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September 2014

On Through Mississippi

Last week, I posted about our trip to Louisiana.  Today I’m going to elaborate on it, as promised.

We started out in TN, driving south through Georgia.  We spent about 30 minutes in GA.  We then made our way across both Alabama and Mississippi before hitting our final destination.

Here’s what we saw in Mississippi (I don’t really have any pictures for Alabama):

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Here was the welcome center for Mississippi.

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The Mississippi River.

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There were many schooling opportunities on this trip.  This was one.  We just happened to be studying American rivers in geography.  Too cool!  Marcus really enjoyed that part, and the many more educational moments in other states.

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And of course, Misty had to see the sights.

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I don’t remember what war this was used for, but Arlis said it was in full working order.  Anyone have an extra bowling ball?  heehee.

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We were running out of time, so I didn’t get a closer look to see whether this was a ridiculous building, or what used to be an old boat.  I’m gambling it’s a casino with a gimmick.

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Well, that’s it for MS!  The next post is about the actual stay in Louisiana.  And don’t miss my final post on our side trip to Texas!

Our Trip to Louisiana and Therefore Texas

We recently sold two heifers, Faith and Bluebell, to a man near DeQuincy, LA.

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Long story short, here is a quick review of our trip.  I’ll post individual blogs on destinations as there is just too much for one post.  See here for the post on Mississippi.

Arlis’s sister Lorene, and her brother Joel, did the driving in their truck.  I sat in the backseat with my family and surprisingly didn’t get car sick.  (Thank God for that!)  While their dog, Misty, rode in the back of the truck.  We rose at 4:30, and were able to leave at 5:30AM.

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We went through the tip of Georgia and into Alabama.

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We then crossed Mississippi.  (The sun was in my eyes.)

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And although we never visited New Orleans…

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We did cross through Baton Rouge.  Following Baton Rouge, Joel says, “My amp meter’s going down.”  Uh-oh!  We stopped at Lafayette, bought a meter, and discovered that the alternator was going out.  Both Advance Auto and Auto Zone could not tell us this information.  We found this odd as anybody here could.  We started to worry about the girls (cows) because of their time on the road.  Thankfully, the weather was cool enough to not make us worry too much.

The second parts store did offer to call us mechanic, and did.  While waiting, a drunk man offered us a screwdriver.  We thanked him and checked on the cows again.  It got dark.  We took turns holding the flashlight while also taking turns removing the bad alternator.  By the time we were able to start putting the new one on, a very small man, half Indian (as in Patel), half African American, showed up.  Our mechanic.  So, a few hours later, the alternator had been replaced, along with the never identified piece of something that got knocked off during the removal of the bad alternator.  We were finally back on our way.

By now it was a very black night, but I did snag this picture the next morning.  We drove along the coast, passing refineries and over an enormous amount of swampland.  The sign below is actually attached to pipes running through a refinery area, and at the exit we used to get to our destination.  Other areas didn’t decorate quite as nicely Winking smile.

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We dropped off the girls, who were happy to be on solid ground again, and made our way back to a hotel in Lake Charles.

Well, that’s where I’ll stop for now.  I’ll post the rest in future posts including our stay in LA and our trip to Texas.  See you then!

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Why blondes shouldn’t work on laptops

I had a severe blonde moment today.  In preparation to go back to school this fall, which isn’t happening due to my father moving in, I bought a laptop.  It was a used and refurbished HP dv6 Pavilion.  It wasn’t amazing, but it served my purpose as it had Office including Access which I needed for one of my classes.

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This was the first laptop I had ever bought.  I have always had desktops, and had always worked on them myself.  I assumed laptops were impossible to work on, and that if anything went wrong with it, I would have to get a new one.  When the fan was on more than I thought healthy, I looked into other ideas about laptops.

I found a video on my laptop in particular that showed how to take it apart, etc.  I then spent an entire hot afternoon taking it apart, twice, to blow out the fan.  After I put it back together the first time, the touchpad didn’t work, so I had to take it apart again in order to plug in the cable that I had forgotten to plug in the first time, and feel really stupid.  Sometime after that, the blue light around the touchpad quit working, even though the pad itself works perfectly fine.  Also, the keyboard and top cover never do stay “clicked” into place and stick up a bit, but it works, so I really don’t care.

Now, back to the point.  Earlier this afternoon, my laptop needed a win7 update.  I went ahead and let it do it’s thing.  Immediately afterwards, the sound quit.  Kaput, no more.  I rebooted.  The sound worked.  I started writing.  I don’t remember my last count on my most recent project, but I think it’s around 17-18 thousand.  I know that doesn’t sound like much, but with my schedule and responsibilities, I’m really proud of myself, especially since I started this story just a few weeks ago.

Immediately after I stopped writing and went to check on my little villagers (I was running Virtual Villagers in the background, and excellent way to take a few minutes break periodically), the computer just quit.  No warning, nothing, just dead!

I freaked out thinking it got hot or something.  I waited a few, tried to turn it back on.  It got to the win load screen and died again.  I waited over and hour to turn it on again.  It got to the “Do you want Safe Mode” screen, died, and then wouldn’t turn back on again no matter what I did.

At this point I got completely depressed thinking, “Why does everything I own and do have to die?”  I called a repair guy who said it could be the RAM.  That’s better than the CPU.  He said to take the chips out and see if it did a beep thing.  It didn’t.  I was doomed.  My laptop was dead, and I was going to have to find a way to get my story off the drive because I couldn’t possibly afford the alternatives.  I tried one last option.  I reached down and grabbed the power cord in case it needed to be plugged in to check the RAM (you’d be surprised).

Wait.  This feels weird.  The cord had come apart.  My cord is in two pieces.

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The stupid cord had come apart!  I put it back together, put the RAM back in, put the cover and battery back on/in and prayed.  Lights!  There were blinking lights!!!  It turned on!!  Praise be to God!!  Oh my sweet, sweet laptop, how I missed you these several….hours…ahem…sorry.

Now, in my defense, the durn thing never told me it was low, and I’m still not used to having to check.  I did discover that the reserve battery level was at 7% while the critical level was at 9%.  From what the internet tells me, this means that it will shut off (critical level) before warning me that I need to shut it off (reserve level).  I raised the reserve level to 13% because that’s when it normally likes to think it’s dead anyway.  Perhaps that will solve my problem.

Then I got to write a nice e-mail to the nice man, Ben, who helped me over the phone and explain to him how stupid I felt and what the problem was.  I did end it with, “Oh, and yes, I’m blonde.”

How Freewriting Can Help You

As I sat today and thought of this post, I couldn’t come up with a good title or subject.  There were tons of options, but not one I really wanted to focus on.  So, I did what often I do when I can’t write, freewrite.

What is freewriting?  Freewriting is allowing yourself to write without expectation.  No one is reading it, potentially not even you.  There are no rules, word counts, or subjects.  Pure freedom of the fingers to pound out your brain.

Why freewrite?

Freewriting helps a writer get started writing when they’re having trouble.  It can also be used as an exercise for various writing muscles.  For me, it is not an exercise, it’s a release valve.  By writing whatever I want, I rid my mind of all the hindrances it can’t stop circulating inside of itself.  I make lists of things that need doing, rant about my internal frustrations, or even write about my inability to get started writing (much like today).  Once I have started writing, writing what I need to is much easier, and often desired.

So how do you do it?  Well, every writer is a bit different.  For some, they use writing boards with subjects and ideas to spring from.  Others set a time limit or a word count.  And some have their own rules and regulations unique to themselves such as summarizing past writing, journaling, blogging, even writing as though they were one of their characters.  Fortunately, I don’t need any of that.

I started this post with an even longer random amount of words about who knows what.  I deleted everything past the first paragraph, and I had my post!  The hardest part of just about anything is getting started.  What if, before you cleaned your house, you had this amazing way to get started with no rules or expectations?  Well, my house might actually get cleaned up every now and then!  It’s a wonderful way to do just that.  It releases tensions and anxieties.  It warms you up for the journey.  It’ll probably even make that homework assignment less apprehending Smile!

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