The final part of my USA/Canada trip, and the main purpose of the visit, was attending the 2014 AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence. This was held in Quebec City, Quebec. During the week I spent there I got to hear some amazing speakers, and spent a few evenings exploring the city – in addition to presenting my own work.
Quebec was a fascinating city, it really felt like being in Europe, the food, the street art and the churches were like nothing else I have seen in North America.
After four days in Florida I flew to Boston for a short two day visit.
After checking into my hotel, I spent the first afternoon exploring the Public Garden, Boston Common and CBD area. Boston is one of the birthplaces of the USA and has some amazingly old churches, buildings, and markets. In particular, there was a great mix between the old and the new.
The third and fourth days I spent in Florida were at Disney World.
On the first day there I went to the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios – until rain brought an early end to the day. On the second day I began at Hollywood Studios and then went to Epcot and back to the Magic Kingdom for the Wishes Fireworks.
The video below shows the first minute of the wishes fireworks. The whole show was amazing. Additionally, the photos that follow are from across the two days – but photos and video don’t do the two days full justice, it was such an amazing and unique place to go to.
The more that I’ve lived away from NZ the less I’ve cared about the day-to-day political scandals – also the less I’ve been involved in student politics has also contributed to this.
However, the release of Nicky Hager’s latest book, Dirty Politics, has really opened up how personal and petty NZ politics can be.
The Dim-Post has a good summary of the key issues here.
My main issues with the behaviour it has uncovered are:
the hacking/stealing of data from Labour party computers
the smears against scientists orchestrated by big tobacco PR
the relationship between government ministers and staff and right-wing blogs.
The NZ General Election is four weeks away. The dirt that this book has dug up could have an influence on the outcome of it. I don’t think National will lose, but their sleep walking to victory has become a lot less easy.
Yesterday I went with two friends to Wentworth Falls and the Valley of the Waters in the Blue Mountains. It was near freezing and the winds were below freezing, but it was a beautiful day.
Starting from the conservation hut we began on the short cut track, and cut through to breakfast point lookout. From there through to Wentworth Falls and down, down and down the slack stairs to Wentworth Pass, then back up through the Valley of the Waters. It took us 3 hours 45 minutes. This is the first solid hike I’ve done in quite a while and with the massive climb out of the valley my legs are so sore this morning.
While visiting friends and family in Auckland over the ANZAC day weekend, I went tramping at Karekare with some friends whom I used to work with. It was a beautiful walk, on a beautiful day, through the beautiful wild west coast of Auckland.
We started from Watchman Road and walked up Ahu Ahu Track before returning via Comans Track and cutting through to Karekare Beach.