Cuba FYI

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  • Cuba is home to over 11 million people and is the most populous island nation in the Caribbean, as well as the largest by area.
  • Cuba has a 99.8% literacy rate, an infant death rate lower than some developed countries, and an average life expectancy of 77.64. In 2006, Cuba was the only nation in the world which met the WWF’s definition of sustainable development; having an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita and a Human Development Index of over 0.8 for 2007.
  • The sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana’s harbor in 1898 was the immediate cause of the Spanish-American War.
  • Shortly after the founding of Cuba’s first cities, the island served as little more than a base for the Conquista of other lands. Hernán Cortés organized his expedition to Mexico from the island.

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

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Book Publicity 102

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The good news is that my debut novel Blue Rubber Pool was published by a small traditional press versus self-publishing…

The bad news is that the Advanced Reader Copy was rough as hell and late going out for distribution to book reviewers on whom authors depend upon for the breath of life. That means not getting picked up by publishing industry trade magazines that independent book store owners read and base purchase decisions on. And not getting picked up in trade media where recommendations are made to persons that buy books for public library collections. Bummer. Big time bummer.

So…as soon as I could I identified a few special target reader groups, researched their media and then wrote news releases tailored to them. And then I followed up. As a result, I’m starting to see some traction geared to baby boomers, boating “cruisers” and music lovers.

 

 

A boomer’s first book … but not his first adventure

 

 

 

 

 

I’m still working on a book promotion plan (And should have had this going many months before my book was published. My thought is that books reviews are the most important thing. Second is publicity that might generate those reviews.

Your thoughts?

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Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Book Publicity 101

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I’m FINALLY starting to get book reviews for Blue Rubber Pool and thank GAWD none are bad. So far.

It’s not easy reading the signs. Will my debut novel fly or flop? Some say it’s the work of a genius (well, okay, they said they liked it. A lot). Others quit taking my calls. So I’m stuck in literary purgatory.

Writers sink or swim on on the up and down tides of reader response.

I’m drifting right now.

Somebody, PLEEZ, throw me a line. Like these people have. (Thanks.)

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What part of woof don’t you understand?

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This far into fall most of the persimmons have dropped from the big tree 70 feet out from my office’s private “crow’s nest” balcony on the third floor at Pineapple Hill. Still, sometimes a deer or two drop by looking for stragglers.

At 5:00 a.m. this morning, walking our pound pup, Jack, we went out to that tree so Jack could pee while sniffing the news from deer. It was dark and cold but the sky was clear and crisp. Starry. And quiet. Until a persimmon fell, thumping the ground near Jack and I, setting off the alarm—meaning Jack. He barked and barked and barked. He bared his teeth. He clawed the ground like a bull. I had to drag him back into the house.

But even then he stood at the door looking for any further signs of deer in the season’s last persimmons.

###

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt # 589

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ON THE MONEY TRAIL, THE BOUNDARIES AND RULES HAD WAY TOO MUCH WIGGLE ROOM
…WE WERE ONLY HUMAN.

What is guilt if not a hidden window to your soul? An over-tired or under-medicated reaction to whatever was stuck to the flypaper we call “memory.” Little things became large. Happy things became sad. Good things—evil. Monsters rode on your back, yes, like all the monkeys of the world. You felt them there but they ducked and dodged when you turned, suddenly, to catch them with your eyes. Weirdness begat more weirdness. Fiends procreated like rabbits. Very soon, they were everywhere. Hiding in the shadows. And then in the shadows of shadows.

The colonel, Alaska and the others—myself among them—knew those monsters well. There one minute. Gone the next. Rustling ’round where the tall grass begins. A shiny glint of something glimpsed off beyond your shoulder. A twig that snaps in the woods at night. The definition of the self-doubt that comes when God gets into your head, and you briefly let your guard down enough to wonder if there’s really a heaven and if hell could really be worse than what’s already all around you.

Don’t get me wrong. We weren’t a bunch of butchers, but, yes, we crossed some lines. Oh yes, we crossed them, and, worse, we helped others cross them too—empowered them, encouraged them, planting the seeds of double-cross. Still, we were only human. We wondered about ourselves, wondered about the boundaries and rules that always seemed to have way too much wiggle room. Of course we did. The colonel described it as a long and twisting ride in the most devilish of amusement parks.

“You can get off the ride when it stops sometimes. You can take a break, rest up, most any time you want. Problem is, you’re not allowed to leave the park.”

It’s a Hotel California sort of thing.

# # #

Buy it here

# # #

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

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The Tuesday Morning Woody: Concordia Yawl

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No. 37 of 103 built, Yankee is a wooden yawl built in 1956 by Abeking & Rasmussen of Lemwerder, Germany, for Concordia Co. Inc. In 2007, 2012, and 2015, Yankee earned “Outstanding Preserved Classic Sail with Auxiliary” trophies at all three International Antique Boat Shows at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY. Details at YachtWorld

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My Green Acres Way of Life

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Married people say to singles “so when are you setting the wedding date?” Parents say to newlyweds “so when do you plan to have kids?” And newcomers to the boonies tell their buds back in the city “you should move to the country.” It’s a “join the club” kind of thing. “Feel our pain” and “experience our madness”. Nobody likes to suffer alone.

Elsewhere on this web site are my Fear & Loathing tales of transitioning from sailboat to my new home: a beach house built up on stilts in a cow pasture in rural South Carolina.

There’s my ongoing contest with cow #316 escaping its pasture to sample my musa basjoo banana trees (from the mountains of Japan).

There’s the copperhead snake that took up residence in my Miata.

There’s the deer that cleaned out my all my peach trees in one single night.

There’s heavy machinery accidents in the vineyard due to operator error.

There’s the bats in the attic and, this year, carpenter bees. My countermeasure: a badminton racquet.

There’s the trail of parts—like bread crumbs—left behind by the Pineapple Hill “farm Jeep”. Oddly, none of what falls off seems to be missed, so there’s that feeling of another shoe waiting to drop.

I’ve never experienced as much chaos as what happens out in the boonies. Stuff happens all the time. Way more than I remember other places I’ve lived. And there have been many.

The learning curve is fascinating, common sense stuff. For instance, instead of locating of the sheep pasture based on how cool it will look from the road or from the porch, place it near water. And preferably, natural flowing water such as a creek versus water requiring an electric pump to get it up from the ground and then across a field up a hill.Who’d a thunk it? Not me, DUH, a newcomer to the Green Acres way of life

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— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Cool People and OpenCPN

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I began using the Internet when was just light green text on a dark background—no graphics—reminding me now of equipment submariners use. Primitive by today’s standards but it kept me in touch with people and information I depended on for my work.

Screenshot of OpenCPN plotting navigating software from my Twitter friends @BigDumBoat and their team of volunteers.

As the ‘net developed and offered more purposes and became accessible to more people, it became further integrated into my life—not only could I communicate with clients in South America, Europe and the Middle East, I could socialize casually with total strangers sharing recreational interests. Some of them I’ve now known for years. We look for each other online at Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other places. We worry a bit when someone isn’t around.

It’s fun. Need weather conditions off the Dominican Republic? Check with Sara. Crave a recipe for lamb done New Zealand-style? Ask Sean. Have an itch to send a sick cat joke to someone? Address it to Olaf. And in return, receive way more.

While I’m drydocked indefinitely on the Pineapple Hill farm, I live vicariously through other boaters. Among them, I’ve most enjoyed contact with Dave and Kathi, full time live aboarders cruising the Intracoastal and offshore waters of the eastern seaboard in step with the changing seasons. Since 2000, they’ve headed South when it’s cold up North and vice versa—with no home port—from Newfoundland to the Bahamas. That alone is interesting enough, but they’re also the leading force behind OpenCPN, the free, open source chart plotting navigating software tool Dave started programming in 2004 when unhappy with what was available commercially.

OpenCPN is a fast-running, no-nonsense alternative to high cost gadgetry loaded down with too many ‘eye candy” features useless to practical cruising. [My tech clients back in the 90s might call this streamlined-yet-robust approach “elegant” but they’re all out sailing or sipping parrot-colored umbrella drinks on beaches so I’m just guessing.]

Kathi and Dave, living full-time aboard m/v Dyad. Look for them on the Intracoastal and beyond.

Today, OpenCPN is used worldwide and a team of fellow cruisers keep it going. Dave leads the team: a group of volunteers—all seasoned sailors—that manage the Facebook page, updates/edits user manuals, provides forum support, oversees the translation project, and more. Kathi spreads the word through social media and their websites BigDumBoat.com and OpenCPN.org. How cool is that?

Answer: So cool that Dave won the 2018 Ocean Cruising Club Award as follows—

“The OCC Award, which recognizes valuable service to the OCC or the ocean cruising community as a whole, goes to David Register, lead developer of the OpenCPN navigation software. OpenCPN is chart plotter and navigational planning software developed by a team of active sailors using real world conditions for program testing and refinement. Their motto: “We’re boaters. We’re coders. …A network of more than forty volunteer software coders now work to improve the product, update it and expand its capabilities. Dave continues to co-ordinate this work from his floating home, Dyad, the Big Dumb Boat. See https://www.bigdumboat.com/” …Open CPN has made a magnificent contribution to the enjoyment and safety of sailors cruising in small boats, and Dave deserves every bit of recognition for his invention and his ongoing efforts.” by Daria Blackwell, January 1, 2018

Dave’s reaction: “I’m honored and humbled. But I’m only the tip of an iceberg. This award and recognition would not be possible without the help and support of the worldwide OpenCPN team. Thank you.”

The award is a story within another story (Dave and Kathi) within yet another (fun on social media).

It all comes around neatly and taps gently against the dock just as the gods would have it.

# # #

They read the sailing sections of my book while riding out Hurricane Florence.

Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

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Political Discourse On The CowBird

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What lessons from Brown-Headed Cowbird could have significant positive influence on the Human Condition On Planet Earth?

I normally don’t discuss politics on the internet because I used to regularly visit various local editions of Rants and Raves on Craigslist. Rants and Raves is found in the Personals section so be careful. Don’t hit the wrong tiny button with your big fat thumb or you’ll be in for some surprises and perhaps an STD. In fact, forget Rants and Raves, it’s not what it used to be for political discourse, they’ve reined in the radicals on both sides of the blade, just go to any cable or main stream television news brand’s online reporting then scroll down to the public comments.

People get so mean-spirited. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

But back to the Brown-Headed Cowbird…

I bring them to your attention because they lay all their eggs in nests owned by other birds, leaving them there for the other birds to raise. That’s Part One of this two-part equation.

Part-Two is that, although some birds will reject cowbird eggs, others will indeed raise them up, buy them cars and even send them off to college. Even to the exclusion of their own offspring. This and other cool facts can be found in  Birds of the Carolinas Field Guide by Stan Tiekiela. He says warblers and other small birds will feed cowbird chicks twice as big as themselves.

Imagine. A small bird struggling to carry home a big fat worm to some other bird’s over-sized child while its own “normal size” children starve. Think about it. The lessons:

Part One: If more of the selfish types of this planet would simply step up to take more responsibility…

Part Two: And more others would step up to help those that need it…

Of course, as you would expect in matters pertaining to birds, this must happen in perfect balance, the right wing in harmony with the left.

Otherwise, it will never fly.

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Btw, were any of you reminded of the children’s book Fish Out of Water about Otto the goldfish that grew way too big?  I was. Another story lesson for another time.

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— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

 

 

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Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt #197

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TRUTH FLICKERED BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE LIKE A STROBE
MAKING IT HARD TO DISCERN THE DEAD FROM THE LIVING

It was a small, unpainted cinder block shack with a screwed up ’72 Cutlass parked a few feet away. On the stoop, a rusted red barbecue grill—charcoal, not propane—along with scraps of greasy foil, empty beer cans, and cigarette butts in and around a plastic bucket once containing drywall mud. What stood out—a crusher for aluminum cans mounted on the wall above the bucket. Pull the lever, crush the can, those hombres were into recycling.

Andy didn’t knock, just kicked the door open, a move he made look normal.

We followed him in—three ducks carrying bags, men on a mission, ZZ Top taking the stage as the fans went wild. That’s how it felt in those first exciting moments of my young and impressionable life. My mind-blowing threshold to the Money Trail.

One minute, you’re on a stolen boat peeling back a layer of messed up fiberglass, a first hard look at seriously bad luck. The next, you’re rocking bags of bullshit worth their weight in gold, king surfer dudes with raw attitude greater than any wave in the known history of Tamarindo.

The door flew open blasting the room with light—revealing five guys slouched over a small black shipping trunk—then closed so quickly I recall the moment as a flashing strobe. Blinding brightness. Blinding darkness.

Black plastic covered the windows, blocking out the intense sun. I was totally sightless in those first few seconds. Finally, I could see: five guys staring back, saying nothing, stacks of money on the small black trunk. Some loose bills, others counted and banded. A dirty Styro plate crusted with food stains and cigarette butts. Bottles of beer in various stages of stale. An olive green Uzi.

One of the guys leaned forward, took a pack of cigarettes off the trunk, tapped the pack against the top of his other hand, removed a smoke, and then lit it up.

“You’re late,” he said.

A few beats passed. Seemed like Andy should say something, do something. But he didn’t.

At this point I noticed the others were dead.

# # #

Buy it on Amazon here

# # #

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

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Book Review: Chasing Che

Posted on Posted in Books & Writing, Notes & Doodles

Patrick Symme’s Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey In Search Of The Guevara Legend brings a little more truth to light in separating the legend from the man. Too, the voice of the writer is both entertaining, thoughtful and likeable. In Chasing Che, Symmes attempts to replicate the adventure of Che Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries.

If you’ve read my novel Blue Rubber Pool, you know I’m fascinated by the Two Truths. One told by those admiring the Legend, and the other told by those that knew Che Guevara personally. What’s interesting is that both versions can be woven into complex fabric.

Che once said that “that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.” Yet he also exulted “hatred as an element of the struggle” needed to make a person a “violent, selective and cold killing machine.”  If you joined his ranks but balked on the battle field, he’d put a bullet in your head without hesitation. With Che, it was his way or the highway.

Symmes illustrates the Two Truths by pointing out that pro-Che slogans such as “Be Like Che”—graffiti commonly found in  his travels re-tracing Che’s famous motorcycle ride—are to found concurrent with intense distaste for “Guevarista”-style guerrilla tactics.

The moral of the story:  Be Like Che by helping people. But without killing them to do so.

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— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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