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2011.12.14 Mice, men and boys favor the Observer

on . Posted in By The Way

It’s difficult thinking back to the days of the early 1990s when there wasn’t a computer or two in most every home. I had them at work, but apparently none had yet made it into our house.

According to the old By the Way column below, I used to bring a Macintosh home occasionally to work over the weekend and to play a few rudimentary games. This was so long ago that I felt the need to explain the concept of a computer mouse.

Nov. 27, 1991

By David Green

There are times when I bring a computer home from work, but neglect to bring along a mousepad. A what?

Many computers these days have a “mouse”—a small box that can fit in the palm of a hand. There’s a button on top which controls the action on the computer screen. The mouse is connected to the computer via a long “tail” of a cord.

It’s that tail, along with the small, black deposits which a dirty mouse leaves behind, that gives it the characteristic of a rodent.

Like I said, I sometimes forget the pad on which the mouse moves. When that happens, I have to come up with a substitute such as a newspaper.

I’ve often wondered which paper works best as a mousepad. Since I had a pile of area papers home over the weekend, I enlisted Ben to put them to the test.

I figured Ben was going to choose the Tecumseh Herald since he set a new record with it while playing an uneducational game called Breakthrough. The game is very good for the development of hand-eye coordination, however, so of course we allow him to while away great blocks of training time.

I gave him the Herald for a test and he immediately judged it “not very good.” I thought it had a little drag to it myself, and the Blissfield Advance felt much the same way. The Advance has a small section of international news that slowed Ben down every time he moused across it. We were after a pad with some speed.

The Brooklyn Exponent felt firm, which is something that didn’t appeal to Ben but felt good to me. But for use as a mousepad, it was the Delta Atlas that I liked. It gave good control, yet it wasn’t as slow as the others. Ben wasn’t completely sold, but he placed it above average.

The Observer and the Clinton Local should feel the same—same press, same ink, same roll of newsprint, I presume—but that wasn’t the case. Their front page was splattered with photos of football players (they lost to Manchester in the playoffs) and I guess that’s what made them feel fast, yet out of control. Ben used the other side of the page and liked it.

“It feels good,” he said, “but it’s a little bumpy.”

The Archbold Buckeye simply felt good to me, even though it was too slow to go more than a couple rounds in Breakthrough. Ben agreed. Every time he rolled across the article about the former mayor grousing the election, the mouse  seemed to hesitate.

On to Hudson. The Post-Gazette had pretty good movement to it, but as Ben lost a second building in the Missile Attack game, he knew it was too slow. He was running the mouse across a little photo of Jim Whitehouse—a quick wit—but we knew it wasn’t the pad either of us needed.

It was obvious I could never set a record with the Fayette Review. Rolling over the council report slowed me down every time. Ben and I diverged on this one. All that money council was shelling out seemed to give him some pep.

We made it through all the contenders and it was time for the playoff. Missiles were raining down as Ben gave Clinton, Fayette and Delta a second try. He was losing badly, and frankly, none of those rags felt right.

So which one do you like, I asked.

“I like Morenci,” he answered.

Shucks, I didn’t even know he’d played with the Observer. He moused around with one a little more and sure enough, that was the pad for him.

I gave it another try and had to agree that it was the best. I also discovered why it failed to impress me earlier: I used the side of the page that was littered with dried food particles. The darn mouse kept slowing down to nibble.

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