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by Ethan Rothstein — February 9, 2015 at 12:15 pm 469 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.

Dexter Industries Founder John Cole and the RaspberryPi computer that powers his robotsDexter Industries Founder John Cole is sitting at his desk in Rosslyn’s ÜberOffices, but he won’t be there for long.

The head of the educational robotics company hasn’t stayed in one place much in his adult life. After graduating from George Washington University, he worked as a petroleum engineer for Halliburton in Louisiana. From there he launched a biodiesel startup, worked in reconstruction for the State Department in 2008 in East Baghdad at the height of the Iraq War,  moved to Mexico City, then back to D.C., followed by a stint in Afghanistan working for USAID, a few years in India and, now, Arlington.

India is where his company, which sells robots made from LEGOs, affordable materials and open-source computers, took off.

“I literally just put up a website, started to work on projects and blog about that,”  in 2009, Cole said. The former chemist taught himself how to build a website and a rudimentary e-commerce platform, just like he essentially taught himself how to build robots. That was in December 2009.

The company started slow after that. His first projects were with LEGO Mindstorms, basic robots with motors that can move around. Cole designed sensors to help them detect walls, and from there he was off to the races.

While in India, Cole decided to turn his attention full-time to Dexter Industries. Soon after, a $30 teaching computer called Raspberry Pi came out. The Raspberry Pi is designed to let anyone connect and use the computer for whatever they choose. It’s open source, meaning a tinkerer like Cole can bend it to his will.

Cole designed what he called a BrickPi. The system connects the Raspberry Pi computer to a LEGO Mindstorm robot, and allows those who purchase it to turn legos into ball cannons, tanks and anything else they can think up. Cole launched a Kickstarter campaign in June 2013 with a goal of $1,889.

He raised more than $127,000.

“It was a big turning point in our company,” he said. “That’s when things really started to take off.”

With thousands of customers more than he expected, he had to figure out a way to deliver on all his orders. Being a do-it-yourself type already with a nose for adventure, Cole got a visa and traveled to China, set up meetings with manufacturers and distributors, and built his production network from the ground up.

“There’s a great quote I’ve heard: ‘You’ll know success when you feel panic,’” he said. “There were thousands of orders. That was a stressful experience.”

The components of Dexter Industries' GoPiGo robot Cole ran the campaign from India, and the Kickstarter was so successful that he took an old “Dukes of Hazzard” airhorn he bought — “everyone in India has these really cool airhorns on their cars,” he said — and built a robot to have it go off every time the Kickstarter received a donation.

Last year, Dexter Industries launched another robot called the GoPiGo, available on their online store for $84.99. The kit includes a RaspberryPi and components to build a robot that moves. While the BrickPi has sold more total orders, the GoPiGo is currently Dexter Industries’ hottest selling product.

The next phase of Dexter Industries’s growth, Cole hopes, will come in education. He wants to take his products — which he calls a “hacker’s paradise” — and bring them into the classroom to get kids excited about building robots.

“Our market up until now has largely been makers and hackers,” he said. “We always considered ourselves an education company, but we’ve been educating the educated.” (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm 670 0

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

If you can believe it, I had already planned to write about lagers before the Super Bowl. But I can’t think of a better time to write about them than now because of two Super Bowl ads from macro breweries, Budweiser and Coors.

Budweiser’s commercial set off a firestorm of reactions from the craft beer community with it’s anti-craft beer stance. It’s interesting to me simply because it shows that there is a big enough consumer base for craft beer that they decided to go after them. It got me even more excited about exploring craft lagers to share what sets them apart from a macro American lager, like Budweiser.

Coors Light’s ad, on the other hand, avoids being divisive while speaking to a growing craft beer audience. They get right to the heart of what makes a lager a lager in a middle frame when they flash the line “always lagered below freezing.” By using the proper term “lagered,” Coors is showing that it knows that we know what they’re talking about. For those of you that don’t know what lagering is, I’ll explain.

At its root, the thing that sets a lager apart from an ale is the yeast. Ale yeast requires warmth in order to start the fermentation of sugar into alcohol, adding fruity flavors to the malt and hops that already flavor the beer. Lager yeast actually begins fermentation at lower temperatures and is slower to complete fermentation. The result is a crisp, clean flavor that should be free of the fruitiness that ales display.

The word lager is derived from the German word “lagern,” which means “to store.” In fact, lagering is the process of storing the beer at temperatures around or below freezing for a period of time. Lagering allows the few flavor compounds created by the slow fermentation of the lager yeast to reabsorb and be processed out. The result is a crisp beer. All the lagers that I’m exploring are golden, but they can also be brown or black as the yeast and the lagering is what makes a lager a lager, and not the grain or the color.

Let’s look at five American lagers:

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Hoppy LagerCraft: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Hoppy Lager (7.0 percent ABV)

Sierra Nevada has started brewing small spring batches of beers that are created through collaborations with other craft breweries or with individuals. Named Beer Camp, this line of beers plays with the expectations of whole variety of styles from lagers to IPAs to stouts. This Hoppy Lager is actually a remix of the original Beer Camp collaboration with Ballast Point, an India-style pale lager. I don’t recall the original pleasing as easily as this one. The aroma is lightly piney and floral from the hops. Hops add an interesting fruitiness to the clean lager maltiness in the flavor. This is a complex lager that made me want keep some in my fridge.

Victory Prima PilsCraft: Victory Brewing Co. Prima Pils (5.3 percent ABV)

Victory’s Prima Pils is made in the German style of pilsners, which means that it is light in color and body with more of a hop balanced flavor (though not like the Hoppy Lager above). Often cited as an exemplar of the German style, Prima Pils does not disappoint. The aroma is lightly malty, as it should be. The flavor, though, starts out with the clean malt of a lager, but transforms into a slightly more complex beer with the hops. The combination of German and Czech hops  add a floral, herbiness in the finish. This beer is a great go to for warmer weather picnics and BBQs.

Hardywood PilsCraft: Hardywood Park Craft Brewery Pils (5.2 percent ABV)

If you were a Beermonger reader, you’ll know how much he loved Hardywood Pils. I can see why. This German-style pilsner pleased with every sip. Both the aroma and the flavor are pleasantly hoppy with some malt backbone. The German “noble” hop, Hallertau, is responsible for the fresh, herby hop aroma and flavor. It’s worth noting that the carbonation is very light in this beer — it’s so smooth that this beer goes down easy. This is a great all-around choice.

DuClaw and Mad Fox GridlockCraft: DuClaw and Mad Fox Brewing Co. Gridlock India Pale Lager (5.0 percent ABV)

Baltimore’s DuClaw teamed up the Falls Church gastropub, Mad Fox Brewing Co. to create this hopped up lager. Named in honor of the traffic that the brewers encountered during the process of this collaboration, Gridlock is a unique beer. The clean malt of a typical lager recedes to the background as the hops jump to the front. The aroma and the flavor are all hops. It’s an interesting opportunity enjoy some American hop flavors without any other flavors to compete. The result is that this beer isn’t complex, but it’s immensely satisfying if you like hops.

Last, I want to look a little closer at that mass produced American lager, Budweiser.

BudweiserMacro: Anheuser-Busch Budweiser Lager (5.0 percent ABV)

Dating back the 19th century, Budweiser was originally brewed using a significant amount of adjuncts (non-barley grains in the malt mixture) in order to compensate for a high-protein North American barley, which made the lagers cloudy. Today, rice is the main adjunct. It adds nothing to the flavor, nor do the hops, which are easily overpowered by the creamy malt. The aroma is all malt as is the flavor. The crisp, cleanness associated with lagers is mostly evident in the carbonation, which remains high as it warms.

While there are many lagers on the market, from the beast that is Dogfish Head’s Beer Thousand imperial lager to traditional malt-balanced lagers, these are the ones that I’m sharing with you. What lagers are you drinking now or do you love? Tell me below!

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 — February 5, 2015 at 2:30 pm 517 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.

Right now, blizzards and bitter cold are slamming parts of the country. Soon it will switch from blizzards to thunderstorms. Are you prepared for when disaster strikes?

Find Out 

  • Does your building have a generator? If it does, what will it power? It may only power minimal things to keep the building in operation, and not cover your apartment.
  • Does your water heater run on gas? If so, you will still have warm water if the power is out. That is a definite plus when it is cold outside.
  • Do you have a gas stove? You can still cook sans electricity too.
  • Does your renter’s insurance cover your fridge contents during a power outage? If so, you could file a claim if your power goes out for several days to replace your contents. This can be very helpful, as it isn’t just your milk and meats you need to replace, but all your condiments and extras, which can add up quickly. If you don’t have that coverage, see if you can add it. It should only cost a few dollars more and could save you hundreds later.

Have on Hand

  • At a minimum, review the Red Cross Survival Kit basics. Non-perishable food, water, medications, cash, batteries and so on.
  • Also check out the Red Cross Store for some handy other items.
    • Blackout Buddy $9.99 — a small LED light that is charged in water.
    • Emergency Bivvy $17.00 — Emergency blanket that keeps you warm and reflects 90 percent of your body heat back to you. This is good to keep in your apartment if you are without heat for several days, and would also be good to keep in your vehicle, if you have one, in the event you get stuck in the snow somewhere.
    • Emergency Radio $60 — This particular one is multipurpose. It has a light, a USB port to charge a phone, and also has a solar panel and hand crank in the event you run out of battery power.
  • If you are able to make a little more investment, check out a battery-powered generator. You can charge your electronics, jumpstart a car among other things. You may even be able to power an electric heater for a few minutes at a time to warm up a room a bit, if necessary. Don’t forget to make sure this is fully charged ahead of time.
  • Hands and feet get cold easily? Grab some hand warmers at your local outdoor store or ski shop.

What about Pets?

  • Depending on the disaster, you don’t want to forget to make some preparations for your pet. If it is a cold weather issue, just be sure to have enough food, water, and medications on hand in the event you are stuck somewhere for a few days.
  • If you have to evacuate, remember most shelters will not allow pets. Your best bet is to either find a hotel, or go to a family or friend’s house that will let you bring your pet. In Arlington County, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington has a temporary pet shelter available if necessary. One thing you don’t want to do is leave your pet behind.

Make a Plan

  • Unexpected disasters do happen every so often — remember the earthquake that hit the D.C. area a few years ago? Fortunately, it didn’t cause too much trouble other than slow commutes home and overloaded cell lines. It could have been worse. Be sure to have some sort of disaster kit on hand for when you least expect it. Have a plan on how to communicate with your loved ones, but keep in mind other people need to communicate too. Stay off your cell as much as possible.

Talking about disasters is never enjoyable. But some simple preparation can help you sail through the many events Mother Nature throws at us. Have a good plan in place with your family for communication, meeting places and so on.

Most importantly, don’t wait until the last minute when you do have time to prepare. And you don’t want to be caught off guard when you don’t. The time is now to start your prep, build your kits over time so you are not hit hard financially all at once, especially for some of the bigger items. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Learn about what your apartment or home has in place for emergencies and develop your plans around that.

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to info@urbanigloo.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 — February 4, 2015 at 2:45 pm 1,183 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Gus, a West Highland white terrier who “gruffs” at jaywalkers.

Here’s what owner, Jim, had to say about his pale pooch:

We brought Angus (Gus for short) into our home in October of 2014 after a long trip back from Canton, Ohio, where Gus was born. Gus was the second-to-last puppy in his litter of West Highland white terriers to be sold, and after seeing some photos and videos, we knew we had to have him.

Naturally, he loves to watch football — especially his favorite team, the Ohio State Buckeyes. His favorite activity, though, is gruffing at jaywalkers from our high-rise window. When he’s not gruffing at the scofflaws, he can be found playing fetch, chewing on his mallard, or refusing to allow his owners to take out the trash without being able to tag along.

Gus has quickly made friends with the 70 doggie neighbors in our building, and as many young pups do, has taken to Instagram to wow the lady Westies of the Internet. Naturally a quiet dog — except for the gruffing — Gus will bark when it’s time to play fetch and throw himself on the ground with a hearty sigh if he is refused, which is rare.

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 — February 3, 2015 at 1:30 pm 643 0

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

Q. Maybe I’m worrying too much, but we recently put our home on the market and I am afraid that the snow is slowing down interest. The online listing already shows that it has been on the market for over two weeks, but a few of those days were awful out. 

A. Let’s look at the bright side first: If someone has a day off of work because of snow, they are more likely to spend time on the computer looking for listings they would like to see.

The downside is that most homebuyers do not want to be driving around looking at homes when the weather is bad. I usually take inclement weather predictions into consideration when choosing which day to go live with a new listing.

Once you go live, you could place the home in temporary off status. In my opinion, the benefit of saving days-on-market is outweighed by the possibility of buyers not finding your home online during those days. I think it is better to ride out the bad weather. Most of the snow days around here only last for a day or two, so they won’t drastically affect your days-on-market.

If you are planning an open house I would pay attention to the weather report. It is worth delaying your open house by a week if it provides the potential for better weather.

Tip: put up a sign asking visitors to remove their shoes when showing your home and/or provide shoe covers. You don’t want people tracking snow or salty water through your house.

Please keep the questions coming. You can send them to adam@rlathome.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 Ethan Rothstein — February 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm 667 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.

OmniEarth COO and cofounder Jonathan Fentzke(Updated at 1:15 p.m.OmniEarth COO and cofounder Jonathan Fentzke says his company likes to stay “under the radar,” an ironic phrase considering its plans to launch 18 satellites to generate data from around the world in a host of different sectors.

Officially launched in February 2014, OmniEarth takes geospatial data and provides analytics for a broad range of companies. This could mean telling municipal water suppliers which parcels are using too much water — crucial in drought-ridden areas like California — or telling oil and gas companies where there are faults along their pipelines.

“More than 80 percent of data these days has a location along with it,” Fentzke told ARLnow.com from his office above the Crystal City Shops this morning. “Remotely sensed data can give you an indication of how things are changing on a global scale.”

Fentzke and his cofounder, CEO Lars Dyrud, have been friends for more than a decade, but both were working in the applied physics laboratory at Johns Hopkins University when they realized their work for the public sector had use for private companies. Hosted payloads, when one entity rents extra space on a rocket being launched into space, were growing more and more common, and Fentzke and Dyrud wanted to bring it to market.

“We did three years of customer discovery, talked with more than 200 potential clients and saw that there really was traction for this business,” Fentzke said. “We sell information to people who know what to do with it, and we sell analytics to the people who don’t.”

OmniEarth logoOmniEarth’s main business model is selling applications of their data to its clients. That can be predictive models for the effects of the weather on a crop to multinational farm companies, where forests are being illegally cut down or even something Fentzke called a Twitter “happiness index,” which takes the mood of tweets and compares it with the location of people tweeting them, drawing maps based on the data.

OmniEarth is barely a year old and has already received about $3.5 million in funding, with partnerships with massive companies like Harris and Ball and local tech companies like Dynetics. They have partnered with Spaceflight to launch a constellation of 18 small satellites, monitoring “multi-spectral data,” with imaging outside of the visible spectrum (i.e. infrared light).

“The satellites are like our utility, and data and analytics is like our plug,” Fentzke said. “If you don’t have a plug, you can’t access the utility, like electricity.”

Fentzke, an aerospace engineer by training, says OmniEarth is “by scientists, for business users and decision-makers,” and the company is attempting to trademark the slogan “every day, everywhere.” The Board of Advisors reads like a who’s who of the cross-section of industries the company caters to, from a retired U.S. Air Force general to oil and gas executives to a former NASA administrator.

Part of OmniEarth's headquarters in Crystal CityThe company is growing faster than many other Arlington startups, but for what Fentzke and Dyrud have in mind, this is only the beginning. OmniEarth has already bought a smaller company called IRISmaps to leverage its geospatial data and continues to look to expand.

“This is not a get-rich quick scheme,” Fentzke said. “Our goal is to grow something that stands alone. We didn’t just blindly pick this business because satellites are cool. It’s a tool for data, and when you know how to leverage remotely sensed data, you have market-leading information, and it’s legal.”

In another year, the 20-person company expects to double in size and bring in “some big dollars” by the end of 2015. OmniEarth may still fly under the radar as a big-growth company in Arlington, but it won’t be a secret for long.

“The moment I think it’s valuable for us to wave our flag and say ‘hey look at us,’” Fentzke said, “we’ll do that.”

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 28, 2015 at 2:45 pm 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. Is it harder for men to prove sex discrimination than women?

A. Generally, men should not face a heavier burden for proving sex discrimination than women. Discrimination complaints or lawsuits filed by a member of a majority class, such as male, are referred to as “reverse discrimination” cases, and they are not uncommon. In fact, one-third of sex discrimination complaints filed in the federal sector in FY 2012 were filed by men, according to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) statistics.

For standard discrimination cases in which a member of a minority class, such as female, black or disabled, courts require plaintiffs to initially show the following:

  1. they are members of a class protected under laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act;
  2. they were qualified for the position for which they applied; and
  3. the employer’s rejection of their application gave “rise to an inference of discrimination.”

These factors form the basis of what is known as the McDonnell Douglas framework, so-named after the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in which these factors were outlined, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted in McNaught v. Virginia Community College System (2013).

Over the years, as the 4th Circuit further noted in McNaught, appellate courts have reached differing opinions as to whether this standard framework — or a framework that placed a greater burden on majority class plaintiff — should be applied to reverse discrimination cases.

On one side there were five circuit courts, including the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, that held majority class plaintiffs to a higher standard, requiring them to show “background circumstances that demonstrate that a particular employer has reason or inclination to discriminate invidiously against [majority groups]…or evidence that there is something ‘fishy’ about the facts at hand.”

Meanwhile, three other circuit courts just required majority class plaintiffs to show they satisfied the standard McDonnell Douglas framework.

For years, the 4th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Virginia district courts, declined to pick a side in this standard-versus-enhanced framework debate. But that ended with the court’s decision in McNaught. The 4th Circuit decided to apply the standard framework, noting that the “application of the same test to both ‘ordinary’ discrimination plaintiffs and ‘reverse’ discrimination plaintiffs better reflects overarching principles expressed by the Supreme Court,” namely “that Title VII prohibited reverse discrimination ‘on the same terms’ as discrimination against minority groups.”

The bottom line is discrimination based on race, color, sex, gender, national origin, religion, disability, and age is unlawful. Employees who believe they have been subjected to discrimination based on any of these factors should immediately consult with an experienced employment law attorney.

Mathew B. Tully is the founding partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC. Located in 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. 

 

by ARLnow.com — January 28, 2015 at 12:30 pm 1,301 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is Buddy, a dog who showed up at his owner’s door on Christmas and never left.

Here’s what owner Sarah had to say about her :

Hi, this is Buddy. We believe he is between 3-4 years old and a Beagle/Lab mix.

Last year on Christmas night we were visiting family in Pennsylvania when this little guy wandered up to the house searching for food. It was 11 degrees and his nose was frozen over. He was freezing and seemed like he hadn’t eaten anything except garbage for a few days. We brought him inside for the night and he slept by our sides without making a peep.

The next day we had found his owner and she claimed that he was out in the cold for four days. She also said she no longer wanted him and we could have him if we wanted. So, needless to say we brought Buddy back to Arlington with us.

Buddy enjoys walking/running, sniffing, cuddling, and watching the neighborhood through the front window. He loves playing with other dogs, especially his lady friend Callie and cousin Izzy. He is a huge Dallas Cowboys and Penn State fan and loves to watch the games with his parents.

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 — January 26, 2015 at 4:05 pm 337 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.

Much like in humans, your dog will go through an adolescent phase and this period can be fraught with difficulty. Dogs will enter their adolescent period at around 6 months old, and exit between 18 months and 2 years of age. Smaller dogs tend to mature more quickly, larger dogs more slowly.

During this time you may feel like your dog has forgotten everything they learned in puppy class. You are not imagining it. There is physiological evidence that neural synapses are breaking and reforming at a very high rate. Previously attentive pups will start to ignore you and non-chewers will become destructive maniacs.

Fear not, this is normal. Most of what you will experience is a non-emergency and I find myself encouraging puppy owners to double down. Your progress may slow down and your dog’s attention span might shorten but they are still learning. As your dog becomes more independent they are going to push their boundaries and experiment with new things. Just like with human teenagers, it is really important that you remain present to guide your teenage pup into a well-behaved adulthood. Do not let them just figure it out on their own.

One behavior that is an adolescent emergency is if your previously friendly dog begins to show signs of aggression toward people or other dogs. While this is not uncommon, it is not a behavior your dog is just going to “grow out of.” Without intervention, this is likely to become worse and you can end up with a seriously aggressive dog. If your dog starts to growl, bark or lunge at people or other dogs contact your trainer as soon as possible.

Here are a couple of adolescence survival tips:

  1. Take another class: This will help you to continue to work with your dog through their “teenage years.” It keeps the two of you connected and might allow your trainer to identify any serious problems before they get worse. This could be a great time for a low key class like tricks, or a sport like agility or nosework.
  2. Hang onto that crate: Maintain your dog’s crate training well into adulthood. Continuing to crate your dog when you are not home or sleeping can help prevent problem behaviors like chewing or barking at the window from developing in the first place. It can also be a solution if these behaviors show up. If it’s been three months since your dog was crated, the solution may not be so easy.

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 — January 26, 2015 at 12:30 pm 1,040 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.

The BTCS team in their Rosslyn officeBitcoin is hard to explain. It’s a “crypto-currency,” and it’s worth real money — just like Euros and pesos are worth real dollars — but it’s completely digital.

Blockchain Technology Consumer Solutions — or BTCS for short — was launched in 2013 as Bitcoin Shop, an ecommerce platform that allows users to buy goods with bitcoins and other digital currencies, like Dogecoin or Litecoin. Bitcoin Shop founders Michal Handerhan and Tim Sidie, now COO and lead developer respectively, had bought bitcoins but didn’t know how to spend them. So they created a way.

“They got some immediate traction from consumers and offers to help fund the company,” Chief Marketing Officer Charlie Kiser told ARLnow.com from BTCS’ Rosslyn office this month.

Kiser, who has worked in startups for years in the D.C. area, joined the team along with now-CEO and Chairman Charles Allen. In February 2014, Bitcoin Shop went public, raising $1.875 million in its initial public offering.

“Going public is not the most traditional route for startups,” Kiser admitted, “but it’s great in terms of speed and confidence in getting something closed. The idea was we could be one of the first publicly traded companies and we could accomplish some things in an industry with a lot of unknowns.”

In fact, most of the crypto-currency industry is unknown. While the currency exists, it’s not run by a bank or a government. It’s decentralized and far more unstable than currencies of developed countries. One bitcoin was worth more than $1,000 U.S. dollars near the end of 2013. Earlier this month, it was down below $200, and currently it’s hovering around $240.

BTCS logoThere is no mint for bitcoins, either. Instead of a government printing them, they are “mined.” BTCS has a partnership with a bitcoin mining company in Israel. How are they mined? Anyone who wants a bitcoin must provide technological maintenance to the bitcoin system. The more bitcoins are circulating in the world, the more work a “miner” must do to get a bitcoin.

Bitcoins are exchanged and circulated on the “blockchain,” a “de-centralized peer-to-peer network” that works “effectively as a ledger system, reporting transaction,” Kiser says. Bitcoin was simply the first use of the block chain — many more are anticipated down the road.

That’s what intrigued Allen, a former engineer who was working at an investment bank before joining the company.

“I said ‘this company’s going to be much bigger than e-commerce,’” Allen said. “Bitcoin is basically the Internet in 1995. Back then, no one thought it had any use, but the technology made sense. At the heart of bitcoin, the technology makes sense.”

A bitcoin ATM at the BTCS officeBTCS has invested in a company that produces bitcoin ATMs and is currently developing a bitcoin wallet, similar to Google Wallet, that will help its users keep their currency secure. BTCS hopes to be an access point for anyone to enter the crypto-currency space, in any form they choose.

“We’re hoping we can be a market leader into giving access to the digital ecosystem,” Kiser said. “We’re hoping BTCS is where you come for all that.”

Unlike other startups in emerging industries, BTCS has public investors to answer to. Investors can look to the four investments and one partnership BTCS has made as signs of progress toward market leader status. However, it’s simply too early to tell if these early gambles will pay off.

“We are long on bitcoin and blockchain,” Kiser said, “and we are getting ready to enter the valley of innovation. Whether it’s the currency or the blockchain, there’s been enough invested to know in five years whether there will be a consumer case for it.”

Through its investments and products, BTCS hopes to be the ones to usher the new technology into that era, but it’s waiting on the industry to help.

“There are all these problems that the technology solves,” Allen said. “They just haven’t been built yet.”

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 23, 2015 at 2:30 pm 889 0

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

At the end of “The Matrix,” Keanu Reaves’ Neo suddenly sees the code in everything he looks at while in the matrix. It’s a transformative experience —-he is the master of his domain.

I felt like Neo when I began to understand the basics of Belgian beer styles. The Belgian section of a store or menu can seem daunting with all the numbers (Rochefort) and color-coded labels (Chimay) and styles (dubbel and tripel). And what’s a quadrupel anyway?

The truth is that many of the Belgian beers that we typically can get fit well into the established styles that I’ll cover. Today, I’m going to introduce, or reintroduce, you to the Belgian strong golden ale, the dubbel, the tripel and the Belgian strong dark ale (sometimes called a quad or quadrupel).

Before I look at the individual styles, I want to mention the common ingredient in most Belgian beers that gives them a character all their own — yeast. Belgian yeast is distinctive, imparting a uniquely fruity flavor that can sometimes seem spicy, like black pepper or clove. When non-Belgian breweries make Belgian-styled beers, they do so with this special yeast.

The large numbers on bottles or bottle caps and colored labels are a handy code devised by brewers as a short hand for their styles. I’ve read that the numbers refer essentially to the ABV of an original recipe, but that current recipes for these styles have different amounts of alcohol. I have also read that they do not refer to anything, but are merely representative for a particular brewery. For instance, Rochefort uses a “6″ to denote their dubbel, while Westvleteren uses an “8″. Though unscientific, color and numeric coding can help you choose the right beer when you know what else to look for.

Let’s look at the four categories and the beers that represent them.

Duvel (photo via Arash Tafakor)Belgian Strong Golden Ale
This beer is light in color, hence the name, with mild bitterness and high effervescence. Though relatively high in alcohol at around 9 percent ABV, these beers don’t taste like it. The original strong golden ale is our example, Duvel.

Duvel (ABV: 8.5 percent)
The aroma is mildly spicy with some citrus evident as you take the first sip. The taste that follows blends the spice with a citrusy bitterness from the small amount of hops that shine through. Overall, it’s no surprise that Duvel is a clean, pleasant beer. If you’re looking to have this with a meal, it pairs well with a wide variety of dishes.

Dubbel Ale
This beer pours a dark brown with fairly high effervescence. Generally, dubbels are malty with a slight sweetness, though not all will exhibit this sweetness. They tend to be slightly high in alcohol hovering around 8 percent ABV, which is not apparent in the flavor. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 22, 2015 at 2:30 pm 618 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.

A new job offer across the country just hit your inbox, and you start in two weeks — congrats! Now what?

Packing up your stuff, tying up loose ends your old job, and figuring out where you are going to live can feel a bit overwhelming. So you book your plane ticket, and you have two days to find a place. What do you need to do?

First, enlist some help from a real estate agent, especially if you can find one from a rental brokerage. Give them as much detail as possible. In order for someone to find you a great place that meets your needs in just a few days, they need to know a lot about you. Tell them all of the deal breakers — how much rent you can afford, the types of apartments you like, amenities you need, if you have pets, if you need parking, and what your commute will be.

But you also have to get a little more personal. Remember, an agent knows the area better than you, and can steer you in the direction of a neighborhood you may not have considered because of your hobbies and lifestyle.

An agent is also going to be able to get appointments booked for you with buildings that have what you want, when you want it. You don’t have to pound the pavement on your own, going into building after building, only to have them tell you, “No vacancy.”

Second, be prepared before you go.  Make sure you have ready:

  • Your camera
  • A photo ID — you will need this for every building. This is for security of the agent and the onsite staff
  • Proof of income — this could be an offer letter from your new job, previous pay stubs (usually at least the last two,) or tax documents
  • Your credit score — make sure you know your credit and be up front if you think there could be an issue.
  • A list of questions for the buildings:
    • What are the fees? Fees are likely to include an application fee, a move in fee, an amenity fee, a security deposit, a pet fee and so on. Make sure you know exactly what you need when you go to apply for the apartment you choose.
    • Can you use a credit card for the fees? Do they need to be in certified funds? Or do you just need your checkbook?
    • Does the building have a floor plan with measurements? You need to make sure your furniture will fit.
    • What is the turn around time for an application? If you need to move in right away, how quickly can they give you a decision? Think about whether you will you have enough time to move on to a backup if your first choice falls through. And in the event that does happen, make sure your second choice will be able to work with you electronically since you may already be out of town.

Lastly, if you have a roommate or significant other, and they won’t be along for the search, remember they will have to be a part of the application process and be named on the lease as well. Make sure both your agent and the building of your choice are aware.

Searching for a new home in a time crunch doesn’t have to be stressful. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Trust the help of a professional agent. Be sure to give them as much information as you can so they can get you in a great new home in no time, and maybe you’ll still even have time to play around in your new neighborhood.

Have a rental-related question you’d like Rental Report to answer? Email it to info@urbanigloo.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 — January 21, 2015 at 12:00 pm 1,224 0

This week’s Arlington Pet of the Week is a kitten who goes by Chandler Bing. Could he be any cuter?

Here’s what owner, Rachel, had to say about her friendly cat:

In the spirit of the season (and full disclosure), my name is Chandler Bing and I have three New Year’s Resolutions for 2015: to lose weight, finally catch my own tail, and become Instafamous (follow me at Chandler.Bing.The.Cat)

Let me tell you a bit about myself: I was born on June 27 and was rescued from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington on Sept. 20 by this beautiful young lady named Rachel Marrion. It truly was love at first sight.

More importantly, I enjoy going for long walks from the kitchen to the bedroom and back. I enjoy hanging out in the sink, getting my paws wet, and running around the house like Tom Cruise from Risky Business. But my favorite thing to do is to watch my namesake on TV; he’s almost as funny and cute as I am (perhaps my resolution should be to be more humble?)

Finally, I would like to take some time to thank those people most special to me. First and foremost, God, for keeping those shadows just the right distance away from me. To my Aunt Kate, for seeing my full potential and pushing me to go for this. And lastly, to my owner, Rachel. She is a teacher, and without the two-week break over the holidays, none of this would be possible. Thank you.

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 — January 20, 2015 at 1:30 pm 1,298 0

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

Q. Do you see an increase in the number and proportion of original homes (mostly ramblers) in North Arlington that go on the market and are bought by families to occupy with modest improvements rather than by developers to tear down and replace with new, much larger homes?

The reason I ask: New and recently new resales of McMansions appear to be selling ever more slowly, and the prices of new McMansions appear to be decreasing. In this context, the financial viability of developers buying and tearing down the original (mostly ramblers) homes for replacement with McMansions would seem to be getting weak.

This suggests to me the possibility of a meaningful decrease in developer demand for and in the developer driven prices for original homes for replacement, thereby creating an opening for families to buy the original homes, perhaps at somewhat lower prices, for them to occupy. And maybe some developers will give more emphasis to renovations and expansions of the original ramblers at modest cost for new family owners.

A. It’s hard to quantify the proportion of builders that are still buying lots because a number of the homes purchased for tear down are bought before they go in the MLS. I also don’t have a way of organizing the data to tell me whether the purchaser was a builder, renovator or primary resident. Using the information we do have available, I searched single family homes priced under $700,000 that have sold in Arlington within the last two years.  Knowing that many builders pay with cash, I divided the sales into two categories: 1) cash buyers 2) conventional, VA and FHA home loan buyers.  The numbers were almost identical in 2013 and 2014.  See below:

  • 2013 – 76 cash buyers and 352 home loan buyers
  • 2014 – 74 cash buyers and 311 home loan buyers

Arlington single family home sales over the last five years

Though there is not a significant change between 2013 and 2014, some of these cash buyers maybe be planning to renovate rather than tear down and rebuild. I wish I had a way to quantify their intentions for you.

According to the following chart that I pulled from Arlington County’s website, it looks like demolitions and construction starts slowed down in 2014, which seems support the idea that new builds are trending down a little bit.

We can keep an eye on whether that trend continues so feel free to check back with me later this year.

I would like to see more renovations and fixer uppers available on the market. We certainly work with a good number of homebuyers who would love to stay in Arlington if they could find the right home within their budget. Even for the family who may want to build a new home for their primary residence, it has become very challenging to compete for prime lots.

Please send your questions to adam@rlathome.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 Sponsor — January 14, 2015 at 3:45 pm 541 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. My employer very liberally tracks the hours I work. How can I claim overtime when there are no records I worked at least 40 hours a week?

A. Conventional logic says that if there is no record of something then it did not happen. However, this rationale generally will not work with employers who try to dodge their duty to pay employees overtime wages by not properly maintaining time and attendance records.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay covered employees who worked more than 40 hours during a work week at a rate of at least time-and-a-half. Further, the FLSA’s implementing regulation requires employers to “maintain and preserve payroll or other records” for employees not exempted from the act.

Most employers, to varying degrees, preserve and maintain such records. But an employer’s failure to do so will not save it from an FLSA lawsuit for unpaid overtime wages. An “employee should not be penalized ‘on the ground that he is unable to prove the precise extent of uncompensated work,’” the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in Lee v. Vance Executive Production (2001). Employers tend to run into problems when an employee who they thought was exempted from the FLSA turns out having a non-exempt status, or when the employee works “off the clock.”

In either case, to overcome the legal challenges posed by “inadequate or inaccurate” records, the 4th Circuit said in Lee that the employee must show he or she “performed work for which he was improperly compensated” and “how the amount and extent of that work as a matter of just and reasonable inference.” The court stressed that an employee does not need to “prove each hour of overtime work with unerring accuracy or certainty.” Instead, “enough evidence must be offered so that the court as ‘a matter of just and reasonable inference’ may estimate the unrecorded.”

It will not be enough, however, for the employee to only show he or she worked so many hours over 40 hours during a given work week. The employee must also show the employer knowingly allowed this uncompensated work to be performed. To support his or her case, the employee could show the employer engaged in “a pattern or practice of employer acquiescence in such work,” the 4th Circuit noted in Pforr v. Food Lion (1988).

Employees who believe they have been improperly denied overtime wages for hours they worked should immediately contact an employment law attorney who could prepare for them an FLSA lawsuit. Employers should also consult with an employment law attorney to determine which employees are eligible for overtime wages.

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.

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