Alexa is Listening

Posted on January 8, 2018


Life in the Boomer Lane, in a desperate attempt to be allowed entry into Twenty-First Century Life, requested Amazon Echo (Alexa) for Hanukkah. Precious Only Daughter provided.  LBL looked forward to using Alexa for three reasons: to assist in cooking, to provide weather forecasts, and to play music.  Prince Charming,  LBL’s son-in-law, installed her.  LBL was good to go.

Now Husband, a self-taught techie wonk, was standing by.  His reaction: “I don’t know why you wanted that.”

LBL should note at this moment that the response “I don’t know why you wanted that,” or its popular partner, “I like what we already have,” has been used regarding buying new porch furniture, re-painting all the rooms of the house, installing new lighting in the kitchen, building a wall unit in the study, purchasing a new stove, and changing the kitchen sponge.

LBL knows that, after any and all improvements are made, Now Husband will remark on how much he loves such improvements. For that reason, LBL was optimistic. Eager to show him Alexa’s prowess, she instructed him to ask Alexa a question. His question was, “Alexa, why did Guatemala recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?”  (Predictably, Alexa’s response was “I can’t help you with that.”)

The following ensued:

Of all the questions on earth you could possible have asked her, why did you ask Alexa that question?

I wanted to know what she thought.

She’s not one of the intellectual friends you meet with for drinks once a week. She doesn’t care why Guatemala recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Try another question, one that is realistic.

Alexa, who plays second base for the Nats?  (Alexa’s response was “I can’t help you with that.”)

That’s not an improvement.  Ask her about the weather.

I already know about the weather. (It should be noted here that Now Husband has an entire mini-weather station next to the bed. He spends a lot of time announcing things like “Are you aware that it is nine degrees outside right now?” when LBL is trying to fall asleep.)

I don’t care. Ask Alexa something she can answer.

So the goal is to choose only questions you think she can answer? Is she a small child who needs to be rewarded?

You are missing the point. Just pretend you are a normal person, with normal questions.

Alexa, how many pints are in a quart?

LBL held her breath at this point, fingers crossed, hoping Alexa would come through. She did.


I don’t see anything. I already know how many pints are in a quart. 

That’s not the point.

I think that’s exactly the point, actually. 

Now Husband eventually left the kitchen to return to his study/lair, in order to continue his daily processing all of the obscure knowledge of the universe that was displayed on his computer screen. LBL stared at Alexa.

“Alexa, what is the weather today?!” she asked, a bit too stridently.  Alexa answered. Now Husband appeared in the doorway.

She’s wrong, you know.

She’s not.

Actually, she is. She said it was 12 degrees outside. It’s 14.  My bedside weather station graphs barometric trends and is calibrated to the Atomic Clock. 

You went into the bedroom to verify, after you heard Alexa give the answer?

Of course. I don’t want false information given out. 

I feel like I am being spied on.

You are. But not from me. As long as Alexa is plugged in, she is listening to everything we are saying. It’s a fact.

LBL patiently waited for Now Husband to leave. She then leaned over and whispered, “Alexa, what is the Atomic Clock?” After Alexa answered, she unplugged her and tiptoed out of the room.