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by Nick Anderson — September 19, 2014 at 3:00 pm 338 0

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

Will Gordon writes about beer for Deadspin on their sub-blog, The Concourse. Earlier this week, he ran an opinion piece about how he thinks Yuengling, well, sucks (you can read it here).

After the piece ran, Gordon took to Twitter to talk about a phenomenon I’ve noticed not only in beer writing, but in most critique/commentary. Noting the rate at which the Yuengling piece was being read/shared/talked about, Gordon said “Hey everyone, good job reading about Yuengling at 8x the rate” as recent reviews of his on beers from Troegs, Boulevard and others are read. “Way to reinforce bad behavior.”

Gordon was merely expressing his opinion as someone who is paid to have opinions about beer, and because he “likes to have fun with the Yuenglingers,” he took a particularly edgy tone with his piece, only to find it doing “disconcertingly well.”

It’s obvious to brush off the lure of negative reviews and other critical writing for readers; we all know of plenty of commentators who thrive on “trolling” audiences — the “Shock Jock” principle, if you will. That’s not what I’m talking about today; I’m talking about why we, as human beings, are more inclined toward the negative. Gordon ran pieces over the past few months listing his picks for the most overrated and underrated beers on the market — guess how they performed against each other?

I’ve had a little experience with this myself: I posted one full-on negative review, one time, as much as an experiment in tone for the writing on my blog as anything else — and I still shudder when I think about it. Thankfully, it’s not the most-read post I’ve ever done, but it certainly provoked more reader reaction and interaction than any other post. It remains on the site because it’s the Internet and nothing ever really goes away even if you want it to, but that’s the only reason. That’s not how I want to discuss beer; even beer I don’t like.

The environment these days is such that some are finding “listicles” too much work, simply posting context-free “(Insert topic here), Ranked” lists and letting the public dive into confrontation, baseless argument and name-calling. Aggregate rating sites abound, along with the statistical analysis of nearly every subject imaginable.

The entire concept of opinion is coming into question: it’s not enough to merely have an opinion today — your opinion is expected to have to be quantifiably “better” than someone else’s. Some days, it seems that unless you have objective proof of an opinion being more relevant than another, than it has to somehow be “wrong” and no one can simply be “wrong” anymore. To paraphrase Dr. Zoidberg, your opinion’s bad and you should feel bad.

Everyone’s ready to uncork on someone, or something, or someone uncorking on something. Am I getting old (I know I am), or has this gotten worse over a relatively short period of time? I don’t like people enough to want us all to just get along; there will be no campfire singing and handholding over here.

But can we not all remember that we all perceive flavor, aroma and color differently? That beyond our physical differences, our experiences do much to shape our tastes, and that what I enjoy may not be what you enjoy and may not be what the guy who gets paid to write about beer enjoys? Knowing this, can’t we debate the merits of one beer or another with a little less anger? Can we have just a little more fun?

It’s beer, after all.

I’m feeling entirely too reasonable right now. I think I’m gonna go have a couple and write an unnecessary screed against something. Until next time.

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money-saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — September 18, 2014 at 2:30 pm 400 0

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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.

Overwhelmed by searching for rentals in the DC metro area market? Maybe you should enlist the help of a real estate agent. Here are some of the advantages to working with an agent in your rental search:

Expertise – If you’re new to the area, the expertise of a local agent could save you a lot of headache and stress. A local agent knows the area, knows the properties and can act as a matchmaker to find a great rental in an area you’ll enjoy. You may not have a lot of time to actually spend in the areas you’ve researched. An agent can help steer you to the right neighborhoods based on your wants, needs and hobbies. Your perfect neighborhood may be one you never considered.

More Options – Navigating the rental market alone, your search is limited to apartment websites, Craigslist etc. An agent will have access to the database the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS. Agents can research properties and schedule showings. While you may be able to find properties on the MLS without an agent, you will have to contact the listing agents and arrange the showings on your own. Rental agents may also know about specials coming up at particular buildings before they are made public, helping you score a deal on your apartment.

Representation and Cost – Ask the agent to provide a disclosure that they represent you and will be paid by the landlord. With this, they can help you negotiate and understand the terms of your lease.

Time – A rental agent can save you time. Again, they know the area, they know what buildings meet your criteria and they know the current rates and availability. They make calls and set appointments for you, saving you countless hours.

What else you need to know – Most rental agents don’t work with all properties and landlords in the area, so keep that in mind. That’s why they might tell you they can’t show you a particular property but they should be able to tell you how it compares to what you have seen.

  • Rental prices can change daily in managed apartment buildings. The pricing is based on the vacancy rate, and is often automatically adjusted with rent-optimizer algorithms. Just because you saw something on a website last week at one price does not mean that same price is available now.
  • Most rental agents won’t show you a dozen units. Just as your time is valuable, so is theirs. If they’ve shown you four units within your criteria, you are in pretty good shape. At that point, you should make a decision on the area and building you like best, as many apartments look similar and offer similar features. Seeing 10 more of the same category of units likely won’t make your decision any easier — in fact, it may make you more frustrated.
  • Agents can’t tell you everything. The Fair Housing Act prohibits agents from giving you specifics about demographics of a neighborhood or building. So they can’t answer questions like, “Are there young professionals in this building?” Don’t hold that against them, as they are just trying to keep the playing field fair for all.
  • Give them all the details. If you are going to need a co-signer for your apartment, let the agent know. Not all properties will accept co-signers. You don’t want them to waste your time showing you a unit if it isn’t going to work for you. If you have a dog, be sure to mention that in your first conversation. Many properties don’t allow pets, or they charge a fee or additional rent money. The agent will need to factor that in when selecting units for you. If you need to be close to the Metro, let them know, and let them know what close means to you. Every person is different. Tell them a little about yourself, what you enjoy doing, what type of food you like and where you work. Every little bit of information helps them find you a great place.
  • Not all agents are created equal. It is beneficial to find an agent who is licensed, and who specializes in rentals. This way you are sure to find a professional who understands your needs and is willing to take the time to work with you. You want someone who is going to listen and find you a rental that will make you truly happy.

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to info@urbanigloo.com.

by ARLnow.com — September 17, 2014 at 12:30 pm 750 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Meatball, a mutt who’s showing his new owners “how to have a dog.”

Here’s what owner Jayne had to say about her family’s first pooch:

Our family adopted Meatball (mutt, but maybe beagle mix?) from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington and brought him home on July 8. He had been rescued from West Virginia and fostered with his six brothers and sisters (all with meat names like Pork Chop, T-Bone and Snausage) at Woofs! training and boarding center.

My husband and I never had dogs growing up and often told people “we don’t know how to have a dog.” Our kids started asking for a puppy a couple of years ago, but we waited until they were older and less high-maintenance before we took the plunge. Meatball was only 8 weeks old when we brought him home. We read books, pamphlets, called Woofs and the AWLA, as well as our dog-owning friends for advice on training and housebreaking. We enrolled him in puppy kindergarten and regularly attend the puppy socials at Woofs in Ballston.

So far so good! Meatball has been a wonderful addition to our family. By day three he was allowed on the couch, even though I said I wouldn’t let him up there. He has yet to climb onto a bed, but I am guessing that is next. He loves to chew on things, including my 6-year-old son’s shorts (while he is wearing them), so we have a lot of pigs’ ears and chew toys lying around. He is mostly housetrained and will even bark when he needs to go out.

Speaking of barking, dinner time is really loud, as he wants to eat whatever we are eating instead of his own food. He has learned “sit” and will play fetch, but only with a Frisbee type toy. He can be naughty and will snatch my daughter’s favorite stuffed animals and go hide under a bed occasionally. He is pretty happy with his crate and will even go into it at night on his own to go to sleep. We have been trying to keep him up late to let him out and have plowed through almost five seasons of Breaking Bad to pass the time. Unfortunately, he still gets up at 5 a.m., weekends included, but we’ll keep him, and our kids are excited to have a new little “brother.”

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email office@arlnow.com 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 — September 16, 2014 at 1:40 pm 505 0

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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. This may be a silly question, but I am wondering if I can use an escalation clause if I am offering less than the listed price for a home? 

A. It’s not a silly question at all, but let me briefly explain what an escalation clause is and how it works for anyone who may not be familiar with it.

An escalation clause allows you start with an initial offering price and specify how much you are willing to escalate your offer price above the next best offer. You may start at $500,000, but specify that you are willing to go up in increments of $1,000 above the next best offer. If the next best offer is $525,000 then yours would escalate to $526,000.

You also specify a maximum amount that you are willing to let your offer price reach. For example, you may set a maximum of $535,000. Your offer will not escalate above $535,000 even if the other offers meet or exceed this number. The process of using an escalation clause is very similar to the process of bidding on eBay.

Back to your question… You will not want to use an escalation clause if you are the only one writing an offer for the property. All that will accomplish is showing the sellers how much you are willing to go up to. Savvy sellers are going to use this information to formulate a counter offer.

The only time it may make sense to include an escalation clause in an offer for below asking price is if you are competing to purchase a property for which you expect all other offers to be below asking price. An escalation clause in this scenario, has the potential to put you in the strongest position in terms of price, without going higher than you need to in order to outperform the other offers.

In a situation where an escalation clause reaches or exceeds the asking price, it is rare that a seller would counter on price. If an offer escalates to a price below the asking price, don’t be surprised if you receive a counter from the sellers if they still don’t think your offer is strong enough, even if you had the highest price.

To learn more, please check out a previous Ask Adam article I wrote about escalation clauses.

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 — September 15, 2014 at 2:30 pm 781 0

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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.

We often here people say, “I NEVER give my dog people food.” This surprises me because I do almost all of my dog training using “people food”as treats. My favorites are hot dogs, string cheese and rotisserie chicken.

So is it ok to give dogs people food? Of course it is! High quality dog foods are made from chicken, beef, sweet potato, etc. Dog foods contains the same ingredients that you and I eat, simply molded into a different form that is convenient to purchase and feed to our dogs.

The bottom line is food is food. The only difference is the shape and quality of the food. People grade chicken in generally much better quality than dog grade chicken, and it tastes better too.

I think where people are getting confused is in the context. You should not feed your dog “people food” that you are eating. Do not feed your dog from the table and do not share your sandwich or pizza crust. Any leftovers that you want to give your dog should be delivered to the dog in their bowl or in a training session. It is feeding from your plate that will teach your dog to beg, not the form of the food.

Context is incredibly important to dogs. They can easily learn the difference between chicken on a plate at the dining room table (not theirs) and chicken in a bait bag for a training session (theirs). In fact, one of the characteristics that helped to domesticate dogs from their wolf-like ancestors was their ability to read the intentions and body language of people. They are masters of contextual cues.

I use human grade food and treats for my dogs for two main reasons. First, my dogs deserve the highest quality food products that I can afford to give them. Many dog foods and treats are made from ingredients that people don’t eat like chicken meal (rather than chicken meat), and contain high amounts of corn and grain, which are nothing but filler.

The second reason is that human-quality food generally tastes better.  When training, I want to be sure to offer the dog a high-value reward in order to get the best possible behavior from them.

So don’t be afraid to share your leftovers. Just make sure you are clear about which food belongs to you and which food belongs to your dog. It’s all made of the same stuff anyhow.

Update at 3:15 p.m. — The point of this article is to highlight human foods that dogs can eat safely. As pointed out by a commenter, there are also certain human foods that dogs should not eat.

 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 — September 15, 2014 at 12:15 pm 890 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, founders and funders. The Ground Floor is Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn. 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.

OnYou co-founder James RogersA former professional poker player is getting ready for a new gamble: launching a Kickstarter to help fund his new smartphone “wearable” company, OnYou.

James Rogers and Scott Bauer co-founded the company this February, and have been refining the designs of their high-tech cases and associated magnets, which keep phones attached to the user’s body without a strap or a clip.

Rogers designed the case when he ordered industrial-strength magnets, took apart his own iPhone case and reconstructed it as a wearable. The cases he plans to bring to market will use “the absolute newest materials” available, including, he said, new carbon filaments “just invented last month.”

The magnetic cases are secure and comfortable, Rogers said.

“Everyone has smartphones and everyone loves to exercise,” he said. “Everyone’s been using armbands, and in talking to people, the vast majority of people are dissatisfied with them. We designed something that’s very comfortable and it’s about as secure as you can get.”

The magnets use 12-pounds of force, and Rogers put them through a series of tests, including kicking a field goal with the phone attached to his shin with one of OnYou’s compression sleeves. The phone didn’t budge, he said, and even if it did, it would still be protected by the carbon case. Rogers said for those worried about having their phones stolen, the cases will come with a safety strap.

To this point, Rogers and Bauer have developed prototypes using 3-D printers, including the one at Crystal City’s TechShop, where Rodgers is a member. The Kickstarter, which will launch Oct. 1, will aim to raise $20,000 and largely pay for an injection mold to mass produce the cases, since it will take about an hour for each to be printed. The funds will also be used to expedite OnYou’s patents and, if the goal is reached and exceeded, to develop specifications for more devices. At first, OnYou will only make cases to fit the iPhone 5, 6 and the Samsung Galaxy S5.

The cases will be sold for $49.99, Rogers said, and they will be just as durable and protective as the highest-end cases on the market for as much as $90. The cases can be pre-ordered on OnYou’s website now for $39.99, and include arm and calf compression sleeves. Rogers said he anticipates selling iPhone cases this winter, followed by models for other phones.

The magnets are safe around phones — magnets don’t affect the flash memory storage — and largely safe near credit cards, but those with pacemakers shouldn’t have the magnets on their bodies.

OnYou's iPhone case and magnetWhile exercise is OnYou’s “entry point into the market,” Rogers said, his hope is for his “OnUsers” to develop more “OnUses” for the OnYou cases.

“Doing research and talking to women, so many of them brought up sticking the magnet near the top of their purse so they never have to dig for their phones,” Rogers said.

“We thought it would be fun for people to show us that while it’s great for exercise, what about this?” Rogers continued. “We want to develop an online community to contribute more and more OnUses.”

Rogers was a paralegal when he began playing online poker. He quickly realized he made more money playing poker than he did at his day job, so he quit and started playing professionally, including by attending the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. When Congress passed laws restricting online gambling, Rogers got a job as a software engineer.

He realized he wanted to be an entrepreneur, and now he and Bauer, a graduate student at George Mason University, have brought their company to GMU’s Innovation Lab. They’re in discussions now for an initial funding round.

by Nick Anderson — September 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm 316 0

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

Over the past two weeks, I’ve recapped my visits to two Southern California breweries — Stone and The Bruery — that I went on during my recent vacation. Today we’re wrapping everything up with a list of some of the things I noticed during my too-brief stay out West:

Good: Los Angeles’ local beer scene: I expected to find all kinds of good beer in San Diego and was not disappointed, but what surprised me was how many breweries are up and running in L.A. itself. During an afternoon trip to the beach at Santa Monica, my wife and I ducked into The Commons Ale House, a small beer bar just off the beach focusing on craft beer with some great local options on tap. Over games of Connect Four, we got to try Angel City‘s Eureaka! Wit (4.9 percent and made with Nelson Sauvin? Yes, please!), and El Segundo Brewery‘s Blue House Mosaic Pale Ale. El Segundo makes a handful of Blue House Pales featuring different hops. I noticed some Blue House Citra at a Whole Foods near my friend’s house later on in the week, along with a number of other L.A.-based brewery selections. Reading a Brewing News-style periodical about the L.A. beer scene, it appears that there are more breweries coming online, which is always a good sign.

Bad: Hop-centric, sometimes to a fault: What I found in SoCal was a dearth of the Lagers, non-hoppy Ales (Kolsch-style, Golden Ales, etc.), wheat beers, and mild Belgian styles that are more readily found here on the East Coast. For the most part, I was fine with this — I got into beer as a hophead, and I’m always going to be one. For people like my wife, the emphasis on big hops in nearly everything being put out by craft brewers can be tough to deal with.

My wife, you see, is not a fan of particularly bitter hoppy beers. Over the 10 years we’ve been together, she’s tried more beers than most people in the industry, and she has a great palate — she knows what she likes, and knows what she doesn’t. Too often in California we’d look through a menu at beer lists and there just wouldn’t be much of anything that she could get into.

Good: That may be changing? All that said, I did see some signs that things might be shifting a bit on the West Coast. The aforementioned Angel City Brewery offers their Wit year-round, along with a year-round Pilsner, and seasonals like a Wheat Ale and Oktoberfest. Modern Times offers a Saison and Coffee Stout that, while relatively hoppy for their styles by the numbers (30 and 40 IBU, respectively), aren’t overly aggressive. AleSmith‘s Anvil ESB was a beer we both loved. Even during our Stone visit, my wife found herself enjoying Go-To IPA (no bittering hops, remember?) and loved the limited-release Sprocketbier from earlier this year. I got to snag a sixer of Firestone Oaktoberfest and was impressed; hopefully production is boosted enough for next year that we see a little on the East Coast.

Good: If you do like hops, though… Oh man, is it fun being a hophead in California. The night we landed, my friend and I went on a BevMo run to stock up his fridge a bit. I decided to buy some ChronicAle from Port Brewing. I’m a fan of Port and hadn’t tried this one before. ChronicAle is a hoppy Session Amber Ale, clocking in at 4.9 percent, and comes in six-packs of tallboy cans. How cool is that? Also, those sixers of tallboys cost $9.99 at BevMo — this was the first of many moments where I contemplated staying in L.A., and never coming back. Also found and enjoyed while in California: Firestone 805 (in six-pack bottles and 12-pack cans), AleSmith IPA and Pale Ale 394, Stone Bastard In The Rye, Beechwood Alpha Master, Ritual Single Rye IPA… there’s a lot of great beer in SoCal, y’all.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — September 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm 1,038 0

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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. Can a Virginia employer fire someone for no reason?

A. In Virginia, employees work at the will of employers. Under the at-will employment doctrine, “the employment may be terminated for any reason upon reasonable notice, but the presumption may be rebutted if sufficient evidence is produced to establish that the employment is for a definite, rather than an indefinite term,” the Supreme Court of Virginia said in Progress Printing Co. v. Nichols (1992).

So an employer generally does not need a reason to terminate an employee. Virginia employers can even rescind at-will employment offers without a reason, the Fairfax County Circuit Court said in Podraza v. Northern Virginia Psychiatric Group, P.C. (1990).

Usually, employees who have executed an employment contract have reached an agreement with the employer to perform work during a set period. At-will employees do not have this guarantee that they will be employed for such a period. The court in Progress Printing Co. did note that “an employment condition [included in an employee handbook, for example] which allows termination only for cause sets a definite term for the duration of the employment.”

However, employee handbooks usually include language stating the document does not constitute an employment contract with the employer and the employee works at the will of the employer.

In Virginia, there are exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine. Employers cannot terminate an at-will employee when the discharge would amount to a violation of public policy. Under this public policy exemption, employers cannot, for example, terminate at-will employees because they refused to engage in a criminal act.

“[A]llowing the employment at-will doctrine to ‘serve as a shield for employers who seek to force their employees, under the threat of discharge, to engage in criminal activity’ would violate this most compelling public policy,” the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia said in Williams v. Virginia (2012).

It is important to remember that the at-will employment doctrine does not override anti-discrimination laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Inexplicable terminations, or terminations where the employer provides contradictory reasons for the action, tend to raise red flags for unlawful discrimination or retaliation. Employees who believe they have been wrongfully discharged should immediately contact an experienced employment law attorney.

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.

by ARLnow.com — September 10, 2014 at 11:25 am 632 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Penny, a Portuguese Water Dog, just like the two owned by the country’s First Family.

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

Penny is a wavy-coated Portuguese Water Dog who is originally from the Richmond area (where my wife and I met in college) and has been with us in Arlington since she was 8 weeks old. A great thing about her breed is that she does not shed, and therefore is hypo-allergenic. She is a very happy, playful, and chatty dog. She is very intelligent, so much to the point that she can easily manipulate us in order to get more treats!

Penny’s favorite places are the Clarendon dog park and on of any of our furniture, particularly if she is also laying on or in between pillows. Her favorite past times are being chased around the house with a toy(s) in her mouth and trying to catch rabbits and squirrels. She now has a very young, two month old little human sister who she is very good with and licks at any chance she gets!

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email office@arlnow.com 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 — September 9, 2014 at 2:30 pm 759 0

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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’ve been in my house a few years and am about to start a home renovation. Prior to purchasing my home, a second full bathroom was added to my house sometime in the the 70s or 80s. My property assessment only lists one bathroom.

When the Arlington inspector comes to my house during the reno, is he required to make note of any discrepancy? If/when I do sell, and I want to maximize the value of the house, can the MLS listing include the second bath or is that information exclusively dependent on county assessment records?

A. If you have two full bathrooms, but the Arlington tax records only lists one… it makes me wonder if permits were ever approved for the installation of the second bathroom. That’s the first question I would try to answer if I were you. You can check for permits online: https://permits.arlingtonva.us/.

If your purpose is to have Arlington County account for the second bathroom then this can be arranged by contacting the department of real estate assessments: 703-228-3920.

If you are concerned about Arlington County discovering the existence of an unapproved second bathroom then this is a situation I recommend exploring with your contractor. A licensed contractor with experience in Arlington is going to have more insight into the possible pitfalls of this situation than I do.

The MLS is dependent on information manually entered by your Realtor. You are able to advertise all the bathrooms that exist in your home regardless of whether they are included in the tax record. You’ll probably still need to update some of the real estate websites that automatically generate information about your home (i.e. Zillow), just in case they are pulling from the tax record.

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 — September 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm 0

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

Labwork (blood testing, urinalysis) is a very important component in our overall assessment of your cat’s health. These results can help us diagnose medical conditions, monitor a patient’s response to treatment or progression of disease, and check for systemic side effects from medications. Many of our clients have asked why their cats need to have their bloodwork rechecked so often.

Although every case is different, here is some general information about commonly performed laboratory testing:

  • Chemistry: The serum chemistry panel typically includes kidney and liver values, blood glucose, and electrolytes.
  • CBC: A complete blood count gives us information about a patient’s white and red blood cells.
  • T4: Thyroid level
  • Urinalysis: This test includes the urine specific gravity (concentration) and pH as well as protein, crystals, bacteria, red blood cells, and white blood cells.

Diagnosing systemic disease: For our senior patients (cats over 7 years old), we typically recommend a “Senior Wellness Panel” (chemistry, CBC, T4, +/- urinalysis) every six months. This allows us to screen for many of the common diseases of older cats such as kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism. We recommend testing every six months because changes in these values can occur in a matter of months, and we can often diagnose a problem before the patient has any clinical signs of disease at home. For younger cats, this testing is also a great way to establish a baseline of the cat’s results when he or she is healthy.

Pre-anesthetic screening: Although we make every effort to ensure that anesthesia is as safe as possible, it is important for us to ensure that your cat does not have any abnormalities that would increase the risk of anesthesia for a dental procedure, spay or neuter, grooming, or other procedure. If we do have concerns about these results, we may make adjustments to our anesthetic protocol, or we may recommend that the procedure be postponed.

Monitoring for drug side effects: Medications can be metabolized/processed by the body in several different ways, including via the liver and kidneys. For most patients whose conditions are stable, we recommend monitoring bloodwork every six months for changes in liver, kidney, and white blood cell values. Often, we can halt the progression of these changes or even reverse them by adjusting the dose or changing to a different medication. We want to ensure that your cat is on an appropriate dose of medication that controls their medical condition and has minimal side effects.

These are general guidelines that apply to most of our patients, but your cat’s veterinarian will make specific recommendations taking into account your cat’s age, medical condition, and temperament. Our primary goal is your cat’s health and well-being. If you have any questions about the blood testing schedule we have recommended for your cat, please ask!

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 — September 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm 1,084 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, founders and funders. The Ground Floor is Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn. 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.

DrinkMate Shaun Masavage is 26 years old and has an invention he believes can launch a successful company: a small breathalyzer that plugs into the mini-USB port on Android smartphones.

He’s spent more than a year designing the product, called DrinkMate, building the motherboard himself under a magnifying glass in his Ballston home. After gathering some support from friends and family, Edge Tech Labs launched a Kickstarter campaign the morning of Aug. 24, with a $40,000 fundraising goal.

That’s when he vomited.

“I thought I was going to wake up feeling super excited,” Masavage told ARLnow.com. “But I woke up that morning and threw up. I was sick at work all day. The stress was pretty incredible, especially without having a co-founder to lean on.”

Masavage’s stress eased immensely on Labor Day, Sept. 1, when, after a weekend profile by TechCrunch, DrinkMate reached its funding goal. As of Monday morning, the Kickstarter had raised $62,527 from 1,751 backers, and Masavage officially has a product to sell.

DrinkMate is a “novelty” breathalyzer that plugs into a smartphone. The associated app tells users what their approximate blood-alcohol content is. What it is not is a police-grade breathalyzer to be used to determine one’s sobriety before getting behind the wheel of a car, Masavage cautioned.

“Liability is an issue with this technology,” Masavage admitted. “My No. 1 concern is someone will misuse it and claim that this caused them to do something illegal. We’re working hard to make it as accurate as possible, but the real problem isn’t accuracy, it’s drunk driving.”

DrinkMateMasavage said the goal is to “remove the stigma” of a breathalyzer so people will be more aware of their BAC level while they are drinking. His goal is for DrinkMate to be a social tool that friends can use at parties to test each other and take steps to prevent drunk driving.

Put another way, “If you feel like you should be using a device to determine whether you should be driving, you shouldn’t be driving,” Masavage said.

Masavage said he’s conscious that the device could lead to competition for who can drink more, which is why the reading limit of the app is .20 BAC, which is more than double the legal limit for driving under the influence.

The device is built from a shell created by a 3-D printer, a component board designed and built over the course of several months by Masavage himself, plus an affordable sensor Masavage found online.

The $40,000 goal was set with the aim to purchase a $10,000 steel mold to mass produce the devices — 3-D printing would be exorbitantly expensive in anything greater than small batches — and to hire a software developer and co-founder to perfect the app. Masavage said he plans on sending out the first wave of DrinkMates by December.

“My target retail price is $25,” Masavage said, noting he plans on targeting convenience stores and online retailers to carry the product at first. “By keeping the price low, it falls more into the novelty category. If someone wants a police-grade breathalyzer, they can buy one.” (more…)

by Nick Anderson — September 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm 0

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

Last week I recapped the first weekend of my recent Southern California vacation, which included a trip to San Diego County for Stone’s 18th Anniversary Party and a tour of the brewery itself, along with a great lunch experience at the Stone Bistro and World Gardens. This week I’d like to tell you about the other brewery visit I had while I was staying in Los Angeles — to The Bruery, in Placentia.

Depending on where you’re staying in L.A., you can get to The Bruery’s Orange County location within an hour or two (I was staying near LAX, and the drive took about 50 minutes in late-morning traffic), though with the tasting room opening later in the afternoon most days travel time is subject to the whims of the freeway gods. I mention the tasting room hours because tours of The Bruery are currently on hold; I was lucky enough to be shown around thanks to The Bruery’s Virginia distributor setting me up with Jonas Nemura, Senior Director of Operations and Distribution for The Bruery.

As I mentioned last week, most brewery tours are fairly similar experiences, but what fascinated me at The Bruery was how different their approach was compared to Stone. Both breweries aim for world-class quality and expression of style in their beers, but for all of its experimentation Stone is much more in the “traditional” mold — around half of the production at Stone’s Escondido brewery is dedicated to their IPA, which is their flagship beer.

The Bruery (Photo by Nick AndersonNot only does The Bruery not have a flagship beer, but when one of their recipes began to show signs of becoming a flagship, they stopped making it — such is their dedication to an ever-changing lineup with an emphasis on trying new things and being on the experimental edge of the beer industry (there’s a reason I called The Bruery “fearless” when I wrote a short profile on them back in 2012).

Even as someone who works in the business with an appreciation for what The Bruery does, it can be jarring to hear a business plan that so diverges from the norm. The thing is, it’s working; when I visited, The Bruery was working on yet another expansion, gobbling up even more of the warehouse-like storefronts its complex occupies.

In six short years, The Bruery has become a name known to beer lovers worldwide — one synonymous with boldly-flavored, cutting-edge Belgian-style, Sour, and barrel-aged beers. A special treat during our tour of The Bruery was a stop in its barrel-aging warehouse. We were led to a nondescript office building a block away from the main facility, and upon entering the combined aromas of oak, bourbon, and other assorted barrel varieties smacked us in the face.

Walking into the warehouse itself was like entering a real-life treasure trove: somewhere between 10-12,000 square feet of space with rack upon rack of wooden barrels. It was like the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark — except for beer.

Mind you, none of these contain The Bruery’s vaunted Sour Ales — those are created and aged in a different facility about three miles away. Part of The Bruery’s evolution involved moving Sour/Wild Ale production; fresh wort is even trucked over to the sour house (my phrase, not theirs) so all fermentation involving Brettanomyces and The Bruery’s souring bacteria can take place away from the regular production line, all part of an effort that should help avoid some of the cross-contamination issues that have occurred with a handful of beers in the past.  (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — September 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm 568 0

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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.

You’ve decided to dive in to the landlord pool. Don’t start your landlord adventure with a belly flop. Some landlords have no trouble managing rentals themselves, but others need some help, especially new landlords. Hiring a property manager can save time, headaches and even some legal troubles, but is it right for you? Here’s what you should consider.

How much time do you have? – Do you have the time to devote to managing a property? Getting tenants in the door is just one task on a laundry list of property management to-dos. Even before you find the right tenants, you will need to set up your business, educate yourself on landlord tenant law, prepare your marketing plan, determine your tenant qualifications and find services for credit reporting and lease documents. While you are marketing the property, you will need to talk to prospective renters and show the property. For a first time landlord, navigating through these tasks can be overwhelming and they can cut into work and leisure time. Once you have tenants, collecting payments and handling maintenance issues also dip in to your time. Are you able to handle a leaking shower during your Tuesday staff meeting, or an A/C unit on the fritz during your vacation? Some things can’t wait.

How much does it cost? – In general, property management services are broken down into leasing the property and then ongoing property management. The general cost for leasing is one month’s rent, and ongoing property management is generally 8 percent of the monthly rent. For a $2000 unit, the leasing will cost $2000, and the management for a 12-month lease costs $160 per month or $1920 for the year. Total cost is $3920. To some, that sounds like a good bit of money, but to others, that is a small price to pay for to keep their business running smoothly.

Other considerations – If you live out of town, a property management may be necessary. They are nearby to handle emergencies and check out other maintenance issues to determine the best solution. It is impossible to do that on your own when you are out of state or out of the county. Some renters will favor renting a professionally managed unit over one managed by the landlord themselves, especially if the landlord isn’t local. A property management firm (or leasing agency) likely will rent your unit faster than if you try to rent it yourself, which in turn can actually save you money. So you need to weigh that cost in addition to the cost of your time.

A property management firm is also going to make sure you get paid. If you don’t, they will be the ones handling collections, court and evictions. While hopefully this is never an issue, it is good to have someone familiar with that process to help you out.

Lastly, a property manager knows the rules. They understand landlord-tenant law and relations, and will make sure you are doing things by the book. This can also save you time and money in the event that a tenant has a complaint or issue.

Be sure to find a licensed property manager. Check their references, and be sure to understand you contract. For most landlords who are new to the business or only have one property, a property management company can save a lot of headache as well as money.

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to info@urbanigloo.com.

by ARLnow.com — September 3, 2014 at 11:30 am 749 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Riley, a rescue pit bull mix who was depressed and skinny when he was adopted, but now is a proud “mama’s boy.”

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

Riley is a 2 1/2 year old American bulldog/pit bull mix. His owners adopted him from a rescue organization called Mutts Matter when he was 1 1/2 years old after seeing their profile of him as the Rescue Profile of the week on The Falls Church Patch. He was raised with his bff, a Chihuahua, and they were both surrendered together. The Chihuahua was adopted quickly but Riley wasn’t, so he got really depressed, stopped eating and lost a bunch of weight. When his owners saw him, they knew he needed a good home.

Now he is in a loving home where his owners shower him with love and attention. His favorite activities involve sleeping on the couch, sleeping in his bed and sleeping on the hallway rug. You always know where he is because he snorts like a pig non-stop, but he hardly ever barks. He loves going for walks with his owners in the evenings after work to explore the neighborhood and areas like Great Falls on the weekend where he sniffs everything.

Riley is very intelligent and responds to all commands. He will go to his crate when told, although his owners leave him out of it all day. He loves playing with his mom’s two little cousins who are 5 and 7 years old and his dad’s friend’s daughters who are 2 1/2 and 1 year old, and running around his grandma’s backyard. He is a good project partner, providing tons of snoring noises while you do work as he sleeps next to you. He puts up with his mom dressing him in costumes and clothes because he is a mama’s boy and follows her everywhere.

Want your pet to be considered for the Arlington Pet of the Week? Email office@arlnow.com 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.

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