Author: smarthu (Page 1 of 8)

Validation from a Chat Bot

I recently tried ChatGPT, google’s chat bot. I read on a writer’s forum about using it to generate ideas, validate ideas or even generate plots based on ideas.

I’m sure it’s got a ways to go before it replaces writers completely, but it can write poetry, write new jokes and do intensive research (although it usually boils research down to about five points or so.)

I typed in an idea I have for a new novel, and got more than I wanted or needed from it: validation.

“This is a great idea for a publishable novel,” it started.

There it was, validation for an idea that I’ve failed to get from any human (aside from my husband, who usually thinks my ideas are great).

Most of the time, I keep my ideas to myself, other than to share on a writer’s forum or group, or to my husband. Otherwise, any attempts to talk about writing bring comments akin to “well, bless your heart,” or “you can always try.”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want someone to tell me all my ideas are great–I know they are not. I know that after years of writing, I will not be Steinbeck or even Danielle Steele on the other spectrum. I do like a little validation now and then that I’m not completely wasting my time, and that I shouldn’t regret giving up wanting to throw beautiful pottery and selling it on the side.

Validation from an artificially intelligent program…is it really validation? Has it been programed to give positive feedback? I didn’t ask it to love my idea.

So many questions, but I think I’m hooked.

Rational Fear

I, like many others, have wrestled with anxiety and fear. Mostly, I have had what people call “irrational fear,” of things that will probably not kill me (like speaking in front of a large group, or a small group for that matter). My anxieties and fears have had consequences. I once changed my college major to one that didn’t require the “Speech 101” class. When I was a girl, I “threw” a spelling bee when I realized that winning would require unwanted attention.

Lately though, I’ve realized how rational some of my fears are. I am less afraid of my daughter traveling to Africa on safari with her husband and MY grandchildren, than I am of them going to a concert in America.

I’m less afraid of my other beloved daughter becoming a member of her chosen airline’s 1K club (I am a notable white-knuckler during turbulance) than I am of her shopping at a mall.

I, for the first time in my life, have added such fears to my fear-list as going to Costco or other big-box stores, driving on the freeway in rush-hour, and thinking of my grand-children being dropped off at school.

The world seems scarier now. I believe it IS scarier now.

Whether its the fault of movies, guns, video games, mental illness, or any other factor–we have to figure it out.

I don’t want to resort to encouraging all four of my grandchildren to move to Australia. Or Canada. If everyone does that–American is just exported its problems.


In spite of having 3 or 4 movie streaming platforms in addition to cable t.v., my husband and I (who are movie buffs), find it hard to find good movies to watch.

I like a few series that he’s not into (Succession, for instance), but we occasionally find a 90-minute Netflix movie we like.

The last move we went to was “Banshees of Inishirin,” which we both hated. I got the connection between lonely and bitter people living on an island off the coast of Ireland, and the civil war going on in Ireland. But, to me the “comedy” was mean and pointless.

And, a donkey dies (I hope you didn’t see it yet–or hope you never see it).

I read a writing forum where the subject of the day was: “Can I kill a dog in the first few pages of my novel.”

The consensus was, “not unless you’re writing sci-fi or horror.”

Mostly, the writing forum consists of mystery writers, many of whom are cozy mystery writers, who will tolerate murder and mayhem as long as it’s not a child or animal. I agree–I expect there to be a murder or other crime against presumably–a person and not an animal or child.

I also expect it to be resolved in the in. Justice, and all that.

Anyway, the only thing on at the movies right now is another John Wick move (12 or 14?) I’m done with too much violence in a movie, and if any movies qualify, it’s John Wick movies.

Keanu, can you do something else please?

What I’m Reading Right Now

I have at least 10 books downloaded on Kindle. I usually take this on vaca with me, but our vaca has been thwarted by Covid (hubby) once again. Luckily he tested before we packed for our trip, but just barely.

I have several books in the queue ready to read. I like physical books because it reminds me that they are there to read (as in, turn off the t.v. and read).

Here’s my list:

Death in the off Season (Francine Matthews) mystery

Will Trent mystery (because I’m also watching the series)

Valley Fever (Katherine Taylor) (forgot why I bought this)

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner (for book club)

Lessons in Chemistry (to see if I could recommend to book club)

Secret Life of Bees (because I’ve never read it)

The Maid (because it’s on the bestseller list)

These books should last me for 6 months


Lately, George Santos is in the news. He’s the guy that lied–well, about almost everything and still became a member of the House of Representatives.

Talking with people, I’m hearing, “Everybody lies or embellishes their resumes.”

Do they? I grew up Catholic (now lapsed), but I was taught that lying was one of the more serious sins. That part of my childhood has stuck with me. Not to say I’ve never lied. Do white lies count? I remember being taught that “lies of omission” are a sin. I now believe some things shouldn’t be said either to protect the innocent or the guilty.

When I got my first “career” job out of college (hate to admit that I didn’t graduate college until almost 29 years old), I “lied” on my resume that I had a degree. I got the job. I DID get the degree about 1 month later (I had 1 more class to finish). I stayed awake at night fearing that I would be found out.

Nobody fact checked me obviously. I went on to have a long career (ending with delightfully, a pension), and also got a Master’s Degree while employed at the same organization.

Not that everyone should have truth beaten into them from a very young age (it causes a degree of OCD), but truth and trustworthiness should count for something.

With fact-checking so easy these days, who would lie and make up stories?

Lots of people, I guess.


The Cost of Eggs–and Not Voting

Voting takes time. You have to research a little to vote. Colorado has made it easier than ever to vote. Unlike some states, we have mail-in ballots, which have proven to be quite legit.

I was recently on a neighborhood blog site (you might know the one). People were complaining about the cost of eggs, especially in Colorado Compared to other states.

Seems like in 2020, we Coloradans passed a bill stating that by 2023 we would have 100% cage-free eggs.

Well, it’s now 2023, and coincidentally with outbreaks of bird flu, it’s expensive to make an omelette or cake these days.

We all want the chickens to be healthy and happy, don’t we? I think I voted yes on that very bill (being an animal rights enthusiast–I fall short of being an activist), but maybe there were cost-effective ways of giving chickens a free range life. Maybe if we wanted happy chickens, we should have thrown in some government funding.

This got me thinking; how many voters did or did not vote for this bill? I’m guessing many people complaining about the price of eggs, didn’t vote, didn’t read anything about the bill, or didn’t care until the price of eggs hit them in their pocketbooks.

Colorado makes it easy to be informed as voters. We get numerous booklets describing the bills and who is running for what office. They give us pros and cons of each.

None of us knows the unintended consequences of how a certain bill will play out, but we can at least inform ourselves–and vote.

Time Wasted or Time Spent?

I think a lot about wasting time, mostly because I think I waste a lot of my own time. My time-wasters are television (especially so-called reality shows, and blood-pressure destroying news shows). I’ve successfully cut down on both, but I realize I’ve still got an addictive personality for both types of shows and Internet feeds. I find if I just don’t start watching a certain show (one comes to mind: Real Housewives of anywhere new), the I don’t get hooked and it doesn’t bother me not to watch.

It’s a procrastination technique (or flaw) for me.

I remember I did it during the 9/11 attacks. I glued myself to the television 18 hours a day, watching the same video over and over again until those same images of planes crashing into and destroying two landmark buildings and killing thousands, are burned into my head. I wasted probably two months on those. Well, not wasted–I think I needed to understand what was happening and why. But, in the end, did I?

The most recent example is the Pandemic (COVID 2020 and 2021). I had two years in which I could have written a book or two and gotten them published, learned a foreign language, volunteered hours and hours of time, learned to bake break or whatever ….

I remember reading once that somebody was saying they couldn’t go back to school for that long-desired degree, because they’d be fifty by the time they were done. But they’d be fifty anyway. Just fifty with that long-desired degree.

The thing is, looking back, we didn’t know we had two years. We thought it would be over in weeks. None of us knew really. Except maybe Dr. Fauci. He warned us, didn’t he?

So, should I retrain myself to think that “this time of having extra time could go on forever?”

I know what I need to do: treat time as if it’s my most precious commodity. Because it is.

Now, excuse me, but I need to watch Little People, Big World.

Of Aunts and Dialysis

Dialysis is one of those things that all of us hope we never have to endure. Recently, a friend told me that she almost had to go on dialysis due to kidney failure after a rough bout with COVID.

Kidney failure can happen for any number of reasons, but almost always because the body needs to reserve its energy to heal other parts of the body; the heart, the lungs, the nervous system.

I wrote the attached article years ago after helping my aunt through dialysis (mostly by giving her rides & emotional support). I did this for almost ten years until she passed away.

During that time, I learned a lot about the hows and whys of dialysis. I learned about the people (they’re just like me and you), and about how dialysis is “big business.” I won’t touch on the “big business” issue–well maybe just a little: some people are forced onto dialysis when they are only in border-line kidney failure. This is more likely to happen if they have good insurance (if you know what I mean). Once they’re on though, they most likely won’t come off.

Here’s my tribute to my aunts.

A Cinderella Story

I grew up in a very modest ranching family in Western Colorado. I mean, less than 20 head of cattle, a couple of sheep, that kind of ranching, just like a lot of the ranches in Colorado and most western states.

This Cinderella story isn’t about me, but about my daughter, who came along with me for my long strange ride.

Long story somewhat short, she worked very hard to get through the University of Colorado, then start a career in journalism. She started working for a company that published quilting and crafting magazines. She did that for many years, working her way up the corporate ladders that deal with journalism and advertising.

Naturally, that led her to — becoming the first woman general manager of a the first ever PBR bull-riding team series. What?

I don’t entirely understand it myself–had to google it, but I know that through connections and networking, she wanted the opportunity and “took it by the horns,” so to speak.

The story took a slight dark turn when her team (one of 8), came in consistently last during the PBR team series.

Then, they went to Vegas. They won the championship.

The Nashville Stampede became the first ever champions of the PBR Team Series in Las Vegas. They won a giant belt buckle, individual buckles, hopes and dreams fulfilled, oh, and some money.

They called it a true Cinderella story.

That’s my daughter, Tina Battock (to the left under the belt buckle)

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