|It's not that bad. Really.|
I guess you don't have to be into model railroad operations to know what a "punch list" is, but it wasn't until I starting reading about others' ops sessions that I started hearing that term regularly. All it really is, at bottom, is a "to do" list.
However, unlike the usual to-do list, it's more retrospective than prospective. Before an operating session, you have your traditional to-do list: all the things that need to be done to be sure your operating session runs as smoothly as possible. You check the track & wiring, you check the locomotives & cars, you check your throttles, etc. When you finish your to-do list, you're ready to roll, literally & figuratively. By contrast, the model railroad punch list is also a list of items that need to be done, but here the "to-do-ness" doesn't become apparent until during or after your operating session.
But how do you even get a "punch list?" Isn't everything operating wonderfully once you've finished your to-do list? Ah, yes. But one of the
frustrations joys of operating sessions is that Mr. Murphy always attends, though he's never invited. Inevitably, you either missed something or - more likely - something entirely new shows up that needs to be fixed.
My punch list includes fixing the south switch at Rocky Hill that suddently-and-without-warning decided to morph into a spring switch, resoldering feeders on the slaughterhouse and Dividend tank track sidings that inexplicably popped off sometime during the previous night, and fixing a throttle that decided to fall to the floor and break apart (though technically that's not Murphy's fault - I need to provide more security in the form of lanyards). There are other items (see above photo), but you get the idea.
After reviewing my list(s), I'm beginning to think that maybe the distinction between to-do lists and a punch lists has less to do with their prospective versus retrospective nature, (um) respectively. Perhaps a "punch list" is really nothing more than a list of all the reasons to give Mr. Murphy a hard punch in the nose. Maybe then he won't be so eager to show up at my NEXT operating session...