Click here for the week of 02/14/16.
Sun, 02/07/16. Another recuperation day.
Today Max and Gems got up both with runny noses but the slight fever Gems had yesterday was gone. Despite our big plans to go to Musicora at la Villette and possibly do a playdate with the other American kids in Paris, we just stayed home, watched Shrek which they didn't really like, and relaxed.

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Sat, 02/06/16. Clogged pipes.
We have all kinds of drain problems going on here, with Max and Gems constantly blowing their nosies and our kitchen sink not draining at all, unless you count the dishwasher overflowing all over the kitchen floor last night. I contacted the landlord and he is taking care of it now, but mostly blaming us for not using the strainer in the sink though we have constantly been using it. Anyway, it seems like it will be fixed soon. I've been listening to and reading some more of my podcasts and blogs, and still really like The Gist by Mike Pesca and Allen Clifton , as those two are both so amazingly consistently thoughtful, interesting and intelligent in my opinion. Clifton just had a good piece criticizing Marco Rubio and detailing how Rubio believes abortion should be illegal even in pregnancies arising from rape, and also how he voted and spoke out against a bill to ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation. Some others I like are FiveThirtyEight, The Starters, and occasionally RealClearPolitics and Andrew Gelman. Of course I also read Randy's Schoenblog and my friend Craig's blog, and my colleague Rob Gould's statistical blog but those are not updated every day. Again, I'd love to hear about others. It's surprisingly hard to find good blogs and podcasts. I thought the internet would be full of them. When I was sick last week I watched a bunch of Ted talks and I would say something like 8 out of 10 of them sucked. The best one was this old one by Griscom and Volkman on having kids and happiness. Some of the other Ted talks I had to stop in the middle because they were so obviously pointless. There was a decent one by Monica Lewinsky which has serious problems but I like the final message she has, encouraging people to write empathetic posts on social media, to counterbalance all the hateful stuff. I didn't like her slow speaking style though and her talk seemed too slow-moving in general. Also, she started with what I guess was meant to be a hilarious anecdote and it was so obviously phony and not funny at all. In a way it was so bad it was kind of endearing in the sense that it showed how insecure she still is after all these years. But come on, while I guess I can believe that a 27 year old might hit on a 41 year old Lewinsky, I don't believe that she really had no intro prepared for her talk until "just a couple months ago" when this guy happened to hit on her, nor do I believe that anyone would ever use the pickup line "I'll make you feel 22 again." Nope, no way, sorry, but I'm not buying it. No one would ever say that. The broader message is that nobody should ever try to start their talk with a joke. When I was getting ready for my first conference, my advisor told me to start with a joke. It was probably the only piece of bad advice he ever gave me, and he gave lots of advice so I can't blame him for missing once. But I totally disagree with this one. First of all, statisticians are not trained in comedy and frankly many of us just aren't very good at it. Second, speaking at a conference is extremely nerve-wracking, and the beginning of your talk is by far the most nervous part, and even telling a good joke is hard when you're that nervous. More importantly, it is almost impossible to come up with a good joke that somehow relates to your talk and is edgy enough to be funny but isn't offensive to anyone. If the joke isn't quite right, it can annoy your audience and even if it does go well, it would probably be distracting. I will grant that it is fun for an audience member to hear a joke, and often at a stat conference it is the main thing people remember, but as a speaker, do you really want your audience to only remember your joke, and not the whole rest of your talk? The other thing is, if you are a student or someone looking for a job soon, a joke makes you look less serious, and often less intellectual or even less intelligent unless your joke is just amazing. So I always tell my students to avoid jokes in their talks actually.

Fri, 02/05/16. Everyone's sick.
Today we were gonna have a playdate with Sebastian and his Mom Jacky, but Sebastian was sick so they cancelled in the morning, and when we picked up Max and Gems from school, Max and Gems both had runny noses. So, we mostly sat around watching Totoro and Curious George. We had big plans for this weekend and now are not sure what will happen. Jean made plans with another American mom in Paris and her 5 year old son, and Sun we were gonna go to Musicora, a music workshop, at Parc de la Villette as well as have a meeting with this group of American parents and their kids also at Villette. I'm not sure if it's the cold weather, or if we're literally getting homesick, but it's not just us. Max said in his class of 28 kids, 9 didn't come today because of sickness. Meanwhile I'm feeling 100% better and am finally done with my course of antibiotics and am over my bronchitis, and Jean is feeling better too as her allergy attack from earlier this week has subsided. The kids have a field trip to the Picasso exhibit at the Grand Palais on Tue, and then after this coming week of school, they get two weeks off.

Thu, 02/04/16. No bill from the school lunch program.
I know, I promised not to write anymore about the insane French bureaucrazy, and nothing will surprise anyone anyway, so I will try to keep this one short. Today we went to our appointment with the police station to get Jean's residency permit extended. For our last appointment, when we got there they said nobody could meet with us and rescheduled. Today, we had every document on the list as well as photocopies of everything, so after 3 hours of waiting the policewoman asked for more things, including -- get this -- a bill from the kids school lunch program. Are you kidding me? She told us we have to come back in a month with more paperwork, including the school lunch receipt, 12 months of my paystubs, which was on the list but the previous policewoman we met with had expressly crossed it out and said I didn't need to bring it, and more of our health insurance details. She also wanted a document confirming that I was being paid while on sabbatical, so Jean found a UCLA document I happened to have saying I would get a paid sabbatical in 2015-2016 after my 3 years as chair. She didn't like that because it was dated in 2011 and, she said, it only said I had a right to a sabbatical, not that I was actually taking it. So then Jean found a 2014 letter from a UCLA employee saying that I was taking a paid sabbatical in France, and she seemed to accept it. Never mind that the UCLA employee who was the author of the letter was ME! By the way, they want photocopies of everything and are constantly making more photocopies, but they don't seem to have any storage for any paperwork except for one little cabinet, so Jean was joking they just shred all the documents as soon as you leave, or maybe when you open the cabinet just a mountain of papers fall out everywhere. I am now resigned to the conclusion that Jean will never get a residency permit, and we should just keep putting off our next appointment as long as possible, until July when we're back in the U.S. Anyway, tonight Max and Gems are singing songs and watching their favorite tv shows, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Doc McStuffins, and Curious George.

Wed, 02/03/16. Warhol at the Arte Moderne.

Today after school we took the kids to the Musee d'Arte Moderne, one of what seems like a million museums in like a 2 block radius of La Tour Eiffel. We had signed up the kids for an Andy Warhol workshop there, but when we got there they told us it was for kids only and we couldn't even watch, and it was all in French of course. So Max and Gems weren't too excited about it but ended up having a good time, and at the end they showed us these incredibly cool bags they made with their faces on them in Warhol style. They are shown above in the last 2 photos. The museum was actually really cool, with a really good mix of modern art, and some things we really liked plus a lot of real Baron Randenakis, like the one in the 5th photo from the top, above. I'm not sure it gets more Baron than this one. At the bottom of the museum they had a kind of haunted house ride for 2 Euros, and Jean and I did it while the kids were in their workshop. It was pretty scary actually! It was pitch black and you go on this ride with talking heads and stuff around you. One room just had a dog and a woman bending to pick up its dogpoop. I'm not sure why that was supposed to be so scary. It was all very French and kind of weird. Tonight Jean watched Cupcake Wars with Max and Gems and they loved it, especially Max. He was making comments like "Can you imagine how delicious it would be to eat a cupcake like that?"

Tue, 02/02/16. Singin' in the Apartment.
Today I'm feeling again much better, and will probably be completely 100 percent by Thu or Fri. Max didn't have such a great day though, as his two favorite workers at lunch at school weren't there today for some reason, and the substitute asked him a question in French and Max didn't understand, so they thought he didn't want the food and took it away. Apparently Max started crying and they reinstated his food, but it must have been quite sad for him in the meantime. While the kids were in school, I went to the Post Office today to ask about packages for us from Mars and Randy which I still haven't received. They put in an inquiry but said they had not received anything for us. I'm delighted with Ted Cruz winning Iowa last night as in my opinion he has even less charisma and likeability than Hillary, so maybe she will be able to win after all. Tonight Jean was feeling tired and had a headache. She was probably run down after taking care of me and the kids for the past week. So, I took over tonight and played with the kids, and instead of going to ballet class we hung out at home, and we decided to call my Dad to weigh in on an important legal matter, as there was a vote to play a game the kids made up called Queen, where Gems is the queen and rides on Max who is a horse. But Gemma decided she didn't want to play and wanted her act as Queen to be to dissolve the monarchy. I asked the judge if the Queen could do that and overrule the will of the people. He said he wasn't sure if he had jurisdiction in Paris, but his opinion was yes, the Queen could dissolve the monarchy. So instead they made up interesting songs .

Mon, 02/01/16. Blogs and podcasts.
All this time the past week with me stuck in bed, unable to do any work, and most of the time unable even to sit up and do email or watch tv, I've found a very relaxing thing to do is just lie in the dark listening to podcasts. The trouble is, until this week I didn't know any good podcasts I liked, and had lamented not knowing many good blogs I liked, but this week gave me plenty of time to browse around. I think I must have kind of weird taste because most blogs and podcasts others seem to love, I really don't. I like reading about politics, sports, music, statistics, and life in general, and although I feel really open to hearing people from really different viewpoints, including totally different political views, I get turned off when people seem to feel no need at all to back up their claims. You don't necessarily need facts, but at least some reasoning or opinion or something. I need humor, too, no matter what they're talking about. Anyway, some I love are The Gist by Mike Pesca, Allen Clifton, FiveThirtyEight, The Starters, and occasionally RealClearPolitics and Andrew Gelman's blog. I'd love to get recommendations about others. I've heard and read about 10 others over the past few days but can't recommend them. The far left and far right ones can be entertaining at times, but the far right ones tend to be mean or to just outright lie, and the far left, pro-Sanders ones I've heard seem to operate under the assumptions that Hillary supporters don't actually believe the same principles they believe, whereas it seems more likely that many of them, including me, are just worried that a person like Sanders would get crushed by any Republican candidate. Also, the Sanders people in general just don't seem interested in questioning things. For example, one podcast I heard started by saying something like "The more support Sanders gets and the longer he stays in the race, the stronger the progressive movement will become and the more quickly progressive ideas will come to effect." It sounds good, but is there any truth behind it? Shouldn't you need to back that up with something, like at least an example of when this has been true in the past, or in some other country, or something? It just feels like every election there's some fringe candidates on both sides, and there's always a lot of excitement about them in the moment, and it's unclear to me what they accomplish aside from maybe pushing other candidates to jockey in various ways, maybe towards them or maybe away. Did Kucinic, Nader, and Sharpton push Obama, Kerry and Gore to the left? What about on the right? Do guys like Ralph Reed and Mike Huckabee move Republicans to the right? Have we ever had Socialist candidates before? Were they successful in getting things accomplished? These just seem like kind of fundamental questions to answer before you just go all in on Sanders. Anyway, that's enough rambling from me for today. The main thing is I'm continuing to feel better, gradually. I'm still getting tired easily and still coughing, but I don't have a fever or headache. The antibiotics are clearly working.

Click here for the week of 01/31/16.
Click here for the Paris journal from 2015.