September: Delta's Still Here (mostly in Auckland)

Posted by Patrick Lam on Monday, October 11, 2021

Table Of Contents

Still on the rollercoaster

Delta has been tough to eliminate, and the number of new cases in Auckland is not going down; R was estimated at about 1.2 today. Fortunately for the rest of us, it’s still mostly contained in Auckland for now. There have been a couple of cases that have managed to get out, but not many. It could get out of control at any moment. All plans are even more contingent than usual. But right now, pretty good.

The vaccination rates have been increasing rapidly, and as I write this on October 11, it’s at 69% of total population for first dose and 48% of total population for second dose. Canada is at 76% first dose, 71% fully-vaccinated (total population). The US is at 65% first-dosed and 56% fully-vaccinated (also total population), though there are huge gaps between states, Vermont having 69% fully-vaccinated.

There are huge ethnic disparities in vaccination rates and infections. That has been in the news in Aotearoa lately. Specifically, Māori and Pasifika rates significantly lag European and especially Asian rates. People had warned about that for a while and now it’s fairly obvious. I hope they manage to fix that, though it has to be Māori-led with central Government support.

First dosed!

I still need to wait a few weeks for my second dose. Just today there was some numbers about effectiveness with variable delays (and also mixing-and-matching as was done in Canada), per the CBC. A 7-week delay has a 92% efficacy, while a 5-6 week delay has an 85% efficacy, and the confidence intervals don’t overlap. NZ went to a 6-week delay to boost first doses and is now again recommending a 3-week delay, which is good where there is an outbreak (or likely to be one soon) and if there is ample supply. (Quebec won’t recognize Quebecers who have been vaccinated with a 3-week delay abroad.)

Auckland and some of the surrounding areas are at Level 3 (lockdown with takeaways). Auckland itself got to add some low-risk outdoor activities and early childhood education. The rest of New Zealand has been at Level 3 since September 1 and Level 2 since September 8, i.e. more masks and less seating in restaurants.

We took advantage of Level 2 to go to the West Coast and hike the Paparoa Track and then to the top of the South Island to hike the Abel Tasman Coast Track.

Abel Tasman and Paparoa.

Teaching started, so I recorded some videos, worked on some rubrics, and answered some Piazza questions. Bernie, our Lab Instructor, has been great in running this course. As I finish this post, reading week is almost over.

It's spring. One can sometimes comfortably sit on the deck!

September post

What’s going on in the world

Hmm, I haven’t followed other places that closely, except for Canada. The rest of the world is just a bunch of headlines to me. Judo and judo competitions seem to be coming back in Canada, and my club didn’t close because of COVID, though I’m told it was a close thing.

From here, it looks to me like Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and PEI are still doing quite well, New Brunswick was exploding last time I looked (on the Canadian scale), Quebec and Ontario are doing OK, and Saskatchewan and Alberta are doing worst. I was thinking that Quebec had 30% more COVID than Ontario but today’s stats from the CTV tracker shows that Quebec has more than 2 times more COVID than Ontario per capita, yikes. Ontario is dropping faster than Quebec. I’ll be figuring out where to spend December in part based on how much COVID there is.

I’ve been vaguely hearing about Singapore, which is pretty similar to NZ, except that it is a bit faster with vaccinations. But like NZ there is little infection-acquired immunity. The Spinoff has an analysis. There are new restrictions coming in Singapore I hear.

A math hack I heard about: 80% and 90% seem pretty similar in terms of vaccination rates (hey, 80% is an A-, 90% is an A). But the modelling is way different. Think of it instead as 20% non-vaccinated versus 10% non-vaccinated. 20% has twice as many vulnerable people.


I’m almost done with the 2020 backlog; the end is in sight. That’s good, because the 2021 backlog continues to grow. I have 14G of photos from a single day looking at Mount Cook and penguins. I’ve been getting pretty fast with processing pictures.

Kaka on Kapiti Island, Red Crater, pink sky on Double Cone, looking out on Kapiti Island.

A bunch of Welly Walks:

Yellow admiral (City to Sea), trees on Te Ahumairangi, red rocks, treasures on Te Ara Papararangi.

To do:

  • [January] Hump Ridge Track
  • [February] Jumbo Circuit
  • [February] Tongariro Northern Circuit
  • [April] Avalanche Peak, Mount Somers Track
  • [June] Rotorua (airport walk)
  • [July] Hobbiton
  • [July] Aotea
  • [August] Cook Islands
  • [September] Sea to Sky II
  • [September] Paparoa Track & the Glaciers
  • [September/October] Abel Tasman Coast Track
  • [October] Mt. Cook and Mt. Somers

and, of course, the one-day 2020 albums that I haven’t listed here (4 one-day walks, 4 miscellaneous).


As of the beginning of October the two master’s theses I was guiding to the end were almost done. As of October 1, both theses had been submitted to readers, and one was all signed off. There will be more news in the October update. (Joys of being super late).

I also worked on the main text of the Alliance grant, but that has been buried underneath the ICST submission (a resubmission from SCAM) and the ICSE submission, which became an OOPSLA submission, and then a SANER submission.

Basically I removed all of the SCAM-specific spin from the SCAM submission paper (comparing analysis frameworks) and focussed more on core technique and results for ICST. The results are also better. The SCAM reviews weren’t bad, but they clearly weren’t nearly good enough. Just sort of mediocre.

SANER continues, with under a week left. We have a bunch of data and some story, so I think we’re close.

So now I have 3 master’s students. Should be less intense than getting 2 students out the door plus having 3 students.

Two more ECE 198 videos: tips on group formation and playing well with others. I need to figure out this git activity that I’m running soon. We collaboratively developed rubrics for the proposal and design document. No disasters yet. Pretty much 0 students are coming to my office hours.

How much work? 20 days, 10 no-work days. This September had 21 workdays. Pretty close. Of those 20 days, talked to students on 17. I said that I hoped that the rescheduled trips would actually happen, and they did, but still, that was a lot of work. Without those trips that would have been even more work.

Looking at September goals, I managed all but submitting NSERC Alliance: ECE 198, ICST, and worked on OOPSLA (now SANER).

Goals for the second half of October: submit SANER, wrap up NSERC Alliance, then maybe the SE retrospective and some ECE 459 work.


Well, I certainly created work for others by getting them to read my students’ masters’ theses. Also some student/alum advising.

Signed off on a final version of an OOPSLA paper I was reviewing. Glad to see the authors did the changes we asked for.


One Great Walk, plus touring around the West Coast, and the first day of a second one. Totally respectable walking numbers.

  • 🚢 Walking distance: 181.6km (Great Walk!)
  • 🚲 Biking distance: 35.6km
  • πŸš— Driving distance: 979km (West Coast)
  • πŸš— Taxi distance: 19km (to WLG, NSN-downtown)
  • 🚌 Bus distance: 44.7km (counting Abel Tasman shuttle)
  • πŸ›© Plane distance: 1125km (WLG-CHC, CHC-HKK, HKK-CHC, CHC-WLG, WLG-NSN)
  • 🚑 Cable car distance: 1.4km (2x)
  • β›΄ Boat distance: 21km (jetboat)


Lake Matheson, Monro Beach (penguin not in frame), Hokitika Gorge.

Other sports

Wow, only 3 judo practices in September, between trips and lockdowns. October’s been better I think. Went to climbing gyms 3 times as well, including a few trips out to Hangdog, which is better than Fergs but harder to get to (it’s not a 20 minute walk away). Fergs Kayaks is a bit of a funny gym (also kayak hire as you can deduce from the name), but they have recently redone their bouldering section, it’s actually pretty good now.

We were on a jetboat with Waiatoto River Safari for the first time on the West Coast, but that’s not quite a sport. The jetboat operator, Ruth, also flies various sporty-seeming planes.

Travel planning

Been working on doing all the things. Some of them are in October. Have some updates to NZ places pending.

Did re-plan the September trips, but that wasn’t very hard, since it was mostly a question of pushing things a few weeks later but keeping everything the same. Abel Tasman is somewhat tide-dependent, since there is a tidal river crossing, but the new date worked as well. Sometimes you have to do it in a particular direction for the crossing to work out. There was also a bit of drama in that my rebooking email for Abel Tasman got missed somehow, but everything worked out without much drama.

Sometimes pulling over to take a picture gets inconvenient.

Should plan my trip back to Canada for mid-to-late November. Kind of dreaming of NZ borders open by Christmas, but that’s really unlikely (and I don’t think they should! They would surely get an exit wave). Just noticed that Air NZ has some cheap fares AKL-LAX on certain days, which is weird.


Few more things:

  • ECE 198 board
  • another Icebreaker T-shirt (solid black)
  • A6600 with 55-210 and 18-55 kit lenses, SD card, and a teleconverter I haven’t figured out how to attach yet (step down ring should work, and yet)
  • replacement lens cap (oops I lost one)
  • new, improved laundry drying rack (6th September, got vaccine on the way to pick it up)
  • umbrella (impulse purchase for walking in the rain to see penguins on the West Coast)
  • my new blue judogi finally arrived from Canada (I knew it would be slow, but this slow?)
  • yet another iPod cable; unfortunately this one is USB-C to Lightning, which is less useful than normal USB to Lightning
  • got receipt for Panasonic camera bought in 2020, enabling dust removal under warranty

Although we sold our Ecosa in August, the buyer actually managed to get out of Auckland lockdown only recently (you are now allowed to move out of Auckland). We have the correct number of beds (1) in our place.

Managed to get the (leather) case for my RX100 fixed. The metal bit for the camera was missing, Took it to a shoe repair shop, who can sew leather. The guy fixed it for a very modest fee ($10? $15?). Yay!

Miscellaneous life updates

Promptly got a haircut upon entering Level 2 in early September. That was 8 weeks after the previous one, a bit on the long side.

Immigration Minister Kris Kringle Faafoi announced the Great Residence Visa Grant of 2021. Anyone on a suitable visa, like say MP, can get a residence visa with a zillion times fewer hoops than usual. Applications open 1 March for most people (1 December for some). There’s a lot of visas to grant: estimate is 165,000. Spending 2 years in NZ (well, two halves of two years) gives permanent residence.

Went to give blood for the third time in NZ. An instance where telemarketing works.

Finished my course of physio after hurting my shoulder in a tournament a few months ago, shouldn’t have tried that attack from that position.



  • Oikos: packed on a Wednesday night, deservedly so. Greek food in Wellington is available from them and from the food truck; Oikos is more upscale. I always enjoy pastitsio. Tzatziki was extra garlicky.
  • Monsoon Poon: Asian fusion. I think there was a Bangkok Street Noodles which was worthwhile.


  • Kinji: their opening hours don’t line up well with our visits to Christchurch, but we managed to make it there for again, still the best sushi in New Zealand that we’ve had.

Fox Glacier:

  • Betsey Jane: Exceeded expectations. Everything was just tasty. They did mussels right (not universally true here), fish and chips and pasta were both great. It being a pandemic, the place was deserted the first time we were there on a Saturday night (2 parties including us), but on the Monday there was a reasonable crowd.

Books and other media

Finished the Dusky Sound book:

Also reviewed the early 1900s travel literature about New Zealand:

I have some more books from the library but haven’t had time to read them yet.

Where did my words go?

I am so late with this blog post. Well past the midway part of October. Just been writing words for the ICST and SANER submissions.


Mostly been doing some trips and trying to crank out the papers.