Rio's Rainy Season

It's the weeks leading up to Carnaval in Rio and it's the rainy season. It's raining. It's warm, but not too warm. Do you swim in the beautiful ocean when it's raining? Sure, why not? I haven't swam in the ocean yet, but I will. I haven't seen Cristo Redentor yet, but I will.

A new friend told me about Blocos in Rio which will be interesting. Blocos are a block party with tons of people in the street. The music is samba. It's something pretty unique. My friend told me that between Christmas and Carnaval is pretty much mired by parties. Imagine the entire month of January being a slow month because people are partying too much. I could deal with that. In Seattle, January is a fairly slow month usually because it's too cold. But that's never stopped me from working, mostly it has stopped me from partying.

Lavandarias. It's time for a talk about laundry. I'm wearing swimming trunks right now because of a laundry problem that has been following me since Friday. I've been wearing dirty clothes for 4 days now. You can blame this on me not being prepared, but that's not the real story. I have 4 sets of clothes. Like my father said, "shirt/pant/short/sock/day". So on Friday I have one set of clean clothes. Time to do laundry, right? It's São Paulo's anniversary, so the lavandaria is closed. No problem, they'll be open tomorrow. Saturday I show up on their doorstep and they are closed again. I go to a different lavandaria six blocks away. They quote me 100 Reals ($50). I'm ready to pay the extortionary rate because I don't want to wear dirty clothes for 2 days. They say, your clothes will be ready on Monday morning. It's 10am on Saturday. Could you please finish them by 5pm? Não. I lost it quietly and walked out of there with my dirty clothes. 100 Reals and 2 days? Remember that laundry in America involves $5 in quarters and 1.5 hours. I take the bus to Rio and arrive at 7pm. Lavandaria is closed of course, because they close at 5pm. How many laundry's survive only being open 9-5? So I buy some clothes to wear. This morning I go to the lavandaria at 10:30 and I hand over my clothes. It's only 30 Reals. 5pm tomorrow. Can you wash them by tomorrow morning? Não. She thinks I don't understand what she's saying. Amanha cinco tarde. It must take 16 hours to wash clothes at that lavandaria.

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Going back

I want to go back to Brasil next month for H2HC which is a simultaneous bilingual security conference. I've heard good things. It seems unlikely that I'll make it. I have a lot to do this fall and that would eat a month. It seems more reasonable for me to spend a month in January. You know what that means.

A month in Brasil! I am looking forward to it so much. I'm listening to Brazilian Portuguese everyday and I hope to learn enough to understand when I listen to a fast conversation. How do you do that? It's difficult. My plan is to immerse myself before I go. I'm going to read 1 paragraph per day and I'm going to listen to 2 hours of Brazilian Portuguese per day. That might not sound like a lot, but when you're working and your brain feels like it's stretching to soak up more information, 3 hours is going to be really difficult.

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A Month after Brasil

It's been a month since I went to Brasil. I am planning on going back, learning as quickly as I can. It's likely that I won't be able to make it back until next winter, but I will plan on it. I need to stay in touch with the friends I made over there. There are many conferences that I can attend to make my stay work-related, but the plane ticket is my main expense. I'm planning on keeping my Brasilian telephone number and giving it to my friends so that they can call me for cheap or free. Of course they can call me on Skype for free as well. We're lucky that we live in such a well-connected society, it's just up to us to stay in touch.

A video I watched today said that Vila Prudente is a favela. I actually visited that neighborhood while I was there and didn't think it was a favela. If that is the definition of a favela, then my eyes deceive me. Certainly the neighborhood may be much poorer than some of the neighborhoods I visited, but it looks quite beautiful (see the street view if you want to know what I mean). Maybe that is the definition of the favela, poverty in a beautiful place. It didn't connect with me that there would be any crime in that neighborhood. The video is about how the residents are getting people involved with documentary films.

What's new with me? Well, since I'm back in Seattle, I may start up yet another blog at (not started yet) which will keep a little more info on my day to day and will collect all the other blogs. One problem I have is that I have too many blogs. In one way it's good to separate topics but on the other hand most people who visit my blog are looking for me rather than my topic. I would love to attract more people interested in my subject matter but maybe I should post more subject matter. I can do that.

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Back from Brasil

I finally made it back to Seattle, so I wanted to write a short overview of things from the perspective of being back in Seattle. São Paulo is so very different from Seattle. In Seattle, there are no huge walls or fences around the houses. There are no doormen to the apartments. Most of our parks don't have fences around them. Our protesters are still encamped at Seattle Central Community College for the time being (their protesters are encamped at Praça Ciclista near Paulista and Anhangabaú. The weather in Seattle is cold, but not too cold. The weather in São Paulo is awesome, sunny with a bit of overcast and clouds from time to time. The people in Seattle are friendlier than I remember (another greeter I found was a homeless man selling Real Change newspapers, Daniel). Seattle has fewer Cathedrals and in less promenant placement. Seattle's Airport to Downtown light rail is much cheaper and convenient than the bus or taxi to Guarulhos. Seattle's major university is further away from downtown and requires a bus, but São Paulo's major university requires a metro and a bus. Seattle and São Paulo both have wonderful forests a few hours away. São Paulo's forests are slightly more accessible because you can walk 2 hours from the bus to the forest. São Paulo has more food vendors and many more vitiminas than Seattle. Seattle's buildings don't require any identification to enter the elevator. São Paulo's museums are cheaper and there are more public places. There are long streets in Seattle on a grid with numbering in useful patterns. There is no place in Seattle where I feel unsafe. I never felt unsafe in São Paulo but I am a pretty strange guy. I don't know about other people. Homeless people who sleep on the sidewalk in São Paulo are not harassed as much as in Seattle. There are the same number of panhandlers in São Paulo as Seattle. There are the same number of expensive cars in São Paulo as Seattle. There are many many more small cars and motorcycles in São Paulo. The method of crossing the street in São Paulo is completely different than Seattle (in Seattle, pedestrians have the right of way always while that is totally not true in São Paulo). There are many places in São Paulo where cars don't go because people fill the street. There are feiras (farmer's markets) many days of the week in São Paulo but only a few days in Seattle and never in the street. Cars in São Paulo will often run red lights at night not respecting the lives of pedestrians. Cars and motorcycles with sirens in São Paulo will break the law of the road and no one will flinch. Women in São Paulo dress very scantily. The metro of São Paulo changes the dynamic of the city so that people go out more. Wireless networks are strange in São Paulo. There may be something about the networks I was using, but they were flakey except for the Netgear. Electricity in São Paulo is half 110V (good for US devices) and half 220V (very bad for US devices, good for European devices). Not all are labeled, but smart people label them. The outlets are very often 2 prong, so bringing a 3 prong to 2 prong will save you days. A splitter wouln't hurt either. On my last days in São Paulo, they added a bunch of Natal decorations. This is similar to Seattle, but their decorations are a bit bigger. Graffiti in São Paulo is more common and much higher quality. There's an alien language used in many of the worse graffiti which piques my interest. Of course, it could be a simple substitution cipher which I would very much like to crack.

So giving this long list of differences, there must be a clear winner. And there is. São Paulo wins the city contest. Between Zurich (I stayed for 2 weeks of work), Berlin (3 weeks in the dead of winter), Tokyo (1 month in spring), Seattle (10 years), Spokane (19 years), San Diego (15 days over 10 years), Las Vegas (20 days over 7 years), and Kopenhaven (aka Copenhagen 2 nights), I pick São Paulo as the winner of all cities I have visited. I no longer seek the best city in the world, I have found it. I love Tokyo and I'll visit it and Berlin again, but São Paulo beats them hands down. Instead of promising to return when my tour of the world is finished, I will simply visit it as soon as I have time and things in order. My intention to visit Africa and Australia (the last two continents I have not visited) will have to wait until I have twice as much free time and money or a coincidental reason to visit them.

On my return trip I met a man briefly who visits São Paulo every year for Formula 1 races. He's a big fan and he remarked that people in Brasil are huge sport fans and that they are passionate and are open with their feelings. They sing and stand up all throughout the races. This is the Brasil I know and love. Even though I don't like sports as much as they do, I understand why they like their sports. So long as their feelings show I will say that's the Brasil I know. Also interesting he said that he also has traveled many places and that the Brazilian enthusiasm is not so in other places in the world.

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