Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Those of my Esteemed Readers above a Certain Age may remember a board game, newly invented in the early 1960’s, called Mouse Trap. I’m pretty sure it’s still around today.

The game per se, at least in its original incarnation, is not especially thrilling: your basic advance-pieces-around-the-board sort of thing. What makes it moderately interesting (to those with a nascent engineering bent, anyway) is that, over the course of the game, you construct a Rube Goldberg device - the eponymous Mouse Trap - and then, at the end, you activate it, trapping your opponent’s mouse. Whoop-de-fucking-doo.

I will confess to playing Mouse Trap frequently back when I was a sixth-grader. But after a while, the game lost its luster. It’s not easy to stay fascinated with a Rube Goldberg device, unless it’s a real doozy.

But that’s not really what this post is about.

Every so often, I will make a pilgrimage to the Headquarters of the Great Corporate Salt Mine, there to hob-nob with my colleagues and the various Middle and Senior Management wonks. When I spend a day at said Headquarters, I will generally camp out in an unoccupied office, snapping my laptop into the docking station. This hooks me directly into the corporate LAN, as well as providing a handy full-size keyboard and display. And a mouse. (I hate the dinky-ass keyboard and screen of my laptop, but I especially hate the nasty-ass little touchpad mousing device.)

And this is where you can learn a lot about people’s Computer Hygiene...which I suspect is somehow related to their Personal Hygiene. Because some people have Mouse Crap.

Mouse Crap is the gunk that, over time, builds up on the internal rollers of a standard computer mouse. When it becomes thick enough, it interferes with the smooth operation of the mouse, causing the cursor to skip and stutter across the screen.

My borrowed mouse had a bad case of the Shakies ’n’ Skippies, so I opened ’er up.

Gaaaaah. There must’ve been pounds of black grachitz in there, forming a thick incrustation over all the rolling surfaces. Normally, I’d attack the crud with an alcohol-moistened cotton swab, but here it was laid on thick enough to be chipped off with a fingernail. I felt a little disgusted doing it; it was so much like picking one’s nose. Hunting Mouse-Boogers.

I was tempted to leave a note alongside the little heap of Mouse-Droppings, something on the order of, “Check out all the crap I found in your frickin’ mouse, dude!” But that would have been nékulturny. Unprofessional. And too much fun.

At home, of course, I have my own solution to the Mouse Crap problem: I use a laser mouse. Wireless, to boot.

Have you given your mouse an enema lately?

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