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Just When I Thought I Wouldn't Be Needing A Snowblower...

Yesterday, I finally fixed my snowblower, which had choked on a large edition of a Washington Post I had accidentally run over two weeks previously. I jokingly said I needed it to snow one more time to see if I really had repaired everything.

Then I looked at The Weather Channel app this morning. And they did not seem to get the joke.

Their forecast (as you see above) says the high on Saturday will be 36, the low will be 26, and that there is a 100 percent chance of snow. No hedging, no small crack of escapability in the forecast, 100 percent. Dead. Sold. Certain.

How much? The Weather Channel is saying 5 to 8 inches. Not flurries, not the usual spring slushy mess that is over before it begins. Five to 8 inches. A real storm. And that evening, it’s like an infomercial on a cable channel late at night: Wait, there’s more! The chance drops to 50 percent, but it’s for an additional 1 to 3 inches.

So if my math is correct, The Weather Channel is saying we could have 6 to 11 inches of snow on the ground by Sunday morning. Which is the 7th day of April. This would break all records for snowfall in the month of April in Ashburn, Northern Virginia, and probably most of the Eastern United States.

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Super User

No Snow in April, I refuse to ...

February warmest ever, March colder with snow, now this in April---Kammerer just trying to drive up ratings. HAS to be global war... Read More
Wednesday, 04 April 2018 17:04

Yes Tim, I Know They Play 162, But Still....

I’ve slept on it, but this morning I have the same feeling.

Last night’s Nationals game kind of annoyed me.

It’s not that they lost to the Braves – the team was going to eventually lose some time – but it was the cavalier way they sort of gave it away. There were moves that could have been made that might have turned what ended up being a lost cause into something salvageable. But new manager Dave Martinez just sort of went with the flow. Which is the part that annoys me.

You can’t really blame starting pitcher A.J. Cole. He is what he is – a serviceable, at best average pitcher who at times can give you a couple of really good innings. But the Nationals keep believing if they keep sending him out as a starter, maybe one more chance is going to make a difference. As the noted philosopher Harry Callahan once stated, “a man’s got to know his limitations.”

His manager needs to know those limitations too. When someone told Oilers Coach Bum Phillips that his prized running back Earl Campbell couldn’t even finish running a mile, Phillips replied “when it’s first and a mile, I won’t give it to him.” Last night it was first and a mile, and Martinez still kept giving Cole the ball.

It’s only one game, and I have a dear friend named Tim who for 40 years has reminded me “they play 162” whenever I complain about a baseball team. He also says that when you say “good morning” or “you want a hot dog?” but you get the idea. Each game is just a small part of an entire season.

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So Close, But So Far In Finally Being On A Jury...

For all of my 61 years, I’ve wanted to be on a jury. And probably half a dozen times, I’ve gotten something in the mail while living in three different cities, called the number they ask you to check the night before, and been told my services were not needed.

Last night, I got another chance. This wasn’t necessarily the night you wanted to be a winner because the NCAA Championship game was going to be on until after midnight, meaning getting up early to go to a courthouse the next morning would not be ideal. But when I called the phone number printed on the jury duty summons, they said Groups 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 AND 8 would need to show up. Numbers 9 through infinity could stay home.

Mine was No. 8.

Let me first say if you’ve reached the stage of life where you’ve retired (like I did two months ago) and you get used to getting up when you want to and easing into the day, that alarm going off at 5:50 AM is a bit of a jolt. I left the house at about 7:20 AM for the trip to neighboring Leesburg, reasoning that it’s one thing to be late to a business meeting; it’s another thing entirely when where you’re going they have people at the entrance with guns and handcuffs. This one I needed to be on time or early too.

Very early in the process I noticed just how addicted I have gotten to my cell phone. You can’t bring one into the Courthouse, so I left mine in my car. I parked at the parking garage across the street from where I thought I needed to go, then walked to where I thought the entrance would be. It wasn’t there and the Loudoun County Courthouse is one huge block where if you walk the wrong way, you’re going to pick up a couple thousand steps on your Fitbit making a lap around the grounds.

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With Win Tonight, Nats Can Make History Starting Out 4-0

If you’re impressed that the Nationals have started the season 3-0, well, don’t be.

Don’t get me wrong; they’ve been very impressive, and they never even trailed the entire three-game series at Cincinnati. But if history is any indication, starting out 3-0 hasn't really meant anything.

This is the fourth time the team has done it since moving from Montreal to the most powerful city in the world. The Nats also accomplished this in 2008,  2013 and 2014. How did they do in 2008? Well, after winning those first three, the Nats lost 9 in a row and 15 of their next 17. They would lose 102 games, the franchise’s worst record since the 1976 Montreal Expos ended the season at 55-107. It was the worst ever in Washington, but only until 2009 when they lost 103 games.

In 2013, the Nats went from 3-0 start to buzz saw in Cincinnati and never found themselves in first place again. They lost 15-0 on a Friday night, would bounce back and win 7-6 the next day to keep them in first place (where they had been every game of the season), then lost the Sunday game 6-3.

The loss knocked them out of first, then they returned home to sweep a 3-game series against the White Sox (but gain no ground on the Atlanta Braves). The Braves then came to Nats Park, swept the Nats, and the rest of the season involved looking at Atlanta’s back bumper. Twice they got within a half game of the Braves, but never got back to first, finishing at 86-76. I will always remember that season due to how many times Nats fans on Twitter would say “it’s only April” when the team struggled, followed by “it’s only May”, “it’s only June”, etc. No one wanted to admit the team just didn’t have it that year, hoping instead that in time, they would turn the switch on. They didn’t.

2014 is the only year a 3-0 start ended with a playoff berth. Like the others, however, that team started with 3 wins, then struggled. 23 games into the season, the team was only 12-11 and in third place in the division. They were in second as late as July 18th before getting back on top and staying there, eventually winning the division by 17 games.

The other two years the Nats made the playoffs, the teams started 2-0, lost, then had a strong winning streak. In 2012, they went 2-0, lost two straight, then won 8 of 9 en route to a team-best 98 wins. Last year, they went 2-0, lost 1, then won 7 straight on the way to 95 wins.

So starting with 3 straight has not exactly been the charm for Washington. Four straight? No Washington team has ever done that to start the season. They can make history by doing so tonight against the Atlanta Braves.

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Might As Well Turn Those Easter Eggs Into Something...

It’s the day after Easter, which means you need to get two things done today: One is go buy up all the half-priced chocolate. The other is to turn those hard-boiled Easter eggs into something edible, assuming you refrigerated them after all that decorating.

I turned mine into deviled eggs, mainly because it’s very simple, and the people in my house scarf them down like eggs will no longer be available on earth at the end of the day.

Here’s how to make them: Peel them, chop them in half, and put all the yokes into a mixing bowl (a slight push on the bottom of the round part of the egg will pop it out like a lost contact lens. When  you’ve done that to all the eggs, take a fork and mash them until they look more like a powder than an egg.

I add a little minced onion to give the deviled egg some texture. Just take a small amount of onion, chop it until you think you’ve chopped it enough, then go back and chop it two more times. You want a hint of onion, not chunks like it’s chicken salad. Add an equal mixture of mustard and mayonnaise and mix it up thoroughly. I add about 3 or 4 drops of Sriracha into the mix to give it a slight hint of heat (i.e., the devil in deviled eggs) and a subtle smoky flavor. If you decide to do this, be careful. The difference between 3 drops and 5 drops can be the difference between subtle flavor and your mouth on fire. It’s in a squeeze bottle, and I have seen people in my own house give the bottle a firm squeeze and unintentionally put enough Sriracha into a recipe to burn the house down. So you’ve been warned.

Spoon the mixture back into the egg whites. If you want to get fancy, use a piping bag (which you can buy online for about $5) with a pastry tip (again, another $5 online) to get those fancy grooves. But whether pastry bag or spoon, it still tastes the same. As a final touch, I usually put a light dusting of paprika on top of the eggs to give it another layer of very mild heat, and the color looks nice.

With the eggs peeled, it takes about 10 minutes. But since they look fancy, you can lie to your family, say you slaved away for a couple of hours because you knew they liked them, and then get them to clean the kitchen and take out the garbage. A fair trade, if you ask me…..

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Just A Little Light Dessert After A Great Easter Meal

Usually at holidays, I post food pictures on Facebook. But I'm not on Facebook any more.

So I guess I'll just have to do it here. This is a chocolate dome cake, filled with chocolate mousse, topped by an Easter bunny face with M&Ms for eyes and a nose.

As a friend noted, the bunny seems to have fear in its eyes. And well it should :)

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Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter! Enjoy That Chocolate Bunny...

First of all, Buona Pasqua! Happy Easter!

Today is perhaps my favorite holiday of the year. If you are a person of faith as I am, it is the day of the resurrection. The day HE IS RISEN has particular significance. One of the two days just about everybody goes to church (known as the Christmas and Easter crowd, thank you very much) and a day of food, faith and family. Even if these are not your beliefs, the message of redemption, peace and a new start are cool notions all of themselves.

I judge a holiday by the memories in creates. No offense to the days off commemorating Presidents Day or Memorial Day, but I doubt you can tell me what you did on those days as a kid. Christmas and Easter dominate those memories, and Easter is particularly rich in such. From the time you were a kid hunting for Easter eggs, to the time you stayed up late, dyed a bunch of eggs as if they were going to be on display one day at the Louvre, then hid them in the front yard before turning your own children loose. All while trying to capture video of the event while your spouse played the role of the director.

Those rich memories also include Easter sunrise services, because they provided some particularly peaceful moments. But they are for the young, as I have found them to be a survival of the fittest contest. As the name suggests, the services start at sunrise, and unless you are blessed with natural beauty, this involves getting up a few hours before sunrise to get dressed and be there. In my younger days, I worked in the newspaper business where you didn’t get home until 2 AM after putting together the last edition of the Sunday paper. Since you’d be getting up at 4 AM anyway, I’d just stay up, power through everything, then after a hearty Easter meal go search for an unoccupied sofa to “meditate.”

But the greatest non-religious aspect of the Easter tradition is the chocolate Easter bunny. Back when I was a kid, there was an arms race with these bunnies, as you had to show your kid how much you thought of them by buying the biggest one there was (now you just buy them a $1,000 Iphone). There wer of course the eggs, jelly beans and other assorted items in the Easter basket, but the centerpiece was the chocolate bunny, roughly akin to the turkey on the Thanksgiving table. It had to be good.

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The Window Is Open, So Let's Enjoy It While We Can

Yesterday after the Nationals’ Opening Day win, I went to Twitter to read everyone’s takes on the game, and saw one from a friend named Jen. She’s a huge Nats fans and has raised her kids to know a slider from a curve since they were old enough to walk. Her kids were celebrating the Opening Day win, and as we all did when we were little, they were projecting the future based on this one game. In their minds, the Nats looked so good, they were going to go 162-0.

Being the realist (my daughter would say “killjoy”) I am, I pointed out that the first year they will ever be able to remember things as they grow older will be around 2012. Starting with that year, winning in general and winning on Opening Day became the norm for the Nats. Only once during the span of then to now has the team lost a game to start the season (those pesky Mets won 3-1 in 2015) and the days of 100-loss seasons were long gone. Every year since, the Nats were supposed to win the division, and many years they did.

Part of me thought “these kids are really lucky” because they’ve known nothing but winners, seen no-hitters, and have only faced disappointment when the team went to the playoffs. The other more cynical side thought “they have no idea that sometime in the future, being a fan is probably going to be tough.”

That’s because in my 50-plus years of following sports, I’ve found your favorite teams have more years when they disappoint versus winning it all. All seasons have happy endings, but they are not necessarily your happy ending, as someone has to win and someone has to lose. Odds are, if you talk to most fans outside of New England these days, it’s their team that seems to have to lose.

It’s as if some higher authority doles out the winning so that everyone has a window of happiness. I grew up in Norfolk, where in the days before cable television (and cell phones, computers, the internet, etc.) the area received the games of either Baltimore or Washington. My Dad liked the Baltimore teams, so as nature designed in the not so complicated father-son dynamic, I rebelled and pulled for Washington. It wasn’t a wise choice, as the Colts and the Orioles seemed to win all the time, while the Redskins, Senators and Bullets got me comfortable at a young age with pulling for a team that would underperform.

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In Analyzing Yesterday's News, A Few McChicken Nuggets...

There is no love lost between Virginia Tech and Michigan when it comes to football, and yesterday’s decision by Michigan to opt out of games with the Hokies in 2020 and 2021 will only add to the rancor. After all, the folks in Blacksburg have long had a nickname for the Wolverines: “McChicken”.

This all started many years ago when Virginia Tech started climbing the mountain of gaining national respect in football. Back-to-back appearances in the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl in 1995-96 certainly helped, then a quarterback by the name of Vick pushed them over the top when the Hokies played in the National Championship game.

But during that time, Virginia Tech tried to schedule bigger names, as they have (and still do to a degree) been accused of playing weak non-conference opponents. One team they tried to schedule, and according to various reports repeatedly said they weren’t interested, was Michigan. They WOULD schedule Virginia, but not Virginia Tech. Thus the “McChicken” nickname.

The animosity got worse in 2012 when the teams played in the Sugar Bowl. A late pass to Hokie WR Danny Coale that would have won the game was ruled incomplete despite just about every replay angle showing he caught it (my seats in the Superdome were right in front of the play and I thought the game was over). “Danny Coale caugh the ball” is now a rallying cry for the Hokies; I had the misfortune of flying home after the game seated next to a Michigan fan who was far from gracious, regaling me with stories of just how superior Michigan was to the world.

So Michigan is not exactly on the Virginia Tech Christmas Card list. Mine, either.

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broken clouds

53.3°F

Ashburn

Broken Clouds

Humidity: 87%

Wind: 2.71 m/h

Tue

few clouds

47/53°F

Wed

sky is clear

41/60°F

Thu

sky is clear

37/53°F

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