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Recalling Harper's Signature Moments Was Tougher Than I Thought

It’s been about 24 hours since the Bryce Harper trade to the Phillies was announced, and I still can’t get my head around one aspect of his career here in Washington.

Understand that I loved watching him grow up with the Nationals, and I will really miss him no longer being with the organization. But when you start applying the “great” tag to any athlete, you usually can think quickly of a signature play or two that reminds you of that greatness.

You can certainly do it with Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. Think of John Riggins and the Redskins, and it’s going to be 70 Chip in the Super Bowl. Michael Jordan and the Bulls? It’s him, tongue handing out, doing some incredibly acrobatic shot driving to the basket.

But with Bryce, when I scan my brain for such moments, I struggle. Lest you want to argue he’s not that great yet, don’t bother. By virtue of the contract alone, that says the league judges him at such stratospheric highs. It will pay $330 million over a time period that starts today and ends when a kid who is in third grade will finish their senior year of college. Wasn’t that many years ago franchises themselves weren’t worth that much.

So in trying to remember such signs of greatness, my mind first went toward walkoff home runs. Bryce certainly hit some mammoth shots during his time here in the most powerful city in the world, but when I think of great walkoffs for the Nationals, he’s not even in the top 3 of my personal memory bank.

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The Little Kid With An AARP Card Is Finally Going To Spring Training

I don’t know about you, but just about my entire life, I’ve seen all the sayings and memes about living each day to the fullest. Carpe Diem, etc.

But the truth is, if you’re a person who saves, who always feels the brunt of responsibility, who plans out for every “what-if” there is, you push out things you’ve always wanted to do and will one day be old. These habits become very hard to break. And many of the things you say you’ll one day do, they never end up being experienced.

Such is the case for myself and my old friend Doug. We’ve known each other since college, as he was the first guy I met at the dorm (Pritchard Hall) at Virginia Tech when I was moving in. We’ve stayed lifelong friends and have had a thousand conversations about “one day” when we’d go see this, or go do that.

We’re in our 60s now. We still talk about “one day” and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago we talked about how the list of things on our bucket list is still pretty lengthy, while our volume of “one days” is growing ever smaller.

We broke through it three years ago when he flat out shamed me into going with him and another classmate to South Bend, Indiana to see Virginia Tech play Notre Dame in football for the first time. We had said since our time as college students that if the Hokies ever played Notre Dame, we would go. When the game was announced 40 years after we promised we’d do it, he was on the phone to remind me.

Honestly, I hated the idea. I hate to fly, things were busy here at home, and the weather was supposed to be sub-zero.

We went. The weather was worse than we ever imagined, but we were there. Three years later, it is still a memory I cherish, and it ended up being something I wouldn’t have done if Doug hadn’t forced me.

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People May Say Milk, Bread & Toilet Paper, But None Top My List

The weather outside tomorrow is supposed to be frightening. Snow, ice, gloom of night….the whole deal.

You don’t need the weather channel to tell you this. Just go to a grocery store. For the 11 people in Ashburn who weren’t there around noon, well, we missed you. But everyone else was stopping by to pick up “just a few things” in case we’re snowed or iced in for a few days. You go in expecting to spend $25...but wheel out a cart filled with over $100.

Traditionally, we all make fun of people rushing to buy milk, bread and toilet paper, but that isn’t a need for us these days. Milk certainly is, but it’s not the No. 1 item. Bread is something we tend to buy in bulk when it’s on sale and stash extra loaves in our second freezer in the basement, so it’s doubtful that’s ever an emergency purchase. And toilet paper? Well, thanks to warehouse clubs or Amazon forcing you into a subscription to save another 5 percent, we’re usually closer to having 28 rolls on hand instead of one.

But if there’s bad weather, there are things you HAVE to have. These would be my top 5 products I would feel very bad running out of in the middle of a snowstorm:

  1. Coffee Creamer. Let’s face it, there are millions of people out there who fashion themselves as coffee connoisseurs because they waste hundreds of dollars going to Starbucks. Truth be told, coffee is just an excuse to have something in a cup they can pour some sweet creamy substance over. My vice is Coffee-Mate’s Sweet Italian Cream, and since they make a sugar free version of it, I can tell myself I’m not really doing anything unhealthy when I pour one-fourth of the bottle into a mug of fresh ground dark French roast coffee. I had three bottles in my refrigerator this morning, but with the threat of snow, upped my inventory position to 5 at noon time. Some things are not worth playing around with.
  2. Doughnuts. If the snow is going to create a holiday, then you need to make it feel like a holiday. Ever since I first got married, a snow day meant a trip to Krispy Kreme to reverently peer at the “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign and then go get a variety of two dozen doughnuts. Part of it was due to “because we can” as we bought a four-wheel drive soon after getting married, and there was a certain specialness to being on the road when you shouldn’t be, prevailing against the elements to get a heavily glazed fresh jelly doughnut. And if it got too bad, we always found quite a few local law enforcement folks at the doughnut shop, so it’s not like we were going to end up cold and alone. Sadly, Ashburn doesn’t have Krispy Kreme, so we have to settle for a wide variety of either Entenmann products, or whatever fresh doughnuts Harris-Teeter and Giant have in their cases.
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If NASCAR Can Keep Running Races Like Today's Daytona 500...

For the first time in a while, I actually enjoyed watching every lap of a NASCAR race today.

The Daytona 500 was actually that good. And it needed to be.

NASCAR has in the past few years drifted aimlessly. If you didn’t notice all the empty seats when you occasionally tuned into a race, you definitely noticed the lack of drama or excitement. While it’s true some of that has been caused by bigger names in the sport having retired recently, there was more to it than that.

NASCAR just didn’t put on a very good show the last couple of years. The racing was boring, the prices to attend was too high for its core audience and NASCAR didn’t seem to care. It was becoming like the 50th franchise of a once-tremendous restaurant. The name brought back great memories of the past, but current events seemed a little like people going through the motions.

Add to the fact that it’s not rocket science to figure out what makes for an entertaining show on a race track, and it became all the more frustrating. Older fans stopped paying attention, younger fans weren’t engaging in the first place and there became a growing problem. Great races generally need only three things: close racing in the early stages so someone won’t change the channel or take a nap, some sort of big wreck in the middle that becomes a huge video highlight (as in “hey, did you see that wreck Sunday?”) and then 5 or six cars racing to a photo finish on the last lap.

That’s it. That’s the list. Everything else is gravy.

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It's Hard To Believe, But Only Three Years Ago...

That the Washington Redskins hit rock bottom as a franchise Sunday came as little surprise, as they have seemed to be executing a plan to get there over the last few years.

But the speed in which they did it is still amazing.

Think about it: Just a little less than three years ago, the team had won the NFC East. The team had gone 9-7, finished the regular season with 4 straight wins, and 5 of their last 6 to win the division. They had a sharp young offensive coordinator in Sean McVay, and the fruits of his hard work and imagination were obvious: QB Kirk Cousins threw for over 4,000 yards, the running back committee of Alfred Morris, Matt Jones and Chris Thompson rushed for 1,457 yards. There were dangerous receivers in Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson.

The team had weapons. It was entertaining to watch. And despite the loss to Green Bay in the first round of the playoffs, the future looked bright for the Redskins. They had to shore up defensive issues, but they had an offense that seemed as if it could score on anyone.

That was only three short years ago. Compare it to what was on the field yesterday.

Yes, you can point to injuries and bad luck and all sorts of reasons to rationalize being down 40-0 to a 4- win team and losing your fourth game in a row on your way to a 6-10 record. But that’s the nature of the game. A lot of teams encounter this without having a weekly search to see who can be found on the streets to be your starting quarterback.

It’s managerial malfeasance to fall this far in so short a period of time. Consider, if you will, if the team had just made these five moves in the last three years. Then tell me where you think the team would be today:

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Recent comment in this post
Guest — Bruce (@brm90)

Mediocrity? No, Misery.

The rare periods of success were only blips on the sustained period of misery that marks the Dan Snyder regime.
Tuesday, 11 December 2018 08:46

This Is The Year The Streak Comes To An End. No, Not THAT One...

This is the year, sadly, that the streak comes to an end.

No, not that one about Virginia Tech and Virginia in football. I’m talking about the streak I’ve held in our household for Thanksgiving dinners.

My wife and I are celebrating our 38th Thanksgiving dinner Thursday since getting married back when the dinosaurs roamed the planet. And every year, no matter where the dinner is, I’m the guy who carved the turkey. This is due to the fact that 99 percent of the time, the dinner has been in my own house, which has allowed me a tremendous home court advantage.

I even have a special carving knife that’s the size of your arm, and you can just hear Crocodile Dundee saying “now THAT’s a knife” as I pull it out of the kitchen drawer.

But not this year. My wife’s mother mentioned in passing late last week that her plans for Thanksgiving hadn’t really panned out, so she was just going to stay at home. Alone. On Thanksgiving.

This, of course, is roughly equal to driving a stake through my sentimental heart, so I suggested to my wife that we just drive to Roanoke for the day to address this. Because of everyone’s schedules, the only option was to drive down Thanksgiving morning and make it a day trip, which will allow us to spend the day there, but won’t allow time for cooking.

Or carving.

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Recent Comments
Guest — Wade K Johnson

Thanksgiving dinner

I am fortunate in that even though no member of my side of the family remains within 100 miles, Becky's family is large and they c... Read More
Thursday, 22 November 2018 07:49
Dave Scarangella

Happy Thanksgiving Wade!

Bring some Thanksgiving magic to Blacksburg Friday!
Thursday, 22 November 2018 07:56

Let's Not Throw The Baby Out With The Bath Water Over Bowl Streak

I still remember the conversation clearly.

My friend Bob and I were making that long walk from the Superdome in New Orleans to our car. We had driven down from High Point, NC the day before to see history. Having graduated in the late 1970s, we’d seen our share of bad football, so with Virginia Tech playing Florida State for a national championship, we just had to be there.

We saw history being made, but for Florida State, not Virginia Tech. And like any fan, we were bummed that we came so close but didn’t grab the brass ring. We would drive all the way back to North Carolina hardly saying a word, but as we got in the car that night, we talked about what a ride it had been. We’d seen Fire and Rain in Virginia Tech football, and the loss was not going to deter how great the year had been.

“At least we can compare it to 3-win seasons under Jimmy Sharpe,” I said. “Can you imagine someone who was a freshman in 1995 and is graduating this year? The worst they’ve ever experienced is a 7-5 season. They’ve had a Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and National Championship game in 5 years. Their worst season is still better than our best seasons when we were students.”

“Wait until they have a season again when they don’t go to a bowl,” Bob answered. “They think it’s automatic. They’ll want to fire everybody.”

Little did we know that the next time the Hokies would not make a bowl game would not just be a few years down the road. It would instead be several decades later, to the point that entire generations would never experience a season where Virginia Tech didn’t have a winning record and didn’t go to a bowl.

Today, however, it looks like the streak is over. And Bob – who isn’t much to look at but nevertheless has been my friend since the 70s – nailed it on that January night in 2000. People today don’t appear to know how to act, and it sure seems like there is a group of people out there who want to fire everyone in sight.

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Meet The Dennis Rodman of Canines In The Kitchen...

Rebounding in basketball isn't so much about jumping. It's about position. Knowing where the ball is going to end up landing. Being ready for the opportunity.

Based on those qualifications, if my dog Schnoodle had played basketball, the old girl would have made the hall of fame. No dog can read the kitchen, come up with a plan, and be where the odds are best that a mistake will be made. She doesn't look for food scraps. Food scraps fall in front of her. She is the Dennis Rodman of kitchen canines.

Today is a rainy day in Ashburn, and neither my wife nor daughter will eat leftovers (or even something twice in the same week). So since it is so dreary outside, I'm cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer of older foods coming up on an expiration date. I've turned three chicken breasts into chicken salad for sandwiches for the next few days; I have taken 1.5 pounds of ground beef and made it into a chili/taco meat mixture to go on hot dogs, baked potatoes or other assorted options over the weekend; yesterday I found this beautiful pork shoulder minding its own business in the back of the freezer. It has been appropriately bathed in a dry rub, had garlic inserted into it, and is peacefully resting until tomorrow.

Making these three dishes so there's plenty to warm up and eat on a moment's notice over the weekend involved doing a lot of chopping and mixing in various places in the kitchen. Schnoodle moved when I moved and always found the right spot. Making this more amazing is she lost her sight several years ago. But that does not hinder the pooch, as she has a nose with abilities the CIA would envy.

She's 15 years old and she unfortunately never got to play basketball. She could have been a contender. Instead, she roams the kitchen like a BOSS. And when it comes to kitchen scraps, she's the real MVP ????

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Now Here's A Great Reason To Visit Mississippi Or West Virginia...

Even though it’s the day after election day, here's something going on across the nation that I think is far more interesting.

It’s the rankings for fattest state in America, the battle to see who consumes the most sugar, pork fat, gravies and otherwise delicious foods at meal time. It was compiled by Wallet Hub and you can see the full rankings here.

The winner? Mississippi, come on down, as you have easily secured the top spot. The land of deep-fried catfish, barbecue, opossum and even more deep-fried catfish is No. 1. You're not fat, as they used to say, you're just big boned. You may be No. 1, but obesity doesn't run in your family. Nobody runs in your family.

West Virginia came in second, while Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee round out the top 5. Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina were just a belt notch away from joining the XXXL club. Dead last? The state that thinks it's a good idea to eat sheep testicles and call them Rocky Mountain Oysters: Colorado at No. 51

You might look at that list of states at the top and notice a trend, and no, it’s not that they are all southern states (which they are). But I spent many decades as a sales and marketing road warrior travelling this great country, and while in those states I noticed a couple of similar situations.

For one, you won’t meet a lot of people in those states who eat kale or arugula. That’s not to say they don’t exist, but when you meet one, there’s usually a term for them: “Health nut” or “Yankee” top the list.

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clear sky

27.6°F

Ashburn

Clear Sky

Humidity: 42%

Wind: 2.71 m/h

Thu

overcast clouds

24/43°F

Fri

broken clouds

31/50°F

Sat

overcast clouds

28/38°F

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.

Gone But Never Forgotten...

Doodle

My faithful dogs probably rode shotgun on hundreds of stories I've written since 2003. This one is for you, Doodle & Schnoodle.

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