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by Ethan Rothstein — September 29, 2014 at 3:30 pm 426 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.

The dog food market has exploded. There is almost an endless variety of dry dog food options, making it more difficult to determine what the best option is for your dog. Here are some tips to help you make an educated decision.

Bottom line, do what works – If your dog is healthy and fit on whatever food you are feeding him or her, there is probably no need to make a change. A couple of ways to determine if things are going well is to evaluate the results: you need to check the poop. If you dog is pooping more than twice a day, or if your dog is not producing solid formed stool, you may need to reevaluate what you are feeding.

Read the Label – Make sure you recognize the ingredients in the food. The first ingredient should be a whole meat product such as “chicken” or “beef.” Not chicken by-products or chicken meals. If you aren’t sure what a by-product or a meal is, don’t feed it. Look for other whole products like “rice” or “carrots” as well. You want as many whole ingredients as possible.

Choose higher quality, ignore the packaging – Do not be fooled by the packaging. Just because there are fruits and vegetables on the bag, doesn’t mean they’re in the food. Those fancy multicolored kibbles are colored with food dye, not natural ingredients. Pay attention to what is in the food, not what food is on the bag.

Don‘t always follow directions – When determining how much to feed your dog, simply look at your dog. It makes no sense to feed a dog by volume. For example, feeding it two cups, two times per day. Not all 50-pound dogs should be eating the same amount of food each day. Age, energy level, fitness level and body type are all much more important than weight.

Also, keep in mind that the faster you finish a bag of dog food, the faster you go out and buy a new bag. The dog food company has an incentive to encourage you to overfeed. If your dog is fat, feed less. If your dog is skinny, feed more. Adjust as necessary.

There is no doubt that good nutrition leads to healthier lives, so try and choose the best possible option for your pup.

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 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm 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.

Data Illustrate founder Matthew FischerInspiration for the next startup can come from an unlikely source, as many founders know. For Data Illustrate founder Matthew Fischer, it came from a grad school project mapping out how the characters from the Harry Potter books would live on.

Fischer and his classmates were trying to use data to map out the future. They soon scrapped the project, but the data tools they were using, it turned out, gave him the idea for his next company, one that specializes in making real-time data easy to analyze and retain.

“After doing the grad school project, I continued doing research, talking to industry leaders and figuring out where the market was going,” Fischer, also the founder of Control A+ told ARLnow.com. “The market of data visualization is still growing.”

The company was started in the summer of 2013, and since then Fischer and two colleagues — one in Utah and another San Diego, Calif. — have built the company’s infrastructure. Data Illustrate is just starting to take on clients, for whom it takes complex data sets and simplifies them into infographics, motion graphics, mini-documentaries and data visualizations.

Data Illustrate infographicInfographics are static illustrations of statistics, like the pictured student census, left, taken from Data Illustrate’s website. Motion graphics are infographics but the pictures move to create more audience engagement. Mini-documentaries have become increasingly popular with the rise of Kickstarter, which encourages all companies to include a video explaining the premise of the fundraiser.

Data visualization allows clients to “see your data tell its story in real time,” which Fischer describes as a kind of “Doppler radar for any kind of data.” That means a trucking company that tracks where its trucks are can have an easily consumable visual instead of data points on a computer screen.

“Infographics tell an author’s story,” Fischer said. “Motion graphics tell a story and add motion. Mini-documentaries bring a human factor to the story and data visualization gives the reader information to make their own story.”

Fischer says he see the biggest opportunity to grow his company in the nonprofit sector, with organizations trying to break through the masses and make an imprint on donors, members and any other interested party.

“We can create art to share their story with more people and garner a higher retention rate,” Fischer said. “Nonprofits work with a lot of statistics, and we can share those statistics in a way that more people will retain.”

In fact, that’s the company’s tagline: “Retention is our game, art is our median, data is our speciality.” Unlike some big data and analytics companies, Data Illustrate doesn’t have a simple algorithm they simply plug each client into; they create tools and back-end construction for each individual project.

Screenshot of a Data Illustrate visualization“We don’t believe in ‘one size fits all,’” Fischer said. “A lot of these questions demand a custom answer.”

The visualizations, custom packages and work-intensive processes to get to this point mean that Data Illustrate isn’t quite ready for primetime. Fischer and his team are accepting clients, but starting in January, he expects to make a big marketing push to grow the portfolio.

By this time next year, Data Illustrate could find itself with a new specialty, new offering or new angle; such is the life of a big data startup.

“We’ve only tested about 10 percent of the limits we can reach,” Fischer said. “We’re beyond early adopters with Big Data and the future is going to take a multidisciplinary approach to look at insights data visualization could bring to companies and individuals.”

by Nick Anderson — September 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm 378 0

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

Early this week, I tried something new — I made beer.

I’ve been curious about homebrewing for years, but hadn’t bothered to take the plunge into trying it. Where I once stood with no knowledge of the subject, I now stand with next to no knowledge of the subject, but indulge me a moment to relate some thoughts about it, because I’m really excited about it.

To start, a confession: it wasn’t so much that I hadn’t gotten around to making beer so much as I’d been avoiding it. I don’t have enough time for the hobbies I’ve tried to keep over the years, and I didn’t want to get wrapped up in another one, spending my days even more frustrated over yet another thing I enjoy that I don’t have time in my life for.

I’ve been fearful, the way we all are when we’re attempting to learn something new, of exposing our ignorance of it. I was also afraid I’d be no good at it — hell, I still am, but I forget that none of us is very good at anything at first; otherwise there’d be no need to learn. Part of me has been afraid I’d get into it; I can get somewhat obsessive about hobbies, and I know there’s a good chance I’m going to fall down the rabbit hole.

So, being a first-timer I decided not to go crazy and try something small and relatively easy: I got an Everyday IPA kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop, which is well-worth checking out. It’s pretty easy, so the joy is in the sensations; the sweet smell of malt lingering in the house was a particularly nice one.

Adding hops to the beer — just handling hops, was awesome. I’ve been walking around all week with the packets my Columbus and Cascade hop pellets came in. I keep going back and smelling them — I think I’m addicted.

The real point is this: I’ve heard the “why you should homebrew” thing for years, and I’m here to say they were right, OK? I’ve got about a month before I get to see how bad the beer I made is, and I have to say I haven’t been this excited about beer in years. I’m already getting requests from family and friends for future batches, and I have the thrill of discovering and learning about something I had no clue about before.

So if you like beer, try making some. If you don’t like beer, find some new skill to learn or hobby to take up: our lives are fuller and more meaningful when we do. 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 25, 2014 at 2:30 pm 451 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. I have a disability, and my employer is trying to remove me because it claims I cannot perform the “essential functions” of my position. How do you tell the difference between essential and non-essential functions?

A. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations, such as a part-time schedule or reassignment to a vacant position, so long as they are able to perform their position’s essential functions. In addition to being able to perform these essential functions either with or without a reasonable accommodation, employees seeking ADA protection must have a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”

What qualifies as an “essential function” is largely a matter left to the discretion of employers. The ADA states, “consideration shall be given to the employer’s judgment as to what functions of a job are essential, and if an employer has prepared a written description before advertising or interviewing applicants for the job, this description shall be considered evidence of the essential functions of the job.” But that does not mean an employer’s assertion that something is a position’s essential function is not open to debate.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulation states that essential functions include “fundamental job duties of the employment position the individual with a disability holds or desires” and exclude “marginal functions of the position.”

When trying to determine whether a particular task qualifies as a position’s essential function, employees should ask whether the position “exists… to perform that function;” whether there is a “limited number of employees available among whom the performance of that job function can be distributed;” and whether the function is “highly specialized so that the incumbent in the position is hired for his or her expertise or ability to perform the particular function,” according to the regulation.

Evidence that courts will consider when determining whether a function is essential include written job descriptions, time spent performing the function, collective bargaining agreement terms, consequences of the function not being performed, and the work experience of people who previously held the position or those who hold similar positions, according to the EEOC regulation. It should be noted that job descriptions in advertisements may not alone be sufficient to dispute an employer’s claim that a function is essential.

For example, Thompson v. Heiner’s Bakery (2012), involved a delivery truck driver who, due to his heart defibrillator, was not able to obtain Department of Transportation (DOT) medical certification needed to operate any of his employer’s carrying-capacity-upgraded delivery trucks. The employee requested — and the employer refused — an accommodation in the form of a suspension of the delivery truck fleet upgrade and allowing him to drive a non-upgraded vehicle. The employee claimed driving a higher capacity truck was not an essential function for his position, and to support this claim he presented as evidence an employer truck driver job advertisement was silent on the subjects of gross vehicle weight ratings or DOT medical certification. (more…)

by ARLnow.com — September 24, 2014 at 11:30 am 661 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Linus, a puppy who might have had too good of a time at Sunday’s Pups and Pilsners event in Crystal City.

Linus and his owner, Emily, are proud winners of the Pups and Pilsners social media photo contest, which recorded 31 separate entries from four-legged attendees and their beer-sampling leash holders. They will receive beaucoup Becky’s Bucks from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, as well as the unofficial title of Dog King of Crystal City.

Here’s what Emily has to say about her friendly fido:

This is my new puppy Linus. He is a brand new addition to the family. He is about 5 months old and a beagle/bassett mix possibly. He was staying at a pet boarding facility and needed a forever home. At first, I tried to get some friends to adopt him but I just couldn’t resist his face and he was mine after only a few hours. He came into a home with 2 dogs already and he is loving every minute of it!

As the baby of the family, he likes to rile up big brother Blue and big sister Pixie and engage them in play. They usually comply and sometimes at night it sounds like a church choir in the house. The 3 of them have been getting along pretty well so far. Occasionally Blue and Pixie put Linus in his place but he is always determined to keep up. When he is not playing with his brother and sister, he likes to hang out on the couch and cuddle. He is very laid back without a care in the world. Of course, as a beagle, he follows his nose everywhere. He was having a blast at Pups and Pilsners with all the new scents. His nose hasn’t gotten him into too much trouble yet, but it’s only a matter of time before he finds himself in hot water.

I can’t wait to see where life takes us with Linus. He has already made our house more lively (and noisy). He is such a sweet dog and has so much love to give. I’m glad we could give him all that love in return.

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 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm 632 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 have a 1980s condo in good condition that I’m planning to sell when my tenant moves out. The condo will be vacant, so per the advice of a Realtor friend I got an estimate to stage the condo. It came out to around $2,500.  Wouldn’t it be better to invest that money improving the condo (i.e. new appliances) rather than spend that money on staging?

A. It’s hard to say for sure without seeing the condo firsthand, but in most cases staging provides a return on your investment that is hard to beat. I know it is a lot of money to invest in something that seems so temporary, but I have witnessed over and over that it makes a major difference in how the home shows and how much interest it creates. Remember that you are trying to create an emotional connection between the home and the potential purchasers.

Take a look online at homes for sale and compare the photos of ones that look staged to the ones that are vacant. Ask yourself which homes you would be more inclined to visit if you were a buyer.

If your condo is relatively small or has any awkward shaped rooms then it is especially important to show it with furniture as these spaces can be challenging to visualize. It sounds counter intuitive, but vacant rooms actually look smaller. They also make it more difficult to judge what kind of furniture will fit.

New appliances are nice, but unless you are upgrading the whole kitchen, they may look out of place. It’s also possible that they won’t be the style or color that the new homeowner would prefer. There’s nothing worst than inheriting brand new upgrades you don’t like.

I answered a similar question about staging in a May article that I recommend checking out. Below are some statistics I shared in that article.

According to StagedHomes.com:

  • The average sales price of a staged property is 6.9 percent higher than a non-staged property
  • Staged homes typically sell 50 percent faster than non-staged homes.

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 23, 2014 at 7:45 am 0

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Are you considering buying a home in Arlington in 2014?

If so, attend this Arlington home buyer seminar in Courthouse tomorrow Wednesday, September 24thfrom 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Three industry experts – Joe Zamoiski of 1st Portfolio Lending, George Papakostas of Long & Foster, and George Glekas of GPN Title – will give an informative talk about the process of buying a home in Arlington. Joe, George, and George have years of experience between them in the Arlington market, not to mention hundreds of successful transactions.

They’ll cover the home-buying process in detail, including:

  • Identifying a home.
  • The offer, negotiation, and closing process.
  • Financing, including loan approval and figuring out what you can afford.
  • State of the Arlington market.

In addition to the above, the purpose of the seminar is to answer your questions. Attendance is kept low to allow ample attention for all attendees. You’ll have plenty of time to ask questions during the Q&A or afterwards if you’d prefer to ask a question privately.

Click here to register

The speakers will present for 45 minutes or so, after which there will be Q&A for 30 minutes, when the seminar officially ends. But Joe, George, and George will stick around as long as necessary to answer all questions.

More details:

  • Location: In the heart of Courthouse at the Residence Inn Arlington Courthouse, 1401 N Adams Street (map).
  • Parking: Yes, free parking.
  • Metro-accessible: Two blocks from the Courthouse station.
  • Cost: $15 per person here, $20 at the door.
  • Food: Snacks and drinks will be provided.
  • Questions: Email seminars2014@urbanturf.com or call 703-842-1391.

Click here to register

by Ethan Rothstein — September 22, 2014 at 12:30 pm 951 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.

A screenshot of DescribeIt's platformA Courthouse-based startup is trying to usher landscaping companies into the digital age.

DescribeIt provides a tool for landscapers and other contractors to create proposals for clients, take online payments and track analytics. According to DescribeIt’s leadership team, it could be a massive leap forward for an industry in which many businesses still require customers to pay by check.

The company began when co-founder Ed Barrientos — also the CEO of startup Brazen Careerist, with which DescribeIt shares an office — wanted his yard landscaped. When a highly recommended contractor gave Barrientos a proposal on a sheet of paper and took multiple weeks to give a full plan and estimate, he was flabbergasted and no longer interested in being a customer.

“We thought it was an anomaly,” Barrientos said. “After two and a half years of research, it turns out that’s absolutely standard. Many jobs don’t get done because of a crappy sales job.”

DescribeIt co-founder and CEP Ryan Yanchuleff“We felt the problem wasn’t that they don’t want to sell better. They do, it’s just hard for them,” Barrientos continued. “These are big things people pay for, but the sales process is really backwards.”

Barrientos enlisted co-founders Ryan Yanchuleff, who is DescribeIt’s CEO and only full-time employee, and Daniel Sunshine to launch the company in February 2013. From then to this summer, Yanchuleff led the process of designing the platform, which allows landscapers to develop proposals in minutes, incorporating photos of plants, designs and clients’ houses, plus pricing data from The Home Depot and Amazon. The product also lets contractors email proposals to clients, take payments online, track the most popular designs and keep customer records for easy referrals.

DescribeIt launched in beta mode this summer — landscapers can subscribe for the service now — and the team is taking heaps of feedback in the fall before launching its full, alpha version in January 2015, gearing up for the busy spring season.

DescribeIt launched with friends and family investments, but this fall the team is looking to raise $250,000 to make its part-time staff full time and to fund sales and marketing efforts for the spring. The company joined 19 other D.C. area startups, including Airside Mobile and GovTribe, at TechBuzz on Friday, and registered on AngelList to try to spur investment.

A screenshot of DescribeIt's platformBarrientos and Yanchuleff met at their church, McLean Bible Church, and Yanchuleff was looking for a change after his small company was acquired by Rosslyn-based BAE Systems. Now, Yanchuleff is dealing with another challenge as DescribeIt prepares to go full-throttle: convincing landscapers to use it.

“Figuring out a way to coax these guys out of a non-technical shell was one of the challenges,” Yanchuleff said. “They’re not sales or marketing people, and the business side is a necessary evil for them.”

Barrientos said they are targeting newer business owners as customers, since older companies are “not going to change.”

(more…)

by Nick Anderson — September 19, 2014 at 3:00 pm 464 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 467 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 806 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 527 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.

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