Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An Awkward New Year's Eve Moment

Just traveling down memory lane.  This "Awkward Moment" was recorded on New Year's Eve in 2004 in Princeton, MA.  Claudio at his best!



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Concert Calendar

I thought I would round up some of the concerts I will be a part of this coming week.

First up, Rachel Macy at Fellowship Church - Holden on Friday, December 26th.  Rachel has been writing, singing and performing in Virginia and Massachusetts for over 6 years now.  Before that she was a major contributor to Holden Chapel's youth group band.  It's going to be a great night with coffee and many friends.  Let me know if you need directions to the venue.



Also, this is a big week for The Black Raspberries.  The guys have been invited back to a couple of their favorite venues... and great places to see them perform their brand of high energy rock!  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

5 Ways to Avoid a Wireless Data Plan

Is your wireless data plan really worth the money?  With money being tight for so many of us, you may be wondering if your wireless plan is really justified.  iPhone users may be the exception to this phenomena thanks to a great browsing experience and plenty of 'apps' to pull down content that is useful. The rest of us are stuck with 'smart phones' that have a mediocre browsing experience. Is it worth the extra $30 to $50 per month in data charges? For me, the answer is "No".

Here are 5 ways that I avoid a wireless data plan.

1) Use a mobile phone with a cross platform operating system.

Over the years I've had plenty of phones that relied on some sort of proprietary operating system built by the manufacturer or the carrier. Unfortunately that means that all content also comes from or is licensed by the manufacturer or the carrier. The biggest problem for the end user is that it squeezes out a lot of innovative apps and cool games that are out there. Right now I'm using a Windows Mobile phone. While not a completely open platform, it is more flexible than a straight-up Verizon phone. Google's Android has some promise to be the most flexible OS for a phone, but will need to gain some market momentum before I'm really interested.

2) Microsoft ActiveSync.

In selecting my most recent phone (Motorola Q9m) one of the most important features was being able to sync with my Outlook Calendar at work.  By simply connecting my phone via USB, I let ActiveSync do all the work of updating changes I've made via the phone, in Outlook itself, or even via my Google calendar (also synced via Google Calendar Sync).  Another huge bonus is that I also have all of my contacts and phone numbers backed up on a regular basis.  Throw in the ability to have recent emails, tasks or Audio/Video files synced and it becomes a powerfull way to keep your phone up to date.  I do have plug my phone in about once a day, but it usually while I'm sitting at my computer anyway - any easy price to pay for avoiding wireless sync costs.

3) SMS Alerts

I do have to confess that my strategy is not entirely free.  I pay $10 a month for a large amount of text messanging.  Verizon throws in the free V to V texting and it gives me more than enough value to cover these communications.  SMS Alerts are available from just about every service you can imagine.  

Here is a list of alerts I get on regular basis:  
  • Yahoo Sports Alerts with scores from my favorite teams (Boston - thank you very much).
  • News alerts from Boston's WBZ.
  • Stock Market Updates at the end of the business day.
  • Email alerts from my work's email server (available via Rules and Alerts... in Outlook).
  • Updates from Facebook and Twitter.
  • Traffic alerts (for whatever area you select).
The reality is... you can create an alert out of just about any content available on the web.  Just utilize RSS feeds and push them through Yahoo or Google.  I never feel like I need to get on the mobile web because the information I want to see just comes to me in real time.
AvantGo is a great application you can download for your 'smart phone'.  Just think of it as a 'Google Reader' for you phone.  Go to their website, set up an account, select content they suggest (MSNBC headlines or CNET), create your own channel with just about any RSS feed, then sync your phone while your connected via USB.  It even captures images and gives you a pretty decent browsing experience for the money (free).  I use it to catch up on news and blogs that I didn't get a chance to read while I'm at my computer.

Suggestions:  It would be great to be able to sync this type of application with Google Reader so the stories you've already read online are removed (and vice versa).  

5) WiFi

This option is kind of cheating... but is on my wishlist.  I don't have a WiFi enabled phone, but if I did I would use my broswer for that mediocre browsing experience I was talking about at the begining.

Ultimately, I wish I had an iPhone, but I'm somewhat locked into Verizon because of the better coverage in my area and the fact that so many friends and family are on Verizon as well (big savings on minutes and texting).  So for now, I'm getting by without the wireless data charges. 

Do you use a wireless data plan or sneak by with other means?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Worcester Ice Storm '08

On Thursday, December 11th we sat in the house watching the ice build on the trees around the house.  At 12:30am on Dec. 12 we lost power.  As I lied in bed I listened to the sounds of trees cracking and crashing down.  We all woke up around 7:30 am to a very cold house.  Little did we know how bad things were on our side of Worcester... including Holden, Paxton, Spencer.

From December 2008
WBZ Ch. 4 on Brighton St. (off of Burncoat) in Worcester.

From December 2008
Looking down Brighton St.

From December 2008
Tree down accross Hope Ave in Worcester
Trees leaning on powerlines on Rt 9 in Worcester.

It may be a couple of days before electricity is restored.  In the mean time, we are at Chris and Kelly's house in Sturbridge.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Reunited

I haven't posted on this blog in almost a month.  Why?  I've been working on building a new blog for The SoulFest.  I'm really excited for the opportunity to represent the SoulFest in the blogosphere and I hope you'll subscribe.  It's been a couple of years since I've followed the Christian music scene... in fact we had a bit of a break up.  About a year ago I posted a blog on my frustrations with Christian music and said that I was 'moving on'.  My feeling was that there was a lack of creativity in the industry.

I'm here to announce that Christian music and I are reunited!  What caused the change of heart?  Two factors come to mind:  Me and the music industry as a whole.

Music Industry:  There is less and less money available in the music industry.  You've probably already heard that selling songs on iTunes & AmazonMP3 generates less revenue than selling CDs.  Full album sales are down dramatically.  Moving forward, record companies will have less and less incentive to release full albums that contain lousy or re-tread music.  In fact, more and more artists will have to figure out how to release their own music and rely on the Internet and touring to make a living.  This has already to begun to force more creative material to the top of this newly shaped environment in the music industry.

Me:  The years from 2006 through parts of 2008 had brought me to a place of increasing cynicism.  My attitude toward any Christian organization was basic disapproval.  I'm not totally sure why at this point, but I felt like it was impossible to be a sincere follower of Christ and also sincerely run an organization that directly or indirectly promotes Christ.  I'm still struggling with how to shape that concept... perhaps it will be the basis of a thesis someday... but for now... it is a little window into how I have been thinking.
In the late summer and fall months I had the opportunity to reconnect with a person whom I consider a role model in my life.  His name is Dan and it's not a formal mentor relationship, in fact, I sometimes feel like I'm drinking from a fire hose when he's talking, but I did catch something that I needed to hear.  "Jason, you need to reconnect with your soul!"  On my ride home that afternoon, I turned off the radio and focused on what that meant for me.
The number one thing I had to do was to change my attitude.  I felt beat down by life in 2008.  It's been a bad year financially and I lost my grandfather.  Perhaps it was understandable, but my poor attitude was building on itself... to the point where it even affected my relationship with Erin.  She let me know that I needed to cheer up, but I wasn't ready to hear it until I heard the words, 'reconnect with your soul'.  Later that week we coined a corny phrase for our relationship that Erin and I repeat to ourselves when we feel down... "Neeeew Attituuuude!"  It's cheesy, but it's helped.
Back to the point of Christian music.... I'm back with a "Neeeew Attituuuude!"  I'm so grateful to have gone through a bit of a pruning process in my affection for the Christian music scene.  I won't be as much of a 'Yes Man' for the industry and perhaps I can be a voice (in the chorus)  that promotes the most creative parts of the music industry as it forges forward.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Response to Racism

Thanks again for the many comments on my last post.  I would like to make a couple of remarks in response.

The comparison I made of myself attending Liberty University and Obama attending Jeremiah Wright's church was only meant to serve as an example of how the conservative media was not using sound logic when accusing Obama of being a racist or supporting racist causes.  I do not think that Jerry Falwell and Jeremiah Wright are in the same category of preacher.  I also do not think that Dr. Falwell was homophobic.  My point was that the media and popular commentators accused Dr. Falwell of being homophobic despite the fact that he did preach love the sinner and hate the sin.  Once the media had the soundbite, they didn't want to hear the real context of what Jerry Falwell was saying.  In fact, my real complaint is that the conservative media has made the the same type of accusations about Barack Obama that the liberal media was making of Jerry Falwell in 1999.  Our conservative base has become too comfortable repeating these uninformed accusations and that hypocrisy is part of the proof (in my humble opinion) that we conservatives have lost our direction.

Speaking of proof.  The evidence that Barack Obama has sat in the pews and not been influenced by some outlandish racial preacher was made available to us during the Presidential primary season.  Anyone who is truly scared that President Elect Obama doesn't have a sound and strong stance on racial equality in this country needs to listen to the speech he wrote and delivered on March 18th, 2008.  On that day as I heard this speech, it was clear to me that Barack Obama has clear judgment despite the fact that he attended Rev. Wright's church.  If you don't have a full half hour to burn... then spend at least 5 minutes beginning at minute 6.  




P.S. I've promised posts on issues with which I disagree with Barack Obama and I intend on writing those soon.  Erin and I are moving across Worcester to my Dad's condo, which is available for us, and is much cheaper than our place off of Grafton St.  We've been packing and chasing Mitchell around and it has kept me from forming my thoughts on these important issues.  Anyway... continue to challenge me with your comments... I enjoy the debate.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Obama as a Threat

Last Wednesday night I posted my vote for President: Barack Obama.  As a Republican (with a lot of Republican friends and family members) I expected to hear some heated responses.  Actually, I big reason why I posted my opinion was to stir up some controversy and conversation... it looks like that mission was accomplished.

Site Visitors Stats - Wed 6 (normal day); Thurs 86 (all time high); Fri 20; Sat 20 and Sun 11.
Comments - Blogger 16; Facebook 5
Comments - For 4; Against 11; and Undetermined 6

I know many of my friends and family were disappointed to see me make such a public claim for Barack Obama.  As I mentioned in my blog, there are a lot of issue with which I disagree with the Jr. Senator from Illinois, however I have come to respect the leadership qualities he has displayed so far.

There were 2 major themes to those who disagreed with me: "How can I support Obama's policies" and "Obama presents a threat to this country as we know it".  In this post I'll make comments on the latter category and then focus on Democratic policies in subsequent posts.

Attacking Obama as a radical socialist, a supporter of terrorism or as a disingenuous 'wolf in sheep's clothing' all sounds like desperate attempts to scare voters into supporting McCain.  I think the one claim that upsets me the most is that Barack Obama is a racist (or supports racists) because he attended Jeremiah Wright's church.

Here is a quick example of how this logic breaks down: I went to Liberty University.  Liberty is founded by Dr. Jerry Falwell.  He was very active and vocal during my years there including comments about how the "Teletubbies" were promoting a homosexual agenda to children.  Many legitimate voices in America accused Dr. Falwell of being homophobic.  Therefore, Jason DeStratis is also homophobic.  

If I were running for President reporters may ask me, "Jason, how can you support the fair treatment of same sex couples via civil unions even though you attended Jerry Falwell's school?" My response would probably be similar to Barack Obama's response about his connection to Jeremiah Wright, "There were many things that Dr. Falwell said that I cannot and did not support, however I do respect the inspiration he was to many people in the Christian community."

Spending energy claiming that Barack Obama is planning on promoting Jeremiah Wright's "Black Libertarian" agenda is a clear sign that Republicans are gasping for air.  We've lost our way.  By voting for Obama I am saying, "Ok Democrats, tell us some of your ideas... we are clearly out of fresh ideas over here."  

In my next post I'll begin to discuss some Democrat ideas with which I struggle the most.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Vote for President

In this post, I'm going to reveal my vote for President. I can't remember discussing my vote for President in such a public way before, and I generally prefer to have this discussion in a more personal conversation... but then again this is the first election cycle since I've begun blogging.

So without further delay... I am voting for Barack Obama.

As a registered Republican, it will be my first time voting for a Democrat. My vote is made up of several decision and opinions that I'd like to cover with you. I'd love to hear your feedback.

1) Embarrassment - I am completely embarrassed by the last 4 years of the Bush administration. Having voted for "W" last time mostly due to the "devil you know" theory, I've grown tired of the lack of respect he has brought to the office. I realize that some of this lack of respect is a "snow-ball" effect largely due to the fact that popular culture has been enjoying the natural punchlines in his lack of presence and misspoken words during speeches. Ultimately, not only has President Bush been somewhat of an embarrassment, so have many of his choices for key members of the executive branch organizations. The evidence is easy to find with so many resignations and 'insider' books from former members of the staff.

1a) So what does that have to do with not voting for McCain? I don't have a lot of experience in Washington DC, but what I've learned about the organizations that make up the executive branch, is that they are heavily influenced by members of the party of the President. The members of the executive branch may experience some changes with a McCain presidency, however, my vote for Obama is in part a desire to hit the reset button on as much of that organization as possible.

2) Presidential - Barack Obama is clearly more intelligent, inspiring and poised than John McCain. Evidence? Just watch the debates and the speeches, especially the 'town hall' debate in which McCain was terribly uncomfortable.

2a) So what does 'being Presidential' have to do with the actual issues. In truth, I still identify with the ideals of the Republican party far more that I do with Democrats. For example, I'm harshly opposed to abortion, I don't believe that an increase in taxes on potential employers (those making over 250k) will help the economy, and I'm nervous that removing troops from Iraq too soon could cause some long term instability in a place where we've already invested so much. Despite all of that, I've also learned that I don't have to agree with every position a leader takes in order to respect that leader. So in the wake of the current President, I'm highly concerned with electing strong, intelligent and inspiring leadership to the office, and Barack Obama has demonstrated that character over the past 20 months of campaigning.

2b) With respect to the elders in my life, John McCain is too old. At 72 years old it is hard to believe that he is going to be as connected with the pulse of the this country and the innovations we need in the future. McCain is just a little too late to the party. I'm disappointed with the Republican party for not nominating Mitt Romney, a younger, more intelligent and inspiring leader that would have brought a strong agenda for reducing governmental spending.

Bonus)

I think that spending millions of dollars for a half-hour network broadcast is a lot of money to spend on a commercial, but I really do appreciate an entire half-hour of positive politicking. There was not one negative attack on McCain. The first ad to be run by John McCain after the special was negative and focused on Barack Obama not being ready to be president.

I'm ready for something positive.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dream Job

I think that I've mentioned to many of you that my dream job would be to broadcast baseball games.  Of course, I'd like for it to be the Red Sox, but I'm realistic... I'd be open to do play-by-play for any team in the majors.  So last month when I was in Colorado, watching a blow-out game between the Rockies and Diamondbacks, I noticed an attraction at Coors Field where fans could take part in a fantasy broadcast... and I couldn't help myself.  So here it is... my official audition to become a baseball broadcaster along side my friend Jeff Valois calling the 7th inning in Colorado.



Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Come Together

The guys from TBR have been playing at Fellowship Holden on Sundays. They often get to warm up (and warm up the incoming crowd) before the worship service gets started. Here is a pretty sweet version of Come Together by the Beatles.


Come Together from Marty Holman on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My mother's husband's sister's son Maurico.

Have I ever shared that my mother's nephew (by marriage) is a spectacular amateur golfer?  We were in Puerto Rico this past week.  

From Puerto Rico -October 2008


I had assumed that he was no longer playing competitively, however while hanging out at his parents house, his father Oscar let us know that Maurico had been doing well in the World Amateur Championships.  Here is the update below.

USA clings to two shot lead

The USA, bolstered by matching 5-under-par 68s from Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark, opened up a two-stroke lead over Scotland at 10-under-par 136 in the first round of the 2008 World Amateur Team Championship.  Playing at the par-73 Royal Adelaide Golf  Club, the Americans capitalized on optimal scoring conditions.

“We are off to a good start. All three played well,” USA captain Walter Driver said of his team. “Conditions were benign here at Royal Adelaide.

"Until we play both courses, it’s hard to tell exactly where you stack up against the field.”

Fowler, the American collegiate player of the year in 2008, made five birdies in his first nine holes and finished with seven against two bogeys. Lovemark, who won the American collegiate title in 2007, carded an eagle, four birdies and one bogey. Billy Horschel’s 1-under 72 did not count for the USA.

Mauricio Muniz of Puerto Rico shot the lowest round of the day, an 8-under 64, at The Grange’s West Course to pace his team into third place at 137. His score was one stroke shy of the championship record of 63 by Jason Dawes of Australia in 1994 and just the fourth 64 on record.

“I think I got the speed of the greens just right,” Muniz said. “I was reading the putts. The key was the speed of the greens. They are a lot faster than in Puerto Rico. Once I got comfortable with the speed, the putts started falling in.”

Trailing Puerto Rico were France and Wales tied for fourth, New Zealand and South Africa tied for sixth, Sweden in eighth and England, Korea, defending champion Netherlands and Spain tied for ninth.

In the World Amateur, the team’s two best individual scores count.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's a boy!

Today was a big day. 20 weeks into the pregnancy and we're finally able to find out the gender of the baby. Erin has felt like this pregnancy has been so different from Mitchell that she believed this baby was likely to be a girl... and I felt like the probability of girl to boy was about 60:40... but... there was no doubt, this baby is a boy!


From September 2008

This is the profile view.


From September 2008

Erin thought that this was a cute shot of his foot.


From September 2008

This is proof of his manhood (don't' embarrass the boy by staring).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunday Morning (9/14/08)

Please allow me 2 minutes of your time to brag on the music at Fellowship Church.  Giuliano is on bass, Mike on the drums, Matt on guitar and Al with the vocals.  Thanks to Marty for posting the video from last Sunday.



Monday, September 15, 2008

Filson Bluff

Have I shared with you that our beautiful property in South Carolina is available ? Check it out for yourself at www.123filsonbluff.com .  Yes, its true, our house in Irmo is on the market.  Over the past year and a half, we've rented the property out, but it is now on the market just in time for you to escape the harsh realities of the northeast (or wherever you are).  Enjoy walks with the dog and the family around the Foxborough Hills neighborhood.  Jump in the car, and you're only 10 minutes away from every retail option you can imagine in the Harbison area.  The housing market in the Carolinas is one of the only places in the country to hold its value despite the housing market slump, so you can feel confident that you are investing wisely.  


Monday, September 8, 2008

The Black Raspberries' Fan List


Hey all.  We are getting ready for TBR's second CD coming out late this fall, so we just put together a fan list.  Sign up... Sign up your friends... and maybe even your long lost cousins... they won't mind.

FanBridge.com

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sold... for $17.25

I've been with IKON Office Solutions for a little over 3 years now. Its been a mostly happy experience. When I first started with IKON, I sold copiers... and as the world's leading independent distribution channel for copiers, I could to go our customers with options including Canon and Ricoh machines. As a rookie rep I quickly realized two things: Canon is superior in quality, but Ricoh is good enough for about 85% of customers out there... and a lot less expensive. Ricoh also brought more training and resources to me as a rep... as well as created a really positive culture about the business. All I got from from Canon was the reputation of their quality past down to me by the IKON sales people who had been around for 10 or more years.

So I used to tell my wife, "If I had to leave IKON for another copier related company... it would probably be Ricoh." What I didn't totally anticipate was Ricoh coming to me.

Yesterday, Ricoh acquired IKON for $1.6 billion... or $17.25 a share. So, while IKON remains as a self managed company, Ricoh will buy all of the shares and take IKON off of the NYSE. Before working at IKON I spent some time in the Financial Industry at a company that specialized in M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions). I've seen some of the aspects of pressure that the "Street" can bring when your a public company that is not showing growth year over year. So I've been prowling the news wires looking for some indications of the background story to this sale.

Here is what I found: http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/28/lichtenstein-gets-his-wish-with-ikon-deal/

IKON shares have been mostly held by institutional investors (not unusual), but one particular investor has owned a significant stake in NYSE:IKN for quite some time... a hedge fund named Steel Partners. They've always had a lot of influence on the company, (Read Here for more background) but it looks like they may have had the final say on this deal with Ricoh. They needed to make a reasonable profit on their investment in IKON and this was probably the best deal they were going to get anytime soon.

Hey... business is rarely "Nice"... and this is the case here. So even though we are going to hear a lot of discussion about this move being in the best interest of the customers and employees, we all know that the reality is that this move is in the best interest of the share holders. And that's ok, such is the life of a public company.

At least I was already emotionally prepared to work for Ricoh.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Big Brother

Many of you have already heard that Mitchell is going to be a big brother! Erin is 3 months pregnant with baby #2 and hoping to be out of the woods in terms of nausea soon. She has said that the morning sickness and other pregnancy related ailments are more intense this time around, but she's been doing a great job managing it. Mitchell hasn't specifically said how excited he is, but based on his enthusiasm for his new cousin Brody... I think he's going to be ready.



We'll find out if baby #2 is a boy or a girl on September 30th. The cool thing is that Mitchell and his new younger sibling will be just under 2 years apart, which is the same as my brother Chris and I. And while I'm sure we were a handful for my mother, our closeness in age provided for a lot of fun times. Anyway, I'm sure Erin will post some more information on her blog, http://erindestratis.blogspot.com/

Friday, August 8, 2008

Shadows

What if Awkward Moments Videos were to do a music video for a local (Worcester) rock band? Modeled after an 80's Bon Jovi video, here is my first attempt at a rock video with 'The Black Raspberries'.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mitchell's 1st Birthday

July was a very busy month... so after a few weeks of letting it sit on the PC at home, I was finally able to upload Mitchell's Birthday Video.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Andy Samberg

Andy does the equivalent of Awkward Moments Videos for SNL.

Laser Cats could be one of the most rediculous things I've ever seen:

Laser Cats 2





Laser Cats 3

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lobbyists

I'd like to address some of the political problems we are facing right now. Please take a minute to view this very important round table discussion.


In The Know: Are Politicians Failing Our Lobbyists?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Interesting... (Frank Schaeffer: Dr. Dobson Has Just Handed Obama Victory)

I found this article interesting...

Senator Obama just took another giant step toward winning the presidency. Actually, someone who considers himself a sworn enemy of Senator Obama took the step for him. Dr. Dobson of the Focus On the Family radio program (and evangelical media empire) has aired a program in which he attacks Senator Obama, the Senator's theology and his credentials.

read more digg story

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

# 17 and random thoughts

I am happy to report that after 22 years, the Celtics have renewed their dominance of the NBA. I was eight years old in '86... and have vivid memories of that year. Much like this past 12 months, the Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox had appearances in the Finals, Superbowl and World Series. This time around does feel a little different... as it feels like all of 3 of these teams had a legitimate shot at winning before the season even began. In '86, the Celtics were the only pre-season favorite of the Boston teams. The Red Sox had an improbably win over the Angles (Thanks Dave Henderson)... and the Patriots had to "Squish the Fish" (Thanks Tony Eason... I think....)
So, it could be that I'm no longer 8 years old... or that the teams were expected to win... but I do feel more of a sense of relief than a sense of total jubilation.

By the way... was anyone else surprised by the dramatic interview with Kevin Garnett with Michelle Tafoya after the game. KG was euphoric... and incomprehensible. All of us watching were wishing that they would just let the guy run around the court hugging people instead being forced to answer ridiculous questions like, "How does it feel to be a champion?" Despite that... I was a little embarrassed for KG's Oscar winning responses and "shout-outs". Of the "Big 3" it was a sliding scale of drama... with KG at the top, Paul Peirce in the middle and Ray Allen on the low end by taking it all in stride.

Anyway... enough random thoughts for now... Congrats to all the Celtic faithful!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Appleby / Norris 06/01/08

Just in case anyone wanted the text from the ceremony:

INTRO

What an unbelievable honor it is to be a part of this wedding today. When Christopher and Nichole approached me about being a part of their wedding… I was excited… and a little nervous. No one has ever asked me to speak at their wedding before.

I spent 4 of the best years of my life as director of student ministry at Holden Chapel, where Chris and Nichole were both involved. As a youth pastor I figured it was inevitable that some of the kids would eventually realize that they liked someone else in the youth group. However, I got lucky and for the first two years, there were virtually no serious relationships in the youth group… just whispers and crushes. Eventually a lot of the guys had girlfriends… but Chris was not one of them. (by the way… Chris, I’d like to take this moment to thank you for your dedication to the Lord). It wasn’t until Chris and Nichole went to the college together that she noticed his quiet charm. …and the rest is history.

I am deeply honored to be a part of this special day!

We are going to spend a few moments talking about:
Love vs. Falling in Love

Today, Christopher and Nichole have committed (with all of you as witnesses) to “LOVE” each other, not to simply “Fall In Love” with each other.

Falling in love with someone is fun… you think she’s cute; she thinks that you’re funny. Your eyes lock on to each other just a little longer than usual. You’re in the grocery store and you half expect that you’re going to see her walking up to the same checkout line. Your friends keep trying to call you, but you blow them off, because she may be able to go out tonight. You go home at night and you can’t stop thinking about the next time that you get to be with her.

There’s energy, excitement, anticipation, and flutters in your stomach. “Being in Love” consumes you. It feels great!

It’s like sugary-sweet icing on a cake!

Have you ever had a corner piece of cake that is just loaded with icing? It can actually be hard to clean off your plate if you are left with just frosting and no actual cake. Most of us will naturally hit a “wall” if we eat too much sugar all at once. As a youth pastor I spent a lot of time with high school students. And as a result, I’ve witnessed a few of these guys willing to push the limits of sugar consumption that the human body can take. The point is that we can only take so much frosting before we start to feel sick. So watch out for those corner pieces of cake… the look really good, but can leaving feeling a little sick in the end.

What about the cake itself? The real substance of a cake is the… cake… not the frosting. Frosting without the cake is a big sloppy mess… kind of like most of us when we first “Fall in Love”.

So cake is like real LOVE. Love is selfless and kind. Love is commitment the other person. A marriage covenant is built on a love commitment.

Story of Commitment – Ruth and Naomi

If you read along in the Bible you will find that the Old Testament describes the early days of the nation of Israel, which was marked as a violent time in human history. Before long, you will get to the book of Judges, where you will read about war, death, looting, and pillaging. And then, just when you can’t take it any more, you turn to the book of Ruth.

The first chapter of Ruth does begin with despair for Naomi, an Israelite woman who loses her husband and eventually her two sons to early deaths. They had been in the foreign land of Moab trying to avoid a famine taking place back in Israel. While in Moab, her two sons had married local women: Orpah and Ruth.

When Naomi heard that the famine was over, she wanted to head back to her home town of Bethlehem. But she told her daughters-in-law to stay in Moab.

16 But Ruth replied, "Don't ask me to leave you and turn back. I will go wherever you go and live wherever you live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 I will die where you die and will be buried there. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!" 18 So when Naomi saw that Ruth had made up her mind to go with her, she stopped urging her.

Ruth was committed to Naomi. Ruth truly loved her mother-in-law even when it meant that things could possibly be uncomfortable for her. As it turned out, her show of true love was honored by another show of true love. An honorable man name Boaz eventually married Ruth; they had a son named Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse. Jesse had a son named David… You may have heard of him.

Conclusion

Shortly, we are going to celebrate this commitment that Christopher and Nichole have made to each other. One of the ways they are going to demonstrate their love is by serving each other a piece of cake. It will probably have some frosting on it, but most of it is actually cake.

Next time you eat cake, watch out for those corner pieces. They look like a lot of fun, but can be tough to finish. Falling in love can be fun too, but solid relationships require you to make it through adversity, not simply the fun times.

Real love is a commitment. A commitment that has untold potential…

Christopher and Nichole – Congratulations….
And may your love commitment to each other bear all the potential you can handle.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

One Week

I've been 30 for an entire week now... and amazingly my hair has not fallen out... yet. Its true that I've been a little apprehensive about this milestone, however there was no stopping the inevitable, so I had to make peace with the big 3-0 or become seriously depressed. All of the birthday wishes and presents made it a lot easier to take. I owe many thank you cards (though I'm notoriously bad at sending them). Thank you everyone!

One thing that has made the transition easier has been my own transition to an HDTV. Despite my own proclivity to be on the bleeding edge of technology, I have not owned an HDTV until last Sunday night. And last night I had the chance to hook up an antenna. I've noticed that a lot of people out there don't realize that HD signals are available for free over the air. It's true; if you want the broadcast stations in HD, all you need is a TV with a Digital Tuner and an antenna capable of catching signals. And since its digital, the days of fuzzy signal through your "bunny ears" are over. The signal is either strong enough or not. If you want to check for signal strength at your address just head on over to Antenna Web and input your address.

I like HDTV so much that I'm willing to watch things that I normally would try to avoid. I watched parts of American Idol last night... as well as The Price is Right special and some documentary on PBS. Watching AI in this way made it much more interesting to me, although I could have used less close-ups of Paula crying... but that fact that you can see the lights reflecting of a tear drop is still cool!

Anyway, I'm mostly looking forward to watching sports in HD. Let me know if you want to come by and catch a game!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Update on my Grandfather

Cosmo DeStratis, 87, of Hycrest Drive in Worcester, passed away Saturday, May 10, 2008, in Dodge Park Rest Home. His wife of fifty-four years, Isabel (Esteves) DeStratis, passed away in February 2000.

He is survived by his son, Raymond DeStratis and his wife Darlene of Worcester; three grandsons, Jason DeStratis, Christopher DeStratis, and Sean DeStratis; a great grandson, Mitchell DeStratis; a brother, Anthony DeStratis of Worcester; a sister, Ida Tryzinski of Worcester; many nieces and nephews. He was pre-deceased by a brother, Joseph DeStratis as well as two sisters, Pauline DeSantis and Louise Rossetti.

Cosmo was born in Worcester, son of the late Antonio and Maryann (Cancelmo) DeStratis, and has lived here all his life. He graduated from Commerce High School. He served his nation proudly in the United States Army, during World War II. He was an engineer serving in the African and European Theatres.

Mr. DeStratis worked as the Data Processing Manager at Millbrook Distributors, for many years, before he retired. He had previously been the Parts Manager for the former George H. Jewett Automotive in Worcester. He was a member of West Boylston VFW Post 6907.

A funeral service will be held Wednesday, May 14, at 10 a.m. in MERCADANTE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL, 370 Plantation Street, Worcester. Interment will follow in Worcester County Memorial Park, Paxton. Calling hours will be held Tuesday, May 13, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. in the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Dodge Park Rest Home, 101 Randolph Road, Worcester, MA 01606.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cosmo

A little over a week ago my Grandfather, Mitchell, Erin and myself took a 5 minute drive from Dodge Park Rest Home (where he had been staying) up to 12 Hycrest Dr (his home). My grandfather hadn't been home in over 2 months due to a series of hospital and nursing home stays. I helped him go through some of his clothes and some other personal items he had. After a few minutes on his feet he was looking for a place to rest, so we walked down toward the "Living Room". It is furnished with a couch, a glass coffee table, a Zenith radio from 1956, a lamp on a small table, a large bay window and 2 comfortable rocking chairs. My grandfather walked to the chair on the far end of the room and I took my place on the other and we talked for about a half an hour.

Growing up, my brother Chris and I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s house. It was a win, win, win situation. My parents got a break, my grandparents got to show off two goofy little boys, and we got to stay up past our normal bed times. And as a result, there weren't many protests when it came to spending time at 12 Hycrest Dr. I have vivid memories of waking up on a Saturday morning and watching my grandparents go through their normal routine of cleaning up the house. My Grandparents equally shared in the responsibilities of mopping, changing the sheets, wiping down glass and counters, loading and unloading the laundry, and running the vacuum. I would start out the morning willing to help (as much as a 5 year old kid could), but as the morning rolled on, I'd begin to lose interest in the activities of cleaning. My grandparents, however, wouldn't waiver until they were done with all their responsibilities. And when they were done cleaning, Grandpa would stroll over to the refrigerator, reach into the bottom drawer and grab a couple of red apples. As he shined up his apple, he'd begin to whistle a tune. He'd walk over to the living room and draw open the curtain in front of the bay window. I'd follow him into the living room with my apple, make an attempt to whistle, wait for the curtain to open and stare out the window. Grandpa would say, "Now that we've finished our work, we can relax". He'd sit down on the far chair and I'd sit down on the other and we ate the apples.

At the age of 16 I had been living full time with my grandparents for a couple of years. It was quite a sacrifice for them to make; just think of the cost of food for two teenage boys and you know that many of the plans they had for retirement would have to be altered. My grandfather would pick me up from school almost every afternoon. After getting home I'd put my books down, change up and go look for a snack in the refrigerator. My grandfather was already in the living room on his chair going through the day’s mail; I'd stroll in and sit on the other chair. It was in the spring of 1995 that I said to him, "I think I found a car that I'd like to buy". He looked up from the latest piece of junk mail that he received and said, "Jason, that is a big responsibility... you have to get a loan, pay for insurance, gas and maintenance". I told him that I thought I was ready, so he took me down to the bank to apply for a loan. After having me go through the whole process of filling out forms and meeting with the loan officer, he pulled me aside and said, "I've got an idea... I'll give you an interest free loan for the car and you can pay me back $100 a month." That deal was a lot better than the bank’s offer, so I took it. A few weeks later, I was driving a 1989 Honda CRX. It took me about 3 years, but I paid him back the total that I borrowed.

It was in February of 2000 that my Grandmother passed away after a battle with Pancreatic Cancer. It was a very difficult time for my grandfather. Shortly thereafter, I finished my full time college career and moved back into 12 Hycrest Dr. I had just turned 22 years old and he was quick to point out that I was hardly ever around the house. However, I do remember several times where I would rush into the house with places to go and people to see. I yelled out “Hey-O” as I always did while bolting in to the house. He was in the living room, sitting quietly on his chair, gazing out the window. Most of the time he would call back, “Hey-O”; but he didn’t this time. His eyes were damp and his voice cracked as he said, “I miss her so much”. I didn’t know what to say; I was not used to seeing my Grandfather cry. I joined him by sitting on the other chair and said, “I miss Grandma too”.

It was in these moments in the spring of 2000 that he shared many of his favorite memories of his wife. He told me about meeting her while hanging out at East Park. “She was spunky and cute, and I just knew that she was the one for me” he confessed. He told me stories of the family support they received living together in a 3 decker on Rodney St. He spoke of difficult times and reminded me that relationships aren’t perfect, “but if you work at it, you’ll have way more good times than bad.” He started to laugh when he recalled that, “Grandma was so nervous about buying this house on Hycrest Dr. $23,000 was a lot of money to spend on a house in 1964.”

As I sat there, listening to him talk about how he and my grandmother fell in love and made a life together, it helped to serve as confirmation for me as I was falling in love with my girlfriend and soon to be wife, Erin.

And so, there we were, just over a week ago, on Saturday, May 3rd… now with my wife Erin and our son Mitchell… at 12 Hycrest Dr. It was at this very place that my grandfather took advantage of every “teachable moment” he had.

It was here that he taught me:
· To finish the job before you relax, because you can’t really relax until the job is done.
· An apple a day keeps the doctor away… or at least can’t hurt.
· That owning a car was a big responsibility and you have to take care of it.
· Family needs to come first; help them when they need it.
· That love isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.

And even on that day as we sat there for the last time on the two chairs he was teaching me one more valuable lesson.

· Life is too short to just sit around.

It was after about a half hour that he said, “Hey, let’s get going, I don’t want to miss bingo with old ladies and I think it starts at 10”

And we got up from the chairs at Hycrest Dr. for the last time. I love you Grandpa!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Big Day Saturday

Ok... here is my shameless plug for our moving date... this Saturday, April 12th. Erin and I are finally moving into our own place here in the Worcester area.

You may remember a blog I wrote in January where I mentioned that we placed an offer on a house. We had our hearts and money invested into this place. The story did not end well as the seller (banks) cancelled the sale. They did not properly foreclose the house which then caused errors in the Title record. Our lawyer and the title examiner insisted (for our benefit) on changes to their documents to correct the error. This was out of the banks protocol and they would not make the change. The result: we did not get the house and we are now entangled in a bit of a dispute with them.

Erin and I realized that we would have to wait for a long time to try and resolve this dispute, so we decided that it would be better to look for a place to rent for the next year or two. We found a great deal in Worcester, right off of Grafton St. We'll share pictures soon, but if you want to see it in person, we'd love to arrange that too.

Write to me at my new Gmail address (jdestratis@gmail.com) if you're interested in helping with the move for a part of... or the entire day. The schedule looks like this:

8:00am - My brother-in law and I will pick up the truck
9:00am - Arrive at Extra Space Storage on Ararat St. in Worcester
10:30am - Arrive at our new place
11:00am - Begin placing and re-assembling of beds, etc.
12:00noon - Finish off loading the majority of our stuff (hopefully)
12:30pm - Lunch... we'll order some sandwiches or pizza
1:30pm - A run to Spencer to pick up items there
3:00pm - Unload remaining items
5:00pm - Return truck

See ya then!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Bob Lobel

Today was one of those days where you hear some news that catches you off guard. I don't even know a world in which Bob Lobel is not my local sportscaster and yet that is what I'm faced with today. I was driving down the Pike this morning when word came across the airwaves that WBZ was going to cut Bob Lobel, Joyce Kulhawik and Scott Wahle. Scott's been around a while, but Bob and Joyce have been on my TV since I was 3 years old (keep in mind that I don't remember much before I was 3 years old).

Bob Lobel may not be perfect (I'm pretty sure he's perpetually drunk), but he is my local sportscaster... who understands the agony of defeat and doesn't hide it when he's on the air. And how in the world can I go on without Joyce Kulhawik's movie and theater reviews... is there anyone in Boston more cultured that Joyce... I doubt it!

So WBZ... you have some explaining to do... I've been a loyal channel 4 guy my entire life and now you want me to turn on the 6 o'clock news and not think about the fact that I'm lost.... lost without these icons of Boston local news. I guess all I can say is "shame on you" and you better hope that I don't end up at WCVB where at least the broadcast is in HD.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I'm thinking of switching to Google

I'm playing around with the idea of switching my email from Yahoo to Gmail. I've been with Yahoo for about 9 years, but have just about had it. Its probably a product of having had the address for so long that every spammer in the world has me on their lists, but I just get so many useless emails. I'll post my official change (as well as our new physical address) in the next week or two... but I wanted to get you ready for the change (and maybe me as well).

Besides, with Google coming up with amazing technologies like this one... how can I resist!

http://www.google.com.au/intl/en/gday/press.html

Today is so much fun.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Live Generously

I did the message at Fellowship Church in Holden yesterday - Live Generously. As I mentioned in the last post, I haven't spoken in about a year and you'll hear some rust in my voice... but I'm mostly happy with how it went. I've purposely tried to be ultra simple in my approach with this message and go with the "less is more" theory.

Link to the podcast page here.

- Jason

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fellowship Church this Sunday at 10:30am

Hey everybody... my posts have been far and few lately... life has been moving fast and I haven't been able to keep up with blogging... but I wanted to let you know that I will be speaking this Sunday.

Marty Holman has asked me to fill in this Sunday at Fellowship Church in Holden. The service is at 10:30am. I'll be speaking on the second part of the "Live Differently" series. If your looking for a place to go to church or just want to come out to support me (since I haven't given a message in about a year now). Even if I'm not too funny... just laugh anyway... it really helps my self-confidence. Seriously, it should be a good service and maybe a little inspiring as well.

Hope to see you there,
Jason

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Supernatural Superserious

If your looking for some great ideas on how to make a music video... here is about 12 to get you started. The guys from REM break out in song all over town as they shoot this "home made" style video. http://supernaturalsuperserious.com/ Enjoy!

No Bagel

Just in case you haven't seen this on Erin's Blog.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Back Woods of Paxton

On Saturday, I took Remy on a walk for the first time since my knee surgery. Remy and I were joined by my good friend Claudio as we walked the "back woods of Paxton" (otherwise known as Moore State Park). I've tried to be a good patient and wait for my doctor to give me the "all clear" to walk longer distances (and he did last Tuesday). So far so good, as I've only felt a little bit of swelling behind knee.

Claudio has been living in Boston during the week and I make many trips there for work. Boston is a great city and most of the time, I'm glad for the opportunity to work there. Many of our clients and potential clients work in the towers in the Back Bay area and in the Financial District, all with spectacular views of the city. And as you can see in my last few entries, I've even had the chance to enjoy some great sporting events while in the city.

Now that Claudio works at the Boston Sports Club, we've car pooled back to central Mass whenever schedules allow. This was one of those weekends and the decision was made to take advantage of my new "clearance" to walk. I miss taking Remy for walks. It always give me a chance to clear my head.... or in this case, have a conversation with Claudio on our favorite topics of physics, philosophy and life.

Remy also has a chance to work on his "Scouting" skills. He loves to run ahead, pointing out possible routes and paths to take. Sometimes he gets way ahead and I yell out, "HEY REMY". He looks up, realizes he's too far in front, and comes back to me. That’s my favorite part... not just because he comes back, but because he sprints back at top speed. And on Saturday, he sprinted back silhouetted by a "roll" of hay and rays of sunshine falling onto a field in Paxton.



The moment pointed out a truth that I've learned from Claudio that ties together aspects of physics, philosophy and life: Take time to walk through the "back woods of Paxton".

Friday, February 1, 2008

Cuban

I was back at the Boston Garden last night, but this time to see the 1st place Celtics.



I'm on an incredible run the past week with a luxery box for the Bruins and Celtics tickets that were only about 15 rows behind Mavs owner Mark Cuban.






It was a back and forth battle with the Celtics and Mavs trading baskets and momentum through out the game. In the end, Rajon Rando made some incredible plays to compliment great performances from Allen and Pierce to complete a 96 to 90 victory over a tough Western Conference opponent.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Google Maps is the best!

I've been known to be on the bleeding edge of technology, at least among many of my friends. I enjoy trying out new ideas, applications and gadgets and then telling others about it. For example, when "Map Quest" was still being used my most people, I remember reading that "Google Maps" was better because you could click and drag the map around without having the page constantly refresh. To me, this was good and bad. Good - I was able to easily move around the area I was interesting in finding on a map... Bad - I would usually keep clicking and dragging until I reached Seattle. (sad; but very true).

Now there is a new application from Google Maps that I love, called Street View. I've used it a couple of times... and I actually saw a street level view of an office I needed to find for a meeting the next day. It was helpful... and a little scary at the same time. Watch this video demonstration.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cousin's Wife's Sister's Husband

So... as I mentioned last night.... I was at the Bruins vs. Islanders hockey game last night. The Bruins took control of the game in the first period jumping out to a 2-0 lead, which eventually became a pretty easy 4-1 victory. I normally get to cheer a little louder for my home town team, however last night I was watching the game with the family of the captain of the visiting team, Billy Guerin of the New York Islanders. As you can see by clicking on the link to Billy's stats, he's had a remarkable NHL career that has earned respect around the league.

We had incredible seats at 'mid-ice' in a luxury box provided to the Guerin family.

After the game we went down and said "Hi" to Billy. He took time to shake hands with all of us, despite the fact that there were about 35 to 50 people there just to meet him. He also spent time with his mother and brother and a few buddies there to see him.


There were so many people there that all I had time to say was a short greeting, "Hi, I'm Jason". Though I'm positive he's not thinking about it now, he seemed a little confused about who I was... and why was I hanging out with his family. I had intended on giving Billy a longer explanation of my presence, "Hi, I'm your cousin's wife's sister's husband, Jason DeStratis". For everybody else that means that, Erin's (my wife) sister Kelly, married Chris, who is Billy's cousin.
So... Billy, if you read this, it was a pleasure meeting you. I had an amazing seat and a great time hanging out with your family.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I just wanted to say

I just wanted to say hello from the Boston Garden. I'm here with the family of Billy Guerin of the Islanders. I'll post pictures.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tendency to Blab

Some of you may be wondering... what's happening with Jason and Erin's move. I'll give the facts that we know of to this point:
  • We have a renter for our house in Irmo, SC and things seem to be going well.
  • We moved all of our furniture to a storage location here in Worcester.
  • We placed an offer on a house here in Worcester.
  • We received a counter offer... to which we countered... which was excepted by the seller!
  • We are now scheduling several visits with our agent, lawyers, inspectors and others.

That's really all we know at this point. I'd love to speculate and share more hopes and dreams about this property, but it feels too early at this point. Even though Erin and I feel good about the prospects of being in this house soon, there are still so many things that have to go just right in order for us to move-in.

I noticed a tendency that I developed in my high school and college years; I would get so excited about the prospects of something new or a big decision coming up in my life that I would start discussing it with people... lots of people... before it was a sure thing.

Now... I'm a big believer in having a small circle of people with whom you can discuss big decisions. You should have a diverse group of peers and mentors with different perspectives. You should try to present the facts surrounding your decision in an unbiased manner (...harder than it sounds) as to not influence their judgement in making recommendations. Once you've had a chance to meet with this circle of advisers, a complicated decision begins to look more obvious (hopefully).

My problem in those later adolescent years was the tendency to blab to others... and try to influence as many people as possible to the outcome I wanted in the upcoming life decision.

Two results from this tendency began to show up... as I either:

  • Made a bad decision (e.i. the new Nissan Xterra I leased in 2001... I impressed the ladies but paid almost 2x the vehicle value during the years I possessed it)
  • Spoke too soon and it never happened (e.i. all the cool jobs I thought would be easy to land the day I got out of college... I even told strangers about my potential employers)

And now, feeling a bit nervous, but confident at the prospects of buying this house, I hope that I've done my homework on the numbers correctly and pray that I haven't just influenced my circle of advisers to just agree with me, rather than give me unbiased and sound advice.

How do you make big decisions?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Black Raspberries

I'll spend a short time talking in this post... and allow you to view the musical stylings of one of my favorite local bands... The Black Raspberries (ok, so Giuliano is related to be by marriage so some may accuse me of being biased). Here is a clip from their recent show at WPI in Worcester, MA.




Click Here for more from The Black Raspberries

Thursday, January 10, 2008

January 10th, 1921 (87 Years Ago)

Until the other day, I hadn’t written anything that “shook the feathers” too much, however, my last post on Christian Music did. It was hard to write, but easy to respond to… but why? Maybe it’s the art of asking a good question or maybe it’s discussing a topic that deals with an existing question that hits close to home. All I know is that I got more response to that post than any other one so far… including someone that doesn’t even know me. Blogging, or preaching for that matter, grants the opportunity to challenge the easy / convenient human mentalities. Jesus did it better than anybody when he said things like, “Love your neighbor as yourself… that’s easy, but how about loving your enemies… if you can pull that off consistently you’ll have a better understanding of God.” (JD’s translation of Matthew 5:43-48)

To my enemies… I’ll try to be more approachable… lets talk and work through some of these issues.

To my friend and new ministry partner Marty… Keep challenging the status quo with your blog and your messages!

To my friend and the most creative thinker I know Claudio… Keep pushing your book until you get it the way you want… people will buy it! … (and will read your blog)

To the love of my life, my wife Erin… you are ‘scary good’ at being Mitchell’s mother and it makes me more proud than you’ll ever know. I also can’t wait to see the next thing you have to say in your blog.

To my Grandfather Cosmo who turns 87 today… Thank you for challenging me to pick up my room, to communicate with the people who care about me, to be responsible for myself, to be pro-active rather than re-active, and to never… under any circumstances… put my own wants above the needs of my family. And even though you don’t have a blog… or could give a flying rip about what the hell a blog is… Happy Birthday Grandpa.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Christian Music Report

I’d like to point out another blog posting from Relevant Magazine that exemplifies one of the reasons (of many like a new baby and full time job) that I’m no longer volunteering with Christian music radio. I love radio and the much of the music that goes with it. Being on the radio was one of the goals I had as a kid… literally practicing on tape recorders and even partly choosing a college by the quality of its student run radio station (Liberty University’s station is pretty impressive). But… over the years I’ve grown frustrated by the number of weak albums being released by the artists who dominate the CCM marketplace. I’m so frustrated that I don’t even know what’s the latest album to come out by Third Day or the Newsboys (bands I used to follow closely). They both have come out with so many weak efforts including multiple cover albums with material written by other “Worship” artists that I no longer had any sense of anticipation for the next song. The songs were filled with the same melodies and musical hooks as they had used before and the lyrics were another smash up of Christian terms that have been used over and over again.

There have been exceptions to this trend. Bands like Switchfoot, who’s themes, while similar in every album, have a way of pointing out how to make the most of life without resorting to cliché “Christian-eeze”. They’ve been rewarded with mainstream appeal and a connection with the audience that I believe Jesus would be interested in. There are bands like Mute Math and The Fray who have refused to be boxed into the Christian Music cage by avoiding contracts with record labels that are historically Christian. If you haven’t sat down with The Fray’s album and read the lyrics while listening… make it a priority. It was my favorite album of ’06 and still plays regularly in the car. Click Here to read the story of Isaac Slade, lead singer of the Fray.

The point is this: Christian music is no longer relevant. It’s hard to admit because I’ve spent so much of my life promoting it… but its true. The most successful bands in Christian music would get out of the category if they could, but many of them are just not good enough as musicians and song writers. Its certainly not for a lack of connections; you can ask just about every CCM artist and they can name drop plenty of mainstream artist and producers who have shown them interest.

There are plenty of artists who are focused on “Worship Music” and would claim to have no interest in a mainstream music career. I’m surprised that despite Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life selling (or being given away at his conferences) more than any other book in history, that more people haven’t altered their language patters with the term “Worship Music”. Worship is supposed to be an attitude of gratefulness to our Creator in everything that we do… and shouldn’t be limited to music. But the term “Worship Music” has boxed in the expression of worship… and we continue to do so despite the warnings. Rick make some of his best points in the section where he points out that calling music “Christian music” is actually kind of odd. Is the music itself saved from sin by the grace of Christ? Is the album going to heaven?

So I’ve hung up my cleats, thrown in the towel, and made peace with the fact that Christian Music Radio and I are no longer together. Like any break up, its not easy, and sometimes I want to call up CMR and beg for forgiveness… but in the end I think this is best for my own maturing process. I hope for the best for the people involved, but unfortunately I believe that the money tables of that industry are being turned over.

What do you think?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Jumping Around

Since I last left you... I was traveling up the east coast with Claudio. We both sincerely regreat not bringing along the video camera as we both realized that we could have shot an epic "Awkward Moments" video. (Awkward Moments is the variety skech we developed for the youth group at Holden Chapel... which lives on to this day). But instead, we had the opportunity to focus on the ultimate goal of getting down to SC packing up most of my possesions into a truck and getting back to Worcester in about 52 hours. Our mission was succesful.


Now Erin and I are making an offer on a house that we are interested in purchasing here in Worcester. Here is a quick look:
















We'll let you know what happens with the offer as soon as we can.

I'll also share a quick clip from my cell phone... Mitchell is really working out his legs in the jumper at Kelly and Chris' house:


video

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Harrisonburg

I'm in a town that I driven through many times but never stayed in before. It's Harrisonburg, VA and its only about an hour from Lynchburg, VA. While at Liberty University I spent just about 3 years going back and forth from Worcester to Lynchburg. I always enjoyed the relatively peaceful drive up and down Interstate 81 which runs along the shenandoah valley. Harrisonburg is right in the heart of the valley area but too close to Liberty to be a place to stop... if I made it to Harrisonburg, I might as well finish the trip and get all the way into Lynchburg. However, today is different. My friend Claudio and I are driving a true Diesel engine truck filled with furniture from our house in South Carolina and this time Harrisonburg happen to be the perfect place to stop. Its nice here, but we must move on. Gotta keep truck'n.