The Longest Month

Posted by Patrick Lam on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Table Of Contents

My notes say that I bought tickets to Athens on March 1. As if things would be normal in two months. The first nine days of March, which I wrote about last time, did seem completely normal. Then we went to Queenstown/Wanaka and Taranaki. As we were at Taranaki, things quickly became not normal. The last 11 days have been a whirlwind, and only in the past few days have I been able to get some research done.

Sheep, not implementing physical distancing.

Flights to YYZ and ATH in early May are definitely not happening. In early March I wrote: “Hope the global situation is stable by then.” Not so much.

Last time I was talking about an extra 3 days in NZ. Now it’s an extra 6 months. We didn’t make it to Melbourne as planned, although it turns out we didn’t need to do a visa run either.

New Zealand is a good place to be for now, especially since we have no place to stay in Ontario. We’re planning to stay until October. Winter is coming: days are under 12 hours now, although it’s not usually cold.


Pushing words around for VUW project. No code since last time; but we probably have most of the code that we need for our current implementation target. Sharpening the organization of the essay that we’ll submit. Talking about a bunch of ideas for future projects.

Giving a short talk tomorrow, recycled from one I gave at UC Berkeley. It’ll be my first Zoom talk, so I tried the setup today. We’ll see how that goes.

Out of 22 days since the last report, I did work (broadly defined) on 8 of the days. We did a bunch of planned travel in the middle of the month, but then life maintenance (namely moving) really took over the rest of the month. It’s only been since April 1 (NZDT) that I’ve been able to work on the paper.

Ongoing (my grad students)

Now that all this has happened I’ve started weekly meetings with all of my grad students at once, as well as weekly-or-better one-on-ones. We tried the first one on Google Hangouts but it turns out that Zoom is much better. In one case we have continued infrastructure development. Other students have had exciting (planned) life developments which have been keeping them busy.

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

Reviewed ECE 459 final and re-reviewed one journal submission. (I told them to stop sending overdue reminders given everything that’s going on). I have one more journal paper to review.

Sent weekly tips to SE 2024 and exhorted them to fill out the SE survey.


Walking distances:

  • March 1-31: 128.5km (plus 56.5km biked)


  • Queenstown March 10-13 (riverboarding, Double Cone via climbing route George, to Aspiring Hut, Tiki Trail)
  • Mount Taranaki March 16-19 (and two flat tire fixes)
  • nothing away from Wellington in foreseeable future

Pictures posted

Nope. Worked on Taranaki pics but there’s a lot of triage left.


  • West Matukituki Track to Aspiring Hut: 18km, 254m elevation gain, active rest day after Double Cone, super scenic
  • Tiki Trail (Queenstown): 4.2km, 406m elevation gain for the day, 35min up 28min down, barely caught flight to Wellington
  • Taranaki Summit Track with overnight at Tahurangi Lodge: 12.6km, 1500m elevation gain
  • Polhill Reserve Loop + around Zealandia + Wrights Hill + Brooklyn Wind Turbine: 16.7km, 856m gain, from our front door
Aspiring Hut, Queenstown (photo: Marie-Pascale Desjardins), Taranaki, Wellington

There were still lots of French and German people (and one Spanish person) at Taranaki in mid-March. Surely some of them are still here in NZ.


Multipitch at Double Cone, George 14 220m (5.7 6p). Climbing reasonable. Descent challenging. Trip report to come. 15 hours car-to-car.

Sunset at Double Cone


Well, I was going to judo until everything shut down. Now I’m not. Ankle continues to heal, it’s easier to stand on one foot now than in December.

Lord of the Rings


Our visitors left Australia just in time and are finishing their self-isolation around now.


Yikes. Hanging in there.