A Thanksgiving Reflection – Looking for Solutions Within Problems

(Religion and politics are two things we are warned about openly discussing.  We may offend someone.  We may lose a friend.  I choose to think that we might actually move toward solving something, if given an open mind.)

It is now the time of year for Thanksgiving, a tradition started by the Pilgrims after their landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620.    I can only imagine what would have happened if the Pilgrims had waited until 2013 to arrive.

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If only the Native Indians had known, right?  LOL

Many people say, with true statistics in hand, that illegal immigration is a huge problem in this country.  No one, Republican or Democrat, can deny that.  At present, there are an estimated twelve million illegal immigrants in the United States!

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Just imagine, there are enough illegal immigrants in the United States to replace the current legal population of Tennessee AND Kentucky combined.

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These illegal immigrants are already here.  They have already set up house.  They are already participating in our economy, albeit a shadow economy in many ways.  Lets do some math!

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Assume the number of illegal immigrants is 12 million, and they average 4 per household.  That is 3 million individual homes that are established.  The average monthly rent paid in the United States is currently $821.

WOW.  That is 9.85 BILLION dollars in rent paid each month by illegals.  That equals over 118 BILLION over a year paid to US landlords.

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And these illegal immigrants have to eat every day.  They buy groceries.  They buy cars.  They buy gasoline.  Multiply what you spend by 12 million.

They have no need for insurance, because they’re really not here!  Besides, our government has many safety net programs that they can use to their benefit.  Yes, the same government that is technically BROKE.

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Could it possibly be that a solution lies within the problem?  What would happen if we actually created a pathway to citizenship for these illegal immigrants?  Here are a few ideas…..

Embrace their presence with a work permit, where their earnings are taxed just like everyone else – using a Single/0 dependent tax rate.  All of the taxes deducted from their wages go directly into the US Treasury.  They do not have to file any tax returns and they do not receive any tax refunds.  They are simply charged a “work tax” until their citizenship is obtained after a period of, for example, 5 years.  Go ahead and require them to be proficient in English at the end of the five year period.  They will prevail and learn it.  And in turn be smarter than most of us.

Lets do the math.  12 million immigrants (X) 8.00/hour =$ 96 million in wages per hour, or 3.84 BILLION per week, or almost $200 BILLION in wages per year.  Assuming 25% in “work tax” deductions, you have $50 billion annually going into the general treasury.  That is REAL MONEY that can go to solve REAL PROBLEMS.

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And once they are on their legal path to citizenship, they too can participate in Obamacare!  (laugh, dammit)

We live in the greatest country on earth.  You have to be stupid to not realize why people want to come here.

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While some may migrate here with the sole purpose of destroying our way of life, the largest majority of illegal immigrants come here for opportunities.  The opportunities for a better way of life for themselves and their families.  An opportunity for a life without religious persecution.  They are already here.  More are on the way.

Do we continue to stick our head in the sand, or do we address the situation and in doing so, solve some of the many financial problems we face?

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That, friends, is something to think about while we give thanks for what we have this Thursday.

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I am truly thankful that the Pilgrims got here when they did!

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The Summer of 2013 – The End

I admit it.  I have neglected my blog, but it has not been intentional.  Like they say, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”  They also say, “all good things come to an end.”  (Do you ever wonder who “they” were?  “They” sure have said a lot of things over the years!)

Now, let me tell you how we ended the Summer of 2013.

Shortly after The Rogers Group took our Academy of Architecture and Construction Board to tour their Louisville operations, the 2013-14 school year started.  I had the pleasure of hosting the freshmen class of the Cane Ridge High School’s Academy of Architecture & Construction on a tour of one of our new home construction sites.

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I cannot say enough good things about the new direction of the Academies of Nashville in all of our local High Schools.  There are many great things happening throughout the system and I encourage everyone to get out there and take a look for yourself.  You, too will be impressed, and probably want to get involved!  After all, it is our city.

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No summer can end without a little whitewater rafting!  You owe it to yourself to sneak away for a few days and visit the Nantahala River, and the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

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The area is pristine, with so much to do!  This was my second time to visit and really enjoyed relaxing in our humble mountain abode.

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I won’t bore you with the balance of our activities that ended the summer and will just say they were fun.  On the last weekend of summer, Nashville hosted the First Annual Stand-Up Paddle-boarding Championship Event.

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We were there on The Princess, headquarters for PaddleUpTn.com to cheer on Cindy Sorcer, Neil Newton, and Julie Ann Vanderpool.

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One of the neat things about having our boat on the river at Rock Harbor Marina is seeing the many boats that transient our area.  Is was simply amazing to see the motoryacht Elegante docked at Rock Harbor for a few weeks.

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This yacht is incredible. Check out the you-tube video on this 1964 classic!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgADJzvaFEM

Well, that’s about it for the Summer of 2013.  Thanks for reading!

Just like it was yesterday…..

A lot has happened over the past twelve years.  I have met survivors of the September 11 attacks, and I have met those that lost family and friends that day.  Everyone I meet has a story about September 11, 2001.

I remember it just like it was yesterday and still cannot believe that  twelve years ago today, Osama Bin Laden & company perpetrated the single largest attack ever on American soil.  They targeted the heart of our financial centers, and the heart of our military command.   Their plan was to bankrupt America and watch us tear ourselves apart from within.  (Note: Their plan is still in place)

Everyone remembers what they were doing that morning.  I was having a cup of coffee when the news broke out on the TV.  Then my phone rang.  It was by Broker/Sales Manager/Mentor, Sandi Sharpe.

Over the years, Sandi acquired many friends through working with international college students.  She was their family away from home.  She was “Mom” to many.   One family, from Uzbekistan, bought a new Ole South home and became extended family to all of us.

The grandmother of this family had spent the summer in Nashville to help her grandchildren get properly settled in their new home.  She knew no English whatsoever, but was very easy to communicate with.  After all, a smile means the same thing in every language.  All of us loved her, and her family, dearly.

She was returning home to Uzbekistan on September 11th on the first flight to New York from Nashville.  She was armed with basic signs that Sandi made to hold up when she arrived in NYC.  With her smile, and those signs, she would never be lost…. well, as long as the plane landed in NYC.

But it didn’t.  The flight was routed to Raleigh, NC.  She did not understand any of the announcements, and only had her signs, which were useless in Raleigh.  The airline personnel at the gate calmed her and checked her in a nearby hotel, but none of us knew that yet.  Sandi was on the phone many hours before we knew the situation and that she was safe.  In the meantime, she is in a strange location, in a hotel room, knowing only what pictures were shown on TV.

The grandson was loading up for a drive to Raleigh, which probably was not the safest thing for an olive-skin immigrant, with a name too long to pronounce, to be doing that day.  Rumors of fuel shortages and curfews abound.  There was nothing else to do but go with him to Raleigh.

Long story short, I will never forget the look on the grandmother’s face when she opened the hotel door and saw us standing there.  She was in tears pointing at the TV.  She had been terrified not knowing where she was, or why she was there.  That fear turned to joy and relief as we loaded her things into the car and headed back to Nashville!

That day, America pulled together.  Democrats and Republicans joined together without unnecessary drama and rallied around our President.  America would prevail.

At least for a while.  Then we would eventually forget.

Remember, the intention of Osama Bin Bastard and Company was to bankrupt our country and watch us destroy ourselves from within.  They did not have a specific time frame in mind.   Even with Osama dead, his movement and ambitions seem to be alive and well.

Fast-Forward to today and look around.  What do you see?  Democrats and Republicans constantly battling each other.  America debating involvement in yet another foreign conflict.  We are slowly emerging from a recession that did not discriminate.  Everyone has been affected, financially and otherwise.

The United States has always served in the role of “world police” for humanity?  We have always ended up being the “protector” of human rights in world conflicts.  If not us, who will be?  Russia is hardly qualified to sincerely step up to the role.  Maybe it is their turn now?  That’s a question I cannot answer but I do know that world peace is a very complicated objective with many moving parts.

Where would the world be if Saddam Hussein had been allowed to remain in power?  Where would the world be if Osama Bin Laden was still alive?  Great questions to ponder.   I can say that if Adolph Hitler had been taken out when he invaded Poland, World War II would have been averted.

Regardless of your political preference, now is the time to encourage elected officials to put politics aside and pull this country together.   This country has the resolve to fix our problems and its not supposed to be about ”who will get the credit or blame.”   We don’t elect people to find blame, we elect people to find solutions… or at least that is supposed to be the plan.

It is our obligation not to forget what happened to our country on September 11th.  It is also our obligation to remember the sacrifices of countless people, that day, and every day since.  If we choose not to remember, Osama Bin Bastard & Company wins.  We will be bankrupt and will have destroyed our country from within.

You know, we are still having tough times in this country but until you see people wading off of Miami Beach preparing to swim to Cuba, there’s still time to get it right.

Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, 615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340 and VP Sales for Tennessee’s largest home builder, OleSouth.com, specializing in new homes in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Gallatin, Clarksville, and Spring Hill, Tennessee

Independence Day Celebration in Nashville – Fireworks on the River

The Fourth of July is upon us and it doesn’t seem like summer has hardly started yet! If you like fireworks, there is no better place to be in the country Thursday evening than right here in Nashville!

The celebrations at Nashville’s Riverfront Park start at noon and a variety of acts will be playing throughout the afternoon and the Family Fun Zone will be open. At 6:45 pm the main river stage events kick off with performances by Striking Matches, Barry Scott, Keb’ Mo’, The Band Perry and The Nashville Symphony, who will accompany the fireworks display at 9:50 pm.  It is all a part of LET FREEDOM RING 2013!

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For a complete list of activities and more information, please CLICK HERE.   Nashville’s July 4th celebration is always rated among the top in the nation and 2013 will be no exception!

They will have fireworks left over, so another fantastic celebration evening is planned for Friday night, July 5th starting at 6:30 pm with the fireworks display at 9:30 pm.  Performing Friday evening is Chris Mulkey and Deluxe followed by Ten Out Of Tenn.

This year’s celebration will be somewhat different for area boaters who like to bring their boats from Old Hickory Lake to downtown Nashville.  Old Hickory Lock will close each evening at 10:00 pm.  Boats that are not at the lock by 9:15 pm will not be able to lock through until the next morning.  CLICK HERE for the full story.

It has been said that the Nashville Convention Visitors Bureau has offered to compensate the Federal Government to keep the lock open until midnight.  It is also rumored that the lock operators even volunteered their time for the effort also.  It is obvious the government wants boaters to feel the pain of the sequestration.

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Boaters are very creative, resilient, and resourceful.   If they still want to view fireworks, they will be there.  The newly renovated Rock Harbor Marina and Blue Moon Restaurant downstream from Riverfront will also have accomodations for boats wanting to spend the night.  Call 615.356.1111 for information.

 

The public docking facilities on both sides of the river downtown are closed for the period July 1st through July 5th, reopening July 6th.  Former Mayor Bill Purcell started this practice of slapping area boaters in the face during his administration.  Maybe one of these days Nashville will further embrace its Riverfront and the boating public that uses it.

But until that happens, we’re going to have fun anyway!

 

Happy Independence Day!

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Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, 615.896.0019  direct 615.593.6340.  Specializing in new home sales in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Gallatin, Clarksville, and Spring Hill, Tennessee.

 

Remember the Blue Moon? It’s back – and better than ever!

Just about everyone remembers The Blue Moon, the popular floating bar and grill at Rock Harbor Marina on the Cumberland River in West Nashville.

The May 2010 flood brought an end to the old Blue Moon, along with many of the docks at Rock Harbor Marina. Since that time, the marina has been rebuilding, and that included the addition of a BRAND NEW BLUE MOON RESTAURANT.

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One thing that made the previous Blue Moon a success was the atmosphere. The new Blue Moon is even better. You still walk onto a floating barge and down a dock to enter the restaurant! No worries, there are emergency exits and the facility is handicapped accessible.

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There are indoor and outdoor dining areas, but also roll up doors to open things up a bit!

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Large flat-screen TVs adorn the walls – perfect for keeping up with all the news and sports!

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We recently had the priviledge of sampling many items that will be featured on the menu. Two words immediately come to mind….. damn good!

The Blue Moon is now open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays and is certain to top the list of hot spots in Nashville. One visit and you will see why! Tom, Glenn, and Dougie Ray have put together a great team to make your floating dining experience enjoyable!

You can get there by car or boat! Located at Rock Harbor Marina, 525 Basswood Avenue, Nashville, TN 37205, or Cumberland River Mile Marker 175.

For the latest information, visit their website www.bluemoongrille.com

If you come by boat, there will soon be brand new covered slips of all sizes to park your boat in!

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Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, 615.896.0019 direct 615.593.6340. Specializing in new home sales in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Gallatin, Clarksville, and Spring Hill, Tennessee.

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Honduras – Let’s go again!

The highlight of each new year is returning to Honduras with Rotarians from District 6760 and friends. We will spend one week in the Choluteca region of southern Honduras. We will visit many friends we have come to know over the years, and meet many more!

This year, our group will bring electricity to a total of 68 families. In the Las Delicias village near San Marcos De Colon, we will complete service for 22 homes. During this time, we will stay at one of our favorite hotels – The Hotel Barcelona in San Marcos De Colon.

After the work is finished there, we will move to the Rivera Hotel in Choluteca and complete the wiring for 46 homes in the village of Tapaci, just outside of El Jocote, which we “electrified” in 2008.

Last year, our project was to build a home for the family of Mario Sandoval and Dania Osorto. Windows and doors have been installed since we were there and I look forward to posting those pictures when we return.

Here is Mario, Dania, Daniela, and Mario Jr. in front of their new home.

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Honduras is a place where everything makes a difference in someone’s life.  Every minute spent, every penny collected, every tear shed, every dollar donated.

Many that are unable to visit in person have made generous donations to our club for humanitarian efforts while we are there.  Needs are plentiful there, but resources are scarce.  We may not be able to help everyone at one time, but we have helped many – one at a time.

Back in 2007, a co-worker and friend Rob Calk slipped me $200 cash a few days before we left.  He said “do something cool with it” and left it at that.   On the way to our project each day, we passed a very “run-down” house, bound together with plastic tarps and cardboard.  Adjoining this “house” was a foundation for a new home similar to above, and that work had been abandoned.

We stopped and learned that the single mom and 4 kids were all alone.  Their Dad had been killed earlier in the year.  He had started a new home for them, and those hopes left with his death, until she could save the money to continue construction.  In our best attempt at Spanish, we asked the mother what it would cost to finish the house.  She knew exactly the cost of the supplies she needed, and said she had neighbors that would help her with volunteer labor.

She answered with the figure in Lempira, Honduras currency unit.  After running a few calculations, she needed $200 USD.  Unbeknownst to Rob, he had just financed the completion of a home in Honduras!

That evening back at the hotel, some of the others learned of what we did with Rob’s money and laughed at us.  They said we should have given it to an organization, or someone responsible to oversee.  They predicted Rob’s money would be used to throw a party.  I just looked and said – “Right now, a party might be more important than the house – whichever they decide to do is fine with us!”

The following year, we rode down this path….a completed house stood where the abandoned foundation had been just one year before.  The former house was now being used for storage and chickens.  The house had obviously won out over the party.  I do have before and after pictures, but just cannot find them to post.  Rob did get to see both, by the way!  The family was most appreciative too, and yes they remembered us immediately!

This year will identify more needs that we will address.  If you would like to donate a few discretionary bucks, just let me know as we leave Friday morning, February 1, 2013.   We promise that donations will not be spent on beer!

I can’t wait to document this year’s trip when we return, and also to share the news of another amazing story – a story how a young child from Honduras will be admitted to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for major surgery upon our return – thanks to the efforts of Middle Tennesseans involved in our projects!  As of today, he and his mom have received their medical visas for the trip.  More to follow.

Until then, we’ll be down there doing what we can to help – one family at a time!

January Cruise 2013 – A Quick Getaway (Part 3)

We’re back on the boat in Progreso, headed to Cozumel and I just realized I had forgotten about “Formal Night” on the Carnival Elation.  I left my phone/camera in the cabin and didn’t take a single picture myself.   I was pleased to see more people than usual dressed in formal attire, especially the ladies in their assorted short skirts and heels!

All throughout the promenade are various photo backdrops, and it doesn’t cost a thing to give your best pose.  If you see a photo that you like, you can buy it.  If you don’t, just leave it in the rack.  This is a great opportunity for you to get that new Linkd-In, Facebook, or Twitter Profile shot – or a family portrait without expensive sitting fees.

Meanwhile, I worried about Ruby, our Blue Doberman, and if she was having seperation anxiety.  Turns out she wasn’t, thanks to our dear friend Julie, who also is a profressional “dog-person.”

Ruby' suite

Tuesday morning, the Carnival Elation arrived on time at Cozumel, and the day was going to be simply gorgeous!   Shown here is the Pilot Boat that drops off and picks up a “Harbor Pilot” from each incoming and outgoing cruise ship.  The “Pilot Boat” has got to be a great scam!

Pilot Boat

In Cozumel, Elation was docked right next to its younger twin sister, Paradise.

Elation and Paradise along Cozumel Pier

This was the first time we have docked at the older downtown pier in many years.  All things considered, I like it better.  Downtown is still the hub of activity for this great port!

Carlos and Charlies Downtown Cozumel

A large part of our group wanted beach time, and Carlos and Charlies Beach Club was the destination!  The van driver they hooked up with told them it was no longer there, but he had a better beach for them.  I could give a rat’s ass about getting sand in my crotch, so six of us decided to rent our own car and see just what happened to Carlos and Charlie’s Beach Club.

Carlos and Charlies Beach Club Entrance

Not only was it still there, it was even better!  The food is great, and the selection of drinks is endless.  It is located about 10 km south of the newest cruise ship pier.

Carlos and Charlies Beach Club Beach

Carlos and Charlies Beach Club Inside

After a few snacks and drinks, we decided to ride around the back side of the island of Cozumel, making a complete circle before heading back to the ship.

Back Side of Cozumel

The shopping area at the cruise pier has a shop for everything you would imagine, even a Drugs and Deli.

Cozumel Drugs and Subs

Elation and Paradise at Cozumel

And the rest of our gang made it back for the Cozumel sail-a-way!

Sail-Away Party Cabin v-4

We enjoyed great service from our Dining Room server Sydney, from Indonesia.

Sydney, from Indonesia

I regret not having a camera with me for more of the cruise.  We had a great experience.  Cruise Director Willie Lee had everything on the ship “in synch” if that is a term.  His staff was cheerful and was always around making sure everyone had a great time.  the Wednesday Night Deck party was one of the most lively I have seen.  If I had my camera then, I probably would have dropped it!

There was always a creature waiting back in the cabin.  I wish they could make one of Ruby!

Towel Bear

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We were off the ship and in the car headed home at 8:15 am on Thursday!  The weather forecasts were not sounding good through Alabama, but since when is a weatherman right?

Alabama Snow

We made it just past Cullman, Alabama before we hit a large traffic jam around 4:00 pm.  There was no turning around.  Mile Marker 313 on Interstate 65 North would be our home for the next 9.5 hours!  At least the Greyhound Bus next to us had free wi-fi!

I65 Traffic Jam mm 313

We arrived back in Nashville at 3:45 am Friday morning.  You know what?  I’d still do it all again!!!   You should too!