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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.

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If NASCAR Can Keep Running Races Like Today's Daytona 500...

For the first time in a while, I actually enjoyed watching every lap of a NASCAR race today.

The Daytona 500 was actually that good. And it needed to be.

NASCAR has in the past few years drifted aimlessly. If you didn’t notice all the empty seats when you occasionally tuned into a race, you definitely noticed the lack of drama or excitement. While it’s true some of that has been caused by bigger names in the sport having retired recently, there was more to it than that.

NASCAR just didn’t put on a very good show the last couple of years. The racing was boring, the prices to attend was too high for its core audience and NASCAR didn’t seem to care. It was becoming like the 50th franchise of a once-tremendous restaurant. The name brought back great memories of the past, but current events seemed a little like people going through the motions.

Add to the fact that it’s not rocket science to figure out what makes for an entertaining show on a race track, and it became all the more frustrating. Older fans stopped paying attention, younger fans weren’t engaging in the first place and there became a growing problem. Great races generally need only three things: close racing in the early stages so someone won’t change the channel or take a nap, some sort of big wreck in the middle that becomes a huge video highlight (as in “hey, did you see that wreck Sunday?”) and then 5 or six cars racing to a photo finish on the last lap.

That’s it. That’s the list. Everything else is gravy.

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Some View It As An Insult, But "Learn To Code" Was Great Advice

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a contentious phrase used on social media that has really annoyed me.

Because of it, there’s now a new feature I’ve just added to DullesDistrict.Com

The phrase is “learn to code.” Twitter views it as a personal attack and will suspend you for merely saying it, mainly because a while back, there were some immature journalists who decided to tell coal miners who had lost their jobs they should just reinvent themselves and “learn to code.” They said it in such a snobbish way that it almost sounded like “die off dinosaurs,” so when journalists started losing their jobs and others returned their words with an equal harshness, I can’t say I had a tremendous amount of sympathy.

But the irony in all this is if you work in a field where you have to communicate, and you asked me what’s the one thing you HAVE to do these days, my answer would be “learn to code.”

Allow me to explain.

20 years ago, when the web was exploding, I went out and bought a book on HTML programming. Playing with computers was always a hobby of mine, and HTML wasn’t that difficult. The commands and tags were somewhat intuitive, and in the infancy of the web, websites were essentially billboards. Get some art, put up a banner, keep your copy in nice, neat tables, and you’d have a decent website.

It’s gotten more and more complicated, but the average person could keep up if you knew basic HTML. Sites went from simple to complex pages you customized in content management systems. CMS’s are kind of like a race car where they give you the engine, roll cage, steering wheel, etc. You have to figure out what the paint scheme will be (unless you want your site to look like everyone else’s) and you have to decide in what direction you want to drive it. But if you spend minimal time keeping up, that’s not all that difficult.

But why, you ask, does that matter? Why do you want to be able to write a website?

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It's Hard To Believe, But Only Three Years Ago...

That the Washington Redskins hit rock bottom as a franchise Sunday came as little surprise, as they have seemed to be executing a plan to get there over the last few years.

But the speed in which they did it is still amazing.

Think about it: Just a little less than three years ago, the team had won the NFC East. The team had gone 9-7, finished the regular season with 4 straight wins, and 5 of their last 6 to win the division. They had a sharp young offensive coordinator in Sean McVay, and the fruits of his hard work and imagination were obvious: QB Kirk Cousins threw for over 4,000 yards, the running back committee of Alfred Morris, Matt Jones and Chris Thompson rushed for 1,457 yards. There were dangerous receivers in Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson.

The team had weapons. It was entertaining to watch. And despite the loss to Green Bay in the first round of the playoffs, the future looked bright for the Redskins. They had to shore up defensive issues, but they had an offense that seemed as if it could score on anyone.

That was only three short years ago. Compare it to what was on the field yesterday.

Yes, you can point to injuries and bad luck and all sorts of reasons to rationalize being down 40-0 to a 4- win team and losing your fourth game in a row on your way to a 6-10 record. But that’s the nature of the game. A lot of teams encounter this without having a weekly search to see who can be found on the streets to be your starting quarterback.

It’s managerial malfeasance to fall this far in so short a period of time. Consider, if you will, if the team had just made these five moves in the last three years. Then tell me where you think the team would be today:

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This Is The Year The Streak Comes To An End. No, Not THAT One...

This is the year, sadly, that the streak comes to an end.

No, not that one about Virginia Tech and Virginia in football. I’m talking about the streak I’ve held in our household for Thanksgiving dinners.

My wife and I are celebrating our 38th Thanksgiving dinner Thursday since getting married back when the dinosaurs roamed the planet. And every year, no matter where the dinner is, I’m the guy who carved the turkey. This is due to the fact that 99 percent of the time, the dinner has been in my own house, which has allowed me a tremendous home court advantage.

I even have a special carving knife that’s the size of your arm, and you can just hear Crocodile Dundee saying “now THAT’s a knife” as I pull it out of the kitchen drawer.

But not this year. My wife’s mother mentioned in passing late last week that her plans for Thanksgiving hadn’t really panned out, so she was just going to stay at home. Alone. On Thanksgiving.

This, of course, is roughly equal to driving a stake through my sentimental heart, so I suggested to my wife that we just drive to Roanoke for the day to address this. Because of everyone’s schedules, the only option was to drive down Thanksgiving morning and make it a day trip, which will allow us to spend the day there, but won’t allow time for cooking.

Or carving.

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Recent Comments
Dave Scarangella

Happy Thanksgiving Wade!

Bring some Thanksgiving magic to Blacksburg Friday!
Thursday, 22 November 2018 07:56

Let's Not Throw The Baby Out With The Bath Water Over Bowl Streak

I still remember the conversation clearly.

My friend Bob and I were making that long walk from the Superdome in New Orleans to our car. We had driven down from High Point, NC the day before to see history. Having graduated in the late 1970s, we’d seen our share of bad football, so with Virginia Tech playing Florida State for a national championship, we just had to be there.

We saw history being made, but for Florida State, not Virginia Tech. And like any fan, we were bummed that we came so close but didn’t grab the brass ring. We would drive all the way back to North Carolina hardly saying a word, but as we got in the car that night, we talked about what a ride it had been. We’d seen Fire and Rain in Virginia Tech football, and the loss was not going to deter how great the year had been.

“At least we can compare it to 3-win seasons under Jimmy Sharpe,” I said. “Can you imagine someone who was a freshman in 1995 and is graduating this year? The worst they’ve ever experienced is a 7-5 season. They’ve had a Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and National Championship game in 5 years. Their worst season is still better than our best seasons when we were students.”

“Wait until they have a season again when they don’t go to a bowl,” Bob answered. “They think it’s automatic. They’ll want to fire everybody.”

Little did we know that the next time the Hokies would not make a bowl game would not just be a few years down the road. It would instead be several decades later, to the point that entire generations would never experience a season where Virginia Tech didn’t have a winning record and didn’t go to a bowl.

Today, however, it looks like the streak is over. And Bob – who isn’t much to look at but nevertheless has been my friend since the 70s – nailed it on that January night in 2000. People today don’t appear to know how to act, and it sure seems like there is a group of people out there who want to fire everyone in sight.

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Meet The Dennis Rodman of Canines In The Kitchen...

Rebounding in basketball isn't so much about jumping. It's about position. Knowing where the ball is going to end up landing. Being ready for the opportunity.

Based on those qualifications, if my dog Schnoodle had played basketball, the old girl would have made the hall of fame. No dog can read the kitchen, come up with a plan, and be where the odds are best that a mistake will be made. She doesn't look for food scraps. Food scraps fall in front of her. She is the Dennis Rodman of kitchen canines.

Today is a rainy day in Ashburn, and neither my wife nor daughter will eat leftovers (or even something twice in the same week). So since it is so dreary outside, I'm cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer of older foods coming up on an expiration date. I've turned three chicken breasts into chicken salad for sandwiches for the next few days; I have taken 1.5 pounds of ground beef and made it into a chili/taco meat mixture to go on hot dogs, baked potatoes or other assorted options over the weekend; yesterday I found this beautiful pork shoulder minding its own business in the back of the freezer. It has been appropriately bathed in a dry rub, had garlic inserted into it, and is peacefully resting until tomorrow.

Making these three dishes so there's plenty to warm up and eat on a moment's notice over the weekend involved doing a lot of chopping and mixing in various places in the kitchen. Schnoodle moved when I moved and always found the right spot. Making this more amazing is she lost her sight several years ago. But that does not hinder the pooch, as she has a nose with abilities the CIA would envy.

She's 15 years old and she unfortunately never got to play basketball. She could have been a contender. Instead, she roams the kitchen like a BOSS. And when it comes to kitchen scraps, she's the real MVP 😃

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Now Here's A Great Reason To Visit Mississippi Or West Virginia...

Even though it’s the day after election day, here's something going on across the nation that I think is far more interesting.

It’s the rankings for fattest state in America, the battle to see who consumes the most sugar, pork fat, gravies and otherwise delicious foods at meal time. It was compiled by Wallet Hub and you can see the full rankings here.

The winner? Mississippi, come on down, as you have easily secured the top spot. The land of deep-fried catfish, barbecue, opossum and even more deep-fried catfish is No. 1. You're not fat, as they used to say, you're just big boned. You may be No. 1, but obesity doesn't run in your family. Nobody runs in your family.

West Virginia came in second, while Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee round out the top 5. Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina were just a belt notch away from joining the XXXL club. Dead last? The state that thinks it's a good idea to eat sheep testicles and call them Rocky Mountain Oysters: Colorado at No. 51

You might look at that list of states at the top and notice a trend, and no, it’s not that they are all southern states (which they are). But I spent many decades as a sales and marketing road warrior travelling this great country, and while in those states I noticed a couple of similar situations.

For one, you won’t meet a lot of people in those states who eat kale or arugula. That’s not to say they don’t exist, but when you meet one, there’s usually a term for them: “Health nut” or “Yankee” top the list.

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Colleges Need To Pay Attention Or Risk Having A Kodak Moment

This morning, I was working on the details of a focus group I will be involved in later today, where I will work with an organization to help determine what their brand really is, what they believe differentiates themselves in the market, and what they think people really value them for.

As is usually the case, I jotted down a few stories to illustrate what we will try to accomplish, and for most marketing people, the story of Kodak usually makes an appearance. That iconic company was known by everyone because of their success in the area of film and cameras, and they actually invented the first digital camera in 1975. Thanks to that invention, we now carry and capture all of our favorite memories on something as small as our phones.

But Kodak eventually went bankrupt in 2012. They thought their unique ability in the marketplace was making film and cameras instead of capturing all those memories. Others (like people who build phones) did see that, and developed products that made most of what Kodak was selling obsolete.

The story immediately reminded me of what’s going on in sports these days. Turn on a television and you will see more and more fans dressed up as empty seats. Whether it’s college football, pro football, auto racing, etc., Athletic Directors and Team owners – to use a bad pun – are not getting the picture.

Just one month ago, I returned to my alma mater at Virginia Tech to see a football game between the Hokies and Notre Dame, the first time I've done that in three years. Even though the Hokies lost, it was a fantastic time. It was a chance to see dozens of old friends, experience the electricity of "Enter Sandman" as the team made its way into the stadium, tailgate with some great people, etc. The experience - and the related memories - were what made it great.

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It's Time To Admit To Myself Something About Virginia Tech Football

It’s the day after another bad Virginia Tech loss. You’d think by now, I’d be getting really good at handling this sort of situation.

But yesterday’s loss really bothers me. This one showed me something I guess I’ve sort of known in the back of my mind, but the maroon and orange parts of my brain kept keeping it from rising to the surface.

I can’t ignore it any more.

It all centers around the state of the team in the third quarter of yesterday's game for the Hokies against Boston College. Virginia Tech played the first half with emotion, aggressiveness and momentum, and each good play seemed to feed that and create another good play. The team was confident, and they seemed to be having fun.

From the time they left the locker room at halftime, however, all of those elements were gone, specifically on offense. That's when the game for all intents and purposes was lost.

I'm not a guy who calls for people to be fired, as I don't know what was really called, what an athlete didn't execute, or what a quarterback did or didn't see when a play didn't work. I tend to judge those kinds of conversations as none of my business.

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Recent Comments
Dave Scarangella

Totally agree with that last s...

Not going to a third-rate bowl game because you barely got to 6 wins isn't going to be that big a letdown. But as far as recruitin... Read More
Monday, 05 November 2018 08:57

broken clouds

45.3°F

Ashburn

Broken Clouds

Humidity: 52%

Wind: 17.22 m/h

Mon

broken clouds

28/45°F

Tue

scattered clouds

20/37°F

Wed

snow

28/33°F

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