I love tea…maybe you’ve noticed!

This is actually a response to Brendan Leonard’s ‘Hey coffee, I love you’  post on his semi-rad blog.  You could simply replace the word coffee with tea in Brendan’s post, but I thought it would be more fun to respond. 


Coffee or tea, it doesn’t matter really, it’s all about drugs of choice.  When one of my pals swam out of a class IV hole and went for his yellow box instead of a throw rope I totally understood.  If that had been my box of tea I would have gone for it too!

When I was a baby I wouldn’t drink my milk until Mamgu added a drop of tea…I was good to go…it’s been pretty much the same ever since.  If you are my friend, at some point, you will find me in your kitchen with one of your pans boiling water for tea (screw microwaves – not hot enough).  And if you are a good friend you might even buy tea and keep it in your kitchen (just sayin’).

If the truth be told, I’m a tea snob, mea culpa.  I like British Blend, not the crap they sell here to make ice tea and not that flavored Earl Grey stuff either (officer’s tea).  But I’m not the only tea snob; I was teaching a kayaking class last year and made tea for me and my Irish co-instructor Laura.  A week later I get a box of Irish tea in the mail with a note saying “try these”.  Fair enough!

In the South it’s tough to find hot tea.  I remember about 15 years ago going through a Captain D’s near the Ocoee (middle of the night, middle of nowhere, East Tennessee) and I saw wow, they have hot tea on the menu so I ordered it and the girl replied in this incredulous Southern accent  “Hot tea?  Is that ice tea without the ice?”  (I can’t even begin to write how it sounded, but there were way more syllables when she said it!)

I like Starbucks because they have tea and milk and they at least attempt to make tea well (milk is super important – try it, you’ll like it!)     Have you ever heard the expression “Always take the pot to the kettle, never take the kettle to the pot”?  That‘s because to make good tea the water has to boiling, not just off the boil, but boiling.  So Starbucks tea is hit and miss, but their caffeine is awesome.  I can feel the hit when I drink a Grande Awake.

And my Doctor did talk to me about my tea consumption.  Something about an odd looking EKG.  Is 15 cups a day really excessive?  I don’t think so, not if you’re British.  He said stop and I’m thinking, not in this lifetime!  So we compromised at 5 or 6 cups.  And I enjoy tea even more!

I’m a kayaker and there’s a tradition of getting off the river and drinking a beer before heading home.  I typically have a four, five or six hour drive and the last thing I need is a beer.  I figured if I was able to make tea in a couple of minutes then that wouldn’t annoy anyone.  I found a cheap and easy stove, a little kettle and then I made a box for them.  The box had to be wood because I didn’t want the kettle rattling around and the stove has to go in there red hot.  I always carry a spare cup in case of meeting fellow British or Irish people on a trip (“Aye mon, have ya got a brew on?”)  I get compliments on the box from strangers, it’s kind of cool really, “nice box, did you make it?”  They obviously don’t look too closely, I’m more of a carpenter than a cabinet maker, but I’ll take the compliment! 

Last June we were climbing on Long’s Peak and I couldn’t take the tea box because it’s big and it’s not like we had Sherpa’s.  We didn’t have winter climbing gear either so we headed for Chasm Lake.  When we stopped for lunch I asked Mr. Kleen if I could borrow his Jet Boil.  But, he’d left it behind to save weight!  Oh bloody hell!  Fortunately I had my survival kit with a couple of Hexi Blocks and an army surplus mug, I was able to make tea and so the day was saved!  Yes, there is tea in my survival kit…I might die in the woods, but you will pry my cold, dead fingers from around an empty cup of tea!

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Business Rules! – The 12 secrets of a successful homegrown business

Several friends asked me for advice as they started businesses.  I’ve started a couple of businesses of my own, I’ve been in sales and marketing for years and I pay attention.  They told me my advice was useful, I like to think it was too!  Here is what I told them.  I hope you find it helpful.

Business rules is a play on words.  It works for two reasons.  First, these are rules that can

lead to success for a homegrown business, and secondly, Business Does Rule – it is the best way to a fun, free, and fulfilled life.  There is simply no better way to get there.




The only route to true success in life is to do good work.  Not to do work passably, not to get by, but to do work well so that people will notice, talk about it and beat a path to your door.  For $12.00 you can buy an excellent pocket knife, but people will wait months and pay hundreds of dollars for a Jay Fisher knife.  Why is that?  Because he does good work and is known to do good work.  Customers seek him out.


If you are only trying to make money with your business your customers can tell.  Customers have what I call ‘dog sense’ they can smell  that you are only in it for the money and your business will never truly take off.  By ‘make friends’, I really mean be nice to people and work in their best interest.  When you work in your customers best interest they will notice, they will be pleasantly surprised, they will do more business and they will tell their friends.  Chasing money is like a dog chasing it’s tail.  Just like the dog will never catch its tail, you will never catch up with the money.  But slow down and a funny thing will happen…slow down and the money will catch up to you!




The difference between a business and a hobby is that businesses make money.  So every month your business should make a profit.  If your business doesn’t make money something has to change, expenses have to be cut, prices increased, products changed, something. 




The Internet has made advertising free, or almost free.  The key is to produce compelling content, content that your customers will go out of their way to find and will share with their friends.



The difference between selling to people who want your product versus selling to everyone is the difference between driving a car versus pushing a car.  Instead of spending your time selling to people who don’t want your product go out and find people who want to buy.





Start your business at home.  Keep your costs low.  In the garage, in the barn, on the kitchen table.  In one year my friend Ron sold four million dollars of Chinese ATVs from his kitchen table.  He didn’t have time to rent an office!





Your business is a part of you, it’s your journey.  You have to be able to imagine your destination in your minds eye.  If you take those first steps and have a destination in mind the universe will help you to get there.  Your arrival becomes inevitable.  You have to know where you are going, work hard and learn.


Artists are well known to experience writer’s block.  Do you recall how difficult it is to think while under pressure?  It’s hard to come up with innovative product ideas or marketing ideas when you are stressed out thinking about how you are going to pay the rent.  If you can reduce that pressure by having a steady income you will be more likely to be able to think clearly.





Having no money will force you to be creative and creativity leads to profits.  Justin started his auto body shop and paid ten cents on the dollar for his equipment.  He had to fix a lot of it.





It’s easy to eat junk food and skip exercising as you start a business and burn the candle at both ends, but make sure you take the time to stay healthy.  Taking breaks will allow you to work longer and more creatively.  So go for a walk, eat an apple, drink some green tea.





Talking to your customers is the key.  People who are going to start a business won’t stop talking about it, they tell everyone they know what they’re going to do and then they start the business and a funny thing happens…they don’t talk to another human being!    Get out there IN FRONT of your booth, pull people (literally) into your store, call people on the phone.  Don’t hide behind your computer and the email.  Interact personally, you will have more traction, there is more nuance to a face to face meeting or a phone call.  Customers buy from people that they know, like and trust.  The first step is that they get to know you.

Got comments or questions?  Let me know…feedback rocks!


What is the meaning of TRETHROG – Definition of the Whitewater Rescue term

TRETHROG is a term used in Whitewater river rescue situations.  It is the options for rescuing a swimmer prioritized to keep the rescuer safe.  The first rule of rescue is don’t become a victim – If you become a victim you can no longer help and now we have two victims!  TRETHROG is short for Talk Reach Throw Row Go.  The rescue community previously used the term RETHROG, but Talk was added because it is much safer to tell the victim what to do than to get in the water and rescue them.

Talk – Hey, swim here!

REach – Offer them a paddle or stick, etc

THrow – Use a throwbag

ROw – use a boat to reach them

Go – Swim out to them

In whitewater kayaking situations ‘Row’ is often higher in priorities than in the standard rescue situation because the rescuer is probably in a kayak and it is the most effective and convenient way to reach the victim.

TRETHROG is a handy way to remember the order of rescue options in a whitewater swim incident.

How to write…if you’re not really a writer!

This post is for people who don’t think of themselves as writers but who have a story to tell, a message to get out or a blog to publish.  People like me!  I have a business…kids…rental property…and rivers to run.  It’s hard for me to sit down and write.  But, I write a blog and have written two books, The Divers Life and the 15 House Retirement Plan, so I must be doing something right! 

I’ll share with you the 7 tips that I use to write; the tips that I used to write this post.

  1. Keep an Ideas File or notebook.  I often hear people say “I don’t know what to write”, but I think  they do.  I think that most people have ideas all the time, but are so busy that they but forget them during the hustle and bustle of the day.  Whenever you think of an idea for a story or topic, write a short note or tear the page from the magazine, whatever you need to do so as not to forget it.  Keep these ideas in a file or notebook so that you will never be short of topics to write about.
  2. Meditate.  Really, you want us to meditate?  I know it sounds very New Age, but try it.  A lot of successful writing involves having time to think.  What I do is sit at my desk and set a kitchen timer for 5 minutes.  I close my eyes and breathe and visualize myself writing.  I visualize myself sitting at my desk, being productive, filling pages of my notebook with my familiar blue scrawl.  I think positive thoughts about how much I’m going to write and how lucky I am to have the opportunity.  At the end of my 5 minutes I’m raring to go!
  3. Set your timer.  Reset your timer for 20 minutes and start writing.  20 minutes is unintimidating.  And don’t worry about the laundry, or how clean the bathroom is.  If your bathroom was dirty yesterday, 20 minutes isn’t going to make a difference!  Right now my kitchen looks like a bomb went off in it.  My 11-year old made and decorated his own birthday cake, a ski-slope complete with little people made of fondant.  You can imagine the mess he made.  It needs cleaning up, but not right now.  Now I am going to write.  What if your 20 minutes is up and you don’t want to stop?  Keep going!  The problem we’re addressing is how to help people who are having difficulty getting started. 
  4. Free write.  Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, neatness or any of the things your teachers used to call you on.  To quote James Thurber, “Don’t get it right, get it written”.  Don’t let any rules distract you, just get your words out so that you can understand them later.
  5. Reward yourself!  If you have written for 20 minutes you are already the most productive writer that you know.  After your time is up, go for a walk, eat an apple, grab some tea, whatever makes you feel good.  You deserve it!
  6. Rewrite it.  Go back and read what you wrote.  This is the time to type on the computer, fix the spelling and correct the grammar.   You may add whole sentences and paragraphs that only occur to you now as you re-work your earlier writing.  Take put unnecessary words and sentences, you want quality not quantity.
  7. Write daily.  Carve out some time every day so that you can steadily add to your book or blog.  The progress will help to keep you motivated.  I find that first thing in the morning is the best time for me to write before my attention gets dragged onto other things.  (Later in the day my attention gets ripped apart as clients call me with problems or my children call me about books they left at school, or, etc)

Writing is a craft.  The more you work at it the better you will become.  If you continue to write, you will get better.   If you write every day you can write a book!

Finally…Green tea that tastes good!

Finally, green tea that tastes good!  I’ve been searching for years and finally found Lipton’s Green Tea with Mandarin Orange.  Most green tea has an astringent taste that reminds me of grass.  Lipton have replaced that astringency with a fresh, clean flavor by adding Mandarin Orange pieces.   I try to drink two cups a day and it’s easy with this flavor.  In studies of communities throughout the world tea drinking has been associated with a long healthy lives.  (I wish I’d thought of travelling the Continue reading

Moving house? Is High Speed Internet available? How to check BEFORE you move.

Check that High Speed Internet is available before you move.  If you own a homegrown business High Speed Internet is a vitally important service.  Before you move to a new home, you should be sure that High Speed Internet is available.  You might think that High Speed Internet is available in all parts of all cities by now.  That is a misconception.  Check before moving!     

To find your local providers, call your local municipality and ask who the local providers are.  The City or County Clerk will know because the companies have Continue reading

How to exercise when you don’t have the time.

At one point in my life I was leaving the house at 6:30 in the morning and arriving home at 6:30 at night and then I’d have kids to read to and put to bed and I had no time to get to the gym (sound familiar?)  What I noticed that after yard work, or a day of whitewater kayaking I was stiff and sore and at 35 I just wasn’t ready for that!

I should start off with a confession – I am a Continue reading

How to Become a Snowboard Instructor the easy way – Part Time

The hardest part of becoming a snowboard instructor is that you have to be a snowboard instructor first!  You can’t even join the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) without a signoff from a snow sports school director and 25 hours of training.  It is like Catch-22.  To train as an instructor can run as much as $7,000 and take six weeks.  That might be fine if you are 21 and have a trust fund, Continue reading

Every Day Do Three Important Things

How many days have you ended a day’s work and felt that you got nothing done?  It is often difficult to find time for the things that will actually move your business forward, the ‘Important things’.  Some days it is so easy to be fighting off alligators that you forget your goal was to drain the swamp.  Some people have great to-do lists and systems to organize Continue reading