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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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What Happened With Darryl Tapp?

Exactly two weeks ago today, Virginia Tech co-defensive line coach Darryl Tapp tweeted something indicating he was serious about trying to repair relationships around the state, which had been the foundation of much of Frank Beamer’s success during the Hokie glory years.

I wrote about it in this story.

“To the former OG Hokies and my Hokie Brothers PLEASE HIT me up in my DMs,” Tapp tweeted. “VT will FOREVER be YOUR HOME. WE WANT YOU BACK AND NEED YOU BACK. Sincerely, Not A Random Guy. This is your brother.” Then he finished it with 17 turkey emojis.

Today I learned in addition to being “Not A Random Guy” he’s also “not a Virginia Tech assistant coach” any more. Last night it was reported Tapp has joined the San Francisco 49ers as their assistant defensive line coach.

That was quick.

Consider, if you will, the high probability executives from the 49ers did not wake up yesterday morning, decide they needed to look for an assistant DL coach in Blacksburg, VA, and by night time had worked out a deal to bring Tapp and his family 3,000 miles West.

Usually “the dance”, as I call it, involves about two weeks of contacting a person, talking through details of the new job, vetting the person, giving them a chance to come back with any other questions and comments and then securing a commitment to take the new job.

Which would mean “the dance” started at just about the same time Tapp sent out his tweet.

Which I find very curious.

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To No One's Surprise, I'm On Team "Old Guy"

When you’re covering a game as a sportswriter, you’re taught from the very first time you step in a press box to never pull for a specific team. “No cheering in the press box” is an old and timeless saying you’re supposed to abide by.

But there are no rules against pulling for a good story line. That’s what I was doing Sunday, since I seem to have the bad habit of being drawn like a magnet to teams that perpetually give me hope, then break my heart in the end.

Sunday, I got my wish.

The next Super Bowl will feature the matchup between two quarterbacks I wanted to see. The old man versus the young gunslinger. Experience versus youth. 80s rock versus hip hop. A QB that runs like a pregnant cow (even though he throws like a machine) versus a QB that runs like a gazelle. A ’67 Chevy versus a Tesla.

Tom Brady versus Patrick Mahomes.

I’ve never been particularly fond of the Patriots, but being part of the “old man” demographics, I feel obligated to pull for Brady. There are several reasons for this, and one is past memories of so many really good quarterbacks who had their day in the sun, then were dumped on the NFL scrap heap to finish off their days with other teams in less than stellar conditions.

Memories of Joe Namath only a few years after pulling the greatest Super Bowl upset ever in a Rams jersey is kind of depressing. Same with Johnny Unitas in a San Diego Chargers one. How about Kenny Stabler going from the ultimate Oakland Raider to finishing his days getting the heck beat out of him as a Houston Oiler?

Some weren’t all that bad, although I still do a double take when I see Brett Favre in a Minnesota Viking jersey or Joe Montana in Kansas City Chiefs colors. They did well, but never made it back to the big game. Only four QBs have gone on to another team – Brady, Peyton Manning (Colts and Broncos), Kurt Warner (Rams and Cardinals) and Craig Morton (Cowboys and Broncos) – and made it back to the Super Bowl.

Just hearing Craig Morton and the Broncos in the same sentence makes me thirsty for an Orange Crush.

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If A Tree Falls In The Forest, Does Anyone Read Its Post?

Just as I threatened to in my New Year’s Resolutions, this is the 25th straight day I’ve written something for the site. I’ve kind of gotten into a routine, and for the last week, I’ve even started each morning saying to myself I was going to take the day off, only to see something happening in the world and write another story.

Some of them I’ve been pretty pleased with. Which is now creating a minor dilemma for me.

I’ve never cared about numbers on this site, because it’s not a commercial site. But I also think anyone who creates something - and then thinks it’s pretty good – becomes proud of it and wants people to see it. This is where the numbers – or lack thereof – come in.

Nothing written here is ever going to go totally unseen because I’m blessed without about 60 subscribers who don’t mind me turning on a program that emails them a notification every time I post something new. I know that’s happening because any time I post something, you can see within about an hour that 20 or 30 people read the story immediately. (Shameless plug: there’s now a subscribe button up on the menu bar to make it easier)

This is a bit of a contrast from being on social media, where I believe you could post a link with only a picture of a rock and 200 people would click on it. That’s the advantage of sending a link out when you have thousands of people following you, and I’m fine with the smaller audience on most stories.

I also get the added benefit of what I really wanted in the first place with the email notifications in that because they’re getting an email telling them of the story, they don’t have to deal with likes or comments or anything out in the open. They can just reply to the email, and that allows for not only comments about the story, but additional comments of a more personal nature about life, family, etc. that I greatly appreciate. It builds a nice sense of community.

But then you get something like Friday’s story on Hank Aaron. I think it’s rare when more than 2 or 3 people take the time to write you and express a view on a story, but in this case, I got nine emails from subscribers indicating they really liked the story.

Cool, I thought, momentarily going all Sally Fields and thinking “hey, they like it.”

Then I checked the stats on the story from the control panel. Only 17 people had read it.

It was like the old saying about if a tree falls in a forest, does anyone hear a sound? So I answered two of the emails, asking one to repost the story on Twitter and the other to do the same on Facebook. Within an hour it was over 200. People who saw the story seemed to like it.

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Time For This Team To Stop Being Pushed Around

So much for a fun, peaceful Saturday afternoon, thanks to Virginia Tech’s basketball team.

The Hokies went up to Syracuse for a noon game and simply got bludgeoned by the Orangeman, losing 78-60. They had one of those days where they completed the grand slam of things you try not to do, as they didn’t shoot well, didn’t rebound well, didn’t play very good defense and threw passes that ended up in the scorebook as turnovers.

One or two of those you can survive. All four? Somebody warm up the bus.

It’s just one game in what has been a wonderful season, so I don’t know that it’s time to get too concerned. They've got good players and a great coach, and these types of games happen. But their strength has been balance: Naheim Alleyne, Hunter Cattoor, Jalen Cone and Tyrece Radford have all shown they can step up when needed and bury a 3-pointer. When that’s not working, they’ve had an inside game with depth too, as when a team doubles leading scorer Keve Aluma, Justyn Mutts and David N’Guessan can score and rebound just as well.

No longer are the Hokies a team that live by the three or die by the three. No longer are they a team where if their primary big man gets in foul trouble, the inside game goes in the round file. There’s depth, and it’s not just a big person coming in. It’s competent depth.

All of that was hard to see today. Syracuse figuratively punched Virginia Tech in the mouth from the very beginning, playing extremely physical against the Hokie bigs. The bigs then became like a quarterback that’s been hit on his last 7 passes. They played tentative as if they were bracing to get hit again, and it seemed to really affect Aluma.

He came into the game averaging close to 15 points per game and over 7 rebounds, but finished Saturday in Syracuse with only 2 points and four rebounds. There were missed shots normally made, missed dunks, and a general hesitation that led to indecision on whether to shoot or pass.

As one of the 10 commandments of basketball clearly states, he who hesitates is lost. Or at least prone to missing a shot or committing a turnover.

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Rest In Peace, Hank; The Spiral Notebook Has Finally Been Closed

I think for everyone, there comes a time when you are very young, and you first notice Major League baseball. Usually, you are nudged toward the game by a parent or a friend, and in the course of sampling it, you eventually find a favorite player you really like.

It is at that point, you truly become a baseball fan.

For me, that player was Hank Aaron.

They say heroes get remembered, legends never die, but today, the greatest baseball legend of my life passed away. Hank was 86.

I can’t tell you why I was drawn to Hank, other than it was a completely different dynamic when I was growing up in the 1960s. You got to watch baseball only once every week on NBC’s Saturday Game Of The Week, and your view of the majors was filtered by whatever team was good at the time. In the mid to late 1960s, that meant you saw a lot of the St. Louis Cardinals, as they made the World Series in 1967 and 1968, so you got to watch them and listen to Curt Gowdy drone on about something during the contest.

They became my favorite team, but in the course of following them, I became aware of this outfielder playing for the newly-minted Atlanta Braves in 1967. The team had just moved a year or two ago from Milwaukee, and as a sophisticated 11-year-old, I’d roll my eyes every time my Dad referred to them as the Milwaukee Braves.

”C’mon Dad,” I would say. “Nobody calls them that any more.”

Hank Aaron just looked cool. He’d come to the plate, look loose and relaxed, and then launch a pitch 400 feet over an outfield fence. He wasn’t just a slugger either, as he batted for average and got on base a lot. But it was the home runs that became a magnet for me with Hank.

A few years later, MLB would have a promotion that said “Chicks dig the long ball.” In the 60s, us 11-year-olds thought they were really cool too.

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Is It Worth It? To Some, The Answer Depends...

My young friend Ricky LaBlue just posted this story, where he looks at the all-day circus going on at the University of Tennessee, and asks the age-old question “is it worth it to cheat the system?”

I’ll let Rick tackle the Tennessee angle. I'll answer from the perspective of my lifetime, and how the answer to that question has changed quite a bit.

As a young man, the answer was easy: Of course it’s not. It’s wrong. That’s why they call it cheating. We were raised at a time when you lived by rules similar to those of golf. Know the rules, abide by them, and if you violate them, call them on yourself and accept the penalty associated with that transgression.

Obviously as you grow older, you discover life isn’t that simple. You find for some, the answer morphs into responses that qualify the answer with “it depends on if you get caught,” something I think of frequently when someone says they are sorry after being found guilty of cheating.

“You’re not sorry you cheated,” I think. “You’re sorry you got caught.”

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She's Always Going To Be A WonderBeagle To Me

Yesterday, I got a late start on my daily writing because it was time for Maggie The WonderBeagle to go see the vet.

Judging from the vet’s reaction, she now understands why I call her a WonderBeagle, even though the last time she was there, they had the audacity to say she wasn’t even part beagle.

That’s because when we first bought her to the vet the week after we had adopted her as a rescue in December of 2019, she weighed about 12 pounds and looked like a beagle. Our long-time vet said that she looked a little like a beagle, but she also seemed to be a plain ol’ hound, so her guess was she was a mix with more hound than beagle.

Because of the way vets work in these days of house arrest, the last few visits have involved dropping your dog off and whoever is available looks at her. But last December, our usual vet saw Maggie and came out to see me in the lobby.

“Is this that little dog you got from the rescue people that we talked about a year ago?” she asked. I nodded and she said “well I was wrong. This is a 100 percent American Foxhound. Beagles don’t weigh 65 pounds.” Sure enough, I looked on the AKC site and under American Foxhound is a picture that looks exactly like a male version of Maggie.

Sounds like the ghost of Elvis is trying to tell me she ain't nothing but a hound dog.

Elvis also sang "don't be cruel," so with all due respect, she’s still a WonderBeagle to me. And yesterday, she showed why to the vet who treated her.

Maggie is the sweetest dog I’ve ever had, but what makes her unique is I honestly think she believes she’s a human. As you saw a week or two ago in this picture, she doesn’t just crawl up in a chair or sofa and curl up in a ball. She sits up like a human.

If you’ve ever been to a vet’s examining room, then you know there is always an examining table, and right next to it is a chair, meant for the comfort of the dog’s owner, not the dog itself. When the assistant met me at the front door, she took Maggie back to a room, and when Maggie saw the chair, she assumed it was her.

She jumped up into it and sat there like a human, waiting for the doctor to make her next move.

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I Know What It's Like To Be 65 And A Former Sportswriter

Back in 1986, my career took me to High Point, NC, and for the next 14 years I would remain a resident of the Tar Heel state. During that time, the Carolina Panthers (and the Charlotte Hornets, for that matter) came into existence, launching a tug of war for my pro football soul.

A lifelong fan of what was then the Washington Redskins, the newbie in town was hard to ignore. The stadium was only an hour down the road, the area was flooded with Panther merchandise, and they were decent out of the gate, going 7-9 in that first season playing down at Clemson.

When they finished the new stadium in Charlotte (I was at the very first game, an exhibition contest with San Francisco) they were even better, going 12-4, getting good at just the time the Redskins were getting worse.

To say the least, I was torn.

Turns out in looking at today’s news, I didn’t really have to pick one or the other, because it sure is looking like the Washington Football team is becoming the Washington Panthers.

First it was head coach Ron Rivera, who then brought along some players and coaches from Carolina. Today, there are reports he’s chosen former Panthers' GM Marty Hurney as the team’s new general manager, and one of the first things he’ll have to do is decide what to do with the quarterback position.

Anyone want to take a guess where Cam Newton ends up in the offseason?

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In The Blink Of An Eye...

I suppose this morning I could write about Virginia Tech’s still improving basketball team. Or the NFL playoffs. Or even the Washington Capitals running out of gas in a shootout with the always hated Penguins.

But I can’t get the text I received during halftime of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest game off my mind. It was from my old friend Rick, who I’ve known since junior high in Norfolk, played dozens of rounds of golf with, and text back and forth snide remarks about local sports teams with when the Hokies or a Washington team is playing.

“Since you are not on Facebook you probably don't know I had a heart attack Thursday,” the text starts out, with all the matter-of-fact tone as if he was going to finish the text with “and then I drove to the store and got a gallon of milk.”

Um, what?

Rick is one of those friends I’ve known just about all my life that I was mentioning yesterday in this story, and to say it was a shock is an understatement. He’s a golf superintendent, so he logs more miles walking before 9 AM than I will all week. He has no family history of heart issues, and while he still eats like a college kid at times, he’s in relatively good shape for a guy whose age starts with a “6.”

We were just texting during the national championship college football game Monday. When the weather is decent, we have a standing appointment to play golf at his course as often as possible. Rick calls it “cheaper than a shrink,” because when you’ve known a person for that long, a 4-hour conversation in a golf cart can be a rich oil capable of soothing the soul no matter what life’s current situation.

You start the round exchanging pleasantries, go back in time to remembering being on the Stumpy Lake Golf Course out in Virginia Beach as 16-year-olds, then talk about sports, marriages, raising kids, even how our classmate Wendy Rieger on Channel 4 is the same age as both of us, yet still looks younger. Lies are told, triumphs re-lived, current life situations are vented.

Many a time the expression “I don’t remember it quite that way” is said, (there’s also a phrase similar to bovine waste products used) and attacks are made on each other’s memory, manhood and ability to play. By the end of the round, you’ve solved nothing, but you feel better because you’ve talked about things, you realize you’re not the only person in the world to struggle with an issue, and you go on until next week’s discussion of a brand new set of problems.

This is what old guys with old friends do.

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We Dug Coal Together, And I'm Glad We Did

I know I’ve been hammering this “small world” theme the last couple of days, but I experienced something yesterday morning that is on my mind, and makes me want to talk about it one more day.

I had dropped by a bulletin board for a website called Techsideline.com. I used to be a regular there for a couple of years, but lost interest two years ago. I had written this story Thursday, and since Cindy and Jean Farmer were probably well known to many there, I thought I would post the story for all to see.

There were replies to the story, which brought back more memories, which sparked more replies from me, which brought back more memories. After an hour or two, I realized I was having conversations with 15 to 20 people who I’d never met, whose real names I’ll never know, yet people who shared mutual friends with people I’ve known all my life. They even shared memories of some of the very things I remember warmly, and even one mentioned I was the Resident Advisor in his dorm.

Small world, indeed.

It kind of reminded me of the television show “Justified” (no, we didn’t shoot each other) that was based on a short story by Elmore Leonard two decades ago called “Fire In The Hole.” If you haven’t watched the series, it went on for years and was very enjoyable. It chronicled the exploits of Raylan Givens (the good guy) and Boyd Crowder (the bad guy).

The short story’s first sentence is “they had dug coal together as young men…” and the book launches into a fast-paced adventure where each tries to kill the other. Despite that, they still sort of remained friends, something that boggled the minds of every other character in the story and television show.

On the book’s last page, one character asks Raylan why that is. He answers with the final words of the story: “I thought I explained it to you. Boyd and I dug coal together.”

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Some Stories Just Seem To Live On Forever

Thursday, I posted this story about what a small world it’s been for me in the universe that is Virginia Tech athletics.

It ended up being read by quite a few people, and I got several emails in response. They all had the same request: Post the pic of Cindy Farmer and Mike Young in high school.

Sorry, can’t do that.

On a closed subscription site, maybe that could happen. But we’re out in the open for everyone to see, and while I have no issue with someone grabbing a picture of my dog talking into a microphone, or a big ol’ sandwich I just made, a prom picture is a little more personal. There's no way I could control where that pic went, so I’m not posting it.

But I will post one pic related to that story. Over the years I’ve been needled by a few friends when I’ve told the story because I did not put together Cindy and her Mom Jean having the same last name. In my defense, I’d like to point out I thought Farmer was Cindy’s married name, not her maiden name, so the fact that those two had the same last name did not register.

That hasn’t stopped a few wise cracks about all that from time to time. Take back in 2014, when Virginia Tech was playing Cincinnati in the Military Bowl in nearby Annapolis.

Cindy and her oldest daughter came up from North Carolina for the game and they sat near me and my old friend Doug during what ended up being a 33-17 Virginia Tech win. They had taken a shuttle over to the Navy stadium before the game, and since their hotel was on our way back to Ashburn, I told them to forget the shuttle and I’d give them a ride.

Walking back to the parking lot to get the car, we passed the sign you see in the picture above. Of course one of us said “you related to that Farmer too?”

Some stories, you see, just seem to live on forever 😊

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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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