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Gin Schaffer is a former higher education administrator and works part-time at MWHC's Regional Cancer Center as the Coordinator of Integrative Medicine. She lives in downtown Fredericksburg and enjoys walking and biking with her husband and 2 kids (especially if coffee is involved).



Pillow Talk

My husband loves keeping up to date with the latest tech gadgets, the ones that are supposed to make your life easier. He has been an Amazon Prime user since its inception (he hates shopping, so getting his socks and underwear delivered to our door is right up his alley). Steve also keeps tabs on the various Android operating systems and gadgets - for example, I'm writing this blog on a Chromebook. Apple is not part of our life which is odd for me because I grew up in a house full of Apples (my mom helped get the first generation of Apple computers adopted in Arlington County schools). But, that's o.k. because people who know me well, know my relationship with technology is a roller coaster of "I wish I knew how that worked" with teenage ambivalence thrown in.

I shouldn't be the one making any decisions when it comes to technology.  I'm that person who walks in the room and all systems shut down. A common question of Steve's, while looking at one of our phones, computers, or televisions is "How did you make this happen? It's just not possible." Or my other favorite is his amazement at how little I use the programs and apps that my phone has to offer. So, I've come to appreciate Steve's "techie" interests because, well, I'd be lost without it and honestly, it's one less thing to think about. But, I think I might just be warming up to this stuff.

I came home one day to find we had a new member of our household - Google Home. If you aren't familiar with Google Home (or Amazon Echo/Echo Dot, affectionately called Alexa), these are small desktop/countertop devices that are voice-activated assistants that can help you with a variety of questions and tasks. Steve selected the Google Home assistant because of its integration with our Google accounts. However, I like how you can order from the Amazon Echo (however, it's clear from a recent story about a 6-year old ordering a dollhouse, that you must set up some firewalls!). The first couple of nights with our new Google Home, Steve and the kids were relentless asking her (the voice is feminine) questions. I, on the other hand, was kind of losing my mind, as she was the catalyst to a yelling match of "OK, Google" - the kids were just so excited to ask her questions. While was thinking, "You've already outstayed your welcome, Missy."

Over the past few weeks, I've come to appreciate Google Home's presence. I paid attention to how Steve was using this new gadget and I can now say I've embraced her presence in my life. In the spirit of Dave Letterman, I thought about the list of things we're doing differently since she came in our lives. Here's my Top 10 Signs You've Allowed "OK, Google" To Join Your Family:

10)    You ask someone a question, they don't know the answer, and you both simultaneously say, "OK, Google..."

9)    You set a 1-minute "Time Out" timer because counting to 60 has just become too hard.

8)    You love asking her for a corny joke each day like "How do you get rid of butterflies in your stomach?...Stop eating caterpillars."

7)    You like to annoy your children (and husband) by having almost every Bee Gees song at your fingertips.

6)    You have started baking again because you can ask Google Home how to substitute the nothingness in your kitchen to something.

5)    You ask her to join in on singing "Happy Birthday."

4)    You keep trying to ask her questions even after she tells you she doesn't know what you are talking about. Parents of teenagers certainly know this.

3)    You ask her if places like Carl's Ice Cream are open - even though you've known for 25 years if they are or not.

2)    You can look outside and see the weather, but you ask her anyway.

1)    And, because when your children are yelling at a stadium-level decibel, she tries to help. Well, actually, she says, "Sorry, I can't help you with that."

For me, the best part of having this new member of the family is that I can play just about any music I want (the playlists are great for dance parties and Karaoke) and by having Google Home live in the kitchen, she's become my Foodie sidekick. Check out the video - Google Home to see how it works and all the tasks it can help with; I still have a lot to learn and I'm actually going to try this time around!

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