Archive for ski race

climbing encounters

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2020 by xi'an

A nice if easy climbing morn on Éperon de Bouchier (à ne pas confondre avec Crochet de Boucher!) a week ago with a local guide, François, who happened to be a formidable character (even conditioning on him being guide). He left school at 14 to become a car mechanic, join the French Navy at 16, caught tuberculosis on a Navy basis, was sent to the Alps for recovery, caught a fatal and definite mountain attraction while there, got training supported by the Navy for an higher mechanic degree, took qualification courses to become a French mountain guide, started being interested in learning techniques and abilities through his training ski schools, experimented new teaching methods with kids from the Marseille suburbs,  eventually joined a Master in biomechanics and ergonomy at Orsay and ended up with a thesis on the topic, worked with French ski federation and a French ski brand, and is still guiding, training and researching despite having passed the retirement age! A wonderful chance encounter, with the facility of the route making chatting not an issue. (Except that some puritan ayatollah had recently removed most of the bolts, which did not make things harder in the end but exhibited an absurd degree of self-righteousness on a route that easy…)

And then an even more rewarding climb today with another local guide, Cathy, who gave me a great and profitable climbing lesson for over three hours, allowing me to reach a higher climbing level than I had previously achieved on an outside route. With a high degree of pedagogy and support. I ended up fairly tired, but exhilaratedly so!

MCMSki IV [mistakes and regrets]

Posted in Books, Mountains, pictures, R, Statistics, Travel, University life, Wines with tags , , , , , , on January 13, 2014 by xi'an

ridge7Now that the conference and the Bayesian non-parametric satellite workshop (thanks to Judith!) are over, with (almost) everyone back home, and that the post-partum conference blues settles in (!), I can reflect on how things ran for those meetings and what I could have done to improve them… (Not yet considering to propose a second edition of MCMSki in Chamonix, obviously!)

Although this was clearly a side issue for most participants, the fact that the ski race did not take place still rattles me!  In retrospect, adding a mere 5€ amount to the registration fees for all participants would have been enough to cover the (fairly high) fares asked by the local ski school. Late planning for the ski race led to overlook this basic fact…

Since MCMSki is now the official conference of the BayesComp section of ISBA, I should have planned well in advance a section meeting within the program, if only to discuss the structure of the next meeting and how to keep the section alive. Waiting till the end of the last section of the final day was not the best idea!

Another thing I postponed for too long was seeking some sponsors: fortunately, the O’Bayes meeting in Duke woke me up to the potential of a poster prize and re-fortunately Academic Press, CRC Press, and Springer-Verlag reacted quickly enough to have plenty of books to hand to the winners. If we could have had another group of sponsors financing a beanie or something similar, it would have been an additional perk… Even though I gathered enough support from participants about the minimalist conference “package” made of a single A4 sheet.

Last, I did not advertise properly on the webpage and at all during the meeting for the special issue of Statistics and Computing open to all presenters at MCMSki IV! We now need to send a reminder to them…

MCMSki IV [day 3]

Posted in Mountains, pictures, R, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2014 by xi'an

ridge5Already on the final day..! And still this frustration in being unable to attend three sessions at once… Andrew Gelman started the day with a non-computational talk that broached on themes that are familiar to readers of his blog, on the misuse of significance tests and on recommendations for better practice. I then picked the Scaling and optimisation of MCMC algorithms session organised by Gareth Roberts, with optimal scaling talks by Tony Lelièvre, Alex Théry and Chris Sherlock, while Jochen Voss spoke about the convergence rate of ABC, a paper I already discussed on the blog. A fairly exciting session showing that MCMC’ory (name of a workshop I ran in Paris in the late 90’s!) is still well and alive!

After the break (sadly without the ski race!), the software round-table session was something I was looking for. The four softwares covered by this round-table were BUGS, JAGS, STAN, and BiiPS, each presented according to the same pattern. I would have like to see a “battle of the bands”, illustrating pros & cons for each language on a couple of models & datasets. STAN got the officious prize for cool tee-shirts (we should have asked the STAN team for poster prize tee-shirts). And I had to skip the final session for a flu-related doctor appointment…

I called for a BayesComp meeting at 7:30, hoping for current and future members to show up and discuss the format of the future MCMski meetings, maybe even proposing new locations on other “sides of the Italian Alps”! But (workshop fatigue syndrome?!), no-one showed up. So anyone interested in discussing this issue is welcome to contact me or David van Dyk, the new BayesComp program chair.

MCMSki IV, Jan. 6-8, 2014, Chamonix (news #4)

Posted in Mountains, R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2013 by xi'an

More news about MCMSki IV! Remember, the call is still open for contributed sessions for a few more weeks, till March. 20 to be precise (make sure to contact me at if you are considering putting one session together). To all those who already submitted a session, thanks a lot, please stay tuned, and we will contact you very soon after March 20!

One exciting item is that there will be a satellite workshop on January 9, on Bayesian non-parametrics and semi-parametrics, organised by Judith Rousseau. BNPski, anyone?!  Details are not yet available, but anyone registered for MCMSki IV and interested should be free to attend this workshop, free of charges. (It will take place at the conference centre as well.)

Another item is that we managed to get a cheaper offer for the ski race, reaching an entry prize of 10 euros. Or less if we manage to find this sponsor… Not that bad when considering the high probability competitors have to win a pair of skis!!!

Last item for today: the list and rate of hotels available thru the conference centre is as follows

  • ALPINA*** : Single Room 136€ & Twin or Double Room 106€ /pers
  • PRIEURE*** : Single Room 136€ & Twin or Double Room 106€ /pers
  • LOUVRE** : Single Room 85 € & Twin or Double Room 64€ /pers
  • POINTE ISABELLE** : Single Room 81,90€ & Twin or Double Room 59,90€ /perss

However, many other options are available in the vicinity, from hotels to B&B, to rental apartments and chalets, with a wide range of prices if you pre-book early (like now!) See the links on our webpage.

MCMSki IV, Jan. 6-8 (9?), 2014, Chamonix (news #3)

Posted in Mountains, R, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2013 by xi'an

In case you have not been constantly tracking the changes on the MCMSki IV webpage, here are some news: the number of invited and accepted contributed sessions in the program had considerably increased, to the point of almost filling two parallel sessions for the whole duration of the meeting. This includes an exciting round-table on MCMC software animated by Luke Bornn. We are actually discussing how to handle the incoming proposals, from adding one more track/room to the program to adding an extra morning (the morning after!) to the meeting—with the argument that participants will anyway leave on the 9th of January at the earliest—to sadly rejecting some of the proposed contributed sessions…. Nonetheless, the call is still open for contributed sessions for a few more weeks, till March. 20 to be precise (make sure to contact me at if you are considering putting one session together).

The registration page is not yet complete (we are still discussing the rates for the Richard Tweedie ski race, and managed to get them down to 10€ per person so far so we may not have to cancel this race, especially given the exciting (almost certain!) promise of a pair of brand new skis for the winners!, and more we can find benevolent sponsors…). Once again the conference fees will range from 100€ for PhD students to 210€ for participants not members of ISBA or of IMS. The additional fees for the banquet have also been lowered to 30 euros.