On the Road

I’m in Philadelphia today, fulfilling a commitment to facilitate a meeting for a non-profit group.  I made this commitment before I accepted my new job, and negotiated an agreement to let me fulfill this obligation.

I took the train to Philly from DC.  While our train service in the U.S. is generally abysmal, especially compared with train service in Europe (or even the Ghan in Australia), let’s say, “it’s serviceable” for such a rather short distance (about 120 miles/193km).  I probably could have driven here for less money than the cost of rail fare, but when you add up the exorbitant cost for parking in the city, plus wear-and-tear on my nerves (I hate to drive on interstate highways), then using the train is the best choice, especially since I’m not in a hurry.

I will come home tonight, then leave for Seattle tomorrow.  I tell ‘ya, reminders of my years of on-the-go travel with back-to-back trips doing multiple tasks are returning quickly!  The skills I learned as a seasoned “travel warrior” have been dusted off and re-engaged.

I still dislike traveling though, for three reasons:

1. It’s a huge hassle with all the security crap and the nickle-and-diming that airlines do.  It’s just no fun any more.

2. I hate to be away from home.  I miss my partner and miss important things to me that happen while I’m gone: my nephew’s school play, seeing a concert that my partner had gotten tickets to see months ago, and a visit in DC by someone who is very close to me, but who lives in Los Angeles.

3. With my strange diet due to a chronic health condition, I always have struggles with finding foods that don’t set off … um… “challenges.”  Change in the water, etc., do not set well with me.  Plus, I’m generally not the kind of guy who likes to eat out.  I much prefer to prepare my own meals and eat at home.  

Oh well, the bright side is that I’ll get to see several colleagues who I have known for years and renew working relationships, and make new contacts too that will help with my new job.

Life is short:  be where you need to be and get the job done!

Did My Parents Know They Raised a Leatherdude?

Today, November 29, is/was my Mom’s birthday.  I say “is/was” because my Mom passed away in 1998.  I still miss her and think of her often, as does my partner.

Yesterday, my partner and I were beginning the process of decorating the house for Christmas.  As usual, we talk about whatever item we are putting up, and the memories that it brings to us.

One of the items I was putting up for display is an old yule log and two St. Nicholas statues.  This display is kinda old and kinda tired, but is sentimental to me, because it was the first set of Christmas decorations that my Mom and Dad bought together.  I inherited it and display it in memory and honor of my parents.

So there I was, admiring that display and standing next to it, describing to my partner what the display meant to me, and being a bit nostalgic as the memory of my Mom and her birthday were causing some tears to well up. 

My partner looked at me up and down, then asked, “did your parents know they raised a leatherdude?”

That’s not quite the question or comment I thought I would hear.  He meant it all in jest.  Nonetheless, he couldn’t help but say something, because there I was in a leather shirt and pair of comfy leather jeans, with tall black boots.  Honestly, this is “normal” attire for me when I’m on my own time.

My reply at first was to say nothing at all, but rather, to think.  Then I just said, “well, probably not in the sense of what a ‘leatherman’ is in the gay world, but Mom probably knew that I liked leather.”  My Dad didn’t, because I was only 12 when he passed away.  But I was an adult and already riding my third motorcycle when my Mom died.  She had seen me in full leather often — and never said a thing.  She probably just thought what most people do:  “well, he rides a motorcycle, so he wears leather.” 

Yes, I do value the functionality of leather as protective and warm motorcycle clothing.  But I also wear it even when not riding my motorcycle, like yesterday. 

I digress… did my parents know they raised a leatherdude?  No… but did they know that they raised a child who was adventuresome and enjoyed wearing protective and stylish clothing suitable for his interests?  Yes, they did.  Even Dad knew that I liked boots and wore them when I rode horses.  Mom knew that I liked boots and leather, and wore both boots and leather gear more often than I rode my motorcycle.

So what?  They loved me for the man I was, not for what I chose to wear.

Life is short:  cherish memories.

Time for Leather Alterations?

A friend half-kidding and half-serious with me the other day when I was describing that on Thanksgiving, I actually lost more weight.  He said, “is it time to have your leathers altered?” 

I was so busy rushing around and working the crowd that day, that I didn’t eat much.  But that was by design.  I know I have a weakness that when good food and, especially, desserts are around, I can get “snacky.”  Nibbling all day doesn’t help with the weight-loss goals that I have for myself.

This year, instead of being tempted, I asked others in my family to help my senior pals through the buffet and desert line, and I stayed away.  I scurried around from helping people get out of their cars and into our home, doing many “stair climbs” to stash coats, as well as to run to the basement to check on visitors down there, and lots more.  When you’re entertaining 100 friends over 14 hours, it can be quite a lot of exercise.

I actually measured the exercise I got on Thanksgiving by placing a pedometer on my belt when I got up at 4am, and set it to zero.  When I finally collapsed into bed at 9pm, I casually looked at the pedometer, and it registered 65,042 steps!  By using a steps-to-miles calculator, using an average man’s stride length of 1.5 feet, I figured that I walked 17.5 miles (28.1km) on Thanksgiving Day!  Whew!  No wonder I was so sore and tired at the end of the day!

Because I successfully avoided my weaknesses and did not snack, despite many pies, cakes, and a million cookies and other treats being around, I found that I lost seven more pounds since the day before Thanksgiving.  Gosh, this beats a gym membership for sure — and is cheaper, too!

How I really noticed my more recent weight-loss was that I put on a pair of favorite leather jeans to wear yesterday, and the jeans were riding so low on my waist that I realized they were falling down because my waist had shrunk.  I took them off and weighed myself.  Much to my delight and surprise, I had lost another seven pounds from the last “milestone measurement” taken two weeks ago.

I tried notching my belt a little tighter, only to realize that I had no more notch to tighten it to!  I went to my dresser and found a belt that I used to wear ten years ago, when my waist was 6″ narrower, and it fit.  I put the old belt on those leather jeans and they’re now riding on my waist where I want them to be, though they now look a big baggy.

Hmmm… is it time to have my leathers altered?  So suggests my brother-in-heart.  This isn’t such a bad situation, as I now can wear (or re-wear) some of my older leathers that I haven’t been able to wear in a decade.

Now, if I can only keep this up through Christmas….

Life is short:  celebrate self-set goals!

No Website Updates?

Someone sent me an email asking why my boots and leather website has not been updated since November 12.

Answer is:  I haven’t had time.  I had surgery to have a hernia repaired on 12 November, then a week to recover.  After that, I began working at my new job.  Then we had the Thanksgiving holiday this week, which found us entertaining 100 senior pals.

While I haven’t had time to update or add to my website, but that doesn’t mean that I have given up on it.  I will update it from time to time, as there are things to do, or new photos to add. 

I have to admit, though, that I did take Northbound Leather up on a huge discount for some formal leather a while ago.  I should have the gear by Christmas and will post pictures then.  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I will be traveling to Seattle on 1 December (through the 6th) for a series of work-related meetings, but I’ll have time on the weekend to do some exploration as well.  If you’re in Seattle and want to meet up, let me know.

Life is short:  time is, unfortunately, limited.

Frantic Friday

In the U.S., today is referred to as “Black Friday” meaning that many stores and on-line retailers offer discounts and deals.  It’s supposed to be among the best days for businesses to make money due to the high volume of customers.

All well and good.  I completed my Christmas shopping in July and have no need nor desire to do any shopping today.  Bah, humbug.  (That’s the only slightly negative thing you’ll hear me say, by the way.  I am just one of those guys who doesn’t get into shopping whatsoever.)

I am actually working today (this post having been written last night and schedule to appear this morning.)  I have my first business trip coming up to Seattle next week, so I have to put everything together for the trip.  Actually, it is five activities in one trip: presentation on Thursday afternoon, meeting with some feds on Friday, another meeting with a colleague on Friday afternoon, open weekend, then a presentation on Monday morning followed by a meeting that afternoon, then I get to fly back home.

I prefer to make my own travel arrangements, rather than have someone else do it for me and not select flights, hotels, etc., that I prefer.  Even with restrictions on what airline I must use, there are ways around that, so I don’t have to take, for example, Continental or AirTran or United (which for various reasons I don’t like), and can use a carrier of my choice that offers a competitive fare and on which I accumulate frequent flyer miles.

Funny (odd), but this is the first Friday after Thanksgiving that I have had to work since 1992.  Usually, I spend this day cleaning up after our Thanksgiving Pot Luck.  Fortunately, my family and partner did 99% of the cleaning last night, so all I have to do today on my lunch hour is make a quick run to the dump (ooops, here in Snoburbia, we call it the “transfer station.”)  We have trash and a lot of recyclables to dispose of, and it is better to take care of this massive chore rather than expect our regular trash service to pick up all that stuff (plus, I want to get the use of my garage back as quickly as I can.)

We had a great day yesterday, with 100 of our closest senior pals enjoying the day with us.  It really was a lot of fun, and not much work.  We smiled, laughed, sang, and some of the folks watched football with my partner in his basement “man cave.”  I stayed upstairs most of the time just visiting and listening.  I really don’t care for football.

Today as you may be going about shopping or eating leftover turkey or whatever, think of me, actually working at my new job.  And, truly, enjoying it because I can sit here in my leather and work from home.  Best of all worlds!

Life is short:  keep workin’!

Posted in Job


Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, and I have much to be thankful for.

First, I am thankful for my beloved partner who always finds ways to love, to share, to be my best half, my lover, my friend and confidant, my trusted adviser and the window to my soul.  Honestly, I have no idea how I could live without him, as he is me and I am him, entwined together through life.

Second, I am thankful for the nudge to get out the door from my old job through a layoff in June to give me the time to get my aunt through and past a serious medical crisis, back into her home with 24-hour care.  I needed to leave, as the fit for that job wasn’t so good, supervising child-like millennials was a huge hassle, and the salary was … (not so good).

Third, I am thankful for being selected for my new job and receiving an exceptionally generous offer.  I began working this week.  It’s challenging, interesting, and commanding of my skills and talents, testing me in new ways, and helping me to live, to grow, and to explore new things.  I’m always interested in learning.  I thrive on these challenges, which will keep me busy but not overwhelmed.  And woo-hoo to three really great benefits: I get to work from home most of the time; I don’t have to supervise anyone; and I don’t have to have a smart phone (Blackberry or otherwise.  Yippie!)

Fourth, I am thankful for my loving and caring family.  For being there for me always, through bad times (such as when I broke my leg in January) to good times (such as at various family parties and our weekly dinners), and everywhere in between.  I am so richly blessed by the whole fam-damily, all 232 of ’em!  (including cousins…)  [And that includes my siblings who read and contribute to this blog LOL!]

Fifth, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to care for my lovely 95-year-old aunt during the winter of her life, and being able to make her life as comfortable, safe, and happy as possible.  I truly feel that her care is “my calling” and I was called….  She is a joy and I am thankful to have her to care for and to love.

Sixth, I am thankful for my “senior legion” who care for and about me, and let me care for them.  During my down-time with the broken leg earlier this year, they were there for me — from preparing meals and delivering them, to just staying with me to ensure that I didn’t hurt myself trying to get around, as well as keep me company.  I thrive in a different way by extending my spirit to reach out and care for them from daily phone chats to regular visits, to doing home repairs, taking them grocery shopping or to the doctor’s office … whatever.  It truly “takes a village” and they are my village.

Seventh, I am thankful for my close friends with whom I share a wonderful bond of camaraderie, joy, and life.  I truly enjoy the times we communicate and visit.  Their spirit warms my heart and makes my life so much richer.

Eighth, I am thankful that again this year, we’re having our crazy-huge Thanksgiving Pot-Luck at our house.  So today as you go about whatever you’re doing, imagine my partner and me, as well as 14 members of my family, hosting over 100 seniors (on visits spread out throughout the day).  Singing at the piano in the living room, chatting with friends in the family room and den, or watching “the game” (whatever game it is) on the TV in my partner’s basement “man cave.”  Food’s on the buffet in the dining room, and drinks are on the island in the kitchen… come ‘n get it!  (But be sure to take a plate full of food & goodies home with you when you leave, as I don’t want to have to deal with all those leftovers!)

I regret to disappoint some follower of my “Thanksgiving antics” each year, but this year I did not have the time to create a Thanksgiving Piano Tune in full leather.  I had to work at my new job all week this week, and after work, I had to get the house ready for our event today, arrange to borrow folding chairs, tables, etc., from some neighbors, and do a million other things.  I usually created that video on Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  This year, I just didn’t have time or energy to make one.  As I said, some will miss it, and others will not.  So be it… not gonna happen this year.

I wish you and everyone celebrating Thanksgiving a wonderful, joyful day, filled with happiness.  Please take time to thank the important people in your life, your Deity if you believe, but most of all, thank yourself for reading through this long missive! 

Life is short:  be thankful!


Uh-oh, here I go again, raising the specter of perhaps this blog post being about something that some guys into leather get into.  Sorry… not the case.

This post is just to say that yes, I have begun my new job, and so far so good.  It takes a long time to get on board, with all sorts of paperwork and forms and such.  Photo IDs for this-and-that, fingerprints, retina scans, passport validation, etc., etc.  But it’s all good… I finally got my network ID and access to email, but not, as yet, a VPN so I can’t quite yet access all the systems at the office remotely.

I did get one of those cool new devices that hooks up to my laptop for accessing it.  This thing, called a CAC card, gives me access to the building as well as access to certain parts of the network, and when connected, actually makes my work phone number ring on my home phone.  It probably does other stuff too that if I found out about it and told you, I’d have to shoot you.

The “discipline” to which I am referring in the title of this post is working from home.  Most of the time, I will be working from my own home, and not in an office.  Even though the office is just a few miles from my home, there’s no reason to go there, as the majority of people I work with are scattered all over the U.S. and we all work together in greater cyberspace.

I must remain diligent in working on work time.  No foolin’ around on the computer, answering personal email, writing blog posts, or commenting on Facebook.  I really do have a serious work ethic that when I’m at work, I’m working, regardless of location.  That type of self-discipline is what earns me the right to be able to work remotely, because they trust that I’ll focus on getting the job done, and I don’t need to be in an office to have someone watch me do my job, which is mostly using the phone and a computer.  I can do that anywhere.

Pretty cool new way of doing work.  No commuting.  No hassles.  Start work as early as I want, and knock off at a reasonable time so I can have dinner prepared for my partner and handle other stuff, too, as needed.  I can also take my “lunch hour” to visit my aunt who lives 5 minutes away.  Heck, I’m pretty fat, dumb, and happy with this new gig… let’s hope it lasts.

By the way, “fat, dumb and happy” is a figure of American speech.  By working at home and taking lunchtime to visit my aunt, I can skip lunch and thus continue my weight-loss program by reduction of caloric intake on non-essential meals.  Also, since I don’t have to start work until 6:30am, I can continue to take my weight-loss walks between 4:30 and 6, which is also good for me. As I said, “it’s all good!”

Life is short:  let’s hope this easy-peasy method of working is able to last!

Posted in Job

Turning the Page

Today marks the end of one significant block of time in my life as I transition to another.  Today, I begin work at a new full-time job.  I was actively recruited for the position and survived some rather challenging interviews to get it.  I was offered the position in September, and was led to believe the appointment was imminent.  However, I had to go through an extensive background and security check, and wait for that to clear.  That happened in October.  Then funding had to come together, and that finally happened in November.  So now I can start work.  Yippie!

I was no slouch since I was laid off in June — contrary to ribbing I have received from friends, I have not slept until noon and then played on the computer all day.  I spent a lot of time every day during my time off caring for my aunt.  However, that wasn’t all that I did:  I bought and fixed up another house which just was rented by a first-year cop as affordable housing.  I did a lot of repairs and maintenance on my own home — so much so that I developed a hernia which was surgically repaired last week.

I (tried to) take some time to go for motorcycle rides, but I didn’t have as much time to ride as I would have liked.  But when I went, I had fun.  I also spent a fairly significant time taking pictures for and updating my website, including developing a major “refresh” for the Home Page.

I don’t really know where the time flew from June to November, but now it’s time to return to a more predictable, income-producing routine.  This is indeed the most major position I have taken on — lots of responsibility, a lot of work, and a salary commensurate with the challenges involved.  I think I’m ready.

The new job will involve some travel, and some of the trips will be significant to U.S. territories in the Pacific, including remote islands that are hard to reach by commercial air.  Oh well, I’ll figure that out when the time comes, as I’ve been to those islands in my past life.  In fact, I have my first trip already booked for a major international conference in February, located on an independent island nation in the South Pacific.

Some friends have been asking me, “how did you ever have time to work with all the other stuff you’re doing?”  Good question.  My response has been, “I’ve learned both how to multitask well and how to manage my time.”  But in all honesty, I know some things will have to change.

For example, I suspect that I will not have much time to write posts for this blog so they appear each and every day.  I may have to blog less often, especially because my work ethics prevent me from considering taking any time while on the job to dabble in blogging (or even answering personal email).  Further, I know I will not have time to make videos nor take pictures to update my website.  Again, that will have to “wait and see” when or if I have time for these things.  I want to give my fullest concentration to my new job and not be distracted by my hobbies.

Wish me well as I pursue the next chapter in my life, and I continue to learn that…

Life is short:  pursue it with commitment and gusto!

Posted in Job

Boot Hooks and Hanging Boots

I was sent an email recently asking for my opinion about what type of hooks to buy to use to hang boots from a rod.  That is how I store a number of my boots.  Hanging them by their bootstraps (or boot pulls) keeps the boots in shape, and gets them up off the floor and out of the way.

My opinion is that you do not need to purchase expensive hooks from a specialty store or even a retail home supplies store.  Do what I have done:  cut apart wire coat hangars.  Those hangars are easy to find, and often are provided by a cleaner when having shirts laundered or dry cleaned.

All you need to do is cut the wire with a strong pair of wire cutters (or the cutter blade found on some good-quality pliers) and bend them to form hooks.  You can make them as long or short as you want, customized to the length that may be required for a pair of boots that may have deeper boot pulls than others (such as sewn inside a boot shaft vs. leather pulls sewn over the top of the shaft).

No need to waste money on expensive products when making your own will do just fine, and is easy, simple, quick, and cheap.

Life is short:  be practical and save money!

Classic Bamaboy

I have the distinct honor and privilege of having developed a very close friendship with a guy who has quite a reputation for producing high-quality photos of some of his boots.  Striking, masculine, classy, and with style … and with a charm unique to this guy whose self-deprecation belies his intelligence.  Smart as a whip, he is, but I shan’t say more, else it will go to his head.

The guy I am talking about goes by “Bamaboy”.  Yeah, he lives in Alabama, but is a man of the world.  Quick-witted and skilled, he continues to blow me away with his creativity and artistry.  Ooops, there I go again….

It was kinda funny how our friendship developed, but I’m glad it did.  I am also pleased to have met him in person — and he told me that I’m the only one from the “boots gang” at hotboots/BOL who he has met in person.  He is a very private guy.  He is honorable, good to his family and loved-ones, and honest as the day is long.  Our values are parallel, and our respect for one another runs deep.

This photo was posted by Bamaboy on the hotboots/BOL board yesterday, sorta at my urging.  The board has had a “harness boots week.”  He has posted this image on that board before, but so long ago that many haven’t seen it.  The boots in this photo are now in my collection as Bama told me he was going to sell them, and gave me “first dibs” to buy them from him.  I wear these boots when I ride my Harley, and think fondly of my friend each time I do.  And I no longer wonder why these boots wander off into mudholes… (giggle).

Life is short:  cherish close friends, and hold them with respect and honor in your heart.