The Banks County News
September 27, 2000
Mouse Trap fights
rat race blues
Life is not fair. I figured that out at
least a year or two ago. I don't expect life to be fair. But
I still expect life to make some sense. But it doesn't. This
week I got more proof of that.
About a year ago, my nephew had his sixth birthday party. My
brother bought pocket versions of board games as prizes.
Some people got games like Connect Four, Othello and Stratego.
My brother gave me Mouse Trap.
He made sure I got Mouse Trap. And he instructed me not to let
anyone play it. He had made a mistake in buying it. I was supposed
to correct that mistake by putting the game in my pocket and
pretending it never had existed. My brother is probably a smart
man, but surely a seasoned parent.
A year later now, I find the game and decide that I want to put
it together. This was not my finest hour.
I don't think anybody has ever played the full-size game Mouse
Trap the way the rules dictate. The game is much less fun than
watching the apparatus drop on the mouse. As a matter of fact,
I don't know how you are supposed to play the game. The Hasbro
people must think the same thing, because the tiny kit comes
with a 12-panel description of how to put the whole gizmo together,
but not one word about how to play the game.
For those who do not know about Mouse Trap, I will let Hasbro's
words tell the story.
"Set the trap in motion by slowly turning the crank clockwise.
This will trigger the following events: Stop sign hits the boot,
which tips the bucket. Marble (tiny, tiny, itsy, bitsy ball bearing)
rolls down the stairway and through the rain gutter to hit the
plumbing post. Second marble (BB) on top of the plumbing platform
falls through the bathtub and onto the diving board. Diver will
catapult into the washtub, causing the cage to fall from the
post and trap the mouse!"
Hooray! We caught a mouse! Isn't this just the most fun we've
If you have never seen these pocket-version games, it would be
important to know just how not-big they are. It is approximately
the size of a credit card, although it is more square in shape.
The kit also comes with a set of plastic tweezers that are supposed
to make placing the items on the board easier. This is not so
much the case in reality.
The instructions on how to complete the setup come with black-and-white
photos to give more detail. I've got nothing against black-and-white
photos. But the lack of color pictures was not all that helpful.
Here's how some of the instructions read:
·"Open Mouse Trap keychain by flipping the lid up
and sliding it under game board housing. Remove all loose pieces."
Keep in mind, the largest loose piece is still smaller than the
tip of my little finger.
·"Insert yellow gear and blue crank assembly into
base as shown."
How am I supposed to tell the difference between the blue crank
assembly and the permanently affixed red crank base by looking
at a black-and-white photograph?
·"Using tweezers, loop rubber band around the yellow
base peg & the red armature peg as shown."
This is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard in
my life. Aside from that, I know what an armature is, but is
that really important? Why can't they just call it an arm?
It is just a matter of putting the pieces in place after that.
The ones in the game and the ones in your head.
One of the last pieces is the diver. I almost had him on his
little pedestal when the tweezers twitched and the diver shot
up way off course.
As far as I know the diver is still in flight. Sure I looked
for him. But the guy is so small he could turn a Tic Tac into
an apartment. And I don't mean a flip-top Tic Tac container either.
I mean one piece of Tic Tac candy.
I got close enough, though. The rest of the thing worked. And
that was good enough for me. I realized that life doesn't have
to work perfectly. How many times do we win a world championship,
Nobel Prize or presidential election? That's not what it's all
about. Life calls for a simple set of actions to take.
Follow the directions. Get confused. Get close using your own
methods. Screw up. Be happy if the pre and post finger counts
are the same.
Drew Brantley is the sports editor for The Commerce News and
The Banks County News.
The Banks County News
September 27, 2000
The Homer tree
Ok Homer ! You keep asking: "When's
there going to be something about Homer in the paper?" Well,
there doesn't seem to be a whole lot going on here, other than
the town council and development authority meetings.
But, I'm trying to please, so here goes...This week's column
is dedicated to all you Homerians (?) - Homerites (?) - all you
I've been having some fun driving the back roads avoiding all
that construction traffic. To someone used to seeing only the
441, 51 and 98 Homer, I wasn't ready for the color and character
I found on those back streets.
Such remarkable contrast! One lot has a building with rusting
tin, eye-high weeds and the next had a modest little homestead,
with lots of lawn ornaments.
Then there is the beautiful old house hidden admidst the overgrown
bushes and wild weeds and vines.
Images of the past ...maybe not even so long ago ...this house
was a home. Maybe children played in the yard while Granny tended
her flower and vegetable gardens hollering every now and then
to Pops out in the garage tinkering with the old truck. Mom hung
wash out on the line for that nice fresh outdoor smell. Dad pulls
out of the drive headed off for work down at the hardware store.
I drove on. Past homes that were hardly more than shacks held
together with whatever materials were available. Life is hard
for some, that's a fact.
Yet even in the grasp of poverty, there lie tender touches. A
deep purple petunia flowering next to the dilapidated porch,
a bunch of brilliant marigolds growing out of an old rusty bucket.
Whoever lives there still felt "this is home" and did
their best to make it so.
Around the bend, an old trailer set way back from the road. Shaded
by giant oaks. An old rocking chair on the porch. Toys strewn
across the yard.
So many lots had remnants of sheds, and houses, others just empty,
the remains long gone. Kudzu forests, stands of bamboo.
Down another street, tiger statues guard the entrance of a traditional
Turn the corner, and go back up the street, and there is the
most amazing sight. A tree. But not just any tree. This one has
gnarls and burls and twists and turns in the trunk. One could
almost make out faces cast in the bark.
At the top of the tree, which had been trimmed countless times
by the power company, was a rich green growth of new branches
Shafts of daylight shine through in various places. Curious,
I thought. I got out and had to take closer look. On the opposite
side, virtually nothing remained. It was a hollow core. A jagged
shaft of lightning left its mark.
But nature has that certain artistic touch and beautifully crafted
the ugly scars of burrowing insects and decay into textures and
ridges of color and curves over the years.
But how could this tree still be alive?
The tree seemed to represent the paradox of Homer to me.
On one hand there is decline and the struggle for life; on the
other, extraordinary beauty and fantasy. And there at the top,
new life beginning somehow, through some special grace, some
undying hope, some undeniable determination.
Go find the Homer Tree. See if it doesn't spark awe in the mystery
of life and give you the courage to see it through in you as
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.
The Banks County News
September 27, 2000
Court ruling sends
warning to developers
A verdict earlier this month in federal
court in Gainesville sends a strong message to developers to
keep control of erosion and sedimentation. This has been a serious
problem in many areas of the state and the $368,000 fine, including
$150,000 in punitive damages, given to the north Georgia developer
should be a clear warning that all local, state and federal regulations
should be strictly adhered to.
Three citizens filed the lawsuit against the developer after
more than 30 dump truck loads of silt and sediment were discharged
directly into their small pond. Hundreds more truck loads were
reported to have been dumped into surrounding creeks. This occurred
more than five years ago and the plaintiffs testified that they
are still suffering from it. The developer may also face additional
civil penalties for violating federal regulations, as well as
additional money to take care of the problems on the plaintiffs'
This ruling should be a warning to developers on what can happen
if soil and erosion protection measures are not followed. If
developers don't have a copy of these rules, they need to pick
one up and study it carefully before beginning construction.