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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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Ice, Ice, Baby....

Let’s face it, I’m cheap.

So when something expensive around here breaks, my first instinct isn’t to necessarily replace. I usually see how much it will cost to repair and use this as a rule of thumb: If the cost to repair approaches 50 percent of what it would cost to replace, I replace. If it’s lower, I ask myself if there were a sale at that percentage, would that big a discount motivate me to buy something new?

As an example, if the repair is 20 percent of replacement value, I’d normally not get all that excited about a 20-percent off sale. At 50 percent off, I would. And all of this is predicated on if I have a reasonable workaround for the problem in the first place.

All of this brings me to the sad tale about the ice maker in my refrigerator-freezer. I bought it in 2011, and it’s a nice double door stainless steel unit with a place in the door to get ice and cold water. Only drawback has been that the ice maker has consistently been one giant pain in the backside.

It worked when it felt like it. Sometimes it loaded the ice drawer inside the unit with big pieces of ice. Sometimes it loaded the drawer with a half ice/half water mixture that froze into something more suitable for playing a hockey game on instead of floating in your beverage. Sometimes it didn’t work at all.

Last November, it decided to perform the ultimate act of rebellion. It not only stopped working, but leaked a large quantity of water through the bottom of the unit, making my basement resemble a rain delay at a Nats game. I had always heard of employees so mad that they went into the boss’s office, said I quit, then relieved themselves on the carpet.

My ice maker actually did.

Turning off the water supply to the fridge stopped the water problem, and a dry vac and a few fans took care of the basement. A repair man I trust came over to look at it and determined the issue was deep inside the unit, not just a leak in the pipe going to the refrigerator. He estimated most places would charge close to $500 to open up the back and get inside the unit to try to fix it. If it turned out to be something unusual, it could go as high as $900.

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All This Time Together Is Revealing A Few Family Secrets...

There is no question that being together ALL the time during this shutdown is revealing a few things about those that live in your house.

In some cases, secrets one may have had from another in the home are going to be revealed. I’ve seen a few stories say it could be a divorce-a-palooza after this is over because those extracurricular texts and phone calls that used to go unnoticed between people having affairs on the side are going to be much tougher to disguise. I would guess when you’re always in the same room with your family, you can only say “this is work related” so many times before somebody catches on.

In our house, the controversy being revealed involves our dog Maggie. For some reason, all our dogs have always afforded me alpha dog status and tend to listen to me as much out of fear of punishment as love and respect. Perhaps it’s just the tone of my voice that suggests to a dog “I don’t believe I want to mess with you,” but all our dogs have been that way.

This annoys my wife. We had two dogs for 16 years before we got Maggie, and my wife spoiled those dogs as badly as any canine could be. Not surprisingly, when she was in the house, those dogs sat with her, worshipped her and followed her everywhere she went. But if there was a clap of thunder or a sound that scared them, they were off her lap in a split second, trotting down the hall to find me and jump in my lap.

I guess they instinctively thought that in a fight, the big guy might offer more protection.

This controversy also extended to our daughter in her early years. My wife and daughter have an extremely close relationship and spend incredible amounts of time together. I used to call them sorority sisters the way they do so many things together, but when it came to discipline, my daughter was always a little more wary of me.

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One Heck Of A Day: Making Someone Laugh, Think, And Cry....

One week ago, I got this crazy idea that I should try to write 30 stories in the next 30 days and post them on this website. The rationale was it would give me a routine to get into, it would be something to do, and it would keep me from endlessly scrolling through Twitter, of which no good can ever come.

I had serious doubts I’d actually do it, filing it away with other thoughts such as exercising 5 days a week for six straight months, giving up my 6-cup-a-day coffee addiction/limiting my caffeine intake for an entire month, or spending a few days every week cleaning up the basement until all the old stuff that’s been down there for 20 years has finally been thrown away.

All those things start out with the best of intentions, but the motivation seems to fade quickly. So far in week one, I’ve done what I said I would, writing 9 stories in seven days. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with writing, as even when I was making a living doing it long ago, I didn’t particularly like to write. I did like what I read when I was done, so I was glad I did it.

That’s because the good stories you write have to come from somewhere inside of you. I used to be a sportswriter years ago, and quickly found out that anyone can tell you the score, what the key plays were and who the players were that made them. These days, I’ve counseled several young writers over the years that most people can watch the game you’re covering via television, so telling them about what their eyes already saw is redundant. You have to tell them more.

Jim Valvano once said “To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think - spend some time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that's a heck of a day.”

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Happy 100th Birthday Dad! One Day We'll Play Again...

Today would have been my Dad’s 100th birthday. He was quite a character, who taught me how to cook Italian food, a love of music, introduced me to golf, and oh yeah, he taught me to be cheap.

Right now in the background you can hear my wife saying “Well, at least you come by it honestly.”

I found myself thinking about the old man this morning (he passed away in 2006) because in his own way, he prepared me – like other fathers of my generation – for what’s going on now. He was 9 years old when the Great Depression arrived and it affected him the rest of his life.

Add in that his Dad had just arrived in Central Pennsylvania from Melfi, Italy only a decade earlier, and a decade later he would be in the Navy and end up in the Pacific during World War II, and you can understand some of his thrifty ways. He grew up with nothing and lived his young adult years on a ship during a World War wondering if he’d see the next sunrise.

Those conditions tend to make you a bit  cautious, causing you to constantly prepare for something bad that could happen. He passed that gene on to me, and it’s why on the spender-saver matrix, I’m so far over to the saver side that my wife has to force me to buy something she knows I really want. Otherwise, I go through a thought process that ends in “I don’t really need it” and I don’t buy it.

Lots of my friends have the same issue, and we talk about it all the time. We actually are envious of our children at times, who don’t appear to have such inhibitions. But it’s the way we’re hard-wired: work hard, pay off your debts, buy what you need and save the rest for a rainy day.

I even once said “Dad, there’s never going to be another Depression so you don’t need to do this” after he told me had put a couple hundred dollars in an old pretzel can filled with sand under the sink so in case anything happened to him, there’d be money to pay the electric bill and buy food for a month or two.

He’d be laughing at me right now if he were alive about that bit of wisdom I spouted off at him.

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Recent comment in this post
Guest — Tony Banks

WWII Dads -

I'm with you on the WWII perspective. As you know, your former Burger Chef manager served too, also in the Pacific, headed toward ... Read More
Monday, 04 May 2020 23:51
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Anybody Else Hear These Questions/Comments On A Regular Basis?

I have a theory about all of us. We live in the same house. We just have different addresses and last names.

Otherwise, we all seem to share the same common experiences in dealing with life, raising a family, etc. And with us all under house arrest, those similarities are probably now magnified. I’m guessing you may even see a few things on this list of the five most common questions/comments said in my house during the shutdown and think “been there, done that.”

Here’s the list:

  1. Am I mad at you about anything you did yesterday?” Yes, this gets asked about every morning by ONE of us. Being in close proximity for such a long period of time does lead to some petty skirmishes over monumental issues like “why didn’t you put that spoon in the dishwasher?” or “would it kill you to close the silverware drawer?” But usually the dispute is quickly forgotten (although if you reply with a particularly curt, witty and sarcastic answer, that WILL be brought up again in a conversation seven years from now). So each morning my wife will ask this to make sure the wronged party knows to start off the day feeling wronged.

  2. I don’t like your attitude.” This is a crowd favorite for both of us because it communicates an annoyance without specifically saying anything bad about the other. Tone, I’m discovering, is very important when under lengthy house arrest, and something as simple as saying “good morning” can sometimes elicit a “I don’t like your attitude” if presented in a less than robust way. Other questions including “where is the remote control”, “can you pass the butter” and “when was the last time the dog went out in the backyard” can also result in “I don’t like your attitude.” After this is all over, apparently I’m going to have to work on my presentation skills.
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While You're At Home, Be Careful To Avoid These 3 Dangerous Traps

OK, young bucks, class is in session. I see you from afar….you’ve been in quarantine, you feel relaxed, and you think you can just say whatever is on your mind because we’re all in this together. Right?

Wrong. That’s why today’s class is about the three traps to avoid while under house arrest. Fall into any of them and the next thing you know, you’ll be feeling the cold stare of two eyes belonging to your wife or significant other, arms crossed, shaking her head at you.

I MIGHT, ahem, be speaking from personal experience on this.

So trust me. Put down the phone, stop trying to decide which three free fast food items out of 9 you’d rather eat, or choose which house full of famous people you’ll never meet in real life that you’d like to stay at.

This is important.

TRAP NO. 1: By now, your Dad should have taught you to never answer any question that sounds like “does this dress make me look fat?” This is a ticket straight to Cold as Iceland, and the only correct answer is “no dear, you’re perfect in every way.”

But now there is a far more dangerous strain of this kind of question bought on by the extended house arrest. Beauty shops and barber shops are closed all over the land, and in some cases, the lengthy inability to see a hair specialist is resulting literally in us seeing some people’s “true colors.”

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Recent comment in this post
Guest — Steven Wade

Good tips!

Some lessons are best learned individually though. Helps to remember not to do it again!
Sunday, 19 April 2020 14:08
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Wake Up Maggie, I Think I've Got Something To Say To You....

Back in early September, it seemed like some magic was starting to happen to the Washington Nationals.

Turns out that magic went a little farther than baseball, at least for me.

The Nationals, as everyone knows by now, caught fire, went on a run through the playoffs and won the World Series. At the same time, it turns out, there was a tiny beagle puppy born somewhere in rural South Carolina.

If you’ve never spent any time out in the country, this can sometimes not be the best of things for a puppy. Out in the country, not all dogs are spayed or neutered. A litter of puppies can be born, and with not many people living nearby, nobody may want them.

In the case of this little pup, it wandered off and ended up in a shelter. A place, it turns out, that was considered a high-kill shelter. It was only 8 weeks old, but it needed to be wanted soon or it may not get to celebrate a birthday.

Meanwhile here in Ashburn, we had lost our two dogs of 15-plus years over the previous 9 months. My wife and I were crushed by all this, but we agreed we should wait some before thinking about a new dog. I thought we had agreed we’d at least wait until next spring.

Apparently “let’s wait until next spring” to my wife meant “start looking now.” For the last two months she’s been sending me emails daily with suggestions of dogs to be adopted. Not just one a day, either. At times there would be 4 or 5 emails, with links to 4 or 5 more dogs in each email.

We were having, as a famous line in a movie once conveyed, a failure to communicate.

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I Guess I've Put Off Writing This Story Long Enough...

Well, it’s been about 10 days, and I guess I’ve put off writing this long enough. It’s a tough story to write, but if you’re a dog person, you’ll understand.

My wife and I have always been dog people. We both had dogs growing up, and shortly after we got married in the early 80s, I struck up a conversation with the neighbor’s golden-german shepherd mix. We had a deal. When I got out of my car (where we lived you parked on the street) “Happy” would let out an adorable half-growl, half-bark, and I in return would come to the fence and hug her head.

Over the next few months, snacks and conversation got mixed into the deal, and her owner seemed to notice. One day there was a knock on my door and the owner asked a favor. She was moving, she explained, and could not take the dog with her. Would I like to be Happy’s new Dad?

For the next six years, Happy was our dog. Her passing was one of the sadder days in our lives, but a month later, we got a call from a friend who had a fraternity brother who had just graduated college. He had a 1-year-old black lab, and he too was moving to a place that wouldn’t allow dogs. So “Butch” came to our home and quickly healed a few broken hearts.

Butch came to us well-trained. Tell him to stay, he’d not move for hours. He had been raised in a fraternity of guys, so he immediately reacted to my male voice. You could walk with him without a leash because he was so obedient, as a simple expression got him to do what you needed him to do.

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Recent comment in this post
Guest — Marta Palos

Beautiful story

Dave, my condolences to you and your family. You're correct, as a dog person, I totally get it. My little guy is turning 16, and ... Read More
Wednesday, 17 October 2018 00:39
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Meet The Dennis Rodman of Canines In The Kitchen...

Rebounding in basketball isn't so much about jumping. It's about position. Knowing where the ball is going to end up landing. Being ready for the opportunity.

Based on those qualifications, if my dog Schnoodle had played basketball, the old girl would have made the hall of fame. No dog can read the kitchen, come up with a plan, and be where the odds are best that a mistake will be made. She doesn't look for food scraps. Food scraps fall in front of her. She is the Dennis Rodman of kitchen canines.

Today is a rainy day in Ashburn, and neither my wife nor daughter will eat leftovers (or even something twice in the same week). So since it is so dreary outside, I'm cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer of older foods coming up on an expiration date. I've turned three chicken breasts into chicken salad for sandwiches for the next few days; I have taken 1.5 pounds of ground beef and made it into a chili/taco meat mixture to go on hot dogs, baked potatoes or other assorted options over the weekend; yesterday I found this beautiful pork shoulder minding its own business in the back of the freezer. It has been appropriately bathed in a dry rub, had garlic inserted into it, and is peacefully resting until tomorrow.

Making these three dishes so there's plenty to warm up and eat on a moment's notice over the weekend involved doing a lot of chopping and mixing in various places in the kitchen. Schnoodle moved when I moved and always found the right spot. Making this more amazing is she lost her sight several years ago. But that does not hinder the pooch, as she has a nose with abilities the CIA would envy.

She's 15 years old and she unfortunately never got to play basketball. She could have been a contender. Instead, she roams the kitchen like a BOSS. And when it comes to kitchen scraps, she's the real MVP ????

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overcast clouds

74.5°F

Ashburn

Overcast Clouds

Humidity: 88%

Wind: 6.93 m/h

Fri

moderate rain

67/85°F

Sat

scattered clouds

54/75°F

Sun

sky is clear

48/66°F

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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