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Welcome!

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:

About Us

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Is It Worth It? To Some, The Answer Depends...

My young friend Ricky LaBlue just posted this story, where he looks at the all-day circus going on at the University of Tennessee, and asks the age-old question “is it worth it to cheat the system?”

I’ll let Rick tackle the Tennessee angle. I'll answer from the perspective of my lifetime, and how the answer to that question has changed quite a bit.

As a young man, the answer was easy: Of course it’s not. It’s wrong. That’s why they call it cheating. We were raised at a time when you lived by rules similar to those of golf. Know the rules, abide by them, and if you violate them, call them on yourself and accept the penalty associated with that transgression.

Obviously as you grow older, you discover life isn’t that simple. You find for some, the answer morphs into responses that qualify the answer with “it depends on if you get caught,” something I think of frequently when someone says they are sorry after being found guilty of cheating.

“You’re not sorry you cheated,” I think. “You’re sorry you got caught.”

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She's Always Going To Be A WonderBeagle To Me

Yesterday, I got a late start on my daily writing because it was time for Maggie The WonderBeagle to go see the vet.

Judging from the vet’s reaction, she now understands why I call her a WonderBeagle, even though the last time she was there, they had the audacity to say she wasn’t even part beagle.

That’s because when we first bought her to the vet the week after we had adopted her as a rescue in December of 2019, she weighed about 12 pounds and looked like a beagle. Our long-time vet said that she looked a little like a beagle, but she also seemed to be a plain ol’ hound, so her guess was she was a mix with more hound than beagle.

Because of the way vets work in these days of house arrest, the last few visits have involved dropping your dog off and whoever is available looks at her. But last December, our usual vet saw Maggie and came out to see me in the lobby.

“Is this that little dog you got from the rescue people that we talked about a year ago?” she asked. I nodded and she said “well I was wrong. This is a 100 percent American Foxhound. Beagles don’t weigh 65 pounds.” Sure enough, I looked on the AKC site and under American Foxhound is a picture that looks exactly like a male version of Maggie.

Sounds like the ghost of Elvis is trying to tell me she ain't nothing but a hound dog.

Elvis also sang "don't be cruel," so with all due respect, she’s still a WonderBeagle to me. And yesterday, she showed why to the vet who treated her.

Maggie is the sweetest dog I’ve ever had, but what makes her unique is I honestly think she believes she’s a human. As you saw a week or two ago in this picture, she doesn’t just crawl up in a chair or sofa and curl up in a ball. She sits up like a human.

If you’ve ever been to a vet’s examining room, then you know there is always an examining table, and right next to it is a chair, meant for the comfort of the dog’s owner, not the dog itself. When the assistant met me at the front door, she took Maggie back to a room, and when Maggie saw the chair, she assumed it was her.

She jumped up into it and sat there like a human, waiting for the doctor to make her next move.

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I Know What It's Like To Be 65 And A Former Sportswriter

Back in 1986, my career took me to High Point, NC, and for the next 14 years I would remain a resident of the Tar Heel state. During that time, the Carolina Panthers (and the Charlotte Hornets, for that matter) came into existence, launching a tug of war for my pro football soul.

A lifelong fan of what was then the Washington Redskins, the newbie in town was hard to ignore. The stadium was only an hour down the road, the area was flooded with Panther merchandise, and they were decent out of the gate, going 7-9 in that first season playing down at Clemson.

When they finished the new stadium in Charlotte (I was at the very first game, an exhibition contest with San Francisco) they were even better, going 12-4, getting good at just the time the Redskins were getting worse.

To say the least, I was torn.

Turns out in looking at today’s news, I didn’t really have to pick one or the other, because it sure is looking like the Washington Football team is becoming the Washington Panthers.

First it was head coach Ron Rivera, who then brought along some players and coaches from Carolina. Today, there are reports he’s chosen former Panthers' GM Marty Hurney as the team’s new general manager, and one of the first things he’ll have to do is decide what to do with the quarterback position.

Anyone want to take a guess where Cam Newton ends up in the offseason?

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In The Blink Of An Eye...

I suppose this morning I could write about Virginia Tech’s still improving basketball team. Or the NFL playoffs. Or even the Washington Capitals running out of gas in a shootout with the always hated Penguins.

But I can’t get the text I received during halftime of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest game off my mind. It was from my old friend Rick, who I’ve known since junior high in Norfolk, played dozens of rounds of golf with, and text back and forth snide remarks about local sports teams with when the Hokies or a Washington team is playing.

“Since you are not on Facebook you probably don't know I had a heart attack Thursday,” the text starts out, with all the matter-of-fact tone as if he was going to finish the text with “and then I drove to the store and got a gallon of milk.”

Um, what?

Rick is one of those friends I’ve known just about all my life that I was mentioning yesterday in this story, and to say it was a shock is an understatement. He’s a golf superintendent, so he logs more miles walking before 9 AM than I will all week. He has no family history of heart issues, and while he still eats like a college kid at times, he’s in relatively good shape for a guy whose age starts with a “6.”

We were just texting during the national championship college football game Monday. When the weather is decent, we have a standing appointment to play golf at his course as often as possible. Rick calls it “cheaper than a shrink,” because when you’ve known a person for that long, a 4-hour conversation in a golf cart can be a rich oil capable of soothing the soul no matter what life’s current situation.

You start the round exchanging pleasantries, go back in time to remembering being on the Stumpy Lake Golf Course out in Virginia Beach as 16-year-olds, then talk about sports, marriages, raising kids, even how our classmate Wendy Rieger on Channel 4 is the same age as both of us, yet still looks younger. Lies are told, triumphs re-lived, current life situations are vented.

Many a time the expression “I don’t remember it quite that way” is said, (there’s also a phrase similar to bovine waste products used) and attacks are made on each other’s memory, manhood and ability to play. By the end of the round, you’ve solved nothing, but you feel better because you’ve talked about things, you realize you’re not the only person in the world to struggle with an issue, and you go on until next week’s discussion of a brand new set of problems.

This is what old guys with old friends do.

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We Dug Coal Together, And I'm Glad We Did

I know I’ve been hammering this “small world” theme the last couple of days, but I experienced something yesterday morning that is on my mind, and makes me want to talk about it one more day.

I had dropped by a bulletin board for a website called Techsideline.com. I used to be a regular there for a couple of years, but lost interest two years ago. I had written this story Thursday, and since Cindy and Jean Farmer were probably well known to many there, I thought I would post the story for all to see.

There were replies to the story, which brought back more memories, which sparked more replies from me, which brought back more memories. After an hour or two, I realized I was having conversations with 15 to 20 people who I’d never met, whose real names I’ll never know, yet people who shared mutual friends with people I’ve known all my life. They even shared memories of some of the very things I remember warmly, and even one mentioned I was the Resident Advisor in his dorm.

Small world, indeed.

It kind of reminded me of the television show “Justified” (no, we didn’t shoot each other) that was based on a short story by Elmore Leonard two decades ago called “Fire In The Hole.” If you haven’t watched the series, it went on for years and was very enjoyable. It chronicled the exploits of Raylan Givens (the good guy) and Boyd Crowder (the bad guy).

The short story’s first sentence is “they had dug coal together as young men…” and the book launches into a fast-paced adventure where each tries to kill the other. Despite that, they still sort of remained friends, something that boggled the minds of every other character in the story and television show.

On the book’s last page, one character asks Raylan why that is. He answers with the final words of the story: “I thought I explained it to you. Boyd and I dug coal together.”

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Some Stories Just Seem To Live On Forever

Thursday, I posted this story about what a small world it’s been for me in the universe that is Virginia Tech athletics.

It ended up being read by quite a few people, and I got several emails in response. They all had the same request: Post the pic of Cindy Farmer and Mike Young in high school.

Sorry, can’t do that.

On a closed subscription site, maybe that could happen. But we’re out in the open for everyone to see, and while I have no issue with someone grabbing a picture of my dog talking into a microphone, or a big ol’ sandwich I just made, a prom picture is a little more personal. There's no way I could control where that pic went, so I’m not posting it.

But I will post one pic related to that story. Over the years I’ve been needled by a few friends when I’ve told the story because I did not put together Cindy and her Mom Jean having the same last name. In my defense, I’d like to point out I thought Farmer was Cindy’s married name, not her maiden name, so the fact that those two had the same last name did not register.

That hasn’t stopped a few wise cracks about all that from time to time. Take back in 2014, when Virginia Tech was playing Cincinnati in the Military Bowl in nearby Annapolis.

Cindy and her oldest daughter came up from North Carolina for the game and they sat near me and my old friend Doug during what ended up being a 33-17 Virginia Tech win. They had taken a shuttle over to the Navy stadium before the game, and since their hotel was on our way back to Ashburn, I told them to forget the shuttle and I’d give them a ride.

Walking back to the parking lot to get the car, we passed the sign you see in the picture above. Of course one of us said “you related to that Farmer too?”

Some stories, you see, just seem to live on forever 😊

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Jacksonville Hiring Meyer Sure Looks Like Spurrier 2.0 In NFL

Now that Jacksonville has hired Urban Meyer as its head coach in the NFL, and reportedly paid him millions and millions of dollars to do so, I’d like to get in line to ask several questions.

The first would be “are you guys crazy?”

I mean, the pro game and the college game are quite different. In college, you motivate and teach to young men hungry to learn so they can make it to the next level. The NFL is the next level, so to the players in the league, it’s a job, not an apprenticeship.

What worked in college most times does not work in the NFL.

Look no farther than Nick Saban, the guy who seems to make winning a college national championship a staple of January television viewing. He tried the pro game with the Miami Dolphins back in 2005 shortly after winning a national title in college with LSU.

He lasted 2 years. Went 15-17.

Then there was the time noted NFL personnel and coaching expert Dan Snyder decided Marty Schottenheimer – who had started off 0-5 before getting things together at 8-8 in his only season in Washington – was too dull a coach and went out and backed a truck of money to Steve Spurrier's door. In what he announced with similar expectations to what Jacksonville is doing today, Snyder hired Spurrier to bring winning ways and wide open offenses to Ashburn.

The Ol’ Ball Coach also lasted two years. He went 12-20.

Hmmmm. Both Meyer and Spurrier gained their national reputation at the same school: Florida.

Tell me this doesn't sound like Spurrier 2.0.

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Maggie On The Mic

For a brief time in December, I got interested in podcasting. That led to unearthing some old audio equipment, which led to buying new equipment to go with the old equipment, and now I have wires, cables, mics and all sorts of other related things dominating the desk in my office.

It was in the course of participating in one podcast with Ricky LaBlue that I noticed he had one of those scissor mic stands you see a lot of podcasters use. Since he was younger than me, and looked cool using one, that meant I had to have one.

It was delivered today.

You can easily move it from one location to another (it works with a U clamp on the bottom of the main bracket), so I started off by setting it up near my easy chair where I do all my writing. Maggie the WonderBeagle, who is as much ham as she is dog, immediately jumped on the ottoman, believing the equipment was for her, as you see in the picture to the right.

If that dog could talk, she’d probably be better than 90 percent of the podcasters out there.

Then again, even not talking, she’d probably still make as much sense as half of them 😊

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Since It's Lunch Time...

A friend of mine sent me a story the other day, ranking the top 20 sandwiches across the world.

This one was not included. 

It' starts with several types of Italian lunchmeats, combined with swiss cheese and gently heated until the cheese has melted.

Those are then placed on two toasted pieces of Italian bread, then topped with thin slices of tomato, a few slices of fresh jalapeno, then mounds of freshly made cole slaw. The plate is then completed with a few handfuls of barbecue kettle chips.

To me, it's what every sandwich should have: the saltiness of the Italian meats, the creaminess of the slaw, a little heat and crunch from the jalapeno, and the savory taste of the tomato. 

I won't say it deserves to be in the top 5 of this list I just read. But it's at least a top 10.

Maybe one day when I open my own deli, you'll see :)

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When It Comes To Virginia Tech Sports, It's A Small World

If you’ve been a sportswriter AND a sales guy in your life, you’ve told thousands of stories.

I know I have, and I’ve never written about the one I’m about to tell. But it is by far my favorite, plus the next time someone says “it’s a small world,” this will now be the standard you’ll have to compare it to.

It’s no secret I’m a big Virginia Tech sports fan. I was a student there in the 70s and worked my way through school covering Tech sports for a small weekly called the Blacksburg Sun (they went to Wednesday and Sunday editions when I was there and gave us shirts that said “Blacksburg Sun: Now Doing It Twice A Week.”)

It was there I got to meet many people, but my favorite was basketball coach Charlie Moir. He answered all my questions, gave me all the access I could ever want, and even invited me along with the writers from much bigger papers for dinner when we were on the road.

Big stuff for a 20-year-old.

To get any access in college sports back then, the main gatekeeper was the head coach’s secretary. Charlie’s was a very nice lady named Jean Farmer, and I was extremely lucky she liked me. If she liked you, you could call just about any time and she’d find Charlie. If she didn’t, odds are you’d hear about him being in a meeting.

Over the next few years between the Blacksburg Sun, Roanoke Times and newspapers in Martinsville and Lynchburg, I would deal with Jean quite a bit. Her, Charlie, many of the players and Sports Information people Wendy Weisend and Dave Smith are among my warmest memories of that time in my life. 

Fast forward about 20 years.

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It's Not Every Day I Mention Hokie Basketball AND The Bible

It’s not unusual for me to call out the name of The Almighty when watching Virginia Tech sports, particularly in the final minutes of a close game.

But it is unusual for me to be reminded of a Bible verse when watching Hokie basketball.

Last night, as Virginia Tech was routinely beating Duke in basketball (something I don’t ever recall typing before), I started noticing more and more not just how good some of the players are, but how they seem to be improving from game to game.

It’s the benefit, I believe, of a well-rounded group of players with depth, and a coach who teaches them, believes in them, and lets that make mistakes to learn from.

The Hokies have had good teams before, but even in the Buzz Williams era, it was 2 or 3 players, mostly wing players, who lived and died by the outside shot. Buzz never seemed to like big men in his offense, so he didn’t recruit them much, and when he got one or two, he didn’t play them much with the exception of Kerry Blackshear. Opposing teams knew who they had to stop, and it’s a lot easier to rattle a shooter from the 3-point line than stop a strong inside player 3 feet from the rim.

But not this team. They have a bucket full of big men, and it’s not just Keve Aluma. Justin Mutts can run the floor, block a shot and then hit a 3-pointer. David N’Guessan can too. Cordell Pemsl and John Ojiako are injured, but they have proven they can be just as physical in the middle. As a result, it’s not one big man on the team battling a tall, slow walk-on in practice. These guys are getting after each other and pushing each other every day.

As Proverbs 27, verse 17 notes, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

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