Friday, December 21, 2007

Fershtunkena Contractors

What's with building contractors? Of course, there are the outright crooks who take your money and disappear. I don't mind that so much, because that's larceny and is therefore comprehensible. You just go to the cops. It's the honest but nutty contractor who is mind-boggling. What gets me, are the guys who give you an estimate, tell you when they're going to start the job, don't ask for a down payment and then don't show up. There's always an excuse and a rescheduling of the starting date. You haven't paid any money, so what can you do? The rescheduled date slips, because the contractors granny came down with trichinosis. The subcontractor's dog dies and then the materials aren't available from the lumber yard. The color you want and agreed upon suddenly has dropped out of the spectrum. There are no trees being cut down for wood due to an embargo by Green Peace. Some of the other excuses would make Bart Simpson blush. After the contractor has stalled you with six months of broken appointments, you decide yo are really, really going to fire him this time. He politely doesn't care. He's got months of returning telephone calls, at least one visit to the site to give an estimate invested in you, and he just doesn't care. It's as though he's testing your endurance.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fershtunkener idea

As you are aware I'm fascinated by the fallibility of the human mind. I noted a new example the other day while struggling with one of the traffic circles in our retirement community. I'm not going to complain about the traffic circle itself. That's been done to death. Let's face it, at least about half of the people entering the circle don't know what they're doing. No, as I was struggling to maintain a view of the many hazards surrounding me, I jogged my head back and forth from one side of the window-roof pillar to the other. I recalled that this didn't used to be the case.

Back in the early '50's, you'll remember that we had "wrap-around" windshields. Here's a quote from a January 23, 1954 Christian Science Monitor news story titled, Cadillac Declares Top Power: "The wrap-around, panoramic windshield follows the trend in most General Motors cars this year, designed to move back the corner post blind spot from the driver's vision. These windshields add 186 square inches to the window area. A total of 55 square inches has been added to the over-all window space compared with 1953."

The problem of obstructed vision was solved by technology developed for WWII bombers. Bravo. Fast forward about twenty years and Lee Iacocca comes along to huckster "cab-forward design." Everyone signs on based upon a massive ad campaign. Besides, it's so stylish to move the windshield away from the driver and over the engine compartment!! It's more aerodynamic they assure us. (Actually the improvement is negligible.) The net result is that we all accept driving around with our view of the road obscured by a big fat post. Someday a class action lawyer is going to get smart and sue Chrysler for perpetrating this road hazard on the American people. With respect -Joel