I use Grammarly for proofreading because I want Veronica to love me.
We’ve been having an Archie issue in this house. Archie and his pals (my fave is Jughead) hide under pillows and on top of bathroom shelves. Now, I have nothing against those folks. When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to have comics, and so I spent hours reading them at my best friend’s house. And, periodically, my kids surprise me with science facts they’ve learned from Archie. (If you have a message you want to get across to girls, have Betty know it, Veronica act dumb about it, and Archie, who ought to know better, swoon over the wrong female.)
But Archie didn’t save my life. Books did. They gave me an escape, they gave me an outlet, and they gave me answers by providing an alternative moral universe to the one in which I was raised.
Today I got no bargains, but I had the satisfaction of writing 736 words. I don’t know, yet, if they are very good words, but I am doing my best to return to the universe the immeasurable gift I was given.
So I can’t quite get myself on board to give thanks on a Thursday and then join a feeding frenzy on Friday, trying to get in first and beat out all comers for the deal.
I think, instead, when my children get home from school today, I will offer each of them a book of their choice to be purchased at full price. The Archies are having a rest in my house anyway.
I was trying on a jacket at The Bay. It cost twice as much as I’d normally spend, but there was a 50% off sale.
H said, “You look like a rich lady, Mommy.”
I was out for the day with my two daughters. I didn’t need the jacket. I left the store with my richness on either side of me, and the jacket on the bench. Tonight we light the first candle of Hanukkah. We bring back the sun.
Recently, I bought a new lens. It was a cloudy day with intermittent rain, but I couldn’t wait for better conditions. So as soon as I left the shop, I took my camera out of my purse, removed the jerry-rigged camera bag (a pink sweatshirt sleeve), and checked the light levels. With the aperture open all the way, more light was coming in than I’d ever had, even on the sunniest day.
The folks at Downtown Camera had recommended this lens at the time I bought my camera, but I was resistant. When I was a teenager, I got my first camera, a hand-me-down compact with a fixed lens, and ever since I could afford to get my own, I’d used a point-and-shoot with a zoom. There was no way I was going back to a fixed lens. But two years on, I noticed that my point-and-shoot (Panasonic Lumix) was taking just as good pictures as my DSLR (Nikon D3100) on a sunny day.
Steve, one of the guys at DC, said, “Any camera will take great pictures on a sunny day, even a $100 point-and-shoot.”
There was a good deal on a Nikon 35mm lens. So on that mild, rainy day, I walked the 5 km to Downtown Camera. When I left the shop, I couldn’t wait to see what I would see through the new lens.
This is what I discovered. A zoom lens sacrifices clarity. Sure you can stand still and see close or far, but to do that you give up your own vantage point, and, as a result, the amount of light you can let in. You can’t focus on something very close and fade out the background or to narrow your eye so that you see foreground and background with equal sharpness. A fixed lens makes you walk in and walk out. You can’t just stand there to get a different point of view. You move to a new vantage point and take yourself with you, and, in doing so, you can let in all the light you can handle.
Alice Munro wins the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first Canadian woman to take the award since its launch in 1901. Munro, 82, only the 13th woman given the award, is considered one of the world’s greatest writers of short stories.
Alice Munro is an inspiration. She was a late bloomer, but broken into the Canadian lit scene with a Governor-General’s award. When I was touring in the U.S. she was one Canadian author everyone knew about. I have studied her work, and at 82, she still inspires me. Her last collection of short stories, which came out about a year ago, was one of her best. I have never been so thrilled by a Nobel prize announcement!
Today I rambled along the boardwalk of Toronto Island and this is what I saw (click to enlarge):
The cormorant stood drying her wings for as long as I was taking photos.
I never knew that mink had such cute faces. He scrambled up and down the outcrop of rock, swam alongside, caught a fish, and popped in and out of his burrow, making chirping sounds at me.
After finishing Web of Angels, I did some writing exercises to get used to facing the blank page again so I could start something new. Recently, I re-read what I wrote then. This small piece of fiction surprised me, and I want to share it with you today.
My life exists from Monday to Friday. On Saturday I acquire the necessities of life, thus supporting my existence. I shop in the morning, in the afternoon I cook, and in the evening I do laundry. But Sundays are an endless and meaningless day. There is nothing between me and the absurdity of my other days. Sometimes, on Sundays, I contemplate suicide. I always decide to wait another day. Twenty-four hours won’t matter, I assure myself, knowing that it will make all the difference. I would never kill myself on a Monday or any other day except for Sunday. My colleagues have suggested I buy a cat. Then on Sunday I could clean out the litter. They have suggested I volunteer on Sundays. I could be a big brother or work in a soup kitchen. That is possible, but I despise the weak and infirm. Are you surprised? It is not a sentiment that is acceptable today, but one that many people secretly hold. Why else are conservative governments so successful? People assert that the weak and infirm are so by choice, that they need only pull themselves up by the bootstraps and then they would be strong and well. I do not so assert. I merely accept my feelings toward them. They are what they are and I am what I am. I do not like the dirty masses.
I work as an actuary. It is clean work and useful work. Someone must calculate risk and it is a complex calculation particularly these days with climate change. Our old formulae for hurricane and flood are simply not accurate any more. Mostly my work is for insurance companies and these are necessary and useful. Before insurance, those who were strong and well became sick and weak because of unexpected happen stance. Now, they may take the step of purchasing insurance and thereby ensure their strength and their wellness when fire strikes or burglars make their appearance. Sometimes I am contracted to the government, which also requires a knowledge of how many will live and how many will die in order to devise appropriate pension schemes and health care plans.
I do not determine who will live and who will die. That is God’s work, if God indeed exists. It is something I rely upon from Monday to Saturday, but which I doubt very much on Sundays. My colleagues have suggested that I go to church. I did attempt to do so once, but the closeness of the washed masses did press in upon me and I did not enjoy it. I would rather contemplate suicide then smell my neighbour’s breath. At least suicide can be put off until tomorrow while the breath cannot politely be fanned away.
I check the clock. It is 10:58 am. In two minutes my mother will call. My clock is synchronized to hers. She is as confirmed in the regularity of her habits as I am in mine. Her cell phone rests on her beside table and has an amplifier so that she does not have to exert herself. It is usually after our conversation that I contemplate suicide. If I decide to postpone self-execution, I will go downstairs and take my mother to the toilet. Then I will bathe her, dress her and put her back in her wheelchair. I will count the hours until the nurse’s day off is over. I will count the minutes. I will count the seconds.
Click to enlarge and see her beautiful eyes as she looked at me on my birthday. The elephants are being prepared for transfer to an elephant sanctuary. It was a joy to see her before she goes.
I used Grammarly to grammar check this post because summer is nearly at an end and I’d rather spend my time outside than proofreading…especially after putting Grammarly through all its paces.
I evaluated Grammarly using two pieces, a project description of my own, and a 300 word assignment of my middle-school daughter’s. The result: Grammarly out-performed Word’s grammar and spell-checker by far. That is not to say Grammarly is perfect. As the site indicates, it doesn’t replace a human proof-reader, but is a useful second pair of (robot) eyes before going to the more subtle and sophisticated human.
Pros. On my daughter’s piece, Grammarly found 5 errors missed by Word, including typos that were spelled right for a different word. For example, collage instead of college. That is a huge help for a student. Grammarly even caught 2 errors I made, one where I missed a comma and one where I had a superfluous one. I really liked the explanations and examples offered along with corrections, and the choice between a short and long explanation. I see this as providing another level of service, ie educational, which would be very useful to students. It also gives a score, which can be motivational, but isn’t prominent, so it can be ignored by people who don’t like that kind of thing.
Cons. On my daughter’s piece it missed an apostrophe that I would expect the software to catch–and I hope that future versions will include it. On my piece, it highlighted as an error the correct use of an infinitive: “the decision to leave.” That is another area I hope can be improved.
Overall, I was impressed–it performed much better than I expected. I can see it being especially useful to students and anyone with learning disabilities.
Grammarly offers different types of review, for example academic vs technical or business. I found the main difference was that academic and general reviews screened for contractions and passive voice while other reviews didn’t. So on this post I used the technical review.
Cost: it isn’t free. But at an annual rate of $100 or so, it could be well worth it in the right circumstances–and there is a desk-top version of Grammarly as well.
Getting the first draft finished is like pushing a peanut with your nose across a very dirty floor.