Thursday, July 23 2020

sentiment analysis and average quiche

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Dear Journal,

Allow me to use the last remaining minutes of pre-noon time to say 'Good Morning'. How are you feeling today? I'm having a good morning so far. Today instead of jumping right into a journal entry, I spent the morning making a grocery list and cleaning out the fridge, and that inspired me to fry some leftover bacon that was languishing in the bottom of our meat drawer. In my experience, the best way to clean out a fridge is to just cook and eat whatever is in it.

Sip. The bacon also served as a great distraction for Rodney. I found some time this morning to catch up on emails, one from my beloved friend and former roommate, Dr. Jordan Snyder.

"A couple of weeks ago you had a blog post about turning your journal over to the historical society for research," he writes. "It reminded me of this approach called sentiment analysis, and so I thought I would try this out with your blog."

He attached a beautiful statistics report, which included an interactive word cloud, data, and figures illustrating how the overall sentiment of my writing has trended over time based on my word choices. Based on the data, Jordan found that my writing has gotten just slightly more negative over a year of writing.

The word negative comes with caveats. "This is based on individual words, and thus does not take negation into account," explains Jordan. "[Also] some may not be appropriate - I imagine you use chicken in discussing food and not that someone is a chicken."


See? 2020 has sucked, and now we have the data to prove it.

With the good Doctor's presumed consent, I'd encourage you to take a look at Jordan's Report. As I've been spending the whole week figuring out how to analyze my writing and building my own statistics page, the little side project struck a cord with me.

In other news, at Marissa's request, I made a quiche yesterday. And even though it was only my second time making a quiche from scratch, I waltzed into a half cleaned kitchen at 5:45 with the cocksure swagger you might expect from a brunch cooking titan like Martha Stewart or Julia Childs.

"Are you sure you want to make a quiche?" asked Marissa. "We can do something faster if you want, it's pretty late."

"NONSENSE," I said dismissively. "I've made this before - I'll just throw it together." I sank into the computer chair and scanned my bookmarks, finding the official French Cooking Academy approved manual for a Quiche Lorraine.

"Wow - It's a lot more complicated than I remembered," I muttered. Between making the crust, rolling out the crust, blind baking the crust, preparing the garnish, mixing the custard, the recipe spanned five different short videos and three pages of steps.

"I'm going to stain the fence with Rodney," said Marissa on her way out the back door. "Are you good if I leave Miles in his crib?"

"No problem," I said, trying to prop up my confidence from earlier.

I measured out two cups of flour and dumped it onto the table, forming a crater in the middle. Next came an egg yolk, a splash of water, and a pinch of salt. I stirred the liquid together into a slurry with my finger, then added a stick of butter. Following the video, I squeezed the butter between my fingers while sprinkling flour onto the mash.

I sprinkled. I mashed. I scraped the butter from my fingers and mashed again. Precious cooking minutes slipped away, and my pile of butter turned into just a pile of butter and flour. After what felt like a hundred repetitions of the magical procedure, it became clear to me that this mess was not becoming a ball of dough any time soon. I took a step back from the counter and took a deep breath, then I swept the pile of crumbled mess into the garbage can.


Reminder that I said I would "just throw this together"

I started again. Crater of flour, an egg yolk, and a new stick of butter. I moved much more slowly this time, taking care to incorporate the flour more intentionally. Squeeze, sprinkle, gather. The incantation worked, and like magic out sprung a beautiful lump of short crust dough.

Trying to make up for lost time, I attempted to blanch the bacon while also sweating a chopped leek in butter. I pulled the bacon out on time, but it was at the cost of just slightly burning the leaks.

After a quick rest in the fridge, I retrieved the shortcrust from the plastic bag and threw it on the counter, running my rolling pin over the top. The dough split into three pieces and left a slimy, buttery residue on the rolling pin. "Not enough time in the fridge," I muttered.

After sloppily patching the pieces of dough together around the pan, I threw it into the oven underneath a pile of rice. While it pre-baked, I changed a screaming Miles' twice soaked diaper, assembled the quiche, then slid the final assembly into the oven for one last bake. I threw my cooking apron on the hook and stepped outside.

"Wow," I sighed. "That's the last time I ever underestimate a quiche. That thing just kicked my ass."

"Aw, did it not work out?" asked Marissa sympathetically"

"Nah, it's in the oven now. It's an average quiche - it's not passing with flying colors," I chuckled. "Actually, if this was for a real cooking class, I probably wouldn't pass at all since I burned the leeks."

I stretched, then wandered further into the backyard. Rodney was coloring the stone pavers with sidewalk chalk. I grabbed a seat on the ground beside him, and Rodney put me to work.

"Color this one with THIS color," said Rodney handing me a stick of chalk. "Then when you finish, say TADA."

After such a challenging time in the kitchen, it felt good to zone out and color. The oven timer rang, and I went inside to pull the quiche out of the oven. We were hungry, and decided to forgo the usual cool down time. After all, the best part about making an average quiche is that you can cut into it as quickly as you want.

average quiche

It has been said, "better to have an average quiche than no quiche at all"

There is no "throwing together" a quiche. In fact, I think making a quiche from scratch would make for the ultimate calorie burning workout if not for eating the quiche. Two slices, plus the leftovers on Rodney's plate sent me into a food coma, and after putting Rodney to bed I snuck off for a quick evening nap.

Respect the quiche. And have a wonderful day today.