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On An Easter Sunday 46 Years Ago....

Since today is Easter, I find myself thinking of another Easter Sunday I experienced 46 years ago in the spring of 1975.

I honestly can’t remember a lot of the details to it. But I was a freshman at Virginia Tech and did not have a car. This meant on holidays if you wanted to go home, you needed to hitch a ride with someone, because there was no cost-effective way to go from Blacksburg to Norfolk. Easter fell outside the spring break that year, so it was really just a 3-day weekend, and I decided to remain on campus.

Whether it was Blacksburg, Norfolk or New York City didn’t really matter in terms of what to do that Sunday morning. It was still Easter, so I got up and went with a friend to a local church. Not surprisingly, it was crowded the way Christmas and Easter always are, and being college kids, we dutifully pursued and found seats just about as far in the back as possible. No need getting too far up front and risk having people you’d never met come up to you and try to start a conversation.

But as the service concluded, that strategy failed. A nice woman asked the two of us what we were doing for Easter lunch, and rather than say “going back to the dorm, eating mystery meat at the dining hall and then taking a 3-hour nap” I just said “I’m not sure.”

She, however, WAS sure about what we would be doing.

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This Is One Opening Day I'll Never Be Able To Forget...

Since it is a dark, gray day, and Opening Day is later this week, allow me to share a memory.

It is of an Opening Day 9 years ago that had me filled with excitement. It later turned to one of my darkest memories, and something I think about every year. In light of what’s been going on with younger people during this year-plus of being out of school and staying at home due to COVID, I think about it even more this year.

I’ve been blessed with friends who are baseball fanatics. I like baseball, don’t get me wrong, but these friends absolutely love it. One friend, whose name was Paul, insisted that I always go with him to Opening Day. From the first year the Nationals came to DC until 2012, he never asked whether I wanted to go. He just said he’d gotten the tickets and what time he was coming by the house.

He was that way with the last game of the season, too. Missing either in a season was like a religious person missing church on Easter Sunday. It was important to him, and you had to be there.

Every year on the drive to at first RFK, then Nats Park, the conversation was the same. We’d ask each other if this year would be the season the Nationals finally broke through and made the playoffs, and despite evidence to the contrary, would convince ourselves the answer was “yes.”. We’d endured the beginning of some bad 100-loss seasons in the past, but we always rationalized about the next season and how changes made in the offseason would somehow mean this coming season was OUR year.

Thursday, April 12, 2012 was no different. We convinced ourselves this would be the year the Nats made the postseason, and like every year, we believed it. Because of traffic that day, we’d spend 7 hours together between riding in the car to the stadium and watching the game while debating all this.

It ended up being a very good game. Paul was not a fan of Jayson Werth, and after riding him all day every time he came to the plate, Werth repaid the criticism with a single in the bottom of the 10th to move Ryan Zimmerman to second. A ground out moved both over a base, and with two outs, Zimmerman would then score the winning run on a wild pitch.

We all went home happy.

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Dave Fulton

Inexplicable

My best friend since kindergarten and partner in racing & all the Richmond minor league baseball games we could attend came home f... Read More
Sunday, 28 March 2021 12:18
Kimberly Teglas

Hit Home

I taught middle school for 36 years before retiring 3 years ago. In my 7th grade class the year I retired, I taught a beautiful, b... Read More
Sunday, 28 March 2021 14:58
Dave Scarangella

To be honest

I may have had a towel nearby as I wrote the story. Some emotions never go away....
Sunday, 28 March 2021 15:16
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Jalen Cone Latest Player To Enter The Transfer Portal

When I heard the news Monday that Joe Bamisile had entered the transfer portal, my first thought was “I’m surprised it wasn’t Jalen Cone.”

Today, it was.

Cone tweeted that he was leaving, saying “I don’t even know where to begin…Virginia Tech has become my second home. I have built relationships that will last a lifetime and learned so many things here. I’ve gained new family and made memories that will never fade. There is no place like Blacksburg and nothing can replace it.

“I want to thank the staff for giving me tremendous opportunities and helping me through this journey. I want to thank my teammates for always pushing me, the great memories, and becoming my brothers for life. To the basketball program as a whole, y’all can never be replaced. To the students and people of Blacksburg, thank you for believing in me and being the best fans ever.

“After prayer, giving it long thought and conversation with my loved ones, I’ve decided to reopen my recruitment and enter the transfer portal.”

It would appear Cone looked at the same stats Bamisile did when looking at potential minutes he might get next season. A week ago, Virginia Tech had 9 guards on its roster when including transfers and signees, and assuming Wabissa Bede doesn’t come back and Bamisile leaving, the number was still 7. Cone’s departure moves it down to 6, assuming the Hokies don’t acquire anybody else from the transfer portal.

Cone played in 15 games this season and started four before missing the final four games of the season due to an ankle injury. The handwriting was on the wall for him, however, in watching the NCAA Tournament game against Florida, just as it was for Bamisile. In that overtime game, 95 percent of the minutes played went to just six players for Virginia Tech, and four of them were guards:  Bede, Hunter Cattoor, Tyrece Radford and Nahiem Alleyne.

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Since It's The First Day Of Spring...

Since today is the first day of spring, I find myself thinking about one year ago.

There was no NCAA Tournament – or live sports for that matter – so we all watched in huge numbers a 10-part Michael Jordan ego-enhancing series on an NBA season not even in this century…just to get our sports fix. Last night, partly because of disappointment over Virginia Tech losing to Florida and partly because of college basketball overload, I didn’t even have the television on.

There was no Major League Baseball season and traditional opening day about to occur in a week. Perhaps it’s the lingering effects of that which make me think when they talk about a minimum number of fans being able to attend, they’re talking about some date way off in the future instead of only 10 days from now.

You couldn’t buy what you wanted when you wanted to, particularly paper products. I handle all the buying of groceries and consumables in my house, and I used to have a pretty easy system. When somebody said we were down to the last three rolls of toilet paper or paper towels, I scanned the grocery ads to see if anyone had them on sale, then went and replenished our stock.

Now, when my wife mentioned the other day that we were down to only two 12-packs of both products and she was opening one of them, I felt like I had to replenish the supply. I did, and there’s an entire corner of the guest room filled with toilet paper, papers towels and tissues. There’s no issue now, as Amazon regularly contacts me asking if I want to buy more and it can be here in two days.

But I was in a warehouse club earlier this week, and I just couldn’t resist all those big 12 big rolls = 137 regular rolls of Bounty just sitting there, secretly whispering to me “one day you’ll wish you had bought one more pack.”

A year ago I actually ran out of the type of coffee filters you use in a device called a Chemex. They were a little difficult to find any way, but when it comes to coffee, I don’t mess around. I discovered that if you were a regular Joe, everyone was sold out, but if you subscribed to the product through a place like Peet’s, they’d find some for you. So I’ve been getting a box of 100 every 8 weeks, even though I only use maybe 50 every 8 weeks.

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Dave Fulton

On Record

Please let me go on the DullesDistrict record as the one individual who did not watch a single episode of the MJ marathon.
Saturday, 20 March 2021 11:52
Dave Scarangella

It's nice to know

One of the 13 people who did NOT watch
Saturday, 20 March 2021 12:11
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There Are Signs Out There Of Things Returning To Normal

Once upon a time, as a retired guy, I looked forward to that one day a week when I ran errands and got things done.

I called them “Thursdays.”

When you’re retired, you never really rush to do anything unless it involves the last serving of a decadent dessert on the counter in the kitchen, so I’d ease into the day with a few cups of coffee, a few bits of conversation with my wife, and a few snuzzles from Maggie the WonderBeagle.

The errands came first, and like the days of old, yesterday I took my wife to her appointed place to get the second of the COVID vaccinations. I always do this for all medical situations with her because it not only makes it easier when someone drops you off at the door, I’ve found as we grow older, there’s this slight bit of nervousness that accompanies all visits to a doctor. It’s like an inner voice that asks “am I OK? Am I having a side effect?”

Having a big, burly bodyguard in the car available to listen to all this and respond with feedback as to what is real and what is imagined, can be comforting. Plus, if there is a real issue, my vehicle knows the way to quickly get to places that can provide further assistance.

Expecting it to take a long time, I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly the vaccination process went. I couldn’t even get through the first round of senseless arguments on Twitter before I saw her returning to the car, so after taking her home, I decided to go on to the next item on my list: getting a haircut for the first time since before we were singing “Hark The Herald, Angels Sing.”

I used to always go on Thursdays because for some reason, nobody was there around lunch time of that day of the week. Now you need to set up an appointment and make it a much more formal event than just driving by and sticking your head in the door. But when I called, the voice on the other end said “when do you want to come?” and when I said “now,” he said “I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

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All You Have To Do Is Listen. And Care.

I know it’s snowy, icy and bleak outside right now. So to make your day, let me share with you what a good week I had last week.

The story really starts two years ago when I decided I didn’t need to work like a maniac any more. Instead, I dialed things back a bunch, doing occasional projects for my own company, thinking I’d sleep more, play more golf, and generally relax.

As the old expression says, “we plan, God laughs.” My life instead seemed to keep intersecting with young people who needed help. It usually involved a job, where either the person didn’t have one, or they did have one in a terrible environment. Being a marketing guy, I’d sit down with them and go over their resumes, help them rewrite both that and cover letters, and even redesign both to make them stand out a little more.

In the course of this, I realized there’s an epidemic going on with a lot of younger people. Inept managers are killing the self-confidence of the next generation. This pandemic is making it worse.

I learned this because my personal style when trying to help someone has been to at first, go through someone’s background and focus on what they CAN do well; then I’d come back to the weaknesses that needed work. In virtually all of the people I’ve now met and worked with, it seemed all they heard was the negative part.

It was so bad, in fact, that the first part of the project ended up not working on preparing the person for an interview, but instead focused on getting the person to believe as much as I did that they were really good at certain things and several companies out there would be lucky to have them.

All of them got to hear this story (which my daughter will tell you she’s heard hundreds of times): The moment my career took off didn’t involve a big sale, a promotion or an advanced degree. Instead, it was the moment I got up, looked in the mirror at a rather haggard Italian man, and decided “you know, I like this guy.” I got comfortable with who I was and stopped trying to be another version of a successful person I admired; I instead focused on just being an original Dave.

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Dave Fulton

Listening & Being a Nice Dave

Funny thing about being an "Original Dave." My family sometime back indicated that this Dave wasn't nearly as nice to people as he... Read More
Friday, 19 February 2021 11:18
Dave Scarangella

My Wife Was Also Too Nice At O...

I worked with her on being assertive, being polite but firm, and not letting people take advantage of her. She found it helpful, b... Read More
Friday, 19 February 2021 11:48
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A Beautiful Story With A Happy Ending You Need To Read

There once was a time in my life where I worked for a large corporation called Landmark Communications. They owned the newspaper I worked for (the Roanoke Times) but also owned my hometown paper (Norfolk’s Virginian-Pilot and Ledger-Star) and the Greensboro News & Record, where I would eventually live some time in the future for 14 years.

They also would eventually own a little cable channel called The Weather Channel.

Because of this, I used to read these newspapers regularly. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the guy at the desk next to me in Roanoke 40-plus years ago has now written a couple of stories for the site, and I couldn’t be happier about it. If Doug keeps this up, I may have to roll up my sleeves and go find some revenue to entice him to stay around (this is a not-so-subtle hint about the “donate” button now up in the menu).

I mean, who wouldn’t want to read a site with two old guys talking about Virginia Tech and Virginia with pics of sinful food and Maggie the WonderBeagle (and if you think I’m bad about my love of dogs, Doug has me beat on that front too). I’ve even changed the header on the site from “Sports, Life and Anything Else Interesting In Ashburn” to “Sports, Life and Anything Else Interesting In The State.”

I call this “the Doughty effect.”

Those habits of reading other Landmark newspapers back in the day became a lifelong habit, and in the course of doing so I became aware of the columnist for the Norfolk paper named Kerry Dougherty. She is a wonderful writer with strong opinions, a decided love for the football and basketball programs at Ole Miss and UVA, and the kind of person you never have to wonder where you stand with. She will tell you.

Kind of like me and Doughty. I one day would like to have a podcast episode with all three of us and see if anyone can get a word in edgewise.

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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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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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Dave Scarangella

UPDATE: My wife just finished ...

She has just declared I must now run all stories by her before publishing them in the future ... Read More
Friday, 05 February 2021 12:10
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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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Looks Like The Circle Is Being Completed...

This is going to be one of those circle of life stories, only more like “circle of snow.”

Last week I was concerned about weather forecasts saying if everything worked out right, we could be getting one of those 12-inches-or-more snows that seem to come along the mid-Atlantic every 5 years or more. Those concerns were heightened in December when we got a little nuisance snow of a couple of inches, and I discovered my snowblower would not start.

In the cul de sac I live in, snow is the one thing that brings everybody together. In this day and age of automatic garage door openers, it’s not unusual to not see any of your neighbors unless we’re all headed out to the mailbox to get the mail at the same time. People pull in their garages, hit the button, close the door behind them, then go into their homes.

But when it snows, we’re all out there taking care of our driveways and usually helping each other. The three of us who are out there the most are myself, my neighbor Joe, and my other neighbor Kevin. When I first moved here, I was out shoveling when I noticed my neighbor Frank was also out trying to shovel. I was a 40-something person at the time, and Frank was 60-something, so I walked over to him and said “would you mind if I started doing your driveway?”

I explained I didn’t want to see him get hurt over-exerting himself, and quite honestly, he didn’t seem to like it. But I explained how people showed my Dad similar kindness in his later years when I was nowhere around, and it was something I really wanted to do. He understood, and from that point on, I always got his driveway and sidewalk as if it were my own. He’d come out in the first few years and offer to help, but I’d always say no thanks and ask him to go back inside and enjoy a hot cup of coffee. In the spring, he and his wife would always take me and my wife out to dinner to thank us for doing it, but it wasn’t necessary.

It was a simple matter of courtesy and respect.

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