From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
Rachel is an important character, and while she doesn't quite fit as a romantic interest, she and Bert care deeply about each other. Even if she doesn't fully understand or agree with Bert's actions, she sticks by him, as any good friend should. She's his companion.