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Thanks for joining us! We write about sports, food, life and anything else interesting here in Ashburn and Loudoun County, all while cramming as many features into the site as possible.

Our staff consists of one old man and a dog named Maggie The WonderBeagle. Want to know more? Click on the icon below:

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Another Old Geezer Tale Of Back In The Day....

Since we all have a lot of spare time on our hands, I find myself thinking a lot. Like of all my 64 years, what was the best year of my life.

I’m not talking about the year that had the best events happen in your life. I mean, the year I got married was a great one. The year my daughter was born is another. Last year around November when the Nats won the World Series AND an adorable beagle/hound mix came home with me one Saturday was pretty sweet.

But best year? Probably 1974.

I started that year as a high school senior. I finished the year after one quarter as a freshman at Virginia Tech.

What made it so great? Well, those last months of being a senior in high school were very cool. Long-lasting friendships were made. We walked around the halls of Lake Taylor High School like we owned the place. There was the prom. Graduation. A summer like no other as we prepared ourselves to finally be free of the shackles our parents had placed on us. It was going to be great.

Once there, I would say those first couple of months shaped who I became as an adult. Curfews? We didn’t have any stinkin’ curfews. If we wanted to stay out until 5 AM, so be it. We were free.

But a funny thing happened on the way to all this freedom. One Saturday night, after several Fridays and Saturdays where it seemed we were staying out until 4 AM just for the sake of staying out until 4 AM, I decided I wanted to go to bed at midnight. I was scoffed at as being a lightweight, but I soon learned freedom involved the freedom to do what I wanted to do. And, I decided, I like to sleep.

As any college student encounters, there was no longer a parent waiting at the door when you came in 30 seconds before curfew to ask “have you been drinking?” So we drank. A lot. As the musical group Big & Rich once sang, we “drank enough to drown.” But after a couple of weeks of this, I tired of waking up with a bad headache due to a few calls to Ralph on the big white porcelain phone in the middle of the night.

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Time Flies When You're Having Fun...

According to the good people of Twitter, I have now been back posting on Twitter for 28 days. Which is kind of interesting, because I was gone for three weeks and swore I was never coming back.

It’s probably because I noticed something during those three weeks. And I encourage everyone who reads this that posts on social media to notice the same.

It wasn’t that I missed it. I just changed my routine so during the day I was reading something different – about a dozen books to be exact – and that sufficed.

But to be honest, my biggest concern during the shutdown hasn’t been COVID-19 or the economy. It is the mental health of a lot of people. I’m a pretty positive person, but during these months there have been days even I have felt like “what’s the point of getting out of bed?” I’m usually snapped out of that mood by a big brown and white dog poking its nose in my face, or my wife saying something snarky that makes me smile.

That’s all it takes. Which makes me lucky to have those two influencing my life.

But others aren’t so lucky. It starts with waking up with a case of the blues, and then turns into a vicious cycle that jumps to “am I going to lose my job?”, “how are we going to pay the bills?” and on and on. Some of my friends who are single/divorced and live alone have told me of days they never get out of bed because they’ve just become depressed wondering “am I going to be alone for the rest of my life?” in addition to everything else going on in the world.

I’m probably overly sensitive to this because twice in my life, people who were friends of mine took their own life. One was a good friend I had worked with for years; the second one involved someone who I was extremely close to. We had spent all day at a Nationals game only a few days before, and I had no clue anything was wrong.

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Recent comment in this post
Johnny Hurst

Good

I enjoy the Maggie pics of course but I like the cooking ideas too.
Sunday, 19 July 2020 12:06

It's Time To Stop Looking The Other Way...

I retired from serious, full-time work about 2 years ago. Because I morphed into being a consultant in the autumn of my career, I now take on projects as they become available, but the days of taking on 4 clients at the same time and working 80 hours a week are over for good.

Most people, when they transition to a slower pace, struggle with finding something to do. In my case, I was blessed that “something” came looking for me. And it opened my eyes to something we’re all talking about right now.

The “something” is helping younger people trying to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives. When you are a consultant, you work with a group of people at a company for a short period of time, then move on to the next assignment. During that short period of time, you work with a lot of people, make friends, and at times become someone worthy of trust to people you may never see again.

One day, a few weeks after I had completed working with one company, I got an email from one of the people I had met. She was a 30-something single mother, and she was fed up with her working environment. She asked if I could help her find another job, and I guess she was expecting me to say I’d call around. But instead, I did what I have done with others: asked her to print out her current resume, and we met at a nearby coffee shop so I could read her reactions to my suggestions.

It is very common in my experience that young people are very good at documenting what they have done, but overlook positive skills regarding what they are capable of doing. So after reviewing her resume, I started telling her some things I had witnessed her doing at her current job that were very positive and would be a real asset to any company.

She started to cry.

It turned out she had worked for 10 years for a boss who was very good at telling her what she was doing wrong. She had rarely, if ever, been told what she did well. Hearing such positive things kind of momentarily overwhelmed her.

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Celebrating On The 4th Of July...

I realize these are strange and unusual times, where some people are actually urging others NOT to celebrate today’s 4th of July Independence Day.

But don’t waste your breath trying to convince anyone at my house.

We celebrate it big. Every year. I’ve got two refrigerators and two freezers and I’ve been filling them up with stuff all week. I’ve got seafood. I’ve got hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken. I’ve got enough potato salad to build a small fort. I’ve got pies, cakes and enough other things to put you in a sugar coma.

I’ve also got the memories of a father serving on a destroyer in the Pacific in World War II, as well as a father-in-law being told “GO!” as his troop carrier came to a stop in the shallow waters in front of Normandy Beach on Dec. 6, 1944.

For many, many months, those two – as well as hundreds of thousands like them – did not spend their time doing Google searches and performing linguistical gymnastics in search of a phrase or statement that could be judged and condemned by today’s modern woke standards.

Instead, they picked up a gun, manned a post, and fought for our freedom, spending many a night wondering if they would be alive the next morning to face another day.

They weren’t scholars, societal experts, or even college graduates. They were scared high school kids called to serve, and they did so without reservation. They watched friends and fellow soldiers give the ultimate sacrifice, while they spent the rest of their lives doing the same bit by bit as they tried to forget all the awful things they saw. I asked them both in their final years to talk to me about what happened back then, and they still wouldn’t. It both changed - and haunted - them forever.

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Nobody Asked Me, But Here's What I'd Do For A New Name

Now that it seems that the name of the Washington professional football team is next on the list of statues to be toppled, I suppose it’s time to start seriously considering what the next name could or should be.

Social media has certainly contributed its share of gag names (for the record I have even suggested they adopt Maggie and call themselves the “Washington WonderBeagles”) but once all that has passed, it will be time to consider a name and logo that can please both longtime and new fans alike.

If they follow two guidelines, I think they can do both.

The first is to pick a name that starts with the letter “R”. By doing so you can change the logo on the helmet to the single "R" Vince Lombardi brought in and remove the feathers. The team still wears burgundy and gold, and the logo is a familiar one that was used for years and has been bought back several times for throwback games. Long time fans would get to see something on the field that doesn't look like a new expansion team.

I even have several hats I’ve acquired over the years with a script “R” in the middle (Joe Gibbs wore ones like these all the time), and they would still work.

The other is also very simple. Pick a name that not only starts with “R” but make sure it is two syllables. This allows you to keep the fight song if you so choose. Just sub out Redskins with any two syllable name that starts with an R and it still works. Long-time fans then have a comfort level of seeing the same colors, a familiar logo, and the same old “Fight for Old DC” they’ve been singing since their teenage years.

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When I Say It Sometimes Seems Like A Zoo Around Here....

I suppose if there is an upside to all this quarantine nonsense, it’s that it has allowed me to spend a lot more time outside in the backyard.

Which has revealed to me that I must live in some kind of nature sanctuary.

I suppose it’s always been this way, but I’m not an outside person. I can’t stand heat, so once the temps start becoming 90 on a regular basis, I hunker down inside with the AC blasting. I have an old friend who I play golf with weekly and he knows once the forecast has highs in the high 80s with humidity, he won’t see me again until September.

This summer has been different. For one, I now have Maggie the WonderBeagle, who would stay outside all day if I let her. As she is still a pup, we started with the idea she’d always be supervised in the backyard and as time went on, maybe she could have more time without Dad standing with his arms crossed watching.

But then Einstein decided to go running with a big stick in her mouth and disaster almost struck. She had it by the very end of the stick, the end broke off in her mouth, and since she was running with it, she breathed in and got the stick end stuck in her wind pipe. She immediately threw herself on the ground coughing and choking, and fortunately I was only seconds away.

I stuck my hand deep in her mouth, got my fingers on the end of the stick and was able to pull it out. Maggie of course then stares at me like “what’s the big deal?” but that little incident all but assured she’ll NEVER be outside without supervision in our fenced in backyard.

Because our back yard is a very wide pie shape, Maggie can run from one corner to the other and get a very good workout. So I started setting up a chair, an outdoor table and bringing a cup of coffee outside to give her all the time she wants 6 or 7 times a day. It is during these times I’ve noticed things I hadn’t previously been aware of.

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Thanks To My Daughter, It WAS A Happy Father's Day

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and the holiday proved once again (to me at least) that if you’re going to have children, at least one of them needs to be a daughter.

The story actually begins on Friday. My wife has been complaining for some time about the furniture we have in the kitchen nook area of our home. When acquired back in 1993, it was a stylish contemporary table with a 60-inch round thick glass top with a nice beveled edge to it. The four chairs were made of whitewashed rattan to match the base and were on casters.

For years, they were comfortable and functional.

But some time shortly after the furniture celebrated its 25th birthday, my wife started to suggest it was time for a change. The chairs were looking dated, and she wanted something new. Because of the neutral nature of the table and the way it seemed to fit perfectly into the particular area of the house, it could stay. But the chairs needed to be replaced with something more modern and stylish, she said.

My wife believes that I am very talented when it comes to making money and have proven this repeatedly throughout my life. She also believes I have great difficulty actually spending this money, and will be more than happy to provide proof of this should anyone ask.

So at dinner that night, in a weak moment when one of the casters on my particular chair broke, I may have softly said “maybe it’s time to replace all these chairs.”

Immediately the bat signal went out. Surprised I even said this, she took no chances on me having second thoughts. My daughter, who was going to visit for Father’s Day, was immediately called and texted. She was at the house Saturday morning at 9 AM. Those two were going to find four new chairs.

It’s interesting to note that in the previous three months, my wife had been so concerned about COVID-19, she did not leave the house. I did all the grocery shopping and took care of all chores that involved putting on a mask and leaving the house. I have been instructed by her to wash my hands so many times the skin on them looks like lobster claws. If I go outside, check the mailbox and return with nothing in my hands, I am still greeted with “go wash your hands.”

But new casual dining chairs are apparently kryptonite for COVID-19. They shopped all afternoon, yet returned disappointed and defeated. They could not find what they wanted.

At least on that day.

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Happy Father's Day! Man, Does Time Go By Fast....

Since today is Father’s Day, I find myself remembering the past. And just how fast time flies.

My first Father’s Day was in 1996. My daughter and I were both wearing Virginia Tech shirts, which was kind of our thing for most of our lives since she seemed to live a charmed life with regards to the Hokies. Two days before she came home with us, Virginia Tech had played Miami in football, were 0-2 at the time, and life didn’t look too good for Frank Beamer, Jim Druckenmiller and company. But somehow the Hokies won, and my daughter never experienced a loss that first year.

Later on New Year’s Eve, she was wearing a tiny Virginia Tech sweatshirt and slept on my chest as I watched the Hokies stun Texas in the Sugar Bowl. Several times I whispered to her that one day she too would graduate from Virginia Tech. She replied by snoring.

I also called my Dad that day to wish him a happy Father’s Day and his response was “welcome to the club!” and wished me a happy Father’s Day in return for the first time. Which was very cool.

Fast forward 10 years. It’s June 18, 2006 and my neighbor has a problem. He has two tickets for the Nats-Yankees game at RFK. The person he was going to go with bailed on him. Upon hearing this, my wife said “go and have a good time.” So my neighbor and I went, the stadium was packed, and it was a nice sunny day.

The only problem was the three fans seated in front of us. They were highly obnoxious Yankee fans, they never stopped talking the entire game, and they weren’t a lot of fun to be around. They talked trash every waking moment of the game until there was one out in the bottom of the ninth and the Yankees were ahead 2-1.

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Recent Comments
Charles Gordon

Great article

Great article, enjoyed reading and glad to see you are back in twitter.
Sunday, 21 June 2020 08:57
Dave Scarangella

Happy Father's Day, Charles

Give my best to your Dad too. He did, after all, introduce us both to the world of cigars ... Read More
Sunday, 21 June 2020 09:40
Charles Gordon

Thanks and Happy Father’s Day

Will do, I’ll let him know. Speaking of cigars, I’m planning on enjoying one tonight.
Sunday, 21 June 2020 09:52

Well, I Thought I Was Done With Twitter...

Well, I WAS done with Twitter.

But thanks to one Mr. Ricky LaBlue, I have temporarily reactivated the account. Allow me to explain why.

I think Ricky is a very good young writer, and he and I have had several conversations over the last two years about the art of writing. I have become a fan of his not only because he writes well, but also because you can tell him that one of his stories could have been worded a little differently and he doesn’t get offended. He views writing as a craft, much as I do, so it’s not surprising that despite our 118-year age difference, we get along well.

A few weeks ago he invited me to be on the Hokie Hangover podcast that he, Andrew Alix and Mike McDaniel do as part of the Sports Illustrated Allhokies.Com website. Twice the date he wanted to do the podcasts occurred at the same time it was 70 and sunny outside, so I was on the golf course. A third time, he actually had a big-time athlete agree to come on (Virginia Tech men’s basketball signee Joe Bamisile).

But Wednesday of this week, there was the perfect storm. It was raining outside, so my regular golf outing got postponed. And as it turned out, Ricky was down to the “has a pulse and can speak for at least 45 minutes” portion of his potential podcast guest list. So Wednesday night, I called in and we had a great conversation.

I will admit, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. If you added up the ages of the other three, they were pretty close to equaling mine alone. If Earnest Hemingway was still alive and writing, he’d have called it “The Old Man and the Three.” And sure enough, half my answers took everyone back to the 70s, 80s and 90s to provide some perspective for other eventual comments.

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For Under Three Bucks, This Pizza Is Hard To Beat...

Today I found myself at LIDL here in Ashburn, and for the first time since all the shutdown nonsense started, the whole shopping experience seemed to be back to normal. Unlike in previous visits where there were a lot of holes in the shelves, they seemed to have everything in stock.

Including something near and dear to my heart, a deal on this take and bake pepperoni pizza for only $2.99

Naturally I had to match LIDL’s generosity by doubling the toppings, so when I got it home, I put it on a pizza pan that had been well covered in olive oil to crisp up the crust. These take and bakes can sometimes be a little on the dry side, so I then added extra sauce, along with some black olives, mushrooms, a few chopped onions and then covered everything with extra whole milk mozzarella.

Then for good measure, I just happened to have some extra pepperoni, which I laid on top of the extra cheese. To make sure the pizza looked good, I brushed more olive oil on the rim of the crust, which browned it up nicely. And while the box said cook it at 375 for 14 to 15 minutes, I went 435 for 17 minutes. Following their directions makes the crust taste doughy. You need more heat. 

At right is the finished product. I think it’s going to be good. Especially since it only cost three bucks 😊

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Recent comment in this post
Matthew Morrison

Gonna have to run by Lidl tomo...

Gonna have to run by Lidl tomorrow and try the pizza now..
Friday, 12 June 2020 22:46

Watching Super Bowl III Last Night Was A Lot Of Fun....

Last night I was stumbling across channels and found the original broadcast of Super Bowl III on the NBC Sports Network. I ended up watching all 3 hours of it.

It made me want to shout at ESPN that this is what a channel like ESPN Classic should have been versus the constant showing of 19 Duke basketball games from 3 years ago.

Part of the appeal was the memories of a then 12-year-old me watching in disbelief as the Colts kept committing turnover after turnover every time they got near the goal line. It just reminded me of my post-game reaction, namely that the Colts couldn’t get out of their own way and if they just stopped throwing interceptions, they could have easily won.

Heck, if they had just kneeled every time they got into the red zone and kicked field goals they would have won. Back then the goal posts were on the goal line, so once you breached the 20, a field goal was like an extra point.

Part of the appeal was also the memory of my Dad, who had decided to become a Colt fan, mainly because I had decided to become a Redskins fan. Where I grew up in Norfolk, you either got the Colts or the Redskins, so there was always a tug of war on who got to watch the 25-inch console color television with no remote control in the den (I was the remote control). He too was pained by the game, but when the Colts finally punched it in for a touchdown in the final 3 minutes, he was elated.

This, I soon learned, was because he had bought a square in the office pool, and had a 6 for the Jets and a 7 for the Colts. He had thought the Colts would have to win 27-6 for him to win and had long given up on that early in the second half. But he then realized 16-7 was a winner. And what was the first thing he said to me after explaining that?

What all Dads say when a windfall comes their way: “Don’t tell Mom.”

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They Finally Did It...

They Did It

After a long and bumpy road, The Washington Nationals finally won the World Series. And made an old man in Ashburn cry...

Never Grow Old...

Never Grow Old

A trip to Spring Training reminded me we're all still kids at heart, and no matter how old, you keep playing until they get you out.

Gone But Never Forgotten...

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My faithful dogs probably rode shotgun on hundreds of stories I've written since 2003. This one is for you, Doodle & Schnoodle.

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