As I expect you know, I like to paint and gourd craft. (No, no, I'm not going to go on and on about it.) This Christmas ornament was an early holiday gift for a friend and I loved making it. With this, I got to do both! I gave it to her in a fancy gift bag. Back in the ancient times, so long ago that there was no internet, I used to wrap some Christmas presents in the paper from the Sunday comics. Those were the dark days of three television channels and newspapers that were actually printed on paper. If you’re wondering how people survived during those terrible days, you can take your Bitcoin and go elsewhere.
Oh, who am I kidding? If you’re reading a blog on a website, you’re too Old School to be into crypto currency and NFTs. Or maybe that’s just me. Let me go on.
“Why does Santa use the comics to wrap his presents?” one of my children asked one Christmas morning. I answered the question with a question: “Why shouldn’t Santa use the comics to wrap his presents?” It was a satisfactory non-answer. Santa is inscrutable. This is the guy who watches everyone to see if they’ve been naughty or nice. The same guy who has the power to be everywhere on the same evening, delivering gifts or lumps of coal. Thinking about it, Santa’s a pretty odd duck, using his superpowers in rather bizarre ways. Who’s to say he wouldn’t subscribe to The San Jose Mercury News to get his daily scoop and, later, force his elves to wrap some of his giveaways in the color newspaper comics he’s collected?
No one, that’s who. Not if they want to stay off of the Naughty List.
For those of us who could barely afford to buy presents, much less wrapping paper, the color comics collected from friends and family helped stretch the budget. Much like I need these opening paragraphs to stretch this blog. These opening paragraphs serve a second purpose as well. They’ll allow me to test my ProWritingAid app before the 30-day return window has vanished.
Last month, ProWritingAid had a 50%-off sale on its lifetime plan. For only 199 Black Friday dollars, I could use PWA forever. Yes, I’m relying on science to discover how to extend human life beyond a few measly centuries. I need the time to get caught up on my cleaning.
Half off is a deal. Hesitating, waiting until the last day of the sale, I bought the thing. I’ve been wanting a basic writing program for years because I’m tired of my writing partner pointing out my grammatical errors. I mess up on commas all the time. If I have to be corrected, I’d prefer a software program point out my errors.
When my partner asked what I was downloading, I told him I’d bought an early Christmas present. Then I left it on my computer, dreading the idea of using it. Let me try it out—right now—on the words I’ve written for this blog so far.
In only a few seconds, PWA has kicked up twenty-five different reports about my 500 words. Grammar, style, “readability enhancements” … I can see how some of this might be useful. Other parts of the program don’t see helpful at all. I learned that “0% of (the blog’s) sentences start with a past participle. You might consider adding some.” I did not consider adding any.
The app also reassured me that I hadn’t used any offensive language. Just wait until I try it on one of my manuscripts.
Despite all of those reports, PWA isn’t quibbling about much of what I’ve written. It is unhappy that four of my sentences started with the word “I” as this “can lead to boring writing”. Me am sorry about this. This writer will try to do better in the future. It also warned me against using the words “Christmas presents” so closely together in the opening of this piece. It was suggested that I use “Christmas displays” or “Christmas gives” as a substitute.
Clearly, it’s not a perfect program. I’ll give it another couple of weeks and see if I’m returning my early Christmas gives.
It wouldn’t be the first time.