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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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After Six Weeks In The Desert, It Was Finally Nice To See Live Sports

Last night’s NFL Draft was much like a starving man entering a fast food joint. It wasn’t great, but when you’ve done without for so long, anything available is still pretty daggone good.

For the first time since March 12, we didn’t have to watch a rerun of some sporting event played 14 years ago. There was actually something sports-related on television where the final chapter had not been written, and we got to ride along with the ending page by page.

Not all of it was good. As you’d expect, ESPN had way too many people on its virtual broadcast, and some of them never have anything to say worth listening to in the first place. The verbally clumsy Booger McFarland, for example, started off the broadcast saying “I just want everybody to have fun tonight,” displaying the wit and insight you usually get from a cashier at the grocery store.

Note to Booger: We don’t care who has fun. We’ve been caged in our homes for 6 weeks without sports. Tonight, it’s about us. We don’t care if it seems selfish. Entertain us.

By entertaining, of course, we mean make some picks. Or trades. Show us some intrigue. Let us watch something we don’t know is going to happen.

Which ESPN didn’t do in the first half hour. Cincinnati has been on the clock longer than everybody in the state combined has waited to buy toilet paper, and even my dog Maggie knew they were going to pick Joe Burrow. But ESPN milked all the time they could out of telling Joe Burrow’s story, saluting health care workers and adding a melodramatic flavor to the broadcast to the point I was expecting us all to break out into “We Are The World.” If time allowed, an encore of Kumbaya was a distinct possibility.

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This Breakfast Deal May Be A Habit Worth Keeping Around

They say if you do anything for 21 straight days, it will become a habit. So I’m guessing some of the things we’ve been doing while under house arrest are now permanent parts of our routine.

Well, until they make us all go back to work. That “not wearing pants” habit clearly is going to have to change.

One positive habit we have adopted during the in-home incarceration that might continue here on cellblock 43552 involves breakfast. I grew up in a house in Norfolk where if you asked about breakfast, you were directed to a big box of Tony The Tiger on a shelf in the pantry and a half gallon milk container in the refrigerator. Things like pancakes, eggs and hash browns were served, but never in the morning. Only for dinner.

And while we were living in the South, my Italian parents generally came up with menus more suitable for places like Northern New Jersey. Or Brooklyn. Or the Potenza region of Italy.

Thus it should be no surprise that I was not properly introduced to a real Southern biscuit until I was in college at Virginia Tech.

It should also be no surprise that for me, it was love at first sight. A sausage, egg and cheese biscuit become one of life’s great pleasures. The Hardee’s chain back in the 70s did a particularly good job with them in Southwest Virginia, and my soon-to-be wife used to bring me one several mornings every week when I was working the desk for the afternoon newspaper in Roanoke and had to come in before 6 AM.

There are several significant reasons I thought she was the one to spend the rest of my life with back in 1980. I’ve casually mentioned to her more than once that her bringing me those biscuits might have been key items on the list.

While I have always enjoyed them, getting a good biscuit up here in Yankeeland Northern Virginia hasn’t been all that easy. I once suggested to the good people at the Cracker Barrel they opened off Route 28 in Sterling when I was eating there one day that they should take a field trip to Georgia or Alabama and learn what a real biscuit tastes like. I’ve also suggested if they served down there what they’re passing off as a biscuit up here, they would probably get their backsides whipped.

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David Tuggle

Air Fryer

What is your choice of Air Fryer? Thanks!
Sunday, 14 June 2020 11:31
Dave Scarangella

I Use A Ninja Air Fryer

It's a 4-quarter capacity (SKU is AF101), which for just my wife and I is fine, but at times I wish I had gone with the 6-quart. A... Read More
Sunday, 14 June 2020 12:46

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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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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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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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

It's Going To End One Day; Might As Well Have A To-Do List

At the end of last week, there seemed to be more and more reports about some states getting ready to open (although Virginia did not seem to be one of them). I don’t know when this day will come, but when it does, I’ve got a plan. These are the five things I’m going to do once the shutdown is over:

  1. Go buy 10 pounds of salted in the shell peanuts, park myself in a chair, and turn on the television and watch a live sporting event. I mean a real event, not some guys playing H-O-R-S-E and talking about themselves. Preferably involving the Washington Nationals, with multiple trash-talking conversations via text running concurrently with old friends.

  2. Go to a restaurant and order everything on the menu that does not duplicate anything I made at home over the last 6 weeks. This means no pizza, tacos, pasta, chicken, etc. because I’ve had my fill of it. I don’t care if it’s a fusion of Ethiopian cuisine mixed with Nordic whale blubber, if it’s different from what I’ve been eating at home and they bring it to you with fresh bread and a boatload of butter, I’m in.

  3. Go get a haircut. My head looks like an unkempt poodle. I look in the mirror and wonder why former New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan's twin brother Rob is looking back at me. I have seriously not had a haircut in the calendar year 2020 and it’s bothersome. I know I'm not alone, as I can foresee a problem when the shutdown ends: You will be presented with the choice of either waiting in line at a place that takes walk-ins (and I would guess the line is going to wrap around the building), or attempting to call and make an appointment. The lead times on those appointments will probably be similar to the ones quoted on Amazon when you try to buy toilet paper, so we could be seeing the 4th of July before scissors and trimmers intersect with my head.
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Appreciate Your Favorite Local Small Business...While You Still Can

A few weeks ago when Kenny Rogers passed away, people tweeted out some of their favorite videos involving him, and one of them was a moderately successful hit he had in the mid-80s called “20 Years Ago.”

As the title suggests, it’s a nostalgic look back at a simpler time, and it shows Rogers walking through an empty main street area in a small town. The Friday night pizza joint of his youth, the bowling alley, the hardware store…they were all gone. Life moved on.

I always liked that video because I can identify with it. It doesn’t mean those stores were the greatest thing since sliced bread; but they do bring back warm memories of a time where you could walk into a store and because it was a small business, the owner was in the store and you recognized many members of the staff even if you only came in there once a month. It gave you a feeling of being at home, much like the atmosphere of the fictional Cheers bar where everybody knew your name. You knew them and they knew you.

It’s one of the appeals of living in a small town. I spent 5 years living in Martinsville, VA back in the 80s, and while you may not have been able to partake of the latest and greatest in fashion and technology, there was that element of everyone knowing your name. You went to non-chain places like the Dutch Inn for their seafood buffet on a weekend night; or maybe Clarences out near Martinsville Speedway for their homemade cheeseburger and fries; there was even a little hole in the wall place on a tiny strip of asphalt called Wall Street that housed “Mike’s Hot Dogs” that I frequented quite a bit.

All had their own unique flavors, the people who worked there recognized you as a regular, and you enjoyed the experience. Some times you didn’t even need to order, as someone would say “you want what you usually get?” It was a stark contrast to the national chains that viewed labor as a disposable entity, with workers on a retail floor turning over every 80 to 90 days, and as a result, no one particularly cared if you felt special or not.  

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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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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

From Kill Shelter To "Scrambled Egg, Please" In Only 5 Months...

There are just some things I don’t think I’ll ever stop marveling at, and many include the canine that lives in my house.

This morning, for example, we were having a late breakfast. Eggs, sausage, biscuits and hash browns. My wife and I each sat in a chair at the breakfast table. Sitting in the third chair - like a human - was our Wonderbeagle, Maggie.

She knows the rules. No paws on the table. You can’t lay your head on it either. But if you sit there peacefully and quietly, nobody’s going to say anything.

She won’t, because when eggs are served, she knows Mom will make them. Mom believes no one can make a scrambled egg as well as her, and while she cooks them, she asks “you know what the secret is to a good scrambled egg?” Maggie once said “letting you make them?” but I corrected her to the proper answer of “cooking them on low heat.”

Maggie also knows Mom is the great enabler who can’t say no, so when the scrambled eggs are separated into portions, there miraculously always ends up being one extra. It also miraculously ends up on a plate, cut into smaller portions, and the plate ends up right in front of Maggie.

Maggie’s a smart dog. She won’t do anything to jeopardize this happening.

But that’s not the part I marvel at. Five months ago today, we brought her home from a rescue event. She had spent two weeks traveling around to all the events that were set up to adopt dogs like her. Before that, she was in a cage in a kill shelter in a small town in South Carolina.

To go from a cage in a kill shelter to sitting at a table silently barking “scrambled egg, please” in only 5 months is quite a contrast. And how, I also ask myself, could such a sweet little angel end up in a kill shelter in the first place?

I’ve asked Maggie this several times, but she just wags her tail, licks my face and gives me her normal “I don’t know, I’m just a dog” look. Then she buries her head into my lap for a few moments of snuggling and playful biting on my arm before giving me a look that says “however it happened, I’m just glad I’m here.”

Me too, little sweets. Every single day. To infinity and beyond…

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No, I'm Not Going To Knock Off The 5:15 Stagecoach To Ashburn

Back in the 1970s, Elton John released an album called “Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player.”

These days when I head out to the grocery store, I almost feel like saying “Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Just Trying To Get Some Coffee Creamer,” because I almost look like some desperado about to knock off the 5:15 stagecoach to Ashburn.

All of us have certainly seen an evolution in our appearances as the state-mandated days of house arrest continue. It was only a month ago when I started to wear gloves to the grocery store, and even felt self-conscious about it since it appeared I was the only one at the time who was wearing them. Within a week, more were doing so, and a week later, the masks became part of my regular attire.

That apparently wasn’t enough, because more layers have now been added to my routine. It’s not because I’m an overly cautious person, but more due to the fact I live with a germaphobe, and have several friends who are also that way. I mean, how many other people get packages from friends that end up to be a box of “powder free vinyl multi-purpose gloves?”

That friend, it should be noted, is in the medical profession. After sending them to me, he then made me sit through a call where he lectured me on how nurses and doctors take off these gloves so as to avoid contamination. I think if I would have let him, he’d have launched right into a seminar on how to wash my hands, but I told him I had that covered.

That’s because in my house, I have the WIFE2020 operating system, which for the past 40 years has been specifically designed to question me about washing my hands, hanging up my clothes, or visiting the pantry when no one is looking to seek out a snack. It is an evolving operating system, as in its latest update, it is now programmed to say “we don’t need anything from the grocery store so you’re not leaving the house” whenever I talk about exotic far-away places like Harris-Teeter and Giant.

My wife loves it when she can go into the pantry or our spare refrigerator in the basement and find exactly what she’s looking for. But she just doesn’t think I should leave the house to make that happen because if I go out and grocery shop, she believes I will somehow encounter the virus, bring it home and we will both meet our demise.

So much like a teenager breaking curfew, I have to sneak out of my own house to get stuff.

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Ricky LaBlue

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A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

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The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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