Friday, January 6, 2012

My New Personal Assistant

I have a new personal assistant, and her name is Siri.

I know she doesn't just work for me; she works for everybody and his brother these days, because everybody and his brother seems to have an iPhone 4. But the crazy thing is that I have one. I like to think of myself as having more of a 19th century, Jane Austen-era vibe about me than a 21st century, hi-tech one. I was happy with my cute little pink flip phone (you know, the kind of cell phone Jane Austen probably used), and I scoffed at the idea of needing anything more complex. But my husband brought me kicking and screaming into the 21st century when he got me an iPhone 4 this Christmas, and here's my guilty little secret: I think I like it!

I call my husband the "iMan" (see my July 26, 2011 post, "The iMan and His Apps," for more on this subject). He has been the iMan for a little over a year now, ever since he was surprised with the gift of an iPad by his sons and me last Christmas. It was the greatest gift he had ever received, or would ever receive--like Ralphie's beloved Red Ryder b-b gun; I believe he slept with that iPad tucked under his arm that night, like Ralphie with his trusty "Old Blue" and Randy with his big shiny zeppelin. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration; his iPad wasn't actually in bed with him--but it was definitely within arm's reach as he slept! Within months, my guy had added an iPhone to his growing stable of iGadgets, which makes a lot of sense when you're in his line of work (he's an airline pilot). An iPhone is easy to take along with you wherever you go. When he's commuting to and from NYC, he can use it to check on flight delays and weather conditions and who knows what else. He can call me from overseas when he finds an area with free WiFi--he can even "facetime" with me. When he's on the road in far-off lands, he can locate all the Catholic churches in the vicinity and check on Mass times. And he can do all this using a little hand-held gizmo. There are so many apps that help him with his job and his life in general that I can see why he feels that iPhones and iPads are, if not actually necessary, very useful.

But why did I--a stay-at-home wife and mother--need one, you ask? Well, I didn't; but here are some things I've come to love about having one:

1. I can now text my children (which, let's face it, is the easiest way to get in touch with anyone these days) quickly and efficiently, because my new iPhone has a little keyboard. If you ever saw me trying to compose a text on my old cell phone--slowly and methodically hunting and pecking, and then pushing a wrong button and having to start all over again (I think I could have sent carrier pigeons with my messages and they would have arrived sooner than my texts)--you might have felt so sorry for me that you'd have gone out and bought me an iPhone just to put me out of my misery. In fact, that may have been one of the motivators for my husband when he decided to get me my snazzy new phone.

2. I can check my e-mails and my favorite blogs (Ree Drummond's "The Pioneer Woman,"; and my daughter-in-law's "Knit 1, Pearl 2," no matter where I am. I have this tiny computer with internet access--in the palm of my hand! It fits in my purse and I can take it with me anywhere. Isn't that just amazing? Isn't modern technology mind-boggling? I'm still baffled by the idea of phones in general--by the fact that you can dial some numbers and talk to people half a world away; so I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around this iPhone. But I must admit that it is very neat to be able to go on-line using my phone.

3. I now have an extremely efficient personal assistant named Siri. I give her commands like, "Siri, set my alarm for 7:00 a.m.," and she tells me she's done it. And then the next morning at 7:00, without fail, I'm woken up by the most annoying sound in the world--the kind of BAMP! BAMP! BAMP! noise you hear in the movies when a bad guy is in the building and they go into lockdown mode to root him out. I'm a heavy sleeper, but if that alarm doesn't wake me up, nothing will. Yesterday, I was due for my allergy shots, so the night before I told Siri, "At 10:00 a.m., remind me that I have to get my allergy shots." Sure enough, yesterday at 10:00 she got in touch to remind me. I tell you, that Siri is awesome, and she may become indispensible to me. Where was she all those years I was raising my boys and couldn't seem to remember orthodontist and dentist appointments? I know a certain Dr. H--- who would have appreciated Siri's reminders...a lot.

There are probably a million other things I'm going to love about the iPhone, but I've only had mine for less than two weeks so far. I may have more to say on the subject down the road, when I've become the iWoman. But for now, all I can say is that everyone needs a Siri in his life.

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