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"We Are All Mozart"

A project to create
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the perception of the
music of our time.

Mantra Canon score pages Dennis

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Really, it was a bizarre 40 minutes. You see, I wanted to send a package. FedEx treats packages well, and all kinds of packages increasingly come via FedEx ground. The post office has been good, but lost an important package a few months ago, and I entrust important packages to private carriers now. UPS is a tad less than careful with delicate items. So why not do the FedEx?

Rumor had it FedEx will pick up. Actually, it's not rumor -- they advertise it heavily. So why not do that, too, since the nearest FedEx ground dropout is a fuel-uneconomical eight miles away? Besides, FedEx is here almost every day anyway, so it's not like going to Siberia.

I went to the FedEx website. I am so intuitive about impending disasters, but I'm also technologically stubborn. I had to turn on Javascript. Warning? Yes. Warning accepted? Nope.

Menu, menu. Ah. Yes, I want to send a package. Wait, it wants me to sign in. I create a username and password, which then works perfectly, until the next step wants my account number. Uh. I don't have an account. Isn't that what I'm doing now? I suppose not, or at least it thinks not, so I'll create one. Hmmm. There's no option provided to create an account. I clicked around for a while until a sign-in dialog appeared that had a "New Account" arrow. Good. I create an account, and it asks me for card info to charge my packages. Done.

Next step: Create the shipping label. Hey, this is easy! Ship-to address, weight, contact telephone, the usual. The label looks good, and it prints out nicely, barcode included (a 2-D barcode no less; fancy!). I paste it on the package (which happens to be a used FedEx box), and click the offered option to pick up the package. I take the link, fill in the form (number of packages, latest pickup time, nickname), and click "Schedule pickup". Done.

Uh, no. (You knew this, right?) A red message appears. "The system has experienced an unexpected problem and is unable to complete your request. Please contact FedEx Customer Service to schedule your pickup." Click customer service. "Page Not Found." Page Not Found. Yes, I have scripting turned on. There's no secret script (the Firefox NoScript applet picks those up). I back up, repost the data, and try again. System error. Page not found. Page not bloody found? This is one of the world's most advanced shipping companies? To whom I just gave my credit card information?

Okay, okay, chill. I go to the FAQ to check on scheduling pickups. There's a FAQ for everything but scheduling package pickups. Contact customer service? Yes. Did I read the FAQ? Of course I read the FAQ. Why else would I be asking? The form has every option except scheduling pickups, so I choose "other". This is so not looking good. But, ah, at least it lets the message send, and I even get a copy in my emailbox, along with the account setup acknowledgment! Yes! And, voilà, ten minutes later there is a reply with a telephone number to call. Tel-e-phone. Not so good, I can feel it. (My faithful reader will know I'm a phone-o-phobe.)

Automated voice recognition. What is my account number? I say it. Too many numbers. I try again. Too many numbers. Then I get it -- the system doesn't understand "zero". I have to say "oh". Now it works. It takes me through all the choices that were on the form, one by one, until the last one. "For other questions, say 'representative'". I say 'representative'. Beeps follow and a quiet voice answers with a very long name.

I explain that I can't get my package picked up. The account is too new, she says. Once I get my account acknowledgment, I can schedule a pickup. I have received the account acknowledgment, I explain. She repeats that I have to receive it. This dance continues three times, at which point she says she does not have enough information.

But she can help me by sending me to another person who can help me, since it's a pickup question. (Didn't I say that? Yes, I did. It was even in my email.) The second person is more helpful, at least until we get to the picking up part. Oh, yes, I may have received the acknowledgment, but I can't ship yet because the system wants me to be a customer for 48 hours first. Eh? Having my credit card information isn't enough?

But she can help me by sending me to a third person who can expedite it so I can ship. But no. My address is not eligible for pickup. I have to drop it off. In Williston. 55 miles away. This can't be right, I suggest, because there's a parcel drop eight miles away. In fact, I'm on the FedEx website which has helpfully found my nearest FedEx Ground drop location for me. And why is it I can't have pickup, as FedEx was here this very morning dropping off a package? Because the last pickup of the day has gone out, and besides ... click, click, click on her end ... there is no pickup in Vermont. I can get delivery but no pickup? Yes, they deliver but don't pick up. It's a different vehicle, which is why it doesn't matter that the truck is here every day or so.

But she can help me by sending me to another person, who then notes that, yes, my address is eligible for pickup, but I hadn't signed up for a pickup account. I wasn't given the option, I say. Oh, I see, the website doesn't say that. I'm so sorry. I apologize. Thank you for your patience (we're at 20 minutes now). Unfortunately, I will have to cancel the account and set up a new one. She can set up the new account right now. Would I like that? (And my choices are...?). But it happens. Slowly. One. Word. At. A. Time. The old account will need to be canceled, too, but that's not something she can do.

But she can help me by sending me to another person who will cancel it. I am transferred, re-explain carefully to make sure the right thing is being done. The account is canceled. I may then return to the website to schedule a pickup now. Is there anything else I can help you with today? No, thank you, have a nice day. Click. Total time elapsed: 40 minutes.

I return to the website, identify the new account (with a new username, just to be sure), clear cookies, and start again. Everything is going well! My account says pickup is enabled! I prepare the pickup form and... it has substituted my old account number for the new one, and refuses to allow me to create the request. I clear cookies again, leave the browser, and start over. Nope.

I have now had dinner and am realtime blogging. I have gone in by hand to remove all traces of FedEx cookies, and signed in again. Everything is different now. New agreements, something else about "FedEx InSight". Gosh, two intercaps. I go back home, and find the package pickup menu. Here we are again. It looks eerily familiar, but now the new account information is showing. Good. An improvement. Everything is entered to "Schedule a FedEx Ground Pickup". Know that television ad where the guy is surrounded by his family and is about to make a stock purchase online? He clicks and they all scream "Yes!" It feels like that. Should I click "Schedule pickup"? Yes!

Click! Pause. "The system has experienced an unexpected problem and is unable to complete your request. Please contact FedEx Customer Service to schedule your pickup." Click customer service. "Page Not Found."

* * *

The cherry boards for the island bottom will arrive tomorrow.

* * *

Vocalion 78
There are some things I don't want to get broken in shipment. So I tried to use FedEx. Are you listening, FedEx? Advanced high-tech company? Efficient?

FedEx Errors
And you thought I was kidding.

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