Leather About Town

It has been incredibly cool and pleasant after the visit by the tropical storm last weekend.  In fact, it’s been downright “coolish” in the morning and early evening. It is so pleasant to have the windows open and have fresh air circulate through the house.

It also means that I am breaking out the leathers again. In the mornings when I saddle up on my Harley to ride to work at oh-dark-30, I have been choosing my thick “Retro Chaps” that I bought last summer. These chaps are made of heavyweight (8-9oz) drum-dyed leather. They have outside zips so the zippers won’t scratch the paint on the Harley. They are a perfect choice to wear over my regular pants that I wear to work when the temperatures are in the upper 50s (F — 14C).

These past two evenings, I have had some meetings to attend. Yeah, things are gearing back up after a summer of inactivity with my community groups. I use my Harley to ride to the meetings, but instead of wearing chaps over jeans, I have been wearing my new grey leather jeans instead. It is warm enough that I can ride with only one layer.

Wearing leather in public — in August??? Yep — no.big.deal. Nobody says anything. Probably because they know that I ride a motorcycle when I can and also they have often seen me wearing leather jeans, shirts, and vests over many years. The leather-wearing is just what makes up one of the quirks of my personality. And nobody cares. Really. They want to know what I think and have to say, which is what is most important, anyway, rather than obsessing about what I’m wearing.

Life is short: wear leather when the temperatures support it.

Gay and Lonely?

Someone left a comment on my blog piece titled, “Is It Hard for Gay Men to Socialize with Straight Men?” where he said, “I know exactly what you mean and I personally have trouble making friends because I’m so uncomfortable or uninterested. It’s a thin line I guess. I don’t have any friends.”

Oh man, that’s sad. What I was trying to say in my blog piece is that it is hard, but not impossible, for a gay man to make friends — good friends — with straight guys. It takes three things: 1) a straight guy who is secure and open-minded enough to accept that his friend is gay; 2) the gay guy not having sexual interest in his straight friend; and 3) having something in common that they share.

I am a happy, confident, secure gay man. I am in a monogamous relationship with one man. I like other guys — for who they are and what we share in common interests — but not in a sexual manner.

I am fortunate that I live in the same area where I grew up. I have a number of friends who I have known since I was a child. I still see them regularly. I also have friends who I have met as an adult through various community activities. We help each other out — I help them with home repairs, ride motorcycles together, engage local elected officials about community issues important to the residents where we live, and even helping to coach some of my friends in dealing with their parents developing dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. I’ve been through that with my lovely aunt and know how rough it can be to be a caregiver.

I never said that making new (straight) friends was easy, but as this website points out, a gay man who wants to make friends should get involved in activities where he shares common interests, and can use his talents for a cause or the greater good.

So what if you don’t like sports and can’t hit a ball or catch one? There are a lot of other things you can do! Get out, meet people, share your skills, and learn new things. You don’t have to have only gay friends. Like the person who left the comment implied, he doesn’t have any friends because he is uncomfortable and disinterested in things that other guys may be interested in.

There are many, many ways to overcome lonliness as a gay man. But you have to take the step of getting involved in the straight world. Face it, there are many more straight people around than gay people. I have felt that having “only” gay friends is unhealthy because you get stuck with a singular world-view. You need to expand your horizons and do things that you enjoy together with other people (gay or straight) who enjoy those things, too.

An interesting side-note: in the three-plus years that I have been blogging, I have been contacted by and have developed good on-line friendships with more straight guys than gay guys. These guys learn pretty quickly that we have common interests — boots, leather, motorcycling, caregiving, community activism — and also learn by my style of communicating that I am interested in them as a person, and that’s it.

Life is short: you are only as lonely as you allow yourself to be.

Sales Resistance

Man oh man, the ads and the offers keep coming. I’m good about throwing away advertisements that come in the mail — my recycling bin is right by my entry door, so I can easily discard “junk mail” before I enter the house and therefore have less clutter.

But the electronic forms of promoting items is increasingly insidious!

Should I receive unsolicited offers via email, I just delete them — I don’t even open the message. When I visit certain websites, I do not click on links that lead to on-line stores. I may visit those stores on-line sometimes, but only when I am looking for something in particular. I have learned to stop following links and looking around — because that’s how those companies get you to make “impulse buys.” I don’t buy on impulse.

Speaking of having sales resistance — you should observe my partner and me at the grocery store. We have a written list that we follow, and stick to it. We don’t buy anything we see on a shelf or an end-cap (end of aisle display) unless it is specifically on our list (and on sale.)

Should I receive a call on the phone trying to promote some product or service, I take the name and phone number of the caller, then report them as a violation of the U.S. Federal “Do Not Call” list, because companies are prohibited from making “cold calls” (with a few exceptions.) But I certainly do not buy anything that someone tries to sell me on the phone.

Should someone come to the door and knock — if I don’t know them, I don’t answer. And my partner doesn’t even bother to look in the video display to see who it is. He never answers the door or the phone (which when I am at the door or on the phone, his non-response is very annoying!)

And one final but very intrusive gimmick are the ads that are targeted to viewers of some websites. The ad sales read cookies on your computer, then target you for ads related to website that you may have visited in the past. For example, Sheplers (western clothing and boots) comes up in ads on certain other websites that I visit, and a bank that I now detest shows up on another website that I visit. Google ads show up on many YouTube videos… it goes on and on.

I try, as best I can, to reduce the clutter and avoid ads, delete, or discard them. I clear the cookies from my computer daily. But it all boils down to this: don’t click on the links on those ads, because they are indeed enticing, and the active marketing techniques that use high-end technology to target your weaknesses (in my case, boots), are used much more frequently now.

Life is short: have sales resistance!

We Are Okay

The winds and rain from Irene visited us Saturday night into Sunday morning. My partner and I were prepared — I’d say, “very prepared,” and weathered the storm safely. We had better be prepared — that’s what I do for a living, and I practice what I preach.

Lots of debris everywhere (leaves, small tree limbs down, etc., but not much else). Fortunately at our home, no trees down. Power on — and I didn’t expect that! It went out sometime overnight, but got restored quickly.

I got a call at 4:30am from a senior pal who was frightened by a tree limb crashing through her bedroom window. I went over there (during a lull in the storm), picked her up and brought her to our house. Her sons arrived at daybreak and we went over to cover the broken window with a tarp and seal it until she can have it repaired by a professional later this week.

It could have been worse. But we’re okay. We will clean up the storm debris later after it dries out a bit here in Maryland. Hopefully, my brother’s flight back to Europe will take off tomorrow as scheduled. His wife has had enough with our hurricanes and earthquakes (smile), and is ready to return to her home. But all is well, quiet, and manageable.

Life is short: be prepared!

He Is Not My Roomate

The other day, someone at my office asked me, “how is your roommate?” She had heard that my partner had brain surgery and wanted to know how he was doing. Internally, I sighed. I knew she was only trying to be nice. But he is not my “roommate.” That implies such a casual relationship.

I answered her question, but then followed with, “and he is not my roommate. He is the equivalent of a spouse. I call him my partner.” She did not know how to respond, but said, “well, I’m glad he’s okay.”

I don’t know why that particular phrase made me angry, but it does. After 18+ years, he is much more than just a roommate.

Okay, rant over. I love my partner, my spouse, my hunk, my best half.

Life is short: be calm but be clear.

Preparing Others

As you read this message, we are less than a day away from a hit by a tropical system. We are prepared at home, and throughout the day today, my brother and I are visiting my senior pals and helping them bring things indoors that may become wind-blown debris, pick up refills of prescription meds that they may need, make sure they have flashlights, a battery-powered radio, and extra batteries, and help them fill voids (empty spaces) in their refrigerators and freezers. Doing that helps keep foods fresher and colder longer if the power goes out.

We are helping our elderly and disabled friends and neighbors prepare and do things that they cannot do for themselves. It will be a busy day!

Thank goodness we do not have to go to a grocery or building supplies store. Those places are crazy-busy, being overwhelmed by who I call “the woefully unprepared who just woke up and are overreacting.” Happens every time, with every event. Everywhere.

I am now entrusting blogger to “go on automatic” and post a new blog post every day until I get back. I’m not going anywhere, but we probably will lose power and internet connectivity. Though we have a generator, it only operates essentials and the internet isn’t “essential.” We’ll survive. I’ll update you on how we fared after the storm passes and when our power and internet service are working again.

Wish us well.

Life is short: be safe.

What I Do

Above is an image that predicts the amount of rainfall that will be generated from a major storm that will strike the U.S. East Coast starting today and through the weekend as the storm progresses north. Huge amounts of rain will fall in a large swath, and strong sustained winds will blow, too. The rain will cause massive flooding to already oversaturated land, streams, and rivers all the way up the (US Interstate Highway) I-95 corridor. Together, the wind and rain will likely cause a lot of damage and power outages.

Seems like New Jersey is going to be Ground Zero for the most intense effects of this storm. Having suffered severe flooding in March, and lots of rain hence, they’re already saturated. It’s going to be really, really bad.

I also worry about family and friends who live in the New England states (New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine) who are generally not prepared for a hurricane. Indications are that they will get socked by this one big-time.

Concerned as I am, I called my brother who was in New York City and advised him and his wife to high-tail it back home immediately. Glad I did: Amtrak has canceled train service effective Friday and for the rest of the weekend. My brother and his wife got the last of the few tickets left for a train back to DC on Thursday. They are safe with us now in our storm-prepared home (that we will not have to evacuate because it is well-built and on high ground, far inland from any bodies of water.)

This is a peek into what I do for a living: I explain this stuff so it makes sense to people and so they can prepare themselves, their loved-ones, and their communities and prevent injury, death, and lessen damage.

Just so ‘ya know. This is what I do.

If you live in the areas of the U.S. that will be affected by this storm, pay attention and take steps to prepare. It will be rough. Get ready NOW! Read this to keep informed.

Life is short: be prepared.

Posted in Job

Wearing Cowboy Boots

This message was posted on schedule on August 24, but got overshadowed by a fresh post I did that day, so I moved it to today. Enjoy.

One might think that maintaining a website that catalogs a large collection of cowboy boots and motorcycle boots, as well as leather gear, might generate a number of visits for various reasons.  What has amazed me is that for more than a year now, over half of my daily visitors land on my web page titled, wearing cowboy boots.  Not leather, not any particular brand of boots, and not even cop galleries (which remains second highest in daily visits.)

Take a look at the list of internet queries on the left. That’s a real-time image of the internet searches that bring visitors to my website.  The most frequent keywords or questions entered into an internet search engine that drive visitor’s to my “wearing cowboy boots” page are:

  • Tuck jeans (or pants or trousers) into cowboy boots or not?
  • how to wear cowboy boots
  • What are stacked jeans?
  • Is it okay to wear boots with a suit?
  • Can you wear cowboy boots with khakis?

Oh, and I loved the one that said, “where cowboy boots with a suit.”  That guy has to go back to school… but I digress.

Sheesh… it continues to cause me to wonder why so many people — literally, thousands per day — use the internet to ask these questions.  Well, I know one reason is that an internet search is anonymous. Nobody really knows who is asking such questions.  But I wonder if the sheer volume of these kinds of questions poses a larger question:  are guys that insecure? Curious? Inquisitive? Looking for confirmation?

I really don’t know.  However, because of the volume and frequency with which questions like this direct people to my page about how to wear cowboy boots (with jeans, khakis, and suits), I updated that page, compleat with images that demonstrate how long jeans should be, what color boots go well with certain clothes, and that it IS okay to wear boots with khakis and suits in an office (or a wedding, etc.) 

It really IS okay to wear cowboy boots, guys.  If you’re asking, you will get that confirmation from me. Heck, I wear boots every day, including with dress clothes in an office.  No.big.deal.

Life is short:  wear boots!


Yes, an earthquake happened yesterday. It was epicentered in Mineral, Virginia (about 90 miles south of DC), and the shaking was felt as far south as Georgia and as far north as New England. What you see in the photo above is the visible earthquake “damage” in my home — Guido was knocked off his (replica Harley) motorcycle. That’s it. No.big.deal. But from the reactions related in news stories, one would think that Armageddon happened. Oh brother….

I felt it. I was in my high-rise office building in the downtown of my hometown in Maryland. Immediately when I felt the floor shaking and then rolling (literally), I yelled, “earthquake! Drop, Cover, and Hold On!” — then dropped under my desk, grabbed the back of my head, and waited. The slow, undulating rolling of the quake lasted for about 15 seconds.

After the shaking was over, I got out from under my desk and, like most others, gathered with my colleagues to verify, “was that really an earthquake?” None of them did the “drop-cover-hold on” procedure, but none of them have experienced an actual earthquake as I have in other parts of the U.S. (California, Alaska, Hawaii) and the world (Italy, Japan, Turkey).

Then to both my bemusement and dismay, the fire alarm went off and we were all told to evacuate. Down the stairs we went, and gathered across the street in a parking lot. A half-hour waiting in the strong sunshine, then we were told to gather our personal belongings and go home.

I didn’t even bother to return to my building. I just walked to where my Harley was parked and joined the long queue to leave the garage, then crawl home. What a nightmare — everyone was leaving at the same time. I think I was slightly ahead of the curve, and was on the road home before the majority of others. Most everyone in DC was evacuated and sent home, so traffic gridlocked for hours. Thank goodness my partner was at home instead of at his office in downtown DC. He did as I have instructed and as we practiced. He dropped, covered, and held on, too.

What a friggin’ disaster. People should have stayed put and waited to leave in a staged, orderly manner. Trouble is, security types in DC are conditioned and trained in their responses to expect that when buildings shake, it’s due to something like an airplane or vehicle crashing into it — shades of memories (and subsequent over-reaction training) from September 11, 2001. (Please don’t call it “9/11”. Thanks.) So everyone was evacuated and told to leave. Not the right response to an earthquake, but their heart was in the right place.

It’s just crazy in DC when anything happens — even what my world-class mentor in disaster work called it, “an earthquake of no significance.”

I just love DC. Hot air, media hype, and craziness. Welcome to my world.

Life is short: be calm. Drop, cover, hold on. If you can’t do that, then just stay home.

Moving On

Guest Blog by BHD’s Twin Brother

I have enjoyed visiting with my brother for the past three weeks, and having my wife here with us for the past two weeks. It began with my retirement, and a great send-off from my colleagues at work. That’s all behind me now.

My brother was concerned about what I will do now that I’m retired. Well, no worries, I was selected for a great job back in Europe with a company that does consulting in my specialty field. The new job will involve a move to Rome, Italy. My wife and I will be happy to return to her country of birth, and be closer to her family. Plus, I just love Rome. It is a fun, exciting, energetic, and vibrant city. We have secured a flat in the city close to public transit, markets, and international businesses with whom I will be working. The new job doesn’t start until October, so we will have plenty of time to pack up our belongings from our small apartment in Paris and move.

This week (actually, yesterday), my wife and I took the train to New York City. We will visit family who live there and see some shows and the sights this week. My brother needs to return his full attention to his work, and now that we are assured that his partner is well on the road to recovery, I think they will enjoy some peace and quiet. He assures me that we have been non-intrusive, but I sense that they both would appreciate a return to a sense of normalcy in their home.

We will return on Friday and stay for the weekend, the last weekend of our visit to the U.S. Then we return to Paris next Monday. But before we begin packing up and moving to Rome, we will take two weeks to visit my wife’s family in Northern Italy and take a holiday (second honeymoon) in Venice, where we were married.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this visit. It has been relaxed, comfortable, and fun. We did not plan to do anything but visit with family, see friends and (former) neighbors, including some of our high school classmates who still live in the area. Sometimes, the best vacation is one that is unplanned.

I will miss having my brother’s physical presence when we leave. I have enjoyed watching him orchestrate the functions of his household, community activities, and riding his beloved Harley. He shows by his actions how much he cares for those in his circle — especially his partner and our family, as well as his “senior pals”. Man, I wish I had half his energy. (He claims it’s all about scheduling and balancing time, but he makes it seem so darn effortless! Especially as he naturally switches speaking in Italian to my wife and me, in English with his partner, and in Spanish with some of his community group leaders. He’s good, really good, with the languages.)

As my brother always says, life is short. Enjoy it, love it, and care for those you love. He’s an amazing man, who I love with all of my heart.

Be well, bro’. See my smile each day, and feel my heart surrounding you.