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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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Perhaps It's Time To Recalibrate Our Expectations For Hokie Football

­­­­Mornings after a Virginia Tech loss in football are never warm, inviting situations, and last night’s defeat at the hands of Wake Forest is no different.

But this Sunday morning does seem different. Sort of a fork in the road when it comes to the potential of head coach Justin Fuente.

No, not the kind of fork that leads to people gathering up torches and pitchforks to ride him out of town on a rail. Or a hollow pledge to stop watching Hokie sports. Or refrain from donating money to Hokie athletics.

We are who we are as Hokies. My blood type will always be part Chicago Maroon and another part Burnt Orange. For good or bad, I’ve been a Hokie since the first day I walked on the campus as a high school senior in 1973, and will remain one until I draw my last breath.

That’s not going to change.

But last night’s game has caused me to admit I might have been too optimistic about Fuente’s ability to lead the program back to the heights Frank Beamer had scaled in Blacksburg. Doesn’t mean he’s a bad coach, either, as no other coach in Virginia Tech’s program got the team in the top 10 as often or in a national championship game.

But Fuente has had an issue with discipline with his teams from his very first season. For years, we’ve made excuses, saying he needs more time to get his own players in the program. Or that he needs to get his own coaches. Or it takes time to learn his system. Seems like there’s always a reason that when things go bad, folks believe just being patient for a few more years will solve everything.

But it’s now year 5. These are his players. These are his coaches. And these results – like last night’s loss to Wake Forest – are ultimately on him. For many years, people would say you win championships with good “D”, and they were referring to defense. Now it means discipline, and it’s something that continues to plague Fuente’s teams.

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MASN Will Be Showing Wake-VT at 3:30 Saturday

Just about every time Virginia Tech is scheduled to play on a Regional Sports Network (RSN), it is virtually guaranteed that all week long, people will either ask whose carrying the game in their viewing area, and some will even fret that somehow the game won’t be shown at all where they live.

This week will be no different, as the Hokies’ 3:30 PM game with Wake Forest Saturday is scheduled for an RSN. That usually means NBC Sports Washington, but they are devoting eight hours of programming to “Trackside Live” that Saturday, and their second channel is focusing on the wonderful adventures of kickboxing and MMA that afternoon as well.

Fortunately, this area in Northern Virginia has a second regional sports network, and the people who brought you every minute of the 2019 World Champion Washington Nationals – The Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) - will also be showing Virginia Tech-Wake Forest.

On Comcast/Xfinity, the HD channel is 845. MASN is also channel 640 on Directv, channel 432 on Dish Network and Channel 577 for HD on Verizon Fios.

You’re welcome 😊

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With Apologies To Springsteen, This Team Was Born To Run

It wasn’t the kind of game that left you beating your chest and screaming at the world “See? We’re really good!”

But Virginia Tech’s win over Boston College last night showed a few intriguing statistics that could serve warning that this year’s Hokie team might just break its string of underperforming seasons under Justin Fuente and be surprisingly good.

Everyone knew the defense would be suspect – and it lived up to that billing last night – but there’s also been a hope if the Hokies got the right people in the right seats on the bus on offense, one unit could offset the growing pains of the other and have a special season.

Which is sort of what happened last night.

Fuente – who must have been doing it just to aim a middle finger at me for last week suggesting it was dumb to win the toss yet defer to the second half so that suspect defense could be on the field immediately – did it again last night, and BC obliged, easily moving the ball down the field. Fortunately, they held on to the football as effectively as I exercise, and an early BC fumble prevented VT from starting a game behind. Again.

Enter Hendon Hooker as the rightful starting QB and Khalil Herbert, who Fuente actually remembered to use in the first quarter this week. Those two must have been channeling Bruce Springsteen in the tunnel before the game while humming “We gotta get out while we're young…`Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run.”

Each carried 18 times. According to Hokiesports.com, Hooker gained 166 yards, averaging 9.1 yards per carry. Herbert gained 146 yards, for 7.9 yards per carry, so that duo had 36 carries and between them averaged 8.7 yards per carry. A dog with a note in his mouth can call plays when you can give the ball to either of two players and you average that kind of yardage.

Which is what gives me such hope about the season. Fuente is allegedly a quarterback whisperer who excels in the passing game. But the strength of this year’s team is a huge, talented offensive line and several great runners, and at times it seems like Fuente resists that gift, wanting to call frequent pass plays, probably because that’s his comfort zone.

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It's Taken A Long Time, But This Time They've Really Done It....

There was a point during the summer when the Washington Redskins dropped their name, their owner was making headlines for scandal, and after 50 years of following the team, I wondered if I could keep being a fan.

The notion was unthinkable if you’ve been around me very long. I fell in love with this team at a very young age after seeing Sonny Jurgensen throw touchdown passes to Charley Taylor, Bobby Mitchell and Jerry Smith while growing up in Norfolk, and it has defined who I am as a sports fan ever since. Sunday afternoons have been sacred ever since, and the people I worked with quickly learned if there was an emergency and the choice was to call me at 2 AM or during a Redskins game, the smart pick was to call me at 2 AM.

My family chuckles now at the story, but back in late 1999, a company with headquarters in Tysons Corner called and offered me the job of being president of one of its divisions. The deciding factor for me was the company’s willingness to let me live in Ashburn, have an office in Tysons Corner, and fly back and forth to Los Angeles (where the division was located). Why Ashburn, the company asked? Because that’s where the Redskins were headquartered.

I’ve lived here in Ashburn for the last 20 years because of that job.

The Dan Snyder years have been mostly bad with occasional rays of sunlight, but they were still the burgundy and gold, and they still had the history of Sonny, Joe Gibbs, the Super Bowl years, etc. that made me keep coming back. Not being a fan seemed like divorcing your spouse of 50 years. They were family and it was until death do us part.

I once even told a friend recently I didn't know if I could keep being a fan and his response was "are you being serious? I mean, you were in sales for most of your life so I can't tell when you're telling the truth."

As I've said many times, I need to make better friends.

But I’ll be honest, dropping the name made it tougher than I thought. Perhaps if they had actually picked another name, it would be different. But the whole “Washington Football Team” just seemed like more of Snyder’s nonsense. Plus he had his marketing minions push how wonderful and refreshing it was to do this in the same manner he has urinated on all of us while telling us it’s just rain as the team craters every year.

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Not Sure I Understand What The Hokies Were Doing Against UNC

I suppose it’s just a function of age, but the older I get, the more things I don’t understand. For example, I don’t understand some of the music my daughter likes. Or the appeal of avocado toast. Or why anyone would spend over $1,000 on a cell phone.

Then there’s the Virginia Tech game plan for yesterday’s loss to North Carolina.

Since I've never been a coach, perhaps there are secrets to the coaching fraternity I haven’t been privy to. But going into yesterday’s game, the Hokies seemed to have one big strength and one big weakness which UNC had to deal with. A proper game plan could have and should have accentuated the strength in such a way that it might have covered or at least minimized the weakness.

VT’s game plan didn’t.

The weakness was obviously the defense. That side of the ball has seriously been hit hard by COVID, with depth being so slim, walk-ons were seeing significant playing time. Add to that a change in schemes after long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster retired, and you had inexperienced players under a new coach in a new scheme against UNC’s explosive offense.

A recipe for disaster.

Common football wisdom would say part of the solution is how you approach the game on offense. Shorten the game with long, time-consuming, run-oriented drives. Do your best to get ahead and possibly force the opponent’s offense to become more one-dimensional while trying to play catchup. Doing so then allows you to blitz more, apply pressure and possibly force a mistake or two. Keep your defense rested in the first half while battering your opponent’s defensive line, and good things can happen in the second half.

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Nothing Finishes A Week Like A Pic Of Fantastic Food...

I’ve decided I need more regular features on this website. They don’t need to be about sports, news or politics, because these days, those topics just make people angry. In fact, the only two things that don’t seem to make people mad these days are puppies and food.

In that spirit, I think every Friday there should be a picture of some outrageous food. It can be called Food Porn Friday, and it will be a picture of something you should walk away thinking “I’d like to have that one day.”

With that in mind, the first weekly winner comes from St. Louis. I have a friend who is doing a good deed this week, driving hundreds of miles to Kentucky, then taking another mutual friend to St. Louis for some medical issues. Having been a road warrior back in the day, I know the most valuable knowledge you can have when traveling is restaurant recommendations from a local. My friend, who I have known most of my life, tends to just try the first place he sees.

I decided to do some research for him. One of the people I follow on Twitter is Dan Buffa (@buffa82) who knows just about everything about sports, restaurants, movies, you name it in St. Louis. So I asked him for some recommendations and he sent back a bunch.

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The Little Rock Star Just Keeps Growing...

Let’s face it. Nobody cares much what I have to say. People tolerate my words because eventually I’ll post a picture of Maggie The WonderBeagle.

That’s what the people want.

We certainly have plenty of pictures around here of the little beast, who isn’t quite so little any more. She arrived at our home in Ashburn on Nov. 16 of last year weighing under 10 pounds. At her last visit to the vet in August, she was north of 60 pounds.

Yet she still wants to sit on my lap and sleep as if she is still under 10 pounds.

Which I’m fine with.

It also brings me to the latest thing that seems to be making the rounds of Twitter. You show one pic and say “How it started” then post a second pic with the caption “How it’s going.” Many seem to show themselves and their significant other dating, then show a pick of them with 11 children, two dogs and a cat.

Mine is much simpler. On the left, the day we first met Maggie. On the right, this morning as she demanded I drop what I’m doing and play tug of war with her green ball.

She’s lived here 11 months and they say dogs grow when happy and content.

Looks like she’s pretty daggone content. I know I am 😊

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In The Long Run, Rivera May Be Doing Haskins A Favor...

With Dwayne Haskins being demoted from starter to third string of the Nameless Washington Football Team, I’ve read dozens of hot takes on how unfair this is, how it means he’ll never start for the team again, how it’s typical of how confused and dysfunctional the franchise is, etc.

Maybe I’m naïve, but it sure seems like a lot of people just might be missing the point.

Ron Rivera could end up doing him a favor.

Consider, for a moment, Rivera realizes the young QB has not had the benefit of summer practice, exhibition games, etc. He sees Haskins making the same mistakes over and over again and believes when you give a young QB an opportunity to start, he has to do three things: 1. Earn the respect of his teammates; 2. Put in the work to get better; 3. Take chances and make mistakes, but learn from them and grow from the experience.

It would appear No. 3 ain’t happening. And with the definition of insanity being the act of doing the same thing over and over again while expecting the results to be different, Rivera has had enough crazy. So he’s having Haskins sit, putting in a QB who knows the system and will not make the same mistakes over and over again, and perhaps while watching from the sidelines, the light will come on for Haskins.

Watch and learn, they say. I believe if he does he will get another shot this season.

A lot of it is up to Haskins. He has to be as much a leader on the sideline as a 3rd-team QB as he would be as a starter. He has to prepare as if he is going to play each week. He has to be in the team facility watching film and asking questions as if he knows he’s going to get another opportunity.

If not, that will be on him. I’m an old retired businessman and if you ask anyone my age if he’s ever been fired or demoted, fairly or unfairly in their career, the answer is going to be “several times.” For many of us, it’s what fired us up to be successful, as we went from “this is just a job” to “I’ll show them.” The greatest athlete of all time – Michael Jordan – carried a chip on his shoulder the size of an aircraft carrier his entire life to show others they were wrong about him, and he was going to bury them for that disrespect.

Dwayne Haskins now has to do that too.

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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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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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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...

Doodle

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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