December 2007

At Christmas our thoughts turn to the different events and circumstances surrounding the birth of the Son of God. As we contemplate the stable in Bethlehem or the home of the holy family in Nazareth, Mary, Joseph and the child Jesus occupy a special place in our hearts. What does the simple, admirable life of the holy family tell us? What can we learn from it?

I would like particularly to comment on one of the many considerations that we might make on this theme. As we read in holy Scripture, the birth of Jesus means the beginning of the fullness of time. It was the moment God chose to show the extent of his love for men, by giving us his own Son. And God’s will is fulfilled in the simplest, most ordinary of circumstances: a woman who gives birth, a family, a home. The power of God and his splendour come to us through a human reality to which they are joined. Since that moment Christians have known that, with God’s grace, they can and should sanctify everything that is good in their human lives. There is no human situation, no matter how trivial and ordinary it may seem, which cannot be a meeting-place with Christ and a step forward on our journey toward the kingdom of heaven.

It is only natural that the Church rejoices as it contemplates the modest home of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. We read in the hymn from matins on the feast of the Holy Family: “It is pleasing to recall the lowly house at Nazareth and its slender resources, it is pleasing to tell again in song Jesus’ hidden life. Jesus grows up in hidden seclusion, to be trained in Joseph’s lowly trade. The loving Mother sits beside her dear Son, the good wife by her husband, content if her loving attention can ease and comfort them in their weariness.”

Read the rest here


A stomach bug has been working its way through the house since Friday.

I am never more grateful for my washing machine than during times like these…

The replacement 560 unit that I was promised would go out immediately is on backorder.

I learned this from my mother. She actually ordered the Roomba for me, as a gift. So she got an email stating it was backordered right after I got the email down below, from the head of Technical Support, that a replacement was coming post haste.

My mom also received in the “real” mail on Christmas Eve the postage-paid return label for me to return the defective 560. Again, bear in mind, I’m the owner of the Roomba, and my mother and I live on opposite coasts. And the customer service person I spoke to on the phone last week verified my address correctly before sending out the label.

So I’m really at a loss at this point. I don’t know what to make of this company. I’ve read glowing reviews about their outstanding customer service, how iRobot will bend over backwards to keep the customer happy. Yet I keep encountering employees who don’t seem to know their a**** from their elbows, and don’t seem to place any importance whatsoever on keeping the customer correctly informed, much less happy.

Update 12/28:

The replacement unit arrived early this evening via UPS.  I have put it through its paces briefly.  So far, it is working wonderfully.  We’ll see if this one holds up…  I still have no idea why all those conflicting email messages were flying around.

Update 12/29:

It’s still running.  The baby still thinks it’s his new best friend, and follows it around.

The latest crazy customer service update has me puzzled, though– today, I received in the mail a postage-paid return UPS label.  It had my mother’s name on it, but was addressed to my home address.  This wasn’t the one my mom received at her house and forwarded on.  It was a completely different label sent out to this hybrid person with my mother’s name and my address… 

And it came to pass, that in those days there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David, To be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.

And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:

For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us.

And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Post-apocalyptic sci-fi always intrigues me, with the classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, Steven King’s The Stand, and S. M. Stirling’s still-in-progress Dies the Fire series ranking among my favorite books, and Twelve Monkeys in film. So I was curious to see I Am Legend, and even more because of its New York City setting.

The movie did not disappoint. It was scary, thought-provoking, scary, action-packed, scary, disturbing, scary, occasionally humorous, and—did I mention scary? I dunno—perhaps it was just my mood last night, but I was so not wanting to see poor Will Smith and his dog get jumped on by bald, emaciated, albino zombies. Which, of course, is exactly what happened. Several times.

The movie is clean (yea!!!) and very exciting. If you’re inclined to be jumpy, just go in forewarned that, yes, this movie will make you jump… J But it’s still worth seeing.

If you’ve ever wondered if this thing actually works, the answer is YES, it does.  The Progressive Onion Chopper (usually selling in the $15-20 range) does a terrific job on onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc.  I can whip up a mean pico de gallo in a flash.  Definitely worth the money.

Note– iRobot was founded by two MIT alumni and one MIT professor. That’s why I resorted to emailing them directly when normal channels failed… 



I’m a fellow alum, and a really, really frustrated iRobot customer.  I have no idea how detailed of customer service records you guys keep, but FWIW my order number is XXXXXX9644. I received, as a gift, a 560, which stopped working less than a day after I started running it. (rec’d 11/29, died 11/30.) The brushes stopped spinning.  I initially emailed customer service about this but got no response.  After about three non-responsive days, I called.  After spending 30+ minutes on hold, I was told that a new Cleaning Head Assembly would be sent out ASAP. (Dec. 3) A few minutes after that I got an email essentially saying, “Whoops!!!  That part is on back order.  We don’t know when it will be in.” 

After several fruitless emails and phone conversations about WHEN the part would arrive, I finally gave up and called Sales (which, funny enough, DOESN’T PUT PEOPLE ON HOLD FOR 30 MINUTES!!!) last Friday, 12/14.  I was told that a replacement unit and mailing label would go out to me this week, and an email would confirm the shipment.   After not receiving any emails, I called back yesterday (12/19) to check, and was told that actually I was only being sent the return label, not the new unit.  Supposedly, a return label was emailed to my mother (who had ordered the Roomba for me.)  She never received such an email.  I was told one would be emailed to me directly.  It still hasn’t turned up, even though the sales people I’ve spoken to insist it’s been sent out and we’ve verified my email address. 

Now, I get to wait for the label to arrive via snail mail.  The replacement unit won’t ship out to me until the mail system tracks that the broken unit is on its way back to iRobot.  I told the most recent sales lady that I was instructing my mom to stop payment on her VISA card until this matter was resolved, and she told me if I did that then they would not send out a new unit, since it wasn’t paid for.  Heh.   

Frankly, it doesn’t matter how good your product is if your customer services sucks.  Initially I was hesitant to use your alumni email addresses for something like this, but I’m really beyond that now.  I am so ticked off at the sheer arrogance of this company.  This was not an insignificant amount of money for my family—normally we give much, much smaller gifts at Christmas, but my mom and siblings were trying to help me out because I have a very large family and a lot of cleaning to do.  Yet all I’ve gotten from you guys so far, in exchange for over $300, is a broken unit, and a bunch of empty promises.  The technology may be cool, but the basic human respect factor has been completely lost here. 

Margaret XXXXX XXXX ’93

Update 12/21

I sincerely apologize for the back order and poor customer service you received with your new Roomba 560. Your replacement will be shipped to you immediately. We truly appreciate your feedback and will work to correct these problems in our Technical Support organization. If you have any further concerns, please contact me directly. 

Kind regards, 

Maryellen Xxxx

Director Technical Support

iRobot Corporation 

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