Prompts for Winter Writing — For students and??? (more fun with AI)

The link below was shared by the people for whom I’m reading books. Based on my recent forays into AI, I’d say all of these prompts were written by an AI.

So I asked ChatGPT to give me 10 wintery prompts. They are better than the ones on the above site.

I’d have no hesitancy about giving these to a class, and a couple of them intrigue me. I wouldn’t probably give a class prompts that tell them what to feel — like “beauty and serenity of a winter evening” or “complete with snow-covered trees…etc.” And, personally, I hate the word “cozy.” Shudder… I’d want my students to do that kind of description on their own without me or something else prescribing a response. I like 3, 4, 5, 6, 8. Students would like 10.

But they all lead to happy stories. I don’t imagine Alferd Packer or the Donner Party coming out of them — so I asked for unhappy endings.

Still no cannibalism, but you can’t have everything… If you don’t know the story of Alferd Packer, the Colorado Cannibal, (that’s how he spelled his name), you can learn about him here. He was stranded in the mountains not all that far from where I live — up in the San Juans near Lake City which was on the stagecoach route I’ve written about here in the past. One of the restaurants at the University of Colorado in Boulder is named the Alferd Packer Grill. When I was a student there, my ex and I only ate there when (for some unknown reason) we happened to have money. Good burgers and onion rings.

I’m not even going to apologize anymore. Godnose when this will end. It makes me wish I were teaching again. Instead of fighting against some of the things I had to fight against when I retired, I’d probably be embracing some of them.

Fun with ChatGPT

I got this idea after reading a comment this morning about someone who’d used the chatbot to write a train cancellation notice in the style of Revelations. I knew I’d have to try this. I promise. I’ll stop, but what a riot. It doesn’t get e. e. cummings but does well with Robert Service. OK, I promise I’ll stop now.

Please write an advertisement for toilet paper in the style of William Blake

“Soft as an angel’s wing, pure as the driven snow,
Our toilet paper doth cleanse and soothe.
No harshness to be found, no splinters to assail,
A comfort to the body, a balm to the tale.

In fields of white, our rolls do lay,
Ready to fulfill their noble duty each day.
So let not your tushie suffer or moan,
For with our toilet paper, you shall be forever known
As one who chooses luxury and grace,
Over harsh and rough, a true connoisseur of the loo’s embrace.”

Can you write an advertisement for toilet paper in the style of Robert Service?

“In the wild and rugged land, where the outhouses stand,
And the winds of fate do howl and moan,
There’s a need for something soft, to wipe away the oft,
Less savory bits that cling and groan.

Enter our toilet paper, strong and true,
With its quilted softness, it’ll see you through.
No more rough and scratchy, no more of that,
Just smoothness and comfort, where’er you squat.

So heed the call of the wild, and heed it well,
And bring our toilet paper with you, through the dells.
For when nature calls, and calls with might,
You’ll be glad you have our toilet paper, to make it right.”

An ad for toilet paper in the style of e.e. Cummings?

&rustle(s)of(the)leaf(es) there(is)a(place) w

it(is)an(exclamation) of(softness)
a(caress) an(ode)to(cleanliness)

our(toilet)paper dance(s)on(your)skin s
ing(s)to(your)soul and(leave(s)you)feeling


After making me laugh it again asserted it has no power to feel and therefore cannot have fun. It’s a pity. Maybe you’ll have fun.

Chat GPT MORE experimenting

I just had a “chat” about it helping me write a message in Italian. I wanted to know two things — first, that it could do that. Second, Italian is not philosophically or socially English. It’s more “human” if that makes any sense. Here’s our conversation. If you can read Italian even a little you’ll see the difference in “voice,” politeness and “humanness”. I love English, but the underlying philosophy is expedience. Also, I used incorrect verb forms to see WHAT it would take away from that — it did beautifully with the context. I’m really impressed with this thing and the people who developed it.

Me: Poi scrivere in italiano? <– Can you write in Italian?

It: Sì, posso scrivere in italiano. In che modo posso aiutarti? <– Yes, I can write in Italian. In what way can I help you?

Me: Vorrei scrivere un email dicendo that I don’t have anything to say, but I hope my friend is all right. Non posse scrivo questo da solo <– I want to write an email saying (diced is the wrong verb form) that I don’t have anything to say, but I hope my friend is all right. I can’t write this myself. (wrong verb form)

It: Certo, posso aiutarti a scrivere l’email. Ecco un esempio di come potresti formulare il messaggio: <– Certainly. I can help you to write the email. Here’s an example of how to formulate the message.

“Ciao amico, Spero che tu stia bene. Non ho molto da dire in questo momento, ma volevo solo fare un saluto e assicurarmi che tu stia passando un buon periodo.

Un saluto, [Il tuo nome]”

Me: Perfetto. Grazie! <– Perfect! Thanks

It: Di nulla, sono contento di poterti aiutare. In caso avessi bisogno di altro, non esitare a chiedere. <– translate: It’s nothing. I’m happy I was able to help you. If you need more help, don’t hesitate to ask.

Also — my recent foray into this has shown me how much of WordPress is probably relying on some kind of AI. I think a lot of times we won’t know and I guess that’s scary in its way or I’ve read way too much Philip K. Dick. 😉 But, I’m not scared of it and never have been — I played with a low-level primitive version myself back in the 80s to introduce my students to writing programs in BASIC and to get them comfortable with using a personal computer. It’s a little hard to believe that there ever WAS a time like that but there was.

OK, I’ll quit boring you with this. Or not, I’m not sure.

ChatGPT — more experimenting

I finally got on ChatGPT, and I like it. I asked it to write a few things — a poem in the style of Goethe and another in the style of Du Fu. They were both on target but not great poetry. It also told me who Goethe and Du Fu were. I asked it ethical questions about how I could use it in my college English classes. It’s been well trained for that and, I think, difficult to abuse. I asked it (after it wrote a sappy love story with happy ending) if it were capable of writing a story with an equivocal ending. It proceeded to write one and then told me what an equivocal ending is and why it’s used and how it engages people. I told it I liked it and it thanked me for the positive remark and explained its mission. I asked it various questions related to teaching college English and got useful answers that I’d put on a syllabus.

If I were teaching today I would learn all I could about this interface and introduce it to my students as I did introduce Grammarly when it came out and I’d played with it.

It took 3 days for me to get on ChatGPT to try it out. When I suggested that people must have had fun making it, it explained to me that fun has nothing to do with it, which made me laugh because I was having a LOT of fun with it.

Here’s a slideshow based on the questions I asked it about its use in a college English class. I might actually (were I teaching) give this as an assignment, to help my students find out how to use it responsibly. I identified myself as an English teacher; I wouldn’t have my students do that, of course. I’d give them the statement to start with, “I’m in a college English class and my professor wants to know how I could use you to help me with my essays.” It’s a very cool tool, way too much fun, and it might actually suck students into writing… In my career one of the hardest things for students was the solitude of writing.

HFS, Plato at 7 a.m.?

It’s a cold morning in the Bark of Beyond, the coldest yet. And, of course, as THAT would have it, a circuit breaker flipped just at sunrise. Speaking for the sunrise, it was beautiful. Speaking for the dogs, “Yay! She’s up! Let’s help her get dressed!” Speaking for me? It’s all good. Now I’m waiting to see what my supermarket will not have later when I go to pick up my order. I had planned to go Tuesday but, besides the roads, the store had NO YOGHURT. I have NEVER missed a grocery pick-up, but I called in “sick” for that one. Then I thought, “O Brave New World where you call in sick for a grocery pick-up.”

Last night I thought of the original title for my first novel. I wondered where I’d found it long, long, long ago. It was a quote from a Greek philosopher — I imagined Aristotle, but I wasn’t sure. I typed in the title — A Vast Chain of Dancers — and BAM there it was. I started reading and was (surprisingly) deeply moved. It was from one of Plato’s dialogues, Ion, in which Socrates is “talking” to a person named Ion who recites Homer.

I got dim memories of a class and teacher I hated some 40 years ago. It covered a mountain of material, truly 3000 years of literary criticism, in an 8 week quarter, and the teacher had total contempt for his students. He began lecturing while he was walking down the hallway toward the classroom, lectured for an hour. Stopped, everyone rushed out to find a restroom. Exactly fifteen minutes later, he began lecturing again and lectured as he left the classroom at the end of class. Strange and scary man with no tolerance AT ALL for the fact that he had at least 30 years on most of the people in his classes and could not (reasonably) expect them to be where he was, but OH WELL.

Having had a lifetime in the meantime, and forgotten almost everything about that abysmal “learning experience,” I saw the paragraph differently. But I must have seen something magical in it back then, too, or I wouldn’t have lifted the line and put it on top of my first novel.

I’m going to have to read the whole dialogue again. Plato is subtle.

Soc. Do you know that the spectator is the last of the rings which, as I am saying, receive the power of the original magnet from one another? The rhapsode like yourself and the actor are intermediate links, and the poet himself is the first of them. Through all these the God sways the souls of men in any direction which he pleases, and makes one man hang down from another. Thus there is a vast chain of dancers and masters and undermasters of choruses, who are suspended, as if from the stone, at the side of the rings which hang down from the Muse. And every poet has some Muse from whom he is suspended, and by whom he is said to be possessed, which is nearly the same thing; for he is taken hold of. And from these first rings, which are the poets, depend others, some deriving their inspiration from Orpheus, others from Musaeus; but the greater number are possessed and held by Homer. (The Ion)

Oddly, it made me think of Artificial Intelligence. And then it made me think of God in the Judeo/Christian sense — God picking up a lump of clay and breathing life into it. Inspire. For the Greeks inspiration came from the muses, Who the Muses were and what they did? Whoa… THAT was high school, so I consulted that repository of all knowledge:

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the Muses (Ancient Greek: Μοῦσαι, romanized: Moûsai, Greek: Μούσες, romanized: Múses) are the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge embodied in the poetry, lyric songs, and myths that were related orally for centuries in ancient Greek culture. Melete, Aoede, and Mneme are the original Boeotian Muses, and Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania are the nine Olympian Muses.

SO…the poet prays to the Muse for inspiration (or maybe the Muse comes unbidden?) and the human poet takes it from there. Fuck. Artificial Intelligence? I laughed.

Plato called this a “vast chain of dancers,” and as well as I understand/remember it, it goes from the gods through the human poet, to the performer, to the audience, each link a step away from the gods but leading to the gods at the same time. The Judeo/Christian god made humans in the image of God. AI. All derivative of something.

I saw this morning as I was making my coffee how dangerous this is, leading as it could to that ONE maddening question, “What’s real, anyway?” I think that was part of Plato’s thing, as well as I remember. Ion, the Rhapsode, reciter of poetry, could portray all the characters of the Illiad but that didn’t make him a general who could lead an army.

Caveat: I’m not afraid of AI. It’s just interesting and useful as a tool. My “worry” is what I would feel if I were teaching writing now. I used an AI program yesterday to help me put finishing revisions on the article I have finished about the crane festival. “OK Grammarly, I finished this, what do ‘you’ see?” It was helpful. Where I am as a writer, I can accept or reject suggestions. I’m not turning in my homework for a grade or ostensibly learning tools I will use later. My doubts and questions about AI in writing are focused on THAT; what would I do if I were teaching writing now? AI would be a problem.

Rambling Rant about AI and Teaching Writing

City Lights Bookstore

In a discussion with Carrot from The Dihedral, about Artificial Intelligence (AI), I was inspired to think about my life as a teacher. For the first time since I left the profession, I cried. That wasn’t really surprising because I loved teaching — really LOVED it.

I taught writing, all kinds of writing at the college/university level from remedial grammar (yikes!) to advanced business communication. For thirty-four of my thirty-eight years I got up ready to go and happy to start the day, though, admittedly, in the final four years or so various external problems and changes in the way my students had been taught before university diminished the joy. I took that as a sign to get out of the classroom. At the end, I hated going to school, but by then I had retired and was a “short-timer.”

I loved MOST the moments when a student GOT it, and the times when a student became inspired by what we were reading and it showed up in his/her writing. There were many students who understood that freshman comp was going to help them be what they wanted to be, and took the skills and ran with them — one of those guys is a DA in Florida now, though his dream was Oakland, where he grew up. The Iraqi girl who challenged everything then, when I told her that Fahrenheit 451 changed the world, she lit up. She wanted to change the world, too, and here was a novel that had? The list of amazing experiences is too long to write — or is it? Is a teaching memoir at all appropriate? Naw… My LinkedIn is mostly former students.

Yeah; we’ve all had crappy teachers and for some students, undoubtedly, I was one. For most, not. For a few I was inspiring.

Carrot is a philosophy teacher, and some of what he’s written is about AI as a writing “tool.” The point — one point — is that AI can do only what it’s learned to do, but it can do that very well. Humans can go beyond what they’ve learned to do. This matters. Maybe it’s where lovers and creators of AI are hoping AI will go, to legit reasoning in a creative way, but I don’t know that for sure.

It made me think about the role our senses play in our thinking process. I think our senses play an immense role sometimes in our thinking process and sometimes in overriding our thinking process like, you know, “luv’.” Would AI have that danger or that power? What about imagination? The ability to be inspired or (more important in a classroom) to inspire? The root of that word is what the classical writers prayed to the muses for, the breath of the gods. The breath of life. Would that magic ever show up in a text written by AI, except as it might be derived from the work the AI has “grazed”?

Carrot and I were discussing how to keep students from turning in papers written by AI. I think, you know, an old-school copy book, pen and in-class writing, but there are limits to that. Ideally it would — applied soon enough — give kids the idea that writing is a wonderful activity and not something you worry about “getting right.” All AI can really do is “get it right.” Sadly, toward the end of my career more and more students had been taught toward that very end; getting it right. AI can get it right. In standardized tests and standardized writing texts is the robotization of humans — and teachers.

I can imagine a whole coterie of people who would like to make teachers disposable. Yeah, I’ve learned from a “computer,” but it wasn’t really the computer teaching me. It was a group of people who’d made a really good language program who were teaching me.

Writing is thinking. We discover so much when we sit down with our thoughts and allow them to happen.

I don’t want to write (or read) about grades or evil English teachers or any of that. We’ve all had to contend with both — I had an English teacher in university who mocked me in front of the class for an essay I’d written. There are assholes everywhere, and I’m the first to agree that what we write and submit for someone else’s scrutiny and evaluation makes us vulnerable. I know how much students hate English and hate to write. I know all about it. I taught it for more than half my life. Every bad teacher taught me how to teach. Every bad paper (my own) taught me how to write. Every bad paper I read (from a student) taught me to teach better. It is the nature of learning to live in the world that — in the “safe” environment of a classroom — we meet the same jerks we’ll meet in the world of work.

But writing itself should never be “safe” or something we “get right.” Maybe AI can write “like Mark Twain,” but one Mark Twain is enough. That won’t inspire anything and the “god” that “inspires” AI is no divine voice. It’s us.

OK, the last one…


The AI writing program is fascinating, though probably I’m done playing with it…time will tell, I guess.

I learned yesterday that some of the programs have been written so they won’t say anything negative, will use words they’ve been told people like and want to believe. It’s been taught to write happy endings. I tested that yesterday. It will not curse or use offensive language. While I find this saccharine and sinister simultaneously, it’s interesting. It explains why all the women who’d lost their jobs (see We Are the Robots) had to “set forth determinedly towards a new horizon, embracing the unfamiliar and undiscovered opportunities that lay ahead.” That made my teeth itch because it reminds me so much of Maoist language — “The PRC is moving toward its bright future because of the indomitable spirit of the Chinese people.”

It has potential as a propaganda generator.

It’s equally possible that the woman and her dogs could have headed off across the desert, their car broke down, no one stopped, and the dogs ended up eating the woman. OR their car broke down, they got picked up by a friendly, single cowboy who took them back to his ranch where they all lived happily ever after OR she got to her new town and found it had been taken over by zombies. OK, maybe that’s not all that possible, but…

Yesterday I decided to give it (“it” being this Ink for All) a different kind of challenge, something that would involve the probability of death and push it to ambiguity. I asked it to write about a guy going into space and not coming back. A couple of things emerged that intrigued me. The AI didn’t write any of the woman losing her job stories in the first person — which might have made sense. With the astronaut, all the stories were in the first person, but were not letters home.

IF he’s not coming back the story probably shouldn’t be in the first person. I wondered if the AI were imagining (imagining?) a sci-fi story about life on another world, but that wasn’t what came through to me. I was trying to push it into some ambiguity and kind of succeeded.

I had always been passionate about space travel, and so when the opportunity arose to join a mission to explore the outer reaches of our solar system, I leapt at it without hesitation. Though there was risk involved in such an endeavor, I felt confident in my ability to return home safely. But fate would have other plans. Our ship launched without incident and traversed many galaxies over months of interstellar flight before something went terribly wrong. Our vessel’s engines were malfunctioning and despite all efforts, could not be repaired. We were drifting ever further away from home and any hope of rescue seemed lost. Faced with the prospect of never returning to Earth, I began to reflect upon what this experience had taught me: that life is fragile, but also incredibly beautiful. Despite the impending doom, I found myself admiring the star-dappled expanse around us and marveling at how much more vast the universe is than we can comprehend. We chose to make peace with our situation as best we could and prepared for our ultimate journey – one which we would take alone, not knowing where or even if we’d eventually arrive. Our final act of heroism would be simply staying true to ourselves and making sure we enjoyed every last moment until the end. And so, after countless weeks spent among the stars, I bid farewell to my beloved friends and departed on my own into the unknowns of deep space. The only certainty now was that I would never return. <– Time is paradoxical in this one

I had always dreamed of going into space, and when the chance came up to be part of an exploratory mission to Mars, I leapt at it. We blasted off with excited anticipation, relishing in the knowledge that we would be the first humans ever to make this journey. The voyage was fraught with perils; dangers both known and unknown lurked around every corner. But for me, the risks were worth taking – nothing could have stopped me from venturing forth into the vast unknowns beyond our world’s atmosphere. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm proved ill-fated, as upon arrival on Mars, something went terribly wrong: our ship malfunctioned and there was no hope of returning home. It felt like a cruel joke – the longed-for moment of entering interplanetary space had arrived, yet I found myself marooned without any means of escape. Despite being surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful sights and sounds, all I could do was watch helplessly as the final moments of my life slowly ticked away. With tears streaming down my face, I resigned myself to what seemed inevitable: living out my days alone on a distant planet until my air ran out. I thought about all the people back home who believed in me and wanted me to succeed; how their dreams had been just as big as mine. While I didn’t make it back alive, I remain comforted knowing that my short time spent soaring through infinity will live on in their hearts forever. <– This is written post-mortem…THAT’S optimism…

As it worked, I wrote my own. Since science fiction has never been my thing (except to read…) it was fun and I’m wondering where it would go if I were to continue…

Tom’s chair at the table remained empty, yet, father insisted we set a place for him. “He’s still here.”

“Dad,” I said, “he’s not here. You know he’s not coming back. I know he’s not coming back. NASA knows he’s not coming back, even Elon Musk knows he’s not coming back. So what’s up with you spooning beef stroganoff onto his plate?”

“I know more than NASA and even Elon Musk. I talk to your brother every day.”

“That may be, dad, but you don’t see him here at dinner. His food never goes anywhere.”

I could not deny the trans-dimensional possibilities inherent in deep space flight. Who knows? Who COULD know what would happen to the tiny mass of corporeal circuits and flesh that make up your random Earthling? If there IS a soul (the jury is out on that, and I’m not taking a position) maybe it would survive the abysmal landing of Tom’s capsule on that random planet circling Alpha Centauri. I mean random. “We think it’s like Earth,” said Lamont P. Astronomer, “but there’s really no way to know much about it. For one thing, its days are equal to about 15 minutes on Earth. It could be spinning like a sonofabitch. Its gravitational pull might be a mother fucker.” 

You have to appreciate scientific language. 

“What, Tom?” said my dad. 

Tom was my brother or, apparently, still is my brother.

“I know, Tom,” said my dad to my — at best invisible — brother, “I’ve tried to explain it to Josh but, you know how he is. Once his mind is made up about something. What, Tom? Josh is a stubborn asshole? You got that right.”

I thought about us. We’ve been programed by our parents, our culture, our experiences, where we grow up — all of which are derivative. We cherish tradition because it confirms our identities. Some of us have had the good fortune to have an education, some of us are illiterate. Some of us have been able to travel to different places, some of us have spent our whole lives in one small village. Some of us have always had everything we’ve ever needed, some of us haven’t. Some of us have lived a life in peace, others have fled enemy fire. Some people have been programed not to curse, some never say anything negative (directly). Some don’t want even to look at “negative” experiences, and others have been lucky (?) never to have experienced any. We have to be taught skills — including tolerance. We all have beliefs, often in something irrational and unknown. Each generation builds on the progress of preceding generations. Human “I” (intelligence) is incredibly complex, but we are all programmed.

I don’t think the real purpose of this AI writing program is to write original stories but a different kind of content. The one I’ve been playing with keeps wanting to write a description of running shoes. I finally let it.

More AI

Back in the day I wrote programs for my students using Apple BASIC. They were fun for me to write and for my students to use. They livened up the business of learning English. One of the programs I wrote was a Mad Libs program which was, of course, hilarious and (unbeknownst to my students) reinforced my students’ understanding of the parts of speech. It was basically this.

“Hi. I want to write a story, but I need your help. I don’t know many words. First, what’s your name?” Flashing green light

“Thank you. Can you give me five nouns?” Flashing light, flashing light, flashing light, etc.

“Wonderful. I couldn’t have done that without you! I think a story need something to happen. Can you give me five verbs?” Flashing light

“Great. I’ve heard of these things called adjectives. Can you give me seven?” Flashing light

“Wow. Do I need adverbs? Do you know any?” Flashing lights.

“Thanks. What is your best friend’s name?” Flashing light.

“OK. I can write it now. Would you please press Enter?”

And BAM — a story. The students would sit there for an hour or so writing story after story and then seeing what their classmates had and laughing. For some English had never before been in the least funny.

I came up with about a dozen of these. Their input went into an array so even with the same words (except the names) the stories wouldn’t always be the same.

I was reading more about AI story generators, and I’ve learned they are essentially a more sophisticated version of those Mad Libs.

The thing is, computers have a strange power over people, even now. I remember back in the 80s I had a class of bankers from Indonesia who were specifically at my school to learn to use computers. The program was paid for by Harvard Business School where they were all headed after a year at the language school. We had Apple II e computers in our lab, and these men had the idea that ONLY IBM computers were any good. The concept of a program in a language being the same program in any computer NEVER penetrated their warm and friendly but generally misogynistic brains.

Some of them were afraid of the computers and would only press Enter from arm’s length away. My job was also the get them over their fear. The first day they sat down each at a computer that was asking, “Hi, what’s your name?” They typed in their name and the computer answered, “Hi Lamont! Nice to meet you!” Or “Welcome Lamont. I look forward to working with you!” Some of them freaked out, seriously, “How does it know my name?”

That was my cue to explain that a computer only knows what we tell it. The long term goal for the summer was that they would write a simple spreadsheet.

I negotiated with San Diego State University (of which my school was a part) all summer to let us use an IBM Lab. At the time, they had 3. Imagine.. Finally, the last week of our term, we could. We were given an hour. The guys printed out their programs (BASIC) and we trooped over to the IBM lab. They had no idea how much they’d learned and when they typed their programs into the IBMs and they ran, the students didn’t understand that it WASN’T because the IBM computers were smarter than the APPLE IIe computers they’d been learning on all summer. They never understood it was because they — the students — had learned so much and had typed in (with their own hands) their de-bugged programs. I got nothing but shit for not “letting” them use IBM computers from the start.

I was angry, and I was hurt. I’d worked very hard to develop a curriculum for those guys that would bridge their skills from NOTHING to the minimum they needed to move forward. They HAD written a spreadsheet. It had been difficult for them to debug it, but that was the point. MOST of them persisted in believing that the computer was out to get them. Out of the 20, maybe ONE understood what had happened. They went to the program coordinator to complain that I’d made the course unnecessarily difficult, and if we had an IBM lab it would have been easier. Amazing. They — with my help — had achieved something significant, but had no awareness of it. The program director was dumbfounded. She could not have written a spreadsheet. She tried to explain but…

It wasn’t just them, though. My colleagues — many of them — refused to learn to use some of the language-learning software that would have improved their lives. Why? They were afraid the computers would be better teachers than they were. They NEVER saw the computers as tools. And they really thought something was wrong with me that I didn’t see the computers as enemies and even wrote programs. So weird. And frustrating for me since I had the task of helping my colleagues get the most out of that wonderful and expensive facility.

I’ve done a little research into writing an AI poetry generator. I’ve learned that they are simply a more sophisticated version of my Mad Libs with immense arrays. 🥸 The way things are now — with so much of the basic work done — it wouldn’t be all that difficult, and it might be fun, but I think there are already plenty out there.

I asked for haikus about dogs. Here they are plus 1….

Dogs are loyal friends,
Tail-wagging companions they be,
Fur-babies forever.

Pups with furry coats,
Frolicking in sun-dappled grass;
A blissful reverie.

Fur-clad canines,
Loyal and ever loving;
Eternal pupbuddies.

Dogs don’t live long
Enough. Every moment builds
A bank of sweet memories

And here are haikus about AI… I thought it deserved a chance to speak for itself (or its programers’ vision)

E’er advancing AI,
A ceaseless march of progress –
A mystery still.

Ai, so wise yet naive;
Processing data with care,
Colloquializing knowledge.

Ai advances, astound me;
The perfect solutions found.
Colloquial tongue used.

We Are the Robots

The AI experiment is pretty interesting.

A comment on my post yesterday made me think (OH NO NOT THAT!!!!) — “I listened to them practice with an ai program on npr, asking it to create an animal report in the style of npr. it was bang on, and kind of scary that the humans didn’t need to be involved.” I thought about that and it seems to me that humans are very involved. Humans wrote the programs and the literature that the AI programs scan/index/read to get the “language.” WE write whatever the AI “writes.” If AI “writes” well, it just adds fuel to the argument that good writing comes from wide reading. Still, it’s kind of weird.

Another comment on yesterday’s post, “Fascinating, isn’t it? But of course, there are already tools that recognize whether a text was written by the user or by AI. We can assume that google will also recognize this (after all, the AI programs are competitors) and will then not index these articles.” I hadn’t even thought of AI indexing articles written by AI which adds another strange dimension to the whole thing.

I thought about human writers — 38 years teaching writing one of my most consistent sermons was, “The more you read, the better you will write.” Since most students really didn’t care about how well they wrote other than the grade at the top of their paper it was not a very relevant comment to them, but here’s AI “indexing” writing and responding just like a student might if they got the importance to their writing of reading a lot. I also thought about the annual contest in which people try to imitate Ernest Hemingway’s style. Hmmmm….

My dad worked with computers way back in the early days and he said that sooner or later computers would write stories. I think he meant on their own, but he also argued that 100 monkeys with 100 typewriters left to themselves would, sooner or later, write Hamlet. The idea, I guess, is that literature is just a random effluent of human culture. Before you get upset, remember he also wanted me to be a poet. Peoples’ relationship with the written word has never been totally clear…

One thing I noticed about the AI story generator I played around with yesterday is that a philosophy appears to have been programed into it. It wants to write positive, uplifting stories. Whatever it’s indexing to find its language goes in that direction, sort of like the “games” on Facebook that tell you what kind of person you are based on your birthdate or favorite color.

Last night I offered it a little storyline: “A woman loses her job and she and her dogs move to to a remote location in a different state.” I had today’s blog post in mind. So… Some of the stories below were written by AI. Some were not. I thought it would be the ultimate perversity to attempt to imitate the AI. I don’t think I succeeded. Which ones did I write?

A woman’s life was thrown into upheaval when she unexpectedly lost her job, prompting her to take drastic measures and relocate to a remote location in another state. Undaunted by the change of scenery and embarking on an adventure with her canine companions in tow, she set forth determinedly towards a new horizon, embracing the unfamiliar and undiscovered opportunities that lay ahead.

Suddenly unemployed, the woman assessed her options. She had none. She called a real estate agent and put her house on the market. She got boxes and began packing. She googled places to live and found a small town in a remote location that she could afford. Within six weeks, her house was sold, her possessions packed up, and soon, she and her dogs were off to a new life. Too many changes at once, but what else could she do?

After losing her job, a woman decided to start anew and moved to an out-of-the-way place in another state, taking her beloved canines with her. Although the process was arduous, she found solace in familiarizing herself with the terrain and culture of this rural location; the landscapes were stunningly varied, full of verdant hills and winding rivers that beckoned for exploration. Throughout it all, she remained steadfast in her commitment to succeed despite the odds, utilizing her personal knowhow and adeptness at adapting to change as tools in navigating this difficult transition.

Sometimes there’s liberty in having no choices, no decisions, as in the case of a woman who unexpectedly lost her job. Realizing what this meant, the woman optimistically sold her house, packed her possessions, and with her loyal dogs, headed for a new life in a different state. The rural location with its new landscapes and friendly people confirmed the woman’s decision to find a new life. Before long, she and her dogs were settled and happy in their new home.

A woman recently lost her job, so she decided to make a drastic move and relocate to a remote location in another state. Taking her beloved dogs with her, the journey was not easy, but the determination and grit she had for success was immense. Her indomitable spirit allowed her to overcome the hardships of packing up her life and moving across the country with little more than a few belongings and furry companions. Despite the intimidating task of having to start anew in an unfamiliar place, this determined woman embraced the challenge with tenacity, making sure to savor every moment of her fresh beginning.

Fetish for Happy Endings?

After reading blog post yesterday, Dao and Zen in Arts by Friedrich Zettl, which he had analyzed by AI,, I decided to try it myself as a reward for evaluating a LOT of books today and NOT taking a walk. I typed “A Woman in a Long Distance Relationship for 30 Years.” I got three stories, all of them with happy endings, all written pretty much along this formula.

A woman in a long-distance relationship for 30. years is no stranger to the ache of yearning and the joy of reuniting; it’s an ebb and flow of emotions that can be both exhilarating and exhausting. She knows the value of patience, communication, and trust, having developed her own unique strategies for sustaining a bond with someone who may never physically share her life. It takes grit and perseverance—a willingness to recognize that one cannot always predict what may come from such an unconventional arrangement. But as she stands on the precipice of another decade of distance, she feels empowered by the knowledge that this journey has made her resilient, resourceful, and unyielding in her pursuit of true connection.

The other two stories are pretty similar and none of them are particularly accurate or inaccurate; this was the most accurate though I don’t think I have a lot of “grit” (I tend to bathe regularly) and I don’t know about “resilient, resourceful, and unyielding” either. Resilient, maybe, but the other two? Naw. More go with the flow. Love (IMO) is not after a particular result. It’s consistent and kind, and love does not necessarily lead to ONE place. As for the precipice? That’s legit and not a bad description of my life at in a lot of dimensions.

BUT the AI relies on its bank of existing stories to generate a story and NO existing stories are going to be my story — I know that. BUT a person could take that paragraph and make something out of it if they wanted to. It works as an outline.

I decided to take another theme from my real life (Women Walking in the Mountains with Dogs), and here’s what I got…

1) A woman strides across the mountainous terrain, accompanied by her trusty canine companions. She’s been hiking these trails for years, so she knows exactly when to take a break, where to find water, and how to assess if a given area is safe. Her eyes scan the horizon with knowledge and experience as she guides herself, sometimes talking aloud or speaking in grunts of approval to her dogs. With every step forward they become more attuned to the landscape, noting the unique scents and sights that might otherwise go unnoticed. As they reach the peak of the summit, the woman stops and takes in the view – feeling accomplished but still humbled by nature’s complexity.

2)A confident woman strides through the rugged terrain of the mountains, two lovable canines at her side. She has climbed these peaks many times before and knows how to avoid any hazardous obstacles that could impede her progress; but even with this expertise, she is ever mindful of the danger they present. Her knowledge enables her to enjoy the wonders of nature, marvelling at its beauty while appreciating its power. With every step, a thrill of exhilaration runs through her as if being reminded of the grandiose adventure on which she embarked; a unique journey comprised of obscure pathways and unknown trails.

3) A woman, with her faithful hounds in tow, strode forth along the mountain path. Her step was sure, a result of many years spent traversing the steep trails and winding paths; even though she had encountered treacherous conditions in her past adventures, nothing could ever dampen her spirit of exploration. With each ascent and descent, she observed the subtle nuances of nature that only come through familiarity: a particular rock formation or an array of vegetation known to inhabit certain elevations. The atmosphere around her also changed – from brisk air at higher altitudes to warm earthy smells at lower ones. As the sun slowly sank into its horizon, a sense of accomplishment filled her as she trekked onward with confidence, revelling in yet another successful outing amidst the peaks.

None of these plot lines is bad, though all are pretty cliched — and they should be. BUT, again, they could outline books. One has a grammatical mistake, “comprise” being a transitive verb, things aren’t “comprised of” rather they “comprise” or are “composed of,” but whatever… That’s just a very minor thing that bugs me. People make that mistake all the time and no one cares. Probably only I care, but I don’t care very much. And I do not and never have “strided” or “stridden” meaning, clearly, I never “strode.” I’m not the striding (or strident) type. Also, “summit” and “peak” are essentially synonyms so I’m not sure anyone reaches the “summit of the peak.” “Thrill of exhilaration” is a little redundant. Still, if I were to take one of these paragraphs as a draft for something else, that might be fun. Maybe tomorrow 😀

You can try here: AI Story Generator I found it by Googling “AI story generator.” You get only 80 characters to start things off or for a plot line. The website offers a more detailed AI generator with options to write a blog, business letter, all kinds of stuff.

It will write haikus for you… Pretty awful ones…

Vast azure sky of blue,
Majestic clouds drift and soar high,
A journey anew.

The sonnets are a little strange. I asked for one about death. I’m troubled by “emotiony lore…”

The chill of death engulfs my heart so sure,
A wintry air the breath of life abhors.
I’ve known it more times than I can endure,
Mortality is our final course and chore.
Grief lies in wait like a silent entourage,
Curtains close on all that we’ve cherished before;
Familiar smells bring comfort for the moribund stage –
Nostalgia fills souls with an emotiony lore.
Somberness encircles us in darkness’ embrace,
Struggle between life and death seems so grotesque.
Tumultuous ebbtides send chills down our face,
Aching to surrender to this poignant bequest.
Let not your spirit’s depth be left bereft,
Death’s journey leads towards resurrection’s cleft.

A description of the Arena in Verona:

The Arena in Verona is a magnificent amphitheatre, renowned for its iconic red-hued façade and captivating atmosphere. Its antiquity – it dates back to the 1st century AD – imbues it with an unparalleled gravitas, further enhanced by its vigorous conservation efforts over the centuries. From hosting operas and ballets to gladiatorial games and wild animal shows, the arena’s diverse past has been integral to its contemporary identity as one of Europe’s premier tourist attractions. Visitors will be entranced by the resplendence of the architecture, from its grandiose brickwork and incomparable acoustics to its curvilinear seating arrangements and intricate carvings that adorn its masonry walls. Whether experienced alone or shared among friends, a visit to the Arena in Verona promises to be both awe-inspiring and memorable.

This is absolutely fascinating as a game. I wonder if it will be as easy to recognize as the fake voices (still) are? Maybe it would be a fun thing to do for a few blog posts… hmmmm….