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Welcome!

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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It's Good To Be Maggie...

I just walked into the den and saw this.

If I didn't know better, I'd think this was a teenager, watching television and looking out the window on a sunny Sunday.

It's no teenager. It's Maggie The WonderBeagle.

Tell me again that story about being treated like a dog? :)

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I Don't Know The Future, But Last Night Heinicke Had "It"

It may have been the last time we will see the team with no name for many months, but the Washington Football team did accomplish something significant last night.

They were fun to watch. They gave us hope. They might have even found a quarterback.

If so, it will mark an important step for the team, as it has been a constant weakness for this franchise for decades. I don’t care who your favorite team is, if they don’t have a quarterback with “it”, that ability to get in the huddle and against all odds, come to the line of scrimmage and make a big throw when you need it most, your team isn’t going anywhere.

Look back to the glory years of the team called the Washington Redskins. For 8 straight years, it was Joe Theismann. Jay Schroeder held the job for two years with a major Super Bowl assist from Doug Williams, then it was 5 straight years of Mark Rypien. They had stability at the position, so there were guys who knew the offense, inspired confidence the plays would work, and more often than not, got it done.

Last night, they were facing the king of longevity and consistency at QB in Tampa’s Tom Brady. He’s played so long, a graphic during the game informed that he was now older than George Blanda, the previous king of playing forever. The major difference, however, is Tom still looks young enough to play. George always looked like he was in his 80s, had just finished smoking a pack of Lucky Strikes and drinking a 6-pack of Carling Black Label, all while yelling in a raspy voice “come on, let’s line up, I’ve got somewhere to be tonight.”

Because of Brady, I didn’t expect Washington to win, which they didn’t. But I also wasn’t expecting to see Taylor Heinicke shine so bright on the big stage.

He didn’t disappoint. In fact, I might even go as far as to say he convinced me he has “it.”

He reminded everyone that it’s not how strong your arm is or how high you are taken in the draft, it’s your ability to process information, see what you’re facing, and quickly decide where to go with the ball. It has been Alex Smith’s strength, and it’s why even with a beaten and battered body, he still performed better this season than the other QBs on the roster. Knowing where to go with the ball on one leg still trumps having no clue with two.

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I Will Wager You Did Not Know This

File this away under “things I learned that I did not know while watching the Colts play the Bills:”

CBS seems to really be pushing an original show they’ve come up with called Clarice, as I’ve seen multiple commercials for it before we’ve even reached halftime of the Colts-Bills game. The show is supposed to be the story of FBI agent Clarice Starling who was played by Jodie Foster in “Silence Of The Lambs.”

The movie always reminds of one particular line Hannibal Lecter – played  by Anthony Hopkins - says to Clarice about a census taker who once tried to test him:  “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

The line was sufficiently creepy for me to remember, but what I didn’t know is it was an inside medical joke. I looked up the line to make sure I quoted it accurately, and came across this explanation: Lecter was probably being treated with drugs, which I certainly hope a maniac like him was. The drugs were probably called monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs.  Since Lecter is a psychiatrist, he knows this. Which means he also knows this:

The three things you can’t eat with MAOIs are liver, beans or wine. So he’s telling a joke by saying he ate some guy's liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti to indicate he’s not taking his meds. And creep everyone out.

Learning this has been the highlight of an otherwise less than exciting game so far….

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At Least One Of Us Came Out A Winner Yesterday

­Yesterday had all the makings for a very peaceful day: Cold and gray outside, a 9-pound pork shoulder cooking in the oven, a few good books to be read. And for the most part, it was.

Well, until my oldest friend Doug decided he wanted his own Navy.

I was in the middle of reading two books: Was finishing up James Patterson’s Deadly Cross, and by mid-afternoon would finish that and then start James Grisham’s A Time For Mercy. Patterson’s book was good rather than great, and after a few hundred pages of Grisham’s book, it seems to be the superior story. Part of that is Patterson seems to write an Alex Cross book about every 3 weeks, so his stories start to feel like a formula. Figure out a fast-paced story line, then plug in the cast of familiar characters.

But this latest one had its moments, particularly if you live here in the DC/Northern Virginia area, as he name-drops a lot of places throughout the region. You can tell he wrote the book more than a year ago because he talks about watching a game between the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Redskins, not calling them the Washington Football team. He even mentions the Washington Nationals.

What made it cozy finishing the book yesterday was I had a pork shoulder cooking all day for last night’s dinner of barbecue and cole slaw. It went in at 5:15 AM for a 10-hour slow roast, and by about 11 AM, there was an aroma throughout the house that had my detective WonderBeagle Maggie hot on the trail to discovering its origins. Patterson has a recurring character that is Alex Cross’s grandmother, and about every 50 pages she’s cooking something similar, with detailed descriptions of how good the house smells.

It is in the midst of this peaceful reading I get a text from my old friend Doug. Apparently, the amounts you can win for both Powerball and MegaMillions were over $400 million. He thought I should know, leading to this conversation:

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Whoever Sold This Idea Should Be In The Hall Of Fame

If you’ve spent any time in marketing – and I spent the better part of three decades doing so – you’ve probably been in a meeting like this.

It’s where an idea is being pitched and your own feelings of common-sense kick in and tells you it’s not that great of a proposal. But if you object, particularly if you’re an older executive – you will be shamed into not being “with it”, not looking at things in a new modern way, and are too focused on old school metrics like wondering if all this is going to result in your company actually selling more stuff.

Happens frequently, and if you sell hard enough, you’ll sometimes get approval for something that, in truth, isn’t that great a proposal.

Which brings me to the new Burger King rebrand.

Whoever sold that logo needs to be in the selling hall of fame. They somehow convinced Burger King to give them millions of dollars in return for the agency giving them their old logo back from the 60s. To complete the package, they even took the font you saw every Monday night at 8 PM on NBC’s Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and are slapping it on burger and burrito wrappers.

I’m guessing Goldie Hawn will next be invited to be a company spokesman.

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Today Is A Day Of Pondering For Maggie And Me

Today for me and Maggie, is a day of pondering.

A week ago, I wrote about getting back into a routine and made some resolutions regarding writing every day, exercising just about every day and getting back to reading. A week later, I’ve kept them, and have noticed a nice mental benefit. Instead of hitting a certain time of the day and thinking “I don’t have anything to do,” I go down the checklist of writing, reading and exercise.

I will say, it does leave you in a better mental state than taking a nap or wasting brain cells on Twitter.

But any positive contribution all this does to your mental state is immediately washed away by a few minutes of scrolling through Twitter. Yesterday was a rough day for this country, but if you wanted to feel even worse, all you had to do was read through Twitter. It is something so toxic I often wonder why I even have the app on any of my devices.

So I’m once again pondering how to leave the last vestige of social media I’ve been involved with behind. I’ve dropped Instagram and Facebook in past years, but I’ve held on to Twitter for two reasons: One is there are a few really good people who are nice to talk to on the app, and the other is when you write something, it’s the best way to let those few good people know you’ve posted something new.

The second one isn’t all that important because I don’t write for any metrics like hits, likes, etc. I’m not a for profit operation and I budget a thousand dollars a year for websites, software and any other electronic toys like mics or cables associated with the hobby. It’s no different than a golfer putting aside money every year to buy golf balls, gloves and pay for greens fees.

The first one is. Yesterday I took my mind off everything by doing some voice over work for a guy named Rick Snider. He’s a well-known sports writer in the area over the last 30 years and we became friends over Twitter. Rick is just the kind of interesting person I enjoy meeting, because he’s not just a one-dimensional sports guy. He’s written several E-Books that come at life from a spiritual angle, and he’s asked me to play a character in both.

On the first one, we all got together at a location where all the sound equipment was set up and we recorded our parts. With the pandemic, however, we decided that wasn’t a wise decision on the second book, so we’re recording our parts individually and the producer will put it all together. I had some old sound equipment that in its day was state of the art, so I spent the last few weeks dusting it off and getting it usable. Its biggest issue is the sound card only works with Windows XP, so I can’t connect it to the internet. It’s no longer supported and would be too great a security risk.

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There's Only One Thing I Know That Can Ease The Heartache...

Maybe it’s just the time of the year. Or with social media, people are more inclined to share such news. But it sure seems like a lot of people in the last two weeks have had to deal with the heart-wrenching experience of losing a pet over the holidays.

If you’re not a dog person, it probably doesn’t seem like all that big a deal. But if you are, then every time you read of someone wishing their beloved animal goodbye, it reminds you of the last time you had to go through it.

I am a dog person, and have had at least one animal just about all of my adult life. I describe owning a pet to many as “12 years of happiness followed by six months of heartache.” People joke about it, but it really is true that if you bond to a dog and have one for a long time, you find you like that dog much more than many people you know. You certainly miss the dog a lot more than some of these people when both are gone.

I’m reminded of all this today because I got a DM from another fellow dog lover who just lost hers. The day your dog travels over the Rainbow Bridge is a bad one. But the next day, I’ve found, is even worse.

You don’t realize it in the years you own a pet, but at least for dogs, they become the heartbeat of the house. You come to know every sound, creak and crack in the house, mainly because just about all of them are related to that hound, and usually mischief is associated with them.

That next day’s silence is awful. When you do hear a sound elsewhere in the house, your mind immediately thinks it’s the dog, possibly chewing on a bone or sniffing around the kitchen for snacks. Walking out to see and realizing it was only the heat coming on just reminds you again of the void your dog has left.

I wish there were words you could say to comfort someone when they’ve lost a pet, but I know that saying “I just lost one too” doesn’t really help. The only solution I’ve found to getting over the heartache, unfortunately, actually sounds heartless when you say it: go get another dog.

But it works. We had lost the second of our two dogs in the summer of 2019. I was determined we weren’t going to go through all the pain again and didn’t want another dog. But my wife insisted, and a tiny little beagle/hound mix who was sitting in a kill shelter in South Carolina ended up weeks later in our house.

We named her Maggie. She took one look at my heart, and said “I can fix that.”

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Twenty One Years Later....

Twenty-one years ago today, I woke up in a rather modest hotel in Slidell, LA, packed up my things, and my friend Bob and I began the long drive back home to High Point, NC.

It was the morning after Virginia Tech had played Florida State for the National Championship, and the previous 24 hours had produced memories that at the time we knew would – and have – lasted a lifetime. But we were both silent and a bit sad.

We had come so close to watching Virginia Tech realize the pinnacle of college football. We both gone to VT from 1974 to 1978, so we had a clear appreciation of where the program had been and where it was that morning. We also knew that this specific moment in VT football history – at least what it meant to the two of us – was never going to happen again.

“You think,” Bob said as we crossed the Mississippi state line, “that there will come a time where all our fans are spoiled and anything less than this will be a disappointment?”

It was a fair question that we talked about for many miles. When the Hokies beat Texas in the Sugar Bowl four years earlier, I sat out on my deck a few minutes past midnight, light rain falling, smoking a Cuban cigar I had saved for a special occasion. I was a newly minted Dad, as my 8-month old daughter was sleeping inside, my alma mater made it all the way to a big name contest like the Sugar Bowl, and they didn’t just show up and act happy they were in the game. They fell behind, then stormed back and had actually WON.

Life was good. And I knew how lucky I - and every other Hokie who was as passionate about the team as I was – was to experience it. The days of 3-win seasons and never being mentioned on the national sports scene seemed over.

“Everything runs in cycles,” I answered Bob. “I guess it will depend on how long they’ve gotten used to experiencing this kind of winning.” I then pointed out we’d see pretty soon because anyone who was a freshman in 1995 was now either graduating or was about to. They’d seen two Sugar Bowls, an Orange Bowl, a Gator Bowl and a win over Alabama in a Music City Bowl.  An 8-win season – the high-water mark for us when we were students at VT - to them might be considered a disaster.

We both agreed that the way things were going, there were going to be a lot more years before that ever was going to be a problem. Heck, we came within a quarter of winning it all. Mike Vick was going to be back the next year along with a lot of other players. All the publicity was going to allow us to bring in even better recruits. If we could just have 2 or 3 more really good years, we might even get a chance to get our ultimate goal, which was to one day be in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“We’ll be back next year,” Bob said, and I agreed. We should.

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Ugly Fades. But There's A Story Here I'll Remember Forever

It’s the morning after. A good night’s sleep has not changed my memories of the Philadelphia-Washington game being one of the ugliest I’ve ever seen where Washington actually wins.

But it was like being young and having a blind date where the date wasn’t very attractive. Then you found out they were rich. And had a private jet. And said “let’s go make some trouble, no matter what it costs.”

Years from now, ugly fades. Great memories, however, last a lifetime, and winning a division title after the things this team has been through certainly qualifies as one heck of a recollection.

I mean, let’s go back to August. The first thing that pops into my mind is the fear the season would never be played. The NFL would start, COVID cases would ramp up, and the whistle would be blown on the rest of the season. Lest you forget, College Football was trying to start its season and games were being postponed every week because of such issues.

Then came a Thursday night in late August where Adam Schefter tweeted out some dreadful news: Head Coach Ron Rivera had been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. I have learned over my lifetime to not even think about how deadly cancer can be for fear of not being as positive as I could be while that person puts up the fight of their life.

But I have also learned over my lifetime that cancer turns every plan into “if.” I’ve celebrated many friends beating it. I’ve also been to the funerals of several friends who didn’t. If the season even got to a point where they were playing in December, my fear was Rivera might not be on the sidelines coaching. Everything became reduced to one day at a time.

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How Do The Oddsmakers In Las Vegas Know?

There are things, one day, I hope to understand. Like if there really are UFO’s out there. Or what actually happened during the Kennedy assassination. Maybe even something simple like why spouses instinctively cross their arms when you’re trying to lie to them about what happened to that last doughnut.

But the mystery for the ages for me involves how Las Vegas sets the point spreads on sporting events.

It is simply uncanny how accurate those things turn out to be most of the time, and the ones the look like the biggest mistakes seem to always turn out to be deadly accurate.

I’m not a gambler by any means, but 47 years ago during my freshman year at Virginia Tech, I made friends with an otherwise mild-mannered, church-going Southern Gentleman named Doug. He has been my best friend over those years, and is a wonderful person. Wonderful, well, until he gets involved in anything competitive. Then he talks trash like chickens lay eggs.

Combine this with his deep dislike to lose and 47 years of history as friends, and watching a sporting events without all this trash talking has become unthinkable. The last two days, for example, we picked 4 college football games each day spread throughout the day to bet on. The bet is only $1, and I always let Doug pick whoever he wants. I take the other team and whatever the most current point spread says in terms of getting or giving points.

This guarantees throughout the day a series of texts aimed at not only the game, but anything from past mistakes to verbal assaults on your manhood. If you’re not a guy, you may not understand that this is how men bond. Often, when a turn in events warrants, the conversation will go from text to actual phone call so the insults can be quicker and more intense.

My wife usually walks by the door to my office when these are going on, shakes her head, and mutters something along the lines of “you two ain’t right.”

After she moves out of hearing range, both of us will usually say something like “so, what’s your point?” in response.

I mean, when she’s right, she’s right.

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Don't Look Now, But Ohio State May Win It All

It was just a passing thought while watching Ohio State start to flex its offensive muscles last night.

“These guys,” I told Maggie the WonderBeagle, “are playing like they are in midseason form.”

Then it occurred to me why: Because it WAS the middle of a normal season for Ohio State. They’d only played 5 regular season games (six including the Big Ten championship game they had to force a rules change to allow them to be included), which for most teams is when they are healthiest, most prepared and generally at their peak.

The test of winning a championship has always been playing your best at the end. Many a team has started a season on a roll, gets to 7-0 or 8-0 and then things start to fade. Staying that good for that long is a grind. By November, the bumps and bruises add up. A slight muscle pull here, an angry knee there, and that burst of speed that completes the long bomb isn’t quite there.

Winning a championship that starts with a game on Labor Day and concludes in mid-January is as much a game of survival as it is a game of skill. I couldn’t help but think of Virginia, back in 1990. They were 7-0 and No. 1 in the country before injuries, the grind of the season, and opponents having a lot more film to study caught up with them. They finished 8-3.

But Ohio State only had to play six games this season to make it to the final four. They hadn’t hit that phase of the season where you have to get over the hump. While Clemson played the first of its 11 games on September 12, the Buckeyes didn’t take the field for the first time until Oct. 24. They’ve barely been playing for two months. Over half of their wins have been blowouts, so starters did not play a full game in many of the contests.

As a result, they brought huge talent, fresh legs, and a team that a long season had not beaten up to the game with Clemson.

It was clear by the end of the first quarter that they knew how to use it.

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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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