weather icon 50° Partly Cloudy
The Latest:

Ask Adam: Will Interest Rates Stay Low?

by ARLnow.com | April 22, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 1,149 views | No Comments

Ask Adam header

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

Q. We are looking at homes that will require us to obtain a jumbo loan. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by how low interest rates still are. Do you expect that to continue through the summer and possibly the rest of this year?

A. The short answer to your question, and good news,  is “yes” — rates are expected to remain low through the summer and perhaps even into parts of 2015. This is true for FHA, V.A., Conventional, as well as Jumbo loans.

To get to the “why” that these rates are expected to remain low, let me digress to a bit of recent history and then come back to expectations for the future. Months ago, rates were extremely low because the Federal Reserve was directly subsidizing interest rates (i.e. keeping them lower than rates would have been without the subsidy). Over the past months, the Fed has begun to eliminate this subsidy program, and rates were expected to rise to 5 percent or higher once this occurred. However, over the past few months, when the subsidy phase out actually did begin to occur, rates remained relatively constant, and even decreased a small bit. Experts scratched their heads.

While the Fed did phase out it’s direct subsidy of interest rates, the Fed also decided to keep what is called “short term borrowing” rates very low. Keeping short term rates low is a traditional manner that the Fed has used throughout history to keep overall borrowing rates low, and the Fed does this when they feel an overall lower cost of borrowing is the best way to assist a fragile economy to continue to recover.

Interestingly enough, the elimination of the rate subsidy by the Fed was not an indication that the Fed thought the economy was strong and that rates should increase. The Fed still believes that low rates are needed to help economic recovery, but they felt that the rate subsidy program was no longer necessary to achieve this goal. Most thought the subsidy would be eliminated because the Fed was OK with higher interest rates, but in reality, the Fed still believes and wants to maintain lower interest rates, but is doing this in a manner now where the rate subsidy is no longer necessary.

It is expected that the economy will not significantly recover at least until early 2015, and since the Fed has stated that they prefer lower interest rates until there are signs of economic recovery, the most likely expectation is that rates will remain low through that period, which is very good news for homebuyers this summer.  (more…)

Rosslyn-based ‘Pandora for Books’ Gets Shark Tank Investment

by Ethan Rothstein | April 21, 2014 at 12:45 pm | 1,956 views | No Comments

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.

Felix Brandon Lloyd and Jordan Lloyd Bookey of Zoobean on ABC's Shark TankFelix Brandon Lloyd and Jordan Lloyd Bookey founded their company, Zoobean, as a Pandora-like service for curating and delivering children’s books personalized to each child’s needs. Six weeks later, they were invited to go on the ABC investment reality show Shark Tank.

Their episode aired Friday night (watch it online here), but the company today is vastly different from the one they sold in front of the five sharks when the episode was filmed last July. Back then, the company was simply a curation engine for children’s books, where parents could subscribe and get delivered a book every month based on their preferences.

Since then, Zoobean has grown into a more powerful tool, creating complex recommendations for books and expanding into recommending early childhood education smartphone apps. Despite the early stage of their company when they presented it to the Shark Tank investors, Lloyd and Bookey were able to get Dallas Mavericks owner and dot-com billionaire Mark Cuban to invest $250,000 for a 25 percent stake in the company.

Zoobean on Shark TankIt’s the same thing about Netflix,” Cuban told his fellow “sharks,” who passed on the company, saying it wasn’t unique enough to compete with Google or Amazon. “Netflix, at the beginning, had a recommendation engine and it started with nothing. This has to build too. This is a very binary business. It’s either a home run or it’s a strikeout. If they hit it, it’s enormous.”

The company’s recent transformation came largely based on Cuban’s input, Lloyd told ARLnow.com from their office space in Rosslyn’s ÜberOffices.

“A lot of what he said in the last episode, taking it beyond books and the platform being interesting,” Lloyd said, “we immediately began moving in that direction by curating apps and making it available as a list service. All of that was fueled by the Shark Tank experience. [Cuban] had a lot of input in how to price it and market.”

In the months since, Zoobean has completed its round of $980,000 in investment, and Cuban’s stake has settled in at about 16 percent, while Zoobean’s “Chief Dad and Chief Mom” retain a controlling majority stake in their company.

Jordan Lloyd Bookey and Felix Brandon Lloyd of ZoobeanThe couple started their careers as teachers. Lloyd was the Washington, D.C., Teacher of the Year in 2000-2001 when he was a middle school social studies teacher at The Seed School before leaving education to found a company called Money Island in 2006, which was purchased in 2010. Bookey was a teacher before getting her M.B.A. from Wharton Business School, then became the head of K-12 education for Google.

They got the idea for their company when they wanted a book for their 2-year-old son that explained what it was like to be a big brother, since the parents were expecting their second child.

“We were having trouble finding the right book for being an older brother,” Lloyd said. “It pointed out the problem of being a parent finding the right book for a child. We wanted to create something that was useful and had a human touch. It’s not just an algorithm.”

Zoobean uses data to recommend books and apps that fit each child; “Pandora for books,” as Lloyd calls it. But the products are pre-selected by a group of 15 curators — mostly librarians and educators — who write recommendations and blurbs explaining why each book or app is worth purchasing or downloading. (more…)

Your Beermonger: Just Because You Like It

by Nick Anderson | April 18, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 519 views | No Comments

Your Beermonger logo

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

The best teacher I ever had growing up was my high school art teacher, Jeff Meizlik. As a young man with an interest in art, music, Jeff’s skill as a sculptor and painter along with his interest in nearly every subject made him feel like a kindred spirit; someone I could look up to and relate to at the same time.

My school had an annual Art Day, where the students from the various art classes (visual arts, ceramics, photography, etc.) would display their work, making a sort of pop-up art gallery for the day. For my freshman year Art Day display, I’d asked Jeff if I could hang something I’d been working on at home. It was a simple pencil drawing, but something I’d put a decent amount of working into and that I thought I’d done a good job with.

When he said no, I argued my case for the piece that I liked so much before he dropped the best piece of advice I could have gotten on me, not to mention “words for life” that I refer to even now: “Just because you like it doesn’t mean it’s good.”

I thought about Jeff’s words when I read about Brewer’s Association Director Paul Gatza’s address at last week’s Craft Brewer’s Conference in Denver. You can read a more in-depth account of Gatza’s speech and some of the associated conversation here, but the big point of his address was that with craft beer growing at such an amazing rate, there are more and more homebrewers “going pro.” He talked about a beer festival he’d attended and the beers he’d tried from new breweries, many of which had only been founded over the past couple of years. Where these brewers (and their fans) thought their beers were great, Gatza found them lacking in quality.

“(W)e need to improve it,” Gatza said of the overall level of beer being produced by these new breweries. He noted that with the growth of the industry over the past few years, opportunities abound for those who want to get into the craft beer business, offering a simple plea to those who are planning to do so: “Don’t f–k it up.”

Gatza explained the dangers of new breweries putting out sub-par beer: “With so many brewery openings, the potential is there for things to start to degrade on the quality side, and we wouldn’t want that to color the willingness of the beer drinker to try new brands. If a beer drinker has a bad experience, they are just going to go back to companies they know and trust.”

Solutions include regular lab testing to catch potential chemical flaws that can make even the best recipes feel “off,” and willingness on the part of brewers to receive and process constructive criticism. The good news is that I’ve never met a brewer who isn’t open to getting “notes.” Also the craft brewing community is a tightly knit one; John Harris of the recently opened Ecliptic Brewing in Portland said it best to the Denver Post: “If you are having problems with beer, ask others for help…(d)on’t be too proud. We can help each other make our beer better.” (more…)

Rental Report: Tips for Apartment Hunting With a Roommate

by ARLnow.com | April 17, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 555 views | No Comments

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.

Now that spring is finally here, the rental business is ramping up as well. This time of year, we get a lot of renters looking for units with one or more roommates. Looking for a place to rent can be tough whether it is for just you, or for you and 3 others. Here are a few tips to help you get through the apartment search and into a great home with your group.

Discuss the basics before you start looking. Make sure you are on the same page with what you want. Knowing what you all collectively want will save everyone wasted efforts. Be sure to discuss: what areas work best for all parties, what type of unit you are hoping to find, and what you can each afford.

Discover any pitfalls. The last thing you want to happen is to find the perfect place, take the time to apply and pay the application fees, only to find out the landlord denied the applications because your roommate has terrible credit. It isn’t the easiest discussion to have, as it is deeply personal. Just remember, you are entering in to a legal agreement with this person, so you need to know that you won’t be stuck either homeless because you can’t qualify, or in a place you can’t afford because your roommate can’t or won’t pay.

Know the legal ramifications. That brings us to these four little words: jointly and severally liable. This means that all parties on the lease are responsible for the entire lease. If someone leaves, the remaining renters are responsible for that portion of the lease as well. Co-signers, too, are not just responsible for one person, but for all those on the lease. And this isn’t just the financial issue — does your roommate have a pet? Guess what? That baseboard the dog just chewed up is your responsibility, too.

Now that we have the legal stuff out of the way, what about the actual search?

Coordination is key. Work out a time where you can both view apartments together. It isn’t always easy, but this way, if there is a great place out there, you don’t risk losing it because someone can’t get there for a few days. Also, remember it isn’t just your time that is valuable, but the time of the property manager, on-site leasing agent, or real estate agent as well.

Sometimes looking together isn’t always possible. If everyone is on board with needs and wants, assign one person the ability to make a decision quickly if necessary.

Have one contact person. This is especially helpful with groups working with agents. This person can coordinate with the other roommates, the agent, and the property manager/landlord.

Be ready to apply. This is particularly important with larger groups. Make sure everyone is ready with application fees, security deposit (in Virginia can be up to two months’ rent) and the first month’s rent. Most likely, the payments will need to be in certified funds.  Everyone will need to fill out an application and provide proof of income which can be two most recent pay stubs, an offer letter from a new employer, or tax documents.  That reasonably-priced four bedroom house with Metro access won’t be on the market long. Having all your ducks in a row will ensure you will get the place and will be ready for a much-deserved housewarming party in July. (more…)

Disrupt Fitness: Fresh, Fit Arlington

by ARLnow.com | April 16, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 1,446 views | No Comments

Disrupt Fitness banner

Editor’s Note: The following biweekly column is sponsored and written by Disrupt Fitness.

Maybe it’s a backlash against a nation full of fast and processed foods. Or maybe it’s to counteract the sedentary desk-job lifestyle that tends to come with a career.

Whatever the reason, Arlington, as it’s grown stronger as a community, has also been getting physically stronger. The young professionals building their lives here are also health-conscious, fitness-savvy people, and the community is taking notice.

These are a few of our favorite local businesses that regularly encourage an active, healthy lifestyle. They’re all about not sacrificing health or happiness to life’s demands. You might say they make it easy to live well.

EAT

The Protein Bar (800 N. Glebe Road, Ballston) is a quick, convenient lunch option in Ballston — but it’s definitely not your typical fast food. The Chicago-based business is all about making healthy food accessible and keeping customers satisfied for the long haul.

They do this by offering a well-varied menu of salads, “bar-rittos” (the Bar’s version of a wrap), and quinoa bowls, the last of which does wonders to make the unfamiliar familiar. The ancient grain is dressed up in ways that would give your favorite pasta a run for its money, including a warm, flavorful spinach and pesto bowl, one of their most popular choices.

It’s a place that just feels fresh, with a philosophy of a new view of food, and genuine excitement about sharing it with everyone. “Not all calories are created equally — choose wisely,” proclaims one of its many quotes on the wall. Here, it isn’t hard to do just that.

South Block Café (3011 11th Street, Clarendon) has become the go-to juicing establishment in Arlington, bringing another healthy trend and some Left Coast-inspired freshness to the D.C. area. The café specializes in bottled cold-pressed juices — made at their own microjuicery — as well as smoothies and açai bowls. Owner Amir Mostafavi started the business in 2011 and has since infused it with some serious creativity: the labels on the bottles are a testament to his graphic design background, and the unique flavor cocktails in the juices are inspired.

When you stop by, congratulate the staff: the café recently won “Best Smoothie” in the Washington City Paper‘s Best of D.C. awards. (And if you’re in a time crunch, they deliver within a 10-mile radius.)

For even more fresh food with local roots, look no further than Sweet Leaf Community Café (2200 Wilson Blvd, Courthouse), whose third location just opened in Courthouse. They’re proud of their local heritage at Sweet Leaf, and especially of how they source from local farms as much as possible. It’s a well worth a stop inside the homey, wood-paneled space for a sandwich, big green salad, or even frozen yogurt (hey, “healthy” doesn’t mean “no dessert”).

PLAY

Pacers Running Stores (3100 Clarendon Blvd, Clarendon, and 1101 S. Joyce Street, Pentagon City) have become some of the biggest destinations for Arlington runners to outfit themselves. Recreational and competitive athletes alike can find a perfect fit among the shoe offerings here. Or find an even better fit at one of their group run opportunities.

(more…)

Ask Adam: Top 7 Ways to Win a Bidding War

by ARLnow.com | April 15, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 1,391 views | No Comments

Ask Adam header

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

Q. My wife and I are in the North Arlington market for a single family home and have dealt with the frustrations of losing out on competitive situations. We have lost a few homes recently while bidding 3-4 percent above ask, waiving all contingencies, writing a heartfelt letter, putting down a large EMD along with 20 percent down payment, yet we were still not even the top three contenders with our offer.

Have you noticed an uptick in demand this spring market compared to the last spring market? I know it really depends on what the seller is looking for, but it is not often realistic (nor possible) for us to offer 10 percent above ask on every offer to get our home. Do you have any suggestions for a winning strategy while still exercising at least one contingency to protect us? Additionally, could you rank the contingencies from best to worst in terms of making a competitive offer? Thank you.

A. It sounds like you are competing in a market segment that is in very high demand, which can be highly frustrating. There are certain segments of the Arlington market where demand seems to continuously outpace supply, creating the type of bidding wars you are experiencing.  That said, I have not noticed an uptick in demand this spring over last.

I wrote an article last year that provides a points-based list of strategies that you can use to strengthen your offer. It’s still highly relevant, but I like your idea of putting these strategies in order. In my professional opinion, these are the top seven ways you can become more competitive.

  1. Price. Assuming that you feel the current market value of this home is higher than the asking price and you expect competition — I recommend offering the full list price.
  2. Escalation. 
    1. Decide what the highest price is that you feel comfortable paying for this home. Said differently, if someone is willing to pay $1 more than this price, are you OK with them getting the home?
    2. Most buyers are going to escalate in increments of $1,000. I recommend picking a more aggressive number — perhaps $5,000 or $10,000. This will help make up for any deficiencies in your offer.
  3. Appraisal. If you can afford to do so, waive the appraisal contingency. Putting yourself in the seller’s shoes — it’s great to have a high contract price, but if they are running the risk of it not appraising, they could find themselves re-negotiating the price after the appraisal. Many sellers will put a lot of value in being able to avoid this situation.
  4. Home Inspection. Home inspectors are paid to find problems in a home. Even for the most well maintained homes, they are going to find something. Sellers would prefer to avoid the possibility of the home inspection turning into additional expenses for themselves. If you are not comfortable waiving the right to a home inspection, you may want to consider waiving your ability to request repairs. Done properly, you can maintain the ability to cancel the contract if something is found that you are not comfortable with.
  5. Closing Date. Find out when the seller would like to close and match this closing date in your contract. If they are in the process of buying another home, they may also prefer a rent back. You can win some major points by offering a free rent-back for the sellers.
  6. Financial Contingency. This is the hardest contingency to exercise so sellers are not typically as worried about the financial contingency. The listing agent can usually determine by the strength of your pre-approval letter and a conversation with the lender, how big of a risk you pose of being turned down for financing at a later point. We work with some lenders that can fully approve you prior to writing a contract, which make the financial contingency unnecessary.
  7. Earnest Money Deposit (EMD). Assuming you don’t default on your obligations, this a free way to strengthen your contract. The minimum EMD amount we usually see is 1 percent of the purchase price. I recommend an EMD of 3 to 5 percent in a competitive situation.

Please consult with your Realtor about how each of these strategies can affect your level of risk before moving forward. Best of luck out there!

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

Gluten-Free Food Delivery Startup Launches in Arlington

by Ethan Rothstein | April 14, 2014 at 12:30 pm | 3,159 views | No Comments

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.

Green Spoon founder Hanson ChengA couple of years ago, Hanson Cheng, equipped with a love of gourmet food borne in his father’s restaurants, was in “the worst shape of his life.”

All of the decadent food he’d been eating had caught up to him. He admits he didn’t know much about nutrition before joining a Crossfit gym. It was there he learned about the Paleo diet, and the pounds started dropping fast.

That transformation is what inspired Cheng, who lives in Ballston, to found his startup The Green Spoon. The Green Spoon is a food delivery service that takes online orders in advance and delivers chef-prepared, locally sourced organic, gluten-free food.

Here’s how the concept works: at least a week before the customers want the meal, they order it online from The Green Spoon’s website. They can choose which day they want it, and which meal. Lunches are $12.95, dinners are $16.95 and kids meals are $8.95.

Chicken and zucchini waffles by the Green SpoonAfter the orders come in, Cheng and his partners talk to their farm partners, who deliver the fresh produce to the chef a couple of days later. The chef, Donn Souliyadath, then cooks the meals and Cheng is usually the one personally delivering them on the day they were requested.

“I wanted a gourmet meal service with healthy options, but around here you either need to eat salads or go to restaurants and order the same things again and again,” Cheng told ARLnow.com while sitting outside Buzz Bakery in Ballston, where Cheng spends many of his days running the company. “Our menu rotates every day. People can eat healthy and not have it the same way all the time.”

Cheng is 33 years old and said he was “entrepreneurial from the get-go,” starting his own financial consulting business immediately after graduating from Virginia Tech. At the start of the recession in 2008, he said he left that job the begin flipping houses, which turned into a multi-million dollar business with dozens of properties a year and several investors.

Steak and sweet potato mash from the Green Spoon“At the end of last year, I had enough capital to start something I was really passionate about,” Cheng said. “I initially wanted to launch in March, but there was a lot of buzz around my friends and family, so I did a soft launch in December and it was very successful.”

Cheng said he interviewed a dozen chefs before deciding on Souliyadath, who he found through a Craigslist ad. Souliyadath was working as a personal chef in Great Falls, for a catering company and in a restaurant when Cheng brought him on full-time. Now the two work together to build a menu of, Cheng hopes, 40-50 menu options for each meal.

“A lot of talented young chefs work their asses off under big-name chefs in restaurants without recognition,” Cheng said. “Chefs are like artists, they want to create their own meals, their own recipes. Donn figured out what I wanted and we work together well.” (more…)

Your Beermonger: Better Know a Distributor — Kysela Pere & Fils

by Nick Anderson | April 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm | 362 views | No Comments

Your Beermonger logo

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

If you’re a wine lover in our area, then you’re probably familiar with the work of Kysela Pere & Fils and its founder, Fran Kysela. Recently named Wine Importer of the Year (2013) by Wine Enthusiast, Kysela showcases an impressive portfolio of quality wines from the world over, distributing all across the United States and Canada — all from an unassuming warehouse in Winchester, Va.

The company’s name and reputation have grown since its founding 20 years ago, with The Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker declaring that Fran Kysela “has emerged as one of the finest palates and selectors of top wine, whether it be an inexpensive Muscadet or a top of the line Burgundy.”

What you may not know is that Kysela’s palate isn’t exclusively reserved for wine. In Virginia, Kysela Pere & Fils handles distribution for Troegs Brewing Company and Perennial Artisan Ales among others, and is increasingly on the hunt for breweries to bring into our state.

I was recently summoned to Winchester for an afternoon sampling of Kysela’s beer portfolio with Fran Kysela, his Beer Director Ben Page, and Sales Representative Michael Kotrady. In my 10 years working in the wine/beer retail business, I’d met Kysela a handful of times but never had much opportunity to speak with him: the son of one of America’s premier wine collectors, he presents a kind of casual encyclopedic knowledge not uncommon to people “born to” a vocation or hobby. It’s not only easy to learn a great deal in conversation with Kysela; it’s easy to not notice you are doing so.

Over a great lunch — the highlight of which being a salad with some drop-dead gorgeous local produce — our group of four tasted, took notes, and discussed what we liked/didn’t like and why, the state of the industry, and the challenges of our various roles in the business. It was a pleasure to be invited for such an occasion, and encouraging to see a distributor willing to reach out to an independent shop guy like myself. Tasting note fans, get ready: here are some of the highlights of my afternoon at Kysela Pere & Fils, in no particular order.

Troegs Sunshine Pils: A confession: Sunshine Pils has never been my favorite seasonal beer, nor my favorite Troegs beer. That being said, I can’t say I’ve ever enjoyed Sunshine Pils as much as I did when I tried it at Kysela’s warehouse; not coincidentally, I also can’t say I’d ever tasted a fresher example of Sunshine Pils. Clean and bright, with just enough hop to stand out in a crowd, this year’s Sunshine Pils is a great ‘get-together with friends’ beer.

Troegs Troegenator Double Bock: No surprises here, as Troegenator has been a favorite beer of mine for years — I just felt it warranted mentioning here. I think what I enjoy about this beer so much is that like so many American versions of Old World styles, it pushes the envelope in terms of ABV (8.2 percent) and boldness of flavor yet it doesn’t seem cartoonish, or overdone. Troegenator is just right, and in the new tallboy 16-ounce cans it comes in, it’s even righter.

Troegs JavaHead Stout: It had been a while since I’d tried JavaHead, but I’m glad I got to again. A coffee-infused Oatmeal Stout, JavaHead carries a surprising amount of hoppiness (60 IBU — more that many Pale Ales/IPAs), giving the lush-feeling beer a backbone that keeps it from feeling cloying or overly ‘flavored’.

RJ Rockers Good Boy Stout: Another confession: I’ve never been much of an RJ Rockers fan, either. That doesn’t mean they don’t make good beers, though — Good Boy Stout was a new one on me, and a pleasant surprise. There’s nothing revolutionary going on here, just a solid 7 percent ABV American Stout that pours dark and tastes rich with chocolate and coffee notes, this time from its malt alone. (more…)

The Scratching Post: Your Kitty’s Kidneys

by ARLnow.com | April 10, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 655 views | No Comments

The Scratching Post banner

Editor’s Note: The Scratching Post is a new column that’s sponsored and written by the staff at NOVA Cat Clinic.

Has Fluffy been drinking a lot more water lately? Have you been cleaning out her litter box more often than normal?

These can be some of the initial signs of kidney disease. We rarely think about our cat’s kidneys and how well they are functioning, but they are very important organs in the body. Kidneys filter the blood to remove waste from the system. Most commonly due to aging, but occasionally from infections or toxins, the kidneys can become weakened. This may lead to kidney disease, which is sometimes called Chronic Kidney Failure.

Here are some commonly-asked questions we get regarding feline kidney issues.

Q: I’m cleaning Fluffy’s litter box all the time. How can her kidneys be failing if there is MORE urine?

For us humans, we might think it’s a good thing. We are told to drink 8 glasses a day to stay hydrated, but cats are different. When Fluffy’s kidneys are functioning well, her urine is fairly concentrated (yellow) and she doesn’t need to drink a large amount of water. If her kidneys begin to fail, it doesn’t mean they aren’t producing enough urine; it means they are not eliminating waste as well. In order to compensate, her body will increase blood flow to the kidneys which makes her kidneys produce more urine. To avoid dehydration, she will become very thirsty. This compensation may help initially, but over time she may experience loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and very bad breath. While these symptoms can be due to kidney disease, they can also be caused by other conditions and should be investigated by a veterinarian.

Q: How will I know if my cat has kidney disease?

The only way to know how well the kidneys are functioning is through testing the blood and testing a urine sample. These lab results, in conjunction with a discussion with your veterinarian about your cat’s overall health and behavior, will help us to determine the appropriate course of action.

Q: What can I do if my cat has kidney disease?

Though every cat’s needs are different, there are a few common treatments we use to help ease the burden on the kidneys. These treatments can range from special diets and medications, to giving fluids under the skin, or even acupuncture treatments. If the kidney disease is more advanced, we may recommend placing Fluffy on IV Fluids for up to three days to flush waste out of the kidneys. This will hopefully help her kidneys to function better for some time while some of the other treatments are provided.

Q: Will treatment cure my cat?

While Fluffy’s kidneys will never return to normal, she may live with a great quality of life for an extended period of time. Following your veterinarian’s recommendations and closely watching Fluffy for changes will give you a leg up on keeping her as happy and healthy as possible.

If you feel your kitty is showing any of the signs of kidney disease, give us a call at 703-525-1955. We can work with you to figure out the best plan of action for you and your furry friend.

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

NOVA Legal Beat: Do I Make Too Much to Earn Overtime?

by ARLnow.com | April 9, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 477 views | No Comments

NOVA Legal Beat logo

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Mathew B. Tully of Tully Rinckey PLLC, an Arlington firm that specializes in federal employment and labor law, security clearance proceedings, and military law.

Q. Is it possible for a white-collar worker to earn too much annually to qualify for overtime wages?

A. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay employees not exempted from the law at a rate of at least time-and-a-half for periods worked in excess of 40 hours during a workweek. The law does exempt certain professional, administrative, executive, computer, and outside sales employees, meaning they can work over 40 hours during a workweek and not qualify for overtime wages.

While an employee’s duties, authority, and skill level will largely influence his or her FLSA status, compensation is another factor that needs to be considered. First of all, employees cannot be considered exempt if they are paid on a salary or fee basis not less than $455 per week, or $23,660 annually. It should be noted that news reports have indicated the Obama administration may attempt to change this minimum income exemption threshold by executive order.

At the other end of the wage spectrum, employees who make $100,000 or more annually are generally considered exempt employees. The hard part is figuring out the FLSA status of employees who fall within these two income levels.

The FLSA “was meant to protect low-paid rank and file employees, not higher-salaried managerial and administrative employees who are seldom the victims of substandard working conditions and low wages,” the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in Counts v. South Carolina Electric & Gas Company. This case involved 17 utility company employees who sued for unpaid overtime wages. They earned between $52,000 and $65,000 annually, and the court noted that “[h]igher earning employees such as the plaintiffs are more likely to be bona fide managerial employees.”

Similarly in Darveau v. Detecon, Inc. (2008), the 4th Circuit said that an employee who held the position of director of sales and had an annual compensation of $150,000 “satisfies the salary requirement.” However, it added that “salary alone is not dispositive under the FLSA.” Other factors that need to be considered, so far as determining bona fide administrative employee status goes, are whether the primary duty of the employee is “the performance of office or non-manual work directly related to the management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers” and whether his or her “primary duty includes the exercise of discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance,” the court said, citing U.S. Department of Labor regulations.

Employees and employers should consult with an experienced private sector employment law attorney to determine when overtime wages should be paid.

Mathew B. Tully is the founding partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC. Located in Arlington, Va. and Washington, D.C., Tully Rinckey PLLC’s attorneys practice federal employment law, military law, and security clearance representation. To speak with an attorney, call 703-525-4700 or to learn more visit fedattorney.com

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

Ask Adam: Should I Buy Title Insurance?

by ARLnow.com | April 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 812 views | No Comments

Ask Adam header

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

Q. I just purchased my first home in Arlington, one that had only one owner over the life of the home. The home was also owned outright. When going over closing costs, I was told that the owner’s title insurance is optional. Given that this expense is upwards of $800, what is your take on buyers opting out of this?

A. The house may have had just one owner, but what about the land itself?  It has had several owners over the last 200 years. There could be any number of title defects that affect the land.

If there are any title defects, a buyer can certainly pursue a claim against the seller under the covenants in the deed; however, will the seller have the assets to satisfy the buyer’s claim? Will the buyer even be able to find the seller years after closing?

That is the benefit of owner’s title insurance. A buyer is safe in purchasing realty because if there are any title claims, the title insurance carrier will be there to compensate any loss.

Not getting title insurance is like not getting auto insurance. Sure if you get into an accident and it’s someone else’s fault, you can sue them. But if they are without insurance and judgment proof, unless you have insurance, you have to absorb the loss yourself.

The response to this question was provided by Helen Krause and Nicholas Vlissides of NewWorld Title.  I recommend contacting Helen at NewWorld Title for any of your settlement and title needs: helen@newworldtitle.com.

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

Former Special Ops Innovators Launch Big Data Startup

by Ethan Rothstein | April 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm | 1,422 views | No Comments

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.

HumanGeo's executive teamWhen launching a service-based technology startup, it helps to be able to walk into a meeting and own the room.

Al DiLeonardo and Abe Usher, the co-founders of HumanGeo, rarely have to worry about that. The two met in 2007 when DiLeonardo, working for the U.S. Army Special Ops Command (SOCOM) visited Google’s D.C. headquarters to try to recruit technology talent for a new data project.

Sitting in their new office conference room on the top floor of a Ballston startup, DiLeonardo shrugs and admits he might be the only person to have walked into a Google office hoping to lure people away. Most of the employees laughed it off, but Usher — a graduate of West Point and former NSA cryptologist — chased DiLeonardo down in the parking lot and accepted the job.

“Abe became known in special command as Google Boy,” DiLeonardo, the CEO, says with a chuckle.

In 2011, DiLeonardo retired from SOCOM and, soon after, Usher left with him to launch HumanGeo, which takes much of what the two were doing for the military — using geospatial technology and big data analytics to gain strategic advantages — and privatized it.

HumanGeo screenshot“We work with digital human geography, which is understanding the intersection of people and location,” Usher, the chief technology officer, says. “We’re trying to derive insights from data and the most simple way to do that is from location. We maximize the geospatial aspects of data.”

One of HumanGeo’s first clients was the government of the United Kingdom in 2012. HumanGeo was hired to ensure the London Olympics — which generated controversy because many locals were opposed to hosting the games — could operate smoothly.

Since then, HumanGeo has grown exponentially. Half of its business, DiLeonardo says, comes from the Department of Defense, primarily in the area of disaster relief and security; DiLeonardo declined to get into further specifics of HumanGeo’s various defense contracts. The other half is designing tools to let large companies — from banks to video game makers — make sense of vast amounts of data.

“Where we excel is identifying where there’s a problem and building applications to solve that problem,” DiLeonardo said. “For banks, one of the services we offer is using internal and external data to make sense of why a client leaves the company so the bank can offer better services.”

HumanGeo's Ballston officesHumanGeo is completely bootstrapped and profitable, DiLeonardo said. Within a year of launching, HumanGeo had a team of 10 members and an office in Clarendon. Now, HumanGeo has 45 employees and even has a spinoff company in New York called Signifier, which is tasked with taking some of HumanGeo’s products and “going big with them in social media.”

While HumanGeo was initially launched as a technical services company, it’s since grown in a number of directions, but with one common factor: data. Vast amounts of it.

“The government needs to derive more value from the data they have,” Usher said. “They’re looking for more data-driven decision-making. That’s why even as government spending on the whole may be reducing, expenditures in data are growing.”

DiLeonardo is also a former NSA cryptologist — his path and Usher’s never crossed until that day at Google — and the fact that HumanGeo’s two founders came from NSA had venture capitalists in Silicon Valley “practically throwing money” at them, DiLeonardo says while chomping on beef jerky from a giant bag.

HumanGeo screenshot

“Game knows game,” DiLeonardo said, quoting a line he heard Ice-T say in a Jay Leno interview. “That’s how we’ve gotten to where we are. We’ve become known, liked and trusted in the government space  and we’ve been able to attract a great team because we’ve had interesting work.”

The CEO says locating in Arlington has been a key to securing both talent and clients. Most of HumanGeo’s 45-person team was recruited through word-of-mouth, and DiLeonardo and Usher gush about how talented the people they work with are.

“About a year ago, an Ivy League graduate who has an engineering degree from Stanford and is a woman asked for a job,” DiLeonardo said with a huge grin before leaning forward and slapping his hand on the table. “That’s how I knew we’d arrived.”

×

Subscribe to our mailing list