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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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A Simple Act Of Kindness I Will Never Forget

Because the patio on the back of my house seems to perpetually be covered in shade, I’ve just finished an hour or two of doing exactly what my wife, doctor and friends have all told me not to do: chipping and shoveling away all the ice.

I mean, I could wait until it melts in late June. But there’s a WonderBeagle who enjoys seeing just how far she can get me moving on the ice, and I don’t wish to fall down out there between now and late spring.

In the course of wrestling this frozen bear, I had to take breaks because – as everyone seems to very much enjoy reminding me of – I’m an old man. It was during one of these breaks I found myself scrolling through Twitter, and two posts caught my eye. One was the fact today is Giving Day at Virginia Tech, and as the name suggests, they want you to give something to the University.

The other involved a younger journalist with a small newspaper here in Virginia. He was mentioning he was using a gift card to buy himself lunch instead of making one because he was too tired from all his long hours at work.

It hit me right in the feels.

I have a complex relationship with journalism these days, because many of the larger publications have turned the profession from a search for the truth to a search for ways to repeat the narrative. Not surprisingly, there are many out there who rank the profession’s popularity right up there with used car salesmen and telemarketers who somewhere during the call say “but wait, there’s more.”

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Getting 5 Stars: Is It Your Talent, Or Who Is Recruiting You?

As the latest men's basketball game between Duke and Virginia unfolded Saturday, a common thread came to mind.

Duke invariably gets the highest-rated players coming out of high school, but I had never done the math till this weekend, following the Blue Devils 66-65 victory over UVa at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Starting with the 2016 recruiting class, Duke has signed 25 players who were rated as five stars on the five-star Rivals.com scale.

Over the same period, Virginia did not have a single five-star player.

All five Duke starters Saturday were five-star recruits.

Virginia's staring lineup included two four-star recruits, fifth-year senior Jay Huff, and freshman guard Reece Beekman. They were joined by three-star recruits Sam Hauser and Kihei Clark.

The fifth starter, Trey Murphy III, transferred to Virginia after spending his first two seasons at Rice. He is listed by Rivals.com as a 2018 Rice signee, but does not have any stars by his name.

My suspicion is that ratings/stars are determined by the schools that are involved with a certain player. As somebody who has been involved in putting together a list of the state's top football recruits over the past 40 years, I'll admit that a player's offer list is a major consideration.

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Recent comment in this post
Guest — PopcornBuckets

Shoe/Apparel Companies factor

I think the involvement of shoe/apparel companies with high profile players and AAU/EYBL squads is also a factor in player ranking... Read More
Thursday, 25 February 2021 11:31
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Worst Fears Realized In Tonight's Loss To Georgia Tech

I’d like to tell you Virginia Tech’s 69-53 loss to Georgia Tech was a huge surprise.

I’d also like to tell you they made a mistake and delivered a pizza with everything to my doorstep and I’m about to eat it.

Neither would be true.

Instead, the Hokies took the road more traveled for teams who have had long layoffs in the ACC, looking rusty, tired and at times disoriented. ACC teams this season that have had layoffs of 10 days or more have ended up scoring in the 50s in their first game back, while getting beaten like a drum. Clemson had issues with COVID and after sitting out 11 days, lost to Virginia 85-50; Louisville was off 19 days and upon their return got pole-axed by UNC 99-54; the Hokies hadn’t played in 17 days and scored a season-low 53 points in losing by 16.

The game marked the return of Tyrece Radford to the lineup from what had been an indefinite suspension, and that may have added at first to the lethargic play on offense. The Hokies are at their best when they move the ball around quickly, finding either an open 3 or going down low and attacking the basket, and it’s usually done in a decisive manner.

Virginia Tech, however, started out as if some of the players had just met. Radford seemed more content to let the game come to him, and over the first 10 minutes, it did not seem as if anyone other than Nahlem Alleyne wanted to shoot the ball.  Alleyne hit several of his first few shots, which opened up things for Keve Aluma and Justin Mutts as the teams tied 24-24 at halftime.

But then the two teams just went in different directions. Georgia Tech shot 61.5 percent from the floor after intermission, and when not hitting 3-pointers, the Yellow Jackets were pounding the ball inside to Moses Wright, who finished with a game-high 26 points.

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A Chicken Wing Recipe So Easy, Even YOU Can Do It :)

Yesterday I found myself in a waiting room, trying to kill time until it was my turn. In doing so, I looked at my Twitter account, which apparently has an analytics area that will tell you how many people looked at each of your tweets.

Much to my surprise, the top ten, which the exception of one, all involved the same subject: food. You may think you are dispensing wisdom when you type out that carefully worded and well thought-out tweet, but if you want numbers, slap a picture of a plate of BBQ wings next to it and your stats will double.

I’ve noticed the same on the occasional stories I’ve written about food on this site. There have been times I’ve worked hard at an analytical piece that I end up being quite proud of, only to see at the end of the week a story and picture about food (or Maggie The WonderBeagle) have drawn more eyes to them.

So I’m going to start a weekly feature on how to make some of these dishes I post pictures of. I’ve been cooking most of my life, and I’ve found once you can identify the ingredients and just how long you cook something for, the rest is easy. The two things that always foul up a dish in my experience are you overcook/undercook it and you don’t season it properly.

So I’m going to try over the next few months to show everyone how to cook 8 or 10 basic dishes most people enjoy. If you’re an accomplished chef and see better ways to do it, let me know and I’ll add it to the next story. If you’re not someone who cooks, try these.

I’m going to start with the wings I had a picture of up on Twitter earlier this week. They are about as simple as it gets, and the steps you take are roughly the same as you would use to make BBQ and any number of other comfort foods. The first thing you do is buy fresh chicken wings, never frozen ones.

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This Is What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

Over a decade ago, there was a musical group called the Spice Girls, who had a hit with a song that started off “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want…”

Which is what I’m about to do involving a tin of popcorn and the marketing department at Virginia Tech.

What I want, as you can see in the picture with this story, is a one-gallon tin of popcorn with Coach Mike Young’s smiling face somewhere on it. It can have one flavor, or it can have three flavors, that doesn’t matter. But Young has made eating a bag of popcorn before each game sort of his trademark. And there’s a marketing opportunity here that the Hokies just shouldn’t miss.

The whole popcorn tie-in has been talked about for over a year, and the school did finally allow people to buy a replica of the kind of popcorn box you’d see in an old-time movie theater. It has a caricature of of Young, and it’s cute.

But it’s not what I want. And judging from the response to me posting this picture on social media yesterday, a lot of other people want the same thing I do.

 Popcorn is one of those products that is sold around the holidays, or special occasions, in one gallon tins. You can go online at this very moment and find quite a few options if you’re seeking this, and they range in price from the $15 range up to $29. Many prefer buying it this way because the tin has a lid that keeps the popcorn fresh for a longer period of time, and the tin can be decorated in ways that makes you want to keep it well after the popcorn is gone.

In my case, there is a tin sitting here in my office that was a gift from a friend after the Washington Nationals won the World Series. The popcorn was nice, but it will stay in this house for many more years because of the World Series printing on the can. It serves as an enduring memory to a special moment for me as a fan, and it will eventually get filled with either more popcorn, stuff from my workbench in the basement, or who knows what else I need to store somewhere.

But it’s not going to ever be thrown away.

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This Is Your Brain; This Is Your Brain On Social Media

If you got into a time machine and went back to the 1980s, you’d see a number of public service announcements that television stations would run dealing with drug use.

The most famous one, which has been mocked and meme’d to death, was the one where some guy holds up an egg, says “this is your brain,” then points to a very hot cast iron skillet and says that’s drugs. He then cracks the egg into the pan, it sizzles and pops as it instantly becomes a sunny side up egg, and he says “this is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”

While that one got most of the attention, there was another dealing with marijuana. A Dad has just found some paraphernalia in his son’s room indicating he’d been smoking pot, and he’s confronting him with it. In the course of the conversation, he asks “who taught you to do this?”

The son looks right into his Dad’s eyes and says “you did, Dad,” strongly implying the Dad also smoked pot, and the son learned only from watching his example.

Fast forward to this weekend, when a video went viral involving a young man heckling Cam Newton at a football camp, where Cam was volunteering his time. The youngster kept yelling “you’re a free agent,” at Newton, who just smiled and responded “I’m rich.” The young man kept on, eventually saying “you about to be poor.”

There’s no doubt it was rude, the kid was looking for attention, and if it was my kid, we’d be having what we call in the South a “Come To Jesus” meeting immediately. Athletes, parents and other observers around the country quickly and rightfully denounced the young man’s behavior, and it seems just about everyone called it a failure of the parents.

That may be true, although if you’ve been a parent, you know you can work hard and long on teaching your children the difference between right and wrong, and still have something like that happen. So, until I know more, I’m not dumping all this exclusively on the parents. The kid knew what was going on, he had teammates and coaches around him, and nobody tried to stop him. Plus, someone had a phone capturing it all, as if there was some anticipation of getting this out on social media and making the young man a star.

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Recent Comments
Dave Fulton

Accountable

I hope my dear departed parents are never blamed for the stupid things I did. They taught me better and I knew better.
Monday, 22 February 2021 18:29
Dave Scarangella

I will confess there have been...

where I've seen a young man treating a young woman harshly and thought "man, your Dad did a poor job of teaching you how to be a m... Read More
Monday, 22 February 2021 18:43
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Do The Cavaliers Want Kihei Clark Taking 15 Shots?

No one should be surprised that junior point guard Kihei Clark played 38 minutes in Virginia's 66-65 loss Saturday night at Duke.

But, do the Cavaliers want him taking 15 shots?

Another starter, Trey Murphy III, played 36 minutes. He took two shots.

The argument could be made that Murphy needed to become more involved or that teammates didn't get him the ball. Clark was as involved as he could be and maybe moreso.

Seven-footer Jay Huff had a team-high 20 points to go with a game-high 12 rebounds and two blocked shots in a return to his home town. He also had a dunk that didn't count after a buzzer-beating attempt by Clark.

Virginia, now 15-5 overall and 11-3 in the ACC, had entered the game as a 3-point favorite over the Blue Devils (10-8, 8-6). Also top 2019-20 signee Jalen Johnson had left the team with six games remaining in the regular season.

On his radio show earlier in the week, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim had taken a shot at Johnson.

"That guy was hurting them, so they actually are much better now without him," Boeheim said. "They've got very good talent.

"You knew they were going to play out of this thing and now they're [the Blue Devils] playing very well."

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, in his postgame comments Saturday, seemed to be rejuvenated.

"It's sad that fans were not at this game," he said, not that they had a choice,. "This was an epic game.

"This was a great basketball game tonight. Every possession was fought. [It] seemed like every dribble at times. They're [the Cavaliers] poised and they play great defense.

"Huff is a great player. He and [Sam] Hauser are two of the great players in America. Jay is such a good basketball player [with] his footwork, his touch and his ball-handling. [Duke seven-footer] Mark [Williams] hasn’t guarded anyone like that."

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Two Weeks To Go, And I Still Have No Idea Who Wins

I think it is pretty safe to say this season is not turning out the way ACC media folks thought it would in looking back at their preseason predictions.

Also pretty safe to say it’s not turning out the way anyone thought it would, for that matter.

Back in early November, the ACC scribes liked Virginia and Florida State to be in the top 3, with Virginia the solid No. 1, Duke second and the Seminoles No. 3. As Meatloaf used to sing back in the day, two out of three ain’t bad.

That’s because there are only 13 days left in the ACC regular season and here is the top 3: Florida State is first with a 9-2 league record, Virginia is second at 11-3 and third is not Duke, but an 8-3 Virginia Tech team, which the pundits picked to finish 11th. Three weeks from today when the NCAA hands out bids to the Big Dance, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida State look like the only teams in the league with a relative lock at getting in. The rest of the teams appear to be on the bubble or worse.

Yesterday’s games just added data points to the field known as “I really don’t know how this is all going to turn out.” North Carolina and Louisville were preseason picks to finish 4th and 5th, and a month ago the Cardinals were 9-1 and ranked No. 16 in the nation. North Carolina, conversely, hasn’t been ranked in 2021, and dropped to 12-7 a week ago while only scoring 48 points in a loss to Virginia.

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Recent Comments
Doug Johnson

Postponements Have Protected V...

VT's four recently missed games: UNC, UL and two with FSU. Likely VT would not still be in 3rd place if these had been played.... Read More
Sunday, 21 February 2021 12:20
Dave Scarangella

I would agree

The lack of games has in some ways helped the Hokies, and this week we will see how much it has hurt them when they finally take t... Read More
Sunday, 21 February 2021 12:28
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In Search Of The Perfect Flavor Of Popcorn

We all have our areas of expertise, and one of mine involves food.

I have talents related to eating it, cooking it, and talking about it. I was even once at a dinner with company executives, and the president turned to me and said “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen someone as talented with a knife and fork as you.”

I think that was a compliment.

Which Flavor Is Better?
Poll is expired!

But when it comes to the lowly popcorn kernel, I have to say I have not been a fan. Unless it’s drowning in butter or coated with some other flavor, the popcorn itself does little to nothing for me. It’s not as worthless as, say, a rice cake, but it’s in the same neighborhood.

My opinions are now changing thanks to Virginia Tech basketball coach Mike Young.

Young has made popcorn regal. Brain food. The poor man’s caviar of the New River Valley. The key ingredient that has allowed Young to be such a successful coach with the Hokies. Heck, as you can see from the picture above, he’s even got Doug Doughty eating it.

I’ve always been a peanut man, myself. Salted, in a shell, accompanied by a cold beverage and maybe a baseball game in front of me, on a warm night, and I’m good. Popcorn, I’ve always believed, breaks teeth. Peanuts build character.

But Young is causing me to change. I’ve written that I’d run through a brick wall for him because I’m so impressed with the job he’s done for the Hokies, so I guess I’m going to have to eat a bag of popcorn every time the team plays too.

At least there is variety I can consider. Plain old popcorn is the brussel sprouts of the snack world, and I don’t see that ever changing for me. But I did look up some other varieties, and some are appealing. Kettle Corn will do, with its sweet and salty flavor. Caramel Corn is another. There is a cheese popcorn, but I’m not sure about that. It looks like they took one of those dried packets of powder you see in the mac and cheese boxes at the grocery store they sell 3 for a dollar and just dusted it over regular popcorn.

Anything that sells 3 for a dollar in the grocery store can’t be but so good.

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Recent Comments
Dave Fulton

Popcorn Beverage?

Wonder what beverage Popcorn Sutton chases his exploded kernels with?🙄
Saturday, 20 February 2021 10:19
Jeremy Seltzer

Popcorn Flavors

Best storebought popcorn is Cretors Cheddar and Caramel Mix (we call it Chicago mix because that’s what it is ) can get a giant b... Read More
Saturday, 06 March 2021 09:54
Dave Scarangella

Learned two things from this, ...

1. Costco has Chicago Mix? I'll be making a trip there Monday to find some of this. 2. I've had an air fryer for a year and found... Read More
Saturday, 06 March 2021 10:16
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Who IS The No. 2 Player In UVA Men's Basketball History?

Without much in mind earlier this week, I found myself in an on-line debate as to the second-best player to come through the Virginia men's basketball program.

At the time I put in my two cents, there was ample support for Malcolm Brogdon as the No. 2 Virginia player after Ralph Sampson, although I'm not sure Sampson actually was  designated as No. 1.

That was a given.

Sampson wasn't just a three-time ACC player of the year. He was a three-time national player of the year, as well as the No. 1 pick in the 1983 Draft.

The only other former UVa player ever taken with one of the first five picks was De'Andre Hunter at No. 4 in 2019.

However, if you're looking at the top players to come through the UVa program, college performance has to outweigh draft placement.

Other UVa players to be picked in the top 10 included Wally Walker at No. 5 in 1976 and Olden Polynice at No. 8  in 1987.

Brogdon was picked by Milwaukee in the second round of the 2016 draft with the No. 36 pick overall, but has far exceeded any draft-day expectations.

After three seasons with Milwaukee, he signed a four-year $85-million contract with the Indiana Pacers, where he is averaging a team-leading 21.6 points after 29 games.

Does that make Brogdon the No. 2 player to come through the UVa program? Eventually, maybe it will. But, from a college standpoint, he ranks ninth in school history in scoring with 1,809 points.

That is more than 700 points behind Bryant Stith, who scored 2,516 points.

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Recent Comments
Dave Fulton

Changing Times

Times have changed considerably since my arrival at UVA when 6'10" John Naponick not only played center for the 9-17 Hoot Gibson r... Read More
Friday, 19 February 2021 16:02
Dave Scarangella

I'm A Hokie So My Vote Doesn't...

But I would have said Barry Parkhill. I understand the statistical argument, but before Ralph, when you went to the playground and... Read More
Friday, 19 February 2021 16:14
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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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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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