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by Heather Mongilio — June 15, 2015 at 12:50 pm 478 0

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

Eastern Foundry, a government contracting incubator, is bringing a Shark Tank-esque competition to Crystal City in hopes of finding creative solutions to help combat post-traumatic stress disorder.

The first Eastern Foundry Cup, a three-day event, begins on June 18 and leads up to a demo day, where 14 companies will present their ideas for a new product or service to help battle PTSD. A panel of three judges will select the two best ideas.

Eastern Foundry background that will be used during competitionEach company will have seven minutes to present and three minutes for a question and answer session with the judges. The event is open to the public and attendees will be able to vote for their favorite service or product.

The idea for the Eastern Foundry Cup came from a desire to brings something innovative to the government, Eastern Foundry Cup Founder Geoff Orazem said. The company quickly settled on PTSD as a topic as it was something that touched the four founders, all of whom are veterans.

While the event is a competition, Orazem said he hopes the 14 companies will work together to blend their ideas on helping PTSD.

“We really wanted to take a holistic view on what the veteran needed,” he said.

PTSD is a multi-dimensional issue, Orazem said. While many people see it as a purely psychological issue, the disorder affects multiple areas of a person’s life, including family life, employment and for veterans, reintroduction to society.

Eastern Foundry staff hold a meeting

Other issues that come with returning from service and PTSD can include anxiety, sleeping problems, drinking problems and family issues, which all start compounding, Orazem said.

“With so many problems people have, it’s treated as a single issue… There are a lot of dimensions that have to be thought of as a total,” he said.

One of the companies uses virtual reality to help those with PTSD overcome panic attacks. Others have services that will speed up or improve therapy veterans receive for PTSD.

While the main event is the competition, the companies will also get to have two days of educational activities. Eastern Foundry is bringing people from the Veterans Affairs and PTSD experts, as well as business experts to help the companies perfect their services and strengthen their companies.

The two days also provide networking opportunities for the competitors to meet each other and people who can help them further their companies.

“You will see a lot of interaction between the [the competitors],” Orazem said.

Eastern Foundry CEO and Founder Geoff OrazemHe also said he hopes there will be interaction among the competitors and the audience members.

“I really hope to see guys who were Vietnam vets, Korea vets, who have been struggling with these ideas [PTSD] for 30-40 years, can come and engage,” Orazem said.

The event is also to help get the smaller companies to connect with larger companies or with the government to help them secure contracts they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to grab, Orazem said. Looking down the road, he would like to see the competing companies win government or medical contracts in at least six months, he said.

The event is just the first for Eastern Foundry. The company also plans to hold another one next fall. Orazem said he plans to continue to hold these cups, possibly with PTSD as a topic again.

“We’re really excited about this becoming a recurring event,” he said.

WWBG: Red Wine Blends, Part 1

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 12, 2015 at 2:45 pm 476 0

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Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). This column is written by Dominion owner Arash Tafakor.

A new market of red wine has emerged the past few years. Almost out of nowhere, California Red wine blends became one of the hottest wine categories. With brands like Apotic Red and Ménage A Trios’, wine consumers love the smooth easy drinking, slightly sweet taste of these red wines. Almost all big wineries have come out with a red blend the past few years as well. St. Francis, Bogle, Fetzer, Cupcake and Barefoot just to name a few.

But before these inexpensive red wine blends hit the market, red wine blends have been around for decades. France’s famed Bordeaux and Cote du Rhone regions are all blends. Wine makers in Bordeaux can use up to seven different grapes for the blend. Rhone wines can use numerous grapes in the blend with certain percentages of each grape.

The Prisoner red wine blendHigh end California wine such as Opus One and Verite are top-notch red blends. Most recently a small group of California wine makers started the Meritage Association in 1988. The group’s goal was to make a Bordeaux style blend with guidelines and laws as in France. Meritage was the entire craze in the 90’s but soon took a big decline. The group charges a licensing fee to winemakers that want to use the Meritage label and have strict guidelines on other winemaking procedures.

These laws and guidelines created by the Meritage Association made it easy for wine makers to simply make their own red blend using whatever grape they desire. In the United States the governing body of wine making and guidelines is The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. As you may assume, the ATF doesn’t have as strict wine making guidelines as, say, France.

These loose regulations in the United States winemaking industry give winemakers complete freedom to use any grape they can get their hands on. Though most inexpensive California blends are Zinfandel based, new red blends come out everyday with grapes you have never seen in a California wine. With good winemaking techniques, wine makers have catered perfectly to the American palate and made this category of wine here to stay.

Be sure to check out Part 2 next time. I will list some of my favorite non-French and non-Meritage blends from all over the world with price ranges that should fit any budget.

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

Just Listed in Arlington

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 12, 2015 at 8:30 am 1,163 0

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Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”

The Arlington real estate market settled back down to normal seasonal activity this week after last week’s frenzied buying spree.

No big drama this week in the mortgage industry with rates holding steady, so far.

Some 81 new listings came on the market this week, while 71 properties were sold ranging in price from $55,000 to $2.2 million. The average list price or those ratified was $669,000 and average days on market was 35.

You can access all active listings in Arlington on the Cathell Team website.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 11, 2015 at 3:30 pm 622 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.

In our last column, we discussed searching for a potential roommate. Now that you’ve found a good candidate, you need to meet up and get to know each other a bit to see if you are a match.

When chatting with a potential roommate, it is good to put it all out there. Letting them know what you like and what you don’t. What you are hoping to get out of the roommate relationship is important to lay on the table up front. You are going to be sharing space with this person for at least 12 months, so you want to do your best to keep conflict to a minimum.

Here’s a sample list of a few questions to ask:

  • Where are you going to be working or going to school? What are the hours you’ll come and go?
  • What are your hobbies? (Do they share your interests, or do something you find annoying?)
  • Do you plan to have a lot of friends over, overnight visitors etc? Do you mind if I do?
  • Are you a night owl or an early riser?
  • What about your lifestyle? Physically active? Vegetarian?
  • Do you have a pet, or want to get one? If you have one, do you expect your roommate to assist with pet care?
  • Do you have a car? Are you willing to share?
  • What do you consider clean?
  • Do you smoke? Drink?
  • What are you hoping this arrangement to be?
  • Can you give me an example of a past roommate issue, and how you resolved it?

While some questions may seem a bit nosy, keep in mind you are likely sharing no more a thousand square feet, give or take. It is important to know as much as you can up front to minimize headaches later. Little annoyances can turn in to big deals when you spend so much time with someone, so you want to find out now if they only eat steak, and you are a vegan, or if they are a couch potato on the weekend, and you are the weekend warrior type.

Think of the interview as speed dating with a 12 month commitment. You aren’t trying to impress a person, but get to know as much as you can in a short period of time before signing on the dotted line together.

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

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

by ARLnow.com — June 10, 2015 at 1:00 pm 833 0

This week’s Arlington’s Pet of the Week is Joey, a 10-year old female cat who originally came from Kyrgyzstan.

Here’s what Joey had to say about herself and her many travels:

Hello — My name is Joey Jo Jo Junior Shabadoo , but everyone calls me Joey. I will be turning 10 years old this August but I am a very active girl. I am originally from At Bashy, a small village in the country of Kyrgyzstan, in Central Asia. A fun fact, At Bashy means “the horse’s head.” My parents traded a bag of cookies for me while they were serving as Peace Corps volunteers in Kyrgyzstan; trading a kitten for something sweet is a common practice there.

I am a DiploCat and have lived all over the world, but I am very happy to be living in Arlington. My State Department family bought their first home last year and we love it. I have enjoyed my adventures overseas. I have lived in Ethiopia, Estonia, and the Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I have racked up many airline miles.

In each place I have lived I have always had no trouble finding a sunny spot. In Ethiopia my favorite spotwas perfect for bird watching (and I was just watching, I am an indoor cat). In Estonia I preferred sitting in the sauna window (but not when the sauna was on). In Saudi the temperatures could reach up to 130 degrees so every window was always warm and sunny. My Arlington windows are great for bird watching, bunny watching, and now and then some deer. I love being an Arlington cat!

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

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

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 9, 2015 at 2:30 pm 854 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Will Wiard, an Arlington-based real estate broker. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. Do you have any tips on working with a real estate agent in a longer-term house hunt? I don’t need to buy immediately, and want to take the time to find the perfect place. I would like to find an agent who can recommend and show me properties that meet my criteria as they come on the market, as well as offer advice not biased by his or her personal interests.

A: It’s never too early to consult with a Realtor. And as with any major investment, you’ll want to be sure you don’t rush through this process and take the time to select the property that best meets your criteria. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Discuss your goals and expectations upfront.

It’s important to be honest and disclose your goals, expectations and timeline with the agent from the beginning. Whether you are in a rental lease for the next six months, still saving for a down payment or generally just not in a hurry to buy – these are all key things to tell your agent to ensure they properly represent your interests throughout the process.

2. Find a local realtor.

In any house hunt you will want to find a realtor that is an expert in the location you are looking to buy. This will make it much easier to stay apprised of the homes coming on the market and effectively navigate the negotiation process when the time comes to make an offer. Selecting someone nearby also makes it more convenient to arrange meetings and showing times.

3. Set communications preferences.

Are you more easily reached by phone, email or text message? How frequently do you prefer that your agent contact you – weekly, bi-weekly or monthly? Discussing communications preferences with your agent will help him or her better meet your expectations.

4. Get pre-approved for a loan.

If you are among the majority homebuyers that plan to secure a loan to purchase the home be sure to secure a pre-approval letter from a lender you trust who is familiar with the market before seeing property. Even if you don’t plan to buy something for the next few months, or even year, getting pre-approved can help you avoid any financing challenges down the road.

Don’t have a lender? No problem. An experienced agent can recommend someone they have worked with and trust. Keep in mind that pre-approval does not bind you into working with the financial institution that gives you loan pre-approval, but will help you and your agent understand the price range you can comfortably afford. Most agents also require pre-approval before showing property. Even if you’re not ready to see property, talking with a lender to explore financing options can give you a better understanding of the loan programs that may be the best fit for you.

5. Select your home criteria.

Are you looking for a condo, a town house or freestanding house? How many rooms and bathrooms do you need? Is there a city, or even neighborhood, you prefer? These, and many other criteria, are important for narrowing your housing search. Even if you aren’t yet ready to start seeing property, your agent can set you up with an electronic listing alert where you can peruse for-sale homes and get a better idea of your options and related pricing.

As you continue your house hunt, your criteria may change, as it often does for buyers. It’s important to keep your agent updated on all of your criteria and let him or her know if something changes, so he or she can refine your search.

6. Protect your interests by entering into an agreement.

Once you’ve found an agent who you feel comfortable working with for your home search you should enter into a signed agreement with that agent and company. Created in July 2012, Virginia law requires a buyer and an agent who have agreed to work together in an agency relationship to define the terms of the agreement in writing. This helps protect the interests of both parties, and helps to ensure that the agent is representing your interests first to the best of his or her ability.

In many cases this will be an exclusive right to represent buyer’s agreement, but the terms of the agreement are often negotiable. Your agent should work with you to finalize this agreement before showing you property.

I’m hoping readers can share any additional advice in the comment section below.

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

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

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 9, 2015 at 5:00 am 779 0

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

In the last few years there has been an increasing hype regarding cloud-based offerings. From outsourcing the office file or mail server to powering entire complex web sites, collaboration and outsourcing of voice over IP as well as CRM.  The cloud is also touted as a solution for off-site backup services. The term cloud has come to mean just about anything not on your local network. The broadening definition combined with the reduction of reliability, security and accountability is a troubling trend, though.

What is a cloud?

Let’s start with the basics. Just what is a cloud? The cloud actually used to be a graphical component of classic network diagrams to show areas of a network that were either very complex or untrusted (such as data traveling over the Internet vs. a local trusted network). More recently the definition has expanded (and changed substantially). A cloud is in essence a cluster of servers whereby the user is given limited access to accomplish a specific function or task. A cloud can be something as simple as a single server off-site or something as complex as a data center full of servers hosting a product like Facebook.

The problem is the term cloud doesn’t really mean anything specific because it has come to encompass so many products and services. As a result of this dilution the definition of what exactly a cloud is cannot be otherwise described, except perhaps as intangible computing technology.

What isn’t a cloud?cloud

That’s a great question. Dedicated servers where the administrators have granular control are not considered part of the cloud. In addition we consider our local network infrastructure (switches, routers, workstations, servers and other equipment on the premises) to not be part of a cloud. These localized components are not part of the ethereal infrastructure that is considered ‘cloud computing,’ as they have key distinguishing features that allow them to be more closely governed. A subject we’ll talk about in more detail later in this article.

In a nutshell the cloud is not anything you can see, touch or gain low level access to (local network components or part of a dedicated hosting system).

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by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 8, 2015 at 2:45 pm 336 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.

I found myself talking to a lot of people with shy and reserved dogs this week. I was repeating the same advice over and over again so I thought I would share it here.

Shy and reserved dogs will exhibit similar behaviors. They may back away, duck out from under an attempt to pet them or simply not approach new people. In severe cases they may even growl or bite. The difference between shy and reserved dogs can be very subtle, however shy dogs are often experiencing underlying fear and anxiety about meeting new people. Reserved dogs usually just prefer to not interact with new people without the element of fear. In either case, pushing a shy or reserved dog past its limits can have serious consequences.

The first thing to remember is that all dogs should be permitted to choose if they want to meet someone new or not. Friendly dogs will usually rush in to meet someone new before you even get a chance to ask them. Shy dogs will not. When meeting a new dog it is best to invite the dog to approach you. This can be done by offering your open hand to the dog below its chin, crouching down to the dog’s level a few feet away or offering a treat in an open flat hand. All of these situations invite the dog to come to you. If the dog does not move toward you, it is best to back off and ignore the dog. Over time the dog may warm up to you and you can try again later. Taking a low stress approach will communicate to the dog that they can trust you not to push them beyond what they can handle. If the dog trusts you to move slow, things will usually get better.

If you are the owner of a shy or reserved dog it is your responsibility to provide the dog with a safe place to retreat to. If you are out on a walk, be ready to ask people to not pet your dog. Well meaning people can easily overwhelm your pup. A scared dog on a leash is in a serious predicament. In a fight or flight situation where flight is not possible because of the leash, the dog has only one option left. Always make sure your dog has the option of flight, even if it is just a short trip to hide behind your legs. Never ever restrain your dog and force them to tolerate attention that they would rather avoid.

If you are home, the same rules apply. Make sure the dog can leave the party and go hang out in a safe place. No introvert wants to be forced to be an extrovert. If your dog isn’t the super friendly type, respect their wishes and give them an option.

But all is not lost. When given the time and space that they need, shy and reserved dogs can make real progress. Shy dogs can become more confident and reserved dogs can expand their circle of friends. The most important thing to remember is to respect how they feel and proceed at a pace that makes the dog feel better, not worse.

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

by Heather Mongilio — June 8, 2015 at 1:45 pm 1,585 0

Startup Monday header

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

The burgeoning coworking trend in Arlington commercial real estate has a new wrinkle: child care.

CoWork CoPlay launched last month, founded by the owner of Saffron Dance, adjacent to her belly-dancing studio at 3260 Wilson Blvd in Clarendon. The venture combines flexible coworking office space with an on-demand babysitting service, where parents can leave their children for up to four hours and hold business meetings, get work done or run errands.

CoWork interior shot (courtesy CoWork CoPlay)“While parents are not required to bring their kids while they are coworking and customers don’t have to be a parent to cowork, the close proximity of on premises childcare responds to one of the most common challenges facing families in today’s society — affordable childcare,” the company said.

CoWork CoPlay operates as a coworking space from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Childcare is also available during those times, except on Wednesday mornings. Childcare is available for two hour slots (8-10 a.m., 10 a.m. to noon, 1-3 p.m. and 3-5 p.m.) and parents can sign their children up for two time periods per day. On Wednesdays, childcare is available from 1-5 p.m.

“What parents really need are expansive options throughout the week to get work done and the flexibility to leave the premises while their children are safely playing and learning,” said founder Rachael Galoob-Ortega, who also goes by stage name “Saphira.”

CoWork CoPlay offers four pricing packages, which includes pricing for each space or using both. Parents can reserve the spaces online, but childcare reservations must be made 12 hours in advance.

CoWork interior shot (courtesy CoWork CoPlay)Up to 20 working parents at a time can work in the 1,000 square foot space that makes up the coworking area. It’s equipped with WiFi and patrons are given headphones with microphones to allow for Google chats and Skype meetings. There is also a telephone room for calls.

“It definitely doesn’t have a corporate feel,” Galoob-Ortega said. “It has a more organic feel because we designed it.”

Parents can leave their children in an adjacent room where P&E Babysitting, a local company, watches the kids. The room can accommodate 12 children, from 18 months to six years old. Parents can leave children for up to four hours while they take meetings outside of the building or run errands, provided the children are potty trained and at least two years old.

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by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 5, 2015 at 8:00 am 1,016 0

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Just Listed highlights Arlington properties that just came on the market within the past week. This feature is written and sponsored by Team Cathell, “Your Orange Line Specialists.”

What a difference a week makes! Arlington’s real estate market jumped back into hyper gear this week with 125 fresh new listings and 90 ratified contracts.

Just listed properties range in price from $135,000 to $2.2 million. Of the 90 sold homes this week, 15 are over $1 million lifting the average list price of ratified deals to $689,000. The average days on market dropped like a stone to only 34.

So what happened to cause this activity? Mortgage interest rates responded to volatile bond markets this week and 30-yr fixed rates climbed a good 1/4% or more. News outlets reported that this hike is likely to keep climbing. So it appears buyers are getting off the fence, ratifying contracts, and locking in lower rates while they can.

You can access all active listings in Arlington on the Cathell Team website.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 4, 2015 at 4:15 pm 366 0

Healthy Paws

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

We are frequently asked for our opinion on pet insurance so we figured this would be a great topic for discussion this week… though it nevertheless remains a topic wide open for debate.

Veterinary pet insurance is a bit more comparable to dental insurance than our own general medical health insurance plans, in that the client pays the provider/veterinarian directly, files a claim, and then is reimbursed directly from the insurance company. A few hospitals may process the claim for the owner, but for the most part the hospital is uninvolved in any processing of the claims, other than providing a diagnosis and records to the insurance company when requested.

The other main difference from human health insurance is that pet insurance is for the most part designed to cover accidents, illnesses and injuries, not the routine wellness and preventative care (annual exam, vaccinations, preventatives) that one typically budgets for when acquiring a pet. It is the accidents/illnesses/injuries that come up unexpectedly and can be difficult to budget for ahead of time that most owners want the insurance against.

Each company works a bit differently in regards to yearly premiums, deductibles, pre-existing conditions, and coverage limits. It is very important to read all the fine print with any policy you are considering to be sure that there are not breed or other exclusions that may pertain to your pet. We recommend discussing the policy you are considering with your veterinarian if you have any questions.

So, all-in-all, is pet insurance worth the money? It’s impossible to say, since by nature we can’t predict which or when accidents, illnesses, or injuries may occur. The argument can certainly be made that in some cases it may be less pricey to simply set aside the money that would go towards the monthly or yearly premium so that it’s there for an emergency, but then again, a young pet can be just as likely to have an accident or serious illness as an older one who has more “reserves” in such an emergency fund.

We tend to recommend insurance the most strongly to pure-bred pets with well-known breed dispositions to certain conditions or diseases. The other question to ask yourself is that if you had to go to one of the local emergency clinics with a serious emergency or other significant medical issue — are you prepared and able to foot a several thousand dollar bill (potentially >$5,000 depending on the emergency) without getting reimbursed for any part of it down the road?

The following is a list of questions to consider when evaluating a potential pet insurance company and if their plans are right for you and your pet:

  • Are there any breed exclusions?
  • What is the policy for preexisting conditions?
  • What is the deductible?  Is this yearly, or per problem?
  • Will the premium go up yearly?
  • What is the turnaround time to get reimbursed?

Lastly, most policies won’t issue new policies on pets over a certain age, even if otherwise healthy.  The best time to sign up is usually when your pet is a puppy/kitten, before any “pre-existing conditions” have been identified.

For a side-by-side comparison of the various plans available click here. And for more information or a discussion on how the coverage a specific plan may benefit your pet, as well as to get an idea of medical costs of various illnesses, talk to your veterinarian. Hopefully this will aide in making an informed and educated decision to determine if obtaining veterinary/pet insurance for your fur-baby is the right one.

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 — June 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm 1,205 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Rufus, a military pup who hails from the Big Island of Hawaii.

Here’s what Rufus had to say about himself and his dad, TJ.

Hey guys — My name is Lieutenant Rufus Lebowski Stecker, Esq. but you can call me Rufus, or Rufie, or Rufbone, or just Ruf. I was born on Cinco de Mayo 2011 in Hawaii on the Big Island. Met my dad when I was a few months old, he’s pretty cool I guess.

Favorite things include sitting on the porch, meeting babes at the dog park, partying, people watching, jumping on people, shaking my butt, and helping my dad find the best places for brunch. At the park I like to herd all the dogs and run up to all the ladies and allow them to pet me. Also, I like to play in the fountain then get covered in sand, really show my dad who’s boss.

Walks are cool, but I go nuts if I see a squirrel or bunny. I promise I’m gonna snap that leash one day and catch one! I do enjoy catching flies at home, and I’m really good at it. I like hangin outside Trader Joe’s while dad is shopping, get to meet some cool peeps that way.

I’m not too crazy about most foods or treats as I’m really watching my figure (gotta look good for the park), but I love watermelon, it is my fave. I also like bacon or whatever meat pops is making.

Well, gotta go, time to head to the park. See ya there!

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

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

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 2, 2015 at 10:55 am 519 0

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Will Wiard, an Arlington-based real estate broker with Real Living| At Home. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. Should I have a test for lead-based paint before I buy a home that was built prior to 1978?

A. It is recommended to have a lead-based paint test for homes built prior to 1978, but it may not be necessary. There is a lot to consider.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about three-quarters of U.S. homes built prior to 1978 contain some lead-based paint, which means there is a 75-percent likelihood that the home contains (or at some point contained) lead-based paint. Because the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of lead-based paint in housing in 1978, homes built after that date should not be affected.

Even at low levels, the lead found in lead-based paint can be hazardous, and has been tied to multiple health problems, particularly for young children (under 6) and pregnant women.

If the home does contain lead paint and it is left undisturbed it may not be a concern. There is a chance it could be buried under many layers of paint applied over the years and has been properly maintained.

However, if you see signs of the paint chipping or peeling — particularly around windows, door frames, and other areas exposed to a lot of wear and tear — it’s probably a good idea to consult a licensed home inspector who has experience with the issue in the market you are looking to buy. Depending on the condition of the property, the home inspector may recommend that you conduct a visual assessment before making an offer on the home. You could also conduct the visual assessment during the home inspection.

If you do make an offer, most states, including Virginia, allow the buyer 10 days to conduct a lead-based paint test prior to closing. During the lead-paint inspection, a certified professional uses portable X-rays and lab tests to develop a risk assessment of the home and any potential lead-based hazards. The report they provide also advises on any steps you should take to address the hazards.

Keep in mind that by law the seller is required to disclose any known lead-based paint found in the home, provide buyer(s) with the “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” brochure, and copies of any lead-based paint inspection reports they have for the home.

If there is lead-based paint in the home either previously known and disclosed, or discovered during the buying process, the seller is not required to remove the paint, which can be expensive.

In addition, lead-based paint in the home can impact the ability to secure a loan to purchase the property. Some lenders require the lead-based paint to be treated and removed before the loan can move toward approval.

Regardless, as a buyer, you are able to walk away from the contract without penalty during the home inspection contingency.

Before making any decisions, you may want to learn a bit more about how and why lead-based paint in the home can be dangerous. You can find out more in this brochure provided by the EPA, which also includes the information you may need to identify a qualified professional to conduct the inspection.

I’m hoping readers can share any additional advice in comment section below.

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

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

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 1, 2015 at 1:30 pm 1,335 0

Berry&Berry2

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

by John Berry

Changes may be coming to the federal security clearance process.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester of Montana introduced the Security Clearance Accountability, Reform, and Enhancement Act of 2015 (S.434) on February 10, 2015. If passed, the new bill would modify the existing security clearance process for both federal employees and government contractors. Federal agencies would also be required to terminate or place on administrative leave any federal employee who is involved in certain types of misconduct related to security clearance investigations.

The new bill would also prohibit government contractors involved in similar conduct from performing background investigations. In addition, government contractors would be required to report violations by their employees to government agencies.

There are other provisions in the new bill, but the ones listed above seem to be the most significant provisions. The new bill was recently approved this month by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and will move to the full Senate.  A summary of the changes that would be enacted if S.434 is passed are provided by the Congressional Budget Office.

If such changes to the security clearance system are enacted, we will likely see an increase in the number of disciplinary actions taken against cleared federal employees. The new bill essentially enables the federal government to terminate federal employees who have been found to have been dishonest in the security clearance process.

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

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

by Ethan Rothstein — June 1, 2015 at 12:00 pm 611 0

Startup Monday header

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

Luvozo co-founders David Pietrocola, left, and Jude KesslerSenior care is an issue in this country that only figures to grow more serious over time. By 2050, the number of Americans older than 65 will double, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, to a total in excess of 83 million people.

One Crystal City has a solution that could help the country — and its seniors — as resources strain to accommodate the Baby Boom generation: robots.

David Pietrocola and Jude Kessler have founded Luvozo, which is developing a robot concierge service that can cater to the needs of the elderly and relieve the burden on staff members at assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.

Luvozo at Techshop in Crystal City“The idea came from taking care of a our grandparents, and what a struggle it has been for our parents,” Kessler. “We wanted to look into tech solutions to fix that.”

The pair each graduated from Trinity College in Connecticut at different times, and were connected by a mutual friend in 2013 when both were working in research and development for the Department of Defense. Both had an interest in robotics and a passion for helping the elderly. Within months, they founded the company together.

About six months ago, both left their government jobs to work at Luvozo full-time, with a mission: develop a prototype for a robotic concierge service, one that can fill the non-medical needs of the elderly while allowing care facility staff to focus on their medical needs.

Luvozo at Techshop in Crystal City“We take for granted what we can do with computers and smartphones,” Pietrocola said. “A lot of the residents at these facilities don’t know how to use those devices. So our platform gives them a portal to videochat with their loved ones, read the news and be informed about activities throughout the day.”

It’s taken the pair and one part-time staffer six months to build the prototype for their SAM platform — semi-autonomous mobot, it stands for — and they will begin testing next month at a 100-bed facility in D.C.

Pietrocola first started dabbling in robotics when he was at college, and since he’s been here, he founded the D.C. Robotics Meetup group (he stepped down as lead organizer earlier this month). Now, it’s a career, and it’s been made possible by TechShop in Crystal City and LiftOff Health, the incubator just a few blocks away.

Using tools like the 3-D printer, laser cutter and software platforms designed for prototyping. Luvozo has been able to keep overhead costs low and stay bootstrapped to this point. The founders’ lean startup also allowed them to do years of market research, interview facility administrators, staff and residents.

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