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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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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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"I Am Truly Sorry To Say That You Were Right"

Last Friday, my good friend Paul Draisey and I were talking about a former co-worker at a local radio station we both worked at. The co-worker, who I’ll call Mike, hadn’t been heard from since losing his job a little over a month ago.

Our concern was real. Paul had known him for decades, while I only knew him the year I worked with him. But we both knew he had a drinking problem. Everyone did. As his boss, I had many conversations with him about it. And in the process, I learned a lot about the demons that haunt those afflicted with alcoholism.

When I was growing up, getting drunk was seen as harmless recreation. It’s what you did on Friday and Saturday nights to blow off steam. When I was going to Virginia Tech in the 70s, you were somehow less of a man if you didn’t drink until you passed out. Frats had “hairy buffalo” parties, where some sort of hay or straw was put on the floor. You drank until you couldn’t walk, then rolled around on the floor like a “hairy buffalo.”

Beer consumption was measured in six-packs, not cans. Hung over? Hair of the dog will get you back in the game. Mess with drugs? That will get you kicked out of school. But alcohol? No problem.

I could never handle it. The more I drank, the sicker I was the next morning. And thanks to youth and peer pressure, I kept at it. As the years passed on after college, however, I noticed it became easier to say “no thanks, I don’t feel like throwing up for hours tomorrow morning.” And after one flight too many where I found myself praying “Dear God, make this a smooth flight or just kill me right now,” I realized I didn’t want to drink any more.

If I'm at a party and not drinking makes someone uncomfortable, I'll nurse one for an entire evening. But as most of my friends will tell you, Diet Pepsi is my beverage of choice, and has been for many years. Offer me a bottle of scotch or a big piece of chocolate, and I’ll take the chocolate every time.

Folks like Mike never got to that fork in the road. They just kept on going. Sober, Mike was a good guy. On Mondays, however, when I’d guess he’d had a weekend to imbibe, he could be a terror. In the year I worked with him, he must have turned in his resignation a dozen times. Something would set him off, he’d blow up, and he’d quit. Hours later, he’d come back, hat in hand, and say he was ready to go to work again. I’d say fine, and we’d go on.

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Coming Face To Face With Facebook

Have you ever known something was going on, you knew it wasn’t good, but you just didn’t want to know? Like calling to get the results of your physical when you knew you’d been eating like every day was Fat Tuesday? Or going online to see just how big the balance on your American Express was a few days after Christmas?

Well, that’s sort of been my deal with Facebook. I strongly suspected that they weren’t exactly being on the up and up with most of us in terms of what they were doing with our information. But I didn’t really push because I knew if I did it wouldn’t be good. But last night during a break between basketball games in the NCAA Tournament, I did.

Facebook allows you to download the information they apparently are selling all over the world like an ice cream vendor on a hot day at Myrtle Beach, which I did. At first, I didn’t think it was such a big deal. There were folders and folders of pictures I had posted since 2009, and it was sort of nice to have them all in one big place if I ever wanted to find one. Over time, thanks to the advances in cameras on our phones, I’ve accumulated a lot of great pics and they are spread all over multiple computers and devices in my home. The good ones, I thought, are in this Facebook folder.

But then I started looking at the folder marked “html” and clicked on “ad.htm”. There were about 35 ad categories Facebook determined I should be part of. There was a history of every ad I’d ever clicked on. There were advertisers who were sold my contact info, many of whom I had never done business with and never will do business with.

Click on your profile info, and it’s the same as you’d see online. Click on contact info, however, it’s the email addresses of every person in your personal contacts. I must have early in my Facebook history approved an app that accessed my contacts and they are all there, probably sold to other companies.

The comes the histories. Every post, every pic, every video, every direct message, everyone you’ve friended, everyone you have unfriended…it’s all there with dates and times. Every time you logged into Facebook? It’s there too with date, time, IP address, the ID number of your device, the browser you used…everything.

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So Close, But So Far In Finally Being On A Jury...

For all of my 61 years, I’ve wanted to be on a jury. And probably half a dozen times, I’ve gotten something in the mail while living in three different cities, called the number they ask you to check the night before, and been told my services were not needed.

Last night, I got another chance. This wasn’t necessarily the night you wanted to be a winner because the NCAA Championship game was going to be on until after midnight, meaning getting up early to go to a courthouse the next morning would not be ideal. But when I called the phone number printed on the jury duty summons, they said Groups 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 AND 8 would need to show up. Numbers 9 through infinity could stay home.

Mine was No. 8.

Let me first say if you’ve reached the stage of life where you’ve retired (like I did two months ago) and you get used to getting up when you want to and easing into the day, that alarm going off at 5:50 AM is a bit of a jolt. I left the house at about 7:20 AM for the trip to neighboring Leesburg, reasoning that it’s one thing to be late to a business meeting; it’s another thing entirely when where you’re going they have people at the entrance with guns and handcuffs. This one I needed to be on time or early too.

Very early in the process I noticed just how addicted I have gotten to my cell phone. You can’t bring one into the Courthouse, so I left mine in my car. I parked at the parking garage across the street from where I thought I needed to go, then walked to where I thought the entrance would be. It wasn’t there and the Loudoun County Courthouse is one huge block where if you walk the wrong way, you’re going to pick up a couple thousand steps on your Fitbit making a lap around the grounds.

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Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter! Enjoy That Chocolate Bunny...

First of all, Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter!

Today is perhaps my favorite holiday of the year. If you are a person of faith as I am, it is the day of the resurrection. The day HE IS RISEN has particular significance. One of the two days just about everybody goes to church (known as the Christmas and Easter crowd, thank you very much) and a day of food, faith and family. Even if these are not your beliefs, the message of redemption, peace and a new start are cool notions all of themselves.

I judge a holiday by the memories in creates. No offense to the days off commemorating Presidents Day or Memorial Day, but I doubt you can tell me what you did on those days as a kid. Christmas and Easter dominate those memories, and Easter is particularly rich in such. From the time you were a kid hunting for Easter eggs, to the time you stayed up late, dyed a bunch of eggs as if they were going to be on display one day at the Louvre, then hid them in the front yard before turning your own children loose. All while trying to capture video of the event while your spouse played the role of the director.

Those rich memories also include Easter sunrise services, because they provided some particularly peaceful moments. But they are for the young, as I have found them to be a survival of the fittest contest. As the name suggests, the services start at sunrise, and unless you are blessed with natural beauty, this involves getting up a few hours before sunrise to get dressed and be there. In my younger days, I worked in the newspaper business where you didn’t get home until 2 AM after putting together the last edition of the Sunday paper. Since you’d be getting up at 4 AM anyway, I’d just stay up, power through everything, then after a hearty Easter meal go search for an unoccupied sofa to “meditate.”

But the greatest non-religious aspect of the Easter tradition is the chocolate Easter bunny. Back when I was a kid, there was an arms race with these bunnies, as you had to show your kid how much you thought of them by buying the biggest one there was (now you just buy them a $1,000 Iphone). There wer of course the eggs, jelly beans and other assorted items in the Easter basket, but the centerpiece was the chocolate bunny, roughly akin to the turkey on the Thanksgiving table. It had to be good.

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Back In The Day, You Could Disagree & Still Respect Someone

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.

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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