Archive for the Running Category

a journal of the plague year [deconfited reviews]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Running, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2020 by xi'an

Found a copy of Humans by Donald Westlake on the book sharing shelves at Dauphine. And read it within a few hours, as it is very light reading but quite funny nonetheless. If hardly ranking as a mystery novel. Or crime novel, unless the crime is Gaiacide and the criminal God. Reminded me of the equally light Bobby Dollar series by Tad Williams. As the main character is an angel, falling for humans as he tries to steer them towards the Armageddon. The setting is the early 1990s, with the main scares being atomic disaster (Chernobyl) and the AIDS pandemic. Plus the rise of environmental worries and of Chinese autocracy. I put it back on the shelves on my next visit to Dauphine, hopefully for someone else to enjoy!

Baked radish stems with basil for making pesto, with a bit more bitterness than usual. Cooked plenty of fennel since this is fennel season. Continued making my weekly rhubarb preserve. Keeping the garden active, now watching squash vines invading new territory, hopefully with an eatable reward in the Fall. Tomatoes are growing incredibly fast as well..! Saw another fox in the Parc before official opening times, quite close if speeding away from me and barely avoiding bumping in a pair of greyhounds which fortunately sounded completely unconcerned.

Watched Children of Men after an exhausting week online for a grant panel. While a parabola for the coming collapse of civilisation under political, biological and environmental apocalypses [is there any meaning to use apocalyse in the plural tense!?] and a premonitory tale on Brexit and the buttressing of Britain [or Trump and his Big Wall mania] induced by anti-immigrant rethorics, the film is over the top in terms of plot and action, with symbolism taking over realism, even on the slightest degree, every shot being filled with references to religions and arts (like the Pink Floyd flying pig), to previous environmental disasters (with long shots of burning cows reminiscent of the mad cow crisis) and geo-political upheavals (including a Hamas type protest in the refugee camp, with a short appearance of a jeep with a French flag more reminiscent of the liberation of Paris in August 1944). Characters are charicaturesque, with a very Manichean division between very few good ones and mostly bad ones. The most ridiculous part of the scenario may well be the battle scene in the refugee camp [tanks versus pistols!]… Once again stunned by all the awards and praise piled upon that film.

Read two more volumes of the Witcher [bought during BayesComp for my son!]. One being Sword of Destiny and a series of short stories, like the first volume. The second Blood of Elves and the beginning of the novels. The first season on TV borrows mostly from the first two collections of short stories. Which are somewhat better than the novel, as the latter is very slow paced and overly sentimental. Not terrible, mind.

Completed with uttermost reluctance the Horde du Contrevent [translating as the windwalkers] by Alain Damasio (no English translation available, but an Italian version, l’Orda del Vento,  is). Book that I again picked for figuring in Le Monde 100 bes&tc list! And felt like constantly fronting a strong, icy wind when going through the pages of that unusual book. The style is unpleasant and rather pretentious, with numerous puns in French.. The story is one of a (religious? mystical?) group walking against the wind(s) for decades to reach the source of these winds and to find the last types of wind no one has ever met. Their dreary pilgrimage is described by the 23 membres of the group, called the Horde, with a heavy-handed typographical symbol at the start of each paragraph identifying who’s speaking (and a convenient page marker with all these symbols). A bit heavy handed as a polyphonic novel (appropriately composed in a Corsican retreat!) and even more in the crypt-Nietschean philosophy it carries… The background universe there is somehow eco-steam-punk, with the wind producing most of the energy. The most exciting part involves rather realistic ice climbing. However, I clearly stand in the small minority of those less than impressed by the book as it is highly popular among French readers, one of the highest printings in the Folio collection, with side products a BD (above) and a movie (in the making?). (And enough votes from fans to almost reach the 10 most favourite novels in Le Monde list. )

mathematical understanding of neural networks through mean-field analysis [PhD studenship]

Posted in Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life, Wines with tags , , , , , on June 26, 2020 by xi'an

Arnaud Guillin and Manon Michel from the Université Clermont-Auvergne are currently looking for PhD candidates interested in the mathematical analysis of neural networks via the tool of mean-field analysis. With full funding available. Candidates can contact Arnaud Guillin at

say their names [a New Yorker cover]

Posted in Books, pictures, Running with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2020 by xi'an

running in circles

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2020 by xi'an

As lockdown rules concerning outdoor activities were rather restrictive (run alone, away from other people, at most one hour and at most 1km away from home), I used the network of streets around my house to design a 13km circuit that was never replicating more than intersecting previously visited roads. And I ran it every one of the 60 days of the lockdown.

This was a purely urban run on pavement only, but offered nice views of the neighbouring suburbs, with three hills to climb.


And hardly anyone in the streets, except for the occasional soul walking her dog. And never a single control of the laisser-passer I had to print every morn.


Going by the park and the local swimming pool every day and unrealistically wishing they would open soon…

fit data to your model [bobologie]

Posted in Kids, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2020 by xi'an

A few weeks ago, I contacted my general (and sport) practitioner for a mild issue with hurting toes, as they were indeed hurting and not only during or after my daily runs (!). Since the beginning of lockdown. I thought he would tell me to contact him later and stop running in the meanwhile but instead he told me to come to his office and after a rather cursory glance at said toes started discussing on a rare occurrence of COVID-19 induced frostbite-like toes. He then ordered a blood test which I took the next morn. Right after my (legit and solitary) one hour run. The results of the test were within the “normal” boundaries, except for the D-dimer test which was above the limit and is usually intended for detecting deep venous thrombosis. (As reported on Wikipedia, “a four-fold increase in the D-Dimer protein is a strong indicator of mortality in those suffering from COVID-19.”) This caused my physician to react quickly by prescribing me a cocktail of anticoagulants, corticosteroids and antibiotics. And another test four days later, incl. one for COVID-19. While anticoagulants made sense wrt to the coagulation issues, the corticosteroids were a surprise as they had been earlier pointed out as a potential aggravating cause for younger patients. Including by the French Ministry of Health. I thus asked my daughter for advice, as she had been triaging potential COVID-19 patients in the emergency room for the past month and she was strongly negative about the treatment, both because of the corticosteroids and of the antibiotics. Treatment that was apparently advocated by my practitioner on his own. I thus waited for the second round of blood tests, which returned a lower D-Dimer level and a negative signal for COVID-19. (In the meanwhile, I had spotted a BMJ paper on the possible impact of extended running on the D-Dimer levels and hence waited till the mid-afternoon to take the test!) While this ended up as a non-story, only made more exciting by the lack of competitive events during the lockdown!, I find it interesting that my doctor, who was most reasonably worried about the rising number of COVID-19 among his patients, leaned towards a viral conclusion with little data, as my month-old return to intensive (daily) running was a more likely explanation for sore toes…