First month in Wellington

Posted by Patrick Lam on Friday, January 31, 2020

Table Of Contents

Sabbaticals are a large block of unscheduled time. Time always passes. Have I done stuff in my time in Wellington so far?


I’ve started a number of collaborations with colleagues in Wellington, and am thinking of a survey paper and an essay in particular. I’m excited about contributing to these projects. I hope to have more to report in my February update.

In other news I have a climbing-related submission to the Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism (sadly an Elsevier journal) which got a revise-and-resubmit. Progress!

Ongoing (my grad students)

I’ve been aiming to continue motivating my graduate students and am talking to them once a week or more often. We made substantial progress towards a test case analysis paper and targetting OOPSLA. That paper has some data but no implementation of a technique yet; I was hoping for ISSTA but that was premature. We’ve had some success with screen sharing via tmux.

I also clicked on the “recommend admission” button for a number of prospective grad students. I hope they come! I need to also find funding for them.

Collegiality, i.e. “eat-your-vegetables”

I probably spent about 20 hours this month on these service tasks. They are important in the sense that the system needs people to do these tasks, but they are also quite unrewarding.

  • Reviewed 2 NSERC Discovery Grants
  • Test-ran ECE 459 assignment providing feasibility feedback
  • Pinch-hit undergrad advising in a special case

Oh, and of course there’s this whole new website relaunch! That took some heaps of time (um, I think I’m doing NZ lingo incorrectly) but is an improvement over the past.


No planes in January since arriving on January 1 (though I walked to PPQ airport). Travel limited to: trains, boats, cars, buses, bicycle, and foot. I have walked 180km in the four weeks I’ve been here, many times up this hill to where I’m staying. Every time I go downtown it is 120m of elevation gain, so that’s probably 2000m of gain total, which is not bad for daily living. I also somehow have failed to make it to the climbing gym, although I am going on a climbing trip to Wanaka tomorrow.

Also did some photography, but I guess I’ve only uploaded one set of pictures from a Rangiwahia tramp:

We got a rather inexpensive superzoom camera. Of course it doesn’t take as good pictures as the compact camera, but it has a lot more zoom. Different tools for different purposes (e.g. taking pictures of birds).


  • Victoria St: mostly green-grocer focussed
  • Harbourside: greens plus some food vendors
  • Paraparaumu: cute hipster stuff plus some greens

There is an avocado glut this year. I’ve seen prices to 80c/avocado. Also been to the Wellington Night Market but that’s prepared-food, and the Pasifika Fest (chop suey on rice).


  • Southern Walkway, 1.5 times (19km including walking there, 800')
  • Putangirua Pinnacles (8km, 1500')
  • Cape Palliser seals, 2 times, and lighthouse
  • Kapiti Island: Trig to Wilkinson (4.6km, 1500')
  • buying a broken bicycle in Paraparaumu (14km)
  • Patuna Chasm Walk (6km)
  • Rangiwahia Hut (8.8km, 2000')
  • some walks at Zealandia

Most birds: Kapiti Island and Zealandia

Lord of the Rings

  • Rivendell (Kaitoke Regional Park, Upper Hutt)
  • Paths of the Dead (Purangirua Pinnacles)
  • Hobbits’ Hideaway (Mount Victoria)
  • Gandalf statue at Wellington i-SITE
  • Eagles at WLG airport


I’ve always been wary of being too results-focussed because there is a lot of randomness about results. I can say that I’m happy with the initiatives I’ve started so far, and that I did manage to make progress this month, though a lot of it is still early. And it’s been a great time living in Wellington.