August: Back from a trip and into Level 2

Posted by Patrick Lam on Monday, August 31, 2020

Table Of Contents

In Wellington. Previous trip: Stewart Island; returned to Wellington August 11 (a day before New Zealand went back up to level 2 and Auckland to level 3 following discovery of a new cluster). Next trip: Christchurch, September 11, originally for the South Islands judo championships, now cancelled (oops).

Aside from that, it’s been a fairly quiet month. I hope to at least get all of the Heaphy trip posted and maybe some of the Rakiura trip before going to Christchurch in two weeks. Booked Kepler, Milford, and Routeburn tracks for later this year.

Worldwide situation: NZ will most likely contain this newest and largest outbreak; there is good testing and contact tracing. Might get out of control as Auckland goes to level 2(.5), but probably won’t. More masks around Wellington and mandatory on transit. Victoria state in Australia is still under lockdown and has started to have less than 100 new cases per day. Ontario has just over 100 cases a day as school starts soon. Quebec has had fewer new cases per day than Ontario in the past week, although it’s always been hard to find the test positivity rate (low in Ontario). Canada is doing way better than France now. I’m just concerned that it might get out of control again like Victoria state did.

It’s felt warmer here for the last few days and I think the heating bills are generally going down, though some days I leave something on and burn all the money.

  • Jan-Aug gas + hydro at our 1500sqft place in Waterloo: C$751
  • Apr-Aug hydro (heating) at our 600sqft place in Wellington: C$1081
  • Jan-Aug in Wellington: C$1382 (Jan-Feb included gas for a larger place)

Turns out it was surprisingly useful to compute all that, so I could quickly compare all-inclusive pricing on a prospective place to our current rent.


August 31, almost 9 weeks after the previous one. Went back to the same place.


Felt like August was mostly mopping-up.

All these things took time. Maybe more than I would have liked. To be fair, though, even ICSME was wrapped up by August 18. Since I have this blog, I guess I can write blurbs of these papers in time. Maybe also automatic BiBTeX generation as a blog feature.

I prepared an internal version of the Onwards Essay talk for the group at VUW. This time I liberally used the “image search” feature of Google Slides and did not search specifically for Creative Commons-licensed images, so I shouldn’t share this version. Being indiscriminate makes life easier for sure.

I’ve been planning to get re-started on coding on the test refactoring paper for a while now, but I have my schedule clear this week, and a computer, to actually do so. Jon has also diagnosed the LLVM problem and hopefully we can move ahead on that.

Days with work: 18, exactly the same as in July. Some were light, some were heavy. Maybe it averages out. This month has 20 work days in Ontario (one holiday).

Ongoing (my grad students)

This is going to go up soon, since I’ll have two new students in September, effectively doubling group size. But in August, talked to students on 8 days this month, down from 10: after submitting ICSME we are on a less intense period; and there were things like finals to mark and new apartments to find.


  • One overdue review for TSE (somehow a journal review will always rank below a pile of OOPSLA reviews in terms of priority).
  • A couple of reference letters.


Just some emails. Evaluated a report on Rustification of ECE 459. Might prepare some Rust exercises in September.


More earbuds which aren’t compatible with all devices. I wonder if these Bose SoundSport In-Ear Sports Headphones are any good. The noise-cancelling earbuds are good but I’d rather not travel with them (and possibly lose them) when not on long-haul flights. I wish cheaper noise-cancelling gear was good, but it’s not.

Most exciting acquisition

  • Rubbish bin from Warehouse Stationery (hard to get cheap bins here somehow)


One trip at 10 days, work at 18 days, no-work at 4 days.

  • 🚶 Walking distance: 156km (between June and July; Rakiura is way shorter than Heaphy); two at-home zero days, no travel zero days.
  • 🚲 Biking distance: 57.5km (judo practice 6×; still should replace front shifter, maybe under Level 1?)
  • 🚗 Driving distance: 474km (basically 1.5× roundtrip Invercargill—Te Anau), chauffered 238km to Milford Sound
  • 🛩 Plane distance: 1633km, of which 2×779km (Q300, WLG-IVC) plus 75km (Piper PA-32-300, IVC-Beach)
  • 🚣 Kayak distance: 10km (Milford Sound)


Top 20 Welly Walks progress: 18 done, plus parts of Mt. Kaukau summit. Still haven’t touched the Redwood Bush Loop.

Daily walking is about average; the variance is probably in the number of longer walks, which differs in different months and was pretty low this month. Part of it is that we’ve done all of the longer walks. Maybe we’ll do them more than once.

Rock climbing

  • Castle Downs (“Southland’s best limestone crag”)
  • Finally got to Ferg’s Kayaks (which is also a climbing gym, despite the name).


July leftovers

I’ve almost finished with the Heaphy Track pictures.

South Island/Stewart Island/Rakiura

Thousands of kiwis but didn’t see any. Rakiura Track is our second favourite Great Walk of the two we’ve done so far. Super muddy. Probably the nicest walking was on the Northwest Circuit from Mason Bay to Freshwater Landing, and then the first day of the Rakiura Track. The last part from the end of the track to the town was nice too.

We did see lots of birbs though.

Stewart Island robin; black oystercatchers; kakariki (red-crowned); MP and weka.

Other Stewart Island pictures:

Stewart Island or is it Newfoundland; flying to Stewart Island; on the beach; abandoned machinery on Rakiura track; back at a crowded airport in Wellington.
Kayaking on Milford Sound; Mirror Lake en route to Milford Sound; Castledowns climbing.

Travel planning

Booked three Great Walks: Milford, Routeburn and Kepler. Milford booked out super fast: 10 minutes from when it opened. Routeburn was slower.

Bought a plane ticket to Christchurch for the South Island Championships. Now we have a week to spend in Christchurch with no tournament. Fortunately there are plenty of things to do. Just need to choose which ones. Looks like skiing is probably not worth it; base depths are at best 189cm.


  • Best Ugly Bagels, Wellington: Montreal-style bagels
  • Kazu Yakitori & Sake Bar, Wellington: Good Japanese food
  • Fat Bastard Pies, Invercargill: I liked the pies
  • Bao Now, Te Anau: Bao, poutine (-ish, with cottage cheese), dumplings
  • South Sea Hotel, Oban: They have a monopoly but their daily specials are excellent. Also their Quiz Night is famous. We took 3rd.


I had thought that I’d be able to get started on new things for August but didn’t manage to. But I did get a bunch of things wrapped in. Today in September I’ve started working on the code for the test refactoring again.

It was nice to go to Rakiura and to do some outdoor climbing, but perhaps the Great Walk wasn’t that great, and Milford Sound was a bit underwhelming for what we had expected; the fjords of Saguenay are perhaps comparable, though with fewer mountains around. We’ll see what we think about the Great Walks around there.