Short introduction to Finglish, my CV, various speculations
/Heikin pohteita/My ponderings in finglish/ Finglish (2013-04-08)
This section of my web pages is a short introduction to my contemplations for those of my friends who have not yet learnt Finnish. I tried to write this in English but soon realized the best I can do is to write in finglish, which fortunately is widely — if not deeply — understood worldwide. I still will write most of my texts in Finnish because I cannot make my finglish carry the meaning and feeling I have in my mind.
When trying to write in English I frequently have to consult my Finnish-English dictionary. On average there are from five to fifteen translations for any Finnish word. In a good(?) dictionary. I can easily see that half of those words do not match what I want to say, but the remaining ones seem ok to me. However, my English-Finnish dictionary reveals that even most of them have quite a variety of meanings — none exactly what I want. Mathematically speaking Finnish-English and English-Finnish dictionaries are not bijective functions .
For example in finnish 'visio' is a foreign word borrowed only for business talk: Mission → vision → strategy → business plan → … However, in english:
I guess children have nightmares, not visions. Or can I say my daugter was quite visionary already at the age of four? And what would that actually mean:
Take an english-finnish dictionary and you face the same 'challenge' of diverse meanings. By the way, challenge can mean any of the following: …
My teacher warned us that words which mean about the same thing may still have a very different tone and using a word with a wrong tone may give a comical effect. Or did she say shades of words? Or nuances maybe? Whatever, that's too much. I don't care. Comical or not.
I have understood that native speakers use a lot of idioms in English. I would love to use idioms but I'm afraid adding badly chosen idioms to badly chosen words would get too comical.
It seems to me that in English they often put words in a different order than in Finnish. I just do not know different in exactly which way?
I know there are rules where to put commas. I guess the rules are language dependent. I put commas where I feel the reader should stop for a second to collect his ideas or at least grasp breath. When my thinking goes in small lumps, I use a lot of commas, when euphoric, I skip even the dots.
I would love to write elegant compact language, but I have been told that my compact elegant sentences are incomprehensible. I wonder if expressing my ideas twice but in a different way — different words in a different order — would help.
I find it annoying when my poor capabilities of English prevent me expressing what I want and instead force me to write something only distantly related.
After getting more courageous in using finglish I will replace 'he/she' or '(s)he' with 'hän' and consequently 'his/her' with 'hänen'. I want to sleep with 'her' but otherwise I am happy with 'hän'.
On the Finnish sections of my web pages I have written about my experiences as a diplomatic spouse in Abuja and in Brussels. There are some short stories I have written at various courses on creative writing. There are some essays commenting various topical issues of the time of writing.
I often get an euphoric feeling that I have invented something smart and original — there is in my mind something important I have to tell the world — but cannot quite figure out what is it. Writing down my ponderings (contemplations? speculations? reflections? …) helps: First I get screenfulls of incomprehensible unstructured stream of consciousness, but after several rewritings I begin to understand my thinking if not even the emotions driving me. Unfortunately, writing in a foreign language has the opposite effect: I get more confused.
Often I fail to elicitate from the puff of euphoria the grand message to the world. As if there was nothing inside the puff. When I feel I succeeded in catching the great idea and managed to write it down, my readers complain that my text is incomprehensible. In rare case they understand what I have written and ask: So what? Where is the beef? If I explain them in detail where the beef is, they find me an annoying besserwisser. I must be one of those misunderstood geniuses.
/Heikin pohteita/My ponderings in finglish/From eutopia to mafia state (2013-04-04)
Why do so many live in corrupt and almost collapsed states? Why do no one live in eutopia? Is there a law of nature or an extra-human extraterrestrial evil force stronger than the united mankind? Or is it just "they" — the others?
Is there a slippery way with no return down from eutopia to a corrupt mafia state?
In her book Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria Noo Saro-Wiwa wonders why all members of the corrupt elite struggle to become "the rooster on top of a rubbish heap" while they could enjoy civilised life in a paradise of equals.
The usual answer is that they are greedy selfish thieves not civilised enough to enjoy civilised life. True enough, but where do they come from? How did they get the power? Why don't the good civilised people take the power from them?
I have been wondering (lamenting? complaining?) about the corruption in Nigeria, but it made me bored and depressed. I got worried when I realized that the symptoms of the disease Nigeria is suffering can be seen even in the least corrupted countries. They have managed to contain the disease but failed to eradicate it.
The temptation to get rich without doing anything useful — getting rich on the expense of others — seems universal. Everywhere there are men and women trying to make good profit without delivering any added value. Men and women, who know nothing about sowing and planting, aggressively fight to maximise their share of the harvest. Banks make profit by delegating their risks to tax-payers. Tax-havens prosper by helping corrupt leaders and questionable companies to loot developing (and developed) countries. Politicians make questionable deals to please their electors — i.e. buy votes on the expense of the nation. …
The attitude "my country loosing a few billions does not matter as long as I can steal a few hundred millions" results in immense damage and waste of natural and human resources. Politicians often say that their country has a big potential in its people. However, they do nothing to nurture the potential. In modern world illiterate, ill, and starving population is not much of a potential, however large in number.
Capabilities and mindset needed to fight ones way to power in a corrupt society are very different from the capabilities and mindset needed in nation building and empowering the civil society crucial for the health of any nation. The track record of the leaders of corrupt countries is poor not only because of the big challenges they face.
If the effort put on fooling others could be coordinated to collaboration for common well-being, we all could live much better. All modern leadership trainings emphasize the empowering of the people. "Do not micromanage people but trust them and they will make miracles for your company." However, people with corrupt mindset will betray your trust and even be proud of fooling you — they think they are smart. Normally implementing proper checks and balances is enough to prevent malpractises but in a corrupt culture the checks and balances gets corrupt.
There is corruption everywhere and nowhere all are corrupt. I admire those playing fair play in a corrupt culture — they are heroes. However, to survive in a corrupt culture you have to assume all are corrupt until proven otherwise. The very opposite of normal life.
Ooops! Pondering corruption seems to unleash the bitter, vengeful besserwisser in me. A sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde phenomenom which I do not like in me.
I think it is good for me to focus on dreaming about eutopia. I do not expect that the future historians who read the following speculation of eutopia, will praise my incredible foresight. I do not want to impose my ideas of eutopia to others. Rather I want to tell myself a comforting fairy-tale.
I believe eutopians are happy as long as their fellow-men are happy. What is nice about eutopia is that you do not have to be happy the same way your neighbours are. Diversity is fine in eutopia. What makes eutopia eutopia is that the eutopians have learnt to peacefully reconciliate their desires and preferences. This applies also to sharing boring duties no one is happy to do.
Eutopians want to be and want others to see them as fair-players. Every deal in eutopia is a fair win-win deal between friends who want to continue being friends. You can trust that a product 'xyzzy' promised to satisfy your needs is exactly what you need. If it is good enough for you but not perfect, the salesman will tell you that. Eutopians honestly want that any deal benefits all involved including non-present third parties — those on the other side of the globe, those not yet born, … In negotiations they often nominate someone to act as the advocate of the third parties not present. She may represent the future generations, she may represent the companies who might bid for a contract, those who might apply for a job, …
Even if all agree to collaborate for the common well-being, it is not evident what should be done. Not even the eutopians know the formula to calculate the optimal actions to reach the agreed goal. They have to rely on their common sense.
"It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so."
Our common sense tells us "the ultimate truth". The problem is that for other people their common sense tells a different "ultimate truth". (Evidently common sense deserves an essay of its own.) The eutopians have the Mark Twain attitude to common sense: "It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so." Eutopians are less interested in opinions than in the reasoning behind the opinions. Eutopians sometimes have meetings were making decisions or defending any opinion is forbidden. Those meetings are dedicated to analyse the origins of disagreement on topical issues — the underlying reasoning and the gut feelings behind the opinions. Such meetings may help one revise ones common sense. After such a meeting they may have more coherent understanding not only of the issue under discussion but of the workings of our world in general.
Eutopians say that they vote only when civilised decision making has failed to produce a decision in due time.
Eutopians are wary of the defects of human reasoning: "Especially on moral issues our intuition tells right from wrong in a fraction of a second. What is left for our reasoning is to cook up a seemingly rational — if possible, seemingly scientific — justification for our moral condemnation." (I got this idea when reading Haidt: The righteous mind )
Eutopians carefully evaluate companies to implement any project or the candidates for leadership positions. For all jobs actually. Various measures are taken to ensure that all candidates are justly evaluated. Eutopians are wary of their personal blind spots and biases. When an eutopian feels that a candidate is a really good guy — much better than the other candidates, best for almost any position — he asks himself: Why? Where does this feeling originate from? Is it because I know him but not the others? How do others see this guy? Eutopians value their intuitive feelings but they do not take them as the ultimate truth.
Eutopians have different opinions on how important the leaders are in the first place, what a good leader is like and how much power to delegate to the leaders. On some aspects of leadership they agree: The eutopians expect their leaders to listen them carefully enough to understand them. Eutopians do not expect every decision please of benefit them personally as long as the leaders justify their decisions. The eutopians accept unpleasant decisions but appreciate acknowledging those who have to make sacrifices for common good — as long as not always the same people have to sacrifice their desires. The eutopians expect their leaders to foster public discussion with knowledgeable contributions, because they are paid for being aware of everything relevant and for facilitating solutions finding. Eutopians expect the leaders to ensure that all interested have easy access to all the information on what is going on in eutopia.
When visiting eutopia you can seen that the eutopians like to live in a well-functioning society. All eutopians happily participate in building even nicer eutopia. The stamina and work-orientation has taught eutopia highly capable of implementing what others consider miracles.
I believe that mankind survived beyond Stone Age only because it developed genetic capabilities to collaborate for the good of the community. I guess this is what Darwin actually said. Thus, eutopian life-style matches with basic human nature. However, eutopians do not care much what Darwin said. They say that if our basic human nature threatens our well-being, it is time to stop obeying our lizard brains .
The eutopians are aware that their way of living is fragile. They emphasis trust, openness, honesty, constructive participation, respect of all, respect of diverse ways of thinking, … "Anything goes as long as you do not harm or threaten the well-being of others." They take these values and principles seriously and get angry when someone violates them. However, I cannot figure out how the eutopians deal with people not living to eutopian values and principles.
I am sure eutopians do not kill such people nor whip them. The eutopians do not expel their criminals to desert to teach them what it is like to live on ones own. Maybe some eutopians fail to feel pity for criminals but they all agree that cruel punishments would harm their common eutopian psyche.
Prison? A tight prison keeps a criminal from harming others for a while. That is good, but does not solve anything.
When eutopians' trust is betrayed they feel badly hurt and insulted and they may even feel the eutopian way of living threatened. I do not how a man who is no more trusted and thus not respected can live in eutopia? The eutopians must have invented something nicer and wiser than having a class of pariahs living among them.
/Heikin pohteita/My ponderings in finglish/Curriculum Vitae — Heikki Välisuo (2013-03-31)
/Heikin pohteita/My ponderings in finglish/Curriculum Vitae — Heikki Välisuo/Growing up (2013-03-31)
I was born in 1957 in the South-Western Finland on a little farm. My mother took care of me, my three younger brothers and our cattle. My farther was a part-time farmer and a part-time whatever extra job he could find until he got a position as a trainee in a local company and became a full-time electrician. My father liked to repair our own and neighbours' machines and devices. He loved inventing devices. In our barn we had a winch and a complicated set of pulleys to avoid manual labour in filling the barn with the hay to feed the cows during winter.
We had about 10 hectares of farmland, little less forest — pine, spruce and birch, some cows, chicken and turkeys, blue tractor and whatever else you need in a little farm. When I was ten my father got a permanent job and taught me and my brothers to sow, harvest and plough our fields. I liked it. Driving a big tractor and doing "mens' work" made be feel proud and powerful.
In western Finland farmer families built their houses on their own farms, not concentrated in villages. Fortunately in our neighbourhood the farms were so small that the nearest neighbours with children lived less than half a kilometre from us.
Nice sunny days, a lot of snow in winters. Spring days when melting snow revealed a growing patch of ground at the sunny side of our barn. That's how I remember the seasons. From historical records I have learnt that in the sixties there were many snowy winters. So, at least that much is true of what I remember from my childhood.
Two hundred meters from my home there was a small local library. In a few years I read almost all the books they had. Fortunately there was a bigger library less than ten kilometres away. I would not say I was eager to learn but rather I was eager to explore new frontiers — nature, mathematics, science, space, human mind, stenography, history, engineering, … Stenography? I wanted to know what it is and how it feels but I lost interest before learning to master it. The same with everything else.
There was one kilometre to my primary school. I skied to school when there was snow, walked or biked otherwise. Anyone living more than five kilometres away were brought to school by taxi. Some of my unlucky friends had to ski 4.9 kilometres.
I liked going to school because there I could explore new things and because there were other children. For a small boy a farm was a nice place to live but for a teenager it was a little boring. Somehow I have lost contact to my class mates. Evidently I am very different from my wife, who contacts weekly even her friend from the kindergarden.
First signs of autumn and the sky "clear in the autumn way" still remind me of the first school days after the summer vacation. I liked the beginning of every new school-year in spite of my very first school-day. I had been looking forward to going to school with great expectations, but the first day was quite too long and boring for me. From nine to twelve I guess.
In the sixties the children at the age of eleven had to choose either academic or vocational education. So, one day our teacher asked my choice. I hadn't thought about it but the teacher got me interested in the academic path. Most finns encourage their children to get a good education, but in Finland you can get a good education even if your parents aren't active.
At the age of sixteen — 1973 — I had to choose between a three year secondary school preparing me for university studies, a "lower" level education or get a job. I guess deep in my heart I had already chosen the academic career, but I still wanted to study all options in detail. When studying the course offering of the electrical engineering department of Helsinki University of Technology I found it: "This is it. I want to study computer science, digital engineering and control engineering." Three years in secondary school did not change my choice and I was rather happy with my choice through the university. Was it lack of imagination or what?
I remember that I was not totally happy with the teaching. (I went to school before Finland began to transform its educational system.) The school sort of downloaded facts in our minds and then tested whether we had stored the facts properly. Mathematics was learning procedures to solve standardized artificial "problems" tailored for mathematics lessons. We did not ponder real life phenomena, we did not actively do much anything, especially we did very little anything together. "Working" at school was totally different from my summer jobs and working on the farm. No wonder people thought that real life and theories have nothing in common.
I remember that I wanted the school to follow similar principles as those of socio-constructivism . However, I finished school in 1976 while such modern ideas emerged in the 80's. Maybe my memories are only afterwisdom. Human memory is not too accurate. Actually I believe that much of our memories are scenarios of the past created the same way we create scenarios of the future.
I would like to write about my daughters but I am not so sure if they would appreciate it. Parents proud of their children may be quite embarrassing.
/Heikin pohteita/My ponderings in finglish/Curriculum Vitae — Heikki Välisuo/ Professional career (2018-09-15)
Some of my interest and a summary of my education and work history
Facilitation of learning
I am interested in teaching. I see teaching as facilitation of learning incorporated with some couching and mentoring. I like teaching individuals or small groups, because it allows authentic dialogue with the learners which helps me to understand their thinking.
I am especially interested in facilitating collective learning. When teaching a group of people I want to facilitate collaboration and authentic dialogue among them: Challenge their thinking and give new ideas and advice when necessary. When giving guidance I would first like the learners to expalin, how they see their problem.
I like to base learning on attacking ill-defined real life problems or challenges like asking a comprehensible explanation on some important phenomenom. Attacking such problems reveals, what we have to learn to solve it. Studying real life phenomena ties theory and practice together. You learn to identify and formulate the problem, find out relevant theories and facts and learn to apply them.
My special interest is the education of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. I programmed some video games in Python to demonstrate how programming could make learning mathematics and mechanics more interesting and how programming video games might motivate learning to program.
I would like to see more systemic thinking in public discussion on issues like forestry. I made a simulator of my mental model of forestry to demonstrate my thinking. I think even simple simulations are useful also in education.
I have elicitated operators's needs and wishes at industrial process plants to specify requirements for operator support systems. I have developed organizational processes and related web tools to optimally serve the staff to achieve the objectives. I believe the experience would be useful in service design.
I like studying new ideas and testing them in real life. I can be quite persistent in studying in depth any topic I find relevant to the challenge.
I feel a little too old to study the latest findings on fields like quantum physics, though not so long ago I studied with enthusiasm how to apply . Lagrangian mechanics in programming a video game. (In Finnish, sorry)
Hobbies and interests
I am praticing to enhance constructive fact-based dialogue in social media on political issues.
I want to contribute to sustainable development — or should I say contribute to the survival of the planet.
Education and professional experience