Hacking Ebola

Not your typical Friday. Back from a sushi dinner, long overdue, with a close friend. And I’m remembering the first thing I saw on my computer this morning when I opened Chrome:Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.22.50 PM

 

My trusty Momentum Chrome Extension was quite adept  in forecasting the course of my day, first of all, with a photo of the Bay Area, the only photo from US soil I’ve seen in weeks, and then the quote by Margaret Mead which reads:

“Never underestimate the ability of a small group of dedicated people to change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Nothing could have been more appropriate or prophetic for what was to lay in store for me that evening.   At 5pm, in a conference room in downtown Oakland, I sat in a room with a lawyer, a technical leader, a healthcare professional, a design thinker, a freelance engineer, a biotech hardware engineer, a techno-cultural community organizer, a marketer, an investor, all brought together by what I would describe as a renaissance man, musician and technolgist, CEO and Founder of Feykena, Dwalu Khasu.  Who has a razor sharp determination to accomplish one goal with this small group of individuals: Eradicate Ebola from the planet.    I’ve never in my life participated in the discussion around something so grand, however I was not overwhelmed, but completely and utterly inspired.    In a few weeks, the plan is to hold a Hackathon in San Francisco, to create practical, and innovative solutions to the various concerns of people on the ground: healthcare workers, those infected, and those who are not.    While Silicon Valley remains silent,  and CEO’s wives pour money into the CDC, there is a small meeting of the minds, but these are not just any regular people, but I felt I was sharing a room with giants.  The brain power, passion, compassion, resources, and influence in this room, just humbled me.

I hear the voice of Boromir: One does not simply walk into Mordor.

One of the very first things that needs to happen, is to change the narrative, stop the fear mongering, and become a voice of calm and reason, and where we can: help and educate.   Keep your eyes peeled, I’m not sure where this is going, but the call has been answered.

This kind of irreverent boldness is necessary in times of crisis.

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MIDI, Time-Travel, and the Simpsons

03-Homer1
I just had an esoteric experience.

Let’s rewind to 1994.  It was a cool autumn night, or maybe it was summer, who really knows?   As a 16 year old, I was obsessed with orchestration, arrangements, and composition…  you know…  like most other 16 year olds.    I would often sit with a piece of music, and try to hear each instrument and learn each part.  Sure, I could have just gotten the sheet music, but this was more fun. It was a way to train my ear, and see how close I can get to the composer’s original vision.  It taught me a lot about composing, orchestration, as well as song-writing.

Obsessed with The Simpsons, it was only a matter of time, I did the same thing with the hit TV-show’s INFECTIOUS theme music by Danny Elfman.

Well, mission accomplished!  I listened to that song till my ears bled, and figured out as many of those whole-step runs as I possibly could, and saved the results to a MIDI file, to be played with pride on my then brand new Korg X3, which had decent enough orchestra sounds, for 1994.  And MIDI being the resilient format that it is, is still very much relevant 20 years later in 2014, when I found this file and decided to give it some new life.

It was like entering a collaboration with my 16 year old self, negotiating, learning from, and adding to.  And the result is what we have here, same MIDI file, a couple of additions, piped through MachFive+VSL to give it some new life, uploaded to SoundCloud ever immortalized by the inter-webs.

Special thanks to my good buddy Peter Maher, for taking time this Saturday and laying down Lisa’s breaking-out-of-the-school-walls with her heart wrenching solos, (but this time on the alto sax)

This goes out to all the Simpsons fans, musicians, and time travelers.

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