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Click here for the week of 11/29/15.
Sun, 11/22/15. Le chat botte.

Today Gems felt much better in the morning but we decided to let her rest one more day while I took Max to see the live musical of Puss in Boots, Le Chat Botte, with Auri, Clara, and their parents. There was a big brunch beforehand and Max and I ate everything. Then we went on the merry go round at the Luxembourg park nearby, which was the first merry go round I've ever seen without music. However, they gave each kid a little wooden sword and had rings for them to try to pick up with their sword while riding. They loved it. The actual show was tough for us to understand though as it was all in pretty fast French. At one point Le Chat Botte was looking for a clue and said it's somewhere in the audience, and everyone was looking except Max and me as we didn't really understand what was going on, and sure enough the clue was right by my seat. Since nobody found it, the woman playing Le Chat had to come into the audience and get it herself. It was pretty funny. It's a tiny theatre and she came into the audience a couple other times so it wasn't the most embarrassing thing in the world. On the way home, I was talking to Julien, Clara's Dad, who asked me in French if Max's teacher speaks any English, and I said I didn't think so, also in French, and Max overheard and chimed in "Yes, she speaks English to me sometimes." His understanding is getting really good. Later on the way home, we passed some people raising money by the Luxembourg park by selling cookies, and I stopped for a minute to talk to the other parents, and looked over my shoulder and sure enough a woman was handing Max a little cookie which he quickly ate. Tonight Gems is much better and I think will be able to go to school tomorrow. Tomorrow, Brooke, Dana and Ella arrive, and it's also my parents' 50th anniversary.

Sat, 11/21/15. Fever.

Gems has a fever again, and a sore throat. We were all gonna go to the Louvre to see the Founder's Myths exhibit, but instead Jean stayed home with Gems while I went with Maxie. We saw a lot of statues and paintings, but Max's favorite parts of the museum were the lockers where you can set your own combination, the cafe where we ate fruit, and the escalators. He also liked pointing out all the bare weeners, boobies, and booties on the statues. He also was really interested in the sculpture in the 2nd photo above, as well as a painting of Saint John the Baptist with two arrows in his chest. Max called the arrows bullets. Anyway, I'm just glad we were able to have a good time in a museum. I didn't want to overemphasize the art and have him feel like it was a boring place he wouldn't want to go back to. On the way home, Max was so tired he almost couldn't make it. We got to the Notre Dame, which is like a block from our apartment, and Max wanted to get a taxi or take the Metro. I've been working on my paper, where I think I've found an interesting brand new method for estimating the triggering function for Hawkes models nonparametrically. It doesn't seem to outperform current methods though, except maybe it might be faster. I can't think of where to submit it though. Any theoretical journal will want me to prove this method is optimal, but I don't think it is. Any applied journal will want me to show it outperforms current methods for a particular dataset, but again, I'm not sure it does. I really think this method could, in the future, be tweaked somehow so it becomes the state of the art, but right now it's not. It seems annoying that journals won't publish new ideas unless they can be shown to outperform every existing method. Then again, maybe I am being premature here as I haven't even finished writing the paper yet. But I find myself trying to dig for some particular scenario where my method outperforms existing methods, and it seems unnecessary to have to do this when the main thing is the idea.

Fri, 11/20/15. Marc Hoffmann.
Today I met with Marc Hoffmann at l'IHP, and we got a coffee together. Even though I don't normally drink coffee, I figured I'd try one here. It tasted delicious but had soooo much caffeine I was completely wired afterwards and played great basketball tonight. I also left with a real sense of urgency to get my paper I'm working on out there before it becomes too late, but maybe it was just the caffeine talking. Marc was really nice and we might work on some projects together. I guess I was talking too loudly in the cafe because this annoying guy asked if we could be quieter, and Marc apologized for the guy's rudeness afterwards. Anyway, it was great meeting him. Meanwhile, Jean picked up Max and Gems and took them to the park in their brand new jackets, where they went jumping in puddles with Auri.

Thu, 11/19/15. Photo ridiculousness.

We got the class photos back, and Gemma's had a picture of just her but Max's had a photo of him and Gems together. When I asked why, they explained that on the photo request form I had checked the box for a photo of both siblings together so they didn't take an individual one of Max. I had checked both boxes for both, which I thought would make it obvious that we want both, but I guess not. I thought I'd messed up, but then I wondered what the other twins did, so I asked Samir, Timeo and Marie's dad, and he said the exact same thing happened to him. His wife Kath said "That's Elizabeth for you" or something, referring to Max and Timeo's teacher Elizabeth Laurent, and rolled her eyes. Today I saw this sign in a perfume store and thought Marko would be interested. It says "Etat Libre D'Orange", free state of orange. I took the kids to Parc Cluny after school and we did some relay races, before tomorrow when it's supposed to rain and we will have to be sedentary. Jean and I had one of the most delicious cheeses we've ever had today, for lunch. It was Saint something and covered in mold but so good. Max pretends to have his own restaurant in our apartment. He has a menu, which is actually a map of Paris, and also a scribbled menu he drew up, and then he serves you your order and then requires you to pay for it immediately within 5 seconds, and when paying you have to use credit card and sign a form including your name in print, your name in cursive, your name in Maxie language followed by a period, and then you have to draw a smiling face with hair.

Wed, 11/18/15. Il faut Disneylander.

In the spirit of many French, including my basketball friend who said "Life must continue", we decided to get back to enjoying life in a big way by taking the kids out of school for a day and going to Disneyland with them. It was a great day. We got there early and planned to leave early too, but we had such a great time nobody wanted to leave. It was incredibly empty as you might imagine on a Wed in Nov, the first day it was open since the terrorist attacks 5 days ago. We went on about 10 rides, saw two parades, two Frozen singalongs, and a tree lighting ceremony, plus two shows at Disney Studio park. There was literally no line on Pirates of the Caribbean, and practically no line on most rides. The only kind of bust was we waited about 40 min in line for a princess meet and greet and it was kind of a waste of time. However, even that we're glad we did today because usually the line is twice that long. Another bust, depending on whom you ask, was the Nemo ride. Oh Jesus, it was like a mix of whiplash and nausea for me, but for the kids and Jean it was their favorite ride of the day. My favorite was Alice's labyrnth where we actually got lost together looking for the way out. The kids chose not to go on the Haunted Mansion today, which by the way, in France is really different as it tells the tale of the bride, "Melanie", who is awaiting her groom on her wedding day, but the groom gets lured into an attic by a ghost and hung. Melanie continues to haunt the house. But then it for some reason goes into a saloon in the old West, where there are also ghosts. And it ends with Melanie the ghost sitting and looking sad. Somehow it's too scary for the kids, but going 100 miles per hour backwards while spinning around in the dark on Nemo is all fun and giggles. Anyway, it was just a great, fun day, and we really needed one. We also got strollers for the kids around lunchtime, which is so great as they love being strolled around and call it "Stroller Mountain".

Tue, 11/17/15. Life must continue.
Today was a beautiful, balmy 60 degree day so we walked to dance class and back, while the kids were on their trotinettes. We found out it's not just us. Eva said she's constantly doing laundry too. I guess the school is taking terrorism seriously because Gems's teacher told me not to stand and talk near the school after picking up Max and Gems, for security reasons, whatever that's supposed to mean. During dance class we went to the kids library. Jean wants to work on her French and thought about getting a book for 4th graders. I suggested she start really easy in the baby section and gain some confidence. She settled on Winnie the Pooh and a book that looks like it's for 8 year olds or so. On the way to dance class, Maxie was so hungry he started sobbing and it sounded just like his cry when he was a newborn baby. I went to my basketball club today and was happy they were playing. I told one guy I wasn't sure if it would happen and he said "We MUST play. Life must continue."

Mon, 11/16/15. Ganging up on Joseph.
Yesterday, in talking to Clara, Zadig, and their parents, two interesting things were revealed. First, we all realized that our kids are all being sort of playfully terrorized by Joseph, who is kind of wild though clearly not too bad. Second, and even more interesting, Ewelina said when Clara and some others were crying about something Joseph did one time, the teacher suggested they gang up against him and get him back! The teachers don't watch them during recess, and they have assistants for recess, so there really isn't much the teachers can do, but still, the extent the school works on jungle rules during recess is staggering. Today Gems and Max apparently joined the antiJoseph gang because when I picked the kids up, Max said he got punished for being too rough and had to sit on the bench of shame, twice. After school we went to Parc Cluny, as did a lot of other kids from school, including Auri, Timeo, Marie, and Sebastian, and the kids did running races. They obviously needed to blow off some steam after being cooped up all weekend. I wrote lots of letters of recommendation today for UCLA students, many of whom I know to highly varying degrees. Jean was joking that I should write "I'll never forget him or her."

Click here for the week of 11/15/15.