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.