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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:

About Us

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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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Recent Comments
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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But Dad, You Just Don't Understand....

At 7 AM this morning, there was something beautiful going on here in Ashburn, as snow continued to fall since starting some time during the night. It was peaceful too, as the falling snow acts as nature’s soundproof barrier and blocks off all the noise of the world.

Well, it was until a certain hound let out a blood-curdling scream of a bark that made people wonder if my backyard had become a crime scene.

My house is situated right off a bike path that runs along my backyard’s fence. On the other side is a protected nature reserve, where there is a big creek for rain to run off into, and as a result draws far more animals than you routinely see in a metro area. It’s not surprising to see groups of deer, frogs, snakes, hawks, squirrels, racoons and several other species just roaming the area as if it were their home.

This morning, a new type of animal made an appearance. Sauntering down the bike path like it was just wandering home after an all-night bender was a small red fox, occasionally looking up at the snow like it was annoyed by this white stuff falling in his eyes. Those eyes opened just a little wider when his presence was discovered by my dog Maggie.

I call Maggie a WonderBeagle because that’s what she looked like as a 7-pound puppy, but when her legs grew to the size of a giraffe, we realized she was a different breed: An American Foxhound. Maggie is the gentlest, sweetest dog I’ve ever owned, but the AKC web pages on the breed warn when it is in pursuit of something it wants – namely a fox – it genetically can’t control itself and won’t listen to commands.

The AKC wasn’t kidding, as I watched this domesticated hound that sits on the sofa and watches television like a teenager turn into the Tasmanian Devil. The fox – showing it may be a bit of a jerk in the animal world – calmly stared at Maggie as she’s trying to break down the backyard fence, almost giving it a wry smile before slowly trotting off into the snowy woods.

It was if it were saying “my work here is done.”

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Recent Comments
Daniel P. Lundberg

Foxhounds Coonhounds

Sounds like the first time our Coonhound, well, found a raccoon that had sauntered into our backyard. Complete and utter chaos ens... Read More
Sunday, 31 January 2021 14:35
Dave Scarangella

We had thought after a few mon...

But then after the vet said she was a foxhound, and the AKC had the nerve to post a pic on its foxhound page that looked exactly l... Read More
Sunday, 31 January 2021 15:06
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Sun Is Shining A Little Brighter In Ashburn, Thanks To Riverboat Ron

It’s cold and gray outside this morning. It’s going to get colder. There’s even suppose to be a foot of snow on the ground by the end of the weekend.

Something, I thought, needs to happen to brighten the day.

That “something” turned out to be the Rivera family announcing the best news I think anyone could hear: “Thank you all for the love and prayers,” Washington Coach Ron Rivera’s daughter posted on social media. “Just got off the phone with mom and dad leaving the hospital and @RiverboatRonHC is officially cancer free.”

Two of the greatest words I think you can ever hear put together: Cancer free.

I doubt there are any diseases people think positively about, but when it comes to the most hated of them all, cancer is the one most deserving of burning in the fires of hell. It’s an awful disease that is not some theoretical condition that you read about involving others. It’s personal, and it seems like it ends up touching everyone in some way.

I’ve lost friends to it, I’ve watched my own father battle it, I’ve seen people who have made bad life decisions get it (like by smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day) and I’ve seen perfectly healthy people who eat right, exercise every day and never touch any of the world’s vices get it.

It transforms the notion of the freedom to do whatever you want into a case where every sentence regarding the future starts with the word “if.” As if it weren’t evil enough in the first place, it also seems to have a nasty habit of taunting people through the ebbs and flows of its attack on the human body.

When my Dad was fighting it, some days we’d hear the cancer had aggressively grown, and he might not be around in a week. Then a few days later we’d hear the treatment had worked, and things looked good. It seemed like it was cancer’s way of saying “don’t take me for granted or I will have to show you who is running this show.”

Which is why I hate cancer so much. Cancer is a jerk. Cancer is perpetually invited to look at the mistletoe hanging from my back belt loop and kiss my backside. Cancer has robbed me of friends I hoped to tell juvenile jokes to and remember the old days with for many years to come.

Cancer sucks.

Because of this, I find myself rejoicing even when it’s a total stranger ringing the bell to tell the world you’ve finished your final treatment. It also signals that person is one tough individual, who has been to the mat with the 800-pound gorilla of medicine, and sent it away crying for it’s mom.

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Rest In Peace, Hank; The Spiral Notebook Has Finally Been Closed

I think for everyone, there comes a time when you are very young, and you first notice Major League baseball. Usually, you are nudged toward the game by a parent or a friend, and in the course of sampling it, you eventually find a favorite player you really like.

It is at that point, you truly become a baseball fan.

For me, that player was Hank Aaron.

They say heroes get remembered, legends never die, but today, the greatest baseball legend of my life passed away. Hank was 86.

I can’t tell you why I was drawn to Hank, other than it was a completely different dynamic when I was growing up in the 1960s. You got to watch baseball only once every week on NBC’s Saturday Game Of The Week, and your view of the majors was filtered by whatever team was good at the time. In the mid to late 1960s, that meant you saw a lot of the St. Louis Cardinals, as they made the World Series in 1967 and 1968, so you got to watch them and listen to Curt Gowdy drone on about something during the contest.

They became my favorite team, but in the course of following them, I became aware of this outfielder playing for the newly-minted Atlanta Braves in 1967. The team had just moved a year or two ago from Milwaukee, and as a sophisticated 11-year-old, I’d roll my eyes every time my Dad referred to them as the Milwaukee Braves.

”C’mon Dad,” I would say. “Nobody calls them that any more.”

Hank Aaron just looked cool. He’d come to the plate, look loose and relaxed, and then launch a pitch 400 feet over an outfield fence. He wasn’t just a slugger either, as he batted for average and got on base a lot. But it was the home runs that became a magnet for me with Hank.

A few years later, MLB would have a promotion that said “Chicks dig the long ball.” In the 60s, us 11-year-olds thought they were really cool too.

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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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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.

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