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Music New Music

Quarantine Sessions: Inthemiddle

Here’s a song about growing older and stopping to take in the scenery. This is the second song in the quarantine sessions series where I just use my iPhone voice memo to record a single take.

Here’s a link to Distrokid (my distributor) and they have links to all the digital services.

Categories
Music New Music

Quarantine Sessions: American Girl

After playing all these livestreams, it dawned on me that I could record these raw versions and release them. So I’m doing it.

Here’s the deal.. Single take, no edits no studio magic. Just me+guitar+iPhone.

First song to be released is a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song – “American Girl.”

Here’s the link for all the digital services.

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For The Good Life

Remote Work and Learning

As a software professional, my work has mostly been done remotely for many years. I’ve had a daily routine that really didn’t change when this pandemic hit. But as I talk to people, I am definitely in the minority. So many people were in the habit of commuting to an office as their “hub.” My hub has been my house for about 5 years.

As many are saying, companies have invested to properly outfit the tech to get their employees productive at home. This new reality is going to be a paradigm shift for just about any business that is office-centered. I think what we’ll see is a 50/50 model, where employees work from home half the week. This shift will likely change the commercial real estate requirements, but maybe not for another year until the new norm is played out. Of course, there are side benefits like lower emissions, less accidents, better quality of life.

The same pattern goes for e-learning. The school paradigm was designed in the industrial era when kids needed to be occupied outside the home for 7-8 hours. There’s never been a better opportunity to change the school paradigm. My thought is 33/33/33. About 33% of the week in a classroom. 33% collaborating out of the classroom (or sports) and 33% at home. Not only will this help the child learn in a modern fashion, it will help with overcrowded schools. There is a enormous opportunity to teach kids self-discipline. A routine that they need to be accountable for themselves 33% of the time. This pattern will develop organizational and time management skills, which is one key area a lot of kids lack.

I’ve felt the benefits of working remote and being responsible for a productive routine and it’s helped me immensely. I believe we can drive a long-term positive outcome from this Government-mandated quarantine.

Categories
For The Good Life

The Monster of all Tradeoffs

I hesitated to write about this publicly. I’m not one to publish my opinions about current events, political issues or fake news. Usually, I stick to music and after reading this you might agree.

What’s happened since January is a once-in-a-generation event. It’s so monumental, we probably won’t be able to get proper perspective for another year or so. When the news was announced that there was an “executive order” to close down most of America, I had an extremely bad feeling. I didn’t fear the virus at all, frankly. I feared having to start from zero again – for the 3rd time (dot-com bubble, financial crisis).

I’ve been working with a software startup for about a year now. We are just starting to see some light at the end of the launch tunnel. Now, the light is very dim. Our staffing division was chopped in half, pretty much overnight. My wife was put on furlough and needs to collect unemployment. There is a chance (hopefully small) that our income goes to $0 in June.

My son who went through fire trying to get a winning season at his high school had an excellent chance at his final baseball season. Now – it’s history and we’ll never know. Four years of preparation, elbow surgery, thousands of dollars for travel baseball and hundreds of games. Even though we enjoyed those times (other than the broken elbow), the hope was leading up to this final season of his senior year in high school. He has paid a large toll to “save lives” and I’m sure he hasn’t fully grasped that yet.

I get it, we need to distance and slow the curve, but I think we went too far. People’s businesses and perhaps their futures have been burned to the ground by an executive order. No vote. Just a bunch of “smart” people telling our politicians what to do. Did we save lives? Yes, for sure. However, the mortality rate for humans is still at 100%.

I believe we could have taken precautions without destroying the economy, families and our government. This bailout is 3x the size of 2009, but it’s worse because we’ve derailed several industries that were perfectly fine. We’ve artificially created a depression that might take another decade to recover – who really knows.

People are so scared of this virus, that there is an enormous amount of irrational behavior going on. Behaviors that may never change. My grandma used to sweep the front porch every day until the day she died. She did that out of habit from the effects of the dust bowl in 1930. 60 years later. People will probably wear masks for decades. Some people will be afraid to shake hands forever.

By taking such drastic measures to slow the spread, certain types of people will be changed forever. Was that all absolutely necessary? No one I know has (or had) the virus. Of all my family, friends and neighbors, I’ve heard of one person who got it – and he’s recovered. Lockdown, mission accomplished? What happens when it starts spreading again next Fall?

Categories
Music New Music

Virtual Happy Hour

You know the line, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere”! Well it absolutely applies when you are talking about a livestream at 5pm. Any timezone can watch.

Check it out here on my Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/memusic/live/

You can also watch past livestreams here.

Categories
Music

Gigable Favs Playlist on Spotify

Since 2015, I’ve been building this playlist which can be generally categorized as Americana, but it contains much more. 42 hours and 52min more to be exact!

Enjoy!

Categories
For The Good Music

Time Stand Still

Absolutely epic. This was one of my favorite Rush songs of that era. This group has captured the essence of this song in such a beautiful rendition – without drums.

Categories
Music

Celebrating Neil Peart (aka “The Professor”)

My first concert was in 1984 and it was Rush at the Rosemont Horizon (now, Allstate Arena). I remember the day vividly. It was June 29th and cold. I stood outside my house waiting to be picked up and remember thinking, ‘this is too cold for June.’ My friend and bandmate, Paul picked me up in his beat up Pinto. We took a wrong turn and went way out of our way. Got to our seats for the last song of the opener, Marillion.

My obsession with Rush started years before in 1981 when my cousin popped in an 8-track of Moving Pictures. Again, it was a vivid moment. I remember staring at the radio, listening intently as I have never heard music like this before. As a classical piano student, which I started in 1976, there was a quality to the Rush songs that affected me on a deeper level like no other band.

Neil Peart Tribute Article
Neil over the years

So, from the summer of 1981 to somewhere in the mid-90’s, Rush became my most binged music. I was into a lot of other artists, but as far as listening time goes, it was Rush 10:1. I attended a Rush concert every year they toured Chicago during that same period. Then, there was all the time spent learning bass/keys for most songs on Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures, Signals, GUP and HYF. It’s safe to say I was a Rush junkie.

It’s been 3 days since I heard the news about Neil’s passing and I really think I’m going through the stages. Listening to their 2011 Time Machine album this morning and hearing how wicked Neil’s playing was at age 60 is mind blowing. What Neil had been able to accomplish as a writer and musician, puts him into a class of his own. The complexity, creativity and quantity of his drums parts over the course of 19 studio albums is a body of work that is almost impossible to compare. And, up until 2016, he was performing those songs at near perfection – again – in his 60s! I’m 50 and playing piano/guitar for almost 40 years has taken a toll on my hands. I can’t imagine the toll of that level of playing/touring had taken on Neil. It would be like Tom Brady playing into his 50s.

As a lyricist and drummer, Neil was a pure artist. Never watering down his craft to fit into a more “popular” genre. Yet, by all measurements, Rush is more popular than most pop acts. I can pretty much guarantee Justin Bieber will not be performing at 63 years old.

As a musician and human, I need to thank Neil and Rush for having such a positive influence in my life. They were truly my “companion unobtrusive” for so many years. It’s very tragic that Neil could not get the chance to enjoy his golden years and meet more of the people whose life he changed.

Categories
For The Good Life

Willpower < Mortality

We’ve heard stories of people who “lost the will to live.” And that’s really sad of course, but that’s not what I’m referring to here. As we get older, it becomes apparent that we are in a battle with our bodies to stay healthy. Unchecked, most bodies will deteriorate over time (some faster than others) and die.

When we are young, it’s pretty easy for most people. Eat, sleep, drink whatever – and you just keep ticking. After age 45 though, it seems to all change. Digestion changes, memory changes, joints, etc.. At age 50, or thereabouts, we are in a daily battle with our bodies. It takes a real plan to combat the ultimate breakdown of our systems.

So what can we do to optimize our battles? Well, I think it starts when we are young and we have to be nice to our bodies. The harder we are on them ages 13-40, the harder it will be to do battle when we are 50. However, when the battle starts, it can be a very motivating routine. I find that scheduling time to take walks, do yoga and weight lift actually gets me motivated to work and play!

The reverse is also true. If you get lazy, it’s very easy to slip into zombie-land. This becomes very dangerous as you get older since this routine is deadly.

So, activity + motivation + willpower = true health.

Categories
AI Entrepreneurship Growth

The $15T Opportunity (that’s trillion)

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is set to explode over the next 5 years. After a few years of experimentation and a lot of hype, it seems we’re getting down to business.

A recent Forbes article explains how we got here and where we’re going. As an IT professional who’s been living and learning this stuff since 1989, my take is that the time is right for AI. We’re seeing new use cases every day in every field and from every type of AI application – vision, speech, images and conversation.