Reddit Writing Prompts – Quick Short Stories

So, recently on Reddit, I responded to some quick prompts and created some short stories. Here they are for your enjoyment/amusement.

[WP] The US in the year 2050. Every citizen (except the rich) must serve a mandatory month in prison, in order to recompense for crimes they must’ve committed but that Police failed to discover.

My mom had told me about the Gate when I was a child. The Gate is a ten story tall building, almost a city block wide and mounted on multiple huge tank treads. Constantly protected and watched by dozens of armed guards, it moves outwards at the end of each month. And as it moves, it is connected to an ever widening wall.

She never explained to me why the wall exists, or why, each month, the Gate moves outwards from the center of the city, expanding Det, where I was born, by a few city blocks, but today, it is scheduled to move again, and I am going to escape.

I had heard from various others that the world outside Det was beautiful, filled with trees, machines that give out food, and streets not covered in garbage. I had also heard that it was safe. Unlike Det, it was a place where parents weren’t killed for a few batteries and a small package of beef jerky.

I figured that I could slip between the cracks before the new wall was locked in place. I had been planning for months, timing the guards and their reactions. A few others had tried to escape, but all of them were caught, shot on sight. I had the advantage of being younger than anyone else that I had seen so far, and I hoped the guards wouldn’t notice a child.

The entire city trembled as the Gate cycled up its engines. Slowly, I moved into position and tried to stay out of their sight-lines. The guards stood ready, but as the Gate moved, the only thing that could be heard was the squeaking of the metal treads as they moved.

Dust kicked up as the machines started to move the wall into place, and I sprinted towards the small slit that I knew existed. It was going to be gone in a moment, but I knew that if I didn’t slow down, I could make it through.

My arm slammed against the Gate, tearing my already patchwork shirt to pieces, and slicing into my skin. Covering the wound, I stumbled forward, passing through the last of the dust cloud, I looked out into the world beyond the wall.

A long street, filled on either side with buildings, much like those in Det, stretched along down a hill. At the bottom of the hill was something I instantly recognized. I had seen it all my life. It was another Gate, attached to another wall, spanning outwards as far as I could see. It surrounded another city that looked very similar to my own.

[WP] The year is 2075. Google is an integral part of every facet of life. One morning, nothing turns on.

I knew there was something wrong before I even moved. The normal hum, resonating through my apartment was absent. My mind still foggy, I tried to recall when I last experienced a power outage. Out of habit, I tried to queue up the information, but nothing came back. The Google Overlay wasn’t active.

Sitting up in my bed, I looked around. Light was leaking around the blackout blinds, coverings that were supposed to automatically open an hour before I was to get ready for work. “Google. Open the blinds.” I knew nothing was going to happen, and the deafening silence confirmed it. Rising to manually open the blinds myself, I saw that the streets below were still.

A loud banging echoed through my apartment. It caught me off guard, but as I walked out of my bedroom, I realized it was coming from my front door. “Yes?” I shouted, my voice rough, not lubricated yet by my morning coffee.

A female voice, muffled by the near soundproof door, responded, “I don’t know what to do. Nothing is working!”

I could hear how scared she was, but I didn’t share her concern. Looking around my apartment, there weren’t any advertisements, no extra information, and best of all, no noise. “I am sure it will be resolved soon. Just go back to your apartment and wait it out.” It was though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. A feeling of euphoria started growing as I realized that I was free.

“Do you know what’s going on?” The female voice whispered loudly through the door.

Her question startled me, but the desperation in her voice required an answer, though I really didn’t care why nothing was working. “No, I don’t have any more information than you.”

“Okay,” she squeaked, her voice trailing off as she likely walked back to her apartment.

Taking a seat in my recliner, I tried to fight the worry that any second, it would all come pouring back. The endless notifications related to new e-mails and text messages, a timer in the corner of my vision as each piece of my schedule ticked by, and the constant watchful eye from Google as I took each step in my life. I felt like I could finally think for myself. But what does being free from technology really mean? I wished I could search Google to find out.

Kickstarting Second Class Supers – Day One

This blog post is being written as things happen.

There is definitely a high as we push the button to go live. I’m nervous that no one is going to help back our project.

Getting to this point has been crazy. I’ve spent numerous hours building out the project page, having people review it and making tweaks to it. I contemplated having a video versus not having one, and was still going back and forth on it as we launched the project.

I took ample advantage of the great cover design that Leo Black made for us, building it into various graphics all over our project.

Annie and I got on Facebook and promoted the launch of the Kickstarter campaign. I also went to Reddit, Google+ and even LinkedIN to try to garner some support. As the first few pledges came in, I started to feel super excited. The nerves started to disappear and the full wave of excitement was all that I could feel. Continue reading

Predicting the Tesla Model 3

Tesla has confirmed that their “low cost” sedan will be named the Model 3. So we will have the Model S, Model X and the Model III (3). Many people are already making comments about the letters and numbers chosen, though it would have been more explicit if it had been called the Model E (for economic of course).

Based on what I’ve seen with other electric cars, and what Tesla has done before, I am going to make some fun predictions about what the Model III will be like.

  • Probably around $40,000 CAN Base
  • 300KM Range
  • Maybe a more hatchback design like the Nissan Leaf?
  • Smaller trunk and frunk than the S
  • Seats five
  • 17” Touchscreen (Same as the Model S)
  • No sunroof on base models
  • 18” Wheels standard
  • 0-60 in 6.5 seconds
  • Lifetime access to Supercharging Stations ($3000 option)

Of course, I would love if Tesla was able to get a longer range than 300KM, but the biggest issue stopping them from dropping the price on their cars is the battery technology cost. Even with Tesla building a new factory to build batteries efficiently and cheaply, I think the battery cost will still be a stumbling block. They’ll likely put a 40kWh or 60kWH battery in it, and through weight optimizations, and feature reductions, they’ll be able to get the 300KM range from the vehicle.

I would love to see them include Supercharging for free in all of their vehicles, but even the base model Tesla S has this service as an option rather than just included in the price. I think the interior of the Model III will be very similar, though even less refined than the Model S. One of the big changes I think we will see in the Model S after the Model 3 is out is a revamp of the Model S interior to be more comparable to the luxury sedan models that they are competing against.

The 2015 Nissan Leaf is priced at $32,000 base price, so while I don’t think Tesla will be able to beat that price, I think they’ll come close. Elon Musk has been saying that he’d like to be in the $30-$35K range, but I don’t see that happening at the start.

I really feel like the Model III should be designed with battery swapping being how “refilling” the car happens, instead of trying to push more current faster into the batteries. I know that Tesla has talked about battery swapping programs on the highways at their supercharger stations, but I’m not sure if they’ve ever gone forward with this idea. Would people be willing to pay seventy-five percent of what a gasoline car pays to swap their near empty battery for a full one? I don’t know. There are so many logistical issues with battery swapping, but the concept still seems ideal, especially because we are getting closer to the end of the base range anxiety argument, and more focused on the recharge time for electric vehicles.

My hope is that Annie and I will be in a space to pick up this vehicle if it becomes a reality. With a reasonably short daily commute, and most longer visiting trips within the range of the car, it seems like it could be a great option for us. The lack of constant repairs and maintenance due to the simplification of the electric car platform, and the escape of our dependence on gasoline both have me very excited.

I can’t wait to see what happens next in this space. I feel like the future of cars is just around the corner, and I’d still put my money on Tesla getting there first.

I Don’t Know Much About Bikes

I would really like to get set-up with a bike to use during the summer to get around, but I realized that I don’t know much about bikes. I’ve purchased mountain bikes before at Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire, only to be displeased with them after a short period of time thanks to weak components, noisy parts, or a less than fun ride feeling.

I’ve been wanting a bike for some time now, and money has been the big thing holding me back. Pricing for bikes, that I’ve been looking at, range from a fifty dollar used bike to a fifteen hundred dollar new bike with some sort of bells and whistles (no actual bells seem to be included on most bikes though).

I don’t understand what I should be looking for.

This is the first time that I finally understand that there are both different tire sizes and different frame sizes. The frame has to fit me, and at six feet, two inches, I need a rather large one. The tires are different sizes based on need or use, so I don’t need the biggest tires, but it also probably wouldn’t benefit me to roll around on twenty inch tires. Most of this knowledge has come from watching eBike videos on YouTube the past several months.

I know I need a comfortable seat, but that’s like picking a car because of its colour alone. I can swap the seat to be whatever I want without too much difficulty, and have done so before in a previous purchase. There are so many specifications to look at when purchasing a bike, and I don’t even know what type I need. If I’m not riding on trails or mountains, then would I want some kind of city bike? I know I don’t like the thin tires on some of the bikes out there, so maybe some kind of hybrid? I would like a comfortable riding position, so would I look at a comfort cruiser? I guess…

I’ve also been offered some bikes from family, which is awesome, but I don’t want to accept ownership over them unless they are decent enough for me to use. I’ve read about people getting bikes and then replacing parts on it to make it more useful and effective, but I’m not sure if that’s something beyond my skill and expertise. I might be interested in building my own bike, and figuring things out as I go, but could I maintain interest in a project like that through to completion? Would I buy tools specifically for swapping parts on a bike? I don’t know…

I know that I like biking, and that I used to do it all the time as a teen. I had a bike back when I lived in Walkerton, and enjoyed it. I know that I don’t have the budget to go crazy and spend thousands of dollars on a custom fit, perfect bike with top of the line components. I also don’t know where it is most important to spend the most amount of money on a bike.

At the end of this whole process, I’m left confused and frustrated. I fall back on either considering something mid-priced from Canadian Tire and hoping for the best or taking in one of the bikes that others in the family don’t want and hopefully being able to use and enjoy it.

What Happened to Blog Ranking

With Google’s PageRank not a hugely touted way of valuing blogs, and now Technorati killing off its ranking system, how are we going to compare and contrast two blogs in an easy to understand way? Are twitter and Facebook followers and fans the new metric by which we evaluate popularity? Do you have to be an SEO guru with access to applications that can dig around and compare keyword rankings for terms? Does anyone publicly show their traffic stats anymore?

I really used to enjoy looking at the rankings of different sites. I remember at one point, when I was building Extra for Every Publisher, I was on a top list for “Make Money Online” blogs and worked really hard to climb that list. The competition factor was a super useful motivator.

There was also bragging rights in being highly ranked on Technorati. I remember a few years back, all kinds of sites were showing off how they ranked in the various blog index sections that Technorati had.

It just seems very strange to me that we don’t have more ways to easily monitor and track the growth or decline of a blogs popularity. But that’s probably just me.

Married for Two Months Today

While it isn’t a huge milestone by any stretch, I’m happy to say that the last two months flew by and Annie and I are settling into married life. The support that I’ve received from her in our relationship has been amazing, and she continues to provide me with amazing opportunities for happiness and comfort.

There are so many things happening in our lives right now that it feels like everything has been put on the back burner until we find our new daily system. While we are gone on our honeymoon, more renovations where we are living will happen, and when we get back, we will likely have a dishwasher and a full laundry set-up. I’m super excited about that, and I know Annie is too.

My mother-in-law has been staying with us this week, and it sometimes feels like she is just visiting a cottage as she awaits to return to Annie’s siblings place. I’m hopeful that when we get back from our honeymoon, that she will feel more like this is her home.

In the last two months, Annie and I have been really just focusing on work and socializing with her family. Many of us have been playing Lord of the Rings Online and enjoying working together on quests.

As summer approaches, another change will happen as Annie stays home during the day, or visits with friends and family. We should hopefully find more time for the projects and hobbies that we’ve put on the back burner since the winter as we moved, got married, I started a new job, and my mother-in-law went in the hospital, and then sold her house. It has been a crazy first half of 2014.

I am so happy that I met Annie, and that we were able to find common ground that led to us having the relationship we have today. Here’s to at least another 500 months!

Stories Waiting to Get Out

As you all know, Annie and I have our first draft of Second Class Supers done, but we’ve had issues getting back on track to do our second draft. I am hoping that during our honeymoon, we will take some time to get moving on the project again, especially since some other story ideas are starting to pour out of me, and I’d prefer to collaborate versus writing them independently.

The first idea was that Annie and I would do a fantasy story to combat the more sci-fi natured, Second Class Supers. I’ve written out a little bit relating to the plot, and have much more in my head just bouncing around and wanting to get out. It would be a take on the whole Atlantis thing. Annie and I watched BBC’s Atlantis and were less than impressed. We figure we could do a much more fun implementation of that mythos. I’ve entitled the project, The Atlantis Countdown, but I think its more of a working title than what it would be called at the end. I am not sure if it would be a short story, novella or novel. With the difficulties we’ve had in going back to edit our works, I don’t know if we are going to tackle another novel any time soon.

Another idea that I’ve had is for a more hard sci-fi short story about the first human spaceship to travel the same distance as light travels in a year. The working title for this story is Goodbye Sol. I’ve written a lot more relating to the rules of the world, the characters, and whatnot. I’ve also started to quickly summarize the overall plot points. The idea is much more developed than The Atlantis Countdown, but I still don’t want to take on the writing of it on my own, as I’ve realized I enjoy working collaboratively with my wife.

So we need to get Second Class Supers done soon. I’m still toying around with the idea of contacting some agents to see if it would be worth working on getting it published traditionally, but I go back and forth on that all the time.

By the end of this year, I would really like the final draft of Second Class Supers to be done and ready to publish either through self-publishing systems or working towards traditional publishing. So many ideas for stories rattling around in my head. It is all about execution though…

Preparing for a Honeymoon

So Annie and I delayed our honeymoon until her school is done, so we are eagerly awaiting our trip. We’ve decided to head to Florida for two weeks. Universal is expanding its Harry Potter related attractions, and Annie is excited to show me the stuff she has seen before and visit the new areas and rides.

We will be staying at a timeshare that Annie’s mom owns, and while we long thought we were going to drive down, it looks instead as though we will be flying. I recently purchased the tickets, and while I travel to Florida will be leaving really early, it’ll still be much nicer than forty hours of driving.

Our hope is to spend a good amount of time at Universal Studios, and maybe do a few other excursions, but mostly just relax. I’m planning on us bringing the MacBook Pro and the iPad so that we can work a bit on Second Class Supers, and blog. I am also going to bring my digital SLR to take some pictures.

It also looks like we will have a house sitter while we are gone which provides some peace of mind and the owner of the house and a few of my family will be working on some more household renovations while we are gone.

I am looking forward to the trip, though I’m worried about the heat. I’m not a huge fan of heat, but I know that the place we are staying has A/C. It’ll be nice to spend time with Annie and not have any of our normal distractions. Hopefully, everything goes well.