March: lots of good news

Posted by Patrick Lam on Friday, April 14, 2023

Table Of Contents

I was waiting for a lot of professional and personal news in March. For all of these things, I’d done the work a few months back, and then it was out of my hands. I’m really grateful that everything that was actually important went about as well as it could have.

  • Amazon Research Award granted: “Statically inferring contracts from assertions and tests”.
  • Selected to referee at Canadian judo nationals in May (my first time).
  • Empirical Software Engineering submission got “major revisions”.

A good month! Aside from that, I had weekend trips on 3 weekends of 4 (plus going to Toronto), and stayed put otherwise.


Nothing to say about it this month. Still monitoring the news. You’ll be able to see that I have gone to quite a few restaurants. Often the air quality is not too concerning. Sometimes it is.

Mostly, I monitor the CO2 level and am wearing a mask indoors unless refereeing. When there is too much CO2 I use my powers of persuasion to have doors opened, which has worked, and surely helps a bit (risk isn’t binary). But in such cases it is also wise to wear a mask.


This month had a lot of work: 26 days. It was a workday-heavy-month, though, counting 23. Again, most of my work was teaching and service, though there was the ICSE submission in there as well. I would really like to be able to get to thinking about the Amazon collaboration and about the talks that I’ll give on the West Coast tour, but exams first.

Let’s say that I talked to current and potential students on 7 days. Sometimes I texted about paper edits.


Moh and I submitted a paper to ICSE about analyzing WebAssembly. I think it’s a solid paper. But conference paper submissions are always a crapshoot. We’ll see.

The Copilot paper continues to gather interest; we got an email from a Nature Technology journalist and answered some questions on a call.

This year I need to apply for the NSERC Discovery Grant again. I went to a pair of workshops about the Equity/Diversity/Inclusion content they’re looking for. The information was useful, though I wonder if I could have just read the text and saved 2 hours.


Except for a couple of leftover lectures in April, March concluded most of the classroom delivery for Winter 2023. Now I just have to set final exams and coordinate marking.

The second ECE 453 quiz didn’t go as well for the students as the first one. It was probably too long. I added 20% to everyone’s mark.

I’ve been writing after-action reports for ECE459 lectures. It takes a bit of time but maybe will help if I want to do the flipped approach again in Winter 2025. Still have lots of time to think about that.

I made cookies for my classes.

Chocolate chip cookies.

I did one Walk as a Service for a fourth-year Computer Engineering student who was wondering about what to do in life. Usually I like to ask questions and hope they lead somewhere.

Grad students

I recommended admission for two grad students to start in September. They are currently Awaiting University Approvals, which is routine. I hope they come.

One of my students said they didn’t cook. I held a cooking seminar at my place. Maybe that will better equip them. I also had an end of term dinner and two alumni came, which was nice, along with two of my current students.

Cooking seminar: ground beef and vegetables for dinner.


The University of Waterloo now has an Eagle Staff. I went to the Eagle Staff Ceremony, which was well-attended.

Everyone evaluates everyone all the time. In this case, I was an external examiner for a PhD thesis at the University of Technology Sydney (Australia) and three Hong Kong Research Grants Council proposals. I didn’t get any NSERC Discovery Grants to review this year. The thesis took sustained effort over 3 days to read and report on.

It’s hiring season. I’m not on the hiring committee (DACA in Waterloo-speak) but I do try to meet with the candidates and, when possible, go to the talks. (Often the talks conflict with my lectures, though I realized that I could go to the first 10 minutes and get a sense of the talk, at least).

I also attended the last SE curriculum committee meeting that Derek chaired, as a guest, where the committee approved extra flexibiilty for co-op sequences for 4A students. If all the committees above it approve, students will be able to do 4A in either Spring or Fall of their fourth year.

There was also the SE Capstone Design Symposium, with a couple of good projects. (So many people! Definitely wouldn’t go there without a mask.) I also served as co-consultant for an ECE capstone design project working on a static analysis tool; it won a prize at a pitch competition.

The FAUW Nominations and Elections Committee didn’t manage to find enough candidates to run for the Board. I intend to say something about that at the next General Meeting.

As usual, I had meetings with my SIGPLAN-M mentees.


I stayed in Waterloo 0 weekends out of 4 in March. Only weekend trips, though; I was in town for all weekdays (sometimes leaving early on Friday). Distances, from least to most: Toronto, Kingston, Laval, Edmonton. This schedule has been doing a good job of making sure I’m not working all the time, even though it is a heavy teaching term. The flip side is that it always feels like I’m slightly behind. Oh well.

RMC Open, Kingston, April 4

After a 2021–2022 season without tournaments, Judo Ontario and the clubs in Ontario are organizing tournaments again in 2022-2023. In 2021-2022, I think that I refereed in December 2021 (in Quebec) and fought in the 2021–2022 provincial championships, as well as the open nationals.

Snowy morning in Kingston.

Anyway, there was an RMC Open in Kingston. It was a one-day event. In an effort to build more of a referee community in Ontario, I organized a dinner the night before. Being in Kingston, most people also came in the night before. It was challenging to find a place that would take a reservation for 10 on a Friday night in Kingston, but I did manage to.

The tournament went smoothly. We had two mats running and went for the whole day, with about 100 fighters. Multiple entries per fighter, including ne-waza (groundwork matches), meant that there was a fair number of matches. We were super grateful that Eric came from Quebec and brought another Quebec referee; the number of Ontario referees is dire.

What was also challenging was driving in the snow without winter tires. I figured that the number of times I would drive in the snow this winter would be close to 0. It was actually 1 (well, Friday and Saturday). Mostly, driving slowly was OK. I got stuck at an intersection on Saturday morning; with help from a passerby, we dug the car out. It’s not actually the tires: it’s the centreline of the car that gets stuck.

On the way back, I got pretty bored, and had a talk with Google Assistant about what it knew about me, and about distances between various places.

Edmonton International

Full writeup:

Warmups, and a match.

This was the first time I’d refereed in Edmonton. I competed there in 2012 (bronze) and 2015, but had never gotten around to refereeing.

They had the “Junior Referees” (sub-National-level) do the U10 and U12 matches and we started around noon with the U14s, going for about 7 hours. They still summoned us all in the morning. Sure, team solidarity.

Should the U10s and U12s be part of this tournament? Takes 3 hours, junior referees have a role, and the kids really like it. Makes a long day.

Apart from that, not much to say about the tournament itself. It ran smoothly, i.e. with no unnecessary waiting times. Not something that is obvious except in its absence, but I notice and appreciate it! Air quality in the mall was also excellent. It really is built for this many people, unlike smaller enclosed spaces.

I didn’t see much of the mall, either. We did go out for drinks on Saturday night after the tournament. Tournament organizers supplied us with pizza since the tournament ended at 7, so I just shared some nachos at the pub. I am going to name and shame “1st And” at the West Edmonton Mall, which included an “optional tip” and then also the machine suggested an extra 18%. Being a bit of a pain in the ass, I noticed it after paying and got the server to give me back $4. Double charging is not right.

Congrats on Anne-Laurence, our Judo Ontario Referee Committee chair, on passing her National A referee evaluation! A necessary step in rebuilding the referee corps in Ontario.


No owl, but a red-bellied woodpecker near the reported owl hangout.

As I mentioned in my Japan trip report, we had booked an Air Do flight HND-CTS and not taken it, and the online cancellation didn’t work due to them complaining about an expired credit card. (That should not have been the case.) We tried to call them on the day of travel but they didn’t have phone service in English. Which is fine: we’re in Japan, after all. Fortunately, they will also process refunds up to 30 days after travel. So I would impose on my Japanese-speaking friends to call for me. They were in Toronto, so it was off to Toronto for me.

After having pancakes at my neighbours’, and unsuccessfully looking for the screech owl at Bechtel Park, I drove to Toronto to visit Marco and Blake (and to get some work done) in the afternoon. Then I picked up some books I had lent Jeremy. I had seen him before heading to Japan, but I was not going to lug books around Japan. And then I visited M-A and Asako, bringing some green tea cookies from Japan. It was certainly a day full of social events. Almost as if there was no pandemic.

Championnat provincial, Laval

Full writeup:

Saturday morning: dawn in Laval (getting breakfast) and referee meeting.

This weekend I went to Laval to referee the so-far-biggest-ever Quebec judo provincial championships.

I took the GO bus from campus at 12:52, just missed the 14:00 bus to Pearson, and caught the proposed 14:25 connection getting to Pearson at 14:50. I tried to talk Air Canada into letting me onto the 16:00 flight to Montreal, but, as I said, I had booked from Toronto City Centre. I’d have to pay $113. This was not worth $113 to me. I got on the UP Express and get a delayed flight notification, and then a further delayed flight notification. Also, the two previous YTZ-YUL flights had been cancelled that day (which I had pointed out to them at Pearson without success). I took the UP Express back to Pearson (the guy at Union said “yeah just don’t tap anywhere and you’ll be charged the maximum fare for a one-way”) and I said to the Air Canada check-in agents “hey, you’re having a bad YTZ day, your flight is delayed 80 minutes,” and they put me on the 17:00 plane to Montreal. (Then the OPUS machines at YUL are all broken, but I bought a bus ticket at the metro.)

It was good to be refereeing at this tournament. It also, as I’d expect of a Quebec tournament, ran flawlessly.

My only complaint was that it was inside an indoor tennis venue. I get that it’s hard to find a large enough venue. The issue with this venue was abysmal air quality: design capacity is, say, 50. Actual attendance was about 1000. CO2 got up to 4500ppm on Saturday until I got them to open some doors, at which point it dropped to 3100. They opened the doors proactively on Sunday and CO2 only got up to about 2500. I didn’t want a repeat of Abbotsford and wore my mask when not out on the mat refereeing. (Also, a photographer pointed out that the lighting was terrible too. I wonder how that compares to hockey rinks; we do know that the air in hockey rinks is terrible.)

Travel planning

I didn’t really have much time to do travel planning this month, but I did need to plan the trips that I was going on, specifically accommodation in Edmonton and Laval.

Eric had booked a terribly-rated hotel in Edmonton; for about $15/night more (split among the two of us), I booked an basement-suite airbnb in the suburbs with 2 bedrooms. Modern place and good for our needs, though I would really hate actually living out there. I do think I’m good at optimizing travel! Though not for low cost.

I also stayed at an airbnb in Laval. It was not far from the original tournament venue, but a bit farther from the tennis club (10 minute drive), so I appreciated a ride.

In Laval, I got advised to go referee outside of Canada, so I got myself invited to the Australian nationals. I started travel planning for that. I do have an itinerary, but I should actually go ahead and book the tickets. It’ll be Canadian nationals in mid-May, and then Australian nationals in early June.

We changed MP’s flight back to New Zealand to be a few days later than it was originally. It happened to be free due to an Air New Zealand schedule change. Also, after getting the news about being selected for the Nationals, I booked a ticket to New Zealand for after Nationals.

Movement statistics

The amount of walking was again disastrously low. The taxi was pricey but there weren’t a lot of options. The UP Express roundtrip is interesting.

  • 🚢 Walking: 24.5km on 14 days
  • 🚲 Biking: 205.3km on 23 days
  • πŸš— Driving: 1282km on 10 days (Kingston, Toronto, 100km other)
  • 🚌 Bus: 215km on 2 days (Pearson)
  • πŸš† LRT: 12km
  • πŸš— Taxi: 171km (Pearson, West Edmonton Mall to airbnb)
  • ✈ Plane: 6,432km (YYZ-YEG, YYZ-YUL roundtrips)
  • πŸš† Train: 45km (UP Express roundtrip)
  • πŸš‡ MΓ©tro: 8km


Did some of the 50 gigabytes of Japan photos, as well as miscellaneous photos from the archives. I think I reduced the number of unprocessed photos over this month.

Japan, February 2023:

Torii on the Nakasendo; chestnut rice at Magome; fancy Magome house; MP sitting and relaxing as directed; bamboo grove; conical hats in Magome; old notice board; dinner at the Kameyama; a shinkansen pulling in.

Tekapo, Aoraki, Mount Somers, October 2021:

Alpenglow on The Footstool; chaffinch; Mount Wakefield and Aoraki; Lake Tekapo and mountains; MP; Hooker Valley from the Red Tarns; the old Empress Hut

Vancouver, July 2021:

Mountainous near Vancouver; YVR.

The List

Almost done with 2021:

  • [January] Zealandia, January 4/14/18/Wellington Butterfly (23), Zealandia (April, June, September, November), Wellington Sunset (November), lens tests (November)

  • [September] Paparoa Track & the Glaciers (7)

  • [September/October] Abel Tasman Coast Track (4)

Even more pictures from 2022:

  • [January] Walking around KW
  • [February] Reading week trip to Montreal
  • [April] Northland (6)
  • [May] trips 1 and 2 to Montreal
  • [July] Vancouver (2)
  • [August] Brisbane airport walk
  • [August] Colonial Knob
  • [September] Napier (2)
  • [September] Motueka (2)
  • [October] Queen Charlotte Track (6)
  • [November] New Plymouth (4 days with more than a few pictures)
  • [November] Radome/Red Rocks
  • [November] Remutaka overnight (2)
  • [December] Kereru (03/12), Zealandia (05/12)
  • [December] Auckland
  • [December] New Lens Day
  • [December] Wanaka Grebes (6)
  • [December] Gillepsie Circuit (4)
  • [December] Mueller Hut (2)
  • [December] Glacier iceberg kayaking
  • [December] Omarama

And 2023:

  • [January] AMC
  • [February] Japan (11)

March posts

There was also the COVID infodump but I consider that to be a February post.


Presumably with more staying at home I would do more life maintenance? Well, maybe.


  • affordable tie clip at Hong Kong Fashion, after losing my old one
  • gloves, take 2: MEC T2 Warmer Ski System Gloves, after losing my previous ski gloves
  • North Face Jim Beanie and SAXX underwear, after losing my tuque and deciding that some of my underwear should be retired.
  • had broken spokes on my folding bike wheel replaced
  • shoehorn
  • Lenovo Legend 5 Gen 7 for MP (receiving the delivery was somehow difficult; I didn’t hear the guy the first time and almost had to leave the house before his second visit)
  • de-acquisition: old expired prescriptions

I attempted to transplant some potted plants but they really aren’t thriving. Apparently I just don’t get it.

I’m rough on my belongings and my case was broken again. I tried to 3D print another case, but at the University, either they can print it for you and it would have cost $40, or you find the 3D printers being idle and you start printing them. Haven’t succeeded yet. But Krazy Glue works for now.

I also repacked all my gear (e.g. using a new plastic box), and found my godan diploma.


None, except for one Walk as a Service.


This was a more reasonable month for exercise than the first two months of the term. I got to the climbing gym 3Γ— and to judo practice 3Γ—. Still less than ideal, but getting there; more than 0 and more than in February. I didn’t make it to judo practice mostly due to volunteering-related committments; once was the faculty candidate dinner, and once was preparing a midterm.


The usual: Judo Ontario Referee Committee and Ontario Alliance of Climbers. Also a bit more than usual with the 21st Waterloo Scout Group, namely section visits.


This is what happens when one travels 4 weekends out of 4.

  • Grizzly Grill, Kingston: pretty average food and indifferent service
  • The New Massey House, Clarington: I enjoyed the tzaziki!
  • 1st And, Edmonton: named and shamed above
  • Belgian Beer Cafe, Edmonton International Airport: good selection of, well, Belgian beer; tarried here and didn’t make it to the Maple Leaf Lounge
  • Mad Over Spices, Waterloo: sample size of 1 so far, but promising and close to my place
  • Proof Kitchen + Lounge, Waterloo: haven’t been here for years, but still good
  • Sowon Korea Dining next to campus: excellent indoor air quality!
  • Red House, Waterloo: big (yet tasty) meal with faculty candidate
  • Chez Lionel Laval: big (yet tasty) meal with referees

Also a sausage muffin and cheese curds from 7-11. Not as good as in Japan, but provided calories.

Ribs at Grizzly Grill; gyro pita at The New Massey House; lots of food from Mad Over Spices; brunch at Proof; bad life choices at 7-11 at YYZ; Chez Lionel tartare and beef cheeks.


Still reading Before the Dawn. Have finished Book 1. The shogun has resigned.


I could use more months like this, even if there was a lot of work. It’s nice to get good news.