure, I admit, a cop in a uniform with nice-looking boots attracts my attention. But what captivates me more is watching him (or her) operate the big, heavy motorcycle so skillfully. Honestly. That’s why I’m there… to watch, learn, and yeah… take some pictures to capture the event for others to see who weren’t able to be there. See the gallery of this event that I just posted on my website by clicking here.

Others Before Self

I guess it’s how I was raised and how I am wired. It’s a foundation of my deep, personal faith. It’s how my Mom and Dad expected us to live, and how they demonstrated through their own actions that what’s more important is others before self. Simple as that, and sometimes as hard as that.

This morning as I dodged commuters rushing onto the Metro train, pushing people out of their way so they could be first, I thought, “others before self.” As I was getting off the train, I blocked the way for an older person to get off the train before I did, and protected her from the thundering, thoughtless, masses streaming toward us.

Last night as I was mulling over a decision on a local development project in my role as a local community activist. I thought that perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad, but then again, I thought “others before self.” What do those most affected think? I asked, and we formed a position that was more inclusive and better focused. (Thought I must say that I have little tolerance for NIMBYs).

When the local water utility painted their water tower and lowered the antenna for a cell phone provider that was on top of the tower, thus causing poor signals in the area and people not being able to connect to their service, I thought, “so what?” Personally, I detest those annoying devices. But then I thought, “others before self.” There are others who truly felt that they had a serious problem. So I in my role as a community leader, I helped the affected neighbors negotiate with the cell carrier for a COW (cell on wheels) to be brought in until the antenna can be raised back to its former height.

When my uncle was in the winter of his life and had made the decision to stop taking his meds and suffer the consequences which would lead to certain death, I initially tried to talk him out of it. I didn’t want my uncle to die; I truly enjoyed every minute I had with him and selfishly wanted more. I hadn’t finished writing the book about his life. I didn’t want to let go. But then I thought, “others before self.” My uncle had lived a rich and wonderful life, and now he had made the decision to die. Five days later and with the support of home hospice care, he passed away. I was holding his hand as he took his last breath. He died with dignity and honor, at home, with his loving wife of 64 years nearby. “Others before self” had never been so hard, but never felt as good.

When my sister was dying and needed a kidney transplant, all us siblings were tested. I was a close match. I was warned about potential future health consequences if I donated a kidney (and certainly I have suffered those consequences). But “others before self” … my sister is fine now. (Though I suggest to the doctor during our annual checkup that he knock her out and we switch kidneys, because she got the “better” one, and now I can hardly eat anything anymore without either getting sick or gaining weight or both).

I’m no saint. I have many faults, failures, and foibles. But thinking about how things affect other people is more important to me than how things affect me. There are so darn many conceited, ego-driven people in the world, I often wonder how we manage to survive. Fortunately, I know that I am not the only one who takes time to think of others before self. Certainly my siblings do, and those who I call my close friends do, as well. And my partner deserves a medal for how he thinks of “others before self” as he demonstrates his care and concern for his mother, and for me.

Life is short: wear your boots, and give a little thought to someone else today, and remember to smile — that’s the easiest and least costly way to think of others before self. A smile brings sunshine and makes everyone around you feel better.

Woofs to Clay!

Today I’m doing a special shout-out to a very dear friend who lives in Calgary, Alberta. “Calgarymn” Clay is such a wonderful, thoughtful, kind and caring man. He’s also a hunky cowboy Leatherman, too.

I’ll never forget that when I was becoming active on “Boots on Line” (and on-line community of men who like boots and share information about them), I observed that Clay was posting pictures and engaging in dialogue with a lot of guys. I was awe-struck at first, and perhaps a bit infatuated (I admit it), and came to think, “wow, this guy is really cool! He always has something nice to say, and has a great sense of humour.” His quick wit and style endeared me to him.

Then he sent me a message in reply to something I posted. I was flabbergasted. “Who, me? Why would this guy who is such a stud want to have anything to do with this inconsequential guy from Maryland?”

We began to exchange email, and soon thereafter we developed a warm and fast friendship. I got him booted in a pair of Dan Post roughout cowboy boots that he wanted. He looks great wearing them. Besides his striking classic cowboy style, which is cool, he’s also quite good looking in leather, too. A man who shares my passions.

He started creating videos about the same time that I did, but he was always better at it. There’s something about how he displays his passion that sizzles. He and I have shared a lot of vids with each other, and I even kidded him in one of mine for “not” giving me an idea for it. We laugh about that to this day.

Guys who have a deep and sincere heart, who live each day with the best of intentions to enjoy life and help others, and who have abiding personal integrity, tend to gravitate toward one another. As I blogged about before, our mutual friend “AZ” has those qualities. Clay certainly has those qualities as well. He has a richness of character that is far above the norm, and to which I aspire in how I live my life and care for my family and friends.

Today I give a special “shout-out” to my “booted bandito” next brother, Clay. Man, I am so richly blessed. With “AZ” and Clay as my rocks and soul brothers, what more could I ask?

Life is short: wear your boots and leather (though my interests purely are as an avocation ~~~. I think with that one, AZ and Clay have a bridge they can sell you!)

Live in DC? No way

Some people have asked me if I ever would consider living in the city of Washington, DC. My answer always has been “no way.” Here’s why: the United States Congress. Why do I say that?

Primarily for the benefit of visitors to my blog from other countries, let me give a brief civics lesson.

Washington, DC, also known as the District of Columbia, is not a state. It is a federal district that was created by Congress, the legislative branch of the U.S. Government, in 1871 to be the seat of the Capital of the United States. Article One of of the United States Constitution provides for a federal district, distinct from the states, to serve as the permanent national capital. The United States Congress has supreme authority over Washington, D.C.; residents of the city therefore have less self-governance than residents of the states. The District has a non-voting at-large Congressional delegate, but no senators. (Source: Wikipedia, cited under the GNU General Public License.)

And there’s the rub: while the DC City Council can pass all the laws it wants, everything the Council does is subject to review of Congress, and can be changed or killed at the whim of any Member of Congress from any state. That’s what really bothers me. Meddling by Congress in local affairs is abominable, and happens all too frequently. Sure, go buy a machine gun — a gun-nut Congressmember from Indiana who is in the pocket of the NRA is trying to force that to happen in DC.

How would you like it if your state legislature, or city or town council, passed some legislation and a bozo Congressmember from another state for purposes of political grandstanding steps in and interferes with it?

That’s really why I could never live in the city of Washington, DC. Congress meddles too much in local affairs. It is shameful, and some Members of Congress have no shame.

There are some other reasons why I would never live in DC, as well — taxes are exorbitant because there is not much of a base to tax. 22% of the land in the city is owned by non-taxable entities, such as the federal government, embassies, religious institutions, and non-profit organizations. Homeowners bear a significant tax burden as a result.

I have often commented on the actions, or inactions, of the local city elected officials and appointed leadership, but being active in my home county in Maryland in these affairs, I realize how politics is portrayed by media spin, and the truth is often in the middle somewhere. However, I just couldn’t bear to live in a place that continues to elect Marion Barry to office — first as Mayor then now as a City Councilmember. What a buffoon. He is a politically savvy guy, but a (?) nonetheless.

Sure, I enjoy showing my nation’s capital to the world through photos and giving tours to friends and family. But I never would want to live there. Give me The Free State (Maryland) and my county that has a casual and mature kind of tolerance. Let me rant and rave to my elected Representative in Congress, and my state’s U.S. Senators. Let me engage in the political process regarding legislation pending before my state’s General Assembly. Let me testify about legislation being considered by my County Council. Anytime. But when state or local legislation passes, let it stand. Don’t let a politically-motivated ding-dong from another state come tell my state or county elected leaders that they’re going to change our laws. No way, no how, not where I live.

Last Day of Summer

Today is, officially, the last day of astronomical summer. Autumn officially begins tomorrow mid-day. It has been an exceptionally delightful week, weather-wise. Moderate day-time temperatures with low humidity, and cool, brisk mornings. Sure feels like autumn to me.

Thus, the leathers are breaking out. Yesterday when I was at the bike cop rodeo, I just dressed “biker” and wore my red-piped leather chaps and a matching red-piped shirt under my Motocross leather jacket. I soon took off the jacket and put on my vest, which I wore the rest of the day. Since I knew that I would be on my feet a good part of the day, I wore my Chip Firefighter boots, which are very comfortable to stand in for hours, if necessary.

By mid-day, I took off the leather shirt and just wore the vest with a t-shirt, but I kept on the chaps because they just felt good, and weren’t hot.

Today, I was running all over doing a lot of things. I took my elderly friends grocery shopping early. I had on my naked leather jeans and Chip Hi-Shine Boots with a long-sleeved t-shirt. Later as it warmed up, I changed into jeans, short-sleeved t-shirt, and my old, previously-mudded but very comfortable tall Chip Engineer boots. I hopped on the Harley and hung out at the local fire station for a while, preparing for Fire Safety Month activities (in October.)

After that, I came back home, prepared lunch for my partner and me, and then took off again on my Harley to run several errands. It was such a beautiful day! Sunny, warm, and perfect for jeans, t-shirt, and a vest. On my way back home, the boys (that is, my boots), found a little mud. Ooops. (smile)

My partner laughed when he saw me, and helped me take off the muddy boots and jeans. I went inside and got very creative in my kitchen. I made a huge lasagna from scratch (except store-bought noodles). I made the lasagna in advance, since it’s always better upon second heating, after the flavors have a chance to mix during cooling after the initial cooking. When all that was done (two hours later), my partner and I soaked in our hot tub.

I put on a pair of leather jeans again, and a pair of Wesco boots, and my Stompers Boots t-shirt. I then prepared dinner, which we enjoyed outside on our deck. After that, I had to go meet some neighbors about a project that will start tomorrow in our neighborhood. I am so glad to live in a community where I can be dressed in leather and a Stompers shirt and nobody says a thing.

Last day of summer has been great… and I look forward to Autumn, when leather is more a regular part of my daily wardrobe outside of work.

Life is short: wear your boots and leather!

Motorcycle Cop Rodeo

I enjoyed viewing a motorcycle cop rodeo today. The day was gorgeous; bright, sunny, and comfortable — not hot, not cool.

There were 120 officers who were competing in the event, which was a great turn-out. Cops came from all over the East Coast, but most were from Virginia. I enjoyed speaking with a number of them about a variety of things — mostly about their jobs, but we also talked about their bikes, uniforms, and boots.

I really enjoyed it.

Update, Sept. 26: Since I notice that internet searches for “Cop Rodeo” are landing on this page, I added this link for the pictures that I took (this is a link).

Leather Gear Guide Published!

I am pleased to announce that my Complete Guide to Leather Gear will be published soon in a major magazine that serves the Gay community. (Not a porn mag; this is a serious, topical, monthly publication with a wide circulation.)

I had to edit the article to a shorter form, and then submit it. Their editors did some work with it, but did not change very much of it at all. I’m pleased with their work. I am thrilled to have this work published!

Who woulda thunk back in high school when I was struggling to write my next composition in English class that over many years hence, not only would I have had articles published in mainstream magazines, some chapters in some academic and technical books, but also in a major Gay magazine? Not me! I wonder if what my English teacher would think? (LOL!)

Nonetheless, having this work published in a major Gay magazine is quite achievement about which I am very proud. I owe this achievement to several things:

  • First and foremost, the great foundation of education that I received in one of the best school districts in the country. I especially want to thank my Latin teacher for teaching me English! (Seriously, I could not write well at all until Latin helped me learn about my own native language).
  • My partner’s patience while I was working on this Guide and not insisting that I do more “honey-do” projects.
  • Several friends who reviewed and contributed to the Guide for me in both words and pictures (especially my buddy Chris for his editing and buddies AZ and Paul for their photos). I couldn’t have done it without them.

When the mag his the streets, I’ll announce it here.