Archive for the ‘Business and Money’ Category

GW Students Embarks On Charitable Enterprise With Furniture For Good

LogoIt started with a need.

When one of my roommates moved out of my place I was left with a dining room table but no chairs. As much fun as it is to eat dinner on your lap on a couch I had to find some chairs, so I did what anybody would do: I hit up Craigslist.

Surfing the listings I found a few possible chairs, some used Ikea furniture in Columbia Heights, some chairs in Vienna. I then stumbled upon an interesting listing for a set of chairs at a great price. As I read the ad I noticed that it wasn’t being sold by a person but by a company called Furniture For Good. The ad referred me to the website for more info and I followed the link where I read more about the DC based LLC.

Furniture For Good’s mission is to sell used furniture items and portion of the proceeds goes towards feeding the homeless at Martha’s Table. That fact alone instantly sold me on that listing compared to the others I found, so I e-mailed FFG and arranged to pick-up the chairs a few days later. If I was patient enough to wait a bit longer I could of had the chairs delivered (FFG will deliver items bought to most places within the DC metro area.)

The chairs were located at a garage behind Martha’s Table where the rest of FFG’s inventory was held. There I met Andrew Thal, a GW junior who founded of Furniture For Good. As we figured out how to squeeze the chairs into my Toyota Corolla, he told me the story of how he created FFG.

After volunteering at Martha’s Table he discovered that the organization receives a lot of  donated furniture that they couldn’t use- so he came up with a business plan to help sell the furniture. In a GW Hatchet article Thal explains the specifics, “what happens is that the food shelters sell the furniture to me on consignment, which I then sell to the consumers.”

In the end that means a great deal for me and for those less fortunate.

So if you are in need of furniture now or into the New Year, I have to recommend to check out Furniture For Good first- not only is it a great deal on used furniture, you can feel good in knowing your purchase is also helping others in need.

Daily DC Item: Do We Really Need A Botox Bailout?

"Botox is so sexy" courtesy of Flickr user ekai

"Botox is so sexy" courtesy of Flickr user ekai

Are you too ugly to get a job during these tough economic times?

I can’t tell you how frustrated I get when I see all my beautiful friends get job offer after job offer based on that pretty face- I suppose sometimes your face can say way more than a resume can.

For those that actually agree with my sarcastic comments will be in luck, you can get that much needed work done so you can combat those ” ‘one week’s notice’ worry lines, ‘furlough’ furrows and ‘cut back’ crow’s feet.”

Starting this Friday (10 AM – 5PM) the first 50 people to show up at Reveal at Pentagon Row can get a free Botox injection in exchange for a resume in what Reveal calls The Botox Bailout. You also need to provide proof of recent unemployment (a termination letter and/or unemployment check stub.)

Now look kiddies, I know it’s a tough out there and some of us are looking for jobs, losing our jobs, or just afraid for our jobs; but do we really feel like Botox is going to make us feel better or give us that edge? I really hope not, I like to believe that getting a job is about who you know, what you know, and what you’ve done.

I do give Reveal props for having recruiters on site for networking, and I suppose it is just a catchy marketing stunt; but I’m not a fan of the exploitation of our insecurities.

Plus Botox makes you look 10% more like Joan Rivers… but then again she’s managed to stay employed at her age so maybe that’s not that bad.

(thanks to my favorite Politico blogger, Anne Schroeder Mullins, for the news)

Daily DC Item: Paris Heading To DC?

"Hilton Embassy Row" courtesy Flickr user adriaan bloem

"Hilton Embassy Row" courtesy Flickr user adriaan bloem

Not that I was wondering who was going to fill the void left by AOL, it now appears that another huge corporation will moving their headquarters to Northern Virginia.

Hilton Hotels signed a 10-year lease with a Tyson’s Corner office building and will be moving their headquarters across the country from Beverly Hills to Virginia.

After hearing about the move I started to think, “does that mean Paris might come by to visit the family business?”

After some extensive Wikipedia-ing I found out that Paris’ grandfather Barron is the co-chairman of the Hilton chain. Her father Richard dabbles in real estate instead. It also appears that Barron’s grandchildren won’t get a whole lot of the estate when he dies- he’s already designated most of his estate to charity.

You never know though- she might enjoy shopping in Friendship Heights.

Daily DC Item: Stimulus Package Has Jumped The Shark

dsc01972Not many Presidential catch phrases become part of the mainstream. President Clinton has his “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” debacle; President Bush has his “Mission Accomplished” banner which is now enshrined for all eternity in Wikipedia; and President Obama will forever be known for “Yes We Can.”

But how about now? In the face of economic chaos will we forever remember the words “stimulus package?” Is this going to be on of those vocab words high school students will have to remember years from now?

The moment I realized that those words were going to become a part of pop culture for the next year (maybe more) is when I received a free gift certificate in the mail for the local Champps restaurant. See where they cleverly referred to the current economic times in their copy?

So many places are having sales and bargains and just dropping the phrase, or perhaps playing with it to seem hip and cool. Last week the Orioles unveiled their Birdland Stimulus Package, a promotion to help raise declining attendance numbers.

I know there are so many more retailers and businesses using the stimulus package phrase, however they have glossed over me right now as most advertising does. Anyone else know who else is playing the stimulus package card?

Is There No Such Thing As Recession Romance?

"Love or Money" courtesy of Flickr user aymanshamma

"Love or Money" courtesy of Flickr user aymanshamma

I guess I’m lucky I’ve always been a poor bastard.

A quick post over at What’s Up Arlington, brought my attention to the front page story in this past Wednesday’s Washington Post. The headline read, “Market for Romance Goes From Bullish to Sheepish Are Guys With Less to Spend Less of a Catch?” After reading the piece I was angry. I had to read it again to see what was it that spurred the unusual reaction I get from reading The Post. The article caught enough attention for posts on cheap dating over at The Going Out Gurus and The Washingtonian.

It wasn’t the early comment from Neil Walsh who said, “”I was so used to using my financial situation to leverage my dating.” It figures that rich boys really don’t know how to romance a girl past buying her $15 martinis.

I think it was the story of Niko Papademetriou, who now has to take the Chinatown bus every weekend to see his girlfriend in NYC. He used to take flights every weekend, “…there is a lot of fear on [Niko’s girlfriend’s] part, knowing that my industry and the one that we had kind of mentally projected ourselves and our way of life on could be over, or at least on pause for a while.”

I think what I’m feeling is the lack of sympathy for the LTR. As an average joe in DC, I know plenty of friends that take the Chinatown bus. I never knew anyone that could afford to take weekly flights to NYC to see a girl.

And it’s not just the guys that are feeling it- their trophy wives are too. My friend Wendi sent me a New York Times article about a support group called Dating A Banker Anonymous. While it must be hard for women to see their men distraught over the economy, I have to laugh at anyone who has to complain that the economy has forced them to give up caviar and champagne.

The big point I want to make is that romance and love should be about a person, not the glitz and glamour. Sure a man should be confident and money and status helps with that- but a real man doesn’t need any of that to pull it off. Also marriages and relationships are going to be tested, sometimes by forces beyond our control. To me it’s those moments that tests the mettle of the true relationship.

Am I crazy or isn’t love more than money?

G20 Summit Brings Two Things To DC: Protesters and Chaos

Bush Addresses G20 as Protesters Assemble Outside

Bush Addresses G20 as Protesters Assemble Outside

 Throughout DC, hundreds of protesters gather in front of the meeting places of the G20 Summit. Authorities have advised tourists as well as DC residents to steer clear of the National Building Museum, where the emergency summit is being held and six blocks have been shut down.

DC Authorities have a lot on their hands as this summit takes place. Delegations from 20 nations, the European Union, the United Nations, the World Bank, and of course the President all require security personnel and motorcades. This is to be provided by the Secret Service and State Department’s Diplomatic Security Bureau. Set aside six blocks being shut down near the Verizon Center, including the Metro at Judiciary Square, sporadically throughout the day and into the evening District residents should expect sirens, traffic jams, groups of protesters, and 16,000 “Highway to Hell” fans figuring out how to get to see AC/DC. Oh, the irony of so many people jamming out to such a tune in light of the subject of discussion for the G20. Just in case anyone was wondering, AC/DC is sold out.

The chaos doesn’t end with the task presented to DC Authorities. Hundreds assemble in front of the various meeting places of the Summit to let their voices be heard on several issues. A large contingent of Tibetan Independence supporters (200) and a smaller group from the spiritual movement Falun Gong are protesting China outside the financial meetings. A couple ANSWER coalition protesters were spotted as well. At Murrow Park and Thomas circle, anti-capitalism picketers have placed signs and marched with phrases like “Bury Capitalism” and “People Over Profit.” I wonder if these people know that the G20 represents 80% of world trade and without capitalism, any progress in the financial crisis would be impossible.

All this chaos is nothing out of the ordinary, but be warned: DC authorities haven’t had to deal with such a large scale task since the 1999 50th Anniversary of NATO.

Local coffeehouses winning the java wars

Despite the sluggish economy (and the recently-announced store closings from Starbucks), I opened my Post today to discover that local coffee shops don’t seem to be affected by whatever’s ailing the corporate behemoth. Post reporter Michael Rosenwald even writes that Arlington’s Java Shack seems to be flourishing:

In fact, [Java Shack owner Dale Roberts] is more than fine. His first-quarter sales were up 23 percent. The second quarter: up 12.5 percent. His foot traffic is up. His business is energized. Not only has Roberts survived an onslaught of Starbucks shops — there are several within a couple of miles — now he feels he is doing to them what everyone thought they would do to him: beating ’em.

I haven’t been by that particular store, but the smaller java suppliers I’ve tried seem to be doing a superb job at feeding the DC area’s coffee addiction. My new roommate is a fervent devotee of Murky Coffee‘s Clarendon location, and I loved patronizing their DC store until it closed down. I’ve been known to conduct college interviews at Misha’s in Alexandria and I can’t wait for Peregrine Espresso to open at Murky’s old DC location.

600 Starbucks stores closing down or not, there are still three outposts within a couple of blocks of my office in DC. I can’t imagine it’s a losing proposition to supply our fair city’s caffeine addicts (thousands of lawyers, lobbyists, government workers and staffers can’t go without!) Any favorite local coffee shops you, our readers, would recommend?

Thanks loads, Warner

Photo courtesy of clownfishWhen you’re next gassing up your car for over $4, my fellow Virginians, you can take a moment to say a silent prayer of gratitude* to Senator John Warner, who earlier today rejected a bill that would have continued tax credits for investment in non-oil energy sources like wind, solar, biomass and even some alternative methods for using coal. Presumably this was because the House version of the bill endeavored to pay for this by “closing a tax loophole that allows individuals that work for certain offshore corporations, such as hedge fund managers, to defer tax on their compensation.” But hey, why should people who earn 30M a year pay taxes like the rest of us?

Maryland’s Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski supported the bill, as did Jim Webb.

Solar Panels All Done!, courtesy of clownfish

Update: * unfortunately the sarcasm-drip doesn’t come through well in print, but that’s “gratitude” as in “oh THANK YOU Senator Warner, I LOVE paying as much for energy as I possibly can,” in case you were unclear.

Washington and Lee University seeks better statistics professor

lotteryWell, okay, that would be the story in a just universe. Instead it’s about Scott Hoover, a Washington and Lee professor who filed his intention to sue the State of Virginia over their policies and procedures in handling scratch-off lottery tickets. Here’s the money quote from the Washington Post article:

Hoover, who teaches business courses, including statistics, alleges that he had no chance of winning the grand prize with his ticket.

The reason it’s the money quote is because what Hoover means isn’t what all of us who have taken statistics know about the lottery: that you have effectively no chance of winning. No, he’s torqued that the State supposedly didn’t effectively recall scratch-off tickets once the big prizes had been won. Apparently Virginia has a stated policy of recalling the scratch-offs once all the grand prizes have been awarded, which Hoover says they did not do.

In a just universe W&L would can him for failing to understand his own lessons and the jury would award him the 26.5 million he’s asking… if he successfully rolls 1,000,000 dice and gets a 6 on every one.

Picture courtesy of Jeffrey Beall

Free energy audits for DC residents

Photo courtesy of mbgrigbyThe DC Department of the Environment has a Home Energy Rating System program they call HERS. In a nutshell, they come out to your home and give it the once-over to see where you might be expending more energy than you need to and provide some advice on how you might reduce your output.

Putting aside the fact that we as a region apparently use less environmentally friendly fuels than our friends on the other coast,  DC residents pay 35% more for their power than the national average. Whether that’s bad regulation or the fact that we use less renewable sources doesn’t make much difference when the time comes to write the check.

The DCDOE website makes noises about getting a rating number for when you’re trying to sell your house, and I suppose it couldn’t hurt, but I think the real value is in your own bills. The tv and radio commercials they run for the HERS program indicate you should call (202) 673-6750 to make an appointment, but the website also says you can email Willie Vazquez at

Thanks to Greg over at The Daily Compost for finding this one

The image is Energy, courtesy of mbgrigby

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