Day: February 1, 2014

Notes from the Publisher

Publisher Notes February 2014

Brrr… I grew up in this area and I have never seen it so cold for so long.  I can remember back in the 1960’s that people would go ice skating on the Potomac River, but I haven’t seen that for years, and not even now. I am always amazed at the month of February.  It is the shortest month of the year, but seems like the longest.  This is when we start wishing for winter to be over, but the spring equinox is not until March 20th this year, so may as well hunker down for two more months. After curling up by your fire and reading this months’ Old Town Crier, take a trip to the Virginia wine country and curl up by a fire with a great wine like our Road Trip column suggests.  Avoid the summer crowds…go now.  Meet Anne Mahlum in our Personality Profile…a runner with a vision.  She thinks it, says it, and then does it! Read about our friend Glenn Morel in this month’s Business Profile as he launches his new business AVID Productions.  He is proof that when a door closes, a window opens.  With the recent hacking of credit card numbers at Target and others, read about how to protect yourself in Financial Focus. History columnist, Sarah Becker, writes about the importance of Black History Month. Learn how the Confederates were the first Kamikazes during the Civil War in Civil Discourse. If the cold really has you down, read about the sailing vessel Pepper in the Caribbean Connection or better yet, book a week at one of the villas in St. John and St. Thomas or Anne Street Gardens in Key West.  Local folks own all of these places. Even though it is cold, Alexandria’s summer playground, Calvert County, is presenting…

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Business Profile

AVID Productions: Life in the Hot Seat

Avid [av·id] is defined as showing great enthusiasm and interest.  If ever was there was a company name that defined its owner, it is AVID Productions.  As the feature of this month’s business profile, I was fortunate enough to meet with Glenn Morel, owner and the man in the hot seat.  If Glenn offers as much personality and engagement to his organization as he did to our interview, I am confident AVID Productions is here to stay.  During our time together, I received a faux award in the middle of a coffee shop for being the last person standing having not yet joined Facebook, but most importantly I got to hear about his road less traveled, albeit the one that led to his success. With 20 years of experience in event and television production under his belt, I was eager to hear about how Glenn started off and how he found himself in the Alexandria area.  As an extrovert and lover of show business, he began his career as an actor struggling for work in New York City. (I received explicit instructions not to spend too much time on this part of the road less traveled, so moving on…)  After some time in Manhattan, he recognized that the people making things happen were those behind the scenes and that was where he belonged. Glenn knew a couple of things for sure. First, he knew that he wanted to be in the Washington, D.C. area and running or working for a successful business. Second, Glenn knew he didn’t want to be in L.A. regardless of the envious climate during Virginia’s winter months.  Glenn knew opportunity when he saw it, and as he more eloquently stated, if D.C. is seen as the business capital of the east coast, Old Town is the…

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Social Media Message

3 Email Marketing Tips to Keep Your Emails Out of Spam!

When it comes to email marketing campaigns, there is nothing worse than sending out a thoughtfully crafted email, only to discover that it was promptly deleted or put in the spam file. To help keep your emails in the inbox and your business in front of your customers’ eyes, there are several strategies that you can employ. Simple Layout – Last month I discussed the importance of creating a simple, and easy to follow, website. This same principle is true for email marketing campaigns. Studies show that a simple layout has a direct correlation to increased visibility. However, simple doesn’t have to mean boring. So, keep those images, graphics, and fun text options; just make sure that you can grasp the email’s main message in 30 seconds or less. Catchy Subject Line – At one point or another, we have all been on Whether it is looking for an apartment, applying to a job, or posting a listing, we all try to make sure that our ad is viewed first by creating catchy titles. When it comes to email marketing, the subject line is a place to grab the reader’s attention through one keyword or phrase. Short, to the point, and enticing are the three crucial ingredients. And, if you need a little inspiration, simply checkout Craigslist aka “the Mecca of clickable titles.” Mobile Compatibility – Thanks to the popular Indie artist, Lorde, the phrase, “You can call me Queen Bee” has once more resurfaced and is the perfect description for everything mobile. Mobile is the Queen Bee. Email marketing campaigns must be targeted for smartphone compatibility. If it isn’t easy to load, read, and respond from a mobile device, then your email will be immediately discarded. No matter the type of email marketing strategy that is used, it…

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Pets of the Month, Pets, Places, & Things

Season of Love for Pet Adoption!

Nicky: 2 year old black and tan German Shepard mix Nicky is a bashful girl just waiting for a forever home where she can open up and be the loving dog that she is meant to be. A quirk that you might not be able to see in her picture is that one of her ears stands straight while the other one flops over! When she is truly interested and focused in on something, her little tan “eyebrows” raise up and that one ear will perk up while the other stays flopped! It’s truly an adorable sight to see. Nicky gets along with both cats and dogs and has had many a doggie play date during her stay at the AWLA. Nicky has won over the hearts of the staff at the AWLA, and if she’s given the chance…Nicky will surely steal right into your heart as well. Farley: 5 year old Brown Tabby I’m Farley! Nice to meet ya! I’m a big boy with a big heart looking for my forever home. I would just love to have my very own spot by a window, nice warm sun shining in…that would be sooo wonderful! I also love to play! Do you think you could give me a few fuzzy mice, maybe a laser toy and a wand toy to play with? I bet you’d love to watch me play! I love to jump around and show off my acrobatic skills! Oh and don’t forget to have a scratch post for me to stretch my toes out on. So come on by the shelter if you are looking for a best bud to spend your days with!

Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

A Tangled Web

Fishing line creates bird’s nests in reels. Line left in the water latches onto underwater objects including dock pilings, submerged trees and even sub aquatic vegetation, laying a trap for birds, boats and other water inhabitants. Under and above the water, line can last up to 600 years. As more anglers cut their losses, fishing spots are clogging with spider webs of line snagging more lines. Good fishing spots become death traps for above and below water residents and fishing lures. Using plug knockers will save lures and cut down on line left behind. It’s what you can’t see that hurts as most fishing lines are extremely difficult to spot. Engines suck fishing line into water intakes and line wraps around outdrives, gutting seals and causing hundreds and even thousands of dollars damage while crippling boats out on the water. Trolling motors aren’t exempt as seal damage can happen in seconds. Discarded lines present serious environmental issues. When thrown into garbage bins, line can end up in the environment, either by blowing out of the bin or landfill or scattered by birds or animals. No matter the angler intent, most line disposal spreads the problem around. Often thin and clear, it’s very difficult for fish, crustaceans, birds, animals, swimmers and scuba divers to see. Unsuspecting victims become entangled, and may become injured, drown, get strangled or starve to death. Turtles and even whales can become ensnared in tangled webs. Used line creates a problem from the water to the landfill and in between. BoatUS stepped up to allow anglers a collective alternative to random disposal. Most marinas and boat ramps display familiar PVC line recycling bins. BoatUS volunteer assembly lines transformed cut and glued drainpipe with stickers and signs into recycle bins. The three foot-long PVC cylindrical bins were shipped…

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In the Second World War, as American naval power closed in on the Japanese home islands, the Japanese deployed Kamikaze aircraft to strike our ships.  Less famous was the Kaiten-class submarine – basically a manned torpedo tasked to steer itself into an American ship and self-detonate a 3400 pound warhead.  More than a hundred Kaitens were launched on suicide runs, but sank only two of our ships, the USS Underhill and Mississinewa. Eighty years earlier, Confederate commerce is strangled by the United States navy prosecuting Winfield Scott’s “Anaconda Plan.”  The blockade begins in May of 1861 – by early 1864, most of the major Southern port cities are either occupied or shut off by blockaders.  Charleston still holds out and, after Wilmington, is the busiest destination for the blockade runners which are the South’s lifeline to the outside world. Desperate Confederates adopt Kamikaze-like strategies to break the Charleston blockade.  The first of these is the CSS David – as in David versus Goliath – a slim, fast steam launch designed to torpedo much larger vessels.  Not quite a submarine, she is a semi-submersible 50 feet long, six feet wide,  a draft of five feet, with a crew of four.  The David employs a 65-pound powder charge on the end of a wooden spar to hurt her opponent, praying that darkness, speed and a low profile will keep her from being detected and blown out of the water –  and that she will not be “hoist with her own petard” when her torpedo goes off. On the night of October 5, 1863, David attacks the most powerful ship in the U.S. navy, the sea-going ironclad USS New Ironsides. The stealthy little steamer closes within fifty yards of her target before she is detected.  The ironclad’s crew opens up with small arms;…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

From The Trainer – February 2014

How are your fitness resolutions working out? It’s common by the second month that your well-intentioned lifestyle changes might be disintegrating earlier than anticipated. Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself less than enthusiastic. As I have mentioned in previous articles, find a reason to stay motivated. Make it personal. Something like, “I want to lose weight because…….” Instead of “I need to lose weight.” Applying true meaning to your fitness goals will make exercise a little easier to tolerate. Keep the momentum going into February because this month will cruise by. This month’s exercise is called the Kettlebell Wall-Sit. It’s an isometric exercise, meaning there is no movement even though your muscles are working. A typical wall-sit is designed to target the quadriceps femoris muscle group (front of the thigh). The goal is to “sit” in an imaginary chair against the wall for a predetermined amount of time. To reap the full benefits of this exercise, you must establish a 90 degree knee angle. Anything less does not challenge the quads appropriately. Another mistake is to grab the thighs and push off using your arms. This maneuver, along with leaning forward to “rest” your forearms on top of the thighs is considered cheating. The reason for using the kettlebell (or dumbbell) is to eliminate these cheat moves. First, your hands are occupied holding the kettlebell. Second, holding it with straight arms directly overhead prevents leaning forward. Your shoulder blades should always stay in contact with the wall. Third, it adds more resistance than just your body weight. Keep your feet hip-width apart and avoid lifting the heels. You don’t want your toes crammed into the front of the shoes. Push through the heels to maintain your position and evade slippage on the floor. Try to hold the wall-sit for…

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History, History Column

Charles Houston & Brown

Negro attorney Charles Hamilton Houston’s colleagues, despite his death in 1950 at age 54, recognize him as the legal genius most responsible for racial integration.  His strategy was carefully created, “a protracted legal struggle based on the planned, deliberate prosecution of test cases.”  Houston’s legal team included former Howard University law students, black NAACP lawyers like Maryland’s Thurgood Marshall and Virginia’s Spotswood Robinson III. Injustice is defined as a lack of fairness.  Charlie Houston—described by his protégé Thurgood Marshall as the Moses of the Jim Crow journey—relied on Plessy v. Ferguson’s 1896 separate but equal doctrine to prove Alexandria’s Parker-Gray High School’s Wythe Street facility unequal.  By implementing the Plessy rule, by confirming the high costs associated with the construction and maintenance of separate but equal school facilities, Houston hoped the states would “kill Jim Crow.” Houston was born September 3, 1895, a child of the Jim Crow era.   He was the educated son of Washington, D.C. lawyer William L. and Mary E. Houston; the grandson of escaped slave and Underground Railroad conductor Thomas Jefferson Houston.  It was T.J. who taught Charlie the meaning of moral conviction. With the abolition of slavery, southern states became increasingly uncomfortable with the freedman’s status.  Several state legislatures passed restrictive laws, Black Codes in an effort to ensure white supremacy.  In 1866 the federal government tried to remedy civil wrongs with passage of the Fourteenth Amendment.  The Amendment, as ratified in 1868, overruled Dred Scott v. Sanford of 1857. The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:  “….No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive…without due process of law; nor deny…equal protection of the laws.” After Reconstruction, America passed the Civil Rights Act of 1875.  Short-lived, the US Supreme Court…

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Lake Anna Winery – Two Generations of Virginia Winemaking

In what may be an indicator of vitality of the Virginia wine industry, Lake Anna Winery is one of a growing number of second generation farm winery operations.  In Lake Anna’s case the second generation has been in charge for over a decade.  Such long term ownership provides a fuller understanding of not only the vineyards and weather patterns but also a richer business perspective. The story of Lake Anna Winery began on a business trip to FranceFrance in the Spring of 1981. While traveling through the French countryside, Bill Heidig noticed that the climate and soil conditions of certain grape-growing regions were similar to those on his Spotsylvania farm, and an idea began to take root. In 1983, two years after Bill’s initial interest, the Heidigs planted more than 2,000 Seyval Blanc and 250 Cabernet Sauvignon vines. Three weeks later, on an extremely hot weekend, they planted 1,000 Chardonnay vines. The Heidigs learned first-hand how much care grape vines require. Each vine has to be trained to grow straight up a stake. As only a single shoot can be allowed to grow, laterals must be pruned constantly, and the vine’s initial fruit clusters have to be removed as they form. When the vines finally reached the first wire of the trellis, the Heidigs celebrated trading the painstaking work low to the ground for painstaking work they could do standing up. The first commercial sale came after the 1984 harvest when the Heidigs sold one-half ton of Seyval Blanc grapes to a Virginia winery. With the vines’ cooperation the yields rose steadily while Bill and Ann continued to expand the vineyard. In 1984 and 1985, they planted additional Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, and in 1988, after the memories of planting and nurturing had faded, they planted 1,000 Merlot vines. By…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Breaking Bad

Pink hearts, dark chocolate, red lace, and black thongs might not be in the cards this year since Mr. Right quickly put himself in the ‘Mr. Oh Hell No’ category after he passed out at your best friend’s New Year’s Eve soiree just after he threw up on your Jimmy Choos. Sure – it wasn’t the ideal way to ring in the New Year, and maybe it wouldn’t have seemed so bad had you not politely been relieved of your full-time status just prior to the end of your Visa billing cycle – remember those holiday purchases (see Jimmy Choo above).  What did your boss call it? A “Reduction in Force?” That sounds so much more civil than lay off. Now with St. Valentine breathing down your neck, you find yourself sprinting past Whole Foods where you and Mr. Right used to spend Sunday mornings perusing the aisles for gluten free snacks to eat on game day straight over to CVS to pick up your sinus meds and some Campbell’s chicken noodle soup.  Sniffling your way past the heart-filled throne of cards and stuffed pink bears, you wonder how life went from good to bad so quickly. Maybe instead of ‘accidently’ pushing a talking ‘Be Mine’ plush pet off the rack and using your heel to crush it’s adorable pink smiling cheeks into the linoleum, you could break the cycle of bad. Plop Mr. Teddy into your cart along with some Godiva and treat yourself to some much deserved love. It’s been my experience that life comes in waves – an ever moving, ever flowing cycle of ups and downs. It just so happened that most of my downward crashes happened in the December to February timeframe (in my opinion, the most brutal). When the rest of the world seemed…

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