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I got my COVID vaccine this afternoon. It was the Johnson & Johnson one, so it was the sole one!

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17 min read
2006 Blog Web

If human history has anything to teach us, it’s that we have to be careful to give a certain year the moniker of “the worst year in human history.” After such a year occurs, some time later (like a few years after the first one) another much, much worse one happens that gets the label, and then time passes and another one gets the label, etc. etc.

While there are many advances in science, society, and politics now compared to past years (such as the early 20th century or the Industrial Revolution or even the Paleolithic era), many recent years have caused people to label such years in the manner of Comic Book Guy, most notably 2016, because of all the beloved celebrity deaths and America’s apparent downward spiral into fascism/far-right authoritarianism. Then, 2020 rolled along with the pandemic, economic downturn, police brutality, race riots, Great Awokening, killer hornets, etc. And 2021 seems only slightly better with a slightly more bearable administration (at least compared to its predecessor) and many COVID-19 vaccines are proving to be successful and coming out, but we nevertheless have the ongoing pandemic with new mutations, vaccines coming out at a less-than-ideal rate, pseudo-progressives that would be more inclined to support seemingly right-leaning and/or woke causes or do nothing about our problems, and of course, the Capitol riot.

While I actually wouldn’t consider it to be the worst year ever, for the reasons mentioned at the beginning, I’m not inclined to disagree with the general public in terms of 2020 being extremely awful. All this talk about years being the worst (with 2020 and the previous “winner” 2016) got me thinking of a year I considered to be really horrible: 2006 (and yes, the entire 2000s could be considered a terrible decade and I’d agree with you to an extent, but I want to focus on one year).

The year actually didn’t start out too bad. I officially became a teenager the previous year and

was turning 14, the second year of my teens, and it would be the last year of middle school; I would be a high schooler in the next school year. Also, there would be the debut of Monty Python’s Personal Best on PBS in the month of February. But it would be during that month that things would start to turn for the worse that year.

In the middle of the month, possibly around the 15th, during a class at Riverside Middle School, the fire alarm blared its shrill beeps and we all had to evacuate the building. We all got as far away from the building as possible, near the track-and-field area outside. I thought it was a standard fire drill, nothing to worry about.

A few minutes outside, some teachers and aides told us to move back towards the track-and-field area and onto the bleachers. I could hear some adults saying that it was a bomb and for any students who had them not to use their cell phones, though I saw a few high schoolers call people on them as we moved towards the bleachers. It had also rained recently, and it was the middle of February, so we had to sit in the frigid outside on wet bleacher seats for a great while as the police and (as we were told) their vicious K-9 units were searching around for any explosives. After a great amount of time, how much I can’t recall, we were eventually let back in and the day went on as usual, with no bomb being found.

Nothing else had happened for the remainder of the week and Monty Python’s Personal Best still aired every Wednesday night on PBS. But then, practically exactly one week after the first evacuation, something else had happened. In the middle of a class, possibly the same one as the previous week, the fire alarm blared again and we all evacuated into the cold weather like last time, thinking it would be a fire drill and we would be back inside soon. After a little bit, we were told to go back to the bleachers again due to another apparent bomb call, much to our astoundment and horror.

We all sat at the bleachers for a while in the gelid weather, waiting for the police and bomb squad to do their work. A great while passed in the freezing February weather on the bleachers until the teachers and aides present told us to get up from the bleachers. We wouldn’t be going back into the school. Nobody had coats or hoodies; we left them in the school because we thought it would be a regular fire drill and we would be back inside in no time. The entire student body took the almost 10-minute, approx. 0.4 mile walk from the school to the Riverside Fire Department. We stayed inside the firehouse for a while. It was much nicer and warmer in there and the adults probably did it to keep us out of the cold. Later on, when it was deemed safe to return, I think we had to walk back to return to the the cold, cold February weather, for about ten minutes.

Also, if you care to know about what caused the initial evacuations in February, I haven’t got concrete evidence, but from rumors I’ve heard, keyword being rumors, I think they were (or at least the first one was) caused by some girl student smoking a cigarette in the bathroom and carelessly tossing away the cigarette, causing a roll of toilet paper to catch fire.

March 2006 shortly arrived thereafter and I was hoping that things would be better, but of course, I ended up tempting fate.

On Read Across America Day (March 1), when we were having lunch, we suddenly got an announcement saying, “We are now on Level 1 Lockdown Procedure.” It lasted a great time and as it went on, the other students started to pick on me and they wouldn't stop, as they often had a tendency to do. I started crying and getting upset, as I had a tendency to do (a nasty habit I still had from my elementary school days that I still had). Eventually, two cops came into the cafeteria. I was being quiet, but everyone else was causing a racket and wouldn't stop. They finally settled down a little when one of the cops threatened to arrest us (at least, that's what I got from it), saying that they can arrest “you.” I took that to mean all of us, including me, who wasn't even doing anything wrong.

This kind of vibe was pervasive in Riverside School, particularly late Elementary to Middle School, causing me to try to shush people when they were talking when they weren't supposed to. For example, once in sixth grade, my class and I had to read a story about a boar. It was supposed to be a class assignment; I was being quiet and polite, but everyone else was talking and being rude, and the teacher made us read the story by ourselves. In the case of the cops, in hindsight, they were probably being tough just to keep order and most likely weren't going to arrest all of us.

Indeed, no one in the cafeteria was arrested. In the end, the lockdown lasted until the end of the school day, around 2:35 PM, and we were all dismissed. As my mom was picking me up from school, I saw the nearby kindergartners coming out wearing Cat in the Hat hats, similar to what my class and I wore around this time at my age, and thought to myself, “This day was their Read Across America Day...”

The school year eventually was coming to an end and one of my friends and her family were moving to Florida that summer. I was sad, but no one took this as badly as my sister, four years my junior, who was best friends with the younger sister.

Summer 2006 eventually arrived. There was a big hype that year about possible horrific things occurring, or possibly everything horrible was to reach its apex, with the arrival of the anti-Christ or something. The reason for this was because it would be the sixth month of the sixth year (if you count 2000 as year zero), which would feature a sixth day. In layman’s terms, it would seemingly produce the number of the beast, 666, although the date would actually read 06/06/06, with the zeroes in the way. I would see some tabloid magazine, ironically around that 9/11 anniversary, saying that Satan would arrive, or something like that, but I recall the only film to take advantage of this date was The Omen, a remake of the 1976 film, another remake in a decade already fully populated with unoriginal and poor quality films and stories.

I admit I was a little nervous on June 6, 2006, fearing what could happen. Early that morning, before school and during breakfast, I caught a little bit of The Today Show that was airing after the NBC10 Morning News and they said that day marked the 62nd anniversary of D-Day, something positive, so I tried to focus on that. The day went by without issue, but towards the end, something odd happened. Not bad, but a tad unusual for me.

My mother, now deceased as of last April, took me for a walk to the school for some reason. I asked why and she said it was for an election, even though it was June, and elections are usually held in November, as that month in 2004 taught me. My mother would often take me to the local voting place during elections. She was a die-hard Democrat supporter (though she was against political correctness, as she told me many years ago while listening to the Cher song “Half-Breed” on her cassette while driving, and that she had respect for President Reagan). She was also a staunch defender of Bill Clinton, feeling life was better under his tenure, often found lionizing Democrats (and to a lesser extent the left), and also strongly disliked the Dubya administration of the time, blaming everything bad on him and the GOP, from slight price increases on things to bin Laden not being found quickly enough to probably even other things.

I have to say that this sort of thinking influenced me as well. And given that around 2006 or recently later (or recently earlier) I discovered that the GOP was fully in control of the US government, the Presidency and Congress, since 2003, and with everything that’s been going on in the 2000s, especially 2006, I wouldn’t have been pressed to disagree. The War in Iraq was still going on, with people split whether it would help stop al-Qaeda or it was irrelevant to everything; post-9/11 security measures, such as state-sponsored surveillance via the PATRIOT Act and the controversies of torturing—er, enhanced interrogation of accused al-Qaeda terrorists at Guantánamo Bay detention camp, caused some people to think that the US was headed towards a fascist, totalitarian path, like in George Orwell’s 1984 (in fact, I first heard of the book thanks to this kind of talk), and actually not making us safer from terrorism; and lots of other stuff like these:

Gas was around $3/gallon and mom wouldn't stop bitching about it. I asked her why she couldn't just find a place where gas was cheaper (I was 14 at the time and had no basic understanding of how modern stuff like this worked), but she said that there was no such place. Whenever I saw the $3/gallon signs around, it would remind me of the recent strife and whining.

In late July going into August, my hometown of Riverside was the subject of national attention due to controversy from the Republican mayor and GOP government passing an ordinance that would fine any business that would hire and any landlord that would rent any illegal Brazillian immigrants coming into our town, causing many protests and marches in the street. It was sobering to see my hometown appear on national news outlets like CNN because of this, complete with footage of the controversial town meeting about the ordinance. My father would often attend town meetings and usually leave for them at around 9 PM and arrive home around half-an-hour or so after leaving. This time, however, he came home after that meeting around 11 PM.

The brief Israel-Lebanon conflict then started. I kept on flipping the channels between other things and news sources, including CNN, and I think MSNBC and others. I don't remember just exactly how I thought about this Middle Eastern conflict, but I do recall that it did cause more stress and hatred for the year. More Middle Eastern stress arrived in the summer, with Iran wanting to develop nuclear weapons. While flipping through the 24-hour cable news network, I caught a channel mocking the Iranian leader, a satirical dub where the “Leader” said (I think) that he was the anti-Christ (or something to that effect) and would plan the apocalypse but had trouble scheduling. It was a little humorous, I admit, and actually added some levity to the grim year.

Later on in August, during Vacation Bible School, a terrorist plot at an airport was foiled. While another rare bright spot for the year and decade, this incident was a double-edged sword. An Al-Qaeda/Islamist terrorist plot was successfully stopped before it could start, but this caused airport security to beef up security and make things more intrusive, which continues to this day.

To a lesser degree, environmental issues also plagued me. Long before I was aware of his support from oil companies and the Westboro Baptist Church and back when I mainly knew him as the man who, thanks to potential right-leaning people in courts (including SCOTUS), lost to Dubya in 2000, I saw advertisements for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and, in my 14-year-old mind, saw global warming as a quickly-arriving force that could wipe everything out, leave everything underwater, and cause my family and I to be homeless, causing me to be more angry with Bush 43 and the GOP collectively for seemingly ignoring (or not caring) about this potential situation for anti-terror measures and pointless Middle Eastern wars. Another such issue I was slightly concerned about was overpopulation. Around Fall 2006, there were commercials and reports about the three-hundred-millionth American being born, and indeed, during my first weeks as a high school freshman, my homeroom class and I heard the announcement that the 300,000,000th American had been born.

Reminiscing about 2006, I find some nasty elements that make the year even worse than I initially thought. That year, my mom had heard of a little-known book called The Da Vinci Code and I got interested in it, too. I subsequently got the idea implanted that the stereotypically ultra-conservative Roman Catholic Church was part of a powerful conspiracy for power-grabbing and that the right was somehow involved with it or complicit with it (I was 14 and really don’t remember it; I just recall thinking the Church was part of a cover-up or something—in retrospect, conservative Christian groups lambasting the Harry Potter books as satanic propaganda might have something to do with this feeling).

The worst conspiracy theories I held, in hindsight and most especially now, were varying 9/11 conspiracy theories. I recall holding many such theories, often contradicting one another. I thought it was an inside job to turn America into a fascist state, like one of those people mentioned above. I also thought the US government was somehow behind major censorship controversies, like how hardly anyone seemed to make fun of Bush (although there were a plethora of Bush mockeries, such as Bushism, remember those?) or that controversial list of songs that were deemed unsuitable for play after 9/11. I guess reading random Wikipedia articles on various topics probably wasn’t entirely for the best. Not to worry. I grew out of the 9/11 conspiracy bullshit shortly after Dubya left the White House.

Pop culture didn't help me escape from the politics of that year. The most major offender, Disney, wasn't producing cartoons and was just spewing out live action scum from It's A Crap Productions, like Hannah Montana, and the movie High School Musical. I just felt jaded with Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, feeling that the both of them had gone past their prime, with the latter producing lame Disney kidcom knockoffs (unfortunately, I wasn't interested in Avatar: The Last Airbender at the time). I was also one of those whiners who bemoaned the apparent eradication of traditional animation as 3-D animation was becoming more present (I have since outgrown that and, while I still love traditional animation, I feel that 3-D animation is the animation industry advancing and progressing).

As much as I ragged on the year, there were positives in 2006. That year, I started getting interested in 24; it was the season with the deadly nerve gas and the Nixon-like Charles Logan, widely considered to be one of the best seasons of the show. I was still interested in Survivor back then (it was the one where the tribes were controversially split by race); it was still watchable, particularly the contestant Ozzy, if anyone remembers him. For middle school graduation, I got a DVD set of Monty Python's Flying Circus and (possibly all three) Cro video tapes. I ended going to BCIT Medford for high school and escaping Riverside for good, at least in terms of education. After a few years’ worth of reading about it on IMDb and Wikipedia (especially with the “Cartoon Wars” controversy—another negative of 2006), I finally managed to watch South Park for the first time and ended up enjoying it. The first episode I saw was “Go God Go XII,” laughing a lot at the scene where Cartman, in the future, uses the time-prank-call-phone to try to convince his past self not to freeze himself to wait for the Wii. As for the political negativity and cringe starting to engulf me that year, I managed to find catharsis.

One of my hobbies then, like now, was writing little stories, usually in a screenplay or treatment-like format, and mainly in disjointed ideas, when I had little-to-no grasp on story structure, symbolism, and compression. One such story was called A Utopian Dystopia, set in a fascist America, and meant to be a sociopolitical satire of dystopian stories like 1984 and current events in the vein of films like Dr. Strangelove and Brazil (which I had recently heard of and first watched in 2006), featuring the GOP as a far-right fascist party ruling America exterminating minorities, LGBT people, Democrats, and anyone else who dared lean left (even in the slightest). Partially inspired by the politics of the time, I’ve still developed that idea over many years, with it evolving with my politics. For the curious, the story, however much I focus on it and change it, it would be very much, much darker now and probably be too implausible to successfully suspend the audience’s disbelief.

Well, what can I say? 2006 certainly wasn’t a walk in the park. I might’ve labeled it to be the worst year, or a really awful one, back then, but I won’t now. Hell, I might not even give the moniker to 2020 or 2021.

Maybe 2036 will see an even more extreme version of the woke throwing straight white men into death camps along with anybody on both sides of the spectrum who dares question their power, developing GITMO-like torture prisons. Perhaps 2042 will officially be the year the GOP goes full-on fascist, setting America back to the pre-colonial era not unlike Gilead and will re-introduce Jim Crow and slavery. 2060 could possibly bring another, deadly, life-altering pandemic that could take so lengthy and tedious that it would make the COVID-19 pandemic look like it lasted a few months. Or 2071 could be the year when nuclear war starts.

Hoh boy, can’t wait for the future...

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2 min read

Recently, while looking at my graphic design portfolio (creating PDFs from the images to show to potential employers) I noticed that even though I added all the images previously this year, a few of the pictures still didn't show up for some reason (even though they all appeared earlier this year). I ended up fixing this by either shrinking the size of images, like shaving off the height, or adding all the images into one group per project (like in my Memory Thesis movie poster project, all the sketches were previously on three different images/slides and are now one big image).

While my design portfolio seems to be solved for now, while recently looking at my webcomics, I noticed that issue #1, "The End", of Americus Video (normally 14 pages) stopped at page 12. Similarly, the "Halloween" issue of The Sbuirrels, also 14 pages, stopped at page 12. I thought if people who had recently bought The Holy Trinity would view "The End" online and find it odd that the first issue stops with two pages left and clicking the next arrow would bring them back to the beginning of the issue.

I had an idea for a solution. When starting off with webcomics, I created issues with few pages, sometimes around just one page. I figured if I ever created issues with greater amounts of pages (in fact I'm working on such an issue for one of my comics right now—so keep your eyes open), to compensate for the length limitations on Wix galleries, I would list the separate parts of the whole story by lettered parts (i.e. The Sbuirrels: Halloween (Part A) or Americus Video: The End (Part B). But it seems that I'll have to do that now.

Lengthier stories will be available in more than one part will be split in lettered parts, going in alphabetical order, starting with A.

"Halloween" is available in two parts:

"The End" is also available in two parts:

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Okay. NOW I've officially published a book (via @AmazonKDP)! Check out the first three issues of Americus Video in the comic book The Holy Trinity! Now available on print for $6.99 and on Kindle for $3.99.

Av Holy Trinity Kdp Front Web
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14 min read

Note: The following is a blog post originally posted on DoorJam Creations on September 29, 2020.

The visitors of this site, all 33 of them (as of this writing), might have noticed that after practically a spring/summer of updates at an almost monthly pace that after my update in August nothing appeared. Normally, I try to balance creating content for the site, including writing and producing webcomics, developing new ideas for writings, compiling strange MPA(A) rating reasons, and updating and developing my graphic design portfolio, with developing material in my spare time for me to post to my other platforms, from photomanipulations and extra art on DeviantArt to uploading VHS oddities, nonsensical shitposts, and the occasional YTP on YouTube.

Since June, I’ve had to balance all that with a new job for making some extra money during the pandemic as while I still have my freelance graphic design job, new orders for that (while very occasionally arriving) have severely declined. And at the other job, I mostly have six-hour shifts, sometimes consecutively day-to-day, that end around closing time, and eat up my whole day. Despite all this, I still managed to update the site mostly monthly...until September. Just why is that? Well, it all started late August going into the next month.

I was seriously considering venturing into the self-publishing territory. I did an admittedly moderate search into self-publishing sites before settling on Lulu, taking a page from Peter Paltridge yet again. The book was to be a comic book containing the first three issues of Americus Video, all released on January 17, 2017. It was meant to test the waters to see if anybody would be interested in it, and if they were I would publish larger collections of my webcomics, too. And maybe some other stuff like a photo book. And maybe even Like Herrings and Onions. Lulu seemed to be the perfect fit at first, with a diverse series of products, including comic books, photo books, and calendars. Also, you could also make things on InDesign, which I’m skilled in! Seemed too good to be true!

In the first week of September, shortly after publishing the then-newest issue of The Sbuirrels, I started developing the InDesign file for my book. My laptop was making a loud, whirring noise, almost like a vacuum cleaner. The left side felt a little warm, too, but that sometimes happened and I never thought anything of it...until I was working on my book. Suddenly, the computer produced a blue screen of death, referencing something about a DC_WATCHDOG_ERROR or something to that effect. The computer eventually restarted and I went back to work. As I continued designing the book, the laptop would sometimes freeze and the BSOD happened again listing the same reason.

As I kept on using my laptop, the same BSOD kept on appearing, when I would check my email, when I would just browse the internet, when I would work on my book, etc. I decided to use it sparingly, but managed to get a clearer view of the BSOD issue: It told me to search for “DLC_WATCHDOG_ERROR” after the computer restarted. A cause for this screen, according to sources I found, was the CPU overheating and shutting down to prevent any damage.

Searching led me to many solutions for this problem. One of which was to update my IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers driver, which I did. It seemed to work at first, but the BSODs still kept on coming, complete with the same message. Another solution was a seemingly simple one, where I could just clean the dust out of the laptop’s fans. I wasn’t sure how to disassemble my laptop to get to the fans, but I found out I could clean out the fans by purchasing compressed air. Another potential cause for this was said to be a faulty USB drive and possibly I should stop using it. But there was one problem: The thumb drive I was using also had major site material like the favicon, the logo, and the webcomics. I was also using this thumb drive for developing the comic book, so I couldn’t stop using it!

Another situation was also developing on my laptop during this time. Whenever I tried to turn it on after leaving it off for a while, it didn’t start up normally. It just showed a black screen with white text that stated the “storage capacity of the battery stated below to be very low” and it might need to be replaced. Said battery was the “Primary (Internal) Battery (801).” As I panicked about the potential end of my laptop and how I could possibly get a not-very-costly-but-still-good one in the midst of a pandemic, I used my other devices to search for a solution.

After searching, I found a forum where a user with a patriotic profile picture (hopefully not an indicator of any potential jingoism) said that the warning was referring to the external battery, the one on the bottom of the laptop. I couldn’t believe it. I just got that battery last Christmas and was using it all year and it was going bad already?! Fortunately, the solution was simple: just take the battery out and re-insert it again. The screen never appeared again.

Another screen, however, kept on appearing. Another BSOD, with a new problem listed: “DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL.” Sources I found said that causes for this included an overheating CPU. I looked around for solutions, one of which I found was to update the sound drivers, which I did. While the IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL BSOD stopped appearing, the original DLC_VIOLATION_WATCHDOG screen kept on appearing. Searching for answers, I found the solution most blatant to solve the problem, a solution that was repeatedly referenced throughout the pages I viewed: cleaning the laptop’s fans!

I admit that I never even attempted to clean my laptop’s fans—a horrible mistake in retrospect, which would probably explain the left-side of my laptop feeling rather warm and my computer sounding like a vacuum cleaner all these years. I never did this, despite learning about the importance of cleaning computer fans during high school where my career major was Computer Science. Consequently, I was a little afraid, hoping to not do any damage to my laptop in a process that’s supposed to help it. I mustered up my courage and drove to my nearest Best Buy, located in East Gate Square, on the borders of Mount Laurel (and the Best Buy not in Moorestown despite being a shopping center across from the Moorestown Mall and near the border of that town), and bought a two-pack of compressed gas.

Green to this laptop-cleaning business, I studied the cans carefully to make sure I don’t do anything stupid. It said it had been scented to avoid drug abuse, to keep the cans out of a warm environment, and not to shake up the cans prior, during, or after use. I purchased the pack and drove all the way home, cautious about the heat in the car formed from the weather outside. Luckily, I blasted the air conditioner on to keep the inside of the car cool on the trip home and no issues occurred.

I watched a video on how to use compressed air for laptop cleaning. It said I had to use a tiny red straw to make sure the air gets through and the fluid in the cans wouldn’t ruin my laptop. I panicked at first, not noticing such straws at first, then I saw them taped to the cans. Using other instructions for cleaning laptop vents I found elsewhere, I took my laptop to my bathroom, where it can be ventilated (as the cans recommend that you use the stuff in such an area) and quickly sprayed the stuff into the vents, hoping it would clean them out.

A little later, I started my laptop and no BSOD appeared. It seemed to be successful!

At least for a little while. The same DLC_WATCHDOG BSOD kept on appearing. I figured my fan must be very dusty, so I sprayed some more compressed air on varying days. In the meantime, I also searched for more solutions.

I found two more solutions from here. One was to repair corrupted system files by running the Windows SFC utility. To do this, I had to open the Command Prompt as an administrator and type in SFC/scannow, but it didn’t seem to work. I tried the other method on the site: The CHKDSK, which was said to check the disk drive for any errors. In Command Prompt (running as an administrator), I had to type CHKDSK C: /F /R /X and then hit “Y” for yes. After this, I restarted the computer and the process began.

There was a spinning animated graphic next to the percentage progress. I started this process in the mid-to-late afternoon, around 4 PM. It seemed that the percentage increased after every minute (one minute it was a 4%, the next 5%, the next 6%, etc.). It was when it got to 21% that things seemed to be slow and the process wasn’t progressing, despite the animated graphic still spinning. I decided to do other things while the laptop was doing its stuff, feeling that it would probably progress faster if I wasn’t looking, like stopping and rewinding a VHS tape to the very beginning rather than it still playing while rewinding.

I later returned to the laptop; it was around 5 PM and almost dinner time. I noticed that it was off, like when the battery was totally drained. I had no idea if the CHKDSK thing worked or not. I recall being a little nervous. So, I decided to take a dinner break to calm my nerves.

After dinner, I started up my laptop again and the CHKDSK stuff was at it again, restarting at 1% and again remaining stuck at 21% as the graphic was still spinning. I was told that sometimes this process could take a while (and it was best to let the process continue) and that sometimes the computer could freeze from this. It seemed to be like the latter to me at first, but as frequently mentioned, the spinning graphic was still moving.

It was getting into the later hours of the night and it was still at 21%. I tried shutting it off and restarting it via the power button, but the process kept on starting. I looked for ways to end it on another one of my devices. I found out that I had to press the Escape key (or any key) after starting up the computer before the percentages appeared. This I did and the computer eventually started up normally, although the BSODs still happened.

Another solution I found was to update my BIOS, something I had never tried before. I looked on the site for my computer manufacturer and followed the instructions. It took a little bit and the entire screen was engulfed with the BIOS updating screen, complete with stretch-o-vision. It said I had to keep my laptop plugged in throughout this, giving extra heat to my battery, CPU, and laptop as a whole. Luckily, everything seemed to be okay after the restart. Except that my sound didn’t seem to work now. For the sound, I tried updating the sound drivers on Device Manager but to no avail.

I was starting to get a little frustrated by this point, feeling my laptop’s life was starting to come to an end and not knowing what to do or if it could be replaced with my files going in the new one. It looked like I was gonna have to actually open my laptop and clean out my fan. It seemed easy enough (although I’ve never done it before) and I had compressed air. It seemed like a simple solution!

But then I saw videos showing the specific steps to disassemble my laptop and it seemed much more complicated and dangerous. Not helping matters were videos that started off saying things to the effect of, “YOU DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK!” I was afraid of doing this overly complicated process out of fear of inadvertently destroying my laptop in the process that’s supposed to aid my laptop. Because of this fear, I didn’t grow the balls to even try to disassemble it.

I searched for videos showing any potentially simpler situation and most of them showed similar disassembly steps. Except for one. One video showed not just a step-by-step process of laptop disassembly, but also gave a recommendation for a tool to cool down your laptop, something I had never heard of before: buying a laptop cooling pad (or simply just a cooling pad). I searched where I could get one. I made another trip to the Mount Laurel Best Buy to see if they had one. It turned out they didn’t have one.

I later ventured to my local Staples in Hartford Corner in Delran. Initially not noticing the cooling pads at first, I found them near the front/middle of the store. There were three available, I think most or all of them were from Targus. One was a small, single-fan one that cost around $19; another larger, dual-fan one (that would fit my 16.5-inch-long laptop) was around $40; and another large one around $50-56. Not wanting to spend a great amount of money, I chose the smaller $19 one.

Everything worked fine at first. The left side of my laptop felt much cooler than before (albeit still a little warm) and no BSODs appeared again, even when I had that thumb drive plugged in. No freezing ever happened again. However, there turned out to be a major flaw, which was the cooling pad’s small size. A few days after buying it, I tried placing just the left side, hoping it would be majorly cooled. It was and no freezing or BSODs occurred. But it got very awkward whenever I had to close up the laptop for the night when I had to sit the whole thing on the tiny pad or when I first tried to awkwardly open it for the day (usually after putting the whole left side on the pad).

This was becoming rather ridiculous to me. I couldn’t open and close my laptop like this all my life. I later went back to the Staples in Hartford Corner to return and hopefully exchange the smaller cooling pad, even though I got rid of the pad’s packaging. Fortunately, I was able to return the tiny pad, but unfortunately, they didn’t have any cooling pads left. There were two more places, both at East Gate Square. One of the Mt. Laurel Best Buy; the other was my other local Staples, located in the same shopping center but actually in Moorestown! I decided to try the latter place first.

Like the store in Delran, I initially didn’t notice the cooling pads in Moorestown. It turns out they were also near the middle of the store, but unlike the first store, they were at a bottom shelf. This store had two Targus pads, both probably dual-fan. One was around $40 and the other was around $50-6. Both seemed suitable, size-wise, for my 16.5-inch-long-laptop, but again, I’m a cheapskate and didn’t want to spend an extreme amount of money, so I picked the $40 dual-fan one. I’ve been using that one ever since. So far, no issues have happened. I haven’t seen any BSODs or battery issue screens at all. The left side of my laptop feels much cooler than before.

And as for my sound issue, it was solved by going to my computer’s manufacturer site and downloading a new sound drive. It took a little while and was downloaded almost all the way and seemed to stay that way for a while, but ended up completing and restarting. I now have sound again.

And that’s the story of why I couldn't make an update all September. As for the self-publishing stuff, I’m probably going to leave Lulu and go for something else, some site where proof copies aren’t required to publish your book. Don’t get me wrong, I get the necessity of proof copies, but I just don’t want to spend my money for something that’s supposed to make me money...for every edit of the book I make. Seems a tad excessive.

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