• Big Fluffy Dogs Rescue- Nashville, TN

    I am a Tennessee native, I have lived her most all of my life and am a big fan of some of the organizations that got their start in Tennessee.  With the harsh news coming out of our region from the shooting events recently in Chattanooga and the rough weather we have all been facing, I thought I would make a post today about something more uplifting and engaging for really anyone.  Because, after all, who doesn’t love a great pet story, with a happy ending?  About two years ago, my girlfriend and I were looking for a dog as an addition to our growing fur family.  We already owned two cats and were ready to give them some company, hopefully a protector and friend, as well.  I have owned pets before, but had always found them at pet stores, or got them when friend’s dogs had litters and needed a place for them to go.   This time I wanted to do things differently, I wanted to support local rescue groups that fill a great need in the community helping dogs find “forever homes” who would otherwise not have a home and end up euthanized in shelters.  Dogs don’t have to have behavior or health problems to end up in rescue organizations.  They often come from people who are moving, and can’t take their dogs with them or from people who no longer have the time to devote to caring for their adorable pooches.  Dogs of all kinds find there way to these places, but all are cared for in foster homes until they are able to find a home.

    Big Fluffy Dogs Rescue in Nashville, Tennessee is the rescue group I decided to go through, because it was give a top rating for non-profit organizations in Tennessee in 2015.  Now, it should be noted that we were hoping to find a large dog, as we have plenty of yard for it to run around in, and I have always loved the protection that larger breeds are able to offer.  The website states they specialize in mixed breed, giant dogs.  Perfect for us, because the animal would be in need of a home and also be larger in size.  Some of the more popular breeds they rehome are Great Pyrenees, Saint Bernards, and Newfoundlands.  The group has volunteers who travel back and forth from the New England area of Northeastern American and bring dogs back to Tennessee who are in desperate need of a home.  You may not realize it, but states like New Jersey and New York have a much larger problem with homeless dogs and overflowing shelters.  Other states in America are able to travel there and enlarge the area these dogs can be rehomed in.

    I thought you might like a little information about how we ended up bringing Cocoa home with us, a giant white Newfoundland mix.  The adoptions that take place through Big Fluffy Dogs are on based on the best fit of a home for the dog and the owner.  Sometimes more than one outstanding offer will come in for the same dog.  In that instance, we choose the applicant who met the necessary conditions first.  So, first in line is how we will choose, in that instance.  Before the dogs are taken home, they are housed in a foster home either in Tennessee or in several states in New England.  Cocoa was already half way to us, being housed in Tennessee, and although we never got to meet the foster parent, we are so thankful to him or her because Cocoa came home full of energy, vitality, and happiness, she was obviously well taken care of!  My girlfriend and I had to go through a thorough inspection of ourselves, personally, and then our home, to make sure the dog was going somewhere safe and loving to live the rest of her life.

    This process, while better than choosing an animal from a shelter also comes with a cost.  For Cocoa we paid $500 because she is over six months old.  Puppies, those dogs under six months of age are $600 to adopt.  This was not a fee we had a problem paying because it went to cover any vet costs, pull fees from animal control facilities and shelters, any grooming fees, screening for diseases, and all vaccinations.  Some of the money goes to the company that transports the dog, and also for boarding, ID tags, and collars.  There is a cost involved in this process, but the outcome is well worth the effort we put into bringing Cocoa home, she’s a true part of our family now, and keeps us on our toes taking care of her.  She brings a level of happiness to the family we didn’t have before, a cheerful bundle of fur we are forever thankful for.

  • Severe Weather Shreds Chattanooga This Summer

    We’ve been getting hit HARD the last few weeks with a crazy amount of severe weather. Thunderstorms, gale force winds, and lighting that’s been striking the ground like crazy. While the water was much needed to dispel the awful heat, the enormous amount of bugs, and the gross amounts of pollen that populate our area, we could all do without the damage that’s been caused. Power outages and destroyed homes and vehicles are among some of the casualties.

    This brings me to the topic of this post….tree care. Many homeowners do not properly care for their landscapes until it’s too late. With some proper maintenance around your yard you can save yourself a lot of time and money for when bad weather and high winds decide to strike your area. There are hundreds of landscape and tree care companies in the Chattanooga area, but I want to point out the very best one. After all this is a blog about information that is hard to find and if you’ve ever tried to get tree service in this area you will know what I’m talking about. We’re overrun with overpriced services trying to charge an arm, a leg, and a vital organ just to remove a dead organism from your land. Fortunately for you (and unfortunately for me) I’ve had a lot of experience in this arena and can provide you with some guiding light.

    For starters you’ll want to stay away from anyone who’s advertising their tree care services on craigslist. There is a reason they don’t have a website and it’s not because they don’t have a computer! More often than not you’re going to end up with some crack head at your house with a dull chainsaw from his shed and some non load-bearing rope and half a clue. Start by doing a yahoo or google search for the tree service closest to you. Look at their websites and see who spent money having theirs developed and who did theirs them-self. You can tell a lot about a company by their online presence. I could delve further into explaining how to utilize those unlimited search engine searches that come with your internet connection, but hopefully you’ve got that part down.

    What I want to do is recommend my top choice for tree service in the Chattanooga area. I’ve personally used Chattanooga Tree Care on many occasions and have always been beyond pleased with the quality and price of their services. Their owner is a really good guy and does everything at a fair price with no hidden fees. Him and his team have over 10 years experience and are some of the best and fastest in the business. He’s removed a large damaged tree from my yard in only a few hours and never leaves a mess behind. In fact you can’t even tell there was damage or a tree service was even there. Tell them BelowStreetLevel referred you!

    Until next time,


  • Killing Spree Strikes Chattanooga

    In case you haven’t been following the news we just had another crazy 20 something year old go on a killing spree taking the life of four military personnel and a Chattanooga police officer before they fatally ended his rampage. This is a terrible tragedy that has made national news and sparked quite the controversy here in town. The shooters name was Mohammad Abdulazeez and apparently his parents were on the terror watch list. He even joked in his year book that his name causes national security alerts, what does your name do?

    He openly practiced Islam, but was not what anyone close to him would consider a radical. There are text messages of him opposing ISIS and calling them a stupid group that is completely against Islam. The people close to him that have been interviewed are more than shocked to learn that he was shooter because of him extremely normal and caring demeanor. That raises a lot of questions…why did this happen, what were his motives, was this just someone snapping or was there a longer more drawn out plan here? Perhaps we will never know, but there are many people speculating.

    The FBI has been raiding his relative’s homes trying acquire as much intel as they can to determine if there is a possible future threat and to learn more information about this attack. Was this a suicide mission by a deranged lunatic or was this a carefully orchestrated plan by some influential, but still unknown sources? He was manic depressive and had a history of drug abuse (but so do millions of people that don’t go shooting up military recruitment centers) His parents tried to get him substance abuse treatment and remove the guns from his home, but he refused citing that he was an adult.

    This is a gruesome story that leaves us all wondering why…that question may never be answered. Let’s just hope this never happens again (yea…right, this is exactly why everyone should have a concealed carry permit!) If I was there I would have saved a few lives by taking one.


  • Mensa International – What It’s All About

    If you have looked around this blog, you will notice I mention being a member of Mensa International, for short just plain Mensa.  Some people have never heard of this organization of brilliant minds, filled with people from all over the world.  If you weren’t put in honors courses in High School or College, if you didn’t belong to the “smart kid” group in Elementary School where they pull you out of class to test your IQ, I doubt that this was group was ever introduced to you.  Mensa International is a group open to any individual, anywhere in the world, that can prove their IQ is in the top 2% of the population worldwide.  We are a large number of faces and stories, with varying talents and contributions to the world.  Not all of us come from fancy or privileged backgrounds, but each of us has taken the time to develop our intellect to a point at which the majority of people will never reach.  The word Mensa means “table” in Latin.  The group uses this title in reference to the group being open to anyone in the world with the high IQ.  It is irrelevant what race you are, your age, education level, or where you come from in the world.

    Mensa is made so that this rare group of people can come together to form relationships and enjoy activities together.   After all, what is better than one extremely smart person?  A whole bunch of the working together!

    To give you a little background, Mensa started in Europe- England, specifically.  In 1946 two very talented individuals named Roland Berrill and Dr. Lance Ware wanted to create a group where they could socialize and collaborate with people of their same mindset.  Each of them had extremely high IQs, so this became the qualification for entrance.  What made their idea so awesome to me, is that they made the membership free of any political agenda, radical ideology, or religious affiliation. Instead, as a whole, we focus on serving as an immediate way for people to find the brightest individuals on Earth, for the benefit of all.  We also promote research in the world, and much like those group activities the “smart kids” in school took part in, we support a wide array of intellectually challenging opportunities for members.

    Mensa is comprised of people from 100 different countries around the world. Each continent on Earth, except Antarctica, has its own organization.  Many people find a familial feeling in the group, while others see it as a loose social gathering.  In this way it is brilliant, in its ability to serve as many different things to many different people, meeting all kinds of communal needs.  Often, members meet their best friends in the group, or even their husband or wife.  We are a lively bunch, and because of our high intelligence, can talk about almost anything!  If you belong to the organization, you get the honor of being referred to as a “Mensan.”   There are lifelong members (some as young as 2 years old), but most of our members are between 20 and 60 years old.  Most of us are just like anyone else.  We are teachers, artists, doctors, and even truck drivers.  The types of employment in the group vary widely from one person to the next.  Some of us are even famous!  Maybe you have heard of some of these well known Mensans: Terance Black (screenwriter), Donald Petersen (former chair of Ford Motor Company), and Geena Davis (Academy Award winning actress).

    Because IQ tests vary widely in their equivalency to each other, Mensa uses a percentile goal to grade each applicant.  No matter which IQ test was administered, the applicant must have scored higher than 98% of people taking the test.  There is also a specific Mensa test that can be administered; this is how I got into the organization.  You can also take a pre-test in your own home, to get ready, in some countries.  The pre-test scores are submitted and if they are high enough you are invited to take the supervised official Mensa test.  There are also, fun Mensa online tests that will not gain you entry into the organization, but are a fun way of getting an idea of what the organization is all about.  It is referred to as a Mensa Workout.  If this sounds like something you are interested in, check with a Mensa office and they can help you have the test administered, officially.

    You might be wondering why someone would want to join the organization.  There are meetings and conferences to attend where, as I mentioned above, you can meet people from all walks of life who are of similar intellect.  Also, our national magazine and newsletters are chocked full of intriguing activities and articles for our members.  Mensa has different interest groups you can belong to called SIG, which stands for Special Interest Group.  There are 200 of them in a wide array of topics from chocolate to African Violets.  If there is not one to suite you, start your own!   “Mensa World Journal” will keep you abreast of what members are doing throughout the world.  “Isolated M,” the group’s newsletter, is also available to keep you informed.  Mensa even puts out a scholarly research journal to the general public called the Mensa Research Journal.  It has a very low sticker price, but delivers high quality, informative research.  In some countries, Mensa has credit card offers for their members and even insurance.  What I am most proud of in this organization are the ways we contribute to society through volunteer actions and the many scholarships and resource programs provided to gifted children.

    Next time you find yourself around a group of highly intelligent people, ask around, you might just have met the next Mensa member in your midst!

  • In the spirit of the name…

    I acquired this domain by a stroke of luck and I am very happy I did. I could go on and on about the reasons I love this domain, but the best part is obviously the name. There are many meanings that can be had from the phrase below street level, but with my first post I shall take the name literally!

    This is going to be a story about what not to do when purchasing a car! I’ve gone through at least 10 used vehicles in my life and have learned many hard lessons, but there is one that sticks out that I feel many could learn from. Do not buy a high mileage luxury car because you think it’s cool!

    I was yoAudiA4ung and dumb and went and looked at an 11 year old Audi with 190k miles. I knew very little about cars, but I knew that this car was cool! It was top of line, all-wheel drive, turbo’d, Bose system, leather, power everything, etc! I was sold the minute I saw it.

    I took it for a test drive and knew from the beginning that it felt under powered, but shrugged it off as it just being a 4 cylinder and the gas mileage would benefit me. I also heard a slight rattle coming from the engine bay, but didn’t think much of it. (These were my biggest mistakes in hindsight) If it’s making a noise it shouldn’t something is probably wrong!

    After the test drive I made a cash offer and the car was mine! I was ecstatic to have my new budget baller ride. The happiness quickly faded over the next few months. The cars problems began to become more apparent especially after the abuse I put it through. Once it was obvious something was wrong I scheduled an appointment with the local Audi stealership to get a diagnosis since my normal mechanic hadn’t a clue how to deal with this car.

    I dropped the car off to be diagnosed with the hope that it was something relatively simple to fix. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They called me to ask if they should start the repairs and rattled off an enormous list of problems that total over $8000 in repairs! Needless to say I went and picked up my clunker without getting the repairs done.

    At this point the car was drive able, just slightly under powered. Being the wise kid I was I continued to drive this car around…I guess I was going to drive it till the wheels fell off. They wouldn’t be given the chance as the engine decided to step up to the plate.

    On my way home from work after midnight I go to make a right hand turn at a stop light and BAM! Something snapped and my car lost all power. I was stranded in the middle of the intersection with no way to move my car. This is the culmination of all of my wonderful decision making trying to have a cool car!

    Fortunately my now good friends from Chattanooga Towing were able to get their tow truck to me in just minutes. I was only a few miles from home and they took me and my lemon and dropped of us on the doorstep. They only charged me $50 when the standard around here is $125. I’d highly recommend them if you ever buy a piece of shit in this area!

    With my now lifeless car sitting in the driveway I figured I had to cut my losses and sell it as it sits. I sure as hell didn’t have the money to get it running or the know how to do it myself. I ended up selling it to some redneck for $700 who thought he could get it running with some tools from Walmart. He paid me for the car and worked on it for hours and said he’d be back tomorrow.

    I was afraid that this guy had bought my car was going to use my driveway as his personal mechanic shop while he got it running. That wasn’t about to happen…I was going to let him know the car needed to be gone by the end of the day. He showed up early in the morning with a new tool from walmart and in less than 10 minutes had the car running/driving! Apparently it was a $40 fix to get the engine to run (still under powered, but he just got a $700 fully loaded running and driving Audi!)

    That was a very painful lesson to learn for many reasons, but the most painful is that I am currently without a car for over 2 years because of this. I accept full responsibility for my awful decisions and I hope I can make one of you think twice before buying that 10+ year old beamer!

    Buy a honda from a grandma,


  • Welcome to BelowStreetLevel!

    Welcome to BelowStreetLevel! If you haven’t read the About page yet then let me introduce myself. My name is Justin and I am an aspiring writer, web designer, motivational speaker, poker player, and a small business consultant! I’ve got my hands in quite a few cookie jars as you can see. From all these professions I’ve garnered quite the outlook on life and I am here to share that with you.

    My writing will be very unorthodox, but hopefully I can manage to be at the very least mildly entertaining. There will be a wide array of topics that discuss and they will most definitely not come in a particular order. I might or might not be bi-polar so you may see some quick and drastic changes in my mood, but that’s a tangent I will avoid at the moment. Just enjoy the stream of consciousness that flows from this Mensa member.

    Perhaps you can tell by this point I am not your average individual and I’m perfectly fine with that! I’m on the internet creating a website for almost an entirely therapeutic purpose. I hope putting my thoughts down and reflecting upon my own life experiences will allow me to broaden my own understanding of myself while maybe helping someone else do the same. If I can open just one person’s mind this website will have more than served it’s purpose.

    In closing this website is going to serve as my outlet in a way. I will post regularly about all the happenings in my exciting life. I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and will join me again as I put my thoughts on display for all the world to see!

    Thanks for visiting BelowStreetLevel,