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Kayak Made from Recycled Bottles in Argentina

"Industrial engineer Federico Blanc had a dream to float down Argentina’s gorgeous Parana River on a recycled kayak, and his vision recently came to fruition! Blanc collected dozens of plastic soda bottles and glued them together to create his fantastic blue kayak. Simple, strong and eco-friendly, this boat can carry up to 2 people plus a cooler for when the rafters get hungry."
From Inhabitat
Sent us by Godfrey Stephens

Waylaid By ('50s-60s) Music Once Again + Solomon Linda and Mbube)

Friday morning on Sirius Radio's "50s on 5" station:
1. Bobby Marchan, "There Is Something on Your Mind" Lovely operetta.
2. "The Wah-Watusi" by The Orlons. Let's see you  hold still to this one. The '50s had a lot of bubblegum pop, but also tons of wonderful singing like this.  Shoo-bop, shoo-bop…
3. "Walk Right In" by the Rooftop Singers. Sit right down, daddy let your mind roll on…
4. And then the "Lion Sleeps Here Tonight" by The Tokens. It's such an unusual song. I always wondered about it. Beautiful singing, some semi-yodeling, Brooklyn boys in 1961. A little Google-noodling-around and I unearthed a treasure—thrilling to find the original of a great song:
5. Solomon Linda was a South African Zulu musician, singer and composer who wrote (improvised) the song "Mbube" in 1939, which "…became the basis for Mbube style of isicathamiya a cappella popularized later by Ladysmith Black Mambazo." There's a great story with this song, involving as well, Alan Lomax, Pete Seeger, the Weavers, the Kingston Trio, and the Tokens with their big hit (#4 above).

Linda "…is credited with a number of musical innovations that came to dominate the isicathamiya style. Instead of using one singer per voice part, the Evening Birds used a number of bass singers. He introduced the falsetto main voice which incorporated female vocal texture into male singing. His group was the first known to use striped suits to indicate that they were urban sophisticates. At the same time, their bass singing retained some musical elements that indicated traditional choral music…" (Wikipedia)
Photo: Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds in 1941. From left to right are: Solomon Linda (soprano), Gilbert Madondo (alto), Boy Sibiya (tenor), Gideon Mkhize (bass), Samuel Mlangeni (bass), and Owen Sikhakhane (bass).

Publishing, Promotion, eBooks

I spent all day yesterday at a publisher's meeting at Publishers Group West* in Berkeley, and learned a lot. Mainly that I'm in the kindergarten category when it comes to marketing and promotion. I can get the books done and out there, but don't really have much savvy on publicity. One of our authors, Bill Pearl, said to me once, "Lloyd, I wish we could produce a book and it would just fly off the shelves."
   Come to think of it, that's the way it worked with Shelter early in my publishing career (1973). Our 1st print run in San Francisco (on a Harris-Cotrell M700 offset newspaper press) was 50,000 copies (what did we know?). We sent out no review copies, contacted no media people, I didn't do a tour…We just gave out books to friends and people we thought would be interested, and it sold like mad (distributed by Random House). We ended up doing two more printings, of 50,000, and 60,000. Being reviewed in the Whole Earth Catalog was a big part of it, since it got the word out to maybe a million Whole Earthers—our people.
   Well, things are way different now (duh!) I listened to some really smart publishers and industry people yesterday and am excited about trying some new ways to get the word out. I just want to get people to pick up, say, Tiny Homes. The book will take over from there.
   The other thing that fascinates me right now is the eBook thing. Last week our Tiny Homes eBook (by Rick Gordon) was # 28 on Apple's iTunes "Top Paid Books," Arts & Entertainment category. True, it's not a real live luscious book, but it's paperless, compact, gorgeous on the iPad, searchable, and visually scannable (i.e. the reader can scan rapidly through thumbnails looking for things of interest). I was surprised how well it works on even an iPhone. I mean, if  you're really serious about going light in the device department…
   Huge changes afoot in the publishing biz right now, and we're gonna go along for the ride.

*Our distributors and partners in crime                            Photo above last night on 6th Street in Berkeley

Cabin in Taos Ski Valley


New Book Off and Rolling

Now that I've finished 3-4 months of off-and-on travel doing promo for our book Tiny Homes, I'm thankfully at home and catching up on working out, chores around the homestead, food obtaining and processing, and fishing. At the same time, I'm well into the design phase of our next book, Wheels and Water: Tiny Homes on the Move. I've done layout of 10 pages, and material is pouring in. Several good nomadic homes have come from the current Mother Earth News article on Tiny Homes, and Lew and I continue to dig up material online. More importantly, we have a growing network of builders and home-oriented people contacting us.
   These days I actually look forward to checking my email each morning. There's lots of feedback from our building books ("I was inspired to build this…"), leads to interesting websites, and daily incoming material for the new book. I love what I'm doing, especially when I get the time (away from publishing biz stuff) to do layout.

75-Year Old Bodybuilding Grandma

Video from KarmaTube
Sent us by Joy Banks

Deek Diedrickson's Tiny House Building Workshop #3

"Tiny House Building Workshop #3 OFFICIALLY announced/details....
Want to build a tiny, tiny house and hang with many like-minded tiny-obsessed people? Read on....read on.....
-BUILD a tiny guest house as a group
-TOUR tiny houses and view many examples of recycled-material construction
-HEAR from many guest speakers, and tiny house dwellers
-SEE several building-related demos
-SMELL freshly cut lumber....ok, ok, I just tossed that one in their for the heck of it...."

Deek is FUN, and the author (and prolific illustrator) of Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts: And Whatever the Heck Else We Could Squeeze in Here

Workshop, click here.

Inspired By. . . SunRay Kelley

Old California Goldminer's Shack

I've said it before, but Kent Griswold's Tiny House Blog is just the best thing going for tiny homes on the blogosphere. A feature I really like is his "Tiny House in a Landscape" category, of which this is the latest. "…photographs taken by Linda Lacy from California. Linda says: I took these photos at Malakoff Diggings, a California State Park that has been “cut” from the state budget. This is a wonderful area with lots of tiny houses.…"
This photo is at: http://shltr.net/thlandscp
To my eye, this is a perfect little building. Everything looks right. Got soul.

Unique Homemade Dump Truck

From http://woodgears.ca/index.html
Thanks to Joy Banks

Great Woodworkers' Website

"Hi Lloyd,
I read your blog regularly and love the mix of ideas. Don't know if you've seen this but I found a site with simple plans for furniture and household items. Matthias Wandel grew up in Canada where his parents bought an old sawmill, and built and rented out tourist cabins. Matthias is also an artist and woodworker with new articles each week. He's posted lots of pictures of his father's woodworking projects, from unique door latches to cabins with all the furnishings. Naturally I thought of you.

Mud, Hands, A House ~ El Barro, Las Manos, La Casa

Wonderful video of earth building sent by Mike W.
In Spanish with English subtitles.   From http://www.firespeaking.com/

GIMME SHELTER Newsletter Late Summer 2012

We sent out this latest GIMME SHELTER email newsletter last week. I started doing these maybe 10 years ago, originally for sales reps. The main orientation is on the state of Shelter's publishing projects. As I've gotten more into blogging, I send these out less frequently, but they still do reach people who don't read the blog.

BTW, I use MacSpeech Dictate whenever I can. It works amazingly well at transcribing your speech into words. For Windows users, it's Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Old Farm Building at Sea Ranch

My friend Louie Frazier (the featured builder in Home Work), lives on the outskirts of Pt. Arena, and I make the 3-hour drive along the coast to visit him every few months. My routine is to get on the road by 6 AM, get a latte at Toby's Feed Barn in Point Reyes Station, then drive along the shores of Tomales Bay and then the ocean. On the way I  often stop off to skateboard at Sea Ranch, the planned coastal community that stretches along 10 miles of the California coast, south of Gualala. Here is a nice old farm building with shake roof at Sea Ranch, obviously left over from the old days, and better in style and design (in my opinion) than just about any of the rather sterile looking, no-overhang newer buildings designed by architects. The brilliance of Sea Ranch is in its landscape design or rather, the lack thereof. Landscape designer Lawrence Halperin left just about everything in its natural state, and it's very peaceful on the eyes.