Fertility rites – Obando Feast

In spite of all its rich humanistic endowment, the authorities of the Catholic Church, in its more than two millennia of recorded history, have never shied away from savvy street survival tactics. When it encountered some strongly ingrained social traditions, oftentimes borne out of dark, superstitious, and dangerous periods of communities’ history and legacy, it has tried to co-opt certain so-called “pagan practices” to carry its religious dogma in a socially acceptable way. We have already discussed this strategy in our article about the Celtic feast of Samhein in Europe.

In Ancient Times, before the Spanish conquistadores ever set foot on their islands, the Filipino people had practiced a yearly ritual called kasilonawan for women that could not bear children, which lowered their social status considerably in the clans. Initially the concerned women danced in front of pagan deities, but the Franciscan missionaries, that came with the occupying army, replaced them with three saints. The centralized festivities are now known as the Obando Feast, named after the little town of Manila Bay where it religiously occurs every May. Nowadays the rituals are played inside the church of San Pascual Baylon church and in highly structured mass processions, both featuring a five-step dance, whose choreography was modernized in 1993.

Portia Ladrido, a CNN contributor, said in a report: “The dance is held inside the church, and one would expect a more solemn celebration, but the dance is more of a lively production rather than a sacred prayer. There is a host (or sort of hype man) who pronounces what kind of petition one is asking for (“SA mga gusto magka-anak…Sayaw!” he shouts) and the crowd proceeds to waltzing.” The enthusiasm for this dance is so intense that, not only there are tutorial videos about how to shake the leg, but the parish authorities posted their version in the Facebook page.

The town of Obando, in Manila Bay, has been “the town of three saints” for a long time. San Pascual Baylon and Santa Clara are two saints whose devotion was introduced by the Franciscan missionaries before the parish foundation in 1753. Our Lady of Salambao , the third saint, evokes the apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1763. We should imagine the profound emotional shock that word of the Virgin’s arrival might have had in the largely illiterate and poor residents of the area. A sign of Hope. Local lore states that in 1763 three brothers, who were fishing in Manila Bay, found a statue of the Virgin Mary in their net. When they tried to head back to their hometown of Malambo, their boat would not move, but when they changed its direction to Obando, it immediately propelled forward. Like all the acts of pure faith, you either believe it or not.

In an extensive report in Catholics and Cultures, they said: “May is an exceedingly hot and humid month, so Masses for each feast day begin before dawn in the relative cool of the morning. Each of the three days has a similar format, though each celebrates a different saint at the front of the procession and in church, while the others two follow behind in the procession.” Even though the plaza in front of the church is filled with many vendors peddling all kind of merchandise like amulets, souvenirs, commemorating eggs, etc., it is swiftly cleared before the processions. The local parish does its brisk business too, with some sisters selling saints’ images and seminarians selling eggs with ribbons of different colors, representing “wishes.” The hourly morning masses are packed with attendees, even spilling over into the plaza.

At 8 AM, the procession starts in the plaza, with marching bands, dances (some of the costumed dancers are hired by pilgrims with wishes) and the public; unlike other Catholic processions, there is not a formal presence of parish authorities in the ritual. The dancing ritual was streamlined into a modern choreography presentation with the following 5 steps:

  1. The dancers clasp their hands with the thumbs pointing upward toward the heart while thy chant “Lord, we believe that You will give us a child.”
  2. The feminine dancers push their belly forward while their partners have their backs, all chanting “Lord, please heal me.”
  3. The feminine dancers move their palms clockwise, imitating the massage of an abdomen carrying a child, with their partners still backing them, and all chanting “Lord, please heal me.”
  4. The partners embrace to show their common objective of having a child.
  5. They dance together, rhythmically swaying their hands from left to right.

There are multiple accounts of successful outcomes, which fosters interest in the May ritual; most of the attendees had previously sought medical help or were even undergoing fertility treatments. They considered the ritual as only a complement. For couples frustrated for not bearing a child (something that many of us can relate to)  a few days of maladroit dancing in the Obando plaza is akin to buying a Lotto ticket.

 As the old Castilian saying goes: “La suerte es loca y a cualquiera le toca.”

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

Note. The above saying means: “Luck is unpredictable and can favor anybody.”

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

Happy Rosh Hashanah

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Today, September 18th. 2020, at sunset, the festivities of the Jewish New Year begin, lasting for two days, until Sunday September 20th. We would like to wish all our Jewish relatives, friends and acquaintances a Happy Rosh Hashanah, in these days of tough Social Distancing due to the pandemic. However, as long as one faithful still blows the shofar, the presence of God will be felt.

Shanah Tovah!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

We need a vaccine with worthwhile efficacy

Recent new reports have exposed the subtle and not-so-subtle maneuvers of various governments to “bend the rules a little bit” in the process of certifying the efficacity and safety of the novel vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection. Given that the vaccines, unlike the therapeutic products, will be administered to, not only people who are free of the disease, but also to individuals that are very vulnerable. After months of terrible suffering and thousands of deaths, Humankind cannot afford to make the mistake of using a vaccine that is either defective or not properly useful.

Three vaccine candidates – the ones designed by Pfizer, Moderna and Astra-Zeneca – are already well into the Phase 3 clinical trials, the last step before applying for regulatory approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and similar regulatory agencies. In a Washington Post article, Laurie McGinley and Carolyn Y. Johnson said: “A fierce debate has emerged whether the Food and Drug Administration should use its emergency authority to clear a coronavirus vaccine before it is formally approved – a move opponents warn could pose safety dangers and inflame anti-vaccination sentiment but others said could save thousands of lives by speeding protection from the virus.” On September 3rd the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned the state health officials to start making preparations to distribute a coronavirus vaccine to health care workers and other high-priority groups by November 1st; that announcement immediately sparked a hot debate whether the Trump administration is actually trying to “push a vaccine” before the critical November 3rd general elections in the USA or not.

The vaccine(s) that will eventually be approved by the regulatory agencies must prove that, not only they show efficacity, but they will provide worthwhile efficacity. After the Phase 3 clinical trails show a certain degree of efficacity for a period of time, the vaccine candidates must be vetted for protection against severe forms of the disease and also enough long-term persistence of the protective effects by setting up double-blind placebo studies that might take many more months. Unfortunately, the world does not have the luxury of waiting 2,3, or even 4 years for this process.

In a comment to The Lancet Public Health, Philip Krause, Thomas R. Fleming and Ira Longini—members of the World Health Organization (WHO) Solidarity Vaccines Trial Expert Group—said: “There is a danger that political and economic pressures for the introduction of a COVID-19 vaccine could lead to widespread deployment of a vaccine that is in reality only weakly effective (eg. reducing COVID-19 incidence by only 10-20%) perhaps because a misleadingly promising result from an underpowered trial.” The massive deployment of a “weak vaccine” will have deleterious Public Health consequences for two major reasons:

  1. Authorities may wrongly assume that it represents the expected panacea and disburse major financial and human resources to deploy it.
  2. Vaccinated individuals may assume that they have the needed protection, disregarding the basic measures of protection like Social Distancing.

If the “weak vaccine” is compared to a worse under-performing candidate, we might have the bio-creep effect: the statistical programs might wrongly identify the “worse vaccine” as being non-inferior in the comparison. The WHO recommends that a successful vaccine candidate should reduce the risk of infection by at least half  and with a certainty that its true vaccine efficacity is at least 30%. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concurs with the basic threshold of 30% to show efficacy. “As an example of a result that would just satisfy these two criteria, an even randomized trial with 50 cases arising in those vaccinated and 100 cases in those given placebo would have a 95% CI that just excludes 30%, but would suggest 50% short-term efficacy.”

The authors argue that a global multi-vaccine trial with a shared control group might provide faster and more reliable results about their safety and efficacity. High enrollment rates of individuals for the clinical trials and the participation of many clinical centers worldwide might hasten the discovery and delivery of a candidate. Evaluation of safety in multi-vaccine trials might unmask certain adverse effects in some candidates that might not be present in the rest. One of the greatest risks for any vaccine is its potential to worsen the disease in certain groups, which might only be evident with a critically large number of participants over a larger period of time.

Spurious commercial and political interests have blocked the initiative of a multi-vaccine trial as the parties are keeping guard over “their” vaccines and are reluctant to share scientific and operational data with competitors and other governments. Sadly, Humankind has not yet succeeded in overcoming these pitiful petty interests.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Buona domenica con una spaghetatta ed salmone alla Benedetti

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon and Happy Sunday. Today is the centennial of the birth of Mario Benedetti, a great Uruguayan writer, whom we always admired for his straightforward and entertaining prose about the vicissitudes of middle class residents of Montevideo (something we can identify with)  He was a second generation descendant of the poor Italian immigrants that landed in Uruguay. His compilation of short stories Montevideanos has a flair reminiscent of James Joyce’s Dubliners. His novel La Tregua is the happy-sad account of a middle aged man that discovers Love a little bit late. His complete name was Mario Orlando Hardy Hamlet Brenno Benedetti Farrugia. Salve!

In honor of his contribution to the literary accomplishments of Latin American writers, we are preparing a pasta dish with salmon steaks in a Bechamel sauce with blue cheese and almonds. To prepare that succulent variant of a traditional sauce, we are assembling the following elements.

1- Two salmon steaks  2 – A box of spaghetti  3 – Flour and unsalted butter  4 – Shaved almonds

Warning. Be careful with the freshly caught salmon as it has fish bones, unlike the farm-raised.

You can use almost any mix of seasoning but these are our favorites. And absolutely no salt.

We have recently bought a Nuwave Brio air fryer, oven and grill, which has simplified our regular cooking and at the same time avoid the use of animal or vegetable oils, except for seasoning.

Warning. Once the machine is on, you cannot touch any interior surface with your bare hands.

After approximately 7- 8 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 205 degrees Celsius, it is done. Always check that the interior is also done yet juicy by cutting a little triangle in one of the sides.

Now it is time to prepare the Bechamel sauce (or Bechamela, as it was an Italian creation and those naughty French stole it) Do not despair. Just follow our steps and you will be fine.

First you have to create the base to build up the sauce, which is done with butter and flour.  Put a small square of good butter in a hot pan and wait until it completely melts away.

Slowly start adding one cup of flour (any good kind will do) and mix them to create a dry paste.

Once you create the paste, take it out of the pan and put it in a pot so you can add the liquid.

Add 2-3 cups of milk (depending on how thick you like your sauces) and start stirring. Stir!!!

See how the mixture is thickening? Slowly add the blue cheese and keep stirring to avoid lumps.

Then slowly add the shaved almonds (or whatever nut you have at home) and…Yes, keep stirring.

We like to add some nutmeg on top but if you do not, skip this step. Guess what? Keep stirring.

The sauce should be rather thick but never have any lumps. If it does, guess what? You got it!

Stir! Stir! Stir!

May we skip the part where we boil the pasta? Well, considering the laziness of modern women..

Ladies and gentlemen, dinner is served. Would you please join us at our humble yet warm table?

Buon appetito!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Superstitious artists – Salvador Dali

“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.”

Thus Salvador Dali summarized his irrepressible urges during his agitated and prolific artistic career. In a twisted Schumpeterian version for the visual arts, he indefatigable destroyed its old paradigms and, at the same time, designed totally new ones. He created something called “paranoia-criticism”—a novel artistic concept; he considered it as a philosophy of art he described as “the irrational understanding based on the interpretive- critical association of delirious phenomena.”

Born in Figueres, Catalonia, he was deeply influenced by Impressionism and the pictorial masters of the Renaissance at a young age, but later shifted to Cubism, until finally settling in Surrealism in the late 1920s. The Persistence of Memory, his best-known tableau, was completed in August 1931. During the Spanish Civil War, he took refuge in France, and after it ended, he moved to the USA where he enjoyed a significant commercial success. In 1948 he had a sudden rapture of religious fervor and he went back to Spain, which was under the joke of dictator Francisco Franco.

The breadth and scope of his artistic interests is simply unique and admirable: painting, graphic arts, film, sculpture, design, photography, fiction, and poetry, etc. He had the collaboration of many artists in these endeavors, often attracted to his eclectic and flamboyant personality; some critics complained that his flashy lifestyle was drawing more attention than the actual artistic value of his production per se. However, his extravagant public demeanor was, and still is, seared in his production.

As all the trendsetting creators, Salvador Dali strove to be in “total control” of his production, which made him extremely superstitious; he always carried around in his pocket a small piece of driftwood that he claimed was useful to ward off the evil. He set up unconventional means and unusual surroundings to give his lectures; in one of them he donned a diving bell helmet and suit that almost suffocated him. Dali used fantastic dreams and irrational propositions to try to express the Subconscious. Following the early pathways of Hieronymus Bosch, he adhered to a “fantastic” concept of art, drawing mythical creatures and human beings in bizarre landscapes.

Dali never wavered from any expression of unremitting narcissism and felt to the last day of his life that he could be somehow spared from his inevitable final demise. In July 1986, his physician strongly advised him to have a pacemaker implanted, which he finally relented to. When he returned to his theater-museum in Figures, he had a brief press conference where he famously and insolently said:

“When you are a genius, you do not have the right to die because we are necessary for the progress of humanity.”

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

Salud Señora Sopa!

“Entre la sopa y el amor, la primera es la mejor.”

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Today we woke up an irresistible urge to cook and eat (or drink, however you want to call it) a good peasant’s soup full of healthy potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and corn. Therefore we already laid out the battery of necessary ingredients, as you can see below.

As a carbohydrate base, we will use some semolina pasta like the Casarecce (small fucilli) Someone might point out that we are not using any kind of meat, note even some chicken. This has been done on purpose as our impoverished Basque and Italian ancestors were mostly poor field laborers and sheep herdsmen that could only afford it on special occasions like Christmas. Vegetarians by necessity, they always managed to compensate for the lack of animal proteins.

Commenting on our article about a luscious pasta dish with a Bechamel sauce that we posted last Sunday, our dearest friend Chrissie suggested that we should describe the recipe so some enthusiasts might follow our steps (why do women always ask you to work more, never less?) Your wishes are an order for moi, dear Chrissie, so we will post a few pictures of the process.

We will use the condiments pictured above, including the fabulous Moringa powder. which we have written about in a previous Wellness series’ article. In these difficult times, we need all the strength we can muster so we will use the Indian condiment that our dear daughter gave us.

We are going to post the picture first and then some accompanying yada-yada (not too much)

First boil some water in a pot (fill it at half capacity to allow the contents and steam’s expansion)  Drop the cube and start stirring; we always use two cubes to make the broth much stronger.

Stir. Stir. Stir. In order to avoid lumping and to maximize flavor, you got to have a strong biceps.

First drop the cut potatoes as they will take longer to cook. However, you must check that they are only half-cooked before you go the following step. We are not preparing a pureé here. We  recommend an 8-10 minutes cooking time; check the potatoes until you can half-pierce them.

Keep stirring. One, Two. One. Two. Don’t despair. Your family will thank you for the effort. Stir!

Now it’s time for all the veggies. Be careful. Do not cook for more than 5 minutes. Keep stirring.

Now it’s time for the booster that stopped the Macedonian Army of Alexander the Great in its march through Northern India (you didn’t check our article yet?) Put two big spoonfuls aprox.

Finally it’s time for the pasta. If you use a semolina variety, cook for at least 10 more minutes. Now it’s the time to use condiments to flavor the broth. Do not exaggerate with any of them.

After half an hour of toiling at the kitchen, we have our peasant soup. You can add a little dollop of rich parmesan cheese to counter the slight sourness of the Moringa. Voilà! Bon apétit!

 

We hope that our readers, and especially our beloved Chrissie, will be satisfied with this result.

Note. The expression in Castilian language at the top of the page means: “Between soup and love, the first one is the best.”

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

The odds for vaccine gambling can turn awry

Some things in Life should never be rushed. Real love. Grilled meat. And vaccines.

In a New York Times article, Katherine J. Wu and Katie Thomas said today: “The pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca halted large, late-stage global trials of its coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday because of a serious suspected adverse reaction in a participant, the company said.” This report said that, according to some sources, that adverse reaction in one participant of the United Kingdom’s trial might have been transverse myelitis, a serious neurological inflammatory reaction to viruses.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca product is one of the most advanced vaccine candidates for the SARS-CoV-2 infection, with almost 30,000 participants in Phase 3 clinical trials around the globe. In a previous article, we discussed the encouraging early results of the Phase 1-2 clinical trials of this vaccine, which uses a viral vector to insert the SARS-CoV-2 genetic material into the human cells to provoke an inflammatory response. After assessing its efficacy, it is now being tested for its safety for humans, with extended Phase2/3 trials conducted in the United Kingdom and the Republic of India plus additional Phase 3 trials in Brazil, South Africa and 60 US testing sites.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca administrators did exactly what they were trained to do: once a major clinical complication arises, the whole process must be halted and the case (or cases) must be thoroughly studied by an institutional review board. That clinical complication could have been just a coincidence, but the possibility of a harmful side-effect must be carefully, patiently studied and vetted out. Moreover, large segments of the public in modern nations are already skeptical of vaccines; the emergence of a grave complication, like it happened with an early Polio vaccine in the 1950s, could drastically undermine the trust in this candidate, and others as well.

Aware of the above mentioned profound public suspicion about the safety of any vaccine candidates, nine pharmaceutical companies that are developing them recently signed a formal pledge not to seek any regulatory approval before all the necessary clinical trials have been completed and the data duly examined by them.

This is a welcome backstop to the various political pressures exerted, openly and surreptitiously, on pharmaceutical companies to rush a candidate to market to pander to the scared electorate. We should only pay heed to the “scientific date” for the vaccine’s arrival and not it’s “political one.”Governments that advanced many millions of dollars to speed the development and production of a good vaccine, must realize that they were in fact using “our money” for it.

Crossing fingers, they cannot cavalierly gamble our Health at the roulette table of Blind Hope.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Latest peer-reviewed data about the Novavax vaccine

Most of Humankind is hoping to be relieved from the terrible Coronavirus pandemic by the arrival of one (and preferably two) vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has spawned it. However, the recent reports that there might be political pressures of all stripes to accelerate its arrival, maybe sidestepping all the traditional scientific procedures to certify it, as not only safe but also effective, has frayed the nerves of the concerned public opinion across the globe. Therefore if new and reliable data starts to appear about the more-advanced vaccine candidates, the scientific certification and public support needed for their regulatory approval will solidify.

In a previous article, we have already discussed the innovative design of the Novavax vaccine. C.Keech et al., from Novavax, have submitted a peer-reviewed article about the Phase 1 and 2 trials of their Recombinant Spike Protein Nanoparticle vaccine. They had set up “a randomized, placebo-controlled, phase 1-2 trial to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of the rSARS-CoV-2 vaccine (in 5-ug and 25-ug doses, with or without Matrix-M1 adjuvant, and with observers unaware of trial-group assignments) in 131 healthy adults)” The participants were divided thus:

  1. a) Eighty-three (83) participants were given the vaccine plus the adjuvant.
  2. b) Twenty-five (25) participants were given the vaccine without the adjuvant.
  3. c) Twenty-three (23) participants received a placebo.

The researchers reported the initial results of the Phase 1, which was started in May. The Novavax vaccine is a recombinant nanoparticle vaccine designed with the full-length wild-type SARS-C0V-2 spike glycoprotein previously biologically primed in the baculovirus Spodoptera frugiperda insect cell-expression system. The rSARS-CoV-2 is resistant to the degradation to proteolytic cleavage, successfully binds with the hACEe receptor and is sufficiently stable at different temperatures. The company also manufactured the Matrix-m1, a saponin-based adjuvant, which was mixed with rSARS-CoV-2 right before the application to individuals. There were two injections in the deltoid muscle (both for the vaccine and the placebo) separated by 21 days.

First of all we must say that there were no serious adverse events for any  participants (thank you God Almighty for illuminating those brave scientists’ minds and hands) The addition of the adjuvant boosted the immunogenicity response by inducing a T helper 1 (Th1) response, which bode very well for the possibility of a much longer immunological defense for vaccinated individuals. Every participant was duly observed for half an hour after each injection and were given a dairy to carry home. “Predefined local (injection site) reactogenicity included pain, tenderness, erythema, and swelling; systemic reactogenicity included fever, nausea or vomiting, headache, fatigue, malaise, myalgia, and arthralgia.” The reactogenicity was also mild after the second vaccination and there was not a safety pause for any participating individual. The laboratory abnormalities of grade 2 or higher occurred in 13 participants (10% of the group) but were not associated with any grave clinical presentation. Six individuals (5 women and 1 man) had transitory lowering of the Hemoglobin values, with no evidence of microcytic anemia or hemolysis (destruction of red blood cells)

The evidence of an immunological defense set up by the bodies of participants was assessed by measuring the anti-spike IgG ELISA unit responses to rSARS-CoV-2 protein antigens, measured at days 0, 7,21,28 and 35. Those results were compared with a control panel of 32 (IgG) and 29 (MN) convalescent serum harvested form patients with PCR-confirmed infection that eventually successfully recovered. “ELISA anti-spike IgG geometric main ELISA units (GMEUs) ranged from 106 to 116 at day 0. By day 21, responses had occurred for all adjuvanted regimens…and geometric mean fold rises (GMFRs) exceeded those induced without adjuvant by a factor of at least 10. Within 7 days after the second vaccination with adjuvant…had further increased by a factor of 8…over responses seen with the first vaccination, and within 14 days (day 35) responses had more than doubled yet again, achieving GMFRs that were approximately 100 times greater than those observed with rSARS-CoV-2 alone.”

These initial results are certainly encouraging for those of us anxiously waiting for the vaccine.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Buona domenica con la pasta, baccala ed fagioli a l’Americana

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning and Happy Sunday. Some of the most colorful and flavorful dishes in Italian cuisine come from Sicilia, that magic island at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Near East. One of the most typical dishes is pasta ed fagioli, a staple of the diet of the poor Italian farmers that worked as bracciante (laborers) or mezzadri (sharecroppers) in the fertile fields often owned by absentee landlords from Roma or Milano. In honor of those hardy and honest workers that toiled tirelessly, not only in the peninsula, but also in the fields of Argentina and Uruguay, we are preparing a special dish today: pasta, baccala ed fagioli a l’Americana. Please remember that the whole continent was named in honor of the great Italian cartographer Amerigo Vespucci.

There is plentiful of fish, especially sardines, in the island cuisine and cod is not an exception; though more rare nowadays due to over-fishing, that marvelous creature still navigates in the depths of the Mediterranean Sea. We cooked some fusilli in a Bechamel sauce with black beans, pistachios and Brazilian nutmeg. Can you feel the latter’s bewitching aroma enveloping you?

Even though the black beans were first planted by the Aztecs and the Mayas in Central America, we wanted to honor the countless emigrants of the humongous Italian Exodus of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that had chosen to start a new life in the continent of dreams: l’America. The salsa Bechamela is the perfect conduit for all these delicate flavors without blunting them. In order to show you how easy it is to prepare one, we are enclosing the picture of the cooking pot.

Of course we could not forget to grate some pungent Regiano-Parmegggiano cheese on top. There is plenty for all of us. Please come join us at our humble table for cibo ed converzazione. In the Italian culture, shared by millions of us, good food is a convenient excuse to make friends.

Salve bravissimi concitadini!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Sad “sovietization” of WP Customer Service

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. We would like to share a major concern about the Customer Service provided by WordPress that has been annoying us for weeks.  We had paid for a Quick Start session for a personalized session to develop our page with several items almost two months ago. So far we have been unable to schedule an appointment at a reasonable time (not at a birdy time like 4 or 5 AM) and we have been shocked by their effective indifference to help us out. Trying to get a miserly half-an-hour time-slot with one of their so-called “happiness engineers” (whose happiness are they talking about? Not ours, for sure)  has been so far as frustratingly pitiful and humiliating as the sorry search of this endearing Mamushka in a barren store for a loaf of bread.

Moreover when we have tried to politely chat with one of their representatives, they invariably show up without identifying themselves, as if they were trying to hide from their customers. Why are they so afraid of us? We are  honest about our identities and they should know that we are not “out to get them”, just interested in using their services. The service experience has been quite patchy but this “cat and mouse” game is plainly Un-American, redolent of the Soviet Union, where there was a total disrespect and disdain for the citizenry by the governing nomenklatura. The extravagant pretension of trying to hide their identities from bonafide customers might be an expression of the power asymmetry that, sadly, seems to be searing into the business ethos of this once innovative web company. They might be slowly pivoting from service to self-service.

We know who you are and where you live. You are not entitled to any info about us. Watch out.

Perhaps this company, comrades, has become too big and does not care any longer for us, the “poor little guys.” Perhaps we should adopt a “little obedient” attitude, hoping to one day receive “a little morsel” of their attention. Perhaps we should start trembling with the possibility that they might send us to a “gulag” for rebellious bloggers. Perhaps we should shut up and not complain at all, lest we develop a dangerous reputation of a “troublemaker.”

Oh no!!! Someone is knocking at our door right now. Is the Cheka finally coming to detain us? Will we have time to pick up our toothbrush? How is the weather in Siberia today? Anyone?

Bud’ osthorozen!

Dasvidaniya!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.