Weird Conversations At 1:20am

This is one of those blog posts that is going to enter very weird territory before it’s finished… But then that’s what happens when people have conversations when neither one of them is entirely awake.

On the subject of bomb warnings…

If you grew up in England during a particular time, you might have lived with the potential threat of bombs going off in some of the big cities. If that’s the case, then you may have seen posters similar to this one in any number of places.

I remember seeing any number of posters reminding people to keep their eyes open for packages, suitcases, bags, or other unattended. They were a constant reminder that there was always the potential for one of those items to be a bomb. Some went so far as to remind you not to approach the item, but contact the police instead.

Warnings turn to humor…

After a while, I started seeing graffiti that took the warning, and added humor. But not before I’d already had the conversation with some friends in the early hours of the morning…

Now this was before the internet had become an invasive part of our lives. It was also way before people turned such things into viral memes, that would spread like wildfire.

And then turn into the unexpectedly bizarre…

Now my wife is very much aware of these conversations, and just how strange my mind is at times. But last night, we were talking about something (I can’t for the life of me remember what), but I turned to her and said “Be alert”, and she came back with a reply that left me speechless and laughing, because it was so unexpected.

I jumped out of bed, wrote it down in my journal, with the lights off, in the dark, and could still somehow read it this morning. So I couldn’t help but turn it into a poster. And for what it’s worth “I’m sorry” and “You’re Welcome”

Do you have any bizzare late night (or any other time) conversations you want to share?

Feel free to drop them in the comments below and I’ll share the best responses in a future post!

 

 

Reflections On The Terror Attacks In England

I’m not normally one to jump on the news, and comment on it openly. Anyone who follows my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media accounts will see that they remain clear of such things, for the most part. However, this last week has seen the second terror attack on London, in recent months, and I can’t help reflecting on how it affects people.

My heart and prayers go out to the friends, families, and victims of those who have been affected by these blatant acts of terrorism. Even though many of those affected by the attacks grew up with IRA activities as a fact of life, these recent attacks will leave physical and emotional scars that are hard to hide.

For my part, I’m here in Alaska watching the news very closely, and checking in with friends and family back in England whenever I can. Having been born British, and leaving everyone behind when I came to Alaska to marry an American, I can’t help but be concerned by the things I see in the news. And, so far this year, we’ve seen three major attacks…

Attack #1 – March 22nd 2017

  • Location: Westminster, London
  • Casualties: 50 people were injured, and 6 killed
  • A lone driver mounts the curb on Westminster Bridge, and drove through the crowd, then continued on toward Parliament before abandoning the vehicle and attacking people with a knife. He was shot dead by police less than 90 seconds after the attack started.

Attack #2 – May 22nd 2017

  • Location: Manchester Arena, Manchester
  • Casualties: 116 people were injured, and 22 killed
  • Suicide bomber detonated a home-made bomb in the foyer as fans were leaving a concert.

Attack #3 – 3rd June 2017

  • Location: London Bridge & Borough Market, London
  • Casualties: 48 people were injured, and 7 killed
  • A white van drove into pedestrians on London Bridge before three attackers got out of the vehicle and ran into Borough Market, where they stabbed several people, before escaping back into the street where all three were shot dead by police.

Investigations Are Ongoing…

That’s three major attacks in four months, and police are still investigating each of the incidents thoroughly. To date several arrests have been made in connection with the attacks, and time will tell how things move forward from here.

But there’s one thing I know for a fact…

Despite these attacks, it’s just going to bring people closer together…

How Do I Know This?

  • London, and other parts of the UK are no strangers to terrorist attacks, and bombings
  • During World War 2, German bombs fell on London, and other parts of the country on a regular basis.
    • Bombers flew over the cities and dropped tons of bombs in lightning raids
    • the dreaded V-1 flying bombs (aka the buzz bomb or doodlebug) which dropped out of the sky when their noisy motors ran out of fuel
    • the V-2 missile was the first true long range guided ballistic missile
  • When I was growing up, attacks by the IRA (and assorted splinter groups) were a fact of. Bombs went off, people were attacked, and attempts were made to bring down Canary Wharf.

What Happened As A Result?

During the war, and the terror attacks that came later, people refused to let those responsible change their lives more than necessary. During the war, they banded together in bomb shelters, and told stories to keep each other company and pass the time.

When I was growing up, I didn’t let the possibility of an IRA attack deter me from going into the city of London. Even in my mid-teens I’d go into the city on my own to visit museums, stores or the libraries. Sure, I was aware of the possibility of an attack happening, but even then I believed that if we let terrorists dictate our choices, then they had achieved their goals. And I wasn’t going to let that happen, but I did watch out of suspicious packages and activities just in case.

And It’s Happening Again!

In all of the cases above, including the attacks that took place this year, it brought people together.

Now this is the important take-away from all of this, and does nothing to detract from the horrors that people went through. But, people came together to help each other.

  • They came together to help the police and emergency services deal with the situations.
  • Photos and video have been given up for evidence willingly.
  • Witnesses and victims alike have given statements
  • Investigations have been started, and further arrests made in connection with the events.
  • Common people have proved to be heroes

But most importantly, they have stepped up, and proved that no matter who claims responsibility for the attacks, Brits are nothing if not stubborn, resilient, and will not bow down to terrorists.

For my part, I’m proud to have been born British!

Midweek Mumbles – 5 Seattle Myths Uncovered

As I was researching Seattle, I wanted to make sure that I was getting as many details correct as possible.

Part of bringing a city to life, even a fictional one, is knowing what the myths of that city are, even if you never feature them. Because, unless you know what people believe about a place, you can’t find ways to show that they’re false, or more potentially fantastic that people think.

I came across a lot of myths about the city. Some of them are actually true, others are popular misconceptions, while others have been made up for various reasons. Here’s a few of my favorites:

It always rains in Seattle

True/False? – Mostly False

There is a rainy seasons between May and October, but it’s mostly light showers rather than the torrential downpours that people envision.

Seattle doesn’t even rate that highly in terms of annual rainfall compared to many other US cities.

Source: Highbrow Magazine

Prostitutes opened the first public school in Seattle

True/False? – False

Rumors were the Lou Graham, one of Seattle’s earliest madames had left money to education funds, but she had actually given the money to relatives abroad.

Instead the earliest teachers in Seattle were the Mercer Girls, who had moved from the Northeast and South during the Civil War. They had been promised high wages and beautiful scenery by Asa Mercer as potential companions for eligible bachelors, though many never married.

Source: KUOW

Seattle is the suicide capital of the US

True/False? – False

Whatever the reason for the title “Suicide City USA”, Seattle is far from warranting such a scary moniker. In almost all studies of the suicide rates, Seattle doesn’t even make the Top 10.

However, my home state of Alaska DOES rate a “Suicide State USA” title, topping off the suicide rates for states.

Source: Forbes

Rent is cheap

True/False? – False

If you’re outside the city itself, rent is reasonably cheap in comparison to the city. But unlike in the past, there are parts of the city where $1000 only gets you a micro-studio apartment. So to live in the city, prepare to live a compact life.

Source: Seattle Socialites

The Disappearing Lake Union Islands

True/False? – True

In May 1962 police filed reports of an island that had formed in Lake Union, but it vanished two months later, only to have other such islands repeat the cycle later in the year.

Interestingly this one is true, and was the result of fill dirt being dumped during the construction of I-5.

Source:My Northwest

Check out the sources above for some other great myths about Seattle, and then share your thoughts, or Seattle myths in the comments…

What would you give to feel famous for even a moment?

This is a question I’ve asked myself a number of times in the past, and I’ve never come up with a satisfactory answer.

It might well be, that even though I’m a writer, and I’m very active in the indie community, I’ve never really written to become famous. But then something happens, and you get a momentary feeling for what it could be like to be famous. And I’ll tell you, it feels good.

The Unlikeliest of Meetings…

Outside the odds of me having met my wife, this is probably one of the most outrageous set of circumstances in which I could be made to feel famous… I’m not going to give actual names, to protect the parties involved, but if they read this, I know they’ll recognize themselves…

I work in a local big-box grocery store, and have been with the company for the last five years. And I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I’m a published writer – in fact, my name badge even says as much. Just having those two words “Published Author” is enough to start whole conversations about books and writing. And just sometimes, I get to pass out one of my business cards because someone wants to find out more about my work.

Well, yesterday I met a customer who had shopped with us for a while, and had even followed us over the road when our store located to a new, bigger property. He’d seen me in passing, as I went around the business of managing the front-end of the store, and I knew his face, but we’d never really stopped to talk.

Until Now…

Yesterday, this customer stopped short a few feet from me, did a double-take, and asked “Are you Timothy Bateson?” I said I was. “THE Timothy Bateson”, “Well, I don’t know about THE Timothy Bateson, but I’m definitely one of them”, “The Timothy Bateson who wrote Under A Hunter’s Moon?”, “Yeah, that’s me”… And the conversation got weirder from there…

The customer is another local writer, who had somehow connected online with an author I’d worked with on the Brain to Books Scavenger Hunt, and they’d got talking… As you do. Well, the subject came up about the customer’s location, and the author mentioned she knew a author in the same state as the customer… In fact, in the same town…

Hearing how this meeting came about just set my head spinning for a moment, but then I realized why… For the length of that conversation with the customer, I felt famous… And it felt like being struck by lightning and walking away with a smile on your face…

Needless to say…

I’ve emailed the author who sparked the event to personally thank her, and let her know just how special that conversation was. Especially since I’d had a very rough few days at work, and this put everything into perspective once more.

I’ll also be staying in touch with the customer, because as fellow writers, I think it’d be great to know there is a local support network. Even if it’s just someone to bounce an idea off, or ask advise about something…

 

So… What would you give to feel famous for a even a moment? Comment below…

Seattle: Through The Eyes Of A Fantasy Writer (pt 5)

This is part five of my Seattle trip, and we’re heading into the end of day 2. If you missed part 1, you can find it here, and part 2 is here, part 3 is here, part 4 is here.

So far my wife Sandi, and I have arrived in Seattle in the early hours of the morning, caught sunrise over the city at Gasworks Park, and taken a lot of pictures. Then we headed up to the University District, before booking into our hotel, and hitting up Treehouse Point and Snoqualmie Falls. Then we made our way up onto Cougar Mountain, and back to the hotel to crash for the night.

Day two started with a visit to Fremont to see The Fremont Troll, the Center of the Universe Signpost, and then a trip south to Kerry Park. Once the scenic photos had been taken, we made our way to the Space Needle, took a tour of the city on an amphibious vehicle, and then drove down to the Columbia Center.

For a sneak peek of what I had planned for the three days you can click here.

Feb 14th 2017 – Driving Around & Some Much Needed Downtime

Even after taking the trip up the Columbia Center tower, we had some time to kill, before our next planned stop.

So, Sandi and I drove around Capitol Hill, First Hill, and Squire Park, trying to locate a church that Sandi had used as a template for one in her draft for “A Rose By Any Other Name”. I drove, while she looked up churches on her cell phone, and tried to direct me to them. After a couple of wrong turns, and changes of destination, we finally arrived at St James Cathedral.

I let Sandi out, so I could go hunt down a parking space, and she made her way inside. While there she asked permission to take some reference pictures, under the understanding that they would not be shared online or used to make money. With that in mind, I’m respecting that, and not sharing them here. Even more interesting was the chat Sandi had with one of the pastors about her work, and the churches views on vampires and other supernatural creatures we write about. (And yes, we’re withholding the outcome of that discussion, because it impacts a key scene in “A Rose By Any Other Name”).

In all that time of driving around, I found I was already familiar with many of the streets, and intersections, from hours of wandering around on Google Maps. It was funny watching Sandi’s reactions when I’d point at something and say something along the lines of “There’s where Richard chases the vampire” or “Hmmm, I didn’t realize just how steep this hill was. I’ll have to change that scene”. Admittedly, you don’t get a “feel” for the locations until you’re actually there, but being able to navigate just based on online time is still a lot of fun.

Our next stop was north of the city, near Bitter Lake, where we hooked up with a couple of friends I knew from online, and Sandi knew from her time living in the Seattle area. This was a lot of fun, because everyone was either a writer, a role-player, or both, and it gave us a lot of things to talk about. It also gave Sandi and I a really great opportunity to wind down from a couple of very hectic days of flying, driving, and rushing between stops to see everything we wanted to.

Feb 14th 2017 – The Space Needle (visit #2)

Having decompressed a little, we parted ways with our friends, and returned to the Space Needle.

Now, if you read part four of this series, you already know about the Space Needle, and how impressed I was by it. But that was nothing compared to seeing it all lit up for the night.

Approaching the structure from the parking lot, it’s impossible to miss, and can be seen for miles along any clear line of sight. Because we’d already booked our tickets for the second trip up, we headed straight for the elevators, and were back up the top for another run photographs.

And this time, the views were even more spectacular than during the day. We were able to capture some amazing pictures where the city lights are reflected in the waters of the bay. In some of the shots, the only way to tell where the city ended and where the bay started was from the distortions caused by ripples on the water. Other shots were typical high-angle shots of the city at night, showing buildings and streets lit up, with vehicles heading to who knows what destinations.

Since this was our last stop for the day, we headed back to the hotel to decompress, and make plans for the following day. But honestly, the last day was going to be an was one, because we really hadn’t made many plans.

Feb 15th 2017 – Seattle Aquarium

This was one of the stops that we’d scheduled for another day, but ended up moving so that we had time to do the Ride the Ducks. And I’ll be honest, I’m glad we did that, because it gave us the time to actually see the Aquarium and all the wonderful creatures.

We arrived with just enough time to wander around part of the ‘touch and feel’ exhibits, before they announced that the seal show would be starting shortly.

Now I’m a sucker for almost any kind of fuzzy sea creature, so having a chance to see the seals in action, and get some photos was an opportunity not to be missed. So much so, that Sandi and I took turns with the camera, and even stood outside in the torrential Seattle rain, while taking pictures.

From there we took in the sea otters, river otters, and assorted fish displays, all the while snapping pictures and pointing out things we wanted to share with each other.

In all, this was a very fun and relaxing way to start the last day of our trip, even if we were subjected to the finest rains Seattle could summon.

Feb 15th 2017 – Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

After spending a couple of hours touring the Aquarium, we had just enough left on the parking to do a little shopping. So, we headed along the shoreline, and checked out a few of the stores and eateries. While we didn’t find anything to eat that we could both agree on, we did find Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, one of the most fascinating places to browse.

Carrying everything from souveniers to locally made fudge, this store has been open, in one location, or another, since 1899.

How has it managed to stay open so long, and become one of the most sought out stores in Seattle? The answer is both simple and elegant at the same time.

When it originally opened, the store carried curios and souvenirs for travelers using the docks. But over the years it has become part museum in the process. With artifacts like their mummies, shrunken heads, mermaids, origami dollars and walrus tusks, it’s hard not to be fascinated by the displays as much as the variety of goods they carry.

And Then We Left Seattle Behind

After considering a trip to the Pike Place Market, we decided to head for the airport, and get a meal inside us before flying home.


Well, that concludes the trip to Seattle, and I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along with me for some of the highlights. Be sure to check out some of the places next time you’re down there.

If you have any travel tips, or think we missed seeing something that really should have been on our list, please feel free to comment below.

Seattle: Through The Eyes Of A Fantasy Writer (pt 4)

This is part four of my Seattle trip, and we’re finally getting into day two. If you missed part 1, you can find it here, and part 2 is here, part 3 is here.

So far my wife Sandi, and I have arrived in Seattle in the early hours of the morning, caught sunrise over the city at Gasworks Park, and taken a lot of pictures. Then we headed up to the University District, before booking into our hotel, and hitting up Treehouse Point and Snoqualmie Falls. Then we made our way up onto Cougar Mountain, and back to the hotel to crash for the night.

Day two started with a visit to Fremont to see The Fremont Troll, the Center of the Universe Signpost, and then a trip south to Kerry Park.

For a sneak peek of what I had planned for the three days you can click here.

Feb 14th 2017 – The Space Needle (visit #1)

Now this is were things got really interesting, because there is nothing like having the opportunity to see a city from above, and the Space Needle is a great way to do that.

Standing over 600 feet, this is one of the tallest landmarks in Seattle, and was once one of the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. What is most impressive not only it’s height and structural stability, but the fact that it was built in 1962, for the World Trade Fair, and they had to lay a 300 foot deep foundation to support it’s weight.

From the base of the structure to the Observation Deck takes a mere 41 seconds in the elevator. Once there, you have an uninterrupted 360 degree view of Elliot Bay, the mountain ranges, and the city skyline.

Sandi and I took the opportunity to make two visits over the course of the day, but I’ll get back to our second visit later.

Feb 14th 2017 – Ride The Ducks Tour

The next stop on our tour actually came about as a last minute decision, and it’s one I’m glad we made, even if it didn’t fit into my original plans for the day.

Ride the Ducks of Seattle is a city tour with a difference, because you ride through the city in a WWII amphibious landing craft (AKA a Duck). The route takes in the Seattle waterfront, Pioneer Square, Pike Place Market, the downtown shopping district, and then eases it’s way into Lake Union for a leisurely view of the city from the water.

Throughout the tour, the crew provide a guided tour of the city, covering history, architecture, famous figures, and even a few glimpses of sights from movies filmed in Seattle. It’s a fun ride, full of music, and entertainment for all ages. And then you’re in the water.

This was where things got really interesting, because we floated right by Gas Works Park, which we’d visited the previous day, and it looks so different from the water. And then as the craft motors it’s way around the bay, there are opportunities to take some amazing shots of the skyline. There are vantage points on the lake that give you views you couldn’t get from anywhere else. I highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting the city.

Feb 14th 2017 – Columbia Center

Not done with visiting tall buildings, our next stop was the Columbia Center, famous for it’s Sky View Observatory. At 943 ft in height, for a total of 76 stories, this is the tallest structure in Seattle, and covers a full city block on it’s own.

Up on the 73rd floor, at a height of 902 ft is the Sky View Observatory, which wasn’t actually intended to be part of the original layout for the floor. Originally designated for office space, it was converted into an observation deck and provides an unprecedented view of the city.

Tune in next week for Part 5 of this series, when we finish out our second day, and head into our final day in Seattle.

Seattle: Through The Eyes Of A Fantasy Writer (pt 3)

This is part four of my Seattle trip, and we’re finally getting into day two. If you missed part 1, you can find it here, and part 2 is here.

So far my wife Sandi, and I have arrived in Seattle in the early hours of the morning, caught sunrise over the city at Gasworks Park, and taken a lot of pictures. Then we headed up to the University District, before booking into our hotel, and hitting up Treehouse Point and Snoqualmie Falls. Then we made our way up onto Cougar Mountain, and back to the hotel to crash for the night. For a sneak peek of what I had planned for the three days you can click here.

Feb 14th 2017 – Fremont Troll

Waking up early seemed like it was going to be the theme for the trip, so why break the habit? Yep, we got up early again, had breakfast at the hotel, and drive west toward the northern side of Seattle, for the second time.

Our destination wasn’t so much a where, as a who… The Fremont Troll.

Having made this creature the antagonist in my latest short story, “April Fool”, (releasing soon in “Book Dreams: Volume 1” from Brain to Books), I’d have been remiss in not paying him a visit, out of respect. There are only two ways to approach the site of the troll. The first is to walk along North 36th Street, which crosses right in front of the huge stone beast, or to walk uphill on the aptly named Troll Avenue.

Honestly, I think the second route is the more interesting approach, since you are walking right under the Aurora Bridge, with the troll waiting at the top of the hill. You get a great view of him from the bottom of the hill, but until you have taken that steep climb, you can’t really appreciate just how huge the art installation is. To put it into perspective: That is a REAL VW Bug he’s crushing under his left hand.

Feb 14th 2017 – Center Of The Universe

Having sated ourselves with the photo opportunities at the Fremont Troll, we decided to investigate another of the areas landmarks, the Center of the Universe Signpost. This was one of those really crazy things that came up while I was looking at Google Maps for things to do in Seattle, and it’s a little hard to get good photographs because it is located in the middle of a fairly busy intersection.

Located only a short walk from the Fremont Troll, this is one of those sights that is as much an interesting little aside to the tour, as it is an interesting perspective on your actual location in the scale of things.

There are arms for a diverse number of places, including (but not limited to):

The Milky Way, The Louvre (in France), Rapunzel, Noogie (Top of Head), Fremont Mischief Brewery, Polaris and Taiwan.

Since we were already parked in the area, I took the opportunity to take some amazing pictures from the Fremont shoreline. Meanwhile Sandi was ordering an early lunch for us at Solsticio, (and here) a lovely little cafe/diner. This is one of those treasures of Seattle that might be overlooked, unless you knew about it, or stumbled across it by accident. In our case, it was the latter, since it was located right beside where we’d found parking for our visit to the Fremont Troll. The food was amazing, but that was nothing compared to the staff, who were a font of useful information about the area, the city, places to get great photographs, and more. This is one of those places I highly recommend anyone stopping in and visiting. There is something on the menu for almost any dietary requirements.

Feb 14th 2017 – Kerry Park

Only a short drive from Fremont, is Kerry Park, which had come to use as a recommendation from the travel site I was using to plan the trip.

While parking here is at a premium, because it’s in a residential area, it is well worth taking the time to visit if you want great photographs. Yes, we probably only spent about ten minutes here, but it was more than worth taking the time to divert off our planned route.

The park provides views of Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay, all with the city acting as a backdrop. I almost wish we’d managed to get here toward sunset, because the views were stunning, and I can only imagine what it looks like later in the day.

Tune in next week for Part 4 of this series, when we tackle to Space Needle, and the Columbia Center.