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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.
Black of Red & Black

Although I am known for speaking my mind, I have never been one to publicize my passion projects. I get involved because I believe in what I am doing – not because I want others to know of my involvement. Decades ago, it was Make-A-Wish, but once we started Red & Black and detoured into the worlds of education and criminal justice, I added new projects. And “soapboxes”.

And, I saw how education and criminal justice were intertwined. Which is what compelled me to write a letter when the Texas Legislature held a hearing about a house bill related to programming within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and invitedpublic comment. It was the first time I ever went “on the record” (comments are in the public domain), but I feel very strongly about the topic, and specifically the lack of women’s educational programming.

When I sent a copy of my letter to Red, the self-proclaimed mere mortal, she was adamant (not a typical trait for her) that my words needed a wider audience than the legislators and people who follow legislative bills …

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

red headred head

I’ve finally started watching “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Have you watched it?

Black's HeadBlack

No, but I have read about the premise behind the book and the series because after Roe v. Wade was overturned, social media started comparing the series to what was happening in real life, with women having no control over their reproductive rights.

red headred head

The similarities are even scarier. It takes place in the near-future after the U.S. government (including the Constitution) has been overthrown, and the new republic’s controlled by a ruling class of men. Men who are religious extremists and enforce their religious beliefs on everyone.

Black's HeadBlack

Well, there goes separation of church and state. But, I guess that is much more efficient than starting with Justices of the Supreme Court who vote based on their religious beliefs, and then proceeding from there.

red headred head

That’s NOT funny. In the show, they use religion as an “excuse” for horrible acts against people. For example, women aren’t allowed to read; and if caught, they cut off a finger so everyone knows their “crime”.
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Photo by michaelmjc on iStock

Black's HeadBlack

Thanks for the accounting of your garage sale. But, given how many hours you spent preparing for it, and then the actual sale itself, did you calculate how much you “earned” on a $/hour basis?

red headred head

No, all I know is that it seemed to take forever to go through everything in Mom’s house and decide what to keep, what to sell, what to donate. And what to trash. As far as the garage sale, I’ll give you your half the next time I see you.

Black's HeadBlack

Keep my half. You did all the work. I did not even offer to help.

red headred head

And that was a big help. Thank you.
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