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.
Bitcoin 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.
There 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.”
BTCS 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.”
“Top Chef” contestant Mike Isabella’s first restaurant venture in Arlington is finally opening its doors tomorrow (Tuesday).
Kapnos Taverna was announced September 2013 and planned for summer 2014. As most openings in the local restaurant industry go, delays pushed Kapnos Taverna’s debut back significantly — Isabella said they were waiting for the building at 4000 Wilson Blvd to finish construction.
The two-story 165-seat restaurant will feature small plates of largely southern and coastal Greek food. (Kapnos in the District, sister eatery to the new Ballston location, specializes in northern Greek fare.)
Isabella said he wants people to think beyond gyros and souvlaki when they think of Greek food.
“My goal is to tell people what Greek food is,” he told ARLnow.com while taste-testing dishes last week. “I want to show people aspects of the cuisine people aren’t aware of. There’s so much more to it than people think.”
The menu for Kapnos Taverna includes shellfish “platters” and “towers” for $75 and $125, respectively, and Isabella said the sauces and spreads are being brought over from Kapnos. The small plates range in price from $6 to $15 and tables can also order spit-roasted chickens — one of Isabella’s favorite menu items, along with the swordfish kebabs — and full lamb shoulders.
There will be a full cocktail program, four beers on tap as well as a moschofilero white wine on tap.
Two more Isabella-owned restaurants in Kapnos Taverna’s building will soon be opening. Pepita, the Mexican cantina that Isabella calls more “drink-centric” is in the pipeline for this spring. Yona, a restaurant that will specialize in ramen, won’t have Isabella behind the menu and plans to open this summer.
“We’re going to focus on these three concepts for a while,” Isabella said. “This is going to be our hub, and after opening these, we’re probably done in Arlington for a while.”
School Boundary ‘Refinements’ Approved, Parents Peeved — The Arlington School Board on Thursday approved a series of small “refinements” to elementary school boundaries in North Arlington by a 3-1 vote. The changes will impact a few dozen current McKinley and Tuckahoe elementary students over the next two school years, transferring those students to other nearby schools. Several parents whose kids are affected have contacted ARLnow.com, calling the process and subsequent decision “short sighted,” “pointless” and “a sham.” [Arlington Public Schools, InsideNova]
Big, Tire-Eating Pothole on Wilson Blvd — An Arlington resident says he got a flat tire after driving over a monster pothole in the left-hand lane of westbound Wilson Blvd at N. Patrick Henry Drive. Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services responded to the man’s tweet, saying repair crews have been notified. [Twitter]
ACPD Assists with Bust of Diner Owner — The owner of a popular Baltimore diner has been arrested in a cocaine sting that Arlington County police helped to arrange. Prosecutors say Anthony Vasiliades, owner of the Sip & Bite diner, which was featured on the TV show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” tried to buy $50,000 worth of cocaine from an undercover Arlington detective. [Baltimore Sun]
Casting Call for Arlington Cyclists — More than 50 people have signed up for a casting call for a promotional campaign that will highlight “everyday Arlington citizens who use a bicycle as means of commuting and/or recreation.” The casting call for the county-sponsored campaign, which will feature six short documentary films, ends today. [Modacity, Twitter]
County Planning Effort Launches — The Arlington County and School Boards have jointly appointed a 24-member “Facilities Study Committee” that is tasked with building “a consensus framework regarding the community’s future funding and facility needs.” The launch of the committee comes as Arlington Public Schools faces push back from residents as it tries to find county-owned land on which to build badly-needed new schools. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Brendan
Forecasters say accumulating snow may start falling by mid-to-late afternoon. VDOT says its crews are out in force treating roads, but drivers should consider leaving work early.
From a press release:
The Virginia Department of Transportation is asking northern Virginia drivers to prepare for today’s afternoon commute, which is expected to be much more difficult than this morning as rain and wintry mix increases to snow throughout the day.
Drivers are asked to commute and travel in the early afternoon if possible, prior to 4 p.m., to get ahead of increasing precipitation and dropping pavement temperatures expected this evening.
Between the morning and afternoon rush hours today, crews will apply a light application of salt, or mix of salt and liquid magnesium chloride, to problem spots such as bridges, ramps, hills and overpasses on main roads and in neighborhoods. Crews will continue to treat roads through the evening rush and overnight tonight.
Bridge and pavement temperatures are forecasted to be at or below freezing from 6 p.m. today through mid-day Tuesday. Drivers are asked to use caution, particularly in neighborhoods where slick conditions may develop this evening.
About 900 trucks will remain on duty this evening throughout Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William and Arlington counties.
Reminders and resources:
- Slow down and allow for extra time to reach your destination
- Be aware of potentially icy areas such as bridges, ramps, curves and overpasses
- Check www.511virginia.org for road conditions
- Get more details on snow removal in northern Virginia
- Follow VDOT Northern Virginia on Twitter: @vadotnova
Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.
Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.
ARLnow.com fifth anniversary bash
Disruption Corporation (2231 Crystal Drive, 10th floor)
Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Join ARLnow.com and the Crystal City BID for a celebration of ARLnow.com’s fifth anniversary. A ticket includes adult beverages and finger food.
Some Like it Hot Beer Dinner*
Fire Works Pizza (2350 Clarendon Blvd)
Time: 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Hardywood Park is hosting a beer dinner featuring the Richmond brewery’s brews paired with spicy foods. Emailcourthouse@fireworkspizza.com for reservations.
Live Comedy: Jim Breuer
Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike)
Time: 7:30 and 10:00 p.m.
Saturday Night Live alumnus and one of Comedy Central’s 100 Greatest Comics of All Time Jim Breuer performs. Tickets are $35 and selling fast.
The Energy Journey Game
Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street)
Time: 1:00-5:00 p.m.
The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy hosts a life-sized, interactive board game designed to jumpstart creative thinking about energy solutions.
Pre-Super Bowl Party*
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (400 Lorcom Lane)
Time: 4:30-6:00 p.m.
Arlington Neighborhood Villages hosts a “BYO party” for residents of Cherrydale, Donaldson Run, Old Dominion and Waverly Hills. ANV hopes to start its third local village in the county.
Super Bowl Party
Mister Days Sports Rock Cafe (3100 Clarendon Blvd)
Time: 3:00 p.m.
An all-you-can-eat tailgate menu until kickoff, door prizes and Seattle- and New England-themed menu highlight Mister Days’ party. Tickets are $25.
*Denotes featured (sponsored) event
The snow expected in Arlington is nothing compared to the blizzard expected in New York City and other northeastern locales — which has prompted numerous flight cancellations at Reagan National Airport this morning.
(Students had no such luck — Arlington Public Schools started on time.)
Forecasters say Arlington might get enough snow to make tonight’s evening rush hour and tomorrow’s morning rush hour a bit tricky.
The National Weather Service has issued the following Winter Weather Advisory for the region.
… WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 AM EST TUESDAY…
* PRECIPITATION TYPE… SNOW.
* ACCUMULATIONS… 2 TO 4 INCHES.
* TIMING… SNOW WILL MIX WITH RAIN AT TIMES THROUGH MID-AFTERNOON. PRECIPITATION WILL CHANGE TO ALL SNOW LATE THIS AFTERNOON. THE HEAVIEST SNOW IS EXPECTED TONIGHT BEFORE ENDING TUESDAY MORNING.
* TEMPERATURES… IN THE LOWER 30S.
* WINDS… NORTHEAST 10 TO 15 MPH TODAY… BECOMING NORTH TONIGHT INTO TUESDAY WITH GUSTS AROUND 25 MPH.
* IMPACTS… ROADS WILL BE SNOW COVERED AND SLIPPERY WITH VISIBILITIES BEING REDUCED TO NEAR ONE-QUARTER MILE AT TIMES. THE COMBINATION OF SNOW COVERED ROADS AND LOW VISIBILITY WILL MAKE TRAVELING DANGEROUS
A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW WILL CAUSE PRIMARILY TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SNOW COVERED ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES… AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING.
In preparation for the snow, AAA Mid-Atlantic issued a press release urging drivers to be careful on the roads. The automobile association went so far as to admit that “most Washingtonians really don’t know how to drive in the snow.”
… watch out on unplowed side streets in residential areas, and slow down when approaching ramps, culverts, bridges and elevated overpasses, which tend to freeze first and thaw last…
If you are out there, avoid passing snowplows or salt trucks unless it is absolutely safe and necessary. If you have to go, drive in cleared lanes. Changing lanes unnecessarily puts you at greater risk of hitting a patch of ice or large areas of snow between lanes that could easily cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
It is an old joke, but it rings so true. Most Washingtonians really don’t know how to drive in the snow. First of all, if you don’t have to venture out, stay put and delay your commute. If you are a federal worker, stay alert for current operating status announcements from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Secondly, if you must go, reduce your driving speed to a third of your normal pace, and keep your low beams on. Thirdly, give the car ahead of you extra space. Stay at least one car length behind it for every 10 miles per hour on your speedometer, and anticipate turns and possible stops.
Fourthly, be sure to carry a cold weather emergency kit outfitted with jumper cables, first aid kit, a few tools, a shovel, sand, kitty litter, or traction mats, a flashlight with extra batteries, emergency flares or reflectors, and a fully-charged cell phone with a car charger. Then pack some essential supplies including blankets, food, and water to comfort you–and possibly save you–if you’re delayed or stranded in a snowstorm.
A single-vehicle accident on S. Arlington Mill Drive ended with the car rolling down an embankment and ending up on its roof.
The accident happened just after 2:00 p.m. The driver of a newer-model Acura was heading down Arlington Mill Drive, near 9th Street S., when she somehow lost control of the vehicle, drove over a curb and down the steep embankment.
The car ended up on its roof, just steps from Four Mile Run and a popular pedestrian path. Amazingly, the driver was unhurt and was able to crawl out of the passenger side of the vehicle on her own power as police and a fire department rescue squad were arriving.
Police on the scene said they were unsure exactly how the accident happened. A flatbed tow truck is currently on scene, trying to figure out how to get the car up from the embankment.
No word yet on whether the driver will face any charges. The accident happened less than a block from the Arlington Mill Community Center and the site of an earlier water main break.
Residents in various parts of South Arlington have reported low or no water pressure following a significant water main break.
The water pressure problems appear to stem from a large water main break on S. Dinwiddie Street at 9th Street, near Columbia Pike and the Arlington Mill Community Center.
Via Twitter, Arlington County reports that emergency repairs are underway, but may take until midnight tonight to complete.
Residents in the Fairlington, Shirlington, Barcroft, Columbia Forest and Claremont neighborhoods all reported water pressure problems this morning.
— Christopher Anderson (@05ChrisAnderson) January 25, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom There appears to be a water main break in south Arlington. Locations in north and south Fairlington have no water right now.
— Debby Bowman (@bowmandj626) January 25, 2015
— Dennis Dimick (@ddimick) January 25, 2015
@ARLnowDOTcom water out in Claremont. Any information about this?
— Tom Przystawik (@cheftomsays) January 25, 2015
— Dharma George (@DharmaDG) January 25, 2015
(Updated at 7:05 p.m.) Arlington County firefighters are on the scene of a two-alarm in South Arlington.
The fire was reported in the basement and first floor of condominium on the 2800 block of S. Wakefield Street. As of 7:00 p.m., firefighters on the scene reported that the fire had been extinguished, although they’re still looking for hot spots.
Two people were reportedly transported to the hospital. Several paramedic units have responded to the scene
A large plume of smoke from the fire could be seen from apartments in nearby Shirlington.
The incident happened around 10:15 p.m. Police say 60-year-old John Dawson, of Clinton, Md., was turning left onto 15th Street S. from S. Eads Street when he struck a pole.
Dawson was transported to George Washington University hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The Arlington County Police Department’s critical accident team responded to the scene. Investigators are still trying to determine if Dawson’s death was caused by the crash or was the result of a medical emergency that occurred just before the crash, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
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.
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.
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…)
State Sen. Janet Howell (D), who represents the westernmost part of Arlington as well as a large chunk of Fairfax County, called the state’s budget outlook “bleak” while praising Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed budget, which closes the projected shortfall through a series of tax changes and spending cuts. However, Howell and other Democrats say the budget doesn’t go far enough in improving the state’s K-12 education system.
“Fortunately, the Governor’s budget closes the budget gap. His budget is balanced,” Howell said in a newsletter to her constituents. “What we do not have, however, is any real ability to make investments in public education, higher education, human services, or workforce development.
“Direct aid to public education has been spared additional state cuts,” she continued. “However, unless we have a sudden, unexpected upswing in our economy, we will have to jettison a proposed and deserved salary increase. For context, in terms of per pupil general funds for public education, by FY 2016 we will be just back to FY 2008 levels on a statewide basis.”
This past summer, McAuliffe announced Virginia was projected to have a $2.4 billion budget shortfall over the next two years. Much of that deficit, Howell said at a recent Arlington Democrats meeting, can be traced back to cuts from the federal budget sequestration and the layoffs at government contractors it prompted.
Additional revenue growth has since reduced the deficit, and cuts to the state prison system and elsewhere have saved millions. Del. Patrick Hope (D) says the closing of tax loopholes for some corporations — most notably coal producers — are necessary to even preserve the current level of education funding.
“There are a lot of companies in Virgina that don’t pay any taxes,” Hope told ARLnow.com yesterday. “We’ve got hundreds of millions of dollars that Virginia gives out every year to companies for job creation, and research is coming out that that’s not happening today. We need to take a hard look at what those tax credits are, and if they’re not doing what the intended purposes are, we need to pull it back.”
Hope said a state yacht tax credit should also be stripped — “I can’t look my voters in the eye if I vote for a budget” that includes that tax credit, he said — but said that the budget should become more ambitious in terms of education spending. Funding K-12 education millions of dollars less than before the recession, without accounting for inflation, isn’t enough, he said.
“There’s no reason why spending shouldn’t go in the opposite direction,” he said. “We are out of the recession now, it’s time to fill those holes back up.”
Although some form of a balanced budget is expected to pass — which may include cuts to education, according to Hope, if the Republican-controlled General Assembly balks at the loophole cuts — Howell said the realities of the budget situation don’t figure to change anytime soon, especially after the sequester’s cuts to federal defense spending.
“Growth has halted or declined in the good-paying ($77k+/year) jobs in the ‘business and professional services’ categories. Instead, we are seeing more growth in lower-paying jobs, such as health, leisure and hospitality ($45k/year on average),” Howell wrote. “Unfortunately, no one believes this situation is a temporary one.”
The real estate market came back with a vengeance this week, meaning, according to our real estate listing sponsor Team Cathell, prices may start to rise. What better time to check out some open houses?
1806 Key Blvd
1 BD / 1 BA condominium
Agent: Stephen Klintberg, McEnearney Associates
Open: Sunday, Jan. 25, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
2218 S. Randolph Street
3 BD / 2 1/2 BA condominium
Agent: Jane Wilson, Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Penfed Realty
Open: Sunday, Jan. 25, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
2330 14th Street N.
2 BD / 2 BA condominium
Agent: Jane Wilson, Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Penfed Realty
Open: Sunday, Jan. 25, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
2008 N. Brandywine Street
4 BD / 3 1/2 BA townhouse
Agent: Ronald Cathell, Keller Williams Realty
Open: Saturday, Jan. 24, 1:00-4:00 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 25, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
1625 S. Taylor Street
4 BD / 3 1/2 BA single family detached
Agent: Christopher Wilkes, Washington Fine Properties
Open: Sunday, Jan. 25, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
4108 Lee Highway
4 BD / 4 1/2 BA single family detached
Agent: John Mentis, Long & Foster Real Estate
Open: Sunday, Jan. 25, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Whole wheat bakery and cafe Spring Mill Bread Co. might be the latest local retail chain to make the Pershing Drive section of Lyon Park its new home.
Spring Mill Bread has locations on Capitol Hill and in Bethesda and Gaithersburg. It’s in discussions to move into a vacant retail space at 2209 Pershing Drive, ARLnow.com has learned.
Hat tip to Chris Slatt (@alongthepike)
The victim was testifying at the trial of an alleged trespasser when he started “gasping for air,” his friend George told ARLnow.com. George, who declined to give his last name or his friend’s name, alerted Judge Thomas J. Kelley Jr., who cleared out the courtroom and came down from the bench to render aid.
When it became apparent that the victim was having a heart attack, Kelley laid him on the floor and started performing chest compressions, George said. Sheriff’s deputies Edwin Hill and Phyllis Henderson assisted Kelley and performed mouth-to-mouth, according to Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Maj. Susie Doyel.
“It was a flash, [Kelley] was down off that bench in a hurry,” George said. “When I got to the hospital, the EMTs stabilized him and said whoever performed CPR on him probably saved his life.”
George and the heart attack victim are childhood friends and Arlington natives, and the victim’s house was allegedly broken into recently, which is why they were in court.
Between the time Kelley began administering CPR and paramedics arrived, George said the victim began breathing and regained his pulse — but then his heart stopped again, prompting the hero judge and deputies to begin CPR again.
“The judge had control of everything. He didn’t blink,” George said. Later Thursday afternoon, after ensuring his friend was in stable condition, George went back to the court house to thank Kelley. “He was telling me he had [performed CPR] years back and he was glad he still had the skill set.”
Photo courtesy Maj. Susie Doyel