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Reflection, Faith, & Family

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For me, Christmas and the week or so before it are a time for reflection, faith, and family. I try hard to work less and spend more time reading and with family. At this time of year, I try to read the first two chapters of Luke about the birth of John the Baptist and Christ. Yes, I’ve read them many times before, and even read it with my family, but it is the reason for the season.

I also listen to a lot of Christmas music with my wife. Most of it is older, traditional or classical music like Silent Night, Joy to the World, or the Hallelujah Chorus, but some can be more modern. I recently discovered the a cappella group Pentatonix. They don’t appear to be a Christian group, but they are talented and include many great Christmas songs in their repertoire. I’ve been lately watching them on YouTube.

So, that is my plan for this year, spend more time with family, read some from the good book and listen to good music. I’m thinking that is a perfect way to enjoy Christmas.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas. Immanuel hallelujah.


Click on the following links to read my author bio to read more about faith and family, or see more blogposts with video

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Hiving the Bees

Spring is bee time on the farm

 Yes, those are bees on the box.

Yes, those are bees on the box.

The bees didn’t arrive yesterday, a warm and sunny day. No, they arrived today when it was cool and wet. We prefer driving to the delivery site in the farm truck. We can put the bee boxes on the truck bed and drive home, but because today was so inclement we took the car for the forty-minute drive. Have you ever driven with ten thousand bees in your car? Our bees were inside two boxes, but it’s still an experience. Some always find a way out.  

On our small farm, we keep bees both for pollination and for honey production, but we lost our last hive during the winter. This video, filmed on April 22, 2017, starts with me retrieving one of our two new colonies of Carniolan honeybees from the greenhouse where we left them while making final hiving preparations.

Lorraine, my wife, went ahead and waited to assist me in the apiary. My son, James, is the cameraman and isn’t wearing a protective suit while he films.

Hopefully, these bees will store up lots of pollen and honey during the summer and survive the upcoming winter.


Click on the following links to read my author bio to read more about my life on the farm, or see more blogposts with video.

 To receive a weekly digest of blogposts delivered to your inbox click Follow me

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Please don’t read this

At least not on Christmas Day.

I posted this earlier because, on this day when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus, I’m going to be with family and friends and hopefully having a joyful Christmas day.

So, I’m hoping that you aren’t on your computer reading my blog on Christmas Day. I hope, pray actually, that you, and all of my readers, also have a joyful day with family and friends.

Immanuel hallelujah

I Love (and hate) the English Language

This is a short clip of real-life wife and husband Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz reading a children’s book on their 1950’s television show, I Love Lucy. While they perform the skit for its comedic value, it shows one of the many idiosyncrasies of the English language that as a writer drives me crazy. How can the same letters in the same order be pronounced differently?

As I write, I try to remember that the English language is a complex set of words adopted from a variety of languages. These nuances can be maddening, but they also give the English language its spice and variety. 

A fun place to work

I have no idea why this was happening, but it seems like a fun place to work.

My wife sent me this video. The YouTube description states it occurred last year at headquarters of Groupon in Chicago. That description also says that this is a baby tyrannosaurus, but I think it is supposed to be a velociraptor traipsing around the lobby of the building.

For a few seconds I wondered what was happening. The roar sounded real to me. The head moved realistically. Then I noticed the legs.

Even then it was fun to watch, and most everyone seemed to enjoy the dino, except maybe the woman coming out of the elevator.

Opening the Hive

Spring time brings extra chores for those living on a farm.

Normally, I keep two bee colonies, but only one survived the winter. On a warm day earlier this month I opened the remaining hive to check on the colony. I try to find the queen, see if she is laying eggs, ensure there is enough food and, check to see if they workers are planning to swarm (break away and form a new colony).

Taking the hive apart gets the bees very mad. I was fully suited up and not worried, but my brave wife, Lorraine, did the video. That meant she needed one hand uncovered to control the camera. At one point several bees landed on her hand. Fortunately, for both of us, she didn’t get stung.

I didn’t find the queen, but everything else looked healthy. I’ve have another colony of bees on order. They should arrive in April.

I wonder if I can get Lorraine to film that? 

Richard Castle Book Commercial

I would so do this!

I enjoy science fiction. I read science fiction. I write it and I watch it on television and at the cinema. Firefly and Serenity are how I came to know the work of Nathan Fillion. So, through Fillion I had a vague knowledge of the ABC television series Castle, but had never watched it until last year. Being bored one night, I stumbled across it on Netflix and watched the first episode. I enjoyed it and have continued to watch past shows and catch up.

Now in season seven, I watched “Meme is Murder” last night and thoroughly enjoyed the book commercial at the end of the episode. If I had an advertising budget I would love to do a commercial like this one. 

Archery for Fun and Defense

As a prepper I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I want to be ready to defend myself.

Bows and arrows have always been of interest to me but, I admit, I’ve done little to develop my ability with them.

Thanks in part to the “The Hunger Games,” “Brave,” and even the recent “Avengers” movie, interest in archery has climbed. USA Archery, the governing body for the Olympic sport has shown staggering growth over the last few years. In the past year membership in local clubs has increased 54%.

With all that in mind, one of my sons recently sent me the link to this video. I encourage you to watch it. Frankly I had no idea such feats of ability could be achieved with a bow.

I think I should get my bow out and start practicing. 

A New Book Trailer

A new book trailer for the new book!

As part of the upcoming release of the second book in the Strengthen What Remains series, A Time to Endure, we have created a new book trailer. Earlier videos focused on the first book, Through Many Fires, but the new one covers both novels.

In just under 90 seconds you hear and see a brief introduction (without spoilers) to both books. I think you’ll enjoy it.

To see all the videos about my books, life in an Eskimo village or on the farm in Washington state, visit my YouTube channel

Standby

The digital age continues to change the creative arts.

Standby was created as a final project by college film student Trey Drysdale. It is a short, seven minute, film about a hardworking college student who, after a severe thunderstorm, loses his computer work when an unexpected power surge occurs. He later comes across a strange, portal-like phenomenon in his computer, but is oblivious to the capabilities that it entails.

The film is an excellent example of the new avenues opening for creative artists and fans. I am certain we will see more films like this as cameras, sound systems and special effects, become cheaper and the internet provides more avenues of distribution.

The Trip II

(Part Two)

After removing the freight from the plane loading our luggage was easy and quick.

Just before takeoff the pilot turned in his seat and gave the usual speech about seatbelts and, in case of a crash, where the emergency transponder was located, then he said, “If we get to Bethel and I start circling it’s because the visibility has gone down over the airport.”

At that moment visions of us flying around and around over Bethel, but ultimately returning to Eek darkened the already cloudy day for me. The pilot went on to say, “It has been doing that all day.” However, he seems confident we would land in Bethel.

 I had planned to take video as we bumped down Eek’s icy dirt runway and get a shot of the village as we lifted in the air, but instead I was scraping frost off the inside of the window. When the window was clear I did took the video of frozen tundra which you see here.

The Caravan that you see in the video is much bigger than the Cessna 207s that normally service the village. This is fast luxury flying from the for us.

The weather stayed clear and we were soon on the ground in Bethel. It was now about four in the afternoon of December 21st. As I walked from the plane toward Grant Aviation terminal in Bethel I considered my options. I had no hotel reservation. My travel itinerary had me arriving home, with Santa, late on Christmas Eve. I decided to head over to the Alaska Airline terminal and try and get on the evening flight to Anchorage. I knew that it was very unlikely that I would get a seat, but I saw no reason not to try.

The Alaska Airlines terminal in Bethel, consists mostly of a waiting room with three ticket counters, a TSA checkpoint, baggage carousel, and bathrooms around the edges. By modern airport standards its small and drab. The clerk behind the counter shook his head slowly. “Every seat is taken, but I can take your name down in case something opens up.”

I thanked him and sat down with my friends Dirk and Julia in the waiting area. Dirk had missed his flight on Friday, but had managed to get rebook earlier and get a seat on the night flight. Julia was even luckier; she had originally booked herself on the upcoming flight. I sat between them wondering just how long I would be in Bethel.

Three hours later, as I chatted with my friends, a voice came over the waiting area. “Kyle Pratt, please report to the ticket counter.”

I nearly ran.

Going up to the same clerk he said, “I’ve got you a seat on the flight tonight and as he typed my information in he added, “a seat has opened up on the red eye flight to Seattle. Do you want it?”

“Yes!”

For over an hour I relaxed in the glow of knowing I would be home by morning. Then I again heard the crackle of the PA system. “Attention in the terminal, the runway lights here in Bethel are broken, they won’t turn on, and consequently the 9:30 flight to Anchorage has been cancelled.”

(Part Three tomorrow)

The Trip

(Part One)

The trip from Eek was a like a trip across the river Styx.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. As I’ve mentioned before, there are no roads in the region of Alaska where I work. Travel in winter is by snowmobile, bush plane or dog team. I had chartered a plane for five teachers (including me), the principal, two children and a dog. We planned to fly out of the village on Friday, when school closed for the Christmas holiday, land at Bethel, the regional airport, and go our separate ways. Some would fly out Friday night to Anchorage; others would stay a day or two and then head on. I planned to stay the night and then catch the Saturday Afternoon flight to Anchorage.

However, the village was a strange site on Friday. In the past, Eek has always been a frozen blanket of snow and ice by December, but on Friday the temperature hovered around freezing. Bone chilling water stood on frozen lakes, streams and rivers. Rain mixed with snow and then froze with each dip in temperature. The dirt runway at the edge of the village was an ice rink and the planes couldn’t fly for fear of icing on the wings. We waited, but didn’t go anywhere that day. One teacher missed his flight out of Bethel that night.

My flight was scheduled for 1:30 Saturday afternoon. I awoke Saturday morning around seven. It was still completely dark when I stepped outside and looked around the village. There was no rain and I could see lights at the far end of the village. Those were good signs, but it was windy. At about ten in the morning we had the first hint of sun. It soon became clear that when the wind died down fog rolled in. When the wind picked up it gusted too hard to fly. We talked to several bush airline companies, including one that has a reputation for flying in marginal weather, but soon abandoned all hope of flying out any time soon. As the plane I should have been on boarded in Bethel, I reluctantly phoned Alaska Airlines to reschedule my trip home. The customer service agent was very nice, waived all fees and booked me out of Bethel and gave me the first open seat out of Anchorage—on Christmas Eve. With a sigh I took the new itinerary. At least now I had time for the weather to change.

And change it did, just minutes after the plane that I should have been on departed from Bethel the weather started to clear. Two hours later we got a call from Grant Aviation asking if we were still interested in getting to Bethel.

“Yes!”

Grant had a Cessna 208 turboprop, commonly called a Caravan, coming into Bethel from another village. They would refuel and deice and then fly to Eek for us. Nearly two hours later the phone rang. “The Caravan is fifteen minutes out from Eek,” the woman on the line announced.

We packed last minute items, climbed into the wagon or on the ATV and headed out to the airport. The plane arrived just minutes after we did, but it was full of freight for the village. Before we could board we had to haul the boxes off the plane. Still we were happy to do it, glad to be starting our Christmas break. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking the hardest part would soon be over.

(Part two tomorrow.)

The Pledge of Allegiance

As regular readers of this blog know, I teach in the Yup’ik Eskimo village of Eek, Alaska.

Every morning the students of our small school gather in the gym for announcements and to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. On Tuesday’s and Thursday’s this is done in English, but on the other days it is done in their native language of Yup’ik. I usually try to follow along reading a poster of the pledge written in Yup’ik. I can do okay until the end where the words get longer and harder to pronounce.

The one minute video embedded here shows the principal asking the students to stand and everyone saying the pledge in a way most people will never hear.

Titan Book Trailer

We made this book trailer to help promote my debut science fiction novel, Titan Encounter.

We didn’t spend a lot of money on the video, which is less than a minute long, but I think it is well done. I think you’ll enjoy it. 

Below video is the script for the book trailer.

Titan Encounter is the debut science fiction adventure novel by bestselling author Kyle Pratt.

“Justin Garrett starts one morning as a respected businessman and ends the day a fugitive wanted by every power in the known universe.

“Fleeing with his 'sister' Mara and Naomi, a mysterious woman from Earth Empire, their only hope of refuge is with the Titans, genetically enhanced soldiers who rebelled against the Earth, and murdered millions in the Titanomachy War.

“Hunted, even as they hunt for the Titans, the three companions slowly uncover the truth that will change the future and rewrite history. 

Titan Encounter is available in paperback and on Kindle.”

 

Unboxing and Signing

Through Many Fires has arrived on the Alaskan Tundra!

My wife received the promotional copies of Through Many Fires a few days ago and forwarded some of them to me in Eek, Alaska, for signing. The books arrived today on the mail plane and someone brought it over to the school. I don’t know who because I found the box sitting next to the school office door as school was closing. This is not unusual. As I was walking back to my classroom Ella, a student, asked me what was in the box. I said, “Come with me I need your help.”

Once we were in the classroom I asked her to use my iPod to film me opening the package. At that point it occurred to me the box might be one of the food care packages my wife often sends. If it was, Ella would certainly be confused why I wanted to make a video as I opened it. 

As you can see though, it was the first print copies of Through Many Fires. Thanks for helping out Ella, you did a good job.    

If I promised you an autographed copy of Through Many Fires and you have been wondering when it would arrive, the answer is soon.  I’ll be signing them tonight and mailing them tomorrow.

 

Spring Break

Friday was Spring Break here in Eek, Alaska!

Okay, actually we had Friday and the weekend off for a grand total of three days! 

We don’t celebrate many of the holidays, like Veteran’s or President’s Day, in the village schools so three days off is actually nice. 

While that just a short time off from the regular school routine, I still wanted to celebrate.  I asked one of my students, Tim Heakin, to help me create this two minute video showing some of our spring break activities.  Two minutes was all the time we needed to show our celebration. I hope you enjoy it.