Winging It

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 may travel just a few times each year nowadays. I have to use different airlines, and my once preferred carrier does not offer nearly as many choices as it once did. 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 return flight home from Phoenix the other day:

Passengers boarded before me include first class, preferred members, families with babies, disabled people, people with wide-set eyes, purple left thumbs, green feet, and 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.)

“Attention, we are now boarding Zone 90” calls the gate agent.

Finally… That’s me.

“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…

Reflections on a Visit With A Friend

By the time you read this, I have returned to my home in Maryland, snuggled a warm hello with my partner, returned to work and my daily hectic life.

Photo above shows my buddy AZ and me relaxing after working through the weekend. AZ had to work for his employer and I offered to do work for him on his house. I felt good about accomplishing a lot of things that needed to be done.

Last time I visited AZ, I was taking vacation time and was there to have fun and explore the state where he lives. I enjoyed a different visit this time. It was “work focused” instead of “play focused.” What I did is what friends do for each other: I helped him with things that I could do using my skills as an electrician.

AZ knowsknew how to be a rock-solid good friend, and I amwas honored by and cherished his friendship with me. AZ is also very good to many others — such as the owners of the little dog sitting on the couch above my right shoulder. These friends had gone away for the weekend, and AZ took care of their dog. That is one small demonstration of what a good soul AZ has, and why so many people think so highly of his quality of character.

I wish I had more time to stay perhaps and play a little bit in the Grand Canyon State (Arizona), but that just isn’t in the cards right now. I have a workload beyond belief at home (both for my employer and in my civic life), and I just couldn’t take more than one day off. That’s how things are for me for the days, weeks, and months to come.

Life is short: help others using your skills, knowledge, abilities, and giving your time.

PS: (Added 2016 — AZ dropped me in 2012 for unknown reasons. We are no longer friends.)

Too Hot For Fun

Late September in Phoenix this week finds daytime high temperatures reaching 108°F (42°C). With only 13% relative humidity, when you step outside, you dry out and bake.

Last time I visited my best friend, AZ, here in Phoenix was in February. Back then, the daytime highs were much more tolerable, at about 85°F (29°C). I rented a Harley and we rode together to Sedona for a day trip.

During this visit, AZ had to work all day Saturday and some of Sunday since his office was moving. I could have rented a Harley and explored more of Arizona, but I really do not want to sit on an air-cooled engine producing heat from under me when the sun is beating down such heat from above. It’s just “too hot for fun.” Thus, I offered to do a number of home improvements for my buddy while remaining indoors and out of the sun, heat, and dryness.

I did take a nice break, though, to have lunch on Saturday with a former colleague who I worked with 20 years ago. It was great to catch up on each other’s lives.

While AZ or my other friend were driving me to various places, I saw a few bikers braving the heat. I was not surprised that almost all of them were in the same stage of unsafe undress: shorts, sneakers, t-shirt, and no helmet (there is no helmet law in Arizona). I know it is uncomfortable to ride a motorcycle in such heat and that is why those motorcycle operators wear light clothing like that and nothing on their head but perhaps a pair of sunglasses. However, personally, in my opinion, I would feel more uncomfortable if I were not wearing boots, long pants, and a helmet. Thus, if protective clothing made riding uncomfortable due to the heat, then I probably wouldn’t ride (or ride less often.) Again, this is my choice and my opinion.

I look forward to returning to cooler temperatures and more humidity. Funny, it is common to complain about the weather in the DC area, but I miss it. Gimme that cool, damp leather-weather and a warm snuggle in the arms of my man.

Life is short: appreciate what you have.

My Best Friend Is Alarmed

Greetings from my my best buddy’s house in Phoenix, Arizona. There I am, on a ladder, wearing safety glasses and steel-toed Chippewa Firefighter boots. I am installing wireless interconnected smoke alarms for my best friend’s safety and my peace of mind.

It is important to have adequate smoke alarms in homes. About 90% of people who die from exposure to toxic smoke produced by fire die in the place they feel safest: in their own home. Many of these fatal fires happen at night while sleeping. One smoke alarm in a hallway is insufficient, especially if you sleep with the bedroom door closed.

The best thing to have is an interconnected smoke alarm system. Such a system is designed such that if an alarm on one end of the home away from bedrooms detects smoke and its alarm sounds, all other alarms will go off too — including those inside bedrooms where people sleep. That way, they can be awakened and have a chance to get out and away from toxic smoke that can kill them (then call the fire department once out of harm’s way.)

The problem though with older homes is that wiring is not already present behind walls and ceilings to connect smoke alarms to the home’s power supply and to each other. However, a leading smoke alarm manufacturer has solved that problem by inventing and selling battery-powered smoke alarms that interconnect wirelessly. Now all you have to do is put batteries in the alarm and attach it to the ceiling in the correct locations, and you’re done. When one goes off, all the others go off, too. It took me five minutes a piece to do the installation (but shhh… don’t tell AZ that; let him think that it was really hard and took me all day long LOL!)

I now feel better that new wireless smoke alarms are installed and working to protect my best buddy. These were my housewarming gift to him (labor included). Now, on to install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt (GFCI) outlets in the bathrooms and kitchen….

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


Sorry, no time to blog much at the moment. My friend “AZ” picked me up at my hotel after my conference ended on Friday. We enjoyed dinner together, then went to his house. We prepared a list of things that we needed to get from the local building supplies retailer so I can do some home improvement projects at his house while I am spending the weekend with him in Phoenix.

Check back…

How Appropriate

This photos shows the sculpture outside the meeting room where I led my sessions yesterday. Man, they must have known that I was coming. How appropriate!

I wore my cowboy boots, as usual, throughout the day and several others wore their boots, as well. We felt right at home.

Welcome once again to Arizona!

Boots in Flight

This post is about some amusing things I heard at my home airport in Maryland, aboard my flight, and after arrival yesterday in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, where I am leading a major event for my work.

I traveled comfortably, in a pair of Wranglers and Nocona Rattlesnake cowboy boots.

Here goes:

Arriving at the airport whilst checking in

  • [Airline agent inquired]: Do you have luggage to check? Why?
    because I can’t travel without at least one change of boots each day for the five days I will be there. [I think she actually believed me, but I couldn’t tell]
  • [a guy taking off his wing-tipped dress shoes in front of me asked]: Do you have to take your boots off to go through security like I do?
    No; I enjoy being wanded, frisked, and delayed
  • [kid with Mom] Mommy, what are those things on his feet?
    Honey, those are boots
    Mommy, where’s he going?
    I don’t know
    Do you think he is going to ride a horse?
    I don’t know
    Mister, [looking at my boots then at me] Are you going to ride a horse in Texas?
    Kid, thanks for noticing the boots. No, I’m going to ride a horse in Arizona.
    Oh! Wow!

Aboard the plane

  • [Flight attendant said:] Nice cowboy boots!
    Why thank ya’, ma’am!
  • [Woman on aisle seat in my row exclaimed:] Those are some boots!
    No, there are only two
  • [Sneaker-wearing guy waiting for the toilet asked:] Don’t those things (pointing to my boots) get hot?
    No, but they look hot!

Upon arrival in Phoenix

  • [Good looking young guy who sees me at baggage claim says:] Man, those a really cool boots! I’ve always wanted a pair of boots like that. Where did you get them? I got them from a cousin who owned a boot store in Oklahoma. I have seen them on-line for a decent price at [He smiles and says that he will get himself a pair.]

Welcome to Arizona!

Identify the Boots: Answers

This post is a follow-up to my “Identify the Boots” challenge posted on this blog yesterday. I asked you to guess the three models of two brands of boots worn by motor officers at a bike cop competition that I recently attended.

The first pair of boots, shown here, were most numerous because there were more cops from that police force than any other at this event. If you guessed dress instep Dehner patrol boots, you were right. Classic in design, form, and function, these boots look really good on a cop in uniform. These boots in this photo were worn by cops who come from a wealthy jurisdiction, and their boots show it. The boots aren’t cheap (even though the boot shafts are made of “Dehcord”) but have a commanding appearance that is hard to beat.

The next pair of boots are worn by many motor officers nowadays. These are a classic engineer boot (note the strap across the instep closing with a buckle). The boots have a thin plastic topcoat that gives them their name: “Hi-Shines.” Yep, if you guessed Chippewa Hi-Shines, you’re right. These boots are comfortable, well-made, and much (much!) less expensive than Dehner boots. These boots are leather lined and made of all leather (unlike stock Dehner boots.) I know from personal experience that these boots are very comfortable and can easily be worn all day long.

The third pair of boots have a bal-laced instep. If you look closely, you will see that the shafts crease a lot around the ankle, and have some more folds along the shaft. That shows that the material from which they are made is thin. While the material is indeed leather, the leather of these boots is thinner than competitor’s boots. Guess what they are yet? Okay, here goes: Chippewa Motor Patrol boots. These boots are about the same price as their “hi-shine” brothers. Unfortunately, the finish discolors (turns dull and grey) when exposed for any length of time to a hot motorcycle engine. Also, the soles are soft and often leave melt-marks on hot motorcycle pipes. These boots are chosen by some motor outfits because they have the same appearance as bal-laced Dehner boots, but cost half the price.

Well, I hope you enjoyed playing this bike cop boot guessing game. Join me for another booted cop adventure next Spring.

Identify the Boots

Often when I’m around a bunch of bike cops, especially when they gather for an event or competition and come from different jurisdictions, I play a guessing-game that I call, “what brand and model of boots are those?”

And you know what, I guess I have been looking at and wearing boots for way too long, ’cause I haven’t guessed wrong in quite a number of years.

In the booted gathering in the photo above, can you guess which brands and models of boots you are seeing? I’ll give you a hint, there are only two brands and three models.

Take your guesses and return tomorrow for the answers.

Picking Up a Heavyweight Motorcycle

No matter how careful a rider is, no matter how skilled, no matter if he is a professional or someone like me who rides for freedom and fun — there may come a time when the rider drops his bike.

In the case shown above, the officer was attempting to ride very slowly through a course, lost control, and dropped his motorcycle. That happens even to the best of them.

What the officer is showing is what we are taught in advanced motorcycle safety training courses. Here is how to lift a heavy motorcycle if it is dropped:

1. Stop the engine and if you can make sure the bike is in gear (so it won’t roll once it is righted). If the bike is on it’s right side, put the sidestand down before trying to lift it. If the bike has a gas petcock, turn the valve to the “off” position.

2. Back up into the bike with your body. That’s right! Don’t face the bike to try to lift it — use the power of your legs to lift it. It is safer for your back and your body to do it this way.

3. Place your butt in the mid-section of the seat (back toward the motorcycle), not too close to the edge. Keep your back straight and your head up.

4. Grab the handlebar grip with the hand closest to it. Pull the handlebars as close to the gas tank as you are able. Find a place to grab with the other hand.

5. Put your feet fairly close together, about 12″ (30cm) apart. Press the bike using your legs and rear to lift it up. Your hands will guide it. Take small steps backwards. Once you have the bike sufficiently lifted, reach the hand that is not on the handlebars over and grab the other grip. Straighten the handlebars.

6. Be careful to go slowly enough that you don’t push the bike over onto the opposite side.

Before remounting and restarting the motorcycle, check it carefully for damage that may interfere with safe operation. Cosmetic damages like a broken turn signal lens or scratched paint do not interfere with your ability to ride the bike. However, damage to steering alignment, brake pedal, gear shifter, or other parts may require that the bike be towed to a repair shop to be fixed before being ridden again.

That’s it! Don’t be embarrassed, because it happens to almost all bikers eventually. Using this method, you can lift the bike yourself — even a bike that weights many times your own weight. The trick is using leverage to your advantage, not mere physical strength.

Life is short: ride safely!