What Did I Do All Semester?


Another semester in the books. In the last semester I’ve married, divorced, remarried, had 4 children, 2 grandchildren, lost a family pet, lost 100 pounds, lost my favorite pen, found inner peace, wrote my memoirs, learned 5 languages, and connected with multiple cultures on a physical, metaphysical, and hyperphysical level.

I also took some classes and wrote some papers for those classes. In total I wrote over 14,500 words in final drafts alone. This is probably a small amount considering if you ask any college student how much work they have to do they throw a x50 multiplier on it because COLLEGE IS HARD MOM AND DAD THAT’S WHY I CAN ONLY CALL ONCE EVERY WAXING CRESCENT MOON.

Here’s what those words look like artfully arranged by frequency of use

Wow, compelling stuff. What is being highlighted here is the equivalent of statistical noise, so I need to find a way to filter some of the boring stuff before I can learn anything about overarching themes from the semester or from my writing style.

To do this does not require any significant skill other than the ‘Find’ and ‘Replace all’ tools in Word. One exception is that doing text analysis requires smoothing which puts words like “quick” and “quickly” into the same bin, so it is possible that my own method of removing boring words misses some of this, but it certainly reduces their impact on the larger picture.

After getting rid of 43% of the words you get something slightly more informative

A lot of the biggest words come from papers that were specifically about that word or a related topic. To identify a theme I compare graphs of frequency of usage over the length of a document containing all papers.


For explanation, on the left you see the frequency of the term ‘revere’ focuses on one portion of all of the papers, meaning all mentions of the term are in one paper. On the right you see the same information on the term ‘more’ which appears in some amount in all papers. Don’t let the different Y-axes fool you, I’m not trying to mislead you, I’m just lazy.

And the winner is ‘time‘ which I wrote no specific paper about, took no classes with it as a focus, and it’s not a boring word as judged by the only person that matters to this blog

So, this suggests that I spent nearly the entire semester thinking about the concept of time and applying it to the materials covered in my courses. Is there a minor for that?


1 thought on “What Did I Do All Semester?

  1. Griff

    I like to imagine that the image of Time Wizard from Yu-Gi-Oh! was already saved in your “Pictures” folder for reasons I’d rather not investigate.


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