26 October 2006

The Feeble Mighty Mouse

First, let me say that this mouse is addictive. I first started using one at work in February and I quickly fell in love with the 360-degree Scroll Ball with adjustable scrolling. Whenever I used a machine without a Mighty Mouse (i.e. my PowerPC G5 iMac at home), I was jonesing for finger tip scrolling. After a couple of months, I bought one for home.

While this mouse is great, it certainly isn't prefect. The main issue is that it isn't easy to clean. After about nine months of daily use, the scroll ball mechanism has gotten clogged up with dirt and I could no longer scroll down. There isn't a way to pop out the scroll ball and clean the rollers. So many people have run into this same issue that Apple has posted a support article on how to clean your Mighty Mouse. I even found a list of other tricks to try by frustrated scrollers. Apple's cleaning method worked a little bit (I could scroll upwards again) but not fully.

Today I finally found a way to make my disabled mouse whole again. I brought a lint-free cloth for cleaning eyeglasses to work along with some rubbing alcohol. I poured a few drops of the alcohol onto the center of the cloth and placed it on a flat desk. I unplugged the mouse, turned it over, and rolled the scoll ball on the cloth vigorously in many directions. This removed the dirt and grime from the scroll ball but I can still see some around the edges of the encasing. Most importantly though, its scrolling functionality has returned to normal.

18 October 2006

Roar by the Shore

This past weekend I was in South Padre Island, Texas for the BikeFest with some new and old friends. In our group were "Hot Lip" Randy and Linda, "Mississippi" Joey, Greg, "Scooter" Jonathon, "Melrose" Mel, "Tourette's" Carrie, and myself, "Stretch."

Leading up to the trip, I had thought about getting a windshield because it makes long distance driving easier. At least I think it would; I've never driven a motorcycle with one. Well I procrastinated a bit as I am known to do, and finally went looking online and around town the weekend before. None of the shops keep windshields in stock, and with price tags around four to five hundred dollars, I wasn't really motivated to ask about ordering one and having it shipped and installed in a few days. Carrie, on the other hand, was really encouraging me to get one. On the Sunday before the trip, we had a group planning session at Greg's house and Carrie let them know that I needed a windshield. Greg had an extra one, but I would need to specific mounting hardware for my bike. Joey said he would check with Kay's Motorcycle Mania in Nolanville. So on Tuesday I got a call from Randy and he said that Kay's had one and it was only about $175. The only problem was that the box said it wouldn't work with tapered forks and my Honda Shadow was listed as being tapered. Because we were leaving early Thursday morning, I had to act fast in deciding whether to buy it or not. I was pretty sure that my forks were straight and I even looked at a picture from work and they seemed straight to me. So for the price they were offering, I went ahead and purchased the windshield over the phone, despite the cautions that it might not work and I couldn't return it because of the sale price. Since Joey lives close to the store, he picked it up for me so I could make the hour drive up there after work on Wednesday to get it. When I unpacked everything, it soon became apparent that it certainly wasn't going to fit my bike. It turns out that the forks actually do taper ever so slightly near the top and I wasn't able to notice it before. So now I have a new windshield that I can't use and can't return. It looks like it's time for craigslist.

The group met at six o'clock Thursday morning at Highway 620 and Interstate 35 for our departure. I was hoping that the traffic would be light, but the rush hour was getting started by the time we left twenty minutes later. It was also fairly foggy. I really had to concentrate a lot for the first hour or two. Once the dawn light appeared, the drive became much easier. Our path took us down Highway 183 to Refugio where we picked up 77 until just South of San Benito where we hit 100 for the final stint to South Padre Island. As we got closer to King Ranch, the vegetation was actually green which was quite a contrast from the brown I've been seeing in Austin this dry summer. I had prepared for chilly weather but that wasn't even an issue. In fact, as we got close to Padre, the sun was out and I was getting pretty hot and sweaty. I was wearing my leather pants and perforated leather jacket. The drive was 380 miles each way, but with all of our breaks it ended up taking close to ten hours. That brings me to how I got my nickname. After several hours on a motorcycle, body parts tend to get sore and cramp up. The others noticed that I kept stretching my legs a lot and the name Stretch stuck for the rest of the trip.

The convention center was where most of the vendors were. Being the only non-Harley owner in the group, I took some ribbing all weekend long. Randy found an item he thought would be perfect for me, a sparkling Honda brooch made of diamonds. Thanks a lot guys. I ended up buying a t-shirt and two pair of sunglasses (one being clear for night riding). One of the best features of the rally was watching the Marion County Sheriff's Precision Motorcycle Drill Squad perform. There were about thirty officers on bikes driving extremely close to one another, weaving in and out of each other and doing other tricks. They were like the Blue Angels on two wheels and I was very impressed with their skills.

Once in Padre, we had to work around the frequent rain showers. It rained so hard on Saturday that most of us stayed in the house and watched football and movies. The weather did clear up around 5 PM so we walked over to Amberjacks restaurant to eat and watch the parade from the patio. It wasn't as nice as the ROT Rally parades, but still enjoyable if you don't mind the occasional loud engine revving.

On Friday, we ate dinner close to Louie's Backyard, a huge nightclub that I frequented during a college Spring Break trip years ago. Next to Louie's there was a gravity park with several adrenaline pumping rides and Carrie wanted me to go on one with her. We paid our money and were strapped into the world's largest (or so one website claims) reverse bungee ride. Man was it intense! Carrie said she had never heard such things come from her boyfriend's mouth before. My legs were sore afterwards because I was clinching them to the seat with a death grip. I have never been skydiving, but I imagine that it might be a little similar to the freefall on that ride.

When we left on Sunday morning, it was a little muggy but still fairly nice out. That didn't last long because after driving only 1.5 miles, it started pouring rain. We were still on the island and made a quick pit stop to put on rain gear. Unfortunately we needed the gear for just about the whole trip back. I only became misreable when the water eventually creeped down into my right boot and got my ankle wet. Other than that, the rain didn't bother me too much. I could really notice a decline in my aerodynamics though with my rain jacket on as it ballooned up like a parachute. I'm sure a windshield would have helped in that regard. Eventually we hit some sunshine around Gonzales and the sky looked great in front of us. That area must be the butterfly capital of Texas because they were everywhere. I must have spent forty-five minutes to an hour dodging the insects so they wouldn't splatter on my helmet's faceshield.

I ended up putting 790 miles on the bike so this was easily my longest motorcycle journey. I had such a good time at the event and with my new group of friends that I'm looking forward to going to the next "Roar by the Shore."