September: more research, some trips

Posted by Patrick Lam on Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Table Of Contents


That’s one month of Fall term done. Pretty normal month, getting some research done and doing some trips. This summary is late but mostly because I’ve been travelling, not because I’ve been overworked. Congrats to Sruthi on finishing her MMath and presenting some of her work at VISSOFT!

COVID isn’t over?

It feels like everyone thinks that COVID is over, except for some people on Twitter who may perhaps be a bit too alarmist. Still, I’ll take measures to avoid unnecessary risk, because it is most definitely out there, and who needs to be sick? There is definitely still more COVID in Quebec and even more than that in Ontario, as compared to New Zealand. New Zealand has also removed all mandates and I think that MP and I were the only masked people on our recent Christchurch to Wellington flight.

So what does that look like for me today? I’ll avoid crowded restaurants (I’ve heard excellent things about Kisa but I’ll wait until a) I’m not cutting weight and b) a time when it’s not crowded) and I’ll wear an N95 mask indoors if not eating. It really isn’t worth any risk to go to the grocery store. Like, what’s the benefit of being unmasked at Sobey’s or New World? Judo practice is pretty high risk but not doing judo is bad for me. Hopefully we can get some Corsi-Rosenthal boxes to mitigate the risk there; CO2 levels are quite high.

Going forward, I’ll try to monitor community transmission levels and act accordingly.

  • I’m also hoping that we’ll get nasal spray vaccines in 2023, but there’s no real reason to believe that.
  • Early January, when I’m back in Ontario, is probably the optimal time to get the Omicron booster. Let’s hope that it’ll still be effective versus the variants circulating at that time.
  • We aren’t really getting good data on Omicron-era Long COVID. Impossible to say what’s going on there. Possible that there is less long COVID than during earlier eras. Still, clearly, not having had COVID is better than having had COVID.

September travel

Had a weekend trip to Napier to find some sun, plus a weekend in Motueka for a judo tournament, and went to Temple Basin for a New Zealand Alpine Club (Wellington Section) mountaineering trip.

Bell Rock in Hawkes' Bay; Owen on final push to Mount Phipps summit; heron outside Motueka.


No teaching this term, so just research and service. Students are actively working on three projects, of which two are, I hope, going to be submitted soon: one on Rust bug fix patterns, and one on mock objects.

Talked to students on 12 days. One student getting COVID (from a roommate!) delayed progress on their project while they recovered. Worked on 18 days (nominally 21 work days in September); took a legit vacation for one week with not much work on that week.

I submitted to the Compiler-Driven Performance Workshop, which used to be part of CASCON (now merged with WeaveSphere). My abstract got accepted but then I went to register. It costs money now, which is fine. But, at the time, the conference had language on its webpage: “From Data and AI, Cloud, Blockchain, Crypto and NFTs to AgTech, HealthTech and RetailTech, at WeaveSphere we feature over 16 different streams and bring the perspective of academia, research and the industry to it all.” It physically pained me to pay money to such a conference, so I withdrew. (They seem to have scrubbed that language and extended the early registration deadline).



Didn’t. Two PhD theses to read for November, though, plus revisions to a journal paper.

Oh, I did review a TOSEM paper in early September.


Normal Wellington amounts of walking. I did take planes to the South Island twice. Hard to get there by land because of the body of water and the lack of good rail options. Maybe I can take the Picton to Christchurch train someday though.

  • 🚶 Walking: 122km on 27 days
  • 🚲 Biking: 57km on 7 days
  • 🚗 Driving: 1173km on 10 days (4 on the Napier trip, 3 on the South Island trip)
  • 🚌 Bus: 17km on 3 days
  • 🚗 Taxi: 6km (to WLG while overencumbered)
  • ✈️ Plane: 573km (WLG-NSN-WLG, WLG-CHC)

That does include a walk from Wellington airport to our place in Kelburn again (after dropping off MP on her way to Canada).

Takeout from Oikos; tunnels on the way back from WLG (including Mount Victoria); Cuba St.

Trip report: Napier, September 2-5

I’m told that August was really rainy in Wellington, and indeed, second lowest number of sunny days between May 1 and August 8 since records began. It was certainly forecast to be rainy on the Canadian Labour Day weekend, and it was too late to get cheap plane fares. But Napier was forecast to be sunny, and Hawkes’ Bay/the East Coast were one of the few regions of New Zealand we hadn’t been to. It was just a 4 hour drive away, and we could rent a car for $60/day from Omega Rental Cars. We got a midlife-crisis-red Mazda Demio from Omega which was slightly more upscale than our green Mazda 2 back home: the rental car could be unlocked from afar. Got about 5.8L/100km, which is maybe a bit better than the Mazda 2.

To split up the drive, we stayed at the Dannevirke Holiday Park on Friday night. The GPS took us over the Remutaka, which I prefer to avoid. In Dannevirke, our cabin was great and quite affordable, and the holiday park was quiet. Though, now that I have my CO2 meter, I realize that the cabin really isn’t very ventilated. Not a COVID risk with just us in the cabin, but high CO2 isn’t awesome. Was also able to do final edits on our HATRA submission en route.

We were looking for the Saturday market in Napier, but there seemed to be a huge crowd at Waipukurau for their Spring Market Day. Should have stopped there instead. We also went to both the Napier and Hastings markets but there was a lot of overlap; one would have been enough.

Napier farmers' market; art deco architecture; Ahuriri Estuary heron and spoonbill.

The National Aquarium of New Zealand was worth a visit. Good pictures during penguin feeding. Even our wimpy 55-210 lens could get some good shots.

Water dragon; terrapins; little blue penguins.

Napier, Hastings, and the surrounding area exceeded expectations, and we managed to do a couple of walks. (MP wasn’t so excited by the Art Deco buildings). There’s still at least a couple more walks, and then there’s Gisborne, which is another 3 hours away (so probably a flight, not a drive, from Wellington). And it was mostly sunny, achieving our goal. Our airbnb host Frances was great too.

Windy day on Te Mata Peak; chiraoscuro; looks climbable; above treeline on Bell Rock tramp.

Trip report: Motueka

Next up, the South Island Championships in Motueka. I’d driven through before (on my way to Takaka), but not been there for any amount of time. This time, I’d bought a plane ticket well in advance, and reserved a car with NZ Rent a Car Nelson for $25/day (wow!). Our airbnb hosts Andrea and Bruce were quite friendly and it was a pleasure to stay with them near the tournament site (not that Motueka is that big). Their breakfast was also first class.

I fought in -66kg here. It was surprisingly tough and I finished 3rd out of 4. Another bronze medal.

Sunday was a short day and I got an Egg Benedict donut at the Smoking Barrel afterwards. Savory donuts are kind of weird but I liked it. Then walked around Nelson (including Japanese gardens and out to Christ Church Cathedral on the hill at the end of the CBD) before the flight back to Wellington. Forgot to get gas, but had enough time to do so when the guy at the rental place reminded me.

Motueka sandspit; sheep; chicken at airbnb; Christ Church Cathedral in Nelson.

Blurb: North Island Championships

I tried water loading to get to -60kg. Made it to 61.5kg. Oops. Won’t do that again (and one gets so cold in these NZ indoors after drinking 6L of water). I thought -66 looked significantly less tough than at the South Islands (all the good -66s are in Christchurch), but I also thought I’d actually referee seniors for once.

This tournament was in Kapiti, so much easier to get to (no Cook Strait in the way). But I couldn’t make it on Sunday because of the next trip.

Trip report: Temple Basin

The 7AM flight seemed like a good idea at the time. But it really wasn’t great, especially with Daylight Saving Time starting that day. Anyway, I took an Uber to the airport (too much gear and too early), flew to Christchurch, and waited around for the rest of the party so that we could carpool to Temple Basin. In the meantime, I set up a workstation at a table in the airport, with quite good air quality (500ppm CO2), and read thesis revisions and paper drafts.

Arthur's Pass kea, Mount Phipps, windy boarding at WLG (hold onto your hat!), good air at CHC.

The Temple Basin trip was good mountaineering around Arthur’s Pass. The peaks weren’t super challenging, but there is more pitching than I’m used to. People also use technical ice tools more often than I usually do in North America; maybe the typical routes also are a bit steeper and icier. Anyway, we climbed Phipps (pretty long day), Blimit (cloudy), and Temple (great day). Did a bunch of skills refreshers too. Thanks to Stephen Hunt for organizing the trip!

Arthur's Pass kea, Mount Phipps, windy boarding at WLG (hold onto your hat!), good air at CHC.

Oh, and the Temple Basin lodge is quite civilized. You can pay for Internet which is actually good. And the food is excellent. The staffing model seems to be: they hire a manager, and then the rest of the staff comes up when they want to and volunteer in exchange for room and board at the lodge.

It also wasn’t very crowded at end of season, with the 6 of us, and then the two Matts taking a mountaineering course through NZSSI, and another two people taking some course.

Mount Rolleston; evenings at Temple Basin Lodge.

There does seem to be a gap between what we did (not that hard) and the next harder thing, which is probably Rolleston. That seems to be best done with an overnight 3 hours in, leaving a 9 hour day on summit day.


In September, I did some planning for:

  • getting back to NZ from Canada after the Ontario Open/back to Canada in January
  • Around-the-Mountain Circuit (Taranaki) immediately after flying back to NZ in November. (Jetlag? Nothing a good hike can’t fix).

As always, the travel planning involved some changes. I didn’t manage to book YYZ-NPL (New Plymouth, new-to-me airport), so I booked YYZ-AKL and then separately AKL-NPL. Realized I should have booked the domestic segment as flexichange so that I could book the 3pm and fly the noon in case there was no delay. Talked Air New Zealand into refunding the ticket as I couldn’t self-serve a refund within 24 hours and the phone lines were clogged. Then, Air Canada did a 25 minute schedule change for YVR-AKL which allowed me to change my YYZ-YVR flight to anytime that day; instead of 6:30PM I chose to fly at 10:00AM, giving me 11 hours to visit Vancouver.

We also made arrangements for the Around the Mountain circuit, which is currently broken (slips), but should be fixed by then. Then the in-laws will be around after the end of the trip.

Upcoming trips:

  • New Zealand judo nationals, October 14-16
  • Queen Charlotte Track, after ICST deadline, October 22-26

Outstanding travel planning:

  • boat for Queen Charlotte; should do that soon! (Also, should check I haven’t already done it)
  • SPLASH, Auckland, December
  • Gillepsie Circuit, December


Making steady progress here, though less than in August. Processed 7 days of pictures. Have 2 new days, and 2 more in Motueka just from phone pictures. Fortunately I did Temple Basin pretty much in real time. Those are on the gallery already but I’ll list them in October.

Tongariro Northern Circuit

Day 2 is the famous one which intersects the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, but we still liked days 3 and 4. They are more low-key though. At the end of day 3, near Waihohonu Hut, there are neat rock formations, kind of hoodoo like, and it is near some whio (blue duck) territory. Day 4 can include the Tama Lakes, which are a good side trip.

Waihohonu Falls, Waihohonu Hut, Upper Tama Lakes, Taranaki Falls, me w/Ngauruhoe.

Cook Islands

There’s one outlier from Wellington there, but sure. I have 8GB of photos from a bird tour on Atiu, but I need to have 8GB free on my laptop drive to be able to process those, and I don’t, until I process more of the backlog. (Currently: 4.6G free).

Chattering Kingfisher/Ngotare, Rimatara Lorikeet/Kura, Eastern Rosella, Air Raro fleet.

Iles de la Madeleine

A compostelle-style trail on the Îles de la Madeleine? Sounds cool. Well, it wasn’t that fun, with mostly not so scenic road walking on the segment we tried. Some birds and insects though. There’s a bunch of lighthouse and bird pictures to come still.

Terns, belvedere on Île Centrale, variable darner, sparrow.

The List

To do, all from 2021 (days):

  • [June] Rotorua (airport walk) (3)
  • [July] Hobbiton (2)
  • [July] Aotea (3)
  • [August] Cook Islands (2)
  • [September] Sea to Sky II
  • [September] Paparoa Track & the Glaciers (7)
  • [September/October] Abel Tasman Coast Track (4)
  • [October] Mt. Cook and Mt. Somers (3)
  • [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 (2)
  • [April] Yellowknife (the rest of it)
  • [April] Northland (6)
  • [May] trips 1 and 2 to Montreal
  • [July] Iles de la Madeleine (1)
  • [July] Vancouver (2)
  • [July] Cape Cod
  • [August] Brisbane airport walk
  • [August] Colonial Knob
  • [September] Napier (2)
  • [September] Motueka (2)

September posts

Two posts; well, one submission for a government consultation and one summary of my interactions with Immigration New Zealand.


  • MP got some hiking boots at Kathmandu when we were in Napier. $100 off a $250 purchase. The boots were $250. Good deal!
  • A plastic box, to store gear in. Nope, not exciting, but useful.
  • I got an office key at VUW good for the next few months.
  • Still no eduroam on my laptop; I tried to fix it and now it doesn’t even autoconnect to wifi.


Typical amount of judo (6×) and got to the bouldering wall 2× at Fergs last month (it’s not great, but it’s convenient). Will try to do more bouldering going forward also.

Hadn’t seen Sylvester the cat much in August but saw him a bit more now. He’s been known to go into the backpackers. Maybe it’s the improved weather.

The King is back.

There was a 5.5 earthquake but I totally missed it. I was just coming back from judo but I don’t think I was outside at the time.


  • Sweet As Cupcakes at Napier/Hastings markets: yum!
  • The Forge in Dannevirke: good Mexican egg & quiche, dessert so-so
  • Lanna Thai in Motueka (“I’d go there twice” and then did, but as part of a group dinner the second time).
  • Smoking Barrel in Motueka (fancy donuts; I had an eggs benedict donut)
  • Darfield Dairy: kind of ludicrously large ice cream cones
  • Temple Basin Lodge: not a restaurant, but really good!

I had fish and chips in Masterton. They weren’t that good.

Delicious cupcakes; dumplings from Temple Basin Lodge; Mexican egg from The Forge; Egg Benedict donut from Smoking Barrel.


I’ve started the bone people but am about halfway through right now.


I guess that if I’m not careful, Fall term will just fly by. I am making progress, though. I guess that’s what it’s about: just make progress and do trips. Will have to start thinking about Winter term in mid-November after I’m back from Canada.