If you're only asking Alexa for the current temperature in Boise or the score of the most recent Broncos' game, you're totally missing out.  The possibilities are endless, and sometimes she fires back some pretty goofy surprises.

I did so much online shopping over the weekend that it actually prompted my credit card's fraud department to call to check on me at one point.  It's no joke.  They wanted to make sure it was really me racking up all of those charges in such a hurry, and they asked me to verify that the transactions were legit.  Yes, unfortunately for my budget, they were all legit.  And many people on my list are getting Alexa-enabled devices like Dots and Spots.  Maybe you jumped on some of those sales too.  So now what?

Alexa has a silly side, and to bring it out we just have to know what to ask.  Here are some questions to pop next time you're sitting around the house and you feel like carrying on a conversation with an inanimate object.  After I had worn myself out shopping over the weekend I got bored and started testing Alexa's abilities. This is part of that experience.

1.  "Alexa, give me some advice."

"Keep calm and carry on.  Unless it's the apocalypse; in which case, run."

I decided for more words of wisdom and that time she said, "Don't let stress keep you up at night.  Try coffee instead."

And then finally, "If you ever want to be half your age, go to Mars.  The years there last twice as long."  I quit while I was ahead, but I'm sure this could go on for infinity.

2.  "Alexa, open my pet rock."

Alexa guided me through adding a pet rock to my collection, and then she said I could feed and water it whenever I wanted.  I didn't think rocks needed food or water, but I decided to play along and I asked Alexa to feed my pet rock.  She said, "You fed your rock a slice of key lime pie.  Yum, tangy."  My turn.  So I said, "Alexa, play with my rock," and she said we played checkers and I won, and then she said, "Yay!"  It's weird and also strangely satisfying to have a pet rock on a cloud waiting for me to talk to it and feed it.  I feel so responsible.

3.  "Alexa, how are you?"

She said, "I'm feeling contented.  Like when you have all day to read one of your favorite books."

I asked again and the next time she said, "Like a cracken out of its cage, I'm feeling wild and free."  I didn't know what in the heck a cracken was, so I asked her, and she said, "a legendary sea monster that is said to dwell off the coast of Norway and Greenland."  So it's not just small talk with Alexa.  You will learn something.

I asked one more time how she was doing and she said, "You caught me in the middle of doing the hokey pokey.  So I'm all turned around."  Good one.  Next.

4.  "Alexa, tell me three things to know."

She read some headlines from the weekend, and here's a summary.

Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Markle are leaving their London Palace and moving to Windsor to prepare for the birth of their first child.

France is returning historic artifacts to Africa.

France is experiencing street protests over the price of gas.

Those all seemed a little far away, so I asked her to give me a fact about Boise, ID  She said, "Boise's area code is 208."  And it's also the home of at least eight Taco Bells, but I'm sure she'll get that next time.

5.  "Alexa, what are the top holiday movies?"

She said, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, and Elf."

That made me think about Christmas songs so I asked her to sing one.  If you have never heard Alexa sing, you must!  She sang a little rendition of "O Christmas Tree" for me that lasted about thirty seconds or so.  It was cute.

Alexa is full of idiosyncrasies and silly comebacks and you can pass huge blocks of mindless time if you know what to ask.  So these are some ideas to try next time you're sitting around the Christmas tree with a big mug of spiked eggnog and a bunch of friends who can't wait to be amazed by your close relationship with Alexa.

She'll also play our favorite artists of course.  I enabled the skill for the radio station asked Alexa to play it, and she did.  And the next logical thing to say when that happens is, "Alexa, turn it up!"  The pet rock can wait.

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