Archive for bicycle

Wagram, morne plaine!

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Running with tags , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2020 by xi'an

Avenue de Wagram is one of the avenues leaving from Arc de Triomphe in Paris, named after a (bloody) Napoléonic battle (1809). This is also where I locked my bike today before joining my son for a quick lunch and where I found my back wheel completely dismantled when I came back!  Not only the wheel had been removed from the frame, but the axle had been taken away, damaging the ball bearing… After much cursing, I looked around for the different pieces and remounted the wheel on the bike. The return home to the local repair shop was slower than usual as the wheel was acting as a constant brake. I am somewhat bemused at this happening in the middle of the day, on a rather busy street and at the motivation for it. Disgruntled third year student furious with the mid-term exam? Unhappy author after a Biometrika rejection?

Not a great week for biking since I also crashed last weekend on my way back from the farmers’ market when my pannier full of vegetables got caught in between the spokes. Nothing broken, apart from a few scratches and my cell phone screen… [Note: the title is stolen from Hugo’s Waterloo! Morne plaine!, a terrible and endless poem about the ultimate battle of Napoléon in 1815. With a tenth of the deaths at Wagram… Unsurprisingly, no Avenue de Waterloo leaves from Arc de Triomphe! ]

sans sérif & sans chevron

Posted in Books, R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2020 by xi'an
{\sf df=function(x)2*pi*x-4*(x>1)*acos(1/(x+(1-x)*(x<1)))}

As I was LaTeXing a remote exam for next week, including some R code questions, I came across the apparent impossibility to use < and > symbols in the sans-sérif “\sf” font… Which is a surprise, given the ubiquity of the symbols in R and my LaTeXing books over the years. Must have always used “\tt” and “\verb” then! On the side, I tried to work with the automultiplechoice LaTeX package [which should be renamed velomultiplechoice!] of Alexis Bienvenüe, which proved a bit of a challenge as the downloadable version contained a flawed file of automultiplechoice.sty! Still managed to produce a 400 question exam with random permutations of questions and potential answers. But not looking forward the 4 or 5 hours of delivering the test on Zoom…

local mayhem, again and again and again…

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2019 by xi'an

The public transports in France and in particular in Paris have now been on strike for three weeks. In connection with a planned reform of the retirement conditions of workers with special status, like those in the train and metro companies, who can retire earlier than the legal age (62). As usual with social unrest in France, other categories joined the strike and the protest, including teachers and health service public workers, as well as police officers, fire-fighters and opera dancers, and even some students. Below are some figures from the OECD about average retirement conditions in nearby EU countries that show that these conditions are apparently better in France. (With the usual provision that these figures have been correctly reported.) In particular, the life expectancy at the start of retirement is the highest for both men and women. Coincidence (or not), my UCU affiliated colleagues in Warwick were also on strike a few weeks ago about their pensions…

Travelling through and around Paris by bike, I have not been directly affected by the strikes (as heavy traffic makes biking easier!), except for the morning of last week when I was teaching at ENSAE, when I blew up a tyre midway there and had to hop to the nearest train station to board the last train of the morning, arriving (only) 10mn late. Going back home was only feasible by taxi, which happened to be large enough to take my bicycle as well… Travelling to and from the airport for Vancouver and Birmingham was equally impossible by public transportation, meaning spending fair amounts of time in and money on taxis! And listening to taxi-drivers’ opinions or musical tastes. Nothing to moan about when considering the five to six hours spent by some friends of mine to get to work and back.

a chance (?) encounter

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , on July 16, 2019 by xi'an

As I was cycling to Paris Dauphine, a few days ago, I spotted someone sitting on a bench and working on a laptop who suspiciously looked like… Andrew Gelman! As I knew Andrew was in Paris that week, and as we were reasonably close to Dauphine, this did not sound like a zero probability event. I thus stopped to check that indeed this was the real Andrew, who happened to be in the vicinity and had decided to run this double blind experiment as to whether or not we could spot one another. While I am reasonably aware of my surroundings when cycling (as a matter of mere survival), my radar rarely extends to people sitting on benches, especially when I am riding the middle white line on the boulevard. As I was further a wee bit late that day, I should have been in my office by the time Andrew sat there. A chance encounter, hence, or a super subjective inference from the author of BDA!

the new building!

Posted in pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , on October 22, 2018 by xi'an

The Department of Statistics at Warwick has moved to a new MSB building, next to the Zeeman building, with a lot of light and open space, including a sort of atrium in the centre. It remains to be seen how comfortable this new glassy structure will prove, in hot and cold weather, and how it will stand the test of years (months?!). It seems the place was not designed purposely for mathematicians and statisticians, as many are complaining of the lack of blackboards (and even of whiteboards!) versus an overwhelming number of voracious screens. (Funny enough, the early video selling the building included these blackboards!) And it is unclear how so many glass panes can be contributing to the carbon neutral goal. Still, so far, I enjoyed the light and luminosity of my office, but this may change in the rare event of a grey day… (And no indoor place to store bicycles! But I did recover my bike where I had left it last time.)