June: non-teaching term month 2

Posted by Patrick Lam on Sunday, July 4, 2021

Table Of Contents

Banner shot: take-down after a day at the Harbourside Market in Wellington.

Well, that month flew by quickly, mostly with work. In particular we submitted a paper at the end of the month. Whew. That’s basically one of my student’s master’s theses, though there’s a bit of mop up work left. I’ll get to some of that tomorrow.

Let’s put the highlights in bullet form this month, with more below.

  • SCAM paper submission
  • Less successful tournament result at the Waikato Bays Open (Rotorua)
  • Rainy weekend trip to Masterton and Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre
  • COVID scare in Wellington (got lucky)

And some travel planning both for the Masterton trip as well as future trips.

Kahurangi the kokako at Pūkaha; COVID swabbing centre in Rotorua (foreshadowing!); Rotorua i-SITE; cat outside Zealandia.

June posts

Lots of posts!

I haven’t added to the queue this month and may even have drained it.

What’s going on in the world

Life in Wellington

I could talk about the weather, but why not talk about COVID again first? (“There is one news story”; fortunately less true now than before). It’s now been two weeks since I was at that unlucky Countdown and we’ve found no cases in the community or in the wastewater, so we in NZ collectively seem to have gotten lucky again, unlike Australia. Hard to count on it. By the way, looks like I’ll be staying in Wellington until I’m fully vaccinated, which I estimate to be November. There is still a government of Canada advisory against non-essential travel.

No real changes in the weather. I did notice some snow falling the other day, though no accumulation where we are. Haven’t really noticed the days getting longer yet, though we’ll have gained 10 minutes of sunlight in the evening by the day after tomorrow. It’s been cold by NZ standards, with inside temperatures of 14°C pretty common in the morning. People do scrape ice off their cars further south. The weather was extremely rainy last week and pretty rainy when we were in Masterton, but it was beautiful this most recent (July) weekend.

Let’s talk about Wellington in general. In some ways, the problems in New Zealand are the same problems everywhere in the world, to different degrees. Wellington has sewage problems. So does Montreal. (San Francisco, on the other hand, has been famous for having actual human waste on the streets. At least New Zealand is super good about having public toilets.)

Or how about pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure? Wellington’s pedestrian infrastructure is not terrible, but it is not the best, particularly when it’s not possible to walk straight down one sidewalk; this 110m segment on Tory Street requires one to cross Tory St twice to get from Courtenay Place to Cable St. That’s just dysfunctional. And Salamanca and The Terrace has lots of foot traffic but there’s only a one-sided crossing of The Terrace. All the people crossing have to go to the north side so that the cars can have more convenient driving. There is a trial bike path on Brooklyn Road where I generally don’t go. (I checked. I’ve ranted about this on Twitter but not on the blog so far.)

On the other hand, Wellington has adopted a new Spatial Plan which will enable much more housing construction. Let’s hope that helps. One ingredient among many.

Other NZ news

Apart from the COVID scare, what else happened in New Zealand in June? There was a Climate Commission Report which is an input to the emissions budgets that the government is legally required to set in December. This is far ahead of Canada at least, even if perhaps it’s not quite as drastic change as we need. The goal is net zero emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases by 2050. In related news, the government is taxing highly-polluting cars and trucks and rebating electric cars (but not bicycles; it really should.) There’s also an announcement of a bike bridge for Auckland, which would be great if it happens.

There’s more of a timeline for the Pfizer rollout. I hope that NZ can stay COVID-free until then. As of this writing, no community transmission since 28 February 2021, which is excellent and lucky.

There was something about cricket ("[NZ’s] mightiest achievement in the sport"). My airbnb host in Rotorua tried to explain cricket to me. I guess I still don’t quite get it.

Back home

Numbers in Canada are right down. Ontario’s given one dose to 68.8% of the population and two doses to 34.4%. The single-dose number is now growing slowly, but the 2-dose number is increasing super fast. The COVID counts are also quite low except in Waterloo, which is accounting for a quarter of Ontario cases. I think it’s mostly bad luck, although maybe Waterloo could have done better at administering its limited supply of vaccines. Delta is coming, and that’ll be a problem.

Pictures

I processed:

Yellow-crowned kakariki; pateke; whio; kiwi. All at Pūkaha/Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre.

Pictures: Mildly shorter, but I’d better get on it before I start greatly enlarging the queue again.

  • [December] Routeburn
  • [December] Dunedin climbing, Silverpeaks
  • [January] Hump Ridge Track
  • [February] Jumbo Circuit
  • [February] Tongariro Northern Circuit
  • [April] Avalanche Peak, Mount Somers Track
  • [June] Rotorua (airport walk)

It would be nice to get to 2021!

Model vaka at Te Papa; monk with matching robe and daypack; golden hour clouds

Net reduction of pictures on my hard drive: 5G, down to 62G at the moment.

Professional

All research all the time (well, 90% of the time). It was nice to be able to focus and in particular do a bunch of work first-hand using the Doop framework. I also prepared a general talk about my research direction for SINZ. Also I randomly met a Waterloo math graduate who was remote working and chatted about some consulting, which involved updating my résumé.

Research todo:

  • NSERC Alliance proposal
  • SE retrospective

We are learning more about our other projects for test refactoring and API surface studies, but nothing firm to report quite yet.

Teaching

Hmm, better start working on that ECE 198 syllabus this week.

Collegiality

Not that much. Just some OOPSLA paper Review Committee discussions. That took a bit of time and interacted poorly with the SCAM deadline. Good thing I wasn’t on the core Review Committee. That’s about it for service for me this month.

Other

Intense work month. July will be less intense, with quite a few trips planned. Worked 25 days, talked to students on 23 days, out of 22 workdays.

Travels

Rotorua and Masterton. Rotorua included walking-from-airport on a brilliant “winter” (i.e. fall) day. Will be going back to Rotorua in two days from now. Haven’t been to Masterton before. Maybe we’ll be back to see the kōkako again, though we’ll also try to see kōkako in the wild near Rotorua (will probably be hard, easier to hear them).

  • 🚶 Walking distance: 99km (just under three digits, still under 2020 average, so much work)
  • 🚲 Biking distance: 87km
  • 🚗 Driving distance: 86km (yay, less than biking distance!)
  • 🚗 Taxi distance: 0
  • 🚌 Bus distance: 21km
  • 🛩 Plane distance: 800km (WLG-ROT, ROT-WLG)
  • 🚆 Train distance: 202km (to Masterton and back)
  • 🚡 Cable car distance: 1.8km (3x)

I did bike maintenance (brake cable tightening), now I’m not going to roll out of control and into the path of a car. Much safer. Should lubricate my chain.

Walks

Hmm, no hikes. Did get to Zealandia once at least. How did that happen? One weekend was rainy, another weekend was rainy and had a paper deadline, and one weekend I was out of town. I guess that’ll do it.

  • ROT airport, 9km carrying 9kg of stuff (vs 13km carrying 13kg last month)
Mount Ngongotahā; not a pohutukawa; Rotorua library.

We did walk around at Pūkaha/Mount Bruce but it was rainy. Maybe 2km of walking.

Other sports

Was pretty good at making it to judo practice during the week except for when I was in self-isolation due to COVID exposure. Didn’t make it on the weekends. Takes some extra motivation for that. And at least I managed to make it out to the climbing gym after the COVID exposure but before it was announced (oops). It can be harder to get motivated to get to the climbing gym on Monday evenings.

The Waikato Bays tournament was a bit tougher than the Canterbury Open. I think I could have won the bronze medal match, but I didn’t. First match (against the eventual gold medallist) was tough, lost by three different penalties in overtime.

Travel planning

Hmm, this is a good time to check whether I’ve fully planned all of the July trips. Also another thing which has been useful previously, but much less in NZ, has been downloading offline maps: usually I have mobile network, and Maps.me just requires two downloads for this country (hey, it’s not that populated). Good to look up distances on maps too; ideally we don’t end up shuttling between places.

In bullets, upcoming trips:

Should be a good North American summer/NZ winter.

Other updates

Gear

I was working at the computer more intensely this month and really needed to use the screen and not the laptop. Fortunately my laptop has HDMI out. Long days on laptops are terrible for my neck.

Also got a white 3m USB A-to-C cable (coloured cables help with management), a trackball (Logitech M570) and replacement approach shoes. I’ve probably put over 2500km on the previous ones. The trackball is much better than the random mouse I was using before.

New trackball; getting rid of sandals after the Grand Canyon in 2019; most recently retired shoes.

Restaurants

Wellington, Rotorua, and Masterton.

  • K&K Food Caravan, Wellington: had great Cambodian noodles.
  • Patrick’s Pies Gold Star Bakery, Rotorua: the reason I’m in NZ, finally made it. That other Patrick Lam definitely deserves to win awards for his pies. Will go back this Thursday.
  • Saigon 60s, Rotorua: light dinner at a reasonably authentic Vietnamese restaurant in Rotorua
  • Abracadabra Cafe Rotorua: Rotorua, good risotto
  • Greta Point Cafe, Welington: location is sweet as, on the water
  • Mt Vic Chippery, Wellington: good fish, extremely generous serving of fries: had leftovers which I put in the oven and ate at home with mayo, yum
  • Taste of Home, Wellington: I’d heard about this place and we finally managed to get some food from there (the hours are challenging). Lives up to its reputation. Here’s a glowing review. Chinese street food.
  • Mekong Café, Wellington: while waiting for our food to be made at Taste of Home. Goi cuon not as good as my grandma’s. Not packed tightly enough.
  • Entice Café and Catering, Masterton: a quite good museum cafe, I had eggs benedict. We double ordered a hot chocolate and they refunded us. Thanks!
  • Scoops Icecream Parlour & Café, Masterton: we got there the last day before they were selling to new owners; looks like a community hub for Masterton.
  • Martha’s Pantry, Wellington: we especially liked the savory part of the high tea, which ends up being quite substantial.

Wow, that’s a lot. I guess I didn’t go to a lot of places but I did go to a lot of new-to-me restaurants!

Not a food blogger, but: lamb pie from Patrick's Pies; fried rice from Mr. Go's; high tea from Martha's Pantry.

We are going to Mr. Go’s quite often still, and in particular went there to celebrate being out of self-isolation after a negative test.

Books and other media

Managed to read one book and some travel literature:

  • Lloyd Geering, On me bike: Cycling round New Zealand 80 years ago. Have managed to get to many of these places many years later. People really did do these long bike trips a long time ago. My great-grandfather biked 200km in Vietnam a century ago.
  • Sarah Bennett and Lee Slater, The Best of Wellington, 6th ed. On-point reviews and I’ve added a bunch of places to my restaurants list. Well-calibrated: you look at a guidebook and see what they have that you already know about. publisher link
  • Marios Gavalas. Day walks of Greater Wellington. Took some notes about future walks. NZ national library
  • Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Amazing Places: 200 extraordinary destinations. Meh, I don’t know if it’s because I can’t actually travel anywhere safely, or because I’m not that into pictures. But they printed a bunch of good pictures (including quite a few stock photos) with some tips. publisher link
  • Brett Atkinson. Lonely Planet: Rarotonga, Samoa & Tonga. There isn’t a lot of information about the Cook Islands but there’s some here. It’s a starting point for trip planning anyways. publisher link

More writeups

This list is just not shrinking, sigh. Maybe next month. Kind of lame to just put the whole list there again.

Miscellaneous

  • Paid way too much in TD Bank service fees after they changed my account’s minimum balance. Need to fix that, probably by shifting my daily banking to the Kindred Credit Union account I already have.
  • At the same time, my natural gas provider got merged with Enbridge and now I can’t log in.
  • Had to unblock my credit card for some reason.
  • Telemarketing works! Donated blood because the NZ Blood Service called.
  • Talked to someone about using static analysis in industry, sent a résumé to explore consulting possibilities.
  • Chatted with Edwin Sheppard of the Aotearoa Climbing Access Trust to share experience with the OAC.

Conclusion

Another paper submission took up most of June. July will have less work!