It seems we are relying more and more on information from small round devices with names like Siri and Alexa, from which soothing female voices dispense football scores, weather updates, and answers to vital questions such as "What is Dolly Parton's bra size?"   

Bill Reed, of Broussard, tells us of his 7-year-old granddaughter, Molly, and her encounter with one of these devices. 

"Last week her mother, our daughter, received a call from her teacher notifying her that although Molly had recently failed a math test, not to worry, because there was going to be a retest.

"The retest was being held because so many in Molly's second-grade class had failed the subtraction test. The teacher said Molly should study her subtraction tables.

"At that point, my daughter informed the teacher that she had a clue as to why Molly was having trouble with subtraction.

"She had overheard Molly on her (the mother's) smartphone saying, 'Siri, what is 17 minus 11?'

"Our daughter informed the teacher that she had instituted corrective action, so there should not be a problem in the future with Molly’s normal straight A test scores."

Mr. Ecumenical

Cindy Black Bouchie, of Pineville, says our recent story about a Catholic youngster being lured into a Baptist church by a trip to Pontchartrain Beach "reminded me of when my son, Chase, was a teenager.

"We belong to the Catholic church in town, and he participated in its youth activities. But he also went with best friends to Methodist and Baptist churches’ youth group activities throughout high school.

"So much so that a classmate’s mother called me to join a Methodist committee to plan their graduation party.

“'Um, you know we’re not members, right?', I said.

“'But I see Chase at church all the time!'

"The best, though, was when we got a permission slip from the Baptist church for him to go on a 'mission trip' during spring break to teach vacation bible school in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

"It was a tough job, I’m sure, but he was definitely up for the task." 


It turns out a reader's experience with the Louvre's restrooms was not unique:

Dees Vaca, of Kenner, says, "Several years ago we, too, were at the Louvre in Paris and found ourselves looking for a restroom.

"The women's restroom had a line that stretched down the hall and around the corner, while the men's restroom was empty.

"I convinced my friend, Leah, that we should just go into the men's restroom. Our husbands pretended not to know us and chose not to stand guard. So, on our own, off we went.

"Suddenly, outside the stall doors, we heard police yelling for the women to leave the room.

"We were escorted out and, fortunately, not arrested. We just got a warning not to do it again."

That hungry dog!

Cookie Pecquet, of Metairie, joins many of us who feared retribution if we tore off that tag on pillows or mattresses that said "Do not remove under penalty of law:"

"I had my excuse ready in case the mattress police came to question me. The dog that ate my homework in school also ate the tag…"        

Special People Dept.

— Corinne Bordelon Maillet, a native of Marksville, celebrates her 101st birthday Monday, Feb. 1.

— Sadonia Hutchinson, of Independence, celebrated her 96th birthday Saturday, Jan. 30.

No close encounters

After I mentioned Manitou Springs, Colorado, home of both a fruitcake toss and a coffin race, I heard from Anne Maverick with more on the mountain community:

"My parents have a small cottage in Manitou Springs. We get out there every summer and enjoy it in between camping and hiking trips."

She liked the light-hearted way the "Manitoids" promoted social distancing: In a national forest campground, a sign said: "Observe wildlife rules...but with people!"

Signs also described the recommended six feet distance as "One Mantiou mustang; two yoga mats; four hula hoops, or "22 pints of IPA or ice cream cones." (Note: My friends who drink beer tell me IPA refers to India Pale Ale.)

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.