Music

St Petersburg

It’s all about Peter the Great. Basically most of the work that St Petersburg is known for happened during his reign.

He was 6ft 8.

Imagine that height 300 years ago. He was like a god. He took Estonia from Sweden because he visited Estonia as a child and loved it, so he went to war as leader to take it. He also took St. Petersburg from Sweden in a 21 year old war known as “The Great Northern War”.

The city is on 42 islands and it’s based on Peter’s favorite city, Amsterdam.

The name was changed to Leningrad after Lenin died in 1924. During the Gorbachev era, the Communist Government asked people if they want the name to revert back to St Petersburg, thinking the people would say NO, but the people said YES. But the Government did nothing until the USSR dissolved and it reverted back to its original name.

We stopped off at this little Art Gallery and Souvenir shop with free coffee, free vodka and free toilets. I was in heaven.

Peter and Paul Cathedral has the graves of the royal family. Czar Nicholas II family was taken out to some woods and shot during the Bolsheviks Revolution. About 20 years ago, the bodies were found and then transported back to this Cathedral.

Church of The Spilled Blood was built over a side walk where a Tsar was assassinated.

Hermitage Museum in the Winter Palace was just too much gold. Extravagant and impressive.

We did an underground Metro ride and those stations are wow. Everything is impressive and showcases the riches.

Peterhof means Peter’s Court, his summer residence by the water and it was based on Versailles, a place he visited as a child that he wanted to replicate in St Petersburg. It’s impressive as well, totally rebuilt after the Nazis destroyed it in WW2.

Catherine’s Palace was built for Peter The Great’s wife.

Everything revolves around Czar Peter The Great.

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My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Growth Mindsets vs Fixed Mindsets

Take a look at every representative team selection process and there is literature in their guidelines about how the players/kids need to have a growth mindset or exhibit attributes of a growth mindset.

But for some reason, when it comes to picking kids, the selectors themselves have a fixed mindset. Selectors have a mindset that if the kids have been part of their program for a few years, they are better or “way ahead” than the kids that haven’t been in their program.

In Australia, parents pay $2500 for a kid to be in an elite junior team. The fact that a lot of kids don’t even try out for elite teams because of costs is never addressed. This leads to a user pay model, where the parents with money have their children in elite teams. This could be a problem or not a problem depending on the people who select the teams.

What seems to be happening is that the oldest and fastest kid for the age group is selected early on (at U9’s). By U12’s the kid hasn’t learnt how to play football properly, or learned when to use the correct ball mastery move based on what the opponent is doing. But the kid is still fast and is developing/maturing ahead of the other kids. If the selectors had to pick between this kid or the kid born in June, who is playing killer passes and is showing signs of game intelligence, they would still hold on to the kid that has been in the elite program.

Why you ask?

It’s because they have a fixed mindset. The way the selectors see it as like this;

  • Kid is in elite program, training 3 times a week with an accredited coach

versus

  • The kid playing club football, training 3 times a week (most grassroots club train 2 times a week but the high performing clubs train 3 times) with a parent as a coach. In some cases, a parent is accredited and in other cases they aren’t.

Now the accredited coach that the Elite team has can be a great coach or a poor coach. And the thing is, learning is difficult. If it was easy, all the kids would already know everything they need to know.

But unfortunately, there is a pre-judgement issue in the undertow. The kid that runs fastest to the ball is already on the radar because it’s that “easy to measure” skill. The fact that the kid has a poor touch into the opposition, turns into players and turns the ball over is forgotten. The fact the kid is not looking up to see what is happening in the game is also forgotten.

Who cares. He’s faster, he’s older and he’s winning the ball. But those easy to measure skills are not as important as the real skills that matter.

Look at the NFL and how they use data to decide how players coming into the draft should be ranked. The fact that Tom Brady recorded one of the worst scores and went on to become a superstar of the game, shows how people’s pre-judgement affects our choices.

Coaches and selectors need to also have a growth mindset and show some of the attributes the kids need to have. But we live in a society with a win at all cost mindset and a teams performance is viewed through the prism of the result.

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My Stories

Estonia

We got up at 4.50am on Monday to catch a flight from Berlin to Copenhagen. I started to feel nervous as I never questioned the email of the cruise departure point change. I started thinking it was a hoax email.

It was an uneasy feeling. So in my mind I started formulating a plan B. Just in case the ship wasn’t there.

The cab ride cost 50 Euros from our hotel to Schönefeld Airport. I made sure I got a receipt. I’m surprised at how tiny the two Berlin Airports are.

An hour plane ride later and we are in Copenhagen and catching another cab to the cruise terminal. This one cost 550 Danish Kroner. Another receipt in the wallet for the claim back.

And thank god, the ship was there and all the people who went to Berlin to board the cruise where also there. Hell this guy from a Berlin Starbucks that I was talking too a few days before was also there.

Everyone responded to the change.

Once we checked in, we went straight to the food. We were starving. Then after the safety drills, I sat down and started enjoying my Heineken’s. The next part of the journey was beginning.

One of the things that shits me is gratuities. I paid em all for the cruise before hand and also organized the Ultimate Beverage Package (UBP) for my wife and I. So I order a Cappuccino and a bottle of water and I’m told I need to pay for it, because Cappuccinos and bottled waters are not included in the UBP. Sodas and alcohol are, but not water and coffee. What bullshit?

And I pay gratuities again for the coffee. Bullshit times two. We sailed all day Tuesday and on Wednesday we docked in Tallinn and man, it was cold and wet.

Our tour guide, Piret spoke about the history. There is a lot there. The Danes, the Germans, the Swedes and the Russians all ruled the Estonians.

It’s only a small country. 1.2 million people all up.

Estonia was independent from 1918 to the start of WW2. When the USSR annexed the country, the current government ministers were sent to Siberia and killed.

The Russian rule is unpopular. The Russians tell the world they liberated Estonia, while Estonians saw it as oppression. Woman were separated from their children and sent to Siberia. Men were separated from their wives and children and sent to Siberia.

Check out a YouTube movie called “The Singing Revolution” if you don’t believe me. But the shops sell Russian Dolls even though it’s got nothing to do with Estonia. And it’s got this massive Orthodox Church built by the Russians that doesn’t resonate with the Estonians.

The Old Town in Tallinn is UNESCO listed, and is presented as it was in Medieval times. And even back then there was the haves and have nots. The rich lived up on the hill and had walls and gates put in place to keep the poor from the lower side out at night.

The first flag ever created happened in Estonia and it was the Danish flag. The legend has it that it came down from the sky into the court yard.

The Estonian flag is blue, black and white. The blue represents the sea and sky, the black represents the hardship and the wars fought and the white represents hope.

And as the day went on, the weather got worse. For that there was no hope.

And the weather went really bad after we boarded the ship, so it was no surprise that we got a Captain Announcement that due to 4m wave forecasts and severe storms for the Gulf of Finland, St Petersburg was on the verge of flooding, so the authorities closed the dam door to keep it safe. This dam closure also meant that no ships could enter St Petersburg. So we remained in port at Tallinn.

Thursday morning we woke up in Tallinn and we got another Captain message that we are going to sail for St Petersburg this afternoon and from there we are going to sail back to Copenhagen.

What the fuck?

No Helsinki, No Stockholm.

I’ll rather be safe than not but this cruise trip has seen more changes than a Motley Crue concert.

So we did our own thing today in Tallinn. And the weather was blue skies with 60km winds. We’ll take it.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Theatre Of Copyright Business

Dave Mustaine recently posted the following on Twitter;

It’s a big week for songwriters all over the country, on Tuesday, the Senate passed the Music Modernization Act, the most important piece of legislation in a generation, making sure songwriters are paid the fair market value when their songs are played.

Steven Tyler was one of the biggest lobbyist for this Act to pass.

Nikki Sixx posted the following on Facebook about another Copyright fight in Europe that looks like it’s going to get the green light;

Fantastic news. This started with artists who had the courage to use their voice’s and standing up to an industry that wasn’t willing to change.I am very proud of all those artists and happy to see the ball rolling in the right direction.Without compensation artists can’t afford to keep making the music.We are just getting started.

There is a lot of opposing opinions to Nikki’s post from EU citizens that highlighted issues with the new EU Copyright Reform especially Article 11 and 13.

The real rock stars these days are the fans.

The artists think they make a little coin and they’ve won some victory. They are clueless to the social impact these laws create in handing even more power over to the Corporation.

The enemy is the labels. Artists should take up arms against them, instead they are taking up arms against the consumption methods of their fans.

Remember the labels want the old world, in which they had control over the distribution and before Napster they tried real hard to get perpetual copyright. Then again Nikki Sixx owns his Masters and was involved in setting up a label. So his record deal is with himself. Isn’t he making enough coin?

Both of these Acts originated from the corporations instead of the artists. The labels always win and the public domain gets nothing again. The label executives fly private while 98% of artists fly economy.

No Government should be allowed to add new rights to works created decades ago. Those works got created under the laws at that time, which suited the artist just fine however they have been changed retroactively too many times and now those works are under copyright for close to 110 years.

Copyright law is about creating an incentive for new creativity and to enrich the public. It’s a trade off. Adding new rights to old recordings doesn’t create any incentive for new creativity.

If you want to read about the US Act, read these two articles;

EFF Article

Techdirt Article

For the EU law read the following articles;

EFF Article

Techdirt Article

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My Stories

More Berlin

My Saturday began with my wife waking me up at 5.30am.

“Pete, we have a problem”, she said.

“What is it?”, I replied back.

“I just got an email and they’ve changed our cruise departure point from Berlin to Copenhagen.”

“Okay I’ll deal with it later”, I said without really comprehending the situation.

In my head, I’m thinking, what the fuck. The cruise company didn’t just change it, they moved it to another fucking country.

Five seconds later I was fully awake, so I asked to see the email. And it’s true. Due to adverse weather conditions forecast for Berlin, which is actually a port called Warnemunde, three hours away from Berlin, NCL, the owners of Norwegian Breakaway moved the departure, with a goodwill gesture to reimburse us up to $300US for any extra costs.

So at 5.35am, I’m booking flights to Denmark and spending an additional 476 Euro for 5 tickets.

I haven’t had a trip to Europe without a hiccup.

Today was our public transport day in Berlin. We did the old West Berlin City Shopping Hub and caught a Bundesliga game between Hertha Berlin and Borussia Monchengladbach with 51,800 other people. Hertha won 4-2.

The atmosphere was electric.

One thing that Europe does well is their public transport system. It’s so easy to use and everything is located close to the train stations. Australia is a mess when it comes to public transport.

However, one thing that I find ridiculous in Germany is the need to pay to use a public toilet. In Australia, we don’t have this problem.

Sunday was our walking day. Actually on Friday, we did 13.9km of walking, on Saturday we did 11.4km of walking and today (Sunday) we did 13.3km of walking. As I type this, my legs are aching and my calves are super tight. I’m getting too old for these kind of trips.

Today we did Alexanderplatz, Nikolaikirchplatz and the Wall Memorial. At Alexanderplatz, they are gearing up for Oktoberfest. One thing I like about Germany and Europe in general is that beer is available everywhere. Australia is not like that. But we have toilets everywhere and for free.

And on Sundays a lot of things are closed. They don’t tell ya that in the guides. Maybe I’m used to Australia and everything being opened 7 days a week.

I wanted to do a lot more in Berlin and explore more of the older settlements a bit further away from the city however time is short and tomorrow we depart to catch our cruise in Copenhagen.

Let’s see if the cruise ship is there waiting.

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My Stories

Berlin

Should countries put their history behind paywalls?

I saw it a lot in Barcelona in 2016. Every tourist attraction was available at stupid highly inflated prices. I’m seeing it in Berlin. Australia is no different.

I viewed a Berlin Wall panorama for 27 Euro for the whole family. To take a picture at Checkpoint Charlie, it cost us 6 Euros.

Brandenburg Gate was free. It’s massive but under repairs with a massive scaffold behind it. It’s a common European problem, where all the old stuff needs to be repaired and fixed. Another European problem is trying to find a toilet close to popular sites for my six year old to shit. These little detours take you way of course.

I also promised my six year old, we will view the LEGO Exhibition. We finally got to Postdamer Platz Sony Centre, walk up to pay our entry fee, thinking it will be no more than 20 Euro for a family and are left with open mouths, when the person on the other side of the counter tells us it’s 19.50 Euro for one person.

“One person” I exclaimed as she nodded.
“So that means a hundred Euros for five of us.”
She nodded again.
“That’s ridiculous”, I said and walked out. My little guy didn’t even care in the end.

We walked for a few more minutes down to a Espionage Exhibition, payed 35 Euro for the family and had a blast checking out all of the different spying techniques used through out the last 120 years. And Berlin being divided into East and Wast was a haven for the spies.

I saw a three story record store and I took the boys in so they could see what it was like when I was growing up to obtain music. They hated it.

They hated flicking through the records and finding out, that the record I asked them to look for is not there.

“What was the point?”

Because they’ve grown up in an on-demand society. Everything they want is available at their fingertips.

The thing that got me was the price to buy music. 29.99 Euros for one vinyl record is ridiculous, especially when you have Spotify available in Germany for 9.99 Euro and it has every artist you would need.

When we got back to the hotel, demonstrator’s had taken over the street. Police cars and escorts were everywhere. The cars are stopped and the trams are stopped while the protest moves past. They have loudspeakers and disco beats.

I asked one guy what is the protest about as I don’t understand German. The guy responds it’s a demonstration. And I’m thinking no shit, buddy.

So I change my question and ask, what are they demonstrating about?

He turns, looks at me and says “women rights”. Thanks for being so talkative.

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Music, My Stories

Flying

You need to have a lot of patience to travel with kids under the age of eighteen months on a fifteen hour plane journey.

On my Sydney to Doha flight we had a lot of them.

My kids are now thirteen, twelve and six. I travelled with them on a few local flights in Australia when they where under eighteen months, and it was messy with the crying and whingeing for the local trips, so overseas was a big NO. Our first long flight was in 2010 and the kids had a ball with the in-flight entertainment.

And as much as Dads are meant to do their share, it was the Mums standing in the corner of the plane, rocking the child and trying to calm him/her.

The more older crowd didn’t like it, and just kept breathing heavy. Me, I didn’t mind it. I put the headphones on and kicked back. Well, kicking back is not really true. I felt like I was sitting on a piece of wood and after one hour my bum cheeks started aching.

And when I can’t rest my elbows on the elbow rests because of the other passenger, I’m very uncomfortable. Guess I need to save some more and move up a seating class.

Anyway I caught up on the movies I said I would watch in the last twelve months but didn’t get around to watching like “War for The Planet Of The Apes”, “The Quiet Place” and “I, Tonya”.

On the second plane trip from Doha to Berlin, I watched “American Animals” and “Hotel Artemis”.

If you haven’t seen em, I recommend em all.

Also on the plane trip to Berlin, I checked the audio section of the planes entertainment. I was surprised at a few like Europe “Walk The Earth”, Judas Priest “Firepower” and “Turbo Lover”.

Then it had some albums I expected from artists like Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Oasis and Jeff Buckley.

Anyway I called up “Sonic Highways” from the Foos first and went straight to “I Am A River”. It was the first song that connected with me from the album.

I was pissed off because the headphone jack was playing up as it switched between one ear piece and then both. I played around with it, until I got it working and then clicked repeat.

The feel of the song towards the last 4 minutes is major key feel good happiness and you feel like you can accomplish anything. The same way rivers flow and bring life and sustenance to areas, I feel like I flow into each day with hope and optimism.

I couldn’t pass on “Turbo Lover”. I just dig the way it builds with bass, synths and drums, then vocals and the guitars. Even the guitars build in the song.

Then I was walking the earth with Europe. Pretty ironic since I’m landing in Berlin and Stockholm is in my itinerary a week later.

It’s daunting to some to check out an album, so I’ll set you on the path. Check out “Walk The Earth”, “The Siege”, GTO”, “Whenever You’re Ready” and “Turn To Dust”. If those songs don’t connect, then the others won’t either.

King King with the kilt wearing Les Paul playing vocalist/guitarist was next and their album “Exile And Grace”. The song I went to straight away to was “Find Your Way Home”. It’s one of those bluesy ballads that has killer playing and emotive vocals.

And like Europe, if you want to know what tracks to check out first, “Broken”, “Find Your Way Home”, “Tear It All Up” and “Betrayed Me”.

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