Alexa the Great

I love planners, ball point pens, highlighters,

to do lists and anything that gives the illusion

that I’m getting my life together.

We were given an Echo Dot for Christmas. I was thrilled. Finally, someone I could boss around who would actually do what I said.

“Alexa, put baking soda on the shopping list.”

“Alexa, what appointments do I have today?”

So much fun — an order goes out, it is filled! All is right in the universe.

Then I found out we may have gotten a remedial model. It can do basic math, “Alexa what is the square root of 4,543” “20,638,849.” However, if I ask, “Alexa, if a train leaves the station traveling 70 mph and a second one leaves the station traveling 108 mph, how soon will they overtake each other?” I get, “Sorry, I don’t know that.” Makes you wonder how you’re supposed to be your kid’s hero helping them with math homework.

I’m not complaining, it does everything I really want it to. However, I have to say, a smarter version would be handy when we play games, which we do a lot.

Recently, we were playing “Joe Name It. If you’ve never heard of it or played it, let me explain: it’s a Q&A game that asks random questions such as “List six bands with only one number-one hit.” Yeah, like I, or anyone at the table, knows that. When it stumps the person whose turn it is to answer, everyone else scrambles for their phones to find the answer — our rules are pretty lax. If the person whose turn it is doesn’t know the answer, it’s every-man-for-himself to be the first one with the correct answer and get the point.

So when the Echo debuted at our house, I was excited thinking of the help with immediate answers  without all the fuss. To check it out, I gave her a starter question, “Alexa, list the bands with only one number one hit.”

And got “Sorry, I don’t know that.”

So I simplified it, “Alexa, list a band with a number one hit in 2017.”

And got “Sorry, I don’t know that.”

Now, I’m back in familiar territory: “Sorry, Mom, I don’t know that”; “I didn’t see it”; “I don’t know where it is”…  I can get that from my kids, who needs an Alexa?

Seriously, though, this gadget is a godsend for every busy woman. The best feature is it only requires speaking, something moms are exceptionally good at doing. You don’t need to find a paper; then look for a pen. Watches, phones or walking to the oven to set the timer is unnecessary.  Just say what you need; “Alexis put milk on the shopping list,” “Alexa is it going to rain today?” Alexa, set the timer for 15 minutes”. I especially like the list feature. I have a Shopping List, a To-Do List, a Costco List.  At Winco, I bring up the shopping list on my phone, deleting each item it as I place it in the cart. No more turning the car around at the corner because I left the list on the counter. Of course I may have to still turn it around to get my shopping bags, but that’s another problem that Alexa doesn’t have a cure for.  Except, maybe if I said “Alexa ask me if I have my shopping bags in ten minutes,” I could avoid that error too.


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