June: better late than never; so much work.

Posted by Patrick Lam on Thursday, July 14, 2022

Table Of Contents


Well, that was fun. Just submitted my second paper in 2.5 weeks yesterday. Now I can do other things again, or as I wrote to my graduate class, “Paper #2 submitted, now back to normal service…” As often happens, I continue writing on a plane, this time to Vancouver for the extended weekend.

Didn’t go very far at all in June. There were a lot of convocation ceremonies (like a normal June, except catching up for 2020/2021 too), MP arrived for a month in Canada (yay!), and we went to Silver Lake Provincial Park for overnight car camping. On June 30 I drove to Toronto for an early flight on July 1.

Probably the two biggest sources of work in July were related to teaching 653 and to writing papers, though the actual paper submissions were in July. I did submit an NSERC Alliance International grant proposal on June 1. At one point I had a backlog of 70 ECE653-related emails (project proposals). There was some SE463/490 TA management and some SE490 work (midterm demos particularly). Fortunately as I write this we’re well past the 2/3rds mark of the term, though there is going to be mountains of marking in the future.

There were a couple of social events, especially with MP’s return, though we were still especially cautious to avoid getting COVID and giving it to her mother. However I did manage to have a cold while we were in the Iles de la Madeleine. MP was not impressed.

Ignoring COVID continued (at least by the public, not by me); at the end of June there were almost no mandates left. Not at the University of Waterloo (Seneca College?), not on public transit. Airplanes yes, fortunately. (For all that people in the US say “oh look no mask mandates! staffing woes! coincidence?” I have to admit that Canada and NZ both have staffing woes and that travel has been super busy; there is a piece in the Toronto Star about Pearson woes, citing airline greed [understaffing] as the primary cause).

As close to a mountain as I got in June (new Guelph Grotto).


I actually went to campus many times (about 18), though mostly outside except for lecture, convocation, and maybe 4 meetings. So I haven’t been spending much time inside my office still.

SE Class of 2022. Mostly I appear in pictures, but I take a few too.

The townhouse & life maintenance

MP did a deep clean when she got here (dumb as a COVID response measure but I guess good for the house?). Set up a rental of our place for Fall term. Got someone from Truly Nolen Pest Control to look at our ant problem (pavement ants, eating the patio door). Also, MP left a City of Waterloo complaint about dead vegetation in the backyard we look over, and a week later the neighbours cleaned it. Huh.

MP's cleaning prowess extends to our neighbours' backyard.

Haircuts are quintessential life maintenance. In 2019 they would have been unremarkable. Now they are again I guess? I got one. I appreciate being able to get them!

I seemed to have collected a tick while sitting on a deck. I noticed it the next day. The thing to do is to get a prophylactic antibiotic. My family doctor couldn’t do it within the timeframe, so I went to a walk-in near campus. The wait was like 5 hours, but I didn’t have to be in the office.

Stuff management

I got a socket set (and then in July I found the one we had before, along with my cordless driver/drill, while we were looking for leftover caulk). I replaced the bearings and brake pads on my bicycles and tried to replace the spark plugs, but those broke in place.

I progressed the Turkish lamp saga. Once when we were in Turkey, we had bought a Turkish lamp. But it didn’t work in Canada: the plug was wrong (ordered plugs on Amazon and spliced one in), and the lightbulb is super hard to get (E12 is hard to get in Canada and most bulbs are too tall; NZ E12 bulbs will fit but then they are 220V bulbs). I finally got it working in July. Next month I’ll have a picture of it working correctly.

Not quite right.

I brought the motorcycle to the shop to get the broken sparkplug removed. Haven’t gotten it back yet.

I picked up a camp chair, nut tool, and another harness (but I already had a backup gym harness, oops, now I have 2).

Also I got a co2.click CO2 meter, made in Québec. It seems to work well and lets me judge air circulation. Would be nice if it had more battery life.

Carbon dioxide meter.


I feel like I put in a lot of work in both teaching and research in June. And, I’ve submitted a decent number of things this year so far: 3 conference papers and 1 grant proposal. (This is year-to-date through mid-July). I hope at least some of them get accepted. It would really be crushing if they all got rejected.

Slightly above average number of days where I met with research students (12) due to the paper deadline. Also had another picnic (BBQ chicken) with them to celebrate Ali and David, who convocated in June. I did not sit on the stage for their convocation, but I did sit on the stage for the SE21s and SE22s.

One current grad student (Moh) and two grad student alumni (Ali and David).

The number of days that I did some nontrivial thing related to the job was at a record high this month: 30/30. I don’t even include “replied to 2 emails” here but a full-on task that was worth noting in my records. Not all tasks take all day of course, but typically it would be at least half an hour of work.


Again probably above average due to convocation.

  • Bookended with in-person meetings about random admin things
  • SE463/490 TA management (meetings with select TAs)
  • SE2023 panel on full-time jobs/SE17 reunion/panel
  • Met with ECE job candidate


Running a grad course with 125 students and 2 TAs is tough, also when trying to submit a bunch of papers. This took a lot of time.


  • 🚶 Walking: 27km on 14 days (previous low since 2020: 72km)
  • 🚲 Biking: 266km on 23 days (up 10% from May), including 16km on ebike
  • 🚆 LRT: 4.9km on 1 day
  • 🚗 Driving: 1242km on 8 days (Pearson round trip plus Silver Lake)

Pretty stable amount of biking. Almost no driving on most days, but driving to Silver Lake really bumps up the amount. Not much variety this month.

I have had a pinched nerve or something in my shoulder (pain in the shoulder, tingling in the fingers which may be actually elbow nerve). It was pretty bad in June but it seems to not have been a heart attack, so that’s good. Couldn’t get an appointment about it with my family doctor in June but managed to consult about it with a last-minute same-day appointment in July, plus a physio appointment with 3 weeks’ wait. I write this in the travels section because biking actually seems to aggravate it, which is a problem for me. I’ve been kind of trying to minimize excess biking since I noticed the connection. Apparently I didn’t succeed so much in minimizing that.

Trip: Silver Lake

MP’s friends from high school organized a car camping trip to Silver Lake, which is approximately halfway between Toronto and Ottawa (so another hour from Waterloo beyond that). The scenery is OK I guess. We got some decent sunset pictures over the lake. This Ontario scenery is just not as good as NZ scenery. Is it just that we’re blasé about North American scenery, or is it actually objectively less good? Iles de la Madeleine scenery was also better than Ontario scenery, though. And I’m looking at the Coast Mountains scenery on approach to Vancouver. Also good—probably better than the views between Karamea and Nelson. Maybe it’s just Ontario that is not scenic.

Silver Lake Provincial Park (Ontario).

Our friends told us Northern Ontario was more scenic and less peopled. Maybe. It’s far. I’m unlikely to drive there. And if I’m going to take a plane, it’s hard to imagine why I’d take it to Northern Ontario rather than other places (except for the novelty value, once).

Future travel planning


Well, I booked a airbnb for St-Jean-sur-Richelieu for a potential trip there for August 20-21. We’ll see if that happens.

Speaking of travel, I finally posted my travel philosophy at the beginning of June, even if I put it in last month’s report.

Volunteering (OAC)

Town hall and tabling at Guelph Grotto. Picked up an OAC cap. Upgraded CiviCRM and fixed weird issue with CiviCRM embed in WordPress (changed theme and changed it back). Hand applied a patch to make credit card payments work again. Minor newsletter edits.


Again, mostly judo. Nothing special here. Submitted an application for competitive-stream Godan grading in judo. Shook the tree and found an extra victory I wasn’t expecting, but couldn’t find drawsheets for Ontario Open 2014 and Edmonton International 2012. Hope it goes.

  • Judo training: 8×
  • Grand River Rocks: 3× (marginally acceptable), Guelph Grotto: 1×
  • Walk: Marsh Walk at Silver Lake (short)

Food and Drink

  • Went to Prohibition Warehouse and Pub on King with the SE2017 alumni reunion in Waterloo and didn’t get COVID, though after a while I put on a mask…
  • Also Grad House, outside.
  • St. Jacob’s Market Strawberry Festival (June 17) was before there were good strawberries and was kind of meh. I continue to generally prefer the Kitchener Market.
  • For the grad student picnic, I picked up BBQ chicken, coleslaw, and St. Hubert BBQ sauce at Sobey’s, and David picked up fries (and fish and chips) at Granny Bonn’s. This time I didn’t have time to cook. Chicken worked well for this audience’s dietary preferences.
  • Takeout from Watami Sushi, which was good (but not as good as BC sushi). Haven’t had food from there in years.
  • Red House, excellent (had been there pre-pandemic).
  • Farzi Café in Square One, exceeded expectations: also excellent.
  • Lakeview Tavern & Restaurant, Erinsville: large servings.
Red House, and spread from Oh Graze for SE convocation reception.

June posts

None (30/30 days with work!), though I had the Trip report: 2022 Judo Open Nationals as something I pulled out of my May report.


Minor progress.

Two pictures from Day 1 of Tongariro Northern Circuit (better days to come!).

To do, all from 2021:

  • [February] Tongariro Northern Circuit
  • [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
  • [October] Red Rocks
  • [November] Lunar eclipse
  • [November] Leaving NZ

Even more pictures from 2022:

  • [January] Walking around KW
  • [February] Reading week trip to Montreal
  • [March] Avalanche course
  • [April] Yellowknife (the rest of it)
  • [April] Northland
  • [May] trips 1 and 2 to Montreal
  • [June] Waterloo birbs
  • [July] Iles de la Madeleine
  • [July] Vancouver


I said June was pretty quiet, but it certainly had a lot of work. Anyway, catching up now. Maybe in as few as 7 days I can post a July summary (much more exciting).