Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another-Example-Of-Why-We-Are-A-Great-Country-Full-Of-Great-People

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I received this email this morning, and was once again reminded how generous we are as a country. We have soldiers who fight and die for this country, and people who appreciate it so much that they give of themselves to thank them. Here's a chance to put the election aside for a moment, and celebrate what we Americans do so well: we give over and over again.


There are some good people among us.


The Sack Lunches


I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in
my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad
I have a good book to read Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I
thought.

Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle
and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I
decided to start a conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I
asked the soldier seated nearest to me.

'Chicago - to Great Lakes Base. We'll be there for two weeks
for special training, and then we're being deployed to Iraq'

After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that
sack lu nches were available for five dollars. It would be
several hours before we reached Chicago, and I quickly decided
a lunch would help pass the time.

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard soldier ask his buddy
if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems like a lot of
money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five
bucks. I'll wait till we get to Chicago '

His friend agreed.

I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying
lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the
flight attendant a fifty dollar bill. 'Take a lunch to all
those soldiers.' She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly.
Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a
soldier in Iraq ; it's almost like you are doing it for him.'

Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the
soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked,
'Which do you like best - beef or chicken?'

'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and
went to the front of plane, returning a mi nute later with a
dinner plate from first class. 'This is your thanks.'

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the
plane, heading for the rest room. A man stopped me. 'I saw
what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He
handed me twenty-five dollars.

Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain
coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he
walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was
looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he
got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand, an said,
'I want to shake your hand.'

Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's
hand. With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I
was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It
was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was embarrassed
when applause was heard from all of the passengers.

Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my
legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me
reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another
twenty-five dollars in my palm.

When we landed in Chicago I gathered my belongings and started
to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man
who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and
walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five
dollars!

Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for
their trip to the base. I walked over to them and handed them
seventy-five dollars. 'It will take you some time to reach
the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God Bless
You.'

Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of
their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I
whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were
giving their all for our country. I could only give them a
couple of meals.

It seemed so little...

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life,
wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of
America'
for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'
That is Honor, and there are way too many people
in this country who no longer understand it.'

Whos dream are you living?

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Like many people, I've been following the election. I can't recall so many people involved in the election, and, of course, everybody is saying this is "the most important election in my lifetime". I know I sound cynical, but I'm old enough to have heard that before. For many years election turn outs have been less than 50%, so I think the passion is a good thing. Passion helps motivate us, and helps us get nostalgic for what we used to dream about when we were younger.

When I was younger, I had any number of dreams. I dreamed that one day I would be a photographer, and take all kinds of great pictures. Another time I dreamed that I would be a luxury car dealer, since, like many young boys, I thought cars were pretty cool. As time went on though, the dreams turned to other things. The dreams turned into doing well in school (that never really panned out!), and then getting together with some of the "hot chicks" (that never really panned out either!).

Many people are following the election, and saying that "our prayers have been answered", or "it's a dream come true". I can't get there. It's not that I don't support a candidate, I did. It's also not that I don't believe one candidate is better than the other: I do. However, I refuse to believe that my destiny is going to be impacted by the election of one or many candidates: I don't believe that. My dreams may have changed, but they have never changed to the point that I dreamed that one politician is going to live my dream: I am. No politician is going to manifest my dream: I am.

My destiny, and the destiny of all American's have been tied to the individual effort of each of us. Collectively America has accomplished many great things, but all of those great things were the result of somebody's individual efforts. Whether it be the man who decided I'm going to take the perilous journey to try and strike gold out west, or to the man who said I'm going to fly to the moon. Those dreams were made by the individuals that lived them: not a government that mandated them.

For two politicians right now, one of them is going to achieve a dream: to be President of the United States. If it's Barack Obama, he will have achieved one or many of his dreams, and God Bless America for letting that happen. If John Mccain is elected, God Bless him for what he sacrificed to get here. God Bless America for, in effect, paying him back for the sacrifice he (and so many others) made. Either way, two men have been able to achieve the "American Dream".

Here's where I have a challenge with either of these two men, and many politicians: they are trying to impose their dreams upon on a whole lot of us Americans. I never voted for any President, so that he could make me dependant on the government. I voted for a leader of the government. I never voted for somebody who told me how much I could achieve, I voted for somebody who would protect the system that allowed me to achieve whatever I was capable of achieving.

The leaders of today are taking away our dreams, and replacing them with their dreams. I believe in the good intentions of either man, but I don't believe their prescriptions are what are best for the citizens of this country. Collectively we have become so reliant on our "leaders" that we have sacrificed our dreams. People are so afraid that the government won't rescue them, that they become paralyzed. The government has to "stimulate" the economy with money, so that people will spend again. Never mind that our government is adding debt to the future generations, so that they can stimulate the economy now. It's not fair to the future generations, and it only avoids confronting a problem that eventually will have to be confronted - by generations that may or may not yet exist.

Are we so selfish that we are willing to "screw" future generations of children, so that we don't have to make sacrifices today? Are we willing to give up our dreams of success, and become reliant on a government that has mismanaged Vietnam, Iraq, social security, medicare, Katrina, etc., and, in the process, forego those feelings of success when we achieve our dreams? Remember that first escrow closing, and the feeling that your hard work led to a commission? Remember the satisfaction of achieving that dream?

I have virtually no faith in the leadership of today, and I'm not sure how that is going to change. You have leaders who claim to say they are going to look out for us, but are all too often turning a blind eye against people who are lobbying them. Whether it be the likes of a Ted Stephens or a Christopher Dodd (one a republican and one a democrat), our leaders will tell us that they will take care of us. Both men were bribed, and the pork continued to flow. We follow these fools, and our dreams continue to fade away. Democrat or Republican, we are being betrayed by humans who are all too often proving their human frailties, but at the expense of all of us: it sure as hell isn't them since much of the crud is swept under the rug.

There is much that is right with America, but there is much that is wrong. People are using the government for their own selfish interests, and taking away the ability of future generations to achieve their dreams. I don't know what it will ultimately take to realize that our dreams are what our government should be fighting to save, not theirs. I'm confident that America will once again flourish, but I'm quite confident that the answers to America's problems are not being offered by our current leaders - either side of the aisle.

I want leaders who will fight to make this a country that a place where every individual has the ability to achieve what he wants: not what he is allowed by the government. Find me the leader who believes that an individual should be free to achieve without interference of the government or somebody who "knows better" what is best for that individual. Should you find that leader, clone him or her: because we need a whole lot more than that. After all, it's our dreams: not theirs.


Bankrupt-an-Industry

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I saw this today in Drudge, and was struck by the fact that there isn't an uproar. Read it, and you be the judge. If you are in one of the coal states, good luck.

Please read update about the San Francisco Chronicle neglecting to mention Obama's willingness to bankrupt the coal industry at bottom of this blog.)

Imagine if John McCain had whispered somewhere that he was willing to bankrupt a major industry? Would this declaration not immediately be front page news? Well, Barack Obama actually flat out told the San Francisco Chronicle (SF Gate) that he was willing to see the coal industry go bankrupt in a January 17, 2008 interview. The result? Nothing. This audio interview has been hidden from the public...until now. Here is the transcript of Obama's statement about bankrupting the coal industry (emphasis mine):

Let me sort of describe my overall policy.

What I've said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there.

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.

That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches.

The only thing I've said with respect to coal, I haven't been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a (sic) ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can.

It's just that it will bankrupt them.

Amazing that this statement by Obama about bankrupting the coal industry has been kept under wraps until this time.

UPDATE: NewsBusters' Tom Blumer has found out that the San Francisco Chronicle story published on January 18 based upon this January 17 interview did not include any mention of Obama's willingness to bankrupt the coal industry which you can hear on the audio. You can read the story here when you scroll down to the "In His Own Words" section. Way to cover up for The One, SF Chronicle!

AgentspayingForwardcoms-First-Charitable-Donation-600

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I'm really excited to announce that Agentspayingforward.com provided it's first donation last week to New Life Community Church in Fair Oaks, California (aboutnewlife.com). Dwight and Christy Palmatier are Re Max agents in Fair Oaks, California (dwightpalmatier@cwo.com or (916) 879-4998). Both are parishioners of New Life, and chose to "pay it forward" to the church. Dwight and Christy were able to provide $600 for the church, and the donation will go towards a youth retreat coming up this month.

In the picture shown above, Dwight and Christy Palmatier, real estate agents with Re Max Real Estate in Fair Oaks, CA. present Jeff and Angela Pitnikoff from New Life Community church with a check for $600. The donation is to be used by the church to help the church provide funds for a church youth group.

The whole premise of Agentspayingforward is that you are able to profit when you help others. When New Life Church heard about the Palmatier's donation, their response was: "were going to refer them all the business we can, since they are helping us out: why wouldn't we?". Half of the money that the Palmatier's donated came from a program that my company has called the "Sharing Advantage Program. The program is part of Wells Fargo Mortgage's commitment to help the communities in which they do business.

Simply put, Wells can provide a donation of up to $300 to a non-profit organization, school, or church when you close a loan with Wells Fargo Mortgage. Since I work for Wells Fargo, I made sure that Dwight and Christy were able to give it to their charity: I hope that shows that I want to be a partner in their success.

I'm proud of the fact that I can give to the community, and I'm also proud of the fact that I can leave a legacy behind me. I want as many people to join Agentspayingforward, so that they can do business with a purpose that transcends just making money: changing the world one transaction at a time!

I hope that when I die people will say that Tom's actions showed that he truly was of service. You don't have to do business with me or Wells Fargo, but certainly it's great if you do. However, I hope you do business with the purpose of helping others out: you might be surprised what happens!

AgentsPayingForward-In-Romania-check-this-out

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A while back I wrote a post about Nick and Millie stasuc. Nick and Millie were the ones who came from Romania around 25 or 30 years ago now. They had bought a home in Lincoln, CA for $250,000 around 1986, and had put down $50,000 (back when $50,000 meant something). I had done a loan with Great Western Savings for them, and the lender could not believe somebody could make $60,000 a year selling produce at Denios. Nick and Millie just laughed when they spoke with the underwriter, and said how easy it was for them to make money here - it just takes work (something to think about).

I was greeted by this message from Active Rain (I"m deleting the person's contact info):

Hello there ! My name is Mike Nula and i am from Romania ! I have found on a google search your story about Nick and Millie Stasuc ! They are my godmother and my godfather and i would like to keep in touch with them ! I didn't saw them since year 1999 i think ! If you can help me with their adress to send them a Christmas letter or if you can send me their yahoo messenger id or their e-mail i would be very happy ... this is my e-mail adress : (deleted for security) , and this is my yahoo messenger id : (deleted for security)... if you still are in touch with them please give them my e-mail adress so they can contact me ! Thank you very much for your time and i wish you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year !

I have to admit, that I'm constantly amazed at technology. This morning was one of those days that I was kind of dragging, but still got up early to go for a bike ride. Anyway, before the bike ride, I got a cup of coffee at Starbucks and went to check messages. I just started a new venture called ShortRefiServices.com (shameless plug) dealing with loan modifications, short refinances, and also networking with Realtors for Short Sales - please take a look and let me know what you think of the idea.

Anyway, I was hoping to see some new messages when I saw the one from Mike. It's a true testimony to the efficacy of the internet and Active Rain. I have to admit, the message just changed my whole demeanor. I went from dragging, to totally psyched that I could touch a life in Romania. I wrote a note to my Mom, and she is going to bring the information over to Millie at Denios where she still works. Pretty good way to start the day, and it gives you confidence that Active Rain can help you do business - and maybe even bring families back together (that's paying it forward too).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Who is Toma Ash?

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I was born in the Bay Area, and went to school in San Diego. I graduated in 1984 with a Business Economics degree, and went to work in the mortgage business upon graduation. I’ve been in the mortgage business since then, and have enjoyed relative success. However, I had some health issues that had me step back for a while. While trying to get my health back in order, I took some time to do some volunteer work in Tahoe at Tahoe Adaptive Ski School: the volunteer work was the most transformational experience I have ever had. While seeing people who were facing disabilities and impending death try to ski or snowboard, I realized that I had a new mission in life.

I realized that my “pity party” had to end, since I was in the company of people who were amazing to me. People who were dying were going forth, and confronting their adversities. I no longer had health issues that mattered, since they paled in comparison. At that time, I started back to work with the mission that I could do more than make money. I could channel my efforts to make money, but also help those who could also benefit from my efforts. Agentspayingforward was born with the intention of making money, but, more importantly, making money for those who needed the money to continue their efforts. My goal is to help Tahoe Adaptive Ski School, since they do remarkable work.

However, I want to help other groups who also do remarkable work. Groups like Special Olympics, Shriners Hospitals, Make-A-Wish, Wounded Warrior projects, and so many other great organizations. I know there are causes that are worthy of help that I don’t know about, but they also should be helped too. Agentspayingforward is a vehicle that can help people I will never know. That doesn’t matter to me, but knowing that I can start something that will matter is a goal that I will attain. I know that making money for the sake of making money is capitalism defined, but making money and helping others is what we all should do – that way everybody can win and I love winning!

 

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