Some time ago my fiance, Princess Barbara, sent me to Bed, Bath and Beyond to pick up something or other that I am pretty sure, even without knowing what it was, we didn’t really need but had to have. Like an iRobot vacuum system or a Dyson Air Multiplier AMO7 40-inch Bladeless Tower Fan or another freakin’ throw pillow for the living room couch. Now I have absolutely no idea what a Dyson Air Multiplier AMO7 40-inch Bladeless Tower Fan is but I am absolutely sure we had to have one. Kind of like the Amazon Echo that our friends, Marc and Ellen, insisted we buy because they were able to pre-order one for us before it became available to the general public and at a $50.00 discount.
What, you ask, is an Amazon Echo? Think of it as Siri’s big sister. You know Siri. That is the stupid voice that comes out of your iPhone when you are trying to find the answer to a simple question that your five year old could probably answer. And that voice sounds particularly creepy when it goes off during a movie. But it comes free with your iPhone so you learn to live with it and if you are really lonely, she becomes your best friend when you are home alone at night. You can ask her any question you want and within only 30 seconds or so, you will get an answer that has nothing to do with what you asked.
You: “How old is Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits?”
Siri: “A nooner is a slang term for having a sexual encounter during the day.”
You: “No. How old is Peter Noone who sang Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter?”
Siri: “I’m sorry. I have no children.”
You: “I’m sorry you have no children, too. But how old is Peter Noone? Herman from Herman’s Hermits.”
Siri: “Herman Munster was played by Fred Gwynn who also played Officer Frances Muldoon on Car 54 Where are You and the Judge in My Cousin Vinny. Or perhaps you are looking for Herman-Josef Hotlman of Bockholter StraBe 81, 48268 Bockholt, Germany. Would you like directions from here?”
You: “Listen closely. How old is Peter Noone. Herman. Herman’s Hermits. You God damn piece of shit!”
Siri: “There is no need to get vulgar. Let me check my memory. What did you ask, again?”
You: “What is Peter Noone’s date of birth?”
Siri: “Peter Noone has a net worth of $3 million.”
You: “How the fuck old is Peter Noone?”
Siri: “Peter Noone has died during the time we have been having this conversation.”
Well, the Amazon Echo is not free. You will pay as much as $200.00 if you are not lucky enough to have a friend who is able to pre-order it before everybody is able to order one. But we were lucky enough to be able to get it early. Now, for that kind of money, you would think that they would have been able to improve the damn thing’s ability to communicate. You would be wrong. According to the latest on the Amazon site for the Echo, however:
“Tucked under Echo’s light ring is an array of seven microphones. These sensors use beamforming technology to hear you from any direction. With enhanced noise-cancellation, Echo can hear you ask a question even while it’s playing music. Echo uses on-device keyword spotting to detect the wake word. When Echo detects the wake word, it lights up and streams audio to the cloud where we leverage the power of Amazon Web Services to recognize and respond to your request.”
“Wow,” you are probably thinking to yourself, “that sounds unbelievably impressive. It has the ability to detect the “wake word.”’ Let me clue you in. The “wake word” is merely the name “Alexa.” That’s the name that Amazon gave to Echo. So until you can remember the name “Alexa” (not easy at my age) and call the Echo by name, it just sits there like my first girlfriend. But fear not, for once you remember to start your inquiry with “Alexa,” you get a technological marvel that is every bit as good as “Siri.” But at least we got it at a discounted, pre-order, super secret release, only us and our closest friends, price.
Anyway, I was at Bed, Bath and Beyond, and while I was picking up that absolutely unnecessary must have thing that I was sent to pick up that I can’t remember, I noticed that they carried those adjustable curved shower rods. I have seen that these incredible inventions have been popping up in almost every hotel bathroom that I have been in over the past year or so. According to the description on the box, it “provides up to 7.5 inches more of elbow room in the shower, (provid(ing) 5.5 inches when expanded to the 5 foot length and 7.5 inches when expanded to the 6 foot length).”
Okay, so the people who wrote the promotional blurb aren’t grammatical geniuses, at least their research and development staff were technological geniuses. While I couldn’t figure out who in the world other than perhaps Pygmies (who can’t be that big of a market for the company that makes these things) has a 5 foot bathtub, the idea was sheer genius. Now THIS I had to have.
So I bought one. I was really excited. 7.5 extra inches of additional elbow room in the shower. I am sure that most of you who are close to my age understand that “elbow room” is just a euphemism for “belly and ass” room. When you turn around in the shower you are now less likely to continuously hit the shower curtain because you have 7.5 extra inches of “elbow room.”
I brought the adjustable curved shower rod into the apartment. I hoped to surprise Princess Barbara by installing it before she got home. I started to read the installation instructions. The instruction said I needed a drill. I don’t own a drill. I am a public danger with a drill. I am a public danger with just about every power tool. I have as much talent with tools as Bill Cosby has with woman when there are no drugs available. My friend Marc, on the other hand, not only has power tools, he actually has a tool room in the basement of his house and he claims to know how to use the tools that are in the room. He even made the table that is in his kitchen and it barely rocks when you eat on it (although the peas always seem to accumulate at the west side of everyone’s plates).
Marc said he will help me install the adjustable curved shower rod. It has now been sitting uninstalled, still in its box, in the bathroom, for about 7 months. I hope to have it up before our lease terminates. But even uninstalled, it still works better than Siri and Alexa!