An Architecture Home Companion


Just out of town lives a man who many people in the town of Lake No Architecture credit with saving the town, all the computers and Lefty McDougals horse Bob. It was during the great blizzard of 1979 that Alabaster Wayins came to town. He arrived like most people do in a car that broke down. Alabaster was luckier than some whose cars would break down at the edge of town, and would then have to be pushed (stopped) pushed (stopped) through the myriad of stop signs to get to the Lucky Aces garage and Casino. Alabaster’s car broke down in front of the Casino part of the building right as the snow began to fall.

You could tell as the snow fell that it wasn’t going to be a normal snow. Grass, normally pushing through the early snow to show itself between the clumps of white laid down and went to sleep the snow pressing it down into the ground. It was heavy snow with flakes the size of Frisbees. Mrs. Coltin let us out of school early that day. Even the code factory on the edge of town let the workers out early so my dad and I got home that day at the same time.

The snow was so heavy that the power lines began to bow. Snow carrying them relentlessly to the ground. As they reached the ground they snapped, flying back into the air with the force of a body held down and released. With them any connection to the national power grid was lost. Computers like most electronics don’t like a sudden loss of power and everyone in the town rallied around the then still working town billing system. But no one knew if you could create a replaceable plug and play power grid with 32 home generators.

That’s when Alabaster stepped in. They say you can measure a man not by a how far up the doorstop he can stand, rather how large his actions are. The doorstop reference came from my mother who for some reason measured everyone who came into our house against the doorstop. I suspect it was her fear that the low ceilings in our house would reach out and grab someone and hurt them but let’s save that for another day and another story.

Alabaster built a system on the fly that linked 30 generators together with two as hot spares (so we could refill the gas tanks over time) a system that kept the town’s computers running through the worst storm of the century.

For that the town gave Alabaster the old McEwen place on the edge of town. Old Man McEwen having left town rather abruptly during a rather messy scandal involving the head cheerleader and a new member of the Lake NO Architecture Community. Alabaster has been living off his fame at the edge of town ever since.

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