What a week. This past Tuesday and Thursday it turned out that we didn’t have our regular meeting at UFRJ, but instead we went to a conference on sharing ideas about safety and emergency preparedness in Rio which Professor Orlando had organized. There we met the sub-secretary of the Defesa Civil here in Rio who made us an invitation to visit the Centro de Operações later in the week. This center was designed together with IBM to be a main control and monitoring center for all of the traffic, weather, crime, etc. forces here in Rio. The technology they had there was pretty neat, and hopefully we can build up this relationship to do some really interesting work with our capstone project.
In other academic-related news, we got our first real assignment for one of our classes at ENCE. We are studying queueing theory at the moment, and our project is to identify a problem that could be solved (or improved) with the application of queueing theory, collect data on it, anlayze that data using some statistical programming software (probably R, which we will need to learn first), and then write up a report- due Oct. 5. In other words, we have some work to do. I’m thinking about investigating the check-out lines at a specific supermarket here, Mundial. People wait outside to be the first ones in in the morning, and even though they have upwards of 30 check-outs I would say, there is still a significant wait to get processed no matter what hour of the day it is.
Thursday night we celebrated our friend Luciana’s birthday by having dinner at Devassa and then going to the CS meeting. It was also the going away dinner for Swappy, a friend of ours who is moving back to India. The group will miss him and Leo, who is moving back to Campo Grande soon. Kevin is also waiting to hear this week whether he will have to go back to Belgium because of the strike situation at UFRJ. I’ve really grown to love our group of friends here, and I hope our little family doesn’t fall apart.
Luciana also invited us to her home, in a town about 40 minutes outside Rio, for an authentic churrasco (Brazilian barbeque) with her family. We took the bus from Centro, and I expected the city to thin out into trees and countryside like it tends to do fairly quickly in Charlottesville, but the city is so expansive that I couldn’t tell where the city limits ended or where one town stopped and the next began. We saw a different side of Rio there in Luciana’s neighborhood. It was poorer and richer in different ways. The community doesn’t have as much money, but it is the kind of place where everyone recognized Lu as we walked down the street and they gather and live together under the hot, hot sun. It was authentic compared to the touristy-chic style of Zona Sul. We went to the market to get fresh meat and vegetables. Everyone was put to work cooking and cleaning and preparing the food. Luciana’s uncle had a modern-day sort of jukebox where we could choose 2 songs for every 1 real we added so we rocked out and stood around eating and drinking beer from 2pm to around 9 at night. Luciana’s mother invited us back for feijoada de camarão (shrimp feijoada) sometime in the near future, and I would absolutely love to go back. The bus ride home killed Lu’s birthday present of a bottle of whisky and we all returned to Nayra’s to wind down and keep relaxing with friends. Keia and I were still exhausted from the night before, so we went home early to get some good rest. Today we are helping Joe move to an apartment outside of the pousada. He won’t be too far away, the place is near Arpoador (the point between Copacabana and Ipanema). Keia and I are thinking about moving out to an apartment in the next month or so as well.
Lots of love to everyone here and back home,