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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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Doug Doughty Talks About Us On Greg Roberts Show

Around 6 PM tonight, I started getting emails, texts and even a phone call from old friends in the Roanoke Valley. 

They all had the same message: I'm in my car listening to Greg Roberts on the radio and Doug Doughty is talking about you and your site.

Greg does his shows not only for radio, but has live webcams capturing all of it, and when the show is over, he has the video and audio of it available for on demand on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GregRobertsLive. So of course after hearing all of this, I had to do two things: (1) Since the show is on Facebook and I took down the dullesdistrict.com Facebook page two years ago, I had to scramble around and get it back up. If you'd like to follow us or like us on Facebook, just go to https://www.facebook.com/dullesdistrictcom. It's the website address without the "dot."

Second, I had to find the video and watch it. I really enjoyed hearing Greg ask Doug about his contract, his marching orders, and if he was told to write about anything specific. Here's what I told him, Greg: "Write about any daggone thing you want to write about, any time you want to." Today was really cool to see Doug's byline and mine on the same page for the first time since early 1981, and I'd love to see it a few more times. And like our conversations back then in the big building on Campbell Avenue, I was talking about Virginia Tech and he was talking about the University of Virginia.

I'm now embedding the video for all to see and watch. Doug's part starts around the 58 minute mark. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

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Three Years To Develop A QB May Not Be Realistic

I am not like those that rage at Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen and dream of his reassignment to store clerk at a local Blacksburg convenience store, although I will confess he has on occasion caused me to invoke the name of the Almighty when outside of a church setting.

Despite this, I did find a couple of things he said yesterday in a press conference a bit puzzling. The one comment that seems to have caused the most controversy didn’t really bother me much, because everyone who has followed the team last year probably has had a touch of that sentiment as well.

“Going into the season, knowing we had three capable guys, probably what would happen is we would retain one and then two guys would go somewhere else,” Cornelsen said. “So that was definitely not a surprise.”

You knew the first night of the season it was going to happen, and the guy to leave was going to be Quincy Patterson. He rarely saw playing time, but when he did, he made big plays. The game against North Carolina will always be a classic, as he made big runs and completed a pressure 4th down throw, plays that if he doesn’t succeed at, the Hokies lose. But once others healed from injuries, Quincy became the forgotten man.

If I’m annoyed by the statement, it would because he so openly admitted this thought while apparently doing nothing about it. Handling people is an art, not a science, and once you realize you don’t have three footballs for all 3 QBs to throw in a game at the same time, you make it a focus to keep all 3 feeling involved. If you do, you might keep all 3. Worst case, you only lose one.

The Hokies apparently handled it like a bad third baseman booting a line drive, losing Patterson AND Hendon Hooker.

That, however, is the past, and you can’t do anything about that. It was his comment about his beliefs that a quarterback needs to commit to a school for at least 3 years to be able to develop in his system. “Most of those guys (who left) did that and you saw both of those guys continue to take those steps as third- and fourth-year guys in the same system,” he said. “And that’s what it takes.”

I’m not sure I’d be all that excited about hearing that if I’m a top-flight quarterback out on the recruiting trail. With the transfer portal changing the college game, that sounds a lot like dial-up modem thinking in a high-speed internet age. There is no substitute for live snaps in a live game for the development of a quarterback, and hearing “three years to develop” just doesn’t seem like a realistic goal these days.

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Why I'm Counting The Days Until Spring

I live with a snow drama queen.

At this time of the year, I constantly hear of mythical creatures with names like Topper, Kammerer and Sue Palka. The sound of their voices – along with their forecast of a high snow accumulation – can drive my house into a frenzy.

She remembers the hits and the misses, and has a long memory about the misses. It can be the middle of a summer, when the local news turns to the weather, but you can still hear “he lied to me” like a scorned lover as she remembers the time the forecast called for a foot of snow, but barely two inches accumulated on the driveway.

She can tell you the difference between the Euro and NAM forecast models, and why the one that calls for the most snow is always the right one. She can’t tell you the names of the nuts in a can of Planter’s mixed nuts, but she knows some person named “Jay’s Wintry Mix” like he was a member of the family.

She values accuracy and despises guesses. Forecasts that call for 5 to 12 inches of snow cause her distress. “They might as well just say the forecast is from zero to 82 inches,” she laments. Then she changes the channel and her mood when a new weather person says 7 to 19 inches, because at least on the low end it means more snow.

She can speak at length of what it means when the flakes are small, and when the flakes turn into fluffy pillows of frozen condensation. Dare not say the size of the flakes mean the storm is about to end. It won’t end well for you.

Experience means something to her, and when the associate weather person not named Topper, Kammerer or Sue Palka gets a little too cavalier in talking about the serious business of snowfall, she turns into a character in Mean Girls, asking out loud “who do they think they’re talking to? That’s lame.”

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Rest In Peace, Marty Schottenheimer

I was saddened to learn today of Marty Schottenheimer’s passing. Was even more saddened to see some in the media focus their stories not so much on a successful, regimented teacher of the game, but instead shining the light on his 5-13 record in the playoffs.

That’s not fair.

Schottenheimer passed away yesterday from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease while in hospice care, and if you’ve ever watched a family member deal with that, well, you know that’s not fair either.

Schottenheimer was an old-school coach who insisted on rugged defense, a Vince Lombardi-type running game, and doing things the way he taught them. No one was immune to it, either, as he even once critiqued Darrell Green’s way of returning punts, despite Green being an all pro and student of the game.

With his passing, I remember the day with Green, the straw hat he wore in practice (I even went out and bought a replica and called it the “Marty” hat, and my initial belief that when he came to Washington, the game may have passed him by. All this attention to detail and strict views on conformance to how he viewed football, I thought at the time, won’t work any more.

Then it did.

The Redskins started off 0-5, his coaching ways were mocked, and folks wondered for the first of many occasions if Dan Snyder had a clue. He had, after all, fired Norv Turner in the middle of an 8-8 season, one year after going 10-6, then winning a playoff game against Detroit before losing the division final to Tampa.

8-8 may not have been great, we all thought at the time, but it beat the heck out of 0-5.

Marty never wavered in insisting his plan would work. He had bounced Jeff George a couple of weeks into the season and was willing to rely on a tough defense, Tony Banks at QB, and a belief in the players he had.

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Super Bowl Wasn't Great, But It Had Its Moments

Sunday’s Super Bowl wasn’t one that kept you on the edge of your seat, so when I look back at the evening of viewing that went from 6:30PM until a little after 10, I judge it the way I judge my golf game: There were enjoyable moments, even if the sum total of everything wasn’t that great.

I mean, you knew Tampa was going to win after Tom Brady threw his second touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski. Patrick Mahomes made some incredible throws that his receivers must have been in such awe of that they dropped them, but after the first quarter, there was never a doubt in my mind the Bucs were going to win. It was just a matter of how much.

So my attention veered toward other things, from the commercials, to the halftime show, to wondering if Tony Romo was ever going to shut up. I’ll save you the any further thought on that one: No, he never did.

But these are the things I’ll remember if you ask me about the game a few months from now:

  • Bruce Arians, accepting the Super Bowl trophy and making a point of giving a shoutout to his 95-year-old mother, who was there in the stadium. “Love you Mom,” Arians said before the down-to-earth coach uttered another Arianism, saying the trophy really belonged to the players and assistant coaches. “I didn’t do a damn thing,” he said.

  • Tom Brady, being similarly humble and refusing to get trapped in a question about comparing how this title felt versus the six others he won in New England. He just credited Arians, his coaches and his fellow players, but that’s not what caught my eye. It was how cool, calm and collected he was while his daughter – who looked like an exact mini-me of his wife Gisele – was jumping up and down trying to play with the Lombardi Trophy. If you've ever been a parent,  you know that takes pretty incredible focus and patience.
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World Now Finding Out What Hokies Have Known For Years

The first real newspaper I worked for was a twice-a-week newspaper called the Blacksburg Sun. Being the low man on the totem pole back in 1976, I got the assignments nobody wanted, so my first story was about a high school football game between Christiansburg and Floyd.

The game was at Floyd, in fog and rain. If you’ve never driven uber-curvy Route 8 in those kinds of conditions at night in Southwest Virginia, you just don’t appreciate what gripping the steering wheel tight really means. Plus if on the way back home you misread the signs and ended up on 221 instead of 8, you got the bonus experience of driving some of the most deserted backwoods stretches of pavement in the region before arriving at Bent Mountain and eventually Roanoke an hour later.

If you were a 20-year-old kid like me, this meant instead of getting home at 10 to write that story, you instead arrived home at 1 AM. The story got finished at 3 AM. Then you had to get up at 7 to turn the story in and get ready to cover your first Virginia Tech game.

Access was different back then for media, as if you wanted to write a story on someone, you made a phone call and were usually told “when can you be here?” An interview was set up by the paper for me to sit in the coach’s box instead of the press box, and I was to watch a graduate assistant handle his duties from there. Then I’d write a story about it.

The GA was friendly and helpful. He pointed out things that were being done and explained them fully. He also pointed out things I should avoid, as they were taking black and white polaroids of formations of both teams, marking them, and sending them down to the field in an envelope attached to a string that ran down to the bench. Some, he said, were OK. Some, he admitted, were not.

The game ended and I wrote a very forgettable story. I was new to all this, so I just regurgitated every quote I had written down, then forgot about it all. I had survived the weekend, filed my story, and was well on my way to earning the $1.90 an hour I was being paid that would come to me in a check that Friday.

I never thought much about that story until coming across it in an old box of worn, yellowed newsprint from 40 years ago. I read the story, thought it sucked even worse than when I wrote it, but saw the name of the GA.

His name was Bruce Arians.

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Stop Me If You've Heard This One: I Can't Believe It. Again.

I’ve watched Virginia Tech football and basketball for close to 50 years, and never have I been so convinced that the Hokies had lost the game I was watching as I was around 1:45 PM today.

Shows you what I know, as for the second time in the last seven days, I had to admit it: I could not believe what I just saw.

After leading by 11 with 8 minutes to go, the Hokies started making silly mistakes, which led to Miami going on a 10-0 run to put the Canes back in the game. As that familiar uneasy feeling of blowing a game down the stretch started getting bigger and bigger to Hokie faithful, the teams traded baskets until Justyn Mutts hit a free throw to tie the game at 71-71 with 11 seconds left.

Long-time Hokie watchers knew what was coming next, and Miami’s Isaiah Wong did not disappoint. He launched a 3-pointer in the final seconds that was dead-center perfect, ripping through the nets as Miami players danced and celebrated. I immediately thought “well, that’s two losses in a row, goodbye top 25 rankings, this one is really going to hurt.” Probably the toughest loss of the Mike Young era.

Or was it?

With 2.4 second left, the odds of tying the game were right up there with winning the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots in the same weekend. Technically there was a chance, but realistically there was none. A pass to halfcourt was batted away by Miami, giving the Hokies the ball with 1.7 seconds.

Then Al Michaels was back in my ear asking “do you believe in miracles? YES.”

Wabissa Bede threw a perfect pass to Hunter Cattoor as he came around a screen in the corner. Cattoor calmly took one dribble, turned, went straight up and drilled a 3-pointer crisply through the nets. Pandemonium ensued. The game was tied, and the game went to overtime.

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Here's A Video You Weren't Expecting To See

There are some things you see in scrolling through bulletin boards and the internet that you find yourself asking out loud things like "why did they do that?"

Such was the case this morning when I checked out what was going on in "The Lounge" on the Techsideline.com board. Someone posted this video, which is a mashup of Huey Lewis' "Hip To Be Square" and Metallica's "Enter Sandman", which has long enjoyed anthem status at all Virginia Tech sporting events.

My mind is still wrestling with all this. I have questions, starting with why, then moving on to who's idea this was.

Plus if you look closely when a bunch of people come onstage to be backup singers, you will see Joe Montana and Dwight Clark of San Francisco 49ers fame among them.  

All I know is, hearing Enter Sandman at a Virginia Tech football game is never going to be the same again 😊

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These Are What Make A Super Bowl Super....

Because the Super Bowl is tomorrow, I found myself in the grocery store Friday picking up a few supplies. I mentioned this to a friend, who said because of the pandemic it’s only going to be him and his wife watching, so he was really dialing down the number of snacks.

My first response was “what are you, crazy?”

I’m a football purist, so I have literally watched every play of every Super Bowl ever played, starting when I was 11. But the football alone isn’t what makes the Super Bowl special. It’s the pregame and halftime shows, it’s the party atmosphere, it’s the gathering of friends either in person or virtually, and yes, it’s the food.

As I’ve told many a friend over the years, it doesn't matter if you’re coming or not, but I’m putting on a spread. The food is part to enjoy the game and part to celebrate the end of the football season, so if they last another 3 days in the fridge, so be it.

You also don’t have to be much of a cook to put on a spread either, and there are sales everywhere this weekend at grocery stores. It doesn't need to be gourmet quality; in fact, the cheaper the better. You're looking for decent bar-food quality, a good variety, and foods that are great to grab during a timeout that don't require using a lot of utensils. Here, for example, are some of the foods I’ll be having:

  • RIBS: Giant has St. Louis Style ribs for only $1.77 a pound. For $7, there will be plenty of ribs for the two of us for the next two days. Never cooked them? First thing to remember is whatever directions are on the package, ignore them. I once bought a pack of these same St. Louis ribs and the instructions said 90 minutes of cooking. They were only off by about 7 hours. Pork tastes best when cooked low and slow, so this afternoon, make up a dry rub of stuff like brown sugar, chili powder, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder. Coat both sides and let it sleep in the fridge until morning. Put them in at 215 and let them cook 7 hours. At that point, pull them out and coat with BBQ sauce. They should be falling off the bone. If not, throw them back in another hour. But that’s it. You need no cooking skill. Giant also has pork shoulders for 99 cents a pound if you want barbecue instead. Here's how you would cook that.
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I Knew One Day This Would Come Back And Bite Me

Well, I knew this was going to come back and bite me in the backside.

When the pandemic first started, one of the other major worries besides finding toilet paper and paper towels was the fact that hair salons and barber shops were closed. Since I was just about due to get a haircut when they were shuttered until late spring, I ended up going close to six months without a haircut.

That’s not that huge a problem if you’re an old man that never leaves the house. You just put on a baseball cap when you go to the grocery store and nobody notices your hair now makes you look like Sly and the Family Stone with patches of gray and perhaps and area or two of thinning coverage.

But for women, I have learned, it’s different.

I have always thought that men’s hair just starts to turn gray at a younger age than women’s hair, because you really don’t see women graying until a good 10 or 20 years after men do. I attributed it to factors men face, for example, maybe job stress.

I have now learned the reason should be attributed to a bunch of chemicals in a bottle, administered at a salon.

At least in my house, that’s how some of those “highlights” were darkened. While my wife could administer that herself while salons were closed, she could not cut her own hair. So she one day asked me to.

“It’s a trap,” my brain told me. “Like asking if this dress makes me look fat.”

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A Memory Of When You Could Disagree And Still Get Along

One of the reasons it’s now been a month since I’ve dropped all participation in social media is how the world has changed. Everything is absolute: You’re either a good guy (if you believe as we believe) or a  bad guy (if you believe as those OTHER people do).

There is no in-between.

Truth be told, by whatever standard you measure, some of the most successful people I’ve met have a little bit of both angel and devil in them. I know personally, I am capable of doing wonderful and generous things for others, but as my wife will freely tell you, I’m also capable of biting somebody’s head off in certain situations.

I think all of us, to a certain degree, are that way.

This reminds me of a story I wrote several years ago about a very successful person named Mitchell Gold. We both illustrated these traits, didn’t get along, yet respected each other. I’m not sure that would happen now, but since it was a really good story I think you’d enjoy, and even involves me getting an autograph from a dog, I’m going to rerun it.

Here is a tale of two hard-headed people, a furniture-signing dog, and kindness:

One of the great things about having a child is realizing they have no idea what you’ve done in life. It’s as if they think you’ve never left the house, and if you did, you certainly didn’t meet anyone interesting.

Such was the case Sunday when my daughter was reading The Washington Post Magazine. The cover story was about a businessman and gay activist by the name of Mitchell Gold, and I mentioned I’d like to read it to see how he was doing.

“You KNOW him?” my daughter asked, as if I had just grown a second head.

“Of course I do,” I replied, as apparently my daughter didn’t notice I had left the house for 25 years and worked in the furniture industry, allowing me to meet a lot of interesting people, including one Mitchell Gold. “He and I never got along, but he’s a good guy. He even built a piece of furniture for us that he customized just for you.”

Since she was 5 at the time, I suppose it was fair she didn’t totally recall all of that. So I began telling her the story of Mitchell Gold, and it immediately bought to mind how different times are from way back then. These days, you couldn’t disagree with someone the way Mitchell and I did back in 2000 and survive.

That’s because according to the rules of social media today, it seems that if you disagree with someone, they have to die. You have to destroy them. There is no middle ground. They need to lose their job, lose their career and be branded with a scarlet letter if you have a different view. Disliking them and respecting them at the same time is not allowed.

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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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