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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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Sometimes, You Need A Little Help From Your Friends

Earlier today I wrote a story analyzing the chances of various teams in the ACC Tournament.

I apparently didn't properly credit the assistance I received from a certain hound dog in drawing my conclusions, and Maggie the WonderBeagle is not happy about it.

So I'm posting this brief story to make sure she receives the proper credit that she believes she is due.

Maggie, for some reason, likes to sit in my lap when I'm writing, and when I'm staring too long at a screen, she will prop herself up to see what's so important that I'm looking at it for such a period of time. This morning, as you can see in the picture on the right, she sat up in my arms and seemed to be following along with me as I tried to see which teams could potentially be facing Virginia Tech when the Hokies finally play in the ACC Tournament Thursday night. 

Sometimes I will even ask her which team she prefers, and she usually responds with a look that says "did you ask me if I want a treat?" Other times I'll just ask her if she agrees with what I wrote, and she also will respond with a look that seems to say "did you ask me if I want a treat?"

She doesn't answer all questions that way. Sometimes she'll give a look indicating she wants to go outside and chase a squirrel. But it's usually food that drives her decision making tree.

So this week she will be watching basketball with me to study up for her potential upset picks when she fills out her NCAA Tournament brackets next Monday. And considering the degree of luck versus skill it takes to pick the NCAA Tournament winner, her guess is as good as anyone's.

Well, as long as you ask her if she wants a treat :)

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As No.3 Seed, Hokies Will Now Participate In The Late Show

As I’ve always known, the best way to jinx something you’d like to see happen is to write about it.

So yesterday, when I wrote this about not wanting to play in the 9 PM game Thursday or be in the same bracket as Florida State, I just about guaranteed those two things would happen. And indeed, the two things that needed to happen to force that scenario occurred within hours of me saying it.

The first was Notre Dame’s shocking 83-73 upset of the Seminoles, throwing them into the group of teams at the top of the standings with four losses (the other three at the time being Virginia, Louisville and Virginia Tech), then Virginia excused the Cardinals from the group by handing them their fifth league loss of the season.

When the smoke cleared, Virginia was in first by virtue of having played two more games than Florida State, so their .765 winning percentage made them the top seed, while the Seminoles .733 percentage dropped them to second. The Hokies moved up to the No. 3 seed, which ties for the highest seed the Hokies have ever claimed in the ACC Tournament (Seth Greenberg did it in the 2006-2007 season), while Georgia Tech filled Louisville’s vacancy to take the 4th seed.

Louisville, by losing, got drop-kicked all the way down to the 7th seed. Virginia Tech WILL now be in the 9 PM (or later) game Thursday night and they WILL be in the same bracket as Florida State.

But it’s not all bad.

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I'm Pulling For The 2:30 Game And Avoiding Ga. Tech

Today is not the regular-season finale kind of day I thought it would be for Virginia Tech’s basketball team.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been an incredible and surprising season. Remember that feeling after upsetting No. 3 Villanova right after Thanksgiving? And wondering who this Keve Aluma guy was? Or beating Duke AND Virginia at Cassell? Or being ranked every week of the regular season like a big dog with the exception of one week, where pollsters punished the Hokies for losing to lowly Penn State?

I expected few to none of those things to happen in November, so no matter how the season finishes, it’s already been a great one. But with such flashes of potential during the season, today was suppose to be the day we all were locked in our chairs, watching every other ACC game to determine tournament possibilities, and hopefully ending the regular season on a high note.

Instead, it’s kind of lonely. The regular season ended with whimper, not a bang. Finishing in the top 4 and getting a double bye into the ACC Tournament should have been cause for celebration. Now it’s cause for concern.

We all know the story about how sitting on the sidelines affects a team, because we heard it often enough back on Feb. 23, when the Hokies played their first game after 3 postponements and 17 days of inactivity. The Hokies not only know the story, they lived it, showing the same rust everyone else did in losing 69-53 to Georgia Tech.

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When Cheap, Quick and Filling Is What You Crave...

I will admit that the first time I heard about this dish, I openly mocked it.

I saw it in a commercial from Kentucky Fried Chicken, and they called it a “Famous Bowl.” Where I grew up, I told my wife, that was called “leftovers” and there was nothing famous about them. You just dumped everything left over from dinner the previous night, topped it with cheese and said “here.”

But then one Saturday afternoon when my wife and daughter were out shopping, they brought one home, and offered it to me with the qualifier “if you don’t like this we’ll go get you something else.”

Since I was at the time hungry, I ate it. It’s hard to admit, but it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t steak and lobster, but it was good old fashioned comfort food with a touch of salty, sweet, crunchy and creamy.

So the other night, I found myself looking at a few items on sale at the grocery store and realized you could duplicate the dish at home with arguably better ingredients, yet cook everything in under 10 minutes.

It started with a buy one, get one special on Simply Potatoes, which are pre-made mashed potatoes. I got the garlic mashed potatoes flavor, then enhanced them. You’re suppose to cook them in the microwave for 3 minutes, remove the top, then cook 3 more minutes. I do just that, but at halftime, I add sour cream, a little garlic powder and butter. That makes them smoother, creamier, more garlicky and much better tasting than the KFC ones which bear a strikingly similar taste to a glue stick you’d accidentally stuck in your mouth back in second grade.

Right next to the potatoes at the store were a refrigerated chicken nugget product Perdue makes that were also BOGO. I've had them before, and properly cooked in an air fryer, are as good or better than what you can get at fast food restaurants. I realized I could now buy the chicken and potato parts for around $4 and their cooking times are similar. The potatoes cook in about 8 minutes (3 minutes on high, 2 minutes to rest, 3 more minutes on high). The chicken nuggets also take 8 minutes in the air fryer at 390 degrees. They're breaded and crisp just like the KFC chicken strips, only I cut them in half to give it more of a bite size consistency to blend in with the other ingredients.

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There Are Signs Out There Of Things Returning To Normal

Once upon a time, as a retired guy, I looked forward to that one day a week when I ran errands and got things done.

I called them “Thursdays.”

When you’re retired, you never really rush to do anything unless it involves the last serving of a decadent dessert on the counter in the kitchen, so I’d ease into the day with a few cups of coffee, a few bits of conversation with my wife, and a few snuzzles from Maggie the WonderBeagle.

The errands came first, and like the days of old, yesterday I took my wife to her appointed place to get the second of the COVID vaccinations. I always do this for all medical situations with her because it not only makes it easier when someone drops you off at the door, I’ve found as we grow older, there’s this slight bit of nervousness that accompanies all visits to a doctor. It’s like an inner voice that asks “am I OK? Am I having a side effect?”

Having a big, burly bodyguard in the car available to listen to all this and respond with feedback as to what is real and what is imagined, can be comforting. Plus, if there is a real issue, my vehicle knows the way to quickly get to places that can provide further assistance.

Expecting it to take a long time, I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly the vaccination process went. I couldn’t even get through the first round of senseless arguments on Twitter before I saw her returning to the car, so after taking her home, I decided to go on to the next item on my list: getting a haircut for the first time since before we were singing “Hark The Herald, Angels Sing.”

I used to always go on Thursdays because for some reason, nobody was there around lunch time of that day of the week. Now you need to set up an appointment and make it a much more formal event than just driving by and sticking your head in the door. But when I called, the voice on the other end said “when do you want to come?” and when I said “now,” he said “I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

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NC State Game Cancelled, Hokie Regular Season Is Over

Looks like the Virginia Tech men’s basketball regular season is now over.

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced that not only is tonight’s previously scheduled game with Louisville cancelled, but the season finale on Saturday against N.C. State has also been cancelled. On its website, the ACC said “The canceled game follows quarantining and a contact tracing review within the Virginia Tech men’s basketball program. The team is adhering to the outlined protocols within the ACC Medical Advisory Group report.”

You now have to wonder if the COVID issue is to the point that the team might not be able to clear contact tracing protocols in time and thus not be able to play in the ACC Tournament. The good news/bad news scenario for the Hokies is by not playing the final two regular-season games, they will finish with only four league losses, which puts them in the top 4 of the standings, and clinches a double bye in the ACC Tournament.

That could provide the time for Virginia Tech to clear up its COVID issues, but would also mean the team would once again go almost two weeks without playing a game. Such a long layoff occurred just ten days ago, and the team looked rusty from that layoff in a 69-53 loss to surging Georgia Tech.  

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Virginia Tech's Game With Louisville Wednesday Cancelled

Well, it looks like Virginia Tech’s streak with Louisville won’t end tomorrow night.

That’s because the game won’t be played. According to the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Louisville at Virginia Tech men’s basketball game scheduled for Wednesday, March 3 has been canceled.
 
The canceled game follows a contact tracing review within the Virginia Tech men’s basketball program, the ACC Site said. The team is adhering to the outlined protocols within the ACC Medical Advisory Group report.
 
So now, the Hokies have only one game left in the regular season, which is scheduled to be played at 2 PM Saturday in Raleigh against North Carolina State.

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It's Time To Pay Louisville Back The Debt It Is Owed

Tomorrow night, the most pivotal game of the Virginia Tech basketball season will come down to a matchup between the Hokies and Louisville.

Of course it will.

Much is written about the rivalry between Virginia Tech and those neighbors to the East in Charlottesville, but when you are discussing a pure and intense rival for another team in basketball, nobody stokes the fires for me like Louisville. I'm sure there's a better and more diplomatic way to say it, but I just don't like them.

Should you be too young to remember, it was the Cardinals who led the movement to cast the Hokie basketball program into the desert to wander around in search of a permanent home for many years back in the mid-1990s. Virginia Tech had joined what was then the Metro-7 in 1978, sharing a league with the likes of Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Memphis, St. Louis, Tulane and Florida State.

Georgia Tech had just left the Metro to become the 8th member of the Atlantic Coast Conference after South Carolina had left, and the Hokies took their place. Eventually, South Carolina would join too in 1983 and as basketball conferences went, it was a pretty stout league.

Louisville, because they would win national championships in 1980 and 1986 under Coach Denny Crum, thought they owned the league. Much like Duke and North Carolina have always pushed the non-tobacco road schools in the ACC, Louisville held the role in the Metro. What they wanted, it seemed, they got.

But not in the Hokies’ first year in the league. Virginia Tech finished 4th in the Metro that initial regular season, then beat Cincinnati in the first round of the Metro Tournament. Dale Solomon was an imposing force for the Hokies in the middle, but in the second-round game against Louisville, he did not play due to a death in the family. The 13th-ranked Cardinals, with players like Darrell Griffith and Scooter McCray, expected to breeze past VT on the way to winning the tournament.

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Final Week Is The Real March Madness For Hokie Fans

Today is the first day of March, and starts off the final week of the regular college basketball season.

A week, which to Virginia Tech fans, is usually the real March Madness.

It’s the week when a great season can be completely erased by having a poor last week, and it’s not just the Hokies. Many a team has had a nice season only to lose the last two games of the regular season, then carry that funk into a conference tournament and get eliminated in the first round.

Despite a good record and some nice wins, your team goes from “you know we’re dancing” to on the bubble.

So having been a Hokie fan for 50 years, my first instinct this week is to look at the standings and try to figure out which scenario will be the biggest dagger in my heart, so I can prepare myself. And as the life coach in the Geico commercial tells his group while they’re in a home improvement store, “we all see it. We all see it.”

In first place with only 3 losses in the ACC is Florida State. Since they finish with two teams with losing records – Notre Dame and Boston College – I’m going to concede first place to the Seminoles because they’re not losing this week. Three teams are technically tied for second with 4 league losses: UVA, Virginia Tech and Louisville.

If you’re an optimist, you could look at the scenarios where the Hokies win their remaining two games with Louisville and N.C. State. Beating Louisville reduces the tie to only two teams, and if UVA and VT finish with only 4 losses, VT beat the Wahoos in their only meeting. I’m not sure how the league would treat this because UVA played more games, so you’d have a 13-4 versus an 11-4, and if you went on winning percentage, Virginia would win the tie.

But that still casts a worst-case scenario of being in the top 3. Now look at it as a pessimist.

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How Only A Few Words Can Brighten A Rainy, Dreary Day

There aren’t many words that can immediately make me think of bright sunshine on a dreary, rainy Sunday morning.

But there they were on the schedule of today's sporting events:  “Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, FL, 1:05 PM.”

That's the site of the Washington Nationals’ first spring training game of the year today against the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was only two years ago in a world that feels like it's now thousands of miles away that my cell phone rang. “Hey,” said the voice of my oldest friend Doug from the high temps and humidity of Southern Mississippi, “have you ever wanted to go to spring training?”

Of course I did, as every kid who has ever thrown a baseball or swung a bat wanted to back in the day. But on the spur of the moment, you drive to a fast food joint or head to the grocery store. You don’t just pack up one day and head to West Palm Beach.

But Doug was ready. “I’ve booked the hotel, I’ve gotten a rental car and I’ve got a plane reservation in front of me from Dulles to Charlotte where we can meet, then we’ll fly the rest of the way together,” he said. “All you have to do is say yes.”

He had, in the words of The Godfather, made me an offer I could not refuse.

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Hokies Unleash The Fury In Rout Of Wake Forest

When Mike Young wins the ACC Coach Of The Year Award at the end of the season (and if he doesn’t, we all need to call the FBI and report a crime), there will be people who ask what makes him such a great coach.

I offer today’s 84-46 win over Wake Forest as exhibit A.

Young seems to know how to fix things when his team plays like a car with four flat tires. Three other times the Hokies have laid an egg at center court, and next time out, all three times Virginia Tech did exactly the opposite of what ailed them in that previous loss.

After a surprisingly loss to Penn State, the Hokies bounced back to beat No. 24 Clemson; they took a beating from Syracuse, then outplayed Notre Dame on the road and No. 8 Virginia in succession; a pitiful effort against Pitt was followed by a near-miracle overtime win over Miami.

So when the Hokies tried to shake off the rust of a 17-day layoff and played poorly in the second half in a loss to Georgia Tech, it didn’t take advanced crime scene analysis to find the problem. The team didn’t shoot well. They didn’t penetrate to the basket. They played tentatively. And by not providing any real reason for the GT defense to come out and guard the backcourt, they negated any advantage they might have had down low with Keve Aluma and Justyn Mutts.

They also allowed Georgia Tech to shoot 61.5 percent from the floor in the second half.

I don’t know what buttons Young pushed, but the Hokies took the floor this afternoon like they were in the movie Road Trip and Tom Green was yelling “Unleash The Fury” at them. They hit their first five shots from the floor, looked cool and relaxed, and they never looked back. Aluma couldn’t miss, finishing with 23 points on 9 of 11 shots, Tyrece Radford was back to his normal self, nailing his first four shots and aggressively driving the lane, and the Hokies shot 67.9 percent from the field to quickly turn the game into a rout.

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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.

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