Engineering Marvel

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

This project did not start with funds or resources or asset allocations. It began with neither earth moving equipment nor cloud scraping cranes. A respected team of architects was not hired. The best schools were not consulted. No, this project, like all magnificent endeavors, was born all alone, unadorned, in the solitude of the mind. Taken to the root of it all, it birthed, formed and flourished from that most simple and naked concept called the “idea.”

He was working at night against a foreboding deadline. Sweat dripped and marred the corner of the blueprint as he pored over the mathematical formulas. He slid a ruler over and connected two pivot points, then a third, all the while mumbling. His project was finally coming together, finally beginning to take that shape which had once been only imagined. Adrenalin pored through his veins as the intangible evolved into tangible and he could finally see— actually see!— his efforts come alive. With a last stroke, a last lead line from point “A” to point “B”, his drawings were complete. If his calculations were correct— he had checked them four times— his undertaking would carry a certain prescribed strength while bearing only such weight as such structures could possibly allow. It would be his masterpiece! His St. Peter’s Cathedral! His Mona Lisa!

He checked his supply list. Everything seemed to be in order. He set to work.

10 p.m. — He connected the first cable supporting frame “A” to supporting frame “B.” This initial step was absolutely crucial. All else depended on it. Done!

11 p.m. — He connected supports from his first and started creating laterals, both strengthening and extending his initial construction.

12 a.m. — Now the tedious process started. Each main lateral demanded attachment at the precise place that provided maximum strength to its neighboring lateral. The ties, or connections, were critical as their ability to hold was no less important than the material itself. Spacing adhered to precise measurements and were adjusted, as the blueprints demanded, according to the radius and circumference of each successive plot point. Layer after layer, knot after knot, line after line was laid down by its architect who continued at a furious, calculated, determined pace.

6 a.m. — Finished! He stood back, breathless, and admired the sheer beauty of his efforts. At long last, it was done! How could something so stunning, so daring, so meticulously interwoven, so absolutely beautiful emerge from his fingertips? Hallelujah!!!!!!!

6:01 a.m. — Spencer Drake, passing through the doorframe, caught the web with his right temple. “Damn spiders,” he muttered, running his fingers through his hair while approaching the Ford Fusion in the driveway.

6:02 a.m. — He turned and walked back to his drawing room.

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is