How I won big time by losing the sure family bet #CBF17

I went to lunch with my grandpa. No, it wasn’t his birthday. Nor was it a holiday. I went because I could. Something I wouldn’t have been able to do a year ago and something I’d bet I would never be able to do without days or weeks of planning.

I mean that quite literally. But before I get into the bet, I should explain. My grandpa, now in his nineties, has lived his entire adult life in Flint, Michigan, and though he occasionally suggested he might be willing to leave the great white north, he would change his mind in dramatic fashion the minute my mom ever made the mistake of taking him seriously.

Then one day quite out of the blue, my grandpa announced he was ready. Not ready to move down south, oh no, no, no, but at least ready to move to a place down the road where we didn’t have to worry quite so much about his roof collapsing under the weight of snow or someone breaking into his shed. My mom and her siblings did not waste any time, appearing as if by magic, to help move his essentials and clean out the family home before any second thoughts got the better of him.

His new living arrangements weren’t perfect, but it gave us a sliver more peace of mind. Still, the family home remained off the market, though it remained unoccupied.

We worried it would remain that way for some time. We also worried that it wouldn’t, at least, not legally anyway.

You see, in addition to being ranked among America’s most dangerous cities, Flint, Michigan’s water crisis, which began in 2014, though it took another year to be recognized for what it is, has still not been resolved. At least not fully. While the water in 57% of homes tested in December of 2016 contained no evidence of lead, it took until March 2017, for a judge to approve a deal to improve the water lines for an additional 18,000 homes – improvements which do not have to be complete until the year 2020. (source AP: A Timeline of the Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan, US News.)

The lead in the water was only a piece of it. 91 residents of Flint and Genesee County, which includes Flint, contracted Legionnaires’ Disease. 12 died. Children born after the crisis began had an average birth weight 5% less than those born before with a higher than average risk of developing irreversible neurological conditions, and fetal deaths spiked by 58% (source Flint Had a Lead Crisis in Its Water. Now It Has a Fertility Crisis, Mother Jones).

Is it any wonder then that Flint might not have the nation’s hottest housing market?

You might then be asking why my grandpa was so unwilling to move. We openly wondered about that on more than one occasion too. I can only assume I get some of my stubborn refusal to accepts facts as presented grit from him.

Back to the bet. As the summer neared its end, my mom eagerly told us that grandpa had changed his mind yet once more. This time it was different. He would brave the change. He was ready to pick family over the familiar. She asked me if I would mind sparing my hubby for a few days to help with the heavy lifting.

Of course, I didn’t believe it for a second. I bet her she was wrong. I told her if and only if he still wanted to go through with it when the time came, I’d be happy to solo parent for a couple of days. It was an easy gamble.

A week passed. The story from my grandpa didn’t change. My mom, stepdad, and my husband booked a truck. I bet them he’d send them back the first day. They spent the day packing, finishing up a day earlier than expected. I bet them they would make it as far as Ohio before grandpa asked to turn the truck around. The truck stopped in North Carolina at a nice retirement complex ten minutes from my home.

I bet them they would make it as far as Ohio before grandpa asked to turn the truck around. The truck stopped in North Carolina at a nice retirement complex ten minutes from my home.

So instead of being right, I sat to Grandpa’s left as we enjoyed a lightly seasoned piece of baked fish. We met Irwin, another 93-year-old transplant from the north with a sharp wit and love of terrible puns rivaling my own. We met Paula a self-professed trouble-maker with an eye for cleanliness and efficiency in the German tradition who came to the US from Bavaria with the intention of staying two years only to stay sixty-five. We met soft-spoken John who was just as welcoming. I heard my grandfather laugh and for dessert, they served apple pie.

Losing a bet was never more delicious and I am happy to report, my grandpa’s house sold.

With an upside like this, it’s enough to make you wonder why, for so many of us, it takes so long to brave the risk of a little change.


The hashtag, #CBF17 in this post’s title, is in reference to the Cherished Blogfest, an annual event in which bloggers share something they cherish. Special thanks to Ally Bean over at the Spectacled Bean for sharing the details about this event as well as her own cherish story.

Advertisements

The Watch and Wand – Cover Reveal

Once upon a time a mother and daughter went out for a walk. They chatted along the way, mostly about the daughter’s progress on her latest book project which was underway, but was far from done. The mother innocently asked a question about one of the supporting characters.

A year later, the words End of Book Two, were typed on an entirely different book than the one originally planned, but a book that was so much better than that first draft.

For that, all I can say is thanks, mom.

Fifteen years have passed. The future no longer seems as bright. Between a war declared on all but the most basic technology, worldwide economic collapse, and a plague-spurred global panic, governments have collapsed leaving law and order to be defined by those left behind. Stephen knows he should be grateful, but can’t help wishing his life was more than survival.

That was until he met a girl on the run from a group known as the Watch.

Now, caught between rival factions with their own hidden agendas, Stephen has no choice but to go on a mission to reclaim a piece of missing technology.

He is told the device is the key to a better future, but in the new order, one person’s salvation can be another’s total destruction.

Available December 2017. The Watch & Wand (Project Gene Assist Book Two)

I have a few spots remaining for those interested in receiving an advance copy for reviews. Those interested should contact me at allie AT alliepottswrites.com.

Want to catch up before the big release?

The Fair & Foul: Project Gene Assist Book One can be found at here

“Allie Potts does a marvelous job of creating a group of characters that even above their arrogant brilliance are still only human. Even when all seems lost, and things are piling up against our heroine, Allie consistently throws in a few surprises with things both fair and foul. This book keeps you on the edge of your seat. Well done, Ms. Potts!”

5 stars! – Stephen Fisher for Readers’ Favorite

When life is stranger than fiction

When life is stranger than fiction www.alliepottswrites.comIt is a well-known truth among my friends and family that I am not a good driver.  It’s not for lack of awareness or trying. It’s just not a talent of mine. Recognizing people in a crowd when they are outside of context, such as not realizing the woman in front of me in the check-out line at the grocery store is my son’s teacher until minutes of awkward one-sided conversation, isn’t one either. What can I say? We all have our faults. Now, I’m not the worst on the road, by any stretch of the imagination, but let’s just say I don’t have a career ahead of me teaching driver’s education.

For this reason, I used to think that self-driving cars couldn’t get here fast enough.

I’m not so sure now.

image courtesy of xkcd.com

The magazine, Wired, put out a story about a former employee of both Google and Uber who was at one point was involved with the efforts of both companies to put these driverless vehicles on the roadways. This same engineer may or may not have passed along trade secrets, but the part of the story that really caught my eye was not the corporate intrigue, but the fact that he has founded a religious organization with the stated goal to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence.”

Then there was this quote by one of his former colleagues –

“He had this very weird motivation about robots taking over the world—like actually taking over, in a military sense,” said the same engineer. “It was like [he wanted] to be able to control the world, and robots were the way to do that. He talked about starting a new country on an island. Pretty wild and creepy stuff. And the biggest thing is that he’s always got a secret plan, and you’re not going to know about it.”

Those of you who aren’t troubled enough by the potential threat of the roboapocolypse can read the full article, entitled “God is a bot, and Anthony Levandowski is his messenger,” by Mark Harris here.

The author of the article asks “can we ever trust self-driving cars if it turns out we can’t trust the people who are making them?” It’s a fair question and one that I might dwell on longer than is probably healthy.

Thankfully, we might soon have other options. Elon Musk, formerly of the company that became Paypal and of Tesla, SpaceX, OpenAI, and more recently Neuralink (a company which intends to produce implantable brain to computer interfaces, which is fascinating/troubling in its own right), has come up with a way to travel anywhere in the world in under an hour. All you have to do is board a rocket with the code name BFR as in “Big F—ing Rocket”.  I know – it’s so simple, I can’t believe no one else has already thought of it. You can read more here, or simply watch the video below.

I watched the video with Kiddo and while I was bothered by details such as the sheer amount of energy that would be required to make this a viable option for the general public, both in fuel costs as well as heat released into the atmosphere, he took the entire idea in stride. Considering his is the generation that will most likely see a man or woman not only step on Mars but establish a base on it as well, I suppose his lack of reaction is somewhat understandable.

This same generation, like the millennials that came before, will have grown up in the age of instant gratification. Even an hour of travel is too long. There has got to be a better way! Guess what – the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to three scientists who have detected gravitational waves in space caused by the collision of two black holes, thereby proving Einstein’s theory of gravitational relativity, which means that it is actually possible to bend spacetime.

Does this mean I could one day be in two places at once? (The answer is yes if you are an electron as proved by previous Nobel Prize winners)

But even with all these advancements in travel, at the end of the day, I am a homebody. Most weekends I don’t leave my neighborhood (which is a good thing for all considering my aforementioned lack of driving skill). I don’t need to. It is one of those planned neighborhoods with its own parks and a cozy small town center styled commercial hub as well as thick wooded walking/biking trails that make you forget you are in the middle of a city situated hours away from the mountains.

If you encounter a mountain lion

Something tells me this might not be solid advice… (image courtesy of flickr.com)

It turns out, I am not the only one who forgot that key bit of information. I received an alert on my phone from a diligent neighbor which read, “Not to be an alarmist, but I just spotted a 40-pound cat-like creature at the corner. Animal control has been called.”

It turns out that creature may have been a bobcat, but it also could have been a mountain lion based on the witness’ description, which would be no small thing considering cougars have thought to have severely reduced populations, if not be extinct, on my side of the country since 1938.

This caught both my sons’ attention in a way that no rocket, wormhole, or crazed genius intent on ushering in the age of the machines could and I spent the rest of the evening assuring them that a large cat would most likely not attempt to scale our house or enter their bedroom windows. Who needs to worry about what unbelievable news the future may bring when the local reports of the day’s events can be so much stranger than fiction?

Hurricane story – Flash Fiction Challenge #Flash4Storms

Sarah Brentyn aka Lemon Shark has issued a flash fiction challenge in support of hurricane relief.

Tell a story in 50 words or less –

This storm is not our ending. We may be cut off for a time, but this time is only temporary. We will adapt and rise stronger. We will make this world our own. This is our new beginning. We are the Lemurs of Madagascar. Let others see and awwwww.

Source: Lemon Shark | Navigating the Uncharted Waters of Life

The curse of the LEGO tape and the joy of crowdfunding

The curse of the #LEGO tape and the joy of #crowdfunding - www.alliepottswrites.comDeep in a dark and ancient pyramid, a forbidden chest was opened, and an evil the likes of which had never seen was loosed upon an unsuspecting world (well maybe not an ancient pyramid per se, more like a standard rectangular room, but the lighting back there is poor and the box isn’t allowed to be opened unless a parent is in the room. Okay, so the box’s contents probably aren’t evil, but you can’t say they are entirely good either, so I’m going with it).

It was a plot that would turn dreams into nightmares…It was the curse of the LEGO tape.

It all started innocently enough. It was Spring. Perhaps it was the pollen in the air. Perhaps it was the rising humidity. We may never know the reason. But on this day, the computer was on.

“Kiddo, look what I found.” This as become a rather ominous phrase in my house.

“What is it, dad?”

It’s something called LEGO tape.”

“Coooooooooooool. Can we get it?” Considering I’m pretty sure my son is on a singular quest to collect every single LEGO set ever manufactured, I can only imagine what was going through his head as he watched the video play. You mean I can cover my floors AND my walls in LEGOs? Sign me up!

“Well, you see it’s not yet in stores. They aren’t actually making any yet.”

If our son were a robot, I’m sure he would have said, does not compute. “But the video shows it. Right there.”

“That’s just a prototype. This is a crowdfunding site. They are asking money to make more and the people who give them money now will be the first to get the tape when it goes into production.” My husband launched a business several years ago and has a soft spot for others taking the plunge. Therefore, I can excuse the enthusiasm he projects when discussing entrepreneurialism with our children, but it can be contagious.

“Can we give them money?”

“Sure. Why not?” Why not? Is there another question in the English language that deserves more to go unasked?

May

“Have they shipped my LEGO tape?”

“Not yet. I don’t think it was supposed to be ready until this summer.”

June

“Have they shipped my LEGO tape?”

“Not yet. Be patient.”

July

“Have they shipped my LEGO tape?”

“Not yet. They probably ran into a production delay. That happens sometimes.”

August

“Have they shipped my LEGO tape?”

“Not yet.” At this point you might be realizing my summer devolved into an extended version of the whole, ‘Are we there yet?’ question, which is the second most deserving question to go unasked.

You’d be right.

Still August

affiliate link – go ahead and click it if you are interested. Yes, it is this simple to find in stores.

“We just need to pop into the toy store to pick up a present for your friend’s party this weekend.”

“Okay, mom.”

“Oh, my gosh. Is that what I think that is?”

“It’s LEGO tape. But I thought I was supposed to get it before the stores.”

“Er, I thought so too. Maybe it’s another brand or something.” To be fair, there are now a number of variants in the marketplace. Who knew LEGO tape would have such fierce competition? Maybe had we known, we might not have been so quick to back the product, but those are the risks you take in crowdfunding. It’s also a good reminder to always do your due diligence on any investment.

Yep, still August

“I’m never going to get my LEGO tape.”

“I know you’re disappointed, but things like this happen sometimes. It’s in the stores now. We can get it for your birthday if we have to.”

September

“Hey Kiddo, you got an email from the company. They’ve apologized for the delay. Your LEGO tape is coming. There’s even a tracking number.”

“It’s going to get lost in the mail. I just know it.” Kiddo has a legitimate reason to worry. Our local post office is notorious for missed shipments and delayed deliveries. His disappointment would only be made worse after the build-up of the summer-long waiting game.

The next day

 

The day after that

 

I have to say I grew somewhat troubled by the fact that Kiddo had stopped asking whether the LEGO tape had shipped. Would his very first experience with crowdfunding go on to be his last? He’d been so eager to be a part of something bigger than himself, especially if it resulted in more LEGOs.

After seeing how high his hopes had flown, I hated to see them plummet like this, but this was one of those times that I couldn’t kiss a boo-boo and make it better. He’d taken a risk. It hadn’t worked out. Not everything he tries in life will be a success. He might as well learn to accept that now so he can focus on the positive side. As much as I wish it didn’t hurt so much at the moment, it is our failures that make us appreciate our later successes all the more.

We moved on. We started planning his birthday list.

I received a text from my husband one evening. “LEGO tape came in. He’s a little excited.”

The kids met me at the door and brought me to their rooms, eager to show off what they’d done already. You might have mistaken a day in late September as Christmas morning. If my husband entrepreneurial enthusiasm is infections, it has nothing on the joy that is knowing a child’s wish has come true.

The curse of the LEGO tape - www.alliepottswrites.com

What to get when you don’t want your feet to be the only body part injured during nighttime check-ins