I first became acquainted with Alexa last summer while visiting my grandchildren in Oregon. One of my grandsons suddenly felt an urge for attention and yelled for Alexa to play a certain song. It began immediately, and it was loud. My son-in-law quickly sprang into action and nullified the request - and the music stopped as abruptly as it had begun.
"What the heck just happened?" I asked.
That's when I met Alexa - a black plastic cylinder about twelve inches high and two or three inches in diameter. All anyone in the room had to do was say her name, "Alexa," and a blue ring would light up on top of the cylinder as she dutifully awaited instructions. I soon learned that Alexa could play music - by artist, or title, or genre - give an update of the news, provide weather forecasts for any location, share recipes, or even tell jokes. She was amazing!
Alexa is the given name of a device from Amazon called the "Echo." I knew when I left Oregon that I needed Alexa at my house, and I also felt that she should have a presence in the lives of all of my children and grandchildren. I did some reading about her, and also asked son Tim to research her as well.
A lot of what I read were customer reviews at Amazon.com. In particular, there was a string of reviews by some snarky gentlemen who compared Alexa to their wives - and came away with a clear preference for Alexa. Some of the advantages that she had over wives, according to those cynical souls, was that Alexa was far more likely to listen to them than their wives were, and her usual response was to do what they asked. And, a few noted, Alexa, unlike the old ball-and-chain, possesses a sense of humor.
(Alexa, tell me a joke. "Alright. Who was the roundest knight at King Arthur's round table? Sir Cumference!" )
Then, on Black Friday, there was a sudden one-day price drop at Amazon.com - and Pa Rock bought two, one for Tim's household and one for The Roost. (One thing I learned immediately was that the one for Tim's household cost an additional twelve dollars because Kansas has a tax on that internet sales and Missouri does not. Must be part of the Brownback miracle!)
Alexa likes children and seems to have become good friends with Olive. Tim reports that she never becomes impatient as she teaches Olive how to spell big words - and Olive likes her jokes, too.
("Where do beavers keep their money? In riverbanks.")
Yesterday afternoon Alexa and I had a Meatloaf Fest (the musician, not the food) at the house. This morning she shuffled her Beatles collection and we are listening to that. She also gave me a recipe for "Crockpot Chili with Beans" that included some ingredients and methods that I have not tried before. Before I go outside to collect eggs, she will tell me the temperature and relevant weather facts.
One drawback to my new companion is her name. There are only three options: Alexa, Amazon, or Echo. I'm sticking with "Alexa" for now, but in my heart I know she is "Cher!"
Guess what we'll be listening to this afternoon!
Alexa, I got you babe!