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by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 5, 2015 at 5:00 am 0

Alex ChamandyThe following post is written and sponsored by Envescent, LLC, the IT services provider to ARLnow.com.

Businesses rely on information technology to improve productivity, share information and reduce the time it takes to communicate.

Despite how important information technology is to their success many small businesses tend to manage it poorly. For the most part this has to do with the depth of expertise and investment of time that is necessary to ensure that software, hardware, networks and telephony are maintained to promote maximum stability and security.

These tips are based on my experiences and are intended to provide a basic guide for improving your IT experience.

1. Problems begin with software that’s not maintained

The majority of malware is able to enter computers because they run out of date software. That includes applications like Adobe Acrobat Reader or Java and the operating system itself, such as Windows or Mac OS X. Software publishers release updates that include fixes for security problems. When these updates are released they reveal problems with the software that hackers can focus on and attack. About 80% of malware targets out of date operating systems and applications. By keeping yours up to date you can reduce the probability of malware invading your computer.

2. Update your software regularly

To update your software it’s best to visit the publisher’s website, such as www.adobe.com for Adobe Acrobat Reader or www.java.com for Oracle Java. I strongly recommend opting out of any third party add-ons such as tool bars, free anti-virus or other potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) that may come along. For Microsoft Windows you can check for updates manually by visiting control panel and searching for Windows Update and then clicking the Windows Update icon. For Apple Mac OS X you can click on the Apple icon and then click on Software Update to check for the latest updates.

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by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 4, 2015 at 2:30 pm 695 0

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This is a biweekly sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

Employers have occasionally attempted to gain access to the social media accounts of current and prospective employees such as during workplace investigations or background checks. When employers request access to social media accounts of current and prospective employees, it promotes distrust in the employer-employee relationship and generally gives rise to a significant worsening of the relationship that could lead to other employment issues.

A new Virginia law, effective July 1, 2015, prohibits Virginia employers in the private, state, and local sectors from requiring current and prospective employees to disclose their username and passwords of their social media accounts or to add an employee, supervisor, or administrator to their contacts list.

The new law also prohibits an employer from accessing an employee’s social media account if the employer inadvertently obtains the employee’s login information. The new law, however, does not protect social media information that is publicly available.

Finally, the new law prohibits retaliation from an employer if an employee exercises his or her rights under the new law. Virginia is one of the latest states to enact social media protections for employees. View Virginia Code Section 40.1-28.7:5 for more information.

We represent employees and employers in employment law matters.  If you need assistance with an employment law issue, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation.  Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by Ethan Rothstein — May 4, 2015 at 12:30 pm 382 0

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Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

ByteCubed founder/CEO Ahmad IshaqAhmad Ishaq immigrated to the United States when he was little, fleeing Afghanistan with his parents for political asylum from the Soviet Union. He grew up in Southern California, developed an American accent and a laid-back, West Coast disposition.

Now, he’s leading one of Arlington’s fastest growing companies, going from five employees just a few years ago to close to 100 by the end of 2015. Ishaq is the founder and CEO of ByteCubed, a government contractor and consulting business focused on ensuring the best decisions possible for its clients.

“I came from a very poor family, lived a really modest lifestyle,” he said from ByteCubed’s space in Carr Workplaces in Clarendon. “That helped mold me into being very driven. I’ve always been thinking what I can do bigger.”

Ishaq moved the area for an internship with the Defense Intelligence Agency. That internship turned into a full-time job, where he continued to push up the ladder. He left the government to work as a director at Mantech International, but after a year there he struck out on his own.

“I wanted to solve the Big Data problem,” he said. “I wanted to figure out how to take information out of classified documents, analyze it and feed it back to the government so they can make better decisions.”

In 2010, he started to “build the infrastructure” of his fledgling company, holding off on growth while he did so. He took a subcontract with the Computer Sciences Corporation for data analytics. That contract allowed him to hire a handful of employees and get ready to land the big deal.

ByteCubed's offices in Clarendon's Carr WorkplacesIn 2014, after years of working on his proposal, Ishaq secured a $325 million contract with Department of Defense in October. Since then, he’s hired 30 people and plans to hire as many as 50 by the time the year is over. ByteCubed is already the biggest tenant in Carr Workplaces, occupying several different offices in the coworking space.

Soon, they will move to Crystal City, after Ishaq was personally courted by Vornado/Charles E. Smith President Mitchell Schear. Their new, 6,000-square-foot space is along Crystal Drive, and ByteCubed will have plenty of opportunities to grow.

Other than the $325 million contract, ByteCubed also works with a handful of private companies. He also secured the contract to help administer $1 billion a year through the DoD’s Small Business Innovation Research fund, which gives grants to private companies to develop new technologies.

“We’re helping the government make better, smarter purchases by aggregating the data and automating the processes,” he said.

It’s a simple enough concept, but one the government has had problems with in the past. That’s a big issue, Ishaq said, considering the government spends as much as $70 billion a year for research and development.

“A lot of times, people get a problem, come up with a quick, fast solution and it ends up being terrible,” he said. “Our solution is addressing the bigger problem of the government looking for a quick fix.”

ByteCubed's offices in Clarendon's Carr WorkplacesByteCubed is chasing 10 different government contracts that will be awarded over the next 12 months. If the company lands just one of them, “we will double in size,” Ishaq said. Those contracts will all focus on the niche Ishaq has targeted for his company: “increasing innovation or reducing inefficiencies.”

That, he said, is the way he’s found to give back to the country that gave his family a safe place to live when he was a boy.

“A lot of people in similar situations appreciate the fact that we were given a second chance, and feel very invested in giving something back,” he said. “It’s why I’ve always been focused on solving government needs and problems.”

WWBG: Canned Applause

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — May 1, 2015 at 2:45 pm 327 0

Weekend Wine and Beer Guide logo

Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Garrett Cruce, a Certified Beer Server in the Cicerone Certification Program.

Is there a sound of summer more satisfying than the crack of opening an aluminum can? In one percussive moment, it conjures memories of picnics, grilling or cooling off after mowing the lawn. It’s the container that requires no opener other than your own fingers.

Since 1933, when the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Company began shipping their Krueger’s Finest Beer in cans, beer drinking just hasn’t been the same. Of course, those cans required a churchkey to punch holes in the top for drinking, but they heralded a new delivery system for beer.

Though consumers might still associate beer cans with mass-produced, light lagers, there has been a real craft beer movement brewing around the aluminum can.

Oskar Blues Brewery started the trend in 2002 with Dale’s Pale Ale, committing to be a bottle-free brewery. According to craftcans.com Cantastic Database of Canned Craft Beer, there are approximately 508 breweries canning beer in the United States today.

Aluminum has numerous benefits that make it a more attractive container for beer than glass. It effectively blocks out harmful light and air — the seal on a can is tighter than that of a bottle cap. Cans are lightweight and less costly to recycle than glass. And, the durability of aluminum means that breweries lose less beer to breakage in shipping. Not to mention that the can is immensely portable for the beer drinker, too.

Here are several tasty brews that just happen to come in a can:

Oskar Blues Brewery Pinner Throwback IPAOskar Blues Brewery Pinner Throwback IPA (4.9 percent ABV)

This session IPA has “throwback” in its name because it’s so easy to throw them back. It’s a cute joke for a serious beer. The aroma is piney followed by a citrus tang. Grapefruit dominates the flavor. The bitter citrus flavor is so big, that it’s easy to forget that there isn’t much alcohol. This is a delicious and refreshing IPA that doesn’t knock you out. It’s great for an afternoon outside.

21st Amendment Brewery Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer21st Amendment Brewery Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer (4.9 percent ABV)

Brewed by the brewery named for the Constitutional amendment that repeal prohibition, Hell or High Watermelon is rather standard — albeit fruity — American wheat.

21st Amendment is better known for it hoppy beers than for malty ones, but they have made a perennial favorite for many craft beer drinkers. This beer starts out as a typical American wheat beer then goes through a secondary fermentation with fresh watermelon. The finished product is a beer that both smells and tastes almost entirely of watermelon. It’s refreshing beer on a hot day and goes well with just about any grilled food. You should be able to find this until late summer.

Maui Brewing Co. Coconut PorterMaui Brewing Co. Coconut Porter (6.0 percent ABV)

Maui’s Coconut Porter is a favorite of their line-up — the Washington Post named it the champion of Beer Madness 2012. Though it’s the darkest of the beers here, the fact that it’s a porter makes a great choice for a summer cookout.

The aroma is mineral with toast and cocoa, betraying just a hint of the toasted coconut used in the brewing. Chocolate and the bittering of the toasted malt is all over the flavor — I got little of the coconut in the flavor. Regardless, at 6 percent this beer is still going to go down easy with a big flavor that pleases.

Brothers Craft Brewing Drift Session AleBrothers Craft Brewing Drift Session Ale (5.0 percent ABV)

The can that I had was still labeled with their old brewery name: 3 Brothers Brewing Co. After a legal dispute left them with the choice of limiting their distribution to Virginia only or changing their name, they chose change.

Drift falls rightly into a category they created called Weekender beers. I have just one word for this delicious beer — pine. It’s in the aroma and flavor, and it’s what makes this beer a great find. Out of Harrisonburg, Va., Brothers Brewing Co. is only distributing within the state. But, as their name change implies, they aren’t interested in limiting themselves.

I didn’t mention all the great Virginia breweries that use some or all cans, nor most of the other U.S. breweries that do. What is your favorite can of beer? Cheers!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 30, 2015 at 2:30 pm 846 0

Rental Report header

Editor’s Note: This biweekly sponsored column is written by Rick Gersten, founder and CEO of Urban Igloo, a rental real estate firm that matches up renters with their ideal apartments, condos or houses. Please submit any questions in the comments section or via email.

One of the great parts about city living is having everything just outside your door. Convenience is especially important when you don’t have a car to help get the things you need. Luckily, the Arlington area has an abundance of options to get toilet paper or milk to your apartment in a snap.

We have a few suggestions on where to stock up on your favorite groceries close to your apartment in Ballston-Clarendon-Courthouse.

Grocery Stores:

Trader Joe’s — Less than a block from the Clarendon Metro station, Trader Joe’s is always a favorite for shoppers. They carry plenty of healthy food choices at great prices. They also have a good wine selection and great prices on cut flowers, when you need to pick up party gift on the fly.

Harris Teeter — In the Ballston area on Glebe Road, Harris Teeter offers a great selection of traditional groceries.

Whole Foods — Centrally located between Clarendon and Courthouse Metro stations, just across from the Market Common, is the best place in town to stock up on organic and fair trade groceries.

Giant – Just a block from the Virginia Square Metro station, this local Giant store is just what you need for picking up last minute dinner items.

Delivery:

Don’t have time to go to the store? Try online services Instacart or Peapod for groceries delivered right to your door.

Farmer’s Markets:

If local, farm fresh foods are your thing, Arlington has enough markets open nearly every day of the week, so you are sure to get the freshest items in town.

Arlington Farmer’s Market – closer to the Courthouse side of things is the Arlington Farmer’s Market, located just a block from the Courthouse Metro Station. This market is open year-round offering fresh, local produce along with other great seasonal goodies. Come out on Saturday morning to support local growers and vendors while stocking up for the week.

Clarendon Farmer’s Market – Open every Wednesday from 3-7, April through December. Located right outside the Clarendon Metro station, this market offers a variety of goods from local farms and vendors. An excellent choice to stock up mid-week on your local favorites.

Farm Fresh Delivery:

Relay FoodsWant the best of both worlds? Have local, farm fresh foods delivered right to your door. This site lets you browse meal plans and recipes, and simplifies the shopping process by adding all the items to your cart with just a click. You can even add your own recipes for easy shopping for your favorite meal. Prices range around $4-8 per serving. Be sure to share the service with your friends and earn a $30 coupon.

If you need to find one of the apartments with convenience at your door, check here!

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to [email protected].

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com — April 29, 2015 at 12:00 pm 786 0

This week’s Arlington Pet(s) of the Week are Bo and Lane, two brothers rescued from under a bush in Pennsylvania.

Here’s what owners Matt and Liz had to say about their sibling pets:

Bowman (Bo) and Lane were found by Matt hiding under a bush alongside the road in middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania. They were only 2-3 weeks old. Since being rescued that day, they have lived the posh, North Arlington lifestyle for nearly 4 years.

Bo has a sleek, grey coat and wing-tipped ears. He is a handsome devil, yet a total mama’s boy, drama king who thinks he is still a kitten. His favorite activities include pouncing on moving objects, leaping to tall heights, chewing on things he’s not supposed to, and meowing when people raise their voices. He also has a bottomless pit for a stomach and is not afraid to head-butt his parents while they are sleeping to let them know he’s hungry!

Lane has white, tuxedo fur on his chest and tummy that is softer than a cloud. He is constantly purring in between his inquisitive meows. Despite his sweet disposition, the hunter of the family also likes to leave gifts, whether a toy mouse or balled up socks, on the bedroom floor every morning in exchange for his breakfast. Other hobbies include running into the hallway to greet strangers, hiding from the vacuum cleaner, and beating up his brother when mom and dad aren’t home.

Each cat has his respective spot on the couch for watching “Law & Order: SVU” or the current season of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge, Lane with mom and Bo with dad. And when it’s time for bed, they switch and Bo sleeps under mom’s arm while Lane keeps dad’s feet warm. It’s times like these that Matt and Liz wonder if they truly adopted these furry gentlemen or if it was the other way around!

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet.

Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Arlington and Northern Virginia.

Ask Adam: Errors on Appraisal

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 28, 2015 at 1:45 pm 757 0

Ask Adam Real Living header

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. We are buying a house and the appraisal just came back. The value they quoted is above the sales price we agreed to, but I noticed a couple errors on the appraisal report.  For one, it listed the basement level bathroom as a half bathroom, but it is actually a full bathroom. Should we report this to the lender and appraiser? 

A. I think that homebuyers get confused sometimes about the purpose of the appraisal. Unlike a home inspection that is in place for the protection of you the buyer, the appraisal is a requirement of the mortgage process to protect the lending institution. You’ll notice that they are the ones who chose the appraisal company.

They want to make sure that if they are going to lend hundreds of thousands of dollars towards the purchase of your new home, that it meets their basic criteria and the value is at least that of your contract sales price.

The appraiser is not performing a separate home inspection, but they are making sure that certain items are in place. They may even check that the appliances and vital systems within the home work properly. The condition of the home should be safe, livable and resellable.  They are comparing the home to similar sales within a defined radius and timeline to determine the value.

Not to get too sidetracked, but appraisals are subjective. You can have 10 appraisers come up with 10 different values. The fact that your particular appraiser determined that the value is above the contract sales price means that you can move forward with the purchase without having to bring extra money to closing or trying to re-negotiate the sales price with the sellers. To learn more about how appraisals and appraisal contingencies work, please see my past article.

If the appraisal had come in low and you had evidence to dispute the appraiser’s sloppy work and miss-evaluation, then I would fully encourage you to challenge the appraisal. In this case there really is not anything to gain by reporting errors to the lender or the appraiser.

If you would sleep better at night having this cleared up then please go ahead and report the discrepancies. Based on what you have shared with me I don’t see how it can do any harm.

Thank you for this week’s question. Please keep them coming to [email protected] This is also a great place to reach me for anyone looking to buy or sell a home in the Arlington area.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 27, 2015 at 2:45 pm 1,110 0

Local Woof logo

Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Some dogs react to the presence of specific stimuli with aggressive barking and lunging. When a dog does this specifically in the presence of other dogs, we call it dog reactivity.

There are many reasons why a dog might be reactive. Fear, a lack of early socialization or a traumatic event are just some possible reasons. Some dogs may be reactive on leash but play really well with dogs off leash.

No matter the reason, walking a reactive dog can be a real challenge. We often call it the “midnight dog-walkers club” since owners of reactive dogs tend to go out of their way to walk their dogs when there are as few other dogs around as possible.

Walking a reactive dog can be a really big challenge in an urban environment. When working with reactive dogs we usually recommend a program of counter-conditioning and desensitization, where slowly, over time, we teach the dog to tolerate the presence of other dogs without reacting with barking and lunging.

During the training phase, I usually teach handlers a three-pronged approach about what to do.

  1. Click then treat
  2. Treat bomb and
  3. Get outta Dodge.

The first thing to do is “Click then treat.” If your dog is able to pay attention to you and is not barking or lunging you can treat them, very rapidly, in the presence of the other dog.

Once your dog reacts with barking or lunging, we need a new plan. This is when I resort to a “treat bomb.” In this situation I throw 15 -20 very small treats down in front of the dog. Hopefully the dog will be sufficiently motivated by the food to stop the barking and lunging and eat the treats off the ground. Once they finish the treat bomb, they are often now able to refocus on you and you can go back to clicking and treating for good behaviors. The treat bomb is simply a behavior interrupter to distract the dog and give you a moment to get them back under control.

If all else fails and you find yourself in a difficult situation, it time to “Getta outta Dodge.” No amount of treating or pleading or yelling is going to resolve the situation. Your dog is over its threshold.

Their thinking brain is no longer working so there is no point is asking them to follow even the most simple of commands. At this point, your best bet is to take off in the opposite direction and remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.

Dog reactivity is probably the number one behavior problem we are called in to help with. The good news is that over time, and with consistent positive training, reactivity can improve a great deal.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 27, 2015 at 12:00 pm 572 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

The Worden Tech Solutions teamChristopher Worden had wanted to be a member of the U.S. Marine Corps since he was 4 years old.

Five years into his service, during a training run, he twisted his ankle and his foot jammed into train tracks. Worden stubbornly — he was a Marine, after all — kept running and training on the injury, while his leg became more and more damaged. His bone plate grew in the wrong direction, and overcompensating for the injury caused him to blow out his knee and two discs in his back.

By the late 1990s, he was medically discharged from the Marines after having served Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton at the White House. Almost two decades later, Worden now finds himself more connected to the Department of Defense than he has been since wearing his dress blues.

Worden is the owner of Worden Technology Solutions, a government contractor that specializes in streamlining information technology services, cybersecurity and professional services. WTS has found a niche, Worden said, in the way it completes its tasks.

“We use technology as a tool to accomplish missions, not as a solution,” Worden says. “I do a lot of homework, try to identify where [the client’s] pitfalls and problems have been. I say ‘here’s what the problems are and here’s what we can fix.'”

It’s simple, unoriginal concept, but it has resonated with multiple DoD clients, and has continued to win Worden contracts. Considering WTS is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business, he’s in a strong position for government contracts that are legally mandated to involve “set-aside companies” like his.

Worden Tech Solution's office at Eastern Foundry in Crystal CityWorden got his first contract in 2009 as a one-man business with the Navy. In 2011, he was able to officially incorporate and launch his company, hire employees and work for more contracts. That includes winning an 18-month-long slog for a Navy Space and Warfare Systems Command contract.

“That kind of process is enough to make a lot of people go ‘I’m done,'” Worden said. “But that’s why I was able to win, because I was too stubborn to quit. I would not give up.”

Worden’s success has led to other agencies inquiring into his company’s services. WTS has been a subcontractor for huge businesses like Northrop Grumman, trying to meet their set-aside requirements. And the company’s office in Crystal City’s Eastern Foundry incubator has helped with all of it.

“With 40 companies here, you can hit all the set-asides,” Worden said. “Plus the location is absolutely the best, plus you have the potential to meet other companies. As a small business, you tend to work on your own and you become bitter. This is about taking advantage of something that’s in front of you.”

Still, there’s one client Worden hasn’t worked for yet, one he’s had on his mind since he was 4 years old. The same one he said he used to chase recruiters when he was 14 he wanted to serve so badly: The Marines. Despite his confidence, the meticulous Worden wants every possible duck in a row before he goes for his dream job a second time around.

“I don’t want to stumble on myself walking into the Marine Corps,” Worden says with a sheepish grin. On the days where his leg injury hurts too much, he has to use a can. Speaking with ARLnow.com last week, he barely walked with any limp at all. “I want to be sharp. But we are getting ready to talk soon.”

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 23, 2015 at 2:30 pm 367 0

Healthy Paws

Editor’s Note: Healthy Paws is a new column sponsored and written by the owners of Clarendon Animal Care, a full-service, general practice veterinary clinic. The clinic is located 3000 10th Street N., Suite B. and can be reached at 703-997-9776.

Obesity is the No. 1 disease of cats and dogs in the U.S. According to the 2014 National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey, nearly 53 percent of American dogs and 58 percent of U.S. cats are overweight or obese.

Overweight is defined as 15 percent above ideal body weight, while obesity is defined as 30 percent above ideal body weight. Obesity predisposes animals to numerous diseases, including osteoarthritis, diabetes, hypertension, cranial cruciate ligament (“ACL”) injury, and respiratory difficulties. Additionally, there is increasing evidence that it can also predispose to certain types of cancer.

And, if we needed further reason to keep our pets at a healthy weight, the Purina’s Landmark Life Span study found that dogs maintained at a lean body weight outlived their counterparts by 15 percent, or two years, for the Labrador retrievers used in the study.

So, with all of these reasons to keep our pets at the ideal weight, why are so many pets still overweight?

The simple answer is that calories in are greater than calories out — they are just eating too much. Most of us enjoy giving our pets that little extra snack or even treat from the table. It’s rewarding to see their excitement, so we tend to over-treat and “supplement” their diets.

With regards to cats, many cats aren’t huge treat-takers, so limiting treats may not have as big of a factor on their overall calories; however, cats are most at risk for being overfed, since we tend to just leave food out for them, without measuring it out. Additionally, many indoor cats lead fairly sedentary lifestyles, so they just aren’t burning many calories on a daily basis.

How do I know if my pet is overweight?

Most veterinarians use either a 5-point or 9-point body condition score, with a score of one being emaciated, and 5/5 or 9/9 being morbidly obese.

Sometimes it can be difficult to accurately assess our own pets, since we see them on a daily basis. Asking your veterinarian for an objective score, or even a friend or family member, can be very useful.

How much should I be feeding my pet?

Because there is such variation in the number of calories per cup in pet foods, it’s impossible to say “this dog should eat X number of cups per day.”  And, to make matters worse, most pet food companies do not clearly display the number of calories per cup on the bag — this information can usually be obtained via the website, but they certainly don’t make it easy to find.

In general, though, the chart on the back of the bag can be used as guide for feeding volumes. However, because these charts tend to be very generous (the pet food companies are in the business of selling food, afterall), we typically recommend decreasing the “recommended” volume by 20-25 percent for most adult pets, dog or cat.

How do I start a weight-loss program for my pet?

If you are ready to take on a concerted weight-loss program, it’s best to meet with your veterinarian ahead of time to get a baseline weight, determine the ideal number of daily calories, a healthy rate for weight loss, and a detailed plan of action. Your veterinarian will most likely recommend a percentage decrease in the volume fed, or a specific target number of calories per day, as well as follow-up with frequent “weigh-ins.”  Sometimes changing the diet itself, not just the volume, can be helpful to promote weight loss.

With a bit of effort your pet can soon be on the path to a healthy waistline, and improved overall health to boot!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com — April 22, 2015 at 1:00 pm 897 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Lane, a mixed-breed rescue dog who is afraid of floor lamps.

Here’s what owner Ryan had to say about his pup:

Lane is a 3-and-a-half-year-old mixed breed that I believe is a pitbull/whippet mix. Ryan, her owner, rescued her while he was getting his Bachelor’s Degree from Virginia Tech, hence she’s named after the Hokie’s Lane Stadium.

Lane is a playful dog that loves having fun with other dogs and chasing after squirrels while going for walks on the Bluemont Junction trail behind her house. Lane’s favorite activity is going on hikes and running through the woods in the Blue Ridge Mountains while she is visiting her grandparents’ house during the holidays. She is a very quiet dog and hardly ever barks, unless it is at the mailman. The roommates in our house recently got several remote control helicopters and she enjoys watching them fly around and attempting to snag them when they fly too low.

For some reason, Lane’s biggest fear is floor lamps. She is always checking on them to make sure they haven’t moved. We spoil Lane by allowing her on the furniture, and she uses that privilege to its fullest extent. Unlike some other dogs, she is excellent in the car, she just curls up and enjoys the ride. Any time myself or any of my roommates come home from work, Lane gets extremely excited and always needs to pick up an item in her mouth while relentlessly wagging her tail.  The first item she usually picks up is her bone, and if that is not within sight, she will pick up some very unconventional items, such as blankets, shoes, or socks.

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet.

Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks. Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Arlington and Northern Virginia.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 21, 2015 at 3:30 pm 909 0

Ask Adam Real Living header

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos, Arlington-based real estate broker, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

I am taking a break from answering real estate questions this week. Instead, I am turning the column over to Adam Segel-Moss, the Green Building Outreach Coordinator for AIRE and the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services, to talk about LED bulbs and an Earth Day event they are hosting. 

Tomorrow is Earth Day and it’s a good time to reflect on actions that can be taken at home to save money and leave a lighter footprint. There are many actions we can take in our lives to reduce our environmental impacts, but changing a light is one of the easiest (insert joke here about how many Arlingtonians it takes to change a light). This article provides some info from the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) program and includes details about how to get a FREE LED bulb.

Lights in your home accounts for ~10% of your overall energy bill, according to the Department of Energy. Lighting has come a long way. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that were first released in the 1980s were $40 bucks each, had small amounts of mercury, did not work well with dimmer switches, and they didn’t always deliver on their promised lifespan.

Light emitting diode (LED) bulbs have followed a similar path of high costs; but the light quality, color, instant-on, and dimmer capabilities have leapfrogged incandescent and CFL technologies.  LED lights are still expensive, but the price has come down considerably over the last few years and the energy savings and life of the bulb make them worth the investment.

Here are a few tips to help you make sense of the many lighting options on the market today so you can choose the LED bulbs that are right for you.

LED 1Use Lumens, Not Watts

I am very familiar with lighting technology, but even I can get a bit overwhelmed when I walk into the lighting aisle at a big box builder store. We used to have a general sense of how bright a bulb was based on the bulb wattage.  The Federal Trade Commission recently mandated that all light bulb packages will be standardized with new labels which will make it much easier to buy light bulbs. The main indicator on the light bulb package will be “lumens”, which will replace the current “watts”. So no matter what kind of bulb you are interested in, using lumens as a guide will enable you to compare the brightness level each bulb will deliver.

LED 2Choose the bulb color temperature that you prefer

Over the years I’ve learned that people have very different opinions about light color.  Some like white light and others prefer a warmer yellow glow. The color is now noted on the package as temperature in Kelvin.  Use the graphic below to select the light color that you want.

LED lights come in an array of shapes and sizes

Up until now, LED bulbs have looked fairly wonky.  You can now finds LED bulbs in all shapes and sizes, including the ornamental filament style LED bulbs that are all the rage right now.  The LED bulb pictured here uses only ~6 watts, and it dims beautifully.

AIRE Filament LEDGet a FREE LED

You can test out a new LED bulb for FREE.  The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy will be at the events below to exchange your old incandescent bulb for a new LED bulb.  One LED per household, while supplies last. We hope to see you!

Wednesday, April 22: Crystal City Power Purge and Shred

7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m., 1900 Crystal Drive

Saturday, April 25: Arlington Courthouse Farmers Market

8:00 a.m.-noon, 14th Street N. and N. Courthouse Road

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by Ethan Rothstein — April 20, 2015 at 3:45 pm 1,121 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Mindcubed founder and CEO Habib Nasibdar, right, and CTO Prasad IndlaHabib Nasibdar immigrated to the U.S. from India to attend George Washington University business school just after Sept. 11, 2001, and now he’s the founder and CEO of a startup he feels is making his adopted country a better place.

He is the founder of Mindcubed, a data analytics company serving public safety agencies, based in Ballston. Mindcubed provides a platform for police departments, court systems and correctional facilities to look at all their data, analyze it easily, ensure it’s accurate and usable, and predict outcomes for potential decisions.

In a time where political pressure on public safety departments has seemingly never been higher, Mindcubed services are in high demand.

“There is a political alignment happening and more and more talking about how we understand criminal justice data,” Nasibdar told ARLnow.com from its shared workspace at Metro Offices in Ballston. “We really are helping criminal justice agencies and public safety departments understand their data for precise decision-making.”

Four states have entered into pilot programs with Mindcubed, and Nasibdar expects to sign contracts within six months on multiple deals for the service. Mindcubed’s first client, when the company launched in late 2012, was the District of Columbia’s sentencing commission, which hired Nasibdar to help it analyze why so many young people were being incarcerated for nonviolent crimes.

Mindcubed logoNasibdar got his start combining data and public safety in 2005, when he was working for a small government contractor and won a contract with D.C. to build an information-sharing infrastructure among its public safety departments, a key recommendation to localities in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

An engineer by trade, it was that first contract that gave him the bug to improve public safety. As an Indian immigrant, he said it gave him a way to serve.

“I always felt I never got an opportunity to serve this country and I felt this is a way to help my adopted country,” he said. “This is my way of serving. There’s no better way to feed my kid and my family than to do what I’m doing.”

Because Mindcubed serves government clients, it typically takes 18 months from first contact to secure a deal on a contract. But, he says, patience is a virture. He didn’t bootstrap his company to make a quick buck and move on.

A screenshot of Mindcubed's Grid platform“We are not 25-year-olds in shorts writing on a whiteboard,” he said. “Our approach is very methodical. We’re persistent in the area we know we are successful. This market is just developing, and we see so much opportunity in this domain.”

The platform allows, for instance, a police department to answer questions of policy makers about how many marijuana arrests were made in the jurisdiction, then to break the statistics down into how many of those were under the age of 25, and how many of the under-25-year-olds arrested for marijuana crimes were suffering from mental illnesses. All of the data in their system is cross-checked for accuracy and compliance.

“Agencies right now cannot answer in real time all these permutations and combinations,” he said. “All of these questions lead to more questions. We provide analytics, compliance and prediction, and combine them to make it extremely easy to use. Present that to bureaucracies, and that’s like magic to them.”

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 20, 2015 at 3:00 pm 1,443 0

Berry&Berry2

This is a biweekly sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

On April 3, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, took the first steps, at the state level, to “Ban the Box” for individuals applying for state employment positions by signing Virginia Executive Order 41. “Ban the Box” is a reference to a movement seeking to ensure fairness for individuals previously arrested or convicted of a crime from being automatically disqualified for employment.

According to the Wall Street Journal, nearly one out of every three adults in the United States has a prior arrest or conviction on file with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The “Ban the Box” movement attempts to stop employers from using initial background checks to screen out applicants before those applicants have the opportunity to show that they can perform at the position.

Such checks have created significant obstacles for individuals, even with minor arrests or convictions, to obtain employment. Essentially, once an individual has checked the box on a job application indicating that he or she had previously been arrested or convicted, the applicant often finds that the application was automatically rejected.

According to the National Employment Law Project, 15 states and 100 cities or counties now have “Ban the Box”-type restrictions in place. Virginia is the latest to implement such a restriction on a statewide level. Executive Order 41 implements a “Ban the Box” policy for those individuals seeking state employment and ensures that the Department of Human Resource Management takes the following actions:

  1. Amend the state employment application to remove questions relating to convictions and criminal history;
  2. Inform all state executive hiring authorities that state employment decisions will not be based on criminal history unless clearly job-related and consistent with business necessity or where state or federal law prohibits hiring an individual with certain convictions for a particular position;
  3. Instruct state agencies to ensure that any criminal history check is conducted only after a candidate has been found otherwise eligible for the position and signed an appropriate release; and
  4. Identify sensitive state employment positions where initial disclosure of criminal history will still be required.

Executive Order 41 only applies to state employment, not positions in the private sector. However, it is likely only a matter of time before such laws are eventually enacted more broadly.  At the city/county level, a number of Virginia counties have also passed “Ban the Box” rules for county employees, including, but not limited to, Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Richmond, Newport News, and Norfolk.

We represent employees and employers in employment law matters.  If you need assistance with an employment law issue, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation.  Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — April 17, 2015 at 1:45 pm 420 0

Weekend Wine and Beer Guide logo

Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Garrett Cruce, a Certified Beer Server in the Cicerone Certification Program.

Full disclosure: I have not been a fan of sours in the past. I took on this little challenge as an opportunity to broaden my palate. It worked, sort of.

I tasted four sours: two European and two American. Like with IPAs, American craft breweries have gone to extremes with sours. Where the two Flemish sours that I tried mixed the sweet, maltiness of brown ales with a fruity tang, the American sours were all sour.

Traditionally, sour beers like Flanders reds, oud bruins and Berlinner Weisse were aged in vertical wood barrels, called foeders, where the beer interacted with so-called acidifying bacteria — like lactobacillus — resulting in a souring of the beer. This was desired. European breweries blend aged sour beer or lambics — “wild” beers that use a combination of wild yeast and bacteria for their sourness — with young beer. The result is a beer that still has many of the flavors of a brown or red ale, but with a lactic sourness.

According to The Oxford Companion to Beer, American craft breweries are forging new roads into the world of sours. Dubbed “new world” sours, these beers are as varied as the ingredients that are used in them. One of the beers in this column is inspired by the “old world” sours, but it lacks any of the subtleness of them. The other American sour here uses blood oranges to bring a big citrus tang to an otherwise “old world” style, the gose.

Anderson Valley Blood Orange GoseAnderson Valley Brewing Company Blood Orange Gose (4.2 percent ABV)
This is the gose — a wheat beer brewed with salt and coriander. The sourness comes from the addition of lactobacillus and a large number of blood oranges. In the glass, the aroma is reminiscent of sodium bicarbonate — a flat, Alka-Selzer-like scent — with just a hint of bitter orange. The flavor is nearly all sour! You get a big citrusy sourness from the oranges, which tapers off to a lightly sweet biscuit flavor in the finish. This is a refreshing, sessionable beer that will be perfect in the heat of a summer day.

New Belgium La Folie 2015New Belgium Brewing Company La Folie 2015 (7 percent ABV)
This beer makes claims to the long lineage of European sours — Flanders reds and oud bruins. It’s made using a blend of aged sour beers that New Belgium is nurturing. Starting out as lagers, the component beers sour over time in wood foeders. Each one has a different character so that when they are blended you get this complex sour beer. The aroma is tart plum with a hint of the sodium bicarbonate. In the mouth, it’s entirely plum and other dark stone fruit with little to no sweetness, lightened by an effervescent carbonation. This is a strong, funky beer. Alex from Dominion Wine & Beer suggests letting this one age before opening it.

BROUWERIJ ALVINNE Omega Sour Blond AleBROUWERIJ ALVINNE Omega Sour Blond Ale (6 percent ABV)
Omega is a Flemish sour beer that uses a blond ale instead of the traditional brown ale in the blend. Alvinne bills itself as a craft brewery in Belgium and it shows in its varied line up of beers. This beer has a fantastic winey and biscuity aroma that hints at the complexity of the flavor. There’s no doubt that this is a sour from the first sip. Starting out strong, the sourness mellows to become fruity right before the sweetness of the malt kicks in. I found the journey from sour to almost sweet made this beer really stand out.

Vanderghinste Brewery Oud BruinVanderghinste Brewery Oud Bruin (5.5 percent ABV)
This Flemish brown ale is a sour is made in the Flanders tradition. Originally called “Ouden Tripel,” Vanderghinste gave Oud Bruin a makeover, including a rename, and found success. Oud Bruin is a brown ale that is blended with an oak-aged lambic to create the Flemish sour brown ale. The aroma is of prune and cinnamon apple. The flavor derives from the lambic and from the yeast — tart stone fruit that sweetens in the finish. This traditional sour was actually the least sour of the group. I enjoyed it immensely as a drinkable sour ale. This approachability and the trend toward sours has made the demand for Vanderghinste’s Oud Bruin so great that the brewery has announced plans to expand.

What are you drinking? Cheers!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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