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Alex Kotlarchyk :: Blog

July 16, 2008

This was my last week in Argentina.  Work-wise it was just more frustration trying to access any grid and join a VO.  I guess I'll have to pursue all of that back home.

Independence Day:  Wednesday, July 9th, was Independence Day in Argentina.  It's celebrated the opposite of what it's like in the US, since it's a quiet day in Argentina without any real celebrations going on.  I took the opportunity to visit my relatives in Buenos Aires one last time before I went home.  I was in for a nice surprise when I took the subway in Buenos Aires, since the line I took this time uses a restored antique car.

I was to meet my relatives at a restaurant, but I was early and decided to walk around.  Near a park, I stumbled upon a performance of some folk dancing that I think was associated with a school.

On the way back to the bus station, I stopped by Casa Rosada (Pink House, like our White House) and saw soldiers parading in front.

 

Final days in La Plata:  Thursday we had dinner at a restaurant called Antares which featured a microbrewery.  I tried the barley wine, but was told to be careful, since it tastes like beer but is 12% alcohol.  The food was some of the best that I've tasted in Argentina.

On Friday, we spend most of the day stopping the process of getting the permanent student visa.  Late in the day, it was difficult saying goodbye to all my new friends at the LIFIA lab.  They have been so great helping us out with problems large and small, not to mention the social activities and the invitations to some of their homes.  The places I've visited here have been really nice, but the people have been even better.  Here are some parting photos:

That evening, we had dinner with Dr. Gustavo Rossi and his wife.  Dr. Rossi, or as we called him, Gustavo, was the one who was in charge of all of us during our stay in Argentina.  I didn't see much of him during my stay since he doesn't do grid computing, but we were in constant email contact about all sorts of issues including trying to get me help with grid computing, bioinformatics contacts, health concerns, apartment internet connection and heating issues, apartment cleaning schedule, and just friendly conversation.  So it was nice to finally sit down with him and talk for a while.

Grilled pizza, anyone?

Homeward Bound:  It figures that the nicest weather that we've had during our entire stay in Argentina was the day we left.  It was absolutely beautiful outside, and I was comfortable in a T-shirt.  Not your typical winter day.  I had to pay $50 at the airport because the one piece of checked luggage was overweight.  I was expecting that since on the way to Argentina it was overweight, but I only paid $25 cash Wink to the attendant.  Either I look like a terrorist, or a terrorist looks like me, since I was pulled aside for a "random" inspection on the way back, in both Buenos Aires and in Miami.  The customs guy even confiscated the apple they gave me on the plane (I think he was just hungry and wanted to eat my apple).  On the plane, neither the reading lights, nor the video screens were working in the coach section of the plane during flight.  This made for a long and very boring flight home.

Home:  It was an appliance disaster when I got back home.  My refrigerator wasn't working and when I turned on the television, I heard a pop and I smelled a strong odor of smoke, so I quickly unplugged it.  Must have been a lightning strike.  Now I know how I'm going to spend my Economic Stimulus check.  The next day I was ill and could barely get out of bed, but I recovered on Tuesday and somehow managed to get through my two months worth of mail.

So I will sum up the trip this way, in the style of an old credit card commercial:

Various travel expenses: 

Overweight luggage .......................... $75

Student visa charges ........................ 240 pesos

Going to Argentina, collaborating with new colleagues/friends, experiencing a different culture, and meeting a branch of my family I had never met before, all thanks to PIRE ..................... Priceless!

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July 07, 2008

Work: I found out that I can't use the EELA grid for testing and development.  However, there is a grid that can be used for such purposes called Gilda that uses the same gLite middleware.  So I then had to get a digital certificate for that system, which I did.  Of course, when I tried to join the Gilda VO, I couldn't.  Someone is supposed to help me with that this week.  At this moment, all the trouble I went to to get the digital certificate through CeSPI for EELA is not of much value.  They are still working on the FAU/FIU side to get me access to LAGrid, but I don't know if that will happen before I get back home.  Anyway, here are a few pictures of the workweek, starting with the walk to the LIFIA lab and ending with a screenshot of this blog, in process:

Observatory:  We went to the Observatory that they have in La Plata.  It was built in the 19th century, but it's still in use.  Even though it was supposed to be open when we got there, we were told there was nobody available to let us in.  We got lucky however, when a student was on his way there and agreed to show us around.  He may not have been an expert guide, but he gave us a nice tour and spoke more than adequate English.  He even opened the ceiling for us and showed us how to rotate the telescope.  They also had a bunch of devices on display that were used in the old days of astronomy, such as the rather prehistoric calculating machine shown in the last photo below.

Colonia de Sacramento: Since we hadn't traveled anywhere other than Buenos Aires, we took a day trip to Colonia del Sacramento, in Uruguay.  It's a one hour boat ride from Buenos Aires.  It's a more laid back place than the cities we've been to in Argentina, so it's a nice place to relax.  I tried the signature food in Uruguay, 'chivito', which means 'little goat', but it's actually a thin slice of tenderloin with other stuff added.  There is a small historic district that is geared for tourists since they accept currency from Argentina, the US, and (of course) Uruguay.  We went up to the top of the lighthouse, with acrophobic Ingrid holding on for dear life (picture not included under threat of bodily harm Sealed).  One of the best parts for me is that I didn't get seasick on the boat, since I am very prone to that.  Luckily it was very calm and I had no problem.

Buenos Aires, again:  Visited the La Boca-Caminito area of Buenos Aires.  It is a destination where the tour buses go to, with lots of little shops and restaruants to extract your money.  It is also somewhat of an art district and there are various arts and crafts for sale.  The houses are painted in bold colors, so it makes for an interesting stroll.  We went back to Florida Street for lunch, but we didn't stay long afterwards because it started to rain quite heavily.

Keywords: Caminito, observatory, Uruguay

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July 02, 2008

Work:  My stomach improved enough on Friday to go back to the lab, although in the morning we had to run around chasing the elusive student visa, and spend 200 pesos for the privilege this time.  On Monday morning, we again went for more student visa stuff, and this time we actually got our temporary student visas!  The sad thing is, after all this effort, we are going to have to stop the process before we go back home, so we will never actually get the real student visa.  In the afternoon, I met with a couple of people down the hall who work with a different grid system.  However, I can’t use my certificate on their system.  They also informed me that they use Globus middleware, which is the same middleware that LAGrid uses, but different from the gLite middleware that EELA uses.  At least, when I get access to LAGrid, I now have a good contact to use when I get involved with the Globus middleware on that grid.  They told me that they have a node with the grid version with MPI, which I would like to get familiar with, but then said it is currently unavailable to use.  They said they have a cluster that I might be able to access, but I am already familiar with cluster computing.  As for LAGrid, the system administrator at FAU is still in the process of setting up access for that and coordinating with the FIU system administrator.  For now, I guess I’ll have to stick with the Winston Churchill quote: “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm”.

 

Weekend Dining:  So with my stomach not at its best, it was only fitting that we had two dining adventures planned for the weekend.  Luckily, I survived both without any problem.  But first, on Friday night, Ingrid and I went looking for someplace to eat, with me keeping an eye out for somewhere that served rice, to settle my stomach.  After walking quite a while, we ended up at a place quite close to our apartments called “Mozzarella’s”.  I ordered the “arroz con pollo” (that’s rice with chicken, for all you gringos out there).  It wasn’t quite the Cuban style you find in South Florida, but more of an Italian style with some cheese and tomato sauce.  Regardless, I found it quite good and easy on the stomach.  The next day, on the way to the first planned dinner, we stopped at Plaza Italia, where they have the small Saturday flea market going on.  Surprisingly, they had an area where people sell puppies of many varieties.

 

On Saturday, we went to Gabriela’s (from LIFIA) home, where she and her mother gave us expert lessons on how to make empanadas (Tucuman style).  We made lots and lots of them, with varying degrees of expertise.  Actually, I just watched and made fun of the others, since I have trouble even boiling water.  A little while later, we were enjoying the spoils of our efforts, and after dinner, Gabriela entertained us with stories from when her mother visited her in Europe and they traveled together.

 

Sunday, it was time for Ingrid and Simone to cook everyone a Jamaican dinner.  This took place at the home of Andres (also from LIFIA).  After buying the closest ingredients they could find to the Jamaican ones, they cooked a wonderful dinner.  It was somewhat spicier than most of the natives were used to, but there was almost nothing left over when dinner was through.  For dessert, there was a big stack of the native panqueques, served with dulce de leche.

 

So the weekend was filled with good food, good drink, and good friends (and, thankfully, good health).  What more can one ask for?

Keywords: empanadas, Jamaican dinner

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June 28, 2008

On Sunday, I walked around the Paseo del Bosque, which is a park area near the zoo.  It is a nice area to walk around, with a lake that you can rent paddle boats and lots of nice trees.  There are also several interesting statues to look at (despite all the graffiti).

That last statue is of Carlos Gardel, Argentina's most famous tango singer.

On Monday, I gave my bioinformatics presentation.  There were about 15 to 20 people in attendance and it seemed to be well-received.  It lasted about 15 minutes more than the allocated hour, but I knew beforehand that the presentation was a little long, but I just couldn't figure out what to leave out.  The were several questions at the end of the presentation and a few people stayed afterwards to talk one-on-one.  One person asked me for contact information since he was doing research on protein folding.

The rest of the week was spent in the lab, as usual.  Just so you don't get the wrong impression, almost all my time is spent there during the week doing research.  It's just not a very interesting place to take pictures.  The only time I have to spend outside the lab (other than going to government offices in pursuit of the elusive student visa, which we wasted another morning on) is on weekends.  That's when I am eager to take pictures.  You'll have to look at Simone or Ingrid's blog for pictures at the presentation venue, since I didn't bring my camera there.  Anyway, here's one picture of me and a coworker at the lab.

Research progress into grid computing has been slow this week.  I've still been trying to join a virtual organization, and have not yet succeeded.  I was scheduled to get help on Thursday from some others at UNLP, but I came down with a bad stomach virus, and had to reschedule it for next week.  Also, there doesn't seem to be much progress on getting LAGrid access from FAU.  The admininstrator there is trying to coordinate with FIU to make that happen.  Fortunately, now that I have internet access from my apartment again (since Tuesday evening), even though I was out sick, I could work from the apartment (as long as I was within easy reach of the bathroom).  With help from Dr. Gustavo Rossi, I have been in contact with a couple of biology researchers at another university in Argentina, the University of Quilmes.  They are frequent users of bioinformatics and we have been able to exchange ideas and information and I may plan on trying to help them improve the execution time of their molecular docking applications.

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June 22, 2008

Work:  I scheduled my bioinformatics presentation for Monday.  I was finally able to get my EELA digital certificate for authentication to the grid here.  However, since nobody is currently doing any grid-related activity at FAU, accessing LAGrid is more problematic.  I’ve contacted the system administrator at FAU, and he said he will be ready next week to try and help me out.  Meanwhile, I have come up with a general plan of action as to what I want to run on both grids.  The next step is for me to join a virtual organization (VO), which is required for grid authorization.  I’ve tried a couple of websites, but I keep getting errors.  Gustavo has put me in touch with some people in the lab next to ours, who may be able to help me out next week.

 

Apartment: On Tuesday, I lost the internet connection again in the apartment.  This time it seems that the DSL line is not working anymore.  To make matters worse, on Wednesday, the heat in my apartment went out.  It’s been rainy and cold this week, so this was an especially bad time for that to happen.  Luckily, I still had the portable electric heater available, and that kept my bedroom relatively comfortable Wednesday night.  However, it sure was cold getting out of the shower the next morning!  There was lots of activity here on Thursday.  First, I finally got delivery of the “official” modem to use with the internet service, but it was do-it-yourself installation, and of course, the instructions were in Spanish.  I started trying to install it, but at some point, I called Julian at the lab to come over and help me out.  Meanwhile a couple of people came over from UNLP to look at the heater, to see if it was just a matter of restarting it.  After they couldn’t start it, someone else came over from UNLP, tried to start it, and was again unsuccessful.  He decided it was time to call the repairman, who showed up a little while later.  He worked on it for a while and determined it was indeed broken.  I swear, the following picture was not posed!

 

While all this was going on, Julian showed up to help with the modem installation.  The heater repairman was able to fix the heater, to my great relief, and left with the guy from UNLP.  Meanwhile, we determined that the DSL line was still not working.  Julian called the phone company, and they said that it would be 3 business days before they could reactivate the line.  It seems that the United States is not the only country where it is frustrating to deal with phone/cable companies.  At least I’ll be warm (hopefully) until I get the service back.

 

Saturday Night: A group of us went out for dinner at a club called ‘Hemisferio’ where there was a band playing ‘candombe’ music.  Candombe is a drum-based musical style of Uruguay.  Candombe originated among the African population in Montevideo and is based on Bantu African drumming with some European influence and touches of Tango.  Candombe's origins lie in the Kings of Congo ceremonial processions from the period of African slavery in South America.

 

After having a great time at the club, we went over to the home of one of our group, where we played a party game called ‘Mafia’.  In this game, two people are secretly selected as Mafia members in a town, and it is the job of the rest to figure out who they are before all the non-Mafia townspeople are killed off.  Much fun was had by all. 

Once again, it was your typical evening out in Argentina, getting home at almost 4:00 in the morning.

Keywords: candombe, mafia

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June 17, 2008

Thursday: Gustavo is trying to expedite the process for getting me a digital certificate to access the grid here.  Ate at El Barba again, with Paul and his coworker.  This time I tried 'matambre', which is beef with some sort of vegetables rolled up inside.  I think it's my new favorite!.  A couple of bad news items: 1) the internet stopped working in my apartment and 2) inflation is here too; my laundry went from 9.50 pesos to 10 pesos.

 Friday: I was told I should have the EELA digital certificate soon.  I was invited in the evening to see the Narnia movie, but declined to go.  However I met up with the group for dinner after the movie at 11:00, at El Gaucho Italiano, where they make pizza on the grill, along with the usual fare of meat and pastas.  Once again, we finished at about 2:00 in the morning.

Saturday:  My internet is working again... hooray!  I walked around La Plata and found a small open air market in one of the plazas that sells arts and crafts type stuff.  I think they have it every Saturday.  I ended up back at La Fusta for lunch where the TV was showing that protesters were blocking the highway to Buenos Aires.  I hope they clear it up by tomorrow, since I am going to Buenos Aires to see my relatives again.  I ended up also having dinner at La Fusta, this time with Ingrid.  They had tango singers again, but we left just as they were beginning to perform.

Sunday:  The meeting with the relatives wasn't until 5:00pm, so I tookk the bus to Buenos Aires earlier in the day to see more of the city.  First I went to the touristy Florida Street to do a little shopping, then I walked along one of the main avenues, Corrientes, which passes by the obelisk, and found a buffet-style restaurant to have lunch.  I still had some time, so I decided to walk to Recoleta, the famous necropolis (city of the dead), where the tomb of Evita Peron is.  What an amazing sight.  It's a maze of tomb after tomb.  I asked one of the the security guards, "Where's Evita?".  The wiseguy answered, "In the sky!", before pointing me in the general direction.  I never did find her tomb, probably because I later found out that the tomb is in the family name of 'Duarte'.  I probably passed by it and didn't even notice.  It was then time to meet my relatives, so I walked back to Corrientes Avenue, where I took the subway to where my relatives live.  It was great to meet a branch of the family that I had never known before.  We ate and shared family stories.  The time went quickly and before I knew it, it was time to head back to La Plata.  I took a bus that took me all the way back to the main bus station (El Retiro).  From there, it was the bus back to La Plata, and finally walking back to the apartment after a long, but enjoyable, day.

Monday: No school today since it's Argentina's Flag Day.  Most everything is closed, so it's strangely quiet, with little traffic on the roads.  I did manage to find a small fast-food place to get something for lunch, but ate in for dinner.

Here are some pictures from Buenos Aires:

Some Salsa dancing in Florida Street:

The obelisk:

The Recoleta necropolis:

Around Recoleta:

Did I leave South Florida?

 

 

 

 

Keywords: Buenos Aires, family, Recoleta

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June 12, 2008

I went back to the big Cathedral in the center of La Plata, this time with Ingrid, so they allowed us to go up the elevator to the top ("Tower of Jesus") and view the city from above.

 We also saw the museum part of the cathedral which includes crypts and a sculpture exhibit.

I also took some pictures inside the main part of the cathedral.

There is some interesting folklore surrounding the city and its statues.  Many of the statues of people are missing fingers, hands, or arms supposedly because they were making signs related to the devil.

And since every sixth street is an avenue this is connected to the folklore (i.e. 666).  In Plaza Moreno (the large square outside the Cathedral) there is a statue of an archer who is now missing his arrow because it is aiming directly at the cross in the center of the Cathedral.

Afterwards, we stopped for hot dogs in Plaza Moreno and there was a show being put on for the kids.  Watch out, Barney!

That evening we had dinner with a few of the people from the LIFIA lab.  The food was great and it took the usual time period to dine (10:00p.m until 2:00a.m!).

The denomination of the money is a problem here.  When you go to the ATM, you receive the largest bills possible for the requested amount.  However, when you go to the stores, they want you to give them the smallest bills possible, and many will not even have change for the larger bills.

Research-wise, I've been reading more about Grid superscalar and MPICH-G2.  I've decided to see if I can compare the grid that UNLP is connected to (EELA) with the grid that FAU/FIU is connected to (LAGrid).  I'm the process of setting up accounts on the appropriate computers and getting digital certificates so that I can access each of the grids.

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June 07, 2008

How many PhD students does it take to change a lightbulb?  Apparently, more than just this one since, when trying to replace the lightbulb in the bedroom ceiling, I broke a clip holding the light fixture.  Knowing the way that service appointments are kept here, it'll probably be fixed after I go back home. 

Been busy this week reading papers and documentation to try to understand more about grid computing.  I found a few interesting papers, including one I discovered by reading the blog of fellow PIRE student Camilo Silva (Mexico).  So, reading the other blogs may not only be entertaining, but useful as well!  Thanks, Camilo.  I'm pretty much finished putting together my bioinformatics presentation.  It's probably too long, but I don't know how I can make it intelligently shorter.  In it, there's probably more of a discussion of molecular biology than computer science, but you have to have some basic knowledge of molecular biology to begin to understand bioinformatics.  I met with someone from the Immunology lab.  We discussed some of the work that was going on in his department, which included investigations into food allergies and whooping cough.  His department does not do much in terms of bioinformatics, but he says he will put me in contact with another group that may.

We had our pictures along with brief biographies and research interests published in LIFIA's monthly magazine, 'Corriere'.  I hope my picture doesn't frighten too many of the readers away.

On Monday, one of the guys in the lab, Diego, invited me to attend his graduation as a Systems Analyst.  The ceremony was held in the new building that the Computer Science department will be moving to when it is completed (about 5 blocks away).  It was your typical graduation ceremony, with music and speeches first, followed by the graduates going up on stage to receive their diplomas.  They played the national anthem (it has a slow part and then a fast part).  Sorry, but I couldn't sing along (lucky for them!).  After the ceremony, Diego invited me back to his home to have pizza with his family.  I ate with him, his girlfriend, his parents, his sister, and his brother-in-law.  I probably overstayed my welcome, but I was having such a nice time.  As an added bonus, I got to see Argentina's version of "Dancing with the Stars" on television.  Like our own, it is everything you could hope for, and less.  Not much to report this week in terms of dining adventures, although on Tuesday, I ate out with Paul, Simone, and Ingrid at Paul's favorite restaurant.  Food was good and we had Paul to help us navigate the menu.

I tried to get some money from the ATM near the school on Friday, but it wasn't working.  Apparently this is not an uncommon thing to happen at the beginning of the month, since that is when most people get paid.  I guess I'll have to locate another one someplace else.  We've been thinking about going to see the sights in other parts of Argentina, but the problem is that anyplace else you would want to go to, other than Buenos Aires, is too far away unless you fly, and that can be an expensive proposition.  Perhaps Uruguay is reasonable to try to get to for a long weekend.

I only have a couple of pictures to share this time.  Aside from the graffiti that can be found everywhere, there is also some art that can be discovered on some of the buildings:

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June 02, 2008

Tuesday:  I waited all morning for the people to show up for the internet connection to the apartment, but they never showed up.  Grabbed a quick bite to eat and went to the lab after a wasted morning (however, I did manage to write an entry into the apartment diary, while I was waiting).  The guy never showed who was supposed to meet me in the afternoon to see some of the biology faculty.  It seems appointments here are often not kept, with no explanation given.  I took home some pizza for dinner.  It had some olives on top.  I found out the hard way that they still had pits in them!

 

Wednesday:  Was supposed to meet with someone to take us to do more stuff for student visa.  Once again, it didn’t happen and no explanation was given.  I had lunch at ‘La Fusta’ with the girls and Andres and Cecilia from the lab.  I had an excellent lentil stew.  After work, we met with Paul and his friend for dinner.  Paul lives in the U.S. (via Poland) and we got his contact info from the people in the lab.  He has lived here for a while and knows his way around town.  He offered to take us to Buenos Aires on the weekend, which we’re eager to do.  For once, Spanish was not the dominant language at the table since only Paul’s friend was not fluent in English.  We ordered the ‘asado’, which had various parts of the cow to eat.  I tried the stomach (tripe), but I didn’t care for it.  My dessert was a diabetic’s nightmare:  pears in wine sauce w/ ice cream.  On the way home, it was suddenly very cold outside.

 

Thursday:  A couple of observations before the daily roundup.  First, to add to the dangerous driving, I’ve noticed that at night, many vehicles only use their parking lights, and some don’t bother with any lights at all.  Second, the produce here tastes so fresh.  I think most of it here is grown locally.  It’s unfortunate that salads don’t seem to be a big proportion of the native diet.  Now for the activities du jour.  We spent all morning walking to various government offices pertaining to our quest for student visas.  We only finished part of the process.  The young lady who accompanies us spoke English with a perfect British accent.  You would never know she is a native of La Plata (she studied in England).  After walking for two hours (it’s officially cold!), we stopped for lunch and I had probably the best steak I’ve had here, so far.  I’ve been sneezing, so I hope I’m not coming down with a cold, especially since we plan to go to Buenos Aires on Sunday.  I used the extra electric heater tonight for the first time.

 

Friday:  It’s cold outside and I have a cold.  I finally got internet connection in my apartment this morning, no thanks to the company that was to set it up.  A friend from the lab helped me to set up modem with the software drivers we found on the internet.  It works, but it’s bothersome to me that my antivirus software keeps notifying me of attempts to attack my computer.  If it noticed all those attacks, what about the ones it didn’t notice?  Later, we went in search of more offices we needed to visit for our student visas.  We later stopped to visit a smaller church named 'Basilica San Ponciano.  It was named after the son of the governor at the time, who had died several days after his birth.  It was not nearly as grand as the cathedral I visited last week, but was impressively ornate, nonetheless.  Then we stopped to have lunch at an art museum and briefly looked at a display of photographs.  In the evening, we went to ‘Disco’ to stock up on groceries.  The girls bought so much stuff that we had to hail a cab to bring all the stuff back to the apartments.  Best 4 pesos we ever spent because I don’t think we could have carried the food all the way back.

 

Saturday:  My cold is somewhat better today.  I hope so, because I still want to go to Buenos Aires.  I had lunch with Simone at a place we found accidentally.  It was a nice place with excellent food.  We both had chicken, and mine had ham and cheese on top.  In the evening, the power went out in our apartments for a brief period of time.  I found a new use for the portable computer… as a flashlight!

 

Sunday:  Felt well enough to make the trip to Buenos Aires.  We took the bus from La Plata.  After walking for a little while, we went to Florida street, where there are many places geared to attract the tourist.

However, the prices were not cheap.  A little while later, Paul pointed me towards my destination, a meeting in a diner with a relative who lives in Buenos Aires, but whom I’ve never met.  The others went off to eat in the very small Buenos Aires Chinatown.  It was great to meet my relative, and the old family photos that she shared were priceless to me.  With what little time we had left, we walked around Buenos Aires together.

 

I managed to miss my rendezvous at the bus stop with the others, but somehow managed to figure out how to find my way back to La Plata.

Keywords: Buenos Aires

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May 27, 2008

Thursday:  Dropped off my laundry before going to the lab.  I met with Dr. Javier Diaz about grid computing.  He is going to have another PhD student give me some pointers and is also contacting some biology professors on my behalf, as well as some people who implemented grid computing on a physics project.  Worked some more on my presentation.  Julian, our primary student contact in the lab, made some ‘mate’ for me to try.  It’s this kind of strong tea that is quite bitter.  It wasn’t that bad, but I think it was because he put lots of extra sugar in it.  After school, I tried to hook up an extra modem someone had, to access the internet from my apartment.  No luck.  I needed a driver for the modem.  There was a wireless signal but it wasn’t strong enough to connect so that I could try to download one.  I accidentally took home the office men’s room key… sorry!  Ingrid made me dinner in her apartment.  How nice!

 

Friday:  Picked up my laundry.  It only cost about U.S. $3.00.  Worked some more on my presentation.  Grad student, Matias, gave me a good overview of grid computing at UNLP.  I need to find out what middleware they are using, if any, for the LAGrid.  I downloaded what appeared to be the correct drivers I was missing for the modem.  In the evening, there was a birthday party for one of the students in the lab, Andres, at about 11:30.  First, Ingrid and I went to dinner.  Ingrid was late (as usual), so we had to try and rush, since someone was meeting us, to take us to the party.  It turned out that the place we had dinner also had some tango singers performing, so we got to hear several of them before we left.

We just made it out of the restaurant in time to meet the others, and off to the party we went (about midnight). 

Julian, the aforementioned student, was performing with his band.  They were terrific!  No, not tango, but rock’n’roll.  We (Ingrid, Simone, and I) had a great time and managed to find our way back to our apartments at about 4:00 in the morning.  When we left the club, there was a line of people waiting to get in.  Don’t these people ever sleep!

 

Saturday:  I was able to connect with a weak wireless signal from my apartment to the internet this morning, but was not able to install the modem drivers correctly.  Anyway, someone’s supposed to come Tuesday morning to do the official installation.  We all took photos for our documents to change our status.  However, there’s still lots more red tape to go through.  While walking around town with Ingrid, she stopped and bought shoes. We picked up a couple of sandwiches and ate them on a street bench.  We decided to go to the natural sciences museum.  We got there only an hour before closing, but went in anyway.  This museum was very impressive.  It has a top notch collection that is well displayed.  I think you would be hard pressed to find one that is much better.

It seems, for some reason, they also had a statue of Dr. Fernandez Surprised

 

It’s starting to get a little colder.

 

Sunday:  Explored more of La Plata on my own.  I decided to visit the cathedral.  It’s the largest neo-gothic building in South America and took 100 years to complete.  On my way there, I picked up a sandwich and ate it at a nice park, surrounded by interesting architecture.  The cathedral is a magnificent building.

After looking around the outside and then going into the main part of the cathedral, I wanted to go to the museum part of the cathedral and go up to the top, where there is supposed to be a great view of the city.  However, they wouldn’t let me go by myself, for security reasons.  I resigned myself to returning some other time.  Picked up some ‘medialunes’ and some other pastry, on the way home.  Yummy!  I met Ingrid for dinner.  It seems that most places are closed on Sunday evening (so that’s when they sleep!).  We walked for close to an hour to find a place to eat.  We finally ended up at a small place, called ‘La Barba’ (The Beard), that was only a few blocks from our apartments.  It had a small ‘asado’ (traditional Argentine grill). 

 

The food was good and inexpensive.  I especially liked the ‘chorizo’ (sausage).  I washed the food down with ‘Quilmes’, the native beer.  It comes in bottles that are equivalent to almost three full glasses.

 

Monday:  Caught up on my email, online banking, etc.  I’m supposed to get internet access installed in my apartment tomorrow.  I hope so, since it’s kind of awkward to do my online banking at the lab.  We took Andres out for a birthday lunch.  I had a nice pork chop that had cheese and a soft-boiled egg on top.  If I don’t die from everyone smoking, my cholesterol level will kill me.  I guess that I’ll have to drink more red wine to try to counteract it.  Afterwards, back at the lab, we had a birthday cake for Andres.

 

I found a paper on the LAGrid to read, so I’ll see if that is helpful.  The landlord for the Jamaican girls’ (Ingrid & Simone) apartment stopped by the lab.  It turns out that he works in another department at UNLP.  Tomorrow, he is going to introduce me to some of the biology faculty so that I can see what type of research they are doing that may be related to bioinformatics.  In my apartment, I discovered a little treasure.  This apartment is owned or rented by LIFIA, the computer group that I am working with, at UNLP.  It is for the benefit of people like me, who are visiting for a period of time.  In 2002, someone initiated a diary for the apartment that future guests have been contributing to.  Some entries are in English, others in Spanish.  Previous guests have visited from France, Germany, Colombia, Chile, and Spain.  It’s interesting to hear the previous guests’ impressions, opinions, and advice.  It sort of gives the apartment a life of its own.  I had to laugh when I read the very first entry.  It makes mention of the only complaint that I’ve made about the apartment:  the noise from the street and other apartments.  I believe that I’ll be staying here longer than any other guest has for one stretch at a time, although there have been other guests that have stayed here several times.  I think that I’ll make a brief entry in the diary and refer future guests to this blog.  Also, I’ll leave a printout of the blog before I go home, since the diary may have a longer life than the web page.

Posted by Alex Kotlarchyk | 0 comment(s)

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