Cuba FYI

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Notes & Doodles
  • 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

 

Share

What part of woof don’t you understand?

Posted on Posted in Notes & Doodles

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

Share

Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt # 589

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Books & Writing

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

 

Share

Book Review: The Drunkard’s Walk

Posted on Posted in Books & Writing

I came home from the used book store with a copy of The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives,  a New York Times bestseller by physicist and author Leonard Mlodinow. It’s about the role of randomness in everyday events, and the cognitive biases that lead people to misinterpret random events and stochastic processes. For me (no mathematics scholarships in my past), The Brain Pain began just reading the introduction. Nevertheless, it’s a great addition to your private library book collection. A book for the beach. A book for the boat.

I brought it home in plastic grocery store bag. It was crammed in there with GONZO: The Life Of Hunter S. Thompson, PALM BEACH BABYLON: Sins, Scam and Scandals, FAMOUS MUGS (Stars Behind Bars), Hemingway’s Key West, and Wines & Beers of Old New England. Think of it as a Dagwood Sandwich for evening reading sessions in the back porch hammock. Drunkard’s Walk being the meat.

Sometimes I’ll have 3 – 4 different books going at once. Not unlike switching back and forth between channels on the television. Eventually, Drunkard’s Walk will be completed. And when that happens, I’ll “spike” it football style and do a victory dance on the sun deck.

But more than likely Gonzo, Mugs, Key West and Wines & Beers will have long been filed away on shelves in the new conference room library and I’ll have moved on to a Philly Steak created from other books brought home in sacks.

For instance, Keith Richard’s book Life. Or Outward Leg by Tristan Jones. And The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts by Louis de Bernieres. All of them also recent finds from the used book store.

What about you? What’s in your hammock?

# # #

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

Share

My Green Acres Way of Life

Posted on Posted in Notes & Doodles

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

# # #

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

Share

Going Native (the soul of a whelk)

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Notes & Doodles

(From a book I’m writing called Exaggerations And Lies Of A Sailor’s Life In Advertising)

 

Part of Going Native involves becoming true to oneself in business and at home—balancing both with perfect synergy.

I’ve worked with over a hundred entrepreneurs, VPs of marketing, company presidents, and CEOs. In my opinion, the best of the breed—the ones not only most successful but also happiest, even-keeled, and prepared for the long haul— understand that sometimes you have to go sideways in order to go forward.

They have what author John Irving would describe as “the patience of a time bomb.”

[Imagine, now, the situation of an actual bomb tick-tick-ticking calmly ever closer to a last moment; the grand finale of chaos and calamity –inching toward it quite surely, yet without even an eyelid twitching a little …a soul resembling that of a whelk from which, way deep inside, matches the soft yet unfaltering whispers of the sea and the infinite world beyond.]

* * *

The entrepreneurial spirit is not just a matter of confidence.

It’s self-awareness.

Syncing up with things “out there” beyond where eyes can see.

* * *

The best of the breed understands that the straight line sometimes isn’t the most effective and efficient way…

Sometimes the course, for the long haul goal, requires zig-zagging against the wind.

* * *

I appreciate minds that reach out beyond where eyes can see to gather subtle clues instead of quickly passing them by impatiently, too sure of only one way being the right way, too quick to risk the long term to satisfy the short.

 

For sailors, time and space are multidimensional. In a sailors world a broad range of factors influence success—many of them beyond one’s control, beyond the radar screen—yet sailors become tuned to them instinctively across moments and hours, months and years.

The sound of water and wind have special meanings under sail versus the mindless droning on of motors.  Valuable information of use now and later on.

True, the motoring types get there sooner. But they arrive with less information having done less thinking through and having depended too much on unreliable bits and parts: electronics, engine components, fuel and electricity gauges. They become less engaged and less interesting.Less likely to have lively tales and deep channeling insights when I ring them up to meet on the veranda for Costa Rican coffee and Cuban cigars.

# # #

We (all of us) can leverage an entrepreneur’s outlook, can be masters of life…

…away from the office

…and away from business altogether…

through the patience of a time bomb and by finding the whelk-like soul deep within.

 

Bottom line: Going Native is a “zest for living” thing…

that frees us (all of us) from the mundane.

* * *

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

 

 

 

Share

Political Discourse On The CowBird

Posted on Posted in Notes & Doodles

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.

# # #

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.

# # #

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

 

 

 

Share

Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt #197

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Books & Writing

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

 

Share

Jonesville History: Textile Mills

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Notes & Doodles

This Jonesville History lesson touches on the textile mills that built this town then broke it.

After the War Between the States, Northern businessmen came South with the labor management practices they were used to back home. Although not anywhere near as awful as slavery, conditions in the South Carolina’s early textile mills were dangerous, the hours were long, the pay was low and workers were prohibited from organizing to arrange a better deal.

Many aren’t aware that children went to work in the mills at very young ages. Times were so hard that everyone in the family worked. Splintered wood floors injured bare feet. Lint in the air caused a fatal disease known as brown lung.

[Conditions in the coal mines of Appalachia, and the coffee and banana plantations of Central America were equally dangerous for meager wages.]

With textile mills came mill towns where workers paid their employee for rent and housing at company prices using company minted coin.

Later, some mills tried to improve conditions—including adding company base ball teams.

Cotton for the mills was grown in the Jonesville area. The old cotton warehouse and scales still stand in Jonesville but won’t remain up on their feet for long unless people join forces to save them.

Upton Sinclair Jr. (September 20, 1878 – November 25, 1968), wrote The Jungle in 1906, exposing conditions in the U.S. meat packing industry, causing a public uproar that contributed in part to the passage a few months later of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act.

The book is now often interpreted and taught as only an exposure of the industry of meatpacking. The novel depicts in harsh tones poverty, absence of social programs, unpleasant living and working conditions, and hopelessness prevalent among the working class, which is contrasted with the deeply-rooted corruption on the part of those in power. Sinclair’s observations of the state of turn-of-the-century labor were placed front and center for the American public to see, suggesting that something needed to be changed to get rid of American wage slavery. The novel was first published in serial form in 1905 in the socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason. It was based on undercover work done in 1904: Sinclair spent seven weeks gathering information while working incognito in the meatpacking plants of the Chicago stockyards at the behest of the magazine’s publishers. He then started looking for a publisher who would be willing to print it in book form. After five rejections by publishers who found it too shocking for publication, he funded the first printing himself. It was published by Doubleday, Page & Company on February 28, 1906 and has been in print ever since.

Labor and management continue to teeter-tooter as each seeks to protect their self-interests.

Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as higher social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers and gold.

In 2008, products certified with FLO International’s Fairtrade certification amounted to approximately US$4.98 billion (€3.4) worldwide, a 22% year-to-year increase. While this represents a tiny fraction of world trade in physical merchandise, some fair trade products account for 20-50% of all sales in their product categories in individual countries. In June 2008, Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International estimated that over 7.5 million producers and their families were benefiting from fair trade funded infrastructure, technical assistance and community development projects.

The response to fair trade has been mixed. Fair trade’s increasing popularity has drawn criticism from both ends of the political spectrum. Mark Sidwell sees “fair trade” as a type of subsidy or marketing ploy that impedes growth. Segments of the left, such as French author Christian Jacquiau, criticize fair trade for not adequately challenging the current trading system.

Sources include Wikipedia.

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

 

 

 

Share

GOING NATIVE in Business (lesson #82)

Posted on Posted in Notes & Doodles

I’ve been collecting thoughts for a book on brand development related to new business start ups and product launches.  I like to think of entrepreneurs as GOING NATIVE, a mind set that requires stamina and persistence to succeed. A high level of confidence and ambition to push it all the way through …from the earliest kernel of an idea …to planning and launch …to benchmarks/enhancements …and to a planned escape (i.e., retirement …or selling out to develop other concepts. Going native means be willing to rough it, willing to scrounge, beg and borrow if needed, and to push aside things you hold dear. My plan is to pull together case studies from the clients I’ve helped over 20+ years as a consultant. for each one, I’ll identify the one thing that, to my way of thinking, made them successful and enabled their business to stand out from all others. More to come…
###

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

Share

My Larry King Impersonation

Posted on Posted in Notes & Doodles

—Jack, the Pineapple Hill pound puppy, likes riding in the old-but-sadly-not-vintage Jaguar XJ6 with windows and sunroof open, wind rushing in a sunny day, listening to Robert Plant sing “your momma said I cried in my sleep last night…”   

—There’s a spot near here where wild tea grows—its fragrance on summer nights is incredible.

—Jonesville has a memorial to locals that died in the War Between The States. They still fly the stars and bars there. Some families see it as a tribute to ancestors. Others as a symbol of hatred and pain. There needs to be more discussion on whether or not it’s best to put the past behind us or remember it to learn from it.

—My decision to relocate the hot tub over to an adjacent deck was a good one, and the move was easier than imagined: turn off the 220, drain it, detach the wires, jack it up, slide PVC pipes underneath then roll it Egyptian-style. I’m a genius!

—Wondering if there’s a reason that nobody around here sells Paw Paw trees, (i.e. the “poor man’s banana”). Though the fruit sounds interesting—Paw Paws are said to taste like banana custard—perhaps that’s not a majority mindset. Or perhaps they’re hard to grow. More research needed.

—My new “Trail Cover” top for the Jeep arrived. I’ve stripped the Wrangler down to less than even a bikini top. Although water drains neatly out the floorboard holes, if it’s not all out by the time you hit 35 mph, the air blowing in through those holes makes gushers high as the dash board!

—I’m reading a collection of poems by women of South America. So passionate and multi-dimensional. *

—Still have a ways to go finishing out the Conference Room/Oyster Party Room…but nothing’s going to happen on that today.

# # #

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

 

Share

Hammock Man with Uzi

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Books & Writing

I’ve come home injured to Pineapple Hill, my beach house in a cow pasture in Jonesville, South Carolina, several times and, always, boredom gets the better of me. I recently found a bunch of home movies made a few years ago at about the time I began writing Blue Rubber Pool. In this one, I’m in a hammock reading Pablo Neruda with an Uzi resting on my lap. Why? I’ve no idea whatsoever. (Especially about that Uzi.) Thanks for looking. And not judging…

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

 

Share