It’s Been 1,001? Really?

We had another successful Senior Safety Saturday yesterday, where 78 volunteers installed home safety and security items in 54 homes in which seniors live. I was humbled and rather amazed that someone counted the total number of homes where we have done these “safety makeovers” over the past 12 years. Adding yesterday’s homes to the total, we reached 1,001.

I thought we had been doing this work for about ten years, but someone reminded me that the first home that was counted in this twice-a-year project was my Mom’s. So we began this work before she died, and I had forgotten. I remember, though, that I had to do a “demonstration project” to show potential donors and skeptical seniors what the idea “looked like.” My Mom’s home was the “guinea pig” (demonstration case.) Bless her, she went along with a lot of my cockamamie ideas.

After a nice “rah-rah” kick-off, featuring a rather prominent local leader recognizing the contributions we received from business supporters that fund this effort, the volunteers fanned out. I was a “roving worker,” being called to locations where a volunteer encountered a problem, needed an extra pair of hands, or something delivered.

We had only one minor injury — a hammered thumb — but there are lots of sore backs, muscles, and tired bodies among all of us. Whew….

I wore my Station Boots, which remained comfortable all day long. My partner didn’t come with me. He decided to paint our upstairs hallway in our own home. He generally avoids crowds (defined as more people than just me.)

Toward the end of the day, I got a call from a volunteer with yet another problem. She couldn’t get an access door to a water heater closet open. I went over there, and we worked on it for a while, and finally it gave way. We lowered the water heater’s temperature setting to 120°F (49°C) which is what is recommended to avoid scalds. She said that she had been dropped off at this location by someone, so she asked me for a ride to staging area to turn her tools back in. She hopped in my truck.

When we returned to the staging area, it had been transformed with a big tent and picnic tables. There were hundreds of people there. I was completely astounded. Usually only about half the volunteers working that day come to the final event; some go home because they’re tired, or they volunteer for the morning shift only.

As my friend and I walked up to the staging area, the crowd broke out into loud, thunderous applause. My partner came out from behind a post and said, “I had nothing to do with this, but they wanted me to be here to celebrate with you.” Hanging onto his arm was my lovely 94 year-old aunt.

I saw among the crowd a number of seniors whose homes we had done work over the years. I saw some people who had volunteered on this project in the past. I recognized the faces of some donors who had supported us before, as well as currently. And there were some local elected officials and civic leaders there as well. Best of all, there were smiles on each and every face in the crowd. That made me so jazzed — to see so many happy people.

The party turned out to be a celebration of exceeding 1,000 homes that are now better lighted and more safe for seniors to continue to live independently. Honestly, I don’t deserve the credit. The donors and the volunteers made it all happen, especially my hyper-organized friend who does all the hard work of organizing the volunteers with the needs with the required supplies and tools.

I was emotionally fragile while hugging (or getting hugged) by everyone in sight, but I was holding myself together until someone presented me with a framed photo of me and my Mom (standing with our first donor). The photo was taken on the day of our first “Senior Safety Saturday” 12 years ago. I had totally forgotten that the picture had been taken. After being reminded that my Mom was the first “participant” in this event so long ago — when I saw that photo, I completely lost it. My partner stood by my side, handed me a tissue, and just held me until I recomposed myself. My aunt, bless her, was bewildered why I would be so emotional, but it sure was nice to have her there, to hold, to hug, to introduce to friends, and to share smiles.

Life is short: celebrate accomplishments of thriving with your neighbors and enjoying what life is all about, one day at a time.

Did You?

Today, did you:

  • Share a smile with someone you don’t know?
  • Show someone you love that you love them by doing something for her or with him?
  • Call or visit a parent, and say, “I love you”?
  • Let a sibling know that you love her, and care about him?
  • Send a birthday card to a loved-one?
  • Help someone learn something new?
  • Learn something new yourself?
  • Take pride in one of your own accomplishments?
  • Share joy in an accomplishment of someone else?
  • Ask for advice, then make a decision?
  • Do something to help someone less fortunate than you?
  • Manage your technology, instead of letting it manage you?
  • Wear your boots?
  • Thank God for being able to do these things?
  • SMILE?

Yep, all these actions add up to a healthy, happy, worthwhile life. Doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight, tall or short, white or black, green or purple, employed or looking for a job. When you’re livin’ a good life as measured by how you act, the rest of the world is so much better with you being in it.

While I can’t call a parent since my Mom and Dad have died, they know what I’m doing; I’m sure of it. Here’s how I know: the cemetery where they were laid to rest is between the local home supplies store and the retirement community where I am doing my Senior Safety event today. As I left the building supplies store and drove past the cemetery yesterday evening, I was convinced my parents were sending a message. A ray of sun broke through dark, heavy clouds right over the cemetery and shone a path of brilliant light leading my way to the retirement community. It was eerie, yet stimulating. I knew, I just knew, that Mom and Dad were smiling. (Now you’re seeing the spiritual side of me).

Smile, have fun, share, help out, do something. After all–

Life is short: Make each day count.

Helping Seniors Be Safe At Home

A number of us are in that “sandwich generation” with having children to care for and aging parents. Personally, I am not in that particular situation. While there are a lot of children in my life, the kids belong to siblings and their offspring. My parents have both died. However, I have a 94-year-old aunt who I love dearly and who I help to facilitate her ability to continue to live independently. She lives in a retirement community where my mother once lived. This community is huge — some 6,000+ homes with over 8,500 residents. It’s right around the corner from me.

It is a retirement community, but is not a “senior center” nor provides services customarily found in senior housing. There are a variety of residences, from duplexes to condos to co-ops, in single-story structures, garden-style condo buildings, and high-rises. Each resident is responsible for the care and maintenance of his or her own home. The homes are owned by residents — they are not rental units (though some owners may rent to others, it is not a common practice to do that.)

I have visited and interacted with residents of this community for over 25 years. They’re fun, energetic, entertaining, and interesting. I always learn from my many “elder buds.” I have learned as well that they do not often want to admit that as they age, they may not get around as well as they once did, or see as well, or hear as well….

That’s where my individual twice yearly effort comes in. Without making a big deal out of it, I get donations from major building supplies retailers of essential items such as grab bars for bathrooms, non-slip strips for tubs, non-slip bath mats, brighter bulbs and additional lighting, night-lights, smoke alarms, and a variety of related safety products. I meet with my older friends to describe why these things are important, and get their permission to have these items installed in their home. I recruit volunteers from the community — sort of “seniors helping seniors” — and plan a “big day” to do the installations.

Before we do all that, we lay the groundwork to know what needs to be done where. With permission, we visit the homes where safety installations are to be done so we know exactly what will be needed to be done there. We make lists down to the “nth-” screw and whether a drill bit that can get through porcelain (such as to install a grab bar in a tiled bath) will be required. I have done this for about ten years now, and have the process down to a science.

One of my elder buds is hyper-organized (seriously, much more organized than I am) and he tracks all this information so that on the day of installations, everybody knows what materials, resources, and equipment is required, about how long a visit will take in each home, and who to talk to regarding specific needs, such as access to certain areas that may be restricted inside a building, or service access points, or so on.

Over the past two weeks, participant and volunteer recruitment has gone well and home visits have happened, and my buddy has been creating his “master list” of all things required, time, and scheduling. I have been contacting various public officials and the media, so we can get appropriate attention for the donors (so they will donate again in the future.) It’s a real team effort, and I can’t wait to get going!

Tomorrow is our next Senior Safety Day. I do the final “shopping” later today for the rest of the items that we don’t already have on hand. We will begin with a rally and kick-off, (hopefully short) speeches from an elected official and the primary donor… and we’re off! Let’s get safe!

Life is short: show those for whom you care that you love them by helping them be safe at home.

Managing Use of Technology

As social animals, we humans build and thrive on connections in our lives. We have people with whom we connect through family, friends, the workplace, and other regular activities in which we engage, such as going to the grocery store, church, civic activities, socializing with friends, sports & recreation, or whatever.

In today’s world, technology is omnipresent on how people connect with one another. However, there seems to be many people who have let the technology rule their lives rather than the other way around. You see it every day — people who rush to answer their cell phone, walk down the street texting away, yap away while driving a vehicle, immediately respond when their hear an alert that there is a new IM or email message, and admit an addiction to a device they call a “crackberry.”

I was shocked but not surprised to read a Nielsen study and a subsequent article in the New York Times that indicates that U.S. teens, in particular, send or receive more than 2,000 text messages per month. OMG, gimme a break! What disappointed me most was watching a report on the TV news the other night where a teen said, “yeah, the phone is right there, but I don’t use it; I text with five or six friends instead.” The kid is reporting on multi-tasking-texting. What’s the world coming to?

Do you share my annoyance in this situation: you are speaking with someone face-to-face, then their cell phone or Blackberry chirps. They immediately grab it to answer or read a message, dropping your conversation immediately as if you are totally unimportant and not even there! I find that behavior rude and inappropriate, yet it happens all the time.

Several years ago, I attended a training class that at first I thought was another H.R. Department waste-time requirement for “staff development.” I picked a class that I thought would be the shortest. It was on how to manage email. It turned out to be very worthwhile!

I learned a major lesson from that class that I employ to this day: when I want to read email, I turn it on and go look for it. But I don’t leave it on all the time while at my office — only for about an hour in the morning and an hour or so in the afternoon. Further, I have asked my staff by telling them not to send me email unless they are transmitting a document or forwarding a message. If they have something to ask me about, my office is just a few steps down the hall. Come see me! Let’s talk!

At home, I manage communications about the same way — I allow for a limited amount of time each evening for email, then I turn it off. That way, I manage my time with email, rather than have it manage me.

Same goes for the phone. Some of my family and friends get frustrated with me because they call and I do not answer. Since my cell phone is provided by my employer, I consider it something for work. When I get home, I turn it off and plug it into the charger, and leave it for the next day. I just forget about it. Don’t send me a text message on it; it is not likely I will even see it, much less respond.

I am one of those rare individuals who still has a “landline.” I believe that is important since cellular technology is the first to fail when disaster strikes. Anyway, I manage my landline as well. I turn the ringer off during dinnertime. If anyone calls when my partner and I are eating, they can leave a message. If they call when we are sleeping, they can leave a message. If they call and we’re busy, they can leave a message. I don’t run for the phone if it rings — so if you call and I don’t answer, it does not necessarily mean that I am not home. It means that I am busy with something else and choose not to answer the phone right then. It’s not personal. I will call back when I choose. If the time I choose to return a call does not fit your schedule, then we may play “phone tag” for a while, but unless it is a life-or-death matter, it can wait….

I do not use any Instant Messaging (IM) system. I find it very annoying and intrusive. If I want to have an electronic conversation with someone, I may use email. But I just don’t have time nor interest in “I-M-ing.” Same goes for newer methods of communication, such as Twitter. Interesting, etc., but not for me. Things like that could easily become addictive and consuming. I have better things to do with my time.

I deliberately choose when to connect with the outside world via personal or electronic means. I don’t let the technology control my life, but rather, use it as a tool for me to connect with others. After all, that’s why the technology was invented — despite the claims of the marketers from the latest communications gadget.

You know, back in the old days (when I was on a first-name basis with Julius Caesar in Latin class), it was a pleasure to hang over the back fence and chat with a neighbor, or visit in person at a friend’s home, or sit with my sister and play Parchesi while discussing life. Life rolled along just fine when people didn’t have technology that they allowed to get so out of control.

Life is short: manage how you use technology for your connections — don’t let it manage you!

The Greenest Lawn

I am not really one to play “keep up with the Joneses,” an American expression about having to have the things or appearances that what you have is better than the neighbors. My partner, however, is a bit more competitive in that regard. Our neighbor across the street from us is retired, and he spends hours and hours tending to his lawn and gardens. His home has a nice curb appeal. But then again, so do we. And we spend less than a quarter of the time on our yard than he does.

One of the best ways to have a nice curb appeal is that if you have a lawn, to ensure it is weed-free, lush and green. All the chemical companies promote their products that “eliminate” weeds and fertilize the grass… to the detriment of introducing chemicals that wash into the ecosystem when it rains. Where I live, eventually these chemicals enter the streams that lead to the Chesapeake Bay, which is suffering the consequences of this pollution.

I do not portray myself to be an environmental hound, but then again, if I can play my part to reduce the pollution in our environment and save money at the same time, it’s all good.

All of our lawn “fertilizer” is natural from our compost. Each time we mow the lawn, rake leaves, or collect any vegetative debris, we throw the clippings, leaves, and debris on the compost pile. Every now and then, I add some bacteria specifically made for compost piles. The bacteria hasten the action of the decomposition process that forms rich compost. If it doesn’t rain in a week, I will sprinkle some water on the pile, as decomposition only happens in a moist environment for the bacteria to work. I might take a pitchfork to the pile every now and then to mix it up. But otherwise, I just let nature take its course.

Each year, we produce about 3 to 5 cubic yards of rich compost. When I am ready to “fertilize” the lawn, I scoop out compost from the bottom of the pile and fill a wheelbarrow full of it. I roll it up to the lawn, and hand my partner a shovel. Then I break out my “secret compost applicator.” You heard it here, first, folks. Just build a 2′ x 2′ rectangle from wood, and staple a 1/4″ mesh screen across it. My partner will place a couple shovel-fulls of compost on the screen, and then I walk across the grass while shaking it. The compost falls through the screen and works its way to the top of the soil. In just a few days, this “natural fertilizer” chokes out any weeds and makes the lawn turn green as green can be. Great thing about this practice, too, is that it can be done any time of the year. The “fertilizer” doesn’t burn out the grass from exposure to harsh chemicals. It also builds up the layer of top soil.

What’s really amusing to me is that we do truly have the greenest lawn in the neighborhood and I don’t use any chemicals at all. “Across the street” is always sprinkling some bag of something-or-other on his lawn, ultimately adding to the Bay’s pollution. My lawn just loves year-old well-decomposed compost. And that appeals not only to my “green-and-natural” side, but my cheap side as well. I save a lot of money by not buying chemicals.

Additionally, we use the compost to put in planters and pots in which we grow flowers that hang from our decks, and vegetables that we grow in container gardens. We get the juciest, biggest tomatoes, squash, peppers, and other veggies. (After all, their ancestors once decomposed are being “returned” to them.)

It may take a bit more effort to get the compost going, and more of an effort to dig it up and spread it across the lawn. Sure, hiring a service to apply chemicals or put a bag of chemicals in a lawn spreader and spread it across the lawn is easier. But the negative consequences of such actions are not worth the cost to the environment, and our household budget.

Go green: compost and apply it… you’ll have the neighbors “green” with envy.

Half Full or Half Empty?

I’m sure you have heard the question, “is the glass half full, or half empty?” It is commonly used to distinguish the difference on how someone views life — with an optimistic (half full) perception, or a pessimistic (half empty) perception.

I just returned from spending the weekend with my partner at his mother’s home. She lives near Pittsburgh. Regretfully, she is always one who sees the glass as half-empty.

Listening to a constant barrage of how bad things are (or will be) all day is very trying on the nerves of someone like me who is truly an optimist. Try as I might to point out the good things in life, she inevitably will look for something bad. But I did what several friends recommended: I pasted on a big bright smile and tried my hardest not to let her attitude get to me.

While I was there, I took action to rectify a situation that was unsafe: her home’s old electrical system. The original wiring was more than 50 years old. (Fortunately, electrical work for central air and a new stove had been added on separately and more recently.) Her old system was blowing fuses, and some outlets or switches would not work any more. While she probably could afford to have her house rewired by an electrician, it would cost a lot and while she is not destitute, the cost estimates that my partner got for her were more than she was willing to spend.

So this past weekend, I spent many hours replacing all of the original wiring, outlets, and switches. Now she has a new circuit panel box (instead of old, round buss fuses), grounded outlets, Ground Fault Interrupt outlets where code requires (bathroom, kitchen, basement), and more outlets so she no longer has to run extension cords for anything.

It took the better part of two days to run all the wiring, conceal it properly inside the walls, connect it to the panel box, and have a licensed master electrician connect it to the main power feed from the utility pole. (While I have an electrician’s license, mine is issued by Maryland, not Pennsylvania.)

The electrical work was done, looks good, works well, and brings her house up to code. There are no longer any fire hazards from her old wiring, or from all those extension cords (which always frightened me.) My partner worked a lot outside on the yard and gardens while I was fishing wires and connecting outlets and switches.

When we were all done, enjoying the fruits of our labors, my M-I-L said, “thanks, but what happens when…” then rattled off a number of rare but possible things that could happen, like a tripped circuit, a GFI “popping” (that is, doing what it is supposed to do if there may be a short caused by a splash of water), etc. She even dreamed up impossible things like the electric company raising her rates or charging her more on her monthly bill because she has more outlets than she ever had before. (She isn’t the brightest bulb on the planet.) It was very hard to describe that electric bills are tied to consumption, and that if you don’t have something plugged into an outlet, then just having an outlet doesn’t mean that the electric bill will go up.

We had a bit of a tug-o-war over whether or not “all those extra outlets” were needed. It was hard for her to accept my explanation that she may move a lamp sometime, or furniture may get rearranged, or at some point, someone else may be living there and will want to use outlets in different places from those she uses.

My partner tried to keep her calm and explain things, bless him. But without realizing it, he got caught up in the pessimism as well some times. There were periods when I was working to turn both of their attitudes around. I feel, however, negativity and pessimism is par for the course with my M-I-L.

The difference in the “half-full” – “half-empty” approach comes from one of the fundamental differences of my partner and my backgrounds. He was raised in a pessimistic atmosphere, where I was raised in an optimistic one. I always thought that good things happen much more than bad; we should try to make good things happen for others; and most people are good and try to do the right thing. My partner was not. After 16 years of exposure to me, he generally is optimistic and forward-looking. He just has these set-backs every now-and-then when we spend time with his mother.

But we did make lemonade out of lemons, one smile and off-key tune at a time. (My jaw aches from all the smiling I did all weekend, and my partner will be more than happy if he doesn’t hear me sing The Bright Side of Life any more LOL!) Thanks, “AZ,” Kevin, and John for reminding me to keep smiling. Your advice always works for me, because you have the optimistic attitude that helps keep my focus.

Life is short: show those you love that you love them, each and every day — even if you have to spend a lot of energy sometimes do that.


Every now and then, I form a relationship with someone who looks to me for help, guidance, sharing experience, advice, and information. This is more than just asking questions and my answering them. These relationships are more like “mentorships.”

Three recent examples come to mind.

The 21-year-old novice biker I met in late April has become a riding buddy. I don’t have much of a chance to get out and ride as frequently as I would like to do that, but when I do, I try to arrange to go ride with him. I have often said that the best motorcycle training after taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course is to go on rides with experienced, safe riders. I consider myself in the latter category.

The younger guy appreciates my time, attention, and advice. And he acts on it. He also dresses the part more appropriately as well. Instead of buying some new electronic gizmo, he invested in a quality full-face helmet, a pair of sturdy Chippewa engineer boots, and is saving up to get some quality protective gear when the weather gets cooler. Good for him. His riding skills have significantly improved. I am visibly seeing that he is more relaxed, attentive to what matters while riding, and his confidence is building. He’s coming along very well. I’m proud of him.

In another recent circumstance, I received an email that said,

I’m a cop, and just got assigned to the motor unit after several attempts. I am now taking all of the training on operating a Harley. I get along well with the guys on the squad, but… I’m gay. I don’t know how to tell them. I’m afraid of their reaction. How do I deal with this? I have been reading your blog, and find what you have to say inspirational. Can we talk?

Talk we have, and we have shared a lot of email, too. He’s a very nice guy, and I can understand where he’s coming from; however, with him being half my age, it’s hard for me to remember what he is going through. Also, while I worked for homophobes when I was his age, I didn’t work in a hypermasculine environment. I am learning from him as he is learning from me. At least with me, he knows he’s safe and he can tell me what’s really on his mind. I am finding that my mentorship is more of a masculine gay role model. We rant and rave about gay stereotyping, which is still quite prevalent today. But we also figure out strategies to deal with it. This fine young officer will do quite well. He has a good head on his shoulders, and thinks before he acts. He also thinks before he opens his mouth — which is a rare thing these days, sometimes, with some people.

The third recent mentorship is with a woman who has found some time and energy to get involved in civic affairs. She wants to learn how to deal with the politics and the wranglings of our complex county. She wants to get involved in advocacy on behalf of underserved, under-attended residents who are often overlooked when it comes to dealing with development, schools, transportation, zoning, and the overall bureaucracy our home geopolitical glob-o-sphere of almost one million residents.

She is going with me to meetings, she is asking the right questions, she is meeting people. Then she calls or emails me to vent. It is very frustrating to deal with some of these people. I have probably forgotten more about these matters than other people know. I guess it comes from growing up and living within five miles of where I was born. I’m not a mover or shaker. I just consider myself a steady, well-connected, advocate for what’s right. And yeah, I’ve been around the block once or twice. I am glad to have someone to help bring along into the process. We need people to step up and exercise civic duty and pride to make our community, our county, and our state a better place to live for all.

Taking someone under your wing requires time, attention, and patience. But it’s well worth it. This is the kind of stuff I live for, and what gives me the most personal pride. It sorta makes me feel like my life is worthwhile, and appreciated.

Life is short: show someone that you care.

Rolling Thunder

Rolling Thunder XXII occurs today, the Sunday before Memorial Day here in the good ol’ USA. It stages at the Pentagon and ends up in Washington, DC.

This is an annual demonstration for POW/MIAs and Veterans issues. It is not a parade of balding, fat, drunken bikers as sometimes is reported in the media.

I have ridden my Harley with a large contingent from my home county down to the staging area at the Pentagon, then queued up to ride into Washington DC, around the U.S. Capitol, and ultimately ending up on the west side of the city near (relatively speaking) the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. There, various dignitaries and event organizers speak and describe concerns of the day. After all, this is a demonstration, not a parade.

Will I be there this year? No. I haven’t gone in several years. Why? Well, I find that I’m better able to support vets in my community. I tend to focus my support in narrow, but I think meaningful, ways. Two of the tenants in my rental properties are veterans. I give them a break on the rent, so they can afford to live in the county where they work, and send their kids to outstanding public schools. I spend some time with a well-regarded non-profit organization that supports returning soldiers and their families in a variety of ways. The horrors of war and their experiences affect their ability to return to civilian life, so we help out with that, as needed and requested.

Further, when I have attended, our group lines up among the hundreds of thousands of others. Even to get a mid-slot in the line up, you have to get there very early. There is no shade, so a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and very comfortable boots are required. You’ll stand there for hours and hours waiting your turn to mount up on your bike and ride. Meanwhile, you look around at everyone else’s bikes and just wait. There isn’t much to do, and the wait can be six or more hours. (I’m not whining; I am just stating facts from experience.)

In the past two times I went (a few years ago), I made it to the final destination at about 4:00pm, which was well after most of the speeches had ended. It really wasn’t worth the hassle and exhaustion. The crowds are overwhelming. And I just betcha the boots will be outnumbered by the sneakers… but that’s a different story.

Finally, I’m not even in town. This blog post was written and scheduled for posting to appear today while I’m away. I couldn’t go if I wanted to. But I’ll still let out a sigh when I see throngs of bikers on the highway, or hear a Harley rumble off in the distance. I would rather be riding — anywhere — but an obligation and a promise to my mother-in-law prevents me from doing that.

Overall, the demonstration, attention, and concerns that Rolling Thunder brings to light are important. I hope everyone has a good time, rides safely, wears a helmet, and is able to voice concerns on behalf of (and pay tribute to) those who have served, and are serving, in our Armed Forces on behalf of our great country.

Oh, before I left town, my partner and I went to the cemetery, and put up a flag at my Dad’s grave. He was a veteran of WWII, and I won’t forget.

Attention Span of a Gnat

A fellow Bootman who has his own Yahoo Group lamented recently about sending out photos showing his work in boot photography, but was concerned that he hardly ever received any comments, thank-yous, or “attaboys.”

I have seen the trend of this type of thing occurring on boards like “Boots on Line” and Jared’s “Abootfetish” Yahoo group.

After I took the time to compose, crop, and edit lots of photos and posted them in various places, I was disappointed that I hardly received any replies or comments or email. I once thought, “nobody pays attention, nobody cares.”

Well, that’s not true. Lots of people pay attention–I have proof! I have software that works on every page of my website and blog that shows me what pages are being viewed, and where people come from. When I post a message with a link to my website or blog, I see upwards of over 2,000 visitors within 24 hours after posting the link. That’s pretty amazing, considering how narrow the field of interest there is about boots.

On top of that, about 80% of the daily visitors to my website and blog come from Google and other search engines. Last week, I was reaching new heights (in absolute numbers) of the number of unique visitors to my website. (All due to the Law Ride 2009 photo galleries.)

There are a few people, such as my local Silver Spring, DC, and NoVa Bootman lurkers, who have bookmarked my blog and/or website home page, and visit every day. But few people bookmark web pages any more. Most visitors “surf in” and “surf out.”

My stats indicate that about half of the visitors to my blog and website are on for less than 5 seconds. That indicates to me that they stumbled upon it while surfing the ‘net, and didn’t stay. Ooooh… heaven forbid! Aaak! he’s gay! Run for the … [next website].

The next most common visit length for my website or blog is from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. There are some visitors who stay longer, but most have very short visits.

I have learned a number of things from observing how visitors visit:

  • Most visitors come from search engines.
  • Those who come from links usually drop in and leave quickly. This is an indication of true “surfing” behavior.
  • There remains strong interest in certain things that I blog about: Muir Caps, wearing leather in public, and motor cops, but not some other things. Oh well, it’s my blog; I’ll blog about what I like.
  • There are a lot more people looking at what you post on the Internet than you think. Most don’t say anything because they either don’t know how — or, more likely, they are doing what they do on the ‘net: they are surfing.
  • Most visitors have the attention span of a gnat.

I am not saying that most visitors have the brain capacity of a gnat. I am saying that they surf along at a rapid rate and are scanning, rather than reading.

Us older guys who were taught to read by Mrs. Snaggletooth in first grade have trouble understanding that the kids in their 20s now (born in the late 1980s) did not learn how to read like we were taught back in the early ’60s. They were taught to read using a process of sight scanning for key words and page elements. We were taught to read word-for-word, where they were taught to read “for meaning” (however interpreted through sight scanning.)

Further, much pedagogical research indicates that the vast majority of humans “read” images much more than they read words. Why are the world’s printed newspapers dying? Kids don’t read. They scan, and they scan using the tool that they grew up with (and us older guys didn’t): the world wide web on the Internet.

It’s time for us older guys to have a change of heart about how we view the world as it is engaged by younger people. They have an attention span of a gnat, but they do not lack intelligence. They just apply it differently.

… Something to think about… and it’s only the older guys who have gotten this far on this blog post. The younger dudes surfed away hours ago, and probably have twittered at least 20 tweets since then.

Support Your Local Motorcycle Cop

Come and get ’em! Thanks to your votes, and dialogue with some fine motor officers who were in DC for Police Week, I had bumper stickers made:

These stickers are [not] available [any more].

The stickers were 3″ x 10″ printed in high-resolution and quality. They featured a motor officer in Motor Patrol Boots on his Police Harley.