Posts Tagged ‘Helsinki’



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Art of Recycling


7/8: I had the pleasure this week of working with potential U Helsinki postdoctoral researcher Daria Gritsenko, now PhD candidate (filed dissertation May and expecting degree October), who is studying geopolitics of Finnish and Russian maritime fuel transportation and port authority public sector administration (St. Petersburg, Viborg, Primorsk).

Our cultures of expertise collaborative research came by an introduction of her advisor, Dr. VeliPekka Tynkkynen, U Helsinki Professor in Russian Energy Policy at Aleksanteri Institute and Department of Social Research.


Daria skills includes identifying the integrity of phrases within sentence structure, providing a stiffening-of-the-neck experience when listening to her commentary regarding clarity at critical junctures across the page.

As with previous project description drafts we worked with, many of the items that have been sitting there — as if on proud display — through the critique of Daria, now appear as sunbathers, as if loafing on the page instead of taking initiative on the actual existing project.


It is an art of recycling.

From the special attention we now gather the following insight on correct scientific etiquette for deliberation toward future project research:


Item (1) the expert brings with her a vocabulary that in-advance represents an organically direct connection between empirical (or worldly) experience and firm grasp of the disciplinary register;

Item (2) there must be some total grasp of the object of focus from which present discussion goes forth, and thus, from now on, we impose acute requirements for having done one’s homework prior to meeting at hand.

Item (3) we impose a (likely voracious) appetite for improvement with all its requisite of personal preference of will to improve, that is, undiminished by insecurity, ambivalence, or cynicism.

Oh bother. The main luxury here is just…what inspiration when working alongside true collaborators and, of course, the joy of the work itself – to open up space with time to work through the details of research.


Thank you, again, Daria!

Wooden Entrance: Academy of Finland


7/7: A meeting at Academy of Finland, Culture and Society Research Unit with Science Adviser, Dr. Satu Hiiha-Cissokho, Hakaniemenranta 6.

Fascination with walking up wooden steps to a steel and glass building that houses state administrative functions. There, right in front of the modern structure rises the smell of old-world pinewood lumber baking under the summer sun.

Somewhere buried in this blog are references to Martin Heidegger‘s appeal to (wooden, leather) materials that take affect of human presence, what Dr. Nuccio Mazzullo instructed as the location where “human action comes into focus”.


A sentiment perhaps belonging to memories from anyone’s guess of what a high-altitude (Squaw Valley) or, in this case, high-latitude household wooden-deck-feeling can taste like after the complete thaw of winter snow — all the while, now cracking in summer splendor.

Is it no surprise that the Academy of Finland entrance does not double as a sunbathing platform?

finland academe

Hot summers are a serious issue.

For me, the official “Finnish Summer” takes place on the 8th floor of the Stockmann Department store in the center of Helsinki — a culturally important shopping experience, according to the continuous intercom service announcement wafting inside of the building.






Most folks seek out a strip of pine deck upon which to lie, sun, and laze. Behold, the bitty quay located just minutes stroll from Academy of Finland.

googlemapvisiting card

Inside the building, I was presented with a ready-made security badge printed prior to my arrival.

The building lieutenants offered me directions for taking a seat in waiting rooms where several types of chairs to choose from lay about, providing me with a typical entrance experience [note to self].

Inside the conference room, a wall-hanging bronze plaque with the engraving Academy of Finland [Suomen Akatemia in Finnish] provided a moment of reflection.


Satu was quite generous with her time. She has special knowledge about European Research Council (ERC) operations, meaning that she belongs to a rarefied class of person living today across Europe who can actually make contact with a real-life person inside the ERC building in Brussels. plaque

It was with great pleasure and humility that the meeting took place at all.

Satu invited me to an opportunity to think carefully about submissions to ERC, and also, to take some photographs of our meeting location. Academy of Finland recently moved into this wooden entranced steel glass building, now occupying two entire floors.


In the end, wondering aloud during dinner over the unique design feature that is visible at street level from the appearance of lines drawn on glass from the outside of the building, I thought about whether it curtails the view from inside, when looking out on the Helsinki landscape.

It is an empirical question. The image above provides a measure of affirmative confirmation.


Yellow Interiors: Aleksanteri Institute



It is always a pleasure to meet with Anna Korhonen, Aleksanteri Institute administrator of research and grants. We shared several hours brainstorming over Marie Curie ideas in true collaborative spirit.

In the conversation, we turned to the specificity of expertise held by consultants, posing to ourselves the question: what is their basic trick, for example, in guiding knowledge to users for developing projects?

Speaking frankly, the added value of Aya van den Kroonenberg (apart from her cool name) is the ability to separate the clutter from the object at hand and to create a sanctified space where only practical activity and the art of focus can narrow the distance between oneself and objects of inquiry.

It is a rarefied talent that as social science researchers contemplating such things in the hallways of Aleksanteri Institute, made us tittle as we held our heads in wonder.

inside alek

above: Helsinki

sky1long goodbyespir

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coffee12/10: Blew into Helsinki to work with Katariina Vainio-Mattila, U Helsinki, on a few proposal resubmissions, and feeling as I have never left, especially stopping through Fratello across from Sokos Helsinki, the former, where I spent most mornings some months earlier. A list of deadlines between here and getting off at SFO International on Thursday appear manageable under the spell of the writer’s grotto.

Dinner with Roosa R

dinner 2



⇒ the [transatlantic]

book return




Arkadiankatu 14

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beginning spoon finger starters soup done main desert

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8/1: Over lunch with Dana M. and Anna F., Aleksanteri third floor, I mentioned my recent field trip with Tapani K. to St. Petersburg, Russia, where, instead of heading to Gazprom for an Energy Intensive Seminar, our schedule changed and we walked through a Q and A at the Baltika Beer factory, owned by Danish beer giant, Carlsberg Group.

We all tittled over this choice of venue change, but the reality of the trip raised a series of research questions surrounding method.

I mentioned that our Gazprom visit was likely suspended because of proprietary concerns about sharing information, but during our visit to Baltika we acted like curious academics nonetheless, pestering the tour guide incessantly with questions about production chain.

Actually, I realized that Baltika representatives were indeed quite open to responding to all of our questions, without hesitation. Unlike the energy industry, the brewery guide offered the possibility that studying beer production in Russia could be a fruitful way to have access to (enough) data on global production processes.

In Houston, for example, visiting the oil service company, Schlumberger (see post below), the tour guide suggested the company had total control over production of metals required to assemble parts, and governing over standards ensured reliability of performance. In St. Petersburg, I asked whether Baltika governs over agricultural producers to standardize qualities and quantities of grains. We were told the beer company relies on local growers but could rely on grains shipped from Argentina or Brazil– no solid contracts.

The openness of the entire discussion suggested there are “unmarked” categories of discourse about industry in Russia, where researchers could have access to data than in “marked” industries, such as energy, where gaining access feeds into a kind of desire of — on the one hand of Russian industry’s need to sequester facts, and on the other, of western researchers’ focus on gathering those particularly unavailable facts.

view from libraryHelsinki
street scene

park at night
inland sea

Over lunch, we began discussing the possibility of carrying out interviews among practioners working in Russia, to determine which industries are more open to sharing information as research– energy more closed while with beer– well who knows, perhaps more open. Questions about transparency and access could provide a sense of what types of information could be available for qualitative researchers working with interview and ethnographic materials.

I thought at that moment, of how open the Norwegians are when talking about energy industry.

Two additional points of relevance:

First, researchers having written about access to Russian energy industry have in their personal possession some sense of how transparency is constructed. Also, how would a comparison of industry transparency between Norway and Russia appear. That is, in addition to selecting industry based on open exchange within Russia– also select an industry that as of yet has not developed the appropriate consciousness of having to sequester knowledge. Finally, how could a comparison of Norwegian/Russian practices over transparency take place.

In short, three types of comparison: (1) between “marked” (energy) and “unmarked” (beer) industry; (2) across Russian and Norway’s energy industry practioners looking at forms of sequestration and transparency; (3) among researchers of Russian energy industry, to determine what they — objectively, can point to as validation, in their claim to have deep access.






coffee + Croi

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Helsinki helsni machine6/30: Laundry in Helsinki, gave me a few hours to ponder Arkhangelsk, SPB, Moscow. Game changer — April, at the Arctic Council meeting, Stockholm, I suggested the trend in predictions over the past 15 years could not, or did not, anticipate game changing events, such as increases to oil and gas production through fracking techniques. As a consequence, was it then premature to discuss opening the Arctic to oil and gas development, and if so, how could everyone in the room consider the option as settled? The question took form during the Economists Summit, Oslo, March, when a more general statement emerged from the audience about the logic of opening the Arctic to oil and gas developments given the current condition of security of supply and insecurity of demand. wingBy the time I arrived at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, June, the topic was global outlook on natural gas. At the International Energy Agency (IEA) Launch of the 2013 Medium Term Gas Market Report, Maria van der Hoeven, Executive Director, IEA, suggested that low natural gas prices in the United States, high prices in Europe, and stratospheric prices in Asia were symptomatic of the lack of a global gas network. Moreover, the mismatch left open opportunities for Russia to capture Asian prices by directing hypothetical Arctic natural gas pipeline projects toward China. Over supply in Europe from United States exports would dampen demand years to come. The question was reformulated as follows: Going back 15 years, we see reverse cycles of demand-supply security. FinnairIn the late 1990s, increasing demand and a flush of natural gas availability opened the possibility of a turn toward electricity power generation based on natural gas. By the early 2000s supply tightened while demand was peaking. Throughout the 2000s tightening supply destroyed demand along with other factors of volatility, until 2006 when supply begins to pick up, and by 2010 there is general acknowledgement of supply abundance during a period of weak market demand. These reversals of security affecting the fortunes of supply-demand relationships, did not deter IEA, alongside all other consultants, from making continued strong predictions. window dressingAccording to M. Hoeven, the question is best addressed in terms of asking what are the “game changers”. How would China’s economy move forward, how would supply increases take place in areas where hydrofracking technologies are still nascent. Finally, I posed the question to panel members at RPGC, Moscow, who were quick to point out that they do not, indeed, pose forecasts, but in fact, scenarios. Business “likes stability, stability of trends moving forward into the future”. But given past events, volatility and swings in the nature of global gas markets and its resilience toward globalization, could they mention game changers that would alter the scenario landscape. left side tooloo stair grass tile Hesl Helsini

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