Archive for Philadelphia
This was bound to happen sooner or later, given my addiction to tea and sleepless nights, so I eventually managed to spill a cup of tea over my Mac… I had been working for a few hours in my hotel room in Philadelphia, completing an ABC paper with Jean-Michel Marin and Robin Ryder. We had been running experiments in R with Jean-Michel over the past days and I wanted to check some details with him about some graphs he sent me, so we got into a Skype conversation. At the same time, I was running an alternative R code to compare with his, and starting a new ‘Og entry about a current campaign against road accidents. And drinking my fifth or sixth cuppa of the morning. I suddenly realised dawn had come and stood up to raise the blinds next to my desk. Completely forgetting about the earphones on my head. The obvious then occurred: the earphone cord stretched, pulling the teacup over and I turned back to see the keyboard covered with tea… Disaster! I tipped the computer over and grabbed the hotel hairdryer to try to dry it as quickly as possible (apologies to the next room neighbour!). Contrary to all advices, I did not turn the Mac off but kept running the R program instead to add to the heat of the dryer. In retrospect this was quite silly and I am lucky to get out with only two keys not working!
The Delta flight from Paris to Philadelphia was a mix of new and old, of highs and downs, with an exit seat (doubly exit in that I was first out of the plane and through custom!), a plug for my computer and free wireless connection (a first!), and, on the down side, an old-fashioned plane and crew, terrible food, worst-ever tea that tasted like dish-washing water and a flight attendant wishing us “enjoy!” each time she was pouring water… Since we arrived one hour earlier and I reached my hotel next to Wharton before the scheduled landing time, I should not complain, however..
Today and tomorrow, I am attending a conference in Wharton in honour of Larry Brown for his 70th birthday. I met Larry in 1988 when visiting Cornell for the year—even using his office in the Math department while he was away on a sabbatical leave—and it really does not feel like that long ago, nor does it feel like Larry is any close to 70 as he looks essentially the same as 22 years ago! The conference is reflecting Larry’s broad range of research from decision-theory and nonparametrics to data analysis. I am thus very glad to celebrate Larry’s birthday with a whole crowd of old and more recent friends. (My talk on Rao-Blackwellisation will be quite similar to the seminar I gave in Stanford last summer [except that I have to talk twice as fast!])