An item in a recent column sent one reader into research mode.

Bob: You are right on the money, sir, in [last week’s] riposte to the [city’s] riposte to your initial skewering of the conditions of Akron’s streets: Civil engineering projects are just taking too long.

Here are some examples from the past where things went a bit differently.

• Empire State Building: Built in 1931 by John Raskob, under budget and ahead of schedule, in 13 months.

• Panama Canal: Built in 10 years, from 1904 to 1914, in an era where power construction equipment was in its infancy.

• Hoover Dam: Built by the great Frank Crowe and the “Six Companies” consortium in 4½ years (1931-1935). Crowe got a $350,000 bonus, which was a nice chunk of change in 1935 coin-of-the-realm.

• USS Franklin: From keel plate laid to full commissioning in 14 months by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock, 1943. Essex-class carriers normally took three times that long.

• We won’t even count the construction of the Liberty Ship “Robert E. Peary” in 4½ days, as this was purely a stunt by the Kaiser.

Imagine how I gnashed my teeth when I read in the ABJ the other day that the Route 8 project from Graham Road to state Route 303 would take four freaking years!

Pat Lofgren

Akron

Pat: Maybe the Ohio Department of Transportation should start building ships instead of highways.

Fun with plates

Bob: The next time you run a column on interesting vanity plates, I thought you may like to include mine. It’s a song and is OSAKNUC.

If you read it a letter at a time, you’ll get it. But if not, it’s “Oh Say Can You See.” America is, and always has been, G-R-R-R-REAT!

Sue Harman

New Franklin

Sue: I read it one letter at a time and didn’t get it. All I can see is “osak-nuc.” Which sounds like a brand of saki.

Complex directions

I recently bought a running belt to carry my iPod. It came with a wristband. The wristband came with instructions. These were the instructions:

• Put it on your wrist.

• Now enjoy it.

Elderly shortstop

MLB.com gave a shout-out last week to my old buddy Omar Vizquel, naming him the 10th best player in the history of the game past the age of 45.

“After 45: Played in 56 games and hit .241/.268/.290 with 35 hits.”

“This was a close call between Vizquel and pitcher Tommy John, but you have to give Vizquel bonus points because he was a shortstop. Ancient shortstops are even rarer than other ancient ballplayers.

“Vizquel started at shortstop in his last game in the big leagues, when he was 45 years, 162 days old. Since 1969, the second-oldest player to start at shortstop in a game was Ozzie Smith, and he was 41.

“Vizquel had a promising first year on the Hall of Fame ballot, gathering 37 percent of the vote, and perhaps the most underappreciated reason was his indestructibility. He somehow just kept going and going and going at a young man’s position.”

I sent the link to Omar, who is managing the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Dash, a single-A team in the White Sox system. He didn’t think it was nearly as cool as I did. He replied, sarcastically, “Well, that is a great accomplishment,” with a frowny face.

Granted, not a lot of players last until age 45. But still ....

The 11-time Gold Glove-winner is having fun in his first managerial gig, and I would be surprised if he isn’t hired to run a big-league team within a couple of years. Omar has a marvelous, upbeat personality, knows the game inside and out and is fluent in both English and Spanish — extremely helpful in an era when about 28 percent of major-league players are Latino.

Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or bdyer@thebeaconjournal.com. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31.