Spewing in São Paulo

Monday 2019_01_21

I haven’t actually vomited but I really want to!

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Slobbing in São Paulo

Tuesday 2019_01_15

As predicted, I’ve been slaving over a hot laptop all of today. There was an amount of administrivia to do. This wasn’t helped by the University’s VPN being very slow, and something deleting a calendar invitation to all researchers at Merchiston.

This may have happened as I was trying several alternatives to using Outlook via the VPN. It turns out that Outlook for Mac 2011 doesn’t sync with my university calendar well (or at least not quickly enough). Nor does Thunderbird. And the current freely available version of Outlook for Mac doesn’t work on my MacBook Air (early 2015 13″, running MacOS 10·13·6.) I refuse to pay a subscription for Office365. (A one-off purchase would be acceptable to me.)

The rest of the day was spent refining interview questions and focus-group questions. I can’t shake the feeling that this should be a quick process. However, logically, it takes time to work out what should be asked, then even longer to work out how it should be asked to avoid ambiguities.

Ah well, time to relax with a beer and for my personal side to blog about Brexit. Nighty-night!

Stumping in São Paulo

Monday 2019_01_14

If it’s Monday, it must be music day! In the morning, Roy Harper’s One of those days in England (parts 2-10) reminded me how much I miss my wife. This evening, there was samba!

My wife is no longer so concerned about me cycling in São Paulo. There are bike lanes, the four-wheeled traffic seems to be a lot more considerate than in the UK, and there are at least two companies renting out ‘Bolsonaro-bikes’. So I thought I would spend the morning on a quick shopping trip to buy a helmet, gloves and a phone-holder. It wasn’t quick – I got back to the hotel about 10pm!

My first journey, as advised by Leandro, was to the Decathlon store in Paulista. Here’s the metro map.

  1. Walk to Faria Lima metro station.
  2. Take line 4 (yellow) to Consolação/Paulista.
  3. Take line 2 (green) to Brigadeiro metro station.
  4. Walk 400m along Avenida Paulista to the Decathlon store.

Avenida Paulista

São Paulo roads are imperfect – but they are better than Edinburgh’s roads.

Main streets have cycle-lanes on central refuges (movie).

I ended up buying 3 single tickets in a confusing conversation with the ticket attendant. I now realise he was asking me how many tickets I wanted but I thought at the time he was asking if I had the correct change. (Single tickets cost R$4·30.) The extra tickets turned out to be useful because I ended up making more metro journeys than I’d planned.

At the Decathlon store I bought a serviceable helmet, a couple of cheap maillots, a pair of cycling mitts and a water-carrier/rucksack. Decathlon also had handlebar phone carriers but they were too small for my iPhone 8+. I was told that Decathlon also sells frame-bags that hold phones but they didn’t have any in that store. However, their store at Marginal Tieté did. That was another metro ride away:

  1. Walk back to Brigadiero metro station.
  2. Take line 2 (green) to Paulista/Consolação.
  3. Take line 4 (yellow) to República.
  4. Take line 4 (red) to Palmeiras – Barra Funda.
  5. Walk about 1·5 miles to the Decathlon store.

Outside Palmeiras – Barra Funda station

Cycle-lanes on roundabout in Avenida Thomas Edison.

play-park on Avenida Thomas Edison

Palmeiras – Barra Funda is a large combined metro, train and bus station, so it was quite busy but it’s well signposted. My walk to the Decathlon store was through a residential/light industry area.

Looking along Avenida Thomas Edison

This is how São Paolo gets cycle-lanes right, by forbidding parking in them. (See the crossed out E, meaning ‘Proibido estacionar’.) Are you listening, Edinburgh Council?

‘Order and Progress street’!

There were a couple of volleyball courts outside the store, where some young men ($deity, I’m old!) were playing. I bought the frame bag. It will take my 8+ if I take it out of its Lifeproof case, or will take my 5S in its Lifeproof case. Unfortunately, the SIM in that phone doesn’t provide international data, so my task for tomorrow morning is to get a Brazilian data SIM.

I walked back to Palmeiras – Barra Funda, took a very crowded metro back to República, then the yellow line back towards my hotel. I realised that I would pass through Fradique Coutinho metro station, the closest to Hareburger, so I jumped out there to eat and phone my wife.

coloured apartments near Hareburger

‘Ernesto’ burger and batatas fritas at Hareburger

vegan ice-cream. Almost as good as vegan magnums. – yum!

I then took the metro to Faria Lima, and encountered a samba band on Largo do Batatas. I think the mascot was fried!

Samba (movie) (The camera had been drinking, not me.)

The samba mascot was out of it!

graffiti on a bike store on Largo do Batatas

I then walked to a nearby Centauro store to try to by a Brazil maillot. They were out of stock so I trudged back to the hotel.

more grafitti

bike-lust at Centauro

I think I’ve walked less than 5 miles but my feet are not pleased with me. However, there is good news: the hotel has done my laundry so I will wear clean socks tomorrow. (I would have done so anyway, but this ,means my choice is wider.) Tomorrow will probably be spend reading and taking notes, so it may be too boring to blog about. Nighty-night!

Slumping in São Paulo (update)

It appears that it’s been raining spiders in Brazil!

Sunday lunch: [batatas] fritas e feijão (fried [potatoes] and beans. Yum!

After I wrote my last piece, I realised it was quite late. I searched Google Maps for somewhere to eat, and hit on Hareburger. All together now:

Hare Burger Hare Burger
Burger Hare Hare

I phoned my much better half. She had some ideas about my draft ‘lessons for Scottish PB‘. Her main point was about the first item: If we don’t get PB right first time, people will lose confidence in it. She pointed out that nothing goes right first time, so what does right mean in this context? My current answer is good enough. For me, that means

  1. PB systems must leave people feeling that they have chosen what happens.
    • This should happen in any context, no matter how much (or how little) money is involved.
  2. The chosen projects must be delivered near enough on time and near enough on budget.
    • We can argue what near enough means at appropriate points.
  3. There should also be the possibility of discontinuing projects if it turns out that they are unlikely to be delivered, or if the benefits can be delivered in better ways, or if an urgent need arises for the money allocated to the project.
    • But this must be done transparently, and must not even appear to be party-political.

I then walked to Hareburger. It was rather ironic that the first song jPhone played was 4st 7lb. Hareburger was supposedly 19 minutes walk from my hotel but it took me about 30 minutes to get there, mainly because I’m a little nervous about crossing roads. On the way I passed the inevitable Subway, another vegan eatery, and somewhere definitely not vegan.

This was my dinner at Hareburger: hare rock shutney mango’s fly, batata quanta rustica and suco de terra (hibiscus tea, beet, carrot, lemon and strawberry). The only problem with it was it was not enough for this gutbucket! (It was relatively cheap: about R$38 = £8.)

On the way to Hareburger, I’d passed a metro station which isn’t on the map I’d found online. (Blame the seeker, not the internet! Here’s the official map.) I realised that this station (Fradique Coutinho) was on the same line as Faria Lima, so I decided to save my feet. The city council had a stand offering free condoms.

At Faria Lima station, I walked on to Largo da Batata (Potato Square) to see if there were any interesting smells. There weren’t so I’ve come back to the hotel for a last coffee and to write this.

graffiti near my hotel

Largo da Batatas


Slumping in São Paulo

I didn’t get to sleep until 5am, so I slept until after mid-day.

This afternoon I

  • refined my interview and focus-group questions.
  • emailed the coordinator of São Paulo’s participative councils to answer some questions he asked.
  • emailed my Leith Chooses colleagues and the Scottish Government official to ask them other questions posed by the coordinator.
  • refined the lessons I think Scotland can learn from Brazilian PB.
  • finished some marking.

The marking led to some puzzlement. About 20% of the students didn’t include in their courseworks some things they were clearly told to include. Another 50% tried but didn’t do these things very well. The latter is understandable, but the former isn’t. Can any experienced academics out there tell me why on earth so many students just throw away marks?

Of course, I was far from perfect when I was a student, and I’m not a perfect academic.

Initial lessons for Scottish PB

Clearly this is not final – I’ve only been in Brazil for a week. Also this stems from talking with with some academics and two São Paulo city public servants, rather than original research. However, this is my current take-home:

  • If we don’t get PB right first time, people will lose confidence in it. 
    • This means we need effective processes so that people know they have made the choices.
    • It also means that what is promised must be delivered.
  • Projects must be monitored as they proceed.
    • Also, due diligence/monitoring must happen at the end of project periods.
    • And that data must be analysed to see what is effective.
  • Don’t rely on revenue forecasts, because what is forecast may not materialise!
  • Annual cycles, i.e. projects that must be started and completed in a year, may be sub-optimal.
  • The current Scottish model of PB should have a deliberation stage before projects are formulated.
    • At the moment, PB process-runners (e.g.LeithChooses steering group) set themes, then invite projects.
    • The Brazilian model involves participatory deliberation on what the themes should be.
  • There should be some data gathered on who participates.
    • This is to show whether PB schemes are truly participatory, and whether they attract votes from people who need the services PB would offer.