Anápolis-Brasília – March '08

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Overview

This was the longest work trip I have made up to this point. I left Cuiabá on the 12th of March, and didn't get back until a month later. The chief purpose of this trip was to install the network infrastructure in our new office in Anápolis, but while I was there, I made some trips over to Brasília as well. And I was not alone; Bob Wright and Hank Scott came down from Waxhaw to help, and Cristiano Barros came up from Dourados as well. Cristiano was only with us for a couple of weeks—he has a family and is also involved in a translation project—but during those two weeks his help was crucial. Hank was also only with us for a couple of weeks, but again, his help was essential. As Bob later on put it, the hand of the LORD was evident throughout the job, not only in providing the right people, but in getting crucial equipment at the right time as well. “Except the LORD build the network, they that labor trip over the wires and accomplish nothing.”

Accomodations

All four of us were able to stay in the new office building. As it had originally been intended to be a dormitory, there were still a number of beds that New Tribes had not yet removed. I ended up sleeping downstairs in what eventually became the Vernacular Media Services office (though I had to bring in a bed from another room). Bob stayed in what is now the Associate Director's office, Hank in Graphics, and Cristiano in Accounting.

Stuff

My stuff in my quarters

Over in Brasília, we stayed in the ALEM dormitory, as before. At least I didn't have to drag in a bed and set everything up from scratch! The rooms there are actually quite comfortable.

Dorm Room

The dormitory room where I stayed the first time

It made for a lot of moving around. But we were in a “travel mode”, and the bus trip is only about three hours, so none of us objected. In fact, it was a chance to see different people and places. On one of our trips we went to downtown Brasília so that Hank—who had never been in Brazil before—could see the government buildings in this meticulously planned capital city.

In Anápolis, we had minimal kitchen facilities. There was a kitchen upstairs in what eventually became the Accounting “anteroom”, but it had been stripped by New Tribes. We did manage to get the use of a stove, and since I was going to have to buy a new refrigerator when I moved over in May, I decided to go ahead and get it then, so that we could use it in during our stay. Again, that turned out to be a blessing, since I “just happened” to stumble upon a pre-Easter sale and got the fridge for more than a hundred bucks off the regular price.

For one who enjoys camping (see Travels) these accomodations, although limited and temporary, were certainly not a hardship. And in Brasília, at ALEM, we got to eat in their refectory, and the food was great!

The Job

A modern office requires a computer network, in order for people in various departments to share a common repository for files, Internet access, and so forth. Additionally, we had decided to try something different with our phone system; instead of a conventional switchboard, we would set up a VoIP system using the same network infrastructure that we would use for our computers. What it boiled down to was a project to install 48 pairs of network jacks around the building, all running to a common central point.

Additionally, I had decided that instead of using conventional computers—which require desktop space that was in much shorter supply than we had in Cuiabá—and instead of mounting the central network patch panels and ethernet switches on the wall, we would do it more professionally by putting everything inside of an industry standard 19-inch rack. This approach would allow us to stack everything in a single, relatively small column that would sit in one corner of my new office.

Rack and Stuff

Rack and equipment before starting the project

Of course, the job was not easy! The building had been constructed of concrete, with a thick layer between the first and second floors and between the second floor and the attic space. We would need to drill through, and that required a large, professional hammer drill, which we did not have. Fortunately, the guy from New Tribes assigned to help us with the transition knew of a place where we could get what we needed. And also fortunately, he came along with us when we went, because at first we were about to get the wrong equipment because “construction worker” was not in any of our job descriptions. In the end, we not only got the correct drill, but it “just happened” to accept the very same bits that Bob had “just happened” to bring down with him.

Drilling First Hole

I had the honor of drilling the first hole

Although as I mentioned, none of our job descriptions included construction, Hank had had plenty of experience. And as he knew how to do it better than the rest of us, he ended up drilling most of the holes.

Hank Drilling Hole

Hank drilling a hole, using the smaller of the two drills

The job took us more than two weeks, from start to finish. After drilling the holes, we had to mount wire mold along the walls. Then we had to pull cable. Overall, we installed more than a mile and a half of cable. Afterward, we had to install the connectors on one end and connect the cables to the patch panel in the rack on the other end. And each one had to be tested. Fortunately, we had the equipment for testing. Of course there were glitches—the occasional wire not properly punched down, and a couple of times wires had been punched down in reverse order—and we even had one defective jack (which wasn't bad statistics out of 96!). But we got the job done.

Cristiano Relaxing

We occasionally had time to relax. Here is Cristiano

In the end, praise the LORD, we finished. There were times when we really wondered if we would. But as Bob said afterward, God's hand was with us all the way.

Billiard and Finished Rack

Here I am with the rack after finishing all the connections

And since all work and no play makes Billiard a dull boy, we did occasionally find time for diversion!

Drilling and Filling

When you can't find a real dentist, sometimes your friends just have to improvise

Brasília

As I mentioned in the overview, we made some side trips to Brasília. The first time, I went over myself. I had arrived a week or so before we actually began the project, in order to buy equipment such as the rack, connectors, and other odds and ends. Bob and Hank came a week later, flying into Brasília, and I went over to meet them and spend the weekend at ALEM.

One of the things we did while there was take a look at their system with regard to lightning protection. It was definitely lacking; in December, they had taken a big hit which had damaged thousands of dollars worth of equipment. One thing we wanted to see was if there was anything that could be done to improve their protection. Fortunately, there was.

Our second trip was to take Hank to the airport for his return, since he had only been able to come for two weeks. We had finished all the drilling and were well on the way to finishing mounting the wire mold, and Hank had proven his worth with both. Since it was his first time in Brazil, we spend a day downtown showing him the sights. Here are a few shots I took.

National Cathedral

This is the National Cathedral

Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge

This is the famous Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge

Looking East from TV Tower

Looking toward the east and the government plaza from a prominent TV Tower

Our final trip over was basically to just relax and help out a bit. Cristiano had already returned to Dourados; we took him over to the airport in Goiânia a few days earlier. The job was done. Bob decided to stay in Brasília for another week to visit old friends—he had lived there for a number of years a while back. Meanwhile, I headed back home to Cuiabá.

My next trip to Anápolis would be to move.

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