October: Wellington only

Posted by Patrick Lam on Monday, November 2, 2020

Table Of Contents

Tulips in Botanical Garden

No trips except a move 700m down the road

For the first time since lockdown, we didn’t get out of town all month. On Friday I am going to Auckland and then the Bay of Islands for the week.

New Zealand is still doing well even as the number of cases in Europe and North America have been increasing. There have been a number of escapes from the border (including one two tonight as I write this, from managed isolation staff) but so far they have been contained and the NZ test-and-trace systems are much-improved since March. If only Ontario and Quebec had improved their systems.

We are now approved to stay in this country until June 2021. Easy for me (thanks VUW!), less for MP. But we did it, thanks in part to an Employment Visa Escalation request filed with Immigration New Zealand and a bunch of time on hold on the phone. The earliest possible in-person teaching that I’d have to do is in September 2021. Could happen by that time, although I don’t think it’s 100% certain.

I’ve been enjoying the larger living space. Having different rooms is a welcome luxury! I used the dining room as a makeshift studio recently, which was OK. The sunlight isn’t quite as good but we can still maximize it with placement of furniture.

I remain two trips behind. I also was looking through pictures and noticed that I had almost finished Greece/Albania from 2014 but not quite. So close… For Rakiura I got to processing the last day of the Rakiura track, but not post-track activities. Better reduce that queue before going on the trip.

NZ and COVID-19

Like last month for us, everything is open in NZ except for the border. (That was not true for all of Auckland for all of October.) The Auckland cluster was closed today after two cycles of no new community transmission in that cluster; Auckland has been at Level 1 since early October. From the start of October until today, November 2, we had two cases: a “marine engineer” cluster apparently caught by a technician on a ship he was working on (size 4), and just today, one case from managed isolation staff. The @covid19nz Twitter account is good communications and decent for looking this information up.

The other NZ news was a (rescheduled) general election. The Labour party got a majority with about 49% of the vote; this is unprecedented in a mixed-member proportional body. There is a cooperation agreement with the Green party. I hope they will make progress on the other huge issue facing humanity, climate change.

Looks like Australia has now eliminated COVID-19 as well. I heard that the Australian media was keen to talk about bubble arrangements with New Zealand. This is not at all in the news in NZ, which seems just fine with the current arrangements. (People in NZ can actually fly to Australia quarantine-free, but coming back would be a challenge: it is plain not allowed for us, and requires 2 weeks of managed isolation for people with NZ residency.) I think it’s like how Canada isn’t in a big rush to open the border with the US.


Still not summer. Heater’s on right now to keep inside temperature above 20°C. Last Sunday was a beautiful spring day and would have been excellent for a walk, but I had a Onward! talk to record. This week, highs just shy of 20.

No more power bills to share, it’s included in the rent at our new place.


A list of new things

  • New-to-us apartment.
  • New driver’s license.
  • I got a new bicycle.
  • I dropped my cellphone.
  • Went out a bunch of times for Wellington on a Plate.
  • Recorded and edited a conference talk. Had a semi-sophisticated AV setup. Foiled by fridge hum (but the 4th take re-recording was probably better).

Got some camping gear which I had back home but not here. So it goes.


  • full week (5 days) on Onward! essay semantic versioning talk and a bit of time on camera-ready version.
  • worked a bit on API width collaboration.
  • organized some thoughts about climbing population surveys.
  • thinking about NSERC Alliance with non-profit partner (“second option”).
  • some ECE 459 lecture prep.
  • wrote 0 research code.

Last month’s list of things to write up:

  • Onward! essay (semantic versioning) blurb: ✔ done
  • Photos (Rakiura: about 1500, Canterbury: a lot): in progress, last touched Oct 18
  • Consolidated NZ restaurant list: ✔ done
  • ICSME (test your siblings) blurb: nope
  • August trip writeup: nope
  • September trip writeup: nope
  • Travel philosophy (been in final-drafts form since before the pandemic): nope
  • Greece recommendations (mostly drafted): nope, but I found some old pics!

Current priorities are 459 notes and a couple of recommendation letters. Then maybe I can get more pictures out before leaving on the trip.

Days with work: 27/31. I guess that’s what happens when I go on no trips. There were 21 NZ workdays in October; NZ Labour Day is October 26. And yet I feel like I didn’t get that much done.

Ongoing (my grad students)

Talked to my students on 17 days. Again, not going on a trip would do that.


Reviewed TOSEM paper. Attended VUW capstone talks. Got roped into helping organize online social events for SPLASH.

Talked to Someone Else’s Student, about US grad school. Also put up a post about grad school for SE/CS/CE grads.


A bit more ECE459 Rustification, which is my next priority. The infrastructure works well now: the makefile works and the GitHub Actions now auto-build the PDFs of only changed files.

I also fixed my own LaTeX install. That was a weird one.


The furthest I got from Wellington was Plimmerton to pick up a new-to-me bike.

  • 🚶 Walking distance: 104.4km (essentially tied with September despite no trips); no zero days.
  • 🚲 Biking distance: 120.9km (less than September but no super-long days, just one trip from Plimmerton at 32km).
  • 🚗 Driving distance: 17.2km
  • 🚆 Train distance: 23km to Plimmerton
  • 🚌 Bus distance: 9.2km


  • Tui Glen track inside Zealandia, admiring the results of MP’s volunteer work. Birds seen: Toutouwai, blackbird, california quail, kaka, kakariki, hihi, bellbird, saddleback, scaup, shags, mallard, teal, tui, takahe, chaffinch.
  • walked to and inside Wright’s Hill Fortress for Labour Day.
Wright's Hill Fortress

Top 20 Welly Walks progress: same, was hoping to redeem this on Sunday, nope. So: no new walks since last month, 18 done, plus parts of Mt. Kaukau summit. Still haven’t touched the Redwood Bush Loop.

Surprisingly high total for a no-trips month. And I felt like I got to judo quite often (10 times). Also did the Judo Quebec Challenge Judo Fit.

Rock climbing

  • Got shoes back. Haven’t really had a chance to use them yet. What am I doing wrong?!


Try again next month. (Auckland / Bay of Islands should be a bit action-packed, including the train from Wellington to Auckland.)

Travel planning

Auckland is planned, which is good because I’m leaving in 3 days. Kepler Track is also this next month. Didn’t do any other travel planning. Should make Milford arrangements next week.


We did get to a bunch of Wellington on a Plate places in Wellington.

  • Bebemos: Pao de Queijo, Feijoiada
  • Dumpling’d: what it says on the tin
  • Seoul Salon: had the Wellington on a Plate burger, place was super busy.
  • Egmont Street Eatery: had a pop-up Casa del Egmont October with tapas etc.
  • Chan’s Eatery: roast duck with noodles
  • La Cloche: somehow always busy at lunchtime even weekdays.

Went to both Harbourside and Victoria St markets this month.


Let’s look at the goals for October:

ECE 459 and refactoring are my personal goals for October, as well as seeing where my students can get to.

Nope! 0/2.

It feels like I did a lot of work in October but I’m not quite sure what I have to show for it. Certainly a talk. Thought about ongoing projects and working towards a new project (or at least a funding opportunity). Did travel planning for Auckland.

November is going to be less productive due to trip and virtual SPLASH. Also let’s see how the US election goes. Although we can’t vote.

Goals: finish ECE 459 materials as well as starting ECE 750 prep. Write NSERC Alliance grant proposal. Make progress on refactoring and API surfaces projects.