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