October: midway through Fall term

Posted by Patrick Lam on Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Table Of Contents

Status

[update: I was doing so well working on this post early, and then I went to Canada for two weeks and had 0 unscheduled time. Now I’m on planes back to NZ and can finish this post!]

Here we are two months into Fall term. The academic habit of non-teaching summers is hard to escape, even though Waterloo Engineering has always had all three terms as teaching terms. We’re right in the middle of the term and it would be like the start of July at most North American universities: deep summer and campus would be empty of undergrads (also not true at Waterloo).

On the other hand, it is actually November. That’s a bit complicated, since I’m in New Zealand (well, I’m on the plane back to Canada to referee the Quebec Open and Ontario Open tournaments), so it’s almost summer, and it’s getting warmer, and the days are getting longer (yay!). I was sitting in the sun and it was actually warm (well, except for the wind—that’s Wellington.) On the other hand, Winter Is Coming, and I need to start preparing for teaching at some point. But first, I have some service obligations (PhD thesis committees and journal papers to review). The plan: submit an EMSE paper, review all the things, then think about teaching. I did do a TA selection for one of my courses in Winter.

I was disappointed to not manage to submit to ICST. The story just didn’t come together in time, nor in time for OOPSLA. I guess it will be MSR in January. Need to think about the story some more. Sure, there are numbers and results, but it’s really about the story. Humans like stories.

The Air NZ inflight entertainment has 8 episodes on “Uncharted New Zealand”. We’ve been to pretty much all of the places featured in these episodes.

At AKL: Ma te wa. See you in two weeks!

More COVID thoughts

Well, now that I won’t be cutting weight for a while, I could actually eat more food from restaurants. I made weight two weeks ago (60.0kg, breathing in, note the last decimal place). It’s never fun, but I did it. Two weeks later I’m at low 63s which is fine. I would prefer 62s but 63s is OK too.

But still, there’s COVID. So yesterday night we did takeout from Taste of Home. Excellent as always. I had the pork belly on rice. I’m ready to go to Mr. Gos, but not when it’s super full, and there looked to be a line yesterday. Will try to go when there is no line. 5pm is probably a better bet than 6pm.

Dining in Akaroa

New Zealand is having a bit of a wave. Wellington was first, but I think the rest of the country is following. There is some modelling, but we don’t really know how high the wave is going to get or when it will peak. Singapore’s wave wasn’t that high. I didn’t go to judo practice last night, but I also needed to pack. I’ll probably go when I get back. But I’ll ration high-exposure activities. It would be really inconvenient to get COVID before or during this trip to Canada. Who needs that? After returning to NZ I guess it’s less of a (short-term) pain, though still I’m trying to avoid it.

There are no more masks. On domestic flights, almost no masks. This routing to Montreal is through Tokyo Narita, and I can see one mask right now (but there is a drink service going on). Some service staff in retail/hospitality do wear masks, but no customers.

Back in Canada, it looks like there is, again, significantly more COVID in Ontario than Quebec (I think the IHME projections and Prof. Tara Moriarty’s estimates are as good as it gets for data sources). So I’ll be outside most of the time to eat while out and about in Ontario. Even though it’s starting to get cold. Winter isn’t going to be great. I think November is still possible for outdoor eating, barely, especially when it’s not raining.

The latest news about the Omicron vaccines seems to be that they may not be much more effective than the original vaccines, though they will broaden the immunity base. Anyway, January is probably still the best time for booster #5 for me, and I’ll still try to avoid COVID until then. NZ is still showing that the overwhelming majority of reported infections (now 60-70% of infections reported) are first-time infections, though that assumes that both the first and second infections were reported.

I just saw a Twitter thread about the NZ health system and COVID. The verdict is that it seems to have struggled, but basically managed OK. They specifically pointed at 20 hour ED waits in Ontario as examples of systems that have not held on. (In other health system news, the apparently super-effective RSV vaccine seems promising for lowering pediatric ED usage).

October travel

I did used to travel most Octobers for Fall Reading Week. That would usually be to Europe, which is pretty close to eastern North America, really. This October was just the tail end of the Temple Basin trip, and then a quick trip to the Banks Peninsula Track with MP (2 additional nights), NZ judo nationals (weekend), and the Queen Charlotte Track (better part of a week).

Three domestic trips: Banks Peninsula, Christchurch (separate trip), Queen Charlotte Track.

Obligations of living in a democracy

It turns out 2022 was a municipal election year in both Ontario and New Zealand. I therefore was able to, and felt like I was obliged to, vote in both Waterloo and Wellington. (Though New Zealand isn’t like Australia: you are not actually legally obliged to vote).

There were a lot of races and a lot of research to do. And not really party-line votes to make. I emailed some Waterloo Regional Council candidates and got some answers, though for the second time, I received no reply from Jim Erb at the address on his campaign page. He got re-elected.

In Waterloo, many of the choices were fairly straightforward. Much as I don’t think the Regional Chair is awesome, she was the only reasonable choice this cycle. I think there were multiple reasonable candidates for Regional Council for Waterloo, though only one of my choices got elected. For Waterloo mayor I definitely had a preferred choice, and she got elected. Waterloo Ward 7 seemed to have two good choices, and my preferred choice got elected. I think I’m signed up for the French school board, and could find no informatoin about the candidates when I looked.

The Wellington ballot was a bit trickier. I really like the idea of the Single Transferable Vote in principle, but it feels like more work to have to assign ranks to more than just your top candidate. On the other hand, if you like 3 candidates, you don’t have to reject 2 of them; just rank them lower. I think I ranked like 5 candidates for each of City and Regional councils. I’m pretty satisfied with who got elected in Wellington (including two Green Party regional councillors). Take that, Auckland and Christchurch.

In terms of voting mechanics, they worked for me, but doing a proxy vote in Ontario seems like a weird thing to do. You have to trust your proxy to vote faithfully. The postal voting in Wellington worked fine, even if the ballot boxes looked a lot like recycling boxes but orange. (No, Internet voting isn’t secure and should not be a thing).

Voting in New Zealand Council (municipal) elections.

Professional

Again mostly research. The service is hanging over my head (technically, the theses I have to read are at my feet). Final revisions of the HATRA paper, submitted a proposal for Amazon Research Awards (thanks for the tip Clément!), punted ICST (sigh). The EMSE submission on Rust bug patterns is coming along nicely and, I hope, submittable in the next two weeks.

In particular, I put in some long days near the ICST deadline. We had a bunch of data. But I didn’t feel like the data supported a story. Need to figure out specifically the story and then re-collect the data so that we collect the data that investigates the story we want to tell. Am thinking that the story is “the people who proposed mock objects intended that they be used exhaustively for verifying behaviour (mockist view), but no one actually uses them that way; here’s how people actually use them (classicist view),” while not redoing the existing paper on how developers use mocks.

Talked to students on 15 days. Worked on 22 days. Nominally 20 work days in October (including Reading Week, which is nominally not a vacation in itself, but Thanksgiving is). There was NZ Labour Day, which doesn’t count as a vacation day for me, but Thanksgiving does.

Collegiality

Received one more TOSEM paper to review. Am still avoiding reading the PhD theses.

Travels

A walking distance record: Banks Peninsula (35km) plus Queen Charlotte (71km) contributed to my total of 223km this month. Mountaineering at Temple Basin has short approaches so doesn’t contribute much. The record is since I started keeping track in 2020, but likely a personal best for me. As we’ve said before, in Waterloo, usually the bicycle is my primary means of transport. December 2020 was close, with 215km; there were two Great Walks that month. In October, I had two more trips to the South Island (Christchurch) plus flying back from Christchurch to Wellington at the beginning of the month. New modes of travel: waterskiing (first time ever), e-kick-scooter (had to get around Christchurch).

  • 🚶 Walking: 223km on 30 days (personal best since record-keeping began)
  • 🚲 Biking: 54km on 5 days
  • 🚗 Driving: 462km on 5 days (Banks Peninsula Track, plus got rides in Christchurch and Anakiwa)
  • 🚌 Bus: 50km on 4 days
  • 🚗 Taxi: 14.7km (late arrival at WLG; to and from the Interislander ferry terminal)
  • ✈️ Plane: 913km (CHC-WLG, WLG-CHC-WLG)
  • ⛴ Boat: 305km (Queen Charlotte Sounds and the Interislander)
  • ⛷ Waterski: 1km? wasn’t counting
  • 🚡 Cable car: 0.7km (1×)
  • 🛴 Kick e-scooter: 6.1km (reasonable way to get around some parts of Christchurch)
  • 🚆 Tourist train in Christchurch: 4km

Airport travel: Uber back to Kelburn after a delayed flight into Wellington (the only other options were eScooters and walking); #2 bus to WLG; in November, took the Airport Express (AX). We had to take Uber to the Interislander terminal because we left early and arrived late and their shuttle wasn’t running. Well, we could have walked (in the dark), but that’s not awesome.

Also, pretty big distances by boat to get to Picton and to get to the Queen Charlotte Track and Motutapu (which is as far as to the beginning of the Queen Charlotte Track at Ship Cove, just in the Sounds rather than being ashore).

Driving distance this month not bad.

Trip report: Banks Peninsula Track, October 3-4

I figured that since I was already on the South Island, I might plan a walk with MP. We’d been to Akaroa and, in fact, on a short part of this track, back in July 2020—I had also added a visit there after our first Great Walk, the Heaphy. This time we’d do the whole track in the actual season.

We really enjoyed our experience on the Banks Peninsula Track (slogan on the bus: “Walk on the wild side”). This is one of the handful of private walking tracks in New Zealand; we were to do another one, the Queen Charlotte Track, later in October. I know that there’s one near Wellington as well, the Whareama Walk.

Bellbird at Onuku Farm Hostel; Akaroa Harbour chiaroscuro; coastal topography; adolescent seals; out to No Albatross Point; Stony Bay Peak.

Trip report: Christchurch, NZ judo nationals, October 14-17

Aside from COVID, the other that I’d been avoiding restaurants was my goal of fighting in the NZ judo nationals, which was in Christchurch in mid-October.

CHC Tower, Designer Cottage, Government Departmental Building.

To my surprise, there were 9 men in senior -60, and 10 in -66 (which had been surprisingly strong at the South Islands). I’d never seen 9 -60s in this country. Two wins and one loss for bronze. My half of the draw was strong, but did not win finals. The repechage had less-experienced fighters who weren’t much of a challenge for me.

Highly recommend Designer Cottage, an old-school B&B. Got around to taking the Christchurch Tram (it is for tourism, not transit).

Also, there were some people flying out early on Saturday morning. Somehow they didn’t clue into the “being quiet at 5am” thing. Until I knocked on their door and said “It’s 5am. You have to be quiet.” Over the next few days, I got positive feedback from the other guests about that.

NZ 2022 Senior Men -60 podium, Christchurch Tram, post-tournament ice cream, Elizabeth Regina.

Trip report: Queen Charlotte Track, October 22–27

I was hoping to submit a paper to ICST on October 21st. In the end, we didn’t make it, but I had still planned a trip for after the deadline, this time to the Queen Charlotte Track for 71km of hiking.

There were moments of scenicness, and the track was definitely well maintained and fixed up after the tons of rain, but I think Abel Tasman was more scenic on the whole. Day 2 in particular was just kind of long and the scenic parts were separated by kind of flat and long walking. It was great to be out there walking, but hey, we can be picky, right?

Spoonbill; flags at Punga Cove; me and Onahau trig; Blenheim judo; cloudy day on the Queen Charlotte Track.

Planning/Future

I tried to look up my records for the trip planning I’d done in October but only got to it on the third try. I finalized the Queen Charlotte Track bookings (and the Interislander actually refunded me after I noticed there was an AA discount; I’d normally expect them to say “too bad so sad”!) Riding the ferry isn’t the most fun, but it’s not bad. The food on board is expensive and not good.

Last July I was looking for tickets out of Toronto City Centre Airport YTZ and Air Canada had actually briefly just given up on flying out of there. For January’s Coupe Gadbois in Montreal, YTZ is back, and there are some reasonably-priced tickets. Still need to figure out when I’m driving my car back to Waterloo. Also whether I want to bring skis back to Canada.

I also got a car rental for going to McMaster to talk up Waterloo Engineering grad school in November. I actually made it effectively back-to-back with the car I rented personally for the Ontario Open.

Upcoming trips:

  • Quebec Open / Ontario Open / PhD final and comprehensive committees at Waterloo in November
  • Around the Mountain circuit immediately after returning to NZ
  • Gillepsie Circuit in December
  • Coupe Gadbois (Montreal) in January

Outstanding travel planing:

  • SPLASH in Auckland in December
  • Reading Week 2023 in Japan? Thinking about it.
  • Canadian circuit judo tournaments to referee in 2023

Pictures

Falling behind again, having done two more trips accounting for 10 days of pictures in October, oops. However, I am almost done with the Cook Islands from August 2021. The last day of Cook Islands pictures (a tour with Birdman George) are a beast. I have over 1000 pictures from that day. I’m down to 149 now, but that still needs to be halved.

So that’s 10 in and 4 out (though I split the Yellowknife April 7 pictures into three more manageable days), not including the Temple Basin trips. Too many trips, too little picture processing. Can’t really complain about that.

Phare du Borgot (×2); Track towards Island Bay; Taputeranga Island.

Yellowknife sunset; on Frame Lake; "#IloveYK"; Ingraham Trail adventures including Cameron Ramparts; Bald Eagle at Yellowknife Ski Club.

Kea at Arthur's Pass; the team on Temple; Mingha Valley undercast; limited alpenglow; ropework; sunset; playing in the snow on a cloudy day; Temple Basin Lodge; a traverse on Blimit; view of Mount Phipps

The List

To do, all from 2021 (days):

  • [June] Rotorua (airport walk) (3)
  • [July] Hobbiton (2)
  • [July] Aotea (3)
  • [August] Cook Islands (1)
  • [September] Paparoa Track & the Glaciers (7)
  • [September/October] Abel Tasman Coast Track (4)
  • [October] Mt. Cook and Mt. Somers (3)
  • [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 (1)
  • [April] Northland (6)
  • [May] trips 1 and 2 to Montreal
  • [July] Vancouver (2)
  • [July] Cape Cod
  • [August] Brisbane airport walk
  • [August] Colonial Knob
  • [September] Napier (2)
  • [September] Motueka (2)
  • [October] Banks Peninsula Track (4)
  • [October] Queen Charlotte Track (6)

September posts

None

Miscellaneous

More Sylvester the cat sightings, often downstairs at the backpackers (the old patch of grass where he was is somewhat unkempt now). Hate it when there are shards of glass on the Allenby steps.

Acquisitions

The guy at the camera store actually talked me out of getting the filter originally. Then I brought my camera on the Queen Charlotte Track and dropped the lens cap on the boat. The captain noticed and hung on to it, and I got it back at the end of the trip, but I’d really rather not scratch the lens!

  • locking carabiner

I keep on thinking I have just barely enough locking carabiners for multipitch climbs, so I should get some more. They’ve been on sale at Bivouac Outdoor.

  • paper map for Around the Mountain circuit

We don’t really ever look at them, but especially on the AMC, it might be a good backup.

  • ducting for dryer in Wellington

We got a dryer a while ago but the ducting isn’t quite long enough.

De-acquisitions

  • had a mole removed from my face (benign keratosis, thinks the dermatologist). Not free.

Sports

You’d think that I’d have gotten to judo more often with nationals in the middle of the month, but trips. So, 5×, and no bouldering.

Restaurants

Had a late afternoon croissant at le panier in Christchurch, it wasn’t as good as last time. Maybe timing is key. Also got to Fisherman’s Plate in Wellington, which was quite good this time. We hadn’t gotten anything from Upesh Kitchen for a while, but we did, and it was super tasty again, even when it’s not post-lockdown food, as we’d done for the past few times coming out of lockdowns.

  • Grace Patisserie in Wellington: we had 2 cookies but the desserts looked fancy and worthy; I tried again on a Monday and they weren’t open on Mondays.
  • Punga Fern Restaurant at Punga Cove: not so easy to get to, great food, small (but enough for me) portions, crowded; see more in QCT trip report.
  • Cortado in Picton: didn’t expect it, but really good
Only food pic from October: Punga Fern Restaurant.

Books

This classic of Aotearoa literature, described by its publishers as “a Māori novel,” feels surprisingly modern in outlook in some ways (raise your kids with empathy and not by beating them) despite being 39 years from publication. In other ways not so much (so much smoking!). The three protagonists are tremendously flawed, but towards the end, each experience their own healing journeys, and, even if not fully healed of their physical ailments, are psychically made whole.

Yet, despite the book being modern in some ways, it is about life in small-town and off the grid in rural New Zealand, a life that is not the life of the 30% of New Zealanders that live in the super city, Auckland (which, at 1.5 million, is still pretty small on a world scale). The land itself is a presence in the book; while I’ve not lived in New Zealand for very long, some of the descriptions resonate with me. Part of the characters’ arc is about working out their connection, as Māori living in a Pākeha world, to the land. But the book’s worldwide popularity also suggests that people get something out of it when they are on the other side of the world from Aotearoa; I was able to borrow it from the Waterloo Public Library (though only found time to read the version I checked out from the Wellington City Library).

Conclusion

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.