Most of my job this weekend is just sitting with Father. He isn’t fussy or demanding. Although it is quite warm in the house he is always wrapped in an afghan and wearing a knitted cap, for he is always cold. He enjoys classical music, played by a radio station from Canada. This is accomplished by a white cylinder device named Echo.[1] He periodically calls out to Ms. Echo, asking her/it to turn the volume up or down, or to tell him the time. In the middle of the song he often asks Echo to stop and play something else. In response to his requests, she often tells him she is sorry she cannot do that [2], and he tries something else until she gets it right.  

Echo and Alexa make good sense for a blind man but I cannot imagine me getting one for myself. I have enough electronic do-hickies already which serve me OK – and without a sense they are listening to me as well. I want to know what these ladies and their overlords are plotting while they listen in on everything. On the other hand, I can imagine the evil genius at the other end of these devices now driven to distraction from Father’s continual questions what time is it and please play another march by Susa. [3].

I don’t dare say out loud my concerns or opinions about the Cylinders Sisters lest they are in cahoots with the kitchen appliances. Nothing in Brother #3’s kitchen has a simple on/off switch but must be programmed with a control panel that rivals the cockpit of a small aircraft.  I had to text my brother away skiing for instructions on how to turn on the coffee machine[4].  Asking Alexa (politely of course) to start the coffee machine and the dishwasher does not work, perhaps because these items are not yet in the hegemony or I don’t say the precise words needed, or (more likely) Ms. A is a passive-aggressive bossy-boots who is silently laughing as I end up washing the dishes by hand, deprived of caffeine. 

I am curious to hear from the Spo-fans if they have an Echo or an Alexa (or somebody like them) and do you like it and do you fear it rising up in rebellion.  [5]

[1] She has a sister, Alexa, a slightly bigger cylinder, who resides in the kitchen.  I think of them as the Wicked witches of the east and west, although I dare not say so out loud, lest they plan some outrage. 

[2] Hearing her apology does not console but gives me the creeps. I’ve seen ‘2001: a space odyssey”; I know what happens.  

[3] Father in his decline has developed a taste for Susa marches. Echo wakes him up each morning with one of these jolly tunes a-blaring.  Oh the pain. 

[4] There is nothing so frustrating as staring at a coffee machine ready to go that refuses to start. So close and yet so far. 

[5] I wonder if they have a brother. I might be tempted to get one with a deep baritone voice That would be fun to order about to do my bidding, and (on occasion) do his. Jolly good fun !