Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Rail Project

Our guy Joe....Vice President Biden....came out yesterday and proposed this government idea....dump $53 billion into a national high-speed train project.

You can imagine the reaction by most Republican folks in congress...it just wasn't going to be easily agreed to.  The quote of the week goes to House Transportation Committee Chair Representative John Mica of Florida....saying that these rail projects were "snail speed trains to nowhere" and then describing Amtrak as a "Soviet-style train system."

It's more of a insult to compare Amtrak to the former Soviet train system.  The Russians generally ran on time....although there might only be three runs a day from town to town.  The Russians weren't much for style or grace with their trains but then they ran for fifty years without any modifications.  As for seating arrangements....the Soviets never cared much for reservations....you just got on board and did the best you could with the seats.

I'm not much of a fan for high-speed rail projects.  Taking a guy from Nashville to Dallas...ok, but then what?  You'd have to rent a car in Dallas under this plan.  It'd still take five hours on a train, and you'd pay a fair bit more than you would with a airline or via a eight-hour car ride.  For some reason, I just can't see folks jumping onto this deal as a customer and riding fast rail.

Why I Hate Modular Furniture

This week....came the biggest five-star mess that I've ever had with modular furniture.  Most of the time....it's personal modular that I end up with, and the pieces just don't match the drawing in the box.  This time, it's slightly different and worse.

I'm a government guy and we had to buy an entire office area new modular furniture.  Naturally....the cheapest bidder won.  This stuff was ordered or approved back in July and supposed to take 90 days for delivery and installation.

Well...the 'expert' from the company came over for an actual site visit and remeasured the area, and decided one particular horse-shoe area (four desks in such a shape) didn't really fit right and was four inches off.  The government mandates that a 36-inch path must be in place and we only had 32 inches.....so he required a modification to the contract.  This mod?  Well....it took about a month to arrange this and the company was then looking at a longer delivery period.  Oh, and there was supposed to be an allowable 36 inch path at the conclusion.

Well....after weeks and weeks of delay....we finally got the installation team into the Pentagon this week.  Twenty pallets of gear.  You haven't experienced life until you've dragged twenty pallets down various hallways and avoided hitting folks in fancy uniforms and suits.  So we get to the end and here is the installation team.

The problems start to multiply.  The drawing they have?  A copy of a copy of a copy.  You can't read much of anything.

They start assembling and about an hour into it.....nothing makes sense.  They call the folks who did the sale and are responsible for the furniture.  What the lady in Georgia didn't know....as she went negative with this installation team....was that I was standing in the room with them.  She went negative and it was like attending a bunch of Catholics walking into a Baptist revival.  Back and forth, negative help.  About four minutes into this....she agreed to help to some minor degree....still not knowing that I was in the corner and hearing this whole conversation.

After 90 more minutes of screwing around....we've come to a quitting point.  The picture?  Out of nine potential desks there....they've assembled two completely.  The rest are lacking pieces.  On top of that....there were two additional desks which weren't delivered at all.

The assembly crew left, but promised to get their boss to call this company involved.  I tried calling these folks but no one ever picked up my call.  On top of that, I sent an email around the middle of the afternoon, but no one responded to that.

The curious thing is that money has yet to be paid out and by not helping much with the crew....the company is simply wasting time.

My boss then put the cherry on this cake....wanting to know precisely each piece missing.  This means I'll spend 90 minutes today....going over the contract and trying to figure out how each piece fits.  I'll be helped by my associate, the facility manager.  Between the two of us....you can figure we'd charge around $40 an hour for anything we do.  So far, this week, we will have invested around $1000 just playing tag and monitoring this entire mess.  The measuring and piecing together of what is missing?  That will consume $90 roughly.  All because the idiots never simplified the stupid modular furniture and never delivered all the pieces.

Yes, I do hate modular furniture, and its for a good reason.