Things I Have Been Thinking About Lately…
bits and pieces from my mind in holiday mode

December is always a busy time of year for our household and family. It seems that so many annual tasks and obligations occur for us in the twelfth month.

The Zen of Angel Food
Every year, since he can remember, my husband has celebrated his birthday on December 9 with an angel food cake. Given that we have been together since 1971, it was one of the first things in the kitchen that I ever learned to do well from scratch.


Last Friday, I was exhausted from a wild week of pre holiday planning and marathon shopping in addition to all of life’s other regular and unyielding demands. All the same, I spent the afternoon in my cucina alone, quite content to be by myself. Solo with the mounds of whipped egg whites (I use 12) and sugar, watching as the science of baking slowly and magically turned the goop from unborn fowl into the froth of angels. Each year I approach this labor of love with affection and take great enjoyment from the act of simply preparing it; I marvel at this ages old French creation and love the process more and more.

It was extremely peaceful as I worked and whipped and blended, reminding me of the tasks required of our local American Indians in times past. As the local folklore has it, whenever the Indian women worked on handmade items, they were required by the elders to maintain a certain optimistic frame of mind, so that the product of the labor would carry that sensibility with it, particularly if the product was to be a gift. I have always liked the idea that the Indian women were not allowed to work if they were feeling unhappy or depressed or ill in some other way. Never taint a labor of love.

Last Friday I was pleased to have such a task at hand and so completed it in the spiritually correct manner. Likewise, as always, it pleased the intended to have such an effort produced in his honor. We ate the light, sweet cake after dinner with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. It was lovely.


Concerning Business: Ignore Them and They Will Go Away
Yeah, I am sooooooooo glad that I spent $89 last May for virus protection. (Not).

In December, one always has to think about last minute business and tax related issues. This year, I dread the creeping deadline, which will arrive at midnight on the 31st, while trying to decide which software/computers to replace. I genuinely wish I did not have to cope with such quandaries right now.

On July 13, my computer (favorite laptop) intercepted a corrupted automatic update from McAfee. Such an unexpected attack wreaked havoc on the poor little thing and it has never been the same. It still has major problems and is unable to connect to the Internet in FrontPage. This presented an enormous problem for me because I use this trusty laptop whenever I am traveling. Often while suspended in the travel mindset limbo, an idea will descend upon me (for one of our websites) and with my beloved Toshiba at hand, I am frequently able to act on that creative whim immediately.

Everyone with whom I have spoken --- and there are so many (countless by now) --- contend that somehow, McAfee has inadvertently altered the firewall in my laptop. Not being a programmer, I haven’t the knowledge to delve all that deeply into the innards of my dear little friend and determine what the matter can possibly be. And believe me, I have tried. With the help of my web host, Microsoft, my ISP and Toshiba, we have investigated all known avenues. Problem is, without the assistance of a qualified McAfee technician, it is difficult to now exactly how the McAfee programs interact with other firewall mechanisms.

McAfee is an interesting company with a mission for mass selling a product which, when it malfunctions, is apparently unfixable. And if the problem is unfixable, McAfee quickly backs away and/or discourages the customer from asking questions. Ahhhh, notable tactics for handling difficult situations.

The notion of follow-up service at McAfee is also very remarkable and seems to include a variety of techniques for ignoring the patron until she gives up and hopefully goes away. In the meantime, if the client desires a higher level of service, he or she is always welcome to dial a 900 number (i.e. pay by the minute) or to purchase even more software. It appears that McAfee has such a large customer base that service is neither an issue nor a considerable priority at the corporation. Have you ever tried solving a software issue by using a chat feature?

Via letter, I contacted McAfee’s president and CEO George Samenuk, in August, October and again last week. Though he hasn’t personally responded to me at all, he did put one of his subordinates on the task, ultimately, I now fear, to discover a way to dismiss me.

A McAfee ”Senior Technician” was assigned to help me. She was a nice enough person, but did not prepare herself for the task at hand prior to contacting me, even though I had outlined my situation in detail in a letter and had numerous chat discussions to back up my contentions that a problems exists. The “Senior Technician” kept me on the line for hours, while she perused the Internet to see if there was a prefabricated solution to this issue. Furthermore she had never used FrontPage and so had no idea how the two software packages might interact or how McAfee firewall adjustments might affect FrontPage’s ability to connect to the Internet. When I objected to her superior, about this absolute lack of preparedness and inadequate skill set, the response was to draw a conclusion that that FrontPage is not a McAfee product and so McAfee has no responsibility to further assist me. However, as I continue to protest, FrontPage was rendered dysfunctional only on July 14 after McAfee sent me the corrupted automatic update. It worked perfectly well with everything else on my sweet little laptop on July 13 and prior.

It is telling to observe that consistency is the over arching theme of this company’s customer service philosophy. Likewise, patience is a virtue. At every level, McAfee has implemented its’ method of making the customer wait until she reaches a level of frustration and gives up the quest for service or decides to fork over additional cash simply to bring the waiting to a halt. Time is a valuable commodity as well. McAfee insists that its ailing clients spend either great amounts of time or cash for further assistance. Quite a fascinating sales method, if I do say so.

If you will, call me old fashioned, however it is my opinion that when a business offers a product for sale, if the product in due course malfunctions and causes harm to the buyer, that business is responsible for making the client whole again. Without additional fees or costs to the client.

As for me, well at this point in my life, I have found that I have far more patience and perseverance than money, so I continue to hope for some useful assistance from the people at McAfee who are supposed to be helping me keep my computers free of viral infections.

By the way, only two days ago, my computers (the very ones protected by the McAfee Security Suite) were infected with the W 32 Sober @ MM! M681 virus. As I say, December is always a hectic month for us.


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