Tag Archives: Brazil

Portuguese Pronunciation and Language Tips

I’ll be taking a group of 34 MBA students on an international business immersion trip to my native Brazil this Spring. We’ll be visiting about a dozen companies in the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. This is an initiative created by the awesome Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at the University of Miami.

I’d like my students to be able to pronounce some of the main sounds in Portuguese correctly because I know Brazilians pay attention and really enjoy when foreigners make an effort to say things properly. Therefore, I created a video in which I go over what I consider to be some of the most important things to know when speaking Portuguese (there are others, but I didn’t want the video to be too long).

You can access it on my YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzgoYFokBPk

Moreover, the 2016 Olympic Games are coming, so I figured these tips could be useful for a larger audience as well. I wish American sports casters would watch this video because they murdered the pronunciation of everything during the World Cup in 2014.

Bonus material: My daughter, Lavinia Lilith, a.k.a. #LLCoolBaby, makes a short appearance at around the halfway mark.



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Filed under Brazil, People, Teaching, Tips and Tricks, Travel, Videos, YouTube

Awaken Your Creativity

I recently returned from a trip to Brazil (which was followed by a trip to the CORS-INFORMS meeting in Toronto). It was great to spend those 2 weeks at UNICAMP. But why? Could it be because…

(a) I was sharing a room with graduate students and I was motivated by rubbing elbows with hard-working people.

(b) I spent two weeks thinking about a single problem.

(c) I felt at ease wearing shorts, a T-shirt and a hoodie to go to work.

(d) Seeing old friends and being in my undergraduate department brought me memories of the “good old times”.

(e) All of the above.

This whole experience made me think of a related topic. Everyone has their productivity trigger. Some little thing that you do that improves your performance, or some place to which you go that awakens the genius inside you. When I was an undergrad student, I remember spending long hours on my way to and from school (long walk + bus ride) thinking about homework problems. Often, my best ideas would come to me during the commute. Later in life, I gathered more substantial evidence that good ideas come to me when I think about a problem as I walk (increased blood flow to the brain?). I should do that more often.

I wonder if anyone out there has a quirk of this sort. What is it that you do that fuels your creative mind? I’m willing to try new methods!

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Filed under People, Research

Hang Gliding and O.R.

During my last trip to Brazil, I took a couple of weeks off. While spending some time in Rio de Janeiro, I decided to go hang gliding. After all, how dangerous could it be? The day was gorgeous: partly sunny and not too hot. After a bumpy ride through narrow winding roads till the top of Pedra Bonita, there it was: the take-off ramp


It didn’t take long for the butterflies to start flapping their wings in my stomach, but I didn’t back out. There is only one word to describe the sensation: awesome! It’s the closest one can get to knowing how birds feel while in the air. By now, however, you may be wondering what O.R. has to do with this. Take a look at this picture:


That’s the assembly/take-off queue. Pilots join the line in a first-come first-served (FCFS) basis, then start assembling the hang glider (or “wing” as the Brazilians call it), often with extra help. Guess what happens? Assembly speeds vary a lot, and you may be finished before the person in front of you in the queue. With no room to go around, you basically have to wait (and complain).

So here’s one possible solution: leave an open aisle that enables people to access the take-off ramp and assemble the hang gliders to the side of it. When you’re done, just walk to the ramp and go; no need to wait for anyone else. Since everyone has to check-in with a controller, there’s an easy tie-breaking rule: arrival time. From what I heard while waiting for my turn, shorter waiting times would definitely increase the arrival rate and, as a consequence, revenue.

If you have a Facebook account, you can see a video recording of the entire flight here (make sure to see the landing; it’s also very nice).

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Filed under Applications, Brazil

Doing OR in Brazil

unicampDuring the first two weeks of May, I’ll be visiting the Institute of Computing (IC) at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil. That’s where I got my BS and MS degrees before coming to the US. I’ll be working on some fun integer programming stuff with my former Master’s advisor Cid de Souza. (Cid spent a year visiting the Tepper School while I was doing my PhD there.)

Despite being a CS department, IC hosts some of the OR people at UNICAMP (the others are spread around in the Math and EE departments). I’m looking forward to working with Cid again, visiting the city of Campinas and seeing some old friends. I’m wondering if I should stop by to see my mother, who lives 2 miles away from campus and whom I haven’t seen in almost 2 years…hmm…such a dilemma… :-)

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Filed under People, Travel