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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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Another Old Geezer Tale Of Back In The Day....

Since we all have a lot of spare time on our hands, I find myself thinking a lot. Like of all my 64 years, what was the best year of my life.

I’m not talking about the year that had the best events happen in your life. I mean, the year I got married was a great one. The year my daughter was born is another. Last year around November when the Nats won the World Series AND an adorable beagle/hound mix came home with me one Saturday was pretty sweet.

But best year? Probably 1974.

I started that year as a high school senior. I finished the year after one quarter as a freshman at Virginia Tech.

What made it so great? Well, those last months of being a senior in high school were very cool. Long-lasting friendships were made. We walked around the halls of Lake Taylor High School like we owned the place. There was the prom. Graduation. A summer like no other as we prepared ourselves to finally be free of the shackles our parents had placed on us. It was going to be great.

Once there, I would say those first couple of months shaped who I became as an adult. Curfews? We didn’t have any stinkin’ curfews. If we wanted to stay out until 5 AM, so be it. We were free.

But a funny thing happened on the way to all this freedom. One Saturday night, after several Fridays and Saturdays where it seemed we were staying out until 4 AM just for the sake of staying out until 4 AM, I decided I wanted to go to bed at midnight. I was scoffed at as being a lightweight, but I soon learned freedom involved the freedom to do what I wanted to do. And, I decided, I like to sleep.

As any college student encounters, there was no longer a parent waiting at the door when you came in 30 seconds before curfew to ask “have you been drinking?” So we drank. A lot. As the musical group Big & Rich once sang, we “drank enough to drown.” But after a couple of weeks of this, I tired of waking up with a bad headache due to a few calls to Ralph on the big white porcelain phone in the middle of the night.

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Time Flies When You're Having Fun...

According to the good people of Twitter, I have now been back posting on Twitter for 28 days. Which is kind of interesting, because I was gone for three weeks and swore I was never coming back.

It’s probably because I noticed something during those three weeks. And I encourage everyone who reads this that posts on social media to notice the same.

It wasn’t that I missed it. I just changed my routine so during the day I was reading something different – about a dozen books to be exact – and that sufficed.

But to be honest, my biggest concern during the shutdown hasn’t been COVID-19 or the economy. It is the mental health of a lot of people. I’m a pretty positive person, but during these months there have been days even I have felt like “what’s the point of getting out of bed?” I’m usually snapped out of that mood by a big brown and white dog poking its nose in my face, or my wife saying something snarky that makes me smile.

That’s all it takes. Which makes me lucky to have those two influencing my life.

But others aren’t so lucky. It starts with waking up with a case of the blues, and then turns into a vicious cycle that jumps to “am I going to lose my job?”, “how are we going to pay the bills?” and on and on. Some of my friends who are single/divorced and live alone have told me of days they never get out of bed because they’ve just become depressed wondering “am I going to be alone for the rest of my life?” in addition to everything else going on in the world.

I’m probably overly sensitive to this because twice in my life, people who were friends of mine took their own life. One was a good friend I had worked with for years; the second one involved someone who I was extremely close to. We had spent all day at a Nationals game only a few days before, and I had no clue anything was wrong.

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Recent comment in this post
Johnny Hurst

Good

I enjoy the Maggie pics of course but I like the cooking ideas too.
Sunday, 19 July 2020 12:06
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It's Time To Stop Looking The Other Way...

I retired from serious, full-time work about 2 years ago. Because I morphed into being a consultant in the autumn of my career, I now take on projects as they become available, but the days of taking on 4 clients at the same time and working 80 hours a week are over for good.

Most people, when they transition to a slower pace, struggle with finding something to do. In my case, I was blessed that “something” came looking for me. And it opened my eyes to something we’re all talking about right now.

The “something” is helping younger people trying to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives. When you are a consultant, you work with a group of people at a company for a short period of time, then move on to the next assignment. During that short period of time, you work with a lot of people, make friends, and at times become someone worthy of trust to people you may never see again.

One day, a few weeks after I had completed working with one company, I got an email from one of the people I had met. She was a 30-something single mother, and she was fed up with her working environment. She asked if I could help her find another job, and I guess she was expecting me to say I’d call around. But instead, I did what I have done with others: asked her to print out her current resume, and we met at a nearby coffee shop so I could read her reactions to my suggestions.

It is very common in my experience that young people are very good at documenting what they have done, but overlook positive skills regarding what they are capable of doing. So after reviewing her resume, I started telling her some things I had witnessed her doing at her current job that were very positive and would be a real asset to any company.

She started to cry.

It turned out she had worked for 10 years for a boss who was very good at telling her what she was doing wrong. She had rarely, if ever, been told what she did well. Hearing such positive things kind of momentarily overwhelmed her.

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Celebrating On The 4th Of July...

I realize these are strange and unusual times, where some people are actually urging others NOT to celebrate today’s 4th of July Independence Day.

But don’t waste your breath trying to convince anyone at my house.

We celebrate it big. Every year. I’ve got two refrigerators and two freezers and I’ve been filling them up with stuff all week. I’ve got seafood. I’ve got hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken. I’ve got enough potato salad to build a small fort. I’ve got pies, cakes and enough other things to put you in a sugar coma.

I’ve also got the memories of a father serving on a destroyer in the Pacific in World War II, as well as a father-in-law being told “GO!” as his troop carrier came to a stop in the shallow waters in front of Normandy Beach on Dec. 6, 1944.

For many, many months, those two – as well as hundreds of thousands like them – did not spend their time doing Google searches and performing linguistical gymnastics in search of a phrase or statement that could be judged and condemned by today’s modern woke standards.

Instead, they picked up a gun, manned a post, and fought for our freedom, spending many a night wondering if they would be alive the next morning to face another day.

They weren’t scholars, societal experts, or even college graduates. They were scared high school kids called to serve, and they did so without reservation. They watched friends and fellow soldiers give the ultimate sacrifice, while they spent the rest of their lives doing the same bit by bit as they tried to forget all the awful things they saw. I asked them both in their final years to talk to me about what happened back then, and they still wouldn’t. It both changed - and haunted - them forever.

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When I Say It Sometimes Seems Like A Zoo Around Here....

I suppose if there is an upside to all this quarantine nonsense, it’s that it has allowed me to spend a lot more time outside in the backyard.

Which has revealed to me that I must live in some kind of nature sanctuary.

I suppose it’s always been this way, but I’m not an outside person. I can’t stand heat, so once the temps start becoming 90 on a regular basis, I hunker down inside with the AC blasting. I have an old friend who I play golf with weekly and he knows once the forecast has highs in the high 80s with humidity, he won’t see me again until September.

This summer has been different. For one, I now have Maggie the WonderBeagle, who would stay outside all day if I let her. As she is still a pup, we started with the idea she’d always be supervised in the backyard and as time went on, maybe she could have more time without Dad standing with his arms crossed watching.

But then Einstein decided to go running with a big stick in her mouth and disaster almost struck. She had it by the very end of the stick, the end broke off in her mouth, and since she was running with it, she breathed in and got the stick end stuck in her wind pipe. She immediately threw herself on the ground coughing and choking, and fortunately I was only seconds away.

I stuck my hand deep in her mouth, got my fingers on the end of the stick and was able to pull it out. Maggie of course then stares at me like “what’s the big deal?” but that little incident all but assured she’ll NEVER be outside without supervision in our fenced in backyard.

Because our back yard is a very wide pie shape, Maggie can run from one corner to the other and get a very good workout. So I started setting up a chair, an outdoor table and bringing a cup of coffee outside to give her all the time she wants 6 or 7 times a day. It is during these times I’ve noticed things I hadn’t previously been aware of.

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Thanks To My Daughter, It WAS A Happy Father's Day

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and the holiday proved once again (to me at least) that if you’re going to have children, at least one of them needs to be a daughter.

The story actually begins on Friday. My wife has been complaining for some time about the furniture we have in the kitchen nook area of our home. When acquired back in 1993, it was a stylish contemporary table with a 60-inch round thick glass top with a nice beveled edge to it. The four chairs were made of whitewashed rattan to match the base and were on casters.

For years, they were comfortable and functional.

But some time shortly after the furniture celebrated its 25th birthday, my wife started to suggest it was time for a change. The chairs were looking dated, and she wanted something new. Because of the neutral nature of the table and the way it seemed to fit perfectly into the particular area of the house, it could stay. But the chairs needed to be replaced with something more modern and stylish, she said.

My wife believes that I am very talented when it comes to making money and have proven this repeatedly throughout my life. She also believes I have great difficulty actually spending this money, and will be more than happy to provide proof of this should anyone ask.

So at dinner that night, in a weak moment when one of the casters on my particular chair broke, I may have softly said “maybe it’s time to replace all these chairs.”

Immediately the bat signal went out. Surprised I even said this, she took no chances on me having second thoughts. My daughter, who was going to visit for Father’s Day, was immediately called and texted. She was at the house Saturday morning at 9 AM. Those two were going to find four new chairs.

It’s interesting to note that in the previous three months, my wife had been so concerned about COVID-19, she did not leave the house. I did all the grocery shopping and took care of all chores that involved putting on a mask and leaving the house. I have been instructed by her to wash my hands so many times the skin on them looks like lobster claws. If I go outside, check the mailbox and return with nothing in my hands, I am still greeted with “go wash your hands.”

But new casual dining chairs are apparently kryptonite for COVID-19. They shopped all afternoon, yet returned disappointed and defeated. They could not find what they wanted.

At least on that day.

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Happy Father's Day! Man, Does Time Go By Fast....

Since today is Father’s Day, I find myself remembering the past. And just how fast time flies.

My first Father’s Day was in 1996. My daughter and I were both wearing Virginia Tech shirts, which was kind of our thing for most of our lives since she seemed to live a charmed life with regards to the Hokies. Two days before she came home with us, Virginia Tech had played Miami in football, were 0-2 at the time, and life didn’t look too good for Frank Beamer, Jim Druckenmiller and company. But somehow the Hokies won, and my daughter never experienced a loss that first year.

Later on New Year’s Eve, she was wearing a tiny Virginia Tech sweatshirt and slept on my chest as I watched the Hokies stun Texas in the Sugar Bowl. Several times I whispered to her that one day she too would graduate from Virginia Tech. She replied by snoring.

I also called my Dad that day to wish him a happy Father’s Day and his response was “welcome to the club!” and wished me a happy Father’s Day in return for the first time. Which was very cool.

Fast forward 10 years. It’s June 18, 2006 and my neighbor has a problem. He has two tickets for the Nats-Yankees game at RFK. The person he was going to go with bailed on him. Upon hearing this, my wife said “go and have a good time.” So my neighbor and I went, the stadium was packed, and it was a nice sunny day.

The only problem was the three fans seated in front of us. They were highly obnoxious Yankee fans, they never stopped talking the entire game, and they weren’t a lot of fun to be around. They talked trash every waking moment of the game until there was one out in the bottom of the ninth and the Yankees were ahead 2-1.

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Recent Comments
Charles Gordon

Great article

Great article, enjoyed reading and glad to see you are back in twitter.
Sunday, 21 June 2020 08:57
Dave Scarangella

Happy Father's Day, Charles

Give my best to your Dad too. He did, after all, introduce us both to the world of cigars ... Read More
Sunday, 21 June 2020 09:40
Charles Gordon

Thanks and Happy Father’s Day

Will do, I’ll let him know. Speaking of cigars, I’m planning on enjoying one tonight.
Sunday, 21 June 2020 09:52
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After Six Months, This Sheep Finally Got Sheared

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve hated haircuts.

Part of it was growing up in the 60s, when long hair was seen as a positive act of rebellion. I was the son of a Navy Chief Petty Officer who insisted on taking me to the barbershop every two weeks whether I wanted to or not at the Amphibious base in Norfolk, and I hated it.

Navy barbers, I’ve learned, know only one way to cut hair: as much as possible. I once made the bold decision to ask the barber not to cut very much of my hair, and was greeted at the car by a parent who sent me right back in. Telling a Navy barber your Mom said “you didn’t cut enough the first time” is like saying “just shave my head.”

Then you’d go to school, and as is the male adolescent tradition, you would be needled unmercifully by your classmates.

As a result, I’ve never been a fan of haircuts. When the barber asks how I want my hair cut, I always say “make it look like you HAVEN’T cut my hair.” If my wife says “I think you need a haircut” I always wait another two weeks. I may be in my 60s, but when it comes to haircuts, I’m still an 11-year-old with post traumatic haircut syndrome from my days at Little Creek Elementary.

But not today.

Turns out when I wished everybody at the Royal Barber Shop on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, I had no idea I would not be seeing them again until the last day of May, 2020. I had been thinking the last week of February it was time for another haircut, but postponed going for a couple of weeks.

Then everything was shut down from the pandemic.

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Guest — Tony Banks

Art?...

my phone isn't magnetic like the games used to be to drag the metal filings to a hairstyle, but if I could -
Sunday, 31 May 2020 13:44
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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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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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