Vieraskynäilyä jalkapallon MM-finaalista

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Olen tänäkin kesänä seurannut tarkasti jalkapallon MM-kilpailuita, kuten kaikkia MM-lopputurnauksia Meksikon kesän 1986 turnauksesta lähtien – ja oikeastaan kaikkea futista siitä lähtien. Jalkapallon arvoturnaukset luovat legendoja ja tarinoita, ja tänä kesänä sain kunnian toimia Ranskan matkojen erikoistoimisto Pamplemousse Oy:n blogin vieraskynäilijänä kirjoittaessani pikku ennakon finaaliottelusta ja Ranskan etenemisestä turnauksessa. Lämmin kiitos kunniasta, että sain toimia vieraskynäilijänä ja nostaa nähdäkseni ratkaisevan keskikentän kamppailun finaaliottelun keskiöön.

Pidetään peukkuja huikealle finaalille, ja toivotan omasta puolestani sinulle oikein hyvää MM-futiksen finaaliviikonloppua.

Ottolock Tested in Amsterdam

Ottolock

I told in my earlier post, that my Ottolock is easier to use and very effective lock for cycling use. Well, I tested my lock in Amsterdam lately, when I stayed there for two weeks. Everybody told me my bicycle is just something that is going to get stolen immediately when I leave it on the streets. They kept laughing at my lock and said it looks like a toy, and someone is going to steal my bike with or without the lock. I was told absolutely not to leave my bicycle on the streets. People rolled their eyes when I told I have a lock here and took my Ottolock out of my pocket.

Well, of course we all know, that there’s no lock that couldn’t be broken if you leave your bicycle to a wrong place at wrong time. If a thief has enough time and space, he’ll take the bike anyway. That’s just the same whether you use a chainlock, U-lock, cable tie or whatever. In Amsterdam I used bicycle sheds if possible, but sometimes I left my bike on the streets or bridges locked with my Ottolock. The best option in a city like Amsterdam would possibly be using two locks, but this one seemed to be very effective as well. Maybe I was just lucky or time spent in the city was too short for making a comprehensive empirical research, but my bicycle wasn’t stolen during these two weeks I stayed in Amsterdam.

Attending the ABC Summer School

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As I told earlier, I spent two weeks in Amsterdam in June studying, cycling and seeing the city. Now the summer school is over and it’s time to make a short summary about things I learned and experienced. To be honest, I wanted to write a travelogue to my blog, but sorry to say I was far too busy and exhausted to do that during my trip. The course itself was very challenging for a part-time student like me, but after two weeks of school work I completed the course along with my young student colleagues.

Students from the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Romania… and Finland

ABC Summer School 2018 brought together students from different universities all over Europe. There were students at least from the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Romania, Canada… and me from Finland. The major part of the students were studying in the research master program in the University of Amsterdam, but many of them were also studying different master’s degrees in the University of Leiden, Utrecht University, the Hague Universitythe Radboud University in Nijmegen and many others.

I don’t study in a master’s program, so it was a bit tough to adapt to studying in English in such a short time we had in Amsterdam – especially when the terminology of neuroscience was quite unfamiliar to me. However, in my opinion, I succeeded quite well despite some difficulties I had with the topic.

Excellent lessons

The course itself consisted of two parts: 1) lessons and 2) workshops. Or actually there was also the third and the most important part, which is my own learning and time used to it. But that is quite an obvious part of studying, so I concentrate on the first two parts. Of course I could have used more time for my own reading, but there was also much to see in Amsterdam, and I had decided to take it a bit easier with the course. In the workshops we were instructed by tutors, and our goal was to create three things for our research plan: 1) a study proposal, 2) an A0-sized poster and 3) a pecha kucha presentation. For these things we had two weeks of time, so we couldn’t really waste time during the course.

Every morning from Monday to Friday days started with morning lessons given by professors from different universities. They all spoke of different fields of neuroscience. Topics were from their own interests and study projects. All these phenomena were researched by the methods of neuroscience. For example my own interest is understanding decision-making, that was introduced by for example prof. dr. Berna Güroglu, whose traffic example was pretty much like my own plan in my previous post. Traffic is an interesting subject, because it includes so many common rules and ways of acting. Traffic is also a social environment, where we have to take other people into account. Our own research plan was to try to model these social environmental stimuli on norm compliance, which made traffic example very interesting, too.

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Prof. dr. Berna Güroglu talked for example about decision-making in traffic.

Study proposal, poster and pecha kucha presentation

For me it was completely a new thing to do a study proposal, poster and pecha kucha presentation of our research plan, so already seeing the form of them was new for me. But I got really good advices from my student colleagues and tutor for doing them. For them all these things seemed to be a business as usual type of thing in their studies, so I had excellent exercise when participating our team work and seeing my student colleagues working.

Study proposal, as I understood it right, is the document, that is done at first when planning a research. It’s like a supporting framework for all the other things, and with your proposal you sell your idea to for example university and to potential financiers. But when I wrote my own master’s thesis in 2012–13, I didn’t write any kind of proposal, although I should have written if I consider it now. Anyway. I wrote my thesis without any proposal and that’s it. But if you want to do a real research, that you want to sell to someone, a study proposal and a poster are probably something you should do.

So, we did our proposal and poster plus prepared our pecha kucha presentation, that we gave to the other students and tutors. And here’s our poster, where we could have used a bit more pictures. But anyway, in my opinion that was the best research poster I have ever done. Let’s forget the fact, that it’s also the only one I’ve ever done. Anyway, it was also interesting to see and hear the other students’ research plans and how they had planned to research the phenomena they were interested in. Some of the students told, that they are really going to put their plans into practice in the future. That sounds great, when these students were able to use this course as a stepping stone towards their own research.

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Presenting the posters of the research plans.

 

Final thoughts of the course

The course was very interesting, and it gave me a lot to think about – which obviously was the main point when attending the course. First of all it was really nice to be able to participate the ABC Summer School 2018. All the people were very supportive and nice, and the course itself was well organized. I want to thank the staff of Amsterdam Brain and Cognition unit for these excellent two weeks. I really keep my thumbs up for you and also all my student colleagues from different universities. Many of them are going to do their master’s thesis in the near future, and they’ll need a lot of positive energy to their work.

My time in Amsterdam was really intensive, but also very nice and rewarding. I also learned a lot, and was able to use my English in practice, which was one of the main points when decided to study abroad. I really recommend this kind of combination for anyone interested in both traveling and learning.

Lenny Kravitz in Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam

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Lenny Kravitz on stage in Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam.

Amsterdam, Sunday 24th June was a very special night for me. That night we went to see Lenny Kravitz‘s gig in the full Ziggo Dome arena. I have been listening to Lenny Kravitz for so many years, but this was my first time to see him live on stage. The arena was full of energy for all those 2,5 hours Lenny was playing with his band, and I must say the evening was unforgettable.

Raise Vibration Tour 2018 is the tour for Lenny’s 11th studio album called Raise Vibration, that will be released on September 7. In Ziggo Dome we heard two songs from the upcoming album – in addition to all those pieces everyone the audience already knew.

This was the first of three gigs I’m going see this summer, and it was really worth every cent of the ticket price. Almost can’t wait for the next ones…

Cycling and Studying in Amsterdam

I have been participating the Summer School of the Universiteit van Amsterdam for a couple of days now. My student colleagues are mostly studying psychology, neuroscience or computer science, so I must admit I am behind them in my knowledge in these topics. They are so talented young people, and also highly interested in these topics. I have had to admit, that I am not a computer scientist or a neuroscientist, and when accepting the fact and my limitations I can deal with it.

It’s been very mind-opening start in the summer school. Campus itself is very nice, in the very heart of Amsterdam. It’s easy to believe people get good studying results in this kind of lively environment, so these two weeks are quite an important experience for me. At the same time it’s very important for a humanist like me to remember what my own interests and strengths are and what they are not. Computer science is definitely something that is far beyond my expertise. I still have a good time at school and in the city, and probably I can pass the course despite being totally on my uncomfortable zone with the topic and team work conventions.

About team working…

The basic target for the team work is that we are supposed to plan a research. Our group’s theme is value-guided decision making, which is basically a very important and interesting topic. Our planning leaves from computational modeling, where we have an agent and some theoretical directions, where the agent can move. There are also rewards and punishments that are supposed to instruct his choices. Maybe the agent gets a coin (reward) or an electrical shock (punishment), or something like that. Well, if I was taking part in an experiment, where I should collect coins, I would take a straight direction home and throw myself to horizontal position on my couch instead. Let’s see some alternative setting. In my mind value-based decision could be like deciding between my own action in case of red and green light in a crossroads, where you have exactly two choices: 1) to keep going on a red light, which allows you to move on quicker (reward), but you have a bigger probability to get hit by a car (punishment), receive disapproval and honks from car drivers (punishment) or a fine from a police officer (punishment) and act against traffic rules (punishment) or 2) wait for the green light, which is slower option to move on (punishment) and you probably won’t make it to the destination in time (punishment), but you gain smaller probability to get hit by a car (reward), no probability of getting a fine (reward) or disapproval (reward) and you act by the laws and moral rules (reward). We could add a stressor, which could be time, which means you need to get from point A to point B as soon as possible. Actually it could be the case, that you couldn’t make it to the destination on time if you stopped in all the green lights. Survival is quite an important motive in our decisions, but also being on time is important – at least for people living outside Spain. In this kind of experiment setting it could be tested, whether we prioritize being on time or our own safety and acting by the rules in different situations  in our decision making. This could be tested in VR environment. The advantage in this kind of traffic light experiment would be that it’s derived from decision making in common situations in everybody’s everyday life. I am still not a neuroscientist, so I don’t know what kind of measuring we should use and what kind of results we could get. Plus this kind of experiment is not what we are planning right now.

Anyway, that’s all about my studies for now. In any case I’ve decided to enjoy my time here despite feelings of being totally out of my comfortable zone. It’s actually very interesting with an exciting contrast to be a student in the daytime and a city tourist in the evening. So let’s just be happy. On second thought maybe I am a city tourist on the daytime, too. Who knows…

Cycling in Amsterdam

I have already ridden my bicycle some 220 kilometers during these four and half days I’ve stayed in Amsterdam. It’s been so great to have my own bike with me. And despite all the warnings I’ve got about bicycle thiefs, my bike is still there and not missing. Once my wheel was loose, so I had to get it fixed. I also purchased some inner tubes in case of similar situation, and now I must buy a new monkey wrench, ’cause my former one had dropped somewhere this morning while cycling to school. No… Believe it or not, I still found it from the very bottom of my cycling bag, so all good! Phew…

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My bike was fixed at the MacBike Amsterdam. They didn’t want to lend me tools, and it needed some negotiation to get my bike fixed straight away.

Anyway, I cycle to school every morning from my Airbnb-accommodation, that is located in Alsmeer – about 20 kilometers away from the center of Amsterdam. It takes a bit over one hour to cycle, because the traffic is so smooth. It took a few days to get used to the traffic system, but now I already do it a lot better. It feels really good to cycle here, while you don’t need to be too worried about other people’s mistakes − like in Helsinki you never know what happens, so you have to worry all the time. So the major thing to be worried about is that you are not causing any harm to the other people doing something stupid.

Take Your Own Bike to Your Trip

As I told earlier, I am attending Summer University in Amsterdam beginning next Monday, and I am going to fly there on Sunday. Organizing the trip has been a bit complicated for several reasons, so finding accommodation was a bit of a tough task. Anyway, finally I made a decision to live outside Amsterdam and cycle to school every day. I want to ride my own bike, but how do you get your bike to the destination? I am not going to ride it all the way from Helsinki to Amsterdam, and I want to avoid buying a bag for my bike – because it’s quite rare to need a bike bag. Why should we buy things we need only once or once a year?

So. I tried to find some peer support to know what do other cyclists do when they want to take their own bikes with them when traveling. The first thing I found was a service called Fillarilaukku.fi (operating probably only in Finland) that gave me all the answers I needed. They are renting bike bags for cyclists. That’s just what I need, so I took my phone and booked a bike bag for 2,5 weeks. It was so easy, and today I picked the bag up and packed my bike for the trip.

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This is how you start packing your bike. It’s very easy!

Anyway. I really recommend this service – or similar one elsewhere than Finland – for everyone wanting to ride their own bikes in their travel destinations. For me it costs some 200 euros total to get my bike on the airplane including the bag rental for 2,5 weeks. Of course you have to remember to book a place for your bike from the airplane, but this is pretty cool, right!