Best of Spring 2015 – Washington, DC

Now that winter is over, and the trees are in bloom, I am excited for Spring and eager to share my 2015 list of The Best of Spring – Washington, DC .

Cherry Blossoms – Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists descend on the Washington, DC region to revel in the beauty of Cherry Blossom trees and the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/.  The current forecast for peak bloom, according to the National Park Service, is April 11-14. Make a plan to see them in person before they are gone!

Cherry Blossoms at the Washington Monument

Cherry Blossoms at the Washington Monument

Washington Nationals baseball – The local team made a huge winter splash by signing 2013 Cy Young Award winning pitcher (American League, 2103) Max Scherzer. With current stars Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper also leading the team, big things are expected from the Washington Nationals in 2015. We may never again openly say “World Series or Bust” but the expectations are certainly high for the Nats this year. Opening Day is April 6th. Check out the schedule and get your tickets. Play Ball!  http://atmlb.com/1FFMLHy

Nationals Opening Day 2015
Waterfront Dining – DC has an abundance of great waterfront views. Why not take advantage and enjoy it with your favorite meal or beverage. Find out more here: http://dcmetroplus.com/dining-category/incredible-waterfront-dining-in-dc/

Bicycle and running paths – Washington, DC and the surrounding neighborhoods are adorned with hundreds of miles of beautiful trails. Whether you walk, bike or run, find your favorite path and enjoy. http://bikewashington.org/trails/

National Zoo – Everyone knows that bears hibernate for winter, but come spring there is no place better to see lions, tigers, bears, and of course pandas, than at the National Zoo. Admission is free (parking extra). Metro accessible.  http://nationalzoo.si.edu/

Panda at Washington National Zoo

Great Falls and assorted hiking trails – In city adorned by brilliant man-made monuments, we often forget the wonder that Mother Nature created, with Great Falls being among the very best in the area. If you’ve never hiked the Billy Goat Trail, or have not done so in a very long time, you owe it to yourself to get out there this spring. http://www.localhikes.com/Hikes/Billy_Goat_A_8872.asp. For more hiking trails http://dc.about.com/od/hiking/a/BestHiking.htm

Annapolis, Middleburg, Skyline Drive and more – There are many places to visit within an hour or so drive of DC. Whether it’s the quaint towns of Middleburg and Annapolis or the hiking trails and spectacular views of Skyline Drive (http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/waterfalls.htm) there is so much to see and do near Washington. Baltimore and the famed Inner Harbor is only an hour away http://baltimore.org/about-baltimore/inner-harbor (* plan accordingly for weekend and rush-hour traffic).  Photo below was taken in the Virginia countryside – part of the Shenandoah Mountains.

View from a moto ride 8.31.14

Celebrate Planet Earth – Celebrate the earth, music, and life in general, with a huge Earth Day concert. Earth Day on the Mall on April 18th with a mega-sized free concert, featuring No Doubt (w/ Gwen Stefani), Fall Out Boy, Mary J. Blige, Train, Usher, etc. http://bit.ly/1FdAxXQ

This is just a small sample of the wonderful outdoor activities available in and around our Nation’s Capitol.  So get outside and enjoy the Best of Spring – Washington, DC style!

*All photos were taken by Steve from 4Staff.

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A Time for “Giving” Thanks

thanksgiving_blessings_featurePhoto courtesy of Gospel Rescue Mission

And a Time for Thanks – “Giving”

How many of you have too much stuff in your closets? Come on, raise your hands.

I know that I’m guilty! I can be a “clothes collector”, and at times, reluctant (or just lazy) to clean out my closets.  Hey, just because I have not worm that short in 2 years, does not mean that it’s not a perfectly good shirt, right?  I might wear it again….someday.

My intentions have always been in the right place.  Over the years, I have donated my clothing many times, particularly at the holiday season.  I know that I have too much clothes, and I know that someone (less fortunate than me) would be very happy to have them.  However, somewhere along the way I got lazy, and it has been a while since I “shared” my clothing.

This Sunday morning, I set my alarm early, and drove with a car stuffed full with clothes, to the Gospel Rescue Mission (Washington, DC) – a homeless shelter for men.  I should tell you the reason why I chose to the Gospel Rescue Mission. I did not select the “Mission” for any religious reason. It was for the purpose of putting my clothes to good use. They don’t plan to sell my clothes (for what I believe would be a small fraction of what they are worth), they will USE my clothes to clothe the homeless! I left the mission with a warm and fuzzy feeling,  not because I now have cleaner closets, but because I know that I did some good.

I don’t mean to sound sanctimonious, because I know that many give and give again, but just a few days before Thanksgiving, I was reminded of the true meaning of the holiday. I gave, and they were thankful…and so was I. Personally, I know that I should be “thankful” more often. I have everything I need and more than enough to give away.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

For more information on the Gospel Mission Rescue – http://www.missiondc.org 202-745-7118

Fall in Love with Autumn in Washington, DC

As Bob Dylan once sang, The Leaves They Are a Changin’.  OK, so that’s not right.  Bob D. didn’t really sing that, but fall is in the air, and the leaves really are changing.  Take advantage now, before the trees all shed their leaves for winter.  Here are just a few ideas to enjoy fall’s splendor in and around the Washington, DC area.

I’m sure nobody has forgotten about Skyline Drive, but remember to leave early.  Traffic is sure to be jam-packed this weekend.   For those of you who would rather avoid the schlep and the traffic, here are a few ideas closer to home.

Take a walk, run or bike ride in Rock Creek Park.  See the animals at the National Zoo and visit the bears and other animals before they hibernate for winter.  Check out the grounds and the National Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum (read these wonderful reviews from Trip Advisor – http://bit.ly/12ikfON).  It’s surely one of Washington’s best kept secrets.

U.S. National Arboretum

If sports is more your style, fall is the time when basketball and hockey season begin.  Both the Washington Capitals, and their star, Alex Ovechkin, and the Washington Wizards with John Wall, play at the Verizon Center in downtown, DC.  While the NFL season is half over, there is still plenty of time to go see the Washington Redskins, or venture 40 miles to the north to go see the neighboring Baltimore Ravens.

For those of you who prefer amateur sports, you won’t find a more awe-inspiring event than watching over 30,000 runners compete in the 39th running of the Marine Corps Marathon.   This year’s event is this Sunday, October 26th.  Be sure to take metro, as driving through the district and parts of Northern Virginia may prove very difficult this Sunday.

When looking to entertain the kids, what better place than the Boo at the Zoo.  Find details and tickets – http://nationalzoo.si.edu/ActivitiesAndEvents/Celebrations/Boo/.

boo-logo-square

More kid-friendly ideas include pumpkin patcheshttp://dc.about.com/od/childrensactivities/a/pumpkinpatches.htm and corn mazeshttp://dc.about.com/od/hoildaysseasonalevents/a/CornMazes.htm.

As November turns a bit colder, you might search for the indoors and great photography at DC Photo Week http://www.fotodc.org/ .  This year’s event is being held November 8th-16th.

Last but not least, no list of fall activities would be complete without mentioning Halloween.  As always, there are a cornucopia of events.  If you need a few ideas to help get you going, you can find them here – http://dc.about.com/od/fallfestivalsandevents/a/HalloweenAdults.htm.

So get out and enjoy.  Wishing you and yours a wonderful fall!

Small Business Remains Good Business!

This week is National Small Business Week. Please remember to support small businesses because small business has always been, and will always remain, Good Business.

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Every large businesses was once small. From McDonald’s and Starbucks to Microsoft and Apple. Nobody starts out as a large business, they begin as a small business, and if a variety of factors fall into place (hard work, determination, smart business planning and other factors far too numerous to mention) they have the opportunity to grow.

Small business is the backbone of America. It is every small diner and non-chain restaurant, independent clothing store and just about every convenience store not named 7-11. They are the places where you can find unique and interesting items, not just the “same old thing” that you can find in every cookie-cutter chain outlet.

I have written two previous blogs about National Small Business week, so at the risk of repeating myself, I will direct my readers there:

2012 – https://theguyfrom4staff.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/small-business-is-good-business/

2013 – https://theguyfrom4staff.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/small-business-is-still-good-business/

In 2014, small business remains good business, and your support is important as ever.  Support entrepreneurship. Support Small Business!

About our company: 4Staff, LLC is a boutique staffing company in Washington, DC. We provide both our clients and employees alike a highly dedicated level of service, defined by trust, integrity, commitment and care.

If you would like to learn about more us:
4Staff, LLC
Washington, DC 20005
Give us a call: (202)347-1044
Visit our website: http://www.4staffllc.com

The Best of Spring – Washington, DC

English: Japanese cherry trees (Sakura), a gif...

English: Japanese cherry trees (Sakura), a gift from Japan in 1965, adorn the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The Washington Monument is visible in the distance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here comes the sun! After what seems like the never-ending winter, everybody must be ultra-ready for Spring.

To quote/paraphrase George Harrison and The Beatles,

It’s been a long, cold lonely winter…
It feels like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right

Here Comes the Sun” – written by George Harrison from the Beatles‘ 1969 album Abbey Road.

Now that winter is over, and the trees are in bloom, I am excited for Spring and eager to share my updated list of The Best of Spring -Washington, DC .

  • Cherry Blossoms – The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual celebration that showcases the gift of 3,000 cherry trees that the city of Tokyo gave to our nation’s capital. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/.   This year’s peak blossom season is later than normal, due to an unusually long winter.  The current forecast for peak bloom is April 11-13 (Friday to Sunday this week), so make a plan to get out  and  see them in person before they are gone!
  • National Zoo – Everyone knows that bears hibernate and the birds fly south for winter, but come spring there is no place better to see lions, tigers, bears and more than at the National Zoo.  Best of all, you may get lucky enough to see the baby panda, Bao Bao.  http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/GiantPandas/default.cfm#BaoBao
  •  Annapolis, Middleburg, Skyline Drive and more – There are many places to visit within an hour or so drive of DC.  Whether it’s the quaint towns of Middleburg and Annapolis or the hiking trails and spectacular views of Skyline Drive, including several waterfalls http://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/waterfalls.htm, there is so much to see and do near Washington.  Even Baltimore and the famed Inner Harbor is less than an hour away http://baltimore.org/about-baltimore/inner-harbor  (* plan accordingly for weekend and rush-hour traffic)

Get out and enjoy the Spring.  After a very long winter, we all deserve it!

How I stopped being SAD – My personal cure for the winter blues (Part 2)

Well, it happened again. Yesterday, the government imposed a “snow shutdown” for the 4th day this year.  Is it any wonder that I spent part of my winter working in sunny Florida? 

If you are anywhere north of Florida, you have likely been through one of the worst winters in several years.  In my “neck of the woods”, the Washington, DC metro area, this year’s polar vortex has still created an unusually cold and snowy winter.  Due to snow, there were isolated days of government closures from November through March.  I feel cold just thinking about all that snow!  

If you read my previous blog about My Personal Cure for the Winter Blues, you may have noticed that it was entitled “Part 1″.  That portion of my grand experiment was spending two weeks in January working in Florida.  After returning to DC for two weeks in early February, I came back to Florida for Part 2 of my experiment.  The latter visit lasted an additional two and a half weeks.

The last thing I would want to do is brag about my ability to “work from home” when I made my winter home warm and sunny Ft. Lauderdale, Fl.  It seems almost cruel, and perhaps even stupid to tell this to friends, clients and co-workers who have been freezing their tushes off this winter.  My sincere apology if it seems like I am bragging.  I’m just fortunate (and thankful!). For starters, I’m single with no family ties, so it was easy for me just leave winter behind and take my work to a warmer climate.  Knowing how much I abhor winter, my business partner graciously cooperated with me and allowed me to work this plan without complaint. Thank you, Mark Roush!

I understand that most people are not in a position to emulate my plan.  However, if you have the type of job that lets you work remotely, and you crave sunshine and warmth as much as I do, I urge you to form a similar plan for next winter.  Until then, sit back and relax.  Spring is almost here!

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Ft. Lauderdale 2014 (the yacht is definitely not mine.  I am not part of the “new rich”)

At this point, I would like to thank Tim Ferris, author of the best-selling 4 Hour Work Week (The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich) for providing me with the idea and motivation to work this plan. Don’t let the book’s title fool you.  I am certainly not part of the “New Rich”. I am just a “regular Joe”, and my workday was always full day, similar to an office day back home.  However, as noted in Part 1 of my story, my ability to enjoy the warmth of South Florida (in my spare time), made this nearly 5 wonderful weeks of winter.   

*As of this writing,  I’m back in Washington, DC, working hard and patiently waiting for Spring to arrive.

Stop being SAD – My personal cure for the winter blues (Part 1)

Hello 2014. It seems that I’ve been lax with my blog for a few months, but I will try to do better this year.

My company (4Staff, LLC) is in Washington, DC. It’s a beautiful city! To me, it offers some of the best of what big cities have to offer…a good transportation system (albeit a crowded one), plenty of parks and recreation, the culture of the Kennedy Center and Smithsonian Museums, several sports teams (professional and college) and a large assortment of restaurants that ranges from dives to fine dining. It has quaint areas for shopping and some of the finest monuments in the world. Yes, I love Washington, DC and all it has to offer.

The one thing I do not love about Washington is the cold winter. I don’t mean to whine. I know it’s not as cold as Green Bay or Boston, but DC winter, for my taste, is still far too cold. Although I have never been diagnosed by a doctor, I feel that I suffer from SAD – Seasonal Affected Disorder. This year’s polar vortex is certainly not helping either, with temperatures, often in the teens and rising no higher than the mid twenties. And, don’t get me started on the wind chill!

This year, I proclaimed to have a warmer and happier winter, so I hatched a grand experiment. My plan was to work remotely and trade-in my Mid-Atlantic winter in exchange for palm trees and delightful tropical weather. I’ve been working as an adult for over a quarter century and, aside for a few days here and there, I have rarely ever worked from home. Understandably, cell phones and laptops have made working remotely very possible, so I decided to give life to my dream of “no more winter”. Staying a few weeks with a very generous relative in Ft. Lauderdale, I knew that all I needed were a desk and a bed (I provided the laptop and cell phone). The end result is being in South Florida in January has made me as happy as a kid on Christmas Day. I’m able to start every day fresh and eager, instead of frozen-numb and worn out. For me, personally, I have eliminated all signs of “SADness”. And, because I’m working every day rather than goofing off and going to the beach, I can qualify my experiment as a definite success.

To be continued…