The Weekly Wrap #63
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We have three Amazon Alexa devices in our home. I have a love/hate relationship with them.
I love them because they make great digital picture frames. I created a shared family album and upload pictures do that album regularly. We use this album as our background option and the images cycle through all day. We share this album with our extended family so it means the grandparents get to see new pictures of the kiddo on their Alexa devices as well.
I also love our Alexas because they play music with decent sound quality. I can just randomly ask for things like "90s music" or "acoustic chill" or "morning vibes." Sometimes the random stations are not quite what I had in mind, but I enjoy being introduced to new things.
My favorite part of the Alexa is that I can add things to a shopping list. The minute I run low on something I say, "Alexa, put shampoo on my shopping list." I can then refer to this list on my phone which makes shopping so much easier. I can also set reminders and alarms which has been most helpful when the Husband needs to prep something for dinner while I'm in the office.
But there are certain things I loathe about our A-words. And, yes, we call them our A-words both to not set them off and because it's more polite than saying, "A**hole! Just get my request right!"
I am convinced that assistive devices like this have not taken off because Amazon (and other companies) are so damn focused on marketing more stuff to you that they lose most of their functionality.
Those photo backgrounds I mentioned are constantly interspersed by ads I don't want. I BOUGHT THIS MACHINE, LET ME TURN THEM OFF! Plus, when you ask for things, the A-word just keeps talking trying to get you to try something new, upgrade to paid, or share something it thinks is useful based on your request. I don't want that. Cut it out. A task that should take the A-word 2 seconds ends up taking thirty because it just won't shut up. We are constantly saying, "A-word, STOP!" just to get it to be silent.
Then there are the inevitable tech glitches. I have never once gotten through a clean game of Jeopardy. The game is always dropping or restarting or skipping ahead. It's so much less enjoyable because I have to keep asking it to restart or repeat.
This is all on top of the wildly inaccurate answers to some requests that makes me think we have a second toddler who doesn't listen in our home.
Also, the inherent sexism in having a female voice be the default assistant vocal choice grates on me. Give me something like a "Giovanni" or, I dunno, maybe something entirely asexual like "Computer." I could at least feel like I'm piloting a spaceship that way.
Finally, they're totally listening all the time. I don't believe Amazon when they say they aren't.
What do you think of voice assistants?
My library hold did not come in (should soon) so I picked up another book that I think will be easy to pause: Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times by Don and Petie Kladstrup. Champagne is one of my favorite wines. Anything with effervescence gets to be in my glass. I also like reading books about the history of things. Ergo, when my dad dropped this book off during his last visit, I knew it would be a read for me. I'm enjoying the narrative non-fiction style. I love seeing how the history of champagne weaves in and out of the history of France.
Boo. I was so hoping this would be true. [Real Simple]
The generational divide on getting "good" jobs. [Higher Ed Dive]
The typeface designed by a tree. [Bjorn Karmann]
Scaling bread recipes for a solo baker. [Wordloaf]
This is why I have a personal rule that I get one attempt (no touching) at photographing someone else's food. [EATER]
TSA shares about the things you can and cannot bring in your carry-on. [PureWow]
Find your professional values to help you engage with work. [CUInsight]
The economic story of The Simpsons. [Planet Money]
Why we have courtroom artists. [Every Little Thing]
The Betsy Ross story you know is a lie. [99% Invisible]
This podcast for kids teaches me so much. [Who When Wow]
Hobbies are important. [A Drink With a Friend]
Despite my misgivings about JK Rowling (and Johnny Depp for that matter), we did watch the most recent Fantastic Beasts movie The Secrets of Dumbledore. I found the first film in this series to be an utterly charming delight. While this third part of the series had its moment, it felt like it missed that magic of the first. I loved seeing Mads Mikkelsen take over Depp's role and I think he was profoundly better in it, but I wanted more fantastic beasts and less of Dumbledore's backstory. In some ways, I wish there were fewer attempts to tie these prequels to the main Harry Potter plot. I just want to follow Newt Scamander find more fantastical animals. [HBO Max]
I enjoy a good chase film and Ambulance is essentially an intense 2-hour chase scene with very little respite from the action. Once the plot and the characters are set up, you are just along for the ride. I'm not sure I breathed for the last hour of the film. It's full of action film tropes, but this is very well done. I'm also glad they only cast one big name actor. The plot and the characters get to shine more that way. [Peacock]
After polishing off Space Force, we watched season 2 of The Home Edit. I adore all things organization and the two creators/hosts are intense but I find them delightful. If I weren't a librarian, I think a good back up career for me would be working for them. I love editing out stuff, tetrising objects into spaces, and the calm that comes from a tidy room. I don't buy into the whole rainbow scheme being easier to put things away, but I will admit that it looks nice. [Netflix]
Sometimes you just want a quick protein and a side. I made chicken with spinach and mushrooms. The Husband sous vided the chicken for me. After I sauteed the vegetables, I tossed in the chicken for a quick sear and BOOM dinner is done. Plus, having an open bottle of white wine was a great excuse to enjoy a glass afterwards. [Real Simple]
I don't need an excuse to eat bacon or pasta, but this recipe gave me one. It was a quick dish to put together but I actually think you need to use that shelf-stable parmesan in a can. I microplaned it off a block and the flavor was just lacking. I needed to add more cheese piled on top to feel like dish was to my liking. [Budget Bytes]
I use Amazon Photos to back up my pictures. Every day, I get to see what pictures I took in previous years. This week, that meant seeing pictures of the time my Husband did some backyard dock crabbing on our babymoon. (This was a total catch and release operation.) Also, I feel like this is the right place to recommend listening to Dish City’s recent episode on crabbing. So good!
Forest bathing is supposed to be a calming way to alleviate stress. If you can’t make it into the woods, check out Tree.fm. Here, you can listen to forest sounds from around the world. You can also gift someone a forest to help preserve wooded areas for future generations.
I gave myself Thursday and Friday off. These will be working days with lots of errands, cleaning, and to do list item checking off while fighting the desire to just loaf.