News, updates, and happenings with the Kragnes family: Phil, our Seeing Eye Dogs, and (me) Rebecca.

Archive for June, 2017

We’ve Entered the World of Amazon Echo and Alexa

There have been times over the last months in which I’ve been tense about the purchases Phil makes from Amazon. Some stuff we definitely need like replacement razors when they break down, but there have been other things I’ve questioned whether we really needed. Our iPhones do so much for us that I couldn’t imagine why we needed an Amazon Echo Dot. It was on sale, so Phil bought it along with smart plugs and smart bulbs. Now all I have to do to turn on the dining room or exterior’ lights is ask Alexa to do so. The smart plugs are connected to some of my colored lights in the living room where the echo is. So she can turn them on and off as well. The Echo Dot is connected to the stereo which makes music sound great! We’re also trying Amazon unlimited, a music service in which we can ask Alexa to play a genre of music or a certain artist or group. As I’ve collected music digitally on the computer for my radio shows, I didn’t realize how much less I listen to music in the living room. Sometimes I’ll connect my phone to the stereo, but that’s only for digital copies of newer albums. A lot of my old favorites have languished on the computer or on CD’s we don’t use anymore. Now all I have to do is ask Alexa and many of my artist “friends” from the CD days are right there. Because I buy all my music from Amazon, it’s also right there on the Echo. I also couldn’t write this entry on the phone and listen to music without commercials at the same time without the Echo. The Internet Radio stations I listen to are also just a request to Alexa away.
Phil has been enjoying the music, but he also plays games about facts or asks for facts or vocabulary words. Alexa can tell jokes (even if they are corny), play nature sounds, and much more.
Sometimes I worry about being too materialistic. Some of the people I read and admire talk about living simply so others can simply live, and it needles at me. Are we robbing the poor when we spend money on frivolous things we don’t really need but find convenient? That’s a question Alexa can’t answer, and neither can I really. I know that I’ve missed having a music service like this ever since we gave up cable when we moved to the house from the apartment. Not only do I have access to old favorites and my new things, but I hear music in favorite genres I wouldn’t without it. Am I rationalizing my enjoyment of what is clearly a convenient toy? Probably, but Alexa and I will likely still become very good friends. 

Phil, the hospital, and home

When last I blogged, Phil was coming home from Seeing Eye. He arrived home Wednesday and not a moment too soon. Wednesday night I went to a church musician gathering, and Phil called to ask me to get home as soon as possible to help him get ready to go to the ER. My friend Denny from church who picked me up and brought me home agreed to drive Phil to the ER, so we didn’t have to call a cab or ambulance. He was in pretty bad shape, and they kept him Wednesday night through Sunday. There was definitely something viral plus Pneumonia involved. A heart value raised for a little while, so Phil will probably have heart tests after training. He’s being released from the hospital today sounding stronger, but he’s lost a lot of endurance. Depending on when a trainer can get out here with Blake, Phil may try to go back to work, although not right away.
In the meantime, Lancer and I have been doing our normal things, especially this weekend playing at church twice and at the Malt Shop. I’m glad our time alone is coming to an end, although Phil’s limited endurance and eventually home training may bring other challenges. I’m not sure how long the trainer will expect Phil to keep Blake on leash with him, but that may mean I do things I normally wouldn’t do. It would be hard to do much in our small kitchen with a dog on leash, for example. As my grandma used to say, “I’m getting behind on my worrying”.
The thing I’m looking forward to is introducing the two dogs. Twice this week we have run into other dogs one of whom wasn’t very friendly-sounding. Nevertheless, Lancer made these half groaning half whining noises which almost sounded like a human yearning to get close to those dogs. I predict Lancer will welcome Blake, although he may have a little trouble sharing Phil at first. He’s so accustomed to having Phil all to himself when Phil’s home. Phil is the pied piper of dogs, and when he walks through that door Lancer’s attention focuses on mostly him for a while. there will be an adjustment period for everyone involved. I just hope it goes smoothly. First, we have to make sure Phil is strong and well enough to manage training and life. 

Bad News

 Phil is coming home tomorrow without Blake, because Phil is too sick to train right now. He has some sort of virus he caught on the plane. A trainer will bring Blake out to him in a week or so to finish the training here. Even though this is only a temporary setback, Phil is pretty devastated to have to say goodbye to his new friend so soon after meeting him. He’s worked so hard, and things were going so well in training until Phil got sick. Lancer and I will be here for him during this tough time, There’s not much anyone can do to make it better. It’s just going to take time for Phil to get better and ready to work with Blake again.

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