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My sister seems to think that I pride myself on the use of 50-cent words, but I don’t think I use as many of them as she likes to give me “grief” about. But if she wants to talk about vocabulary, I want to talk about grammar, and her frustratingly focused and ever-present fixation on making sure our posts are grammatically correct. And I hope she finds the humor in this post when she reviews it, although she’ll probably only mention grammatical mistakes (I guarantee the first draft had some), ways to tighten up my writing (OK, I like to blah-blah-blah), and other “improvements”.

Regardless, I work with the grammar police. And for someone like me, who prided myself on being a straight-A student, seeing that side of her (she admits she was more of a troublemaker than a student until she got to college), came as a shock to me. Over the years, my shock has been replaced with tolerance, but I was recently just flat-out … entertained by it.

OK, technically, it wasn’t about grammar; it was about her “issues” with the extremely popular software Grammarly and was in response to a comment from a trusted consultant about how Grammarly can be “a bit errant”. Please “read” that with a very British accent as the fact it was written by an Englishman is important in what may now be one of my favorite emails from Black,

Since I have used Grammarly for years, I thought I would jump in and tell you that I “feel your pain” …

1. First, it does not speak English, only American, and not always fluently
2. FYI, the British “style” is to put punctuation AFTER ghost quotes (my preference), but Grammarly insists on putting it inside the quotes
3. I found its recommendations sometimes change the meaning of what I am trying to say (its algorithms sometimes try to “correct” things that are correct but less commonly used)
4. I am frustrated that I cannot define a style … for example, I always use put a comma after “and” and “but” when I use them to start a sentence (Red does not), it insists on trying to delete those commas (funny thing is I am old enough to remember being taught you should never start sentences with “and” or “but”)
5. I hate the fact that Grammarly hates … wait for it … dot-dot-dot, aka, ellipses … as I love them
6. Our posts are conversational versus formal, but Grammarly insists on trying to make our writing more formal and have us change frequently used words to more obscure ones (I guess to sound more intelligent)
7. Grammarly also likes to “tell” me to change words because they are used more than once in a sentence, and usually, that is intentional (see prior item, as when I checked it on Grammarly, it wanted me to change “more formal” to “more traditional”)
8. I ended up removing the plug-in and now manually upload important documents, but do not use it for routine emails or working drafts of documents (I wait until they are “almost final”)

Well, only Black could make a list of commiserating reasons for a passing comment (although it did surprise me, she used numbers and not her beloved bullet points). But the best part of her email was still to come … (yes, I also love dot-dot-dots) as she has a way of perfectly summing up a conversation in the most unexpected, but often most amusing, way,

So, if you find punctuation and/or (oh, it does not like “and/or” and advises it is “frowned upon in formal writing” and I should consider using only one conjunction or rewriting the sentence) grammatical errors in my emails and/or draft documents, please do not blame it on Grammarly. And, know that I got an A+ in high school English … because … I flirted with my teacher.
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It’s #GivingTuesday, and although it’s always a good time to think of others, remember all the people who are continuing to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters long after the headlines have been forgotten.

And even though Black believes charitable giving can be “secretive”, she also knows there’s science proving helping others is good for you. (Warning: she likes to recommend the book “Wonder Drug: 7 Scientifically Proven Ways That Serving Others Is the Best Medicine for Yourself.“)

P.S. – Wherever you may choose to donate, beware of potential scammers. So, if in doubt – check them out! (Black likes GuideStar and Charity Navigator.)

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I know today’s Giving Tuesday, but what I always find so amazing is how you treat every day as “Giving Tuesday."

Black's HeadBlack

What makes you say that? I do not donate to an organization or charity every day.

red headred head

You’re always so literal. I meant that the spirit of “giving to others”, whether donating or providing support in some way, seems to be part of your daily life.

Black's HeadBlack

I think you are exaggerating.
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Photo courtesy of Red’s eldest daughter, Natasha

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At the risk of asking you a warm and fuzzy question, have you thought about what you’re most thankful for this Thanksgiving?

Black's HeadBlack


red headred head

I should’ve guessed that you’d take the question literally. Could you expand on that a little, or at least give me a hint?
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Photo by htomas for iStock

When Red was a child, toilets represented more than a place to go when, well, you had to go. Much to Black’s amusement, Red saw cleaning them as a reward. (Really! Check out Red's post below.) But neither of us realized that billions of people don’t have access to toilets. And if it weren’t for today being World Toilet Day, we never would have known the magnitude of the associated health and safety issues – or the connection between sanitation and groundwater.

RED: What can I tell you? When I was a kid, one of my all-time favorite things to do was … clean the toilet. Yes, you read that correctly. And it wasn’t because I was a germophobe or a clean freak. I just loved being able to sit on the floor, using as much Bon Ami (I’ve no idea why I remember the brand) cleaning powder as I wanted. And the best part? All those bubbles!

It kept me entertained for hours. Not to mention, my mom was thrilled because it kept me “contained” and out of her hair. So much so that if I was very good and behaved myself, she might even give me “special permission” to clean the toilet in my parent’s bathroom. Of course, Black, being five years older and understanding the situation, found it all extremely amusing. Even now, decades later, she still gives me grief about it,

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