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A story of an AINC listener and her Alexa

“Alexa, can flamingos fly?”

“Falmingos fly very well,” answers a polite female voice, in the deadpan delivery of computer synthesis. “Many flamingos migrate or regularly fly between the best food sources and nesting grounds. When flying in a flock, the top speed of a flamingo can be as high as 35 miles per hour.”

“Thank you, Alexa,” AINC listener Mary says to her latest roommate and friend. She had heard that question asked on a TV game show on which nobody revealed the correct answer.

Alexa, the real estate agent, weather reporter, and cultural liaison, also acted as Mary’s doctor recently when she suspected she had food poisoning.

An intrepid knowledge junkie, her apartment is decorated with shelves full of books, eclectic cultural artwork on walls and surfaces, and stacks of reference books and magazines. When she did not get a satisfactory answer about the tall birds best known for standing around in swamps far from her Colorado home, Mary knew where to turn.

Standing on a secretary desk on the opposite wall from the TV, with a protective gargoyle looking over her from behind, the Amazon Echo provided by AINC waited for her name to be called, almost defiantly stating, “I am so much smarter than that TV.”

Mary Chestnut Whytewolf

Mary standing in her living room infront of the Echo, holding a very large orange cat.

was born as Mary Chestnut in Dallas, but she added her spiritual surname while living in Nederland, where a friend of her eldest son, Spencer, raised hybrid wolf/dogs. Spencer brought one home, where it was a good pet, despite an incessant habit of burrowing throughout her yard. Mary recognized her own personal traits in the wolf’s behavior. Wolves, she said, are docile and friendly most of the time, but become aggressive and tenacious when the situation calls for it.

One incident that she instigated when her younger son, Jason, was sent to Sierra Leone as a U.S. Marine security specialist in 1997, illustrates just when the tenacious mama wolf is unleashed from her normally gregarious self.

Jason was in Sierra Leone to evacuate the U.S. embassy and other foreigners after a particularly aggressive and chaotic coup overthrew the democratic government. The operation lasted almost a week, and Mary grew anxious at the news reporting that the White House said everything was okay.

She decided to call the White House herself.

“They put me through to the operation’s task force center, where a man called ‘Brigadier General So- and-so’ answered,” she said. “I didn’t care who he was, I just told him that my son was there and I want him sent home.

Whether it was because the rescue operation took less than a week, or because a Brigadier General located in the nation’s Executive Office knew the bark of a mama wolf, Mary’s son made it home and told his mother to never do that again. They know Mary Chestnut now, he said.

Deteriorating eyesight, pancreatic surgery, and reconstructed knees have not changed the mama wolf in her much.

Information close and far

Now using the Echo, she regularly checks the weather and news in the mountain towns where her sons live.

While stationed in Amman, Jason married a Jordanian Air Force servicewoman who worked on the private planes of King Hussein and Queen Noor. The king allowed them to use an aircraft to honeymoon in England, and they had a son named Zane. Now divorced, Jason lives in Eagle County and 14-year-old Zane and his mother are in Jordan. Of course, Mary uses Alexa to check the news and weather in Amman. She is fascinated by the similarities the climates of Amman and Boulder share.

Now that both her sons live in the Rocky Mountains, she has been consulting Alexa to scout the potential for mountain communities as living space when she has finally had enough of living in her small Boulder apartment with her cat, Rusty.

Alexa, the real estate agent, weather reporter, and cultural liaison, also acted as Mary’s doctor recently when she suspected she had food poisoning.

When Alexa provided her with the symptoms of salmonella, Mary knew she had it.


Matt Kissane, Director of Listener Services 

Audio Information Network of Colorado. Providing blind & visually impaired individuals with audio access to reading materials. 303-786-7777, ext. 108 or 

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Comments · 2

  • AffiliateLabz · February 16, 2020

    Great content! Super high-quality! Keep it up! 🙂

    • Alex Flynn · February 17, 2020

      Thank you for your compliment!

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