November: almost entirely staying put in Wellington

Posted by Patrick Lam on Thursday, December 7, 2023

Table Of Contents

There’s a lot that I have to do right now, so let’s see if I can make this quick. Mostly I stayed put in November, except for a one-week trip at the end of November/beginning of December to New Caledonia. Mechanized travel stats were way down, but walking was average. Tried to go hiking with limited success; we bailed on some trips rather than walk in gale-force winds. In general, November was a post-Discovery Grant month where I made progress on projects and contributed to a PLDI submission with collaborators in Estonia. Maybe this will be my first PLDI paper!

Johnston Hill; Puke Ariki traverse; Levin from Waiopehu Hut; case in Goosanah, Ouvéa, New Caledonia; Trou aux Tortues (no turtles seen); Quartier Asiatique in Noumea.


Still not over! I saw a facebook comment about someone mad about mask mandates in hospitals in Ontario. Well, Canadian life expectancy is a full year less in 2023 than it was in 2019. Why could that be? It seems to me that wearing a mask in a place with sick and immunocompromised people is the least that one can do.

NZ wave is still waving, though probably elevated plateau in Wellington and bumping up and down in Auckland. I’m being relatively but not 100% cautious about being inside these days (i.e. I do eat inside on special occasions). I noticed that there are lots of outdoor dining options in New Caledonia, which makes sense given the climate.

Am currently trying harder than usual to avoid COVID before going to North America on Tuesday. That would be super inconvenient and derail the WFR I signed up for. Who wants that? That means even fewer restaurants than usual (which already isn’t much).


As I said, I contributed to a PLDI submission. Also resubmitted a revision for EMSE. I started to review PLDI papers as well, being on the Program Committee. More paper bidding than reviewing at this stage.

I sent out abstracts for future talks, at Amazon and at the Australasian Software Engineering Summer School. The Amazon talk is quite soon now.

Stephen Kell is on a world tour and visited VUW; I enjoyed his talk on better debugging support for C.

Grad students/mentees/collaborators

Being in New Zealand (or New Caledonia) all month, the only student I met with in-person was Mohammad. I talked to Vinayak weekly and Mohammad on 8 days. Trying to maximize collaboration while he’s here.

Also collaborated for the PLDI paper. There was a lot of communication there to write the paper. I did talk to Mohammad more after submitting the PLDI paper.

I have a new SIGPLAN-M mentee and talked with an existing mentee this month.


Wrote up my final report as Nominations and Elections chair for the Faculty Association General Meeting. Almost completely handed off now.


I am involved in a team that is working on developing a Software Engineering program for Wilfrid Laurier. We got started in November. It’s interesting to be able to design a program from scratch. We are including some changes that I would have liked to do at Waterloo, but it’s harder to make changes to a pre-existing program. To start a new program, they have to commit resources; we are trying to figure out exactly how many resources is reasonable to ask for.


Just a week in New Caledonia, which I’ll talk about next month, as well as the overnight hike to Waiopehu Hut. We also were hoping to do the Southern Crossing, but the November weather is often unfavourable.

Travel planning

Once we were onsite, it felt like there was a lot of missing travel planning for New Caledonia (we had no car for Ouvéa, oops). Even though we had spent a bunch of evenings travel planning for this trip. The main island isn’t too hard, though we didn’t manage to hire the bird guide. Ouvéa is much harder. And we speak French.

I also did some planning for Seattle in December, for judo tournaments next March, for ASESS in Sydney, and for the Judo NZ training camp in Nelson. Air New Zealand has suspended the Auckland-Hobart flight but that just adds a few hours to our routing; there’s no nonstop from Wellington anyway, it’s just a slightly worse connection.

As mentioned above, we planned and executed an overnight tramp to Waiopehu (just a one-hour drive away).

Movement statistics

Mostly staying around Wellington and an average walking amount; no hike longer than 2 days. These numbers do include New Caledonia travel though.

  • 🚶 Walking: 119km on 20 days (about average)
  • 🚲 Biking: 89km on 10 days
  • 🚗 Driving: 364km on 7 days (3 in Wellington, 4 in New Caledonia)
  • 🚌 Bus: 5.8km on 2 days (to the Wellington car rental place)
  • 🚗 Taxi: 58km (airport runs: to WLG and to/from Ouvéa airport, which was just 3000 XPF per way)
  • ✈ Plane: 2,736km (WLG-AKL-NOU-UVE, UVE-NOU)
  • 🚆 Train: 33km (Wellington)
  • 🚡 Cable car: 1.4km (2×)


  • Otari-Wilton Bush to Johnston Hill
  • Whiteria Park
  • Zealandia photo session
  • Puke Ariki traverse: walking 22km with +/-770m elevation on grass is actually tougher than it might seem.
  • Waiopehu Hut: pretty mellow overnight trip with outstanding views over Levin and the Tasman Sea.
me and MP on Johnston Hill; Porirua Harbour from Whiteria Park; smol crab; concrete ammunition storage building; heaps of sheep; Wellington Harbour.


Working away at the archives. Elliott and Nancy are going to Turkey next year so I started processing some old Turkey pictures from our trip in 2015.

Urgup, and cave dwellings in Old Urgup.

We went to Northland in April 2022 between Winter and Spring terms:

Heron interaction; pied stilt got a morsel; Koutu Boulder; me; Otehei Bay view; Ngahua; tamure/snapper.

Also the Queen Charlotte Track in October 2022.

Weka; Schoolhouse Bay campsite; boat at anchor; fencing; Endeavour Inlet; tractor.

Two standalone days in June 2023 and part of another Northland trip:

Australasian little grebes; Wellington Cable Car; tui; Wellington Open; on the beach; Cable Car winding room; NZ Nationals.

Part of the October 2023, Canada tour:

Finally, a kookaburra; flying fox; jacaranda (I think); Bondi Beach.

The List

Probably I processed more pictures than I took.

Old pictures from Cappadocia, 2015:

  • [May] Cappadocia (7)

To do, all from 2021 (days):

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

Even more pictures from 2022:

  • [February] Reading week trip to Montreal -> check completeness, i.e. did I do this already?
  • [April] Northland (4)
  • [May] trips 1 and 2 to Montreal (judo nationals), not on computer yet
  • [August] Colonial Knob, not on computer
  • [September] Napier (2)
  • [September] Motueka (2)
  • [October] Queen Charlotte Track (4)
  • [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] Wanaka Grebes (6)
  • [December] Gillepsie Circuit (4)
  • [December] Mueller Hut (2)
  • [December] Glacier iceberg kayaking
  • [December] Omarama
  • [December] Wellington NYE

And 2023:

  • [January] AMC (6)
  • [May] Montreal and NZ (4)
  • [July] Skyline
  • [July] Wye Creek (2)
  • [August] Petrel Station (2)
  • [August] Rotorua (quick)
  • [August] Ski trip (4)
  • [September] Wellington double rainbow, Zealandia (2)
  • [September] Waterloo/Calgary/Seattle/Squamish
  • [September] Taupō (3)
  • [October] Winnipeg, Scarborough and Sydney (3)
  • [November] Whitireia Park
  • [November] Puke Ariki Traverse
  • [November] Ouvea, Noumea Zoo
  • Various (6)

November posts


Pretty normal month. I found myself winning (i.e. top 10 finish) the Duolingo tournament, which is kind of dumb, but oh well. Doing things to optimize for Duolingo XP does not really correlate well with language learning. One can collect an astounding number of points.

I set up the ancient Synology network attached storage device that I brought over from Canada, though I really use the new one (in Waterloo) more. But this one does provide a backup. I should actually make sure the one here has all the files.


Unfortunately we didn’t manage to go snorkelling in New Caledonia after all.

I also actually picked up the 50mm lens that I bought last month. It can be good for portraits but at f/1.2 you really have to get the focus just right, especially if you pixel peep.

Kind of an unfortunate spending of money: my laptop’s USB port wsn’t working well and the warranty was expiring, so I got a 0800 number. But I had forgotten to change the SIM used for voice calls. Calling 0800 numbers on roaming is $10/minute. I complained so it cost me $5/minute for 40 minutes. Expensive repair. (Except for the phone wait time, the actual physical service was quick next-day).

Online courses

I don’t even like online courses but I’m doing 3 hybrid courses right now! IJF Academy judo instructor, Hybrid Wilderness First Responder, and an AST 2 avalanche course. The IJF Academy is the worst one (bad tech platform, stale refereeing info). I think WFR is OK and the AST 2 might be the best one, but I haven’t meaningfully started it yet.


Bouldering at Fergs once. I try to go at lunchtime on non-judo days so that’s usually Mondays, and then things get in the way. Once a week would be better than once a month.

Did get out to judo pretty often this month, 7×. And I dropped by after picking up the rental car and gave tips on the kata. They didn’t hurt, I guess, because everyone passed.


Started reading/looking at pictures from Trains of Newfoundland by Kenneth G. Pieroway, which I picked up when I was in Western Newfoundland in April.

  • What If? 2 by Randall Munroe. “Additional serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions”.

Entertaining read. People come up with the oddest questions. I haven’t read the first book, but I guess this is more of the same? It is like xkcd, but there is more text. The chapters are short, science-based, and yet zany. It does take surprisingly long to get through 300 pages of short chapters.


Didn’t go out much either. Just working.

New Caledonia:

  • Soleil Levant (Ouvéa): yum! you just eat what they bring you.
  • Beauvoisin (Ouvéa): for a modest fee, they serve you food as well (half board); options are otherwise limited around there. French breakfasts are often perhaps a bit too bread-and-jam for me.
  • Snack Le Dragon (Noumea): pretty sure it’s Vietnamese-owned. Had a yummy duck confit and MP had a serviceable pho.


  • Le Saigon: Average pho, not quite as tasty as I’d like. (We had actually tried to go here the week before and failed: they close at 2).
  • Leuven Belgium Beer Cafe: Chicken and waffles was surprisingly tasty.
Chicken and waffles, Louvain; pho, Le Saigon; duck confit, Snack Le Dragon; supper at Beauvoisin; supper at Soleil Levant.


Well, did stuff for the usual organizations, but different stuff. There was the OAC AGM. Also I am migrating our newsletter mailing list from MailChimp (boo! too expensive!) to buttondown, which is a bit less fully-featured but a lot less expensive.

Speaking of tech, the judo club database was running on old PHP, and upgrading it was painful. Not sure it’s completely fixed for PHP 8.2 yet.

And, in other things that I am surprised to find myself doing, I found myself getting a set of budgetting principles approved for my Scout group. Go figure.


Just staying put and working, and then a trip to a Pacific Island. Pretty ordinary (ha), but good.