Life with Alexa

Confusing.  Exhilarating.  Frigging frustrating.

Those of you who follow my blogs will know that I love music. Truly love, obsessed with it. Can’t cook, bake, write or even do my bank statement without it. I need it in the background. I need it blasting, at times, so that I can dive into it, lose myself in its mystery and romance.IMG_2257

But sometimes the music dies. Like when my fairly new, sleek music system that played both cd’s and my iPhone (and radio, of course) fell silent. Because I had upgraded my phone, and guess what? The new one’s plug would not fit into the old jack, so all I could listen to was the radio.

Depressing, infuriating.

So I become creative, and improvised a music box. Literally, a box (Tupperware), where I placed my iPhone and clicked PLAY. It worked! I could hear all my favorite songs in six languages, and sure I could deal with the somewhat tinny sound, no problem. At least I wasn’t listening to the flat silence, periodically broken by the hum of the refrigerator.

Eventually, a holiday popped up, and my family got together to surprise me with…new technology!   What?! I had just learned the previous one, still suffering from its effects…now something else, totally unrelated? God have mercy, I have a limited capacity for ever-evolving technology, don’t throw an Echo at me please!

And that’s exactly what I got: the Echo, the super-advanced, internet-based music system from Amazon.

A little black cylinder that is almost human. So sensitive to voice that you need to watch what you say. If you utter Alexa first, of course. Yes, my new powerhouse of a music system has got a name and a voice (like the ever-helpful Siri, I guess), so that you can properly address it (her?) to fulfill your commands.

Astonishing, really.   Alexa will connect you to Blue Tooth, find radio stations in Arizona, give you the weather forecast for Naples, Italy, list the author of every book ever written, switch on the light in the living room, activate your security system from your office.  Plus.  All courtesy of your smart phone.

And the music will turn the room into a theater, intense and powerful, IMG_2258emotional, nearly overwhelming. Yes, my kitchen is a ballroom, and its wondrous drama deletes all melancholy, depression and disappointment. Take me away, you feathery cloud of purest magic, surprise me, shake me, move me.

But.

I’m contently listening to my local station when the announcer starts stuttering, hiccuping, then dies on me altogether. Pausing my chef’s knife midway to the cutting board.

Silence. Heavy, disturbing, intimidating. Alexa! On, Resume, Play, Whatever! And she starts fumbling, tells you that she doesn’t understand your question, did you want to find a Christian station?

So I shrug, curse in Italian under my breath, and move on.

Then it’s 3 am, someone goes in the kitchen for a glass of water, and Taylor Swift starts shouting about bad blood, nearly causing a heart attack. Because Alexa has decided it’s a good idea to turn on again. Now.

There is no switch on this little device, only your vocal command will activate it. In the morning, like six-ish, when you slowly navigate the stairs, barely functioning, and the only half-thought in your brain is coffee now. But no.   You need to recover your voice and speak up to turn on (and off) the radio. And mumbling won’t do. Firm and clear, your tone needs to be, doesn’t matter that your vocal cords are still in bed. Thus, it always takes me a few minutes, before I cut the pre-dawn quiet. No voice before my morning espresso, no interest, no will power, no life.

Somewhat exasperating, irritating, ‘just-go-to hell-please’, life with Alexa, for sure.

But Ed Sheeran never sounded so good.

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