Dear Burger King,

IMG_3066Why is it that a fast food restaurant that is supposed to specialize in burgers and fries cannot make an edible french fry? I don’t eat at Burger King often, but when I picked up a Whopper Jr. meal earlier this week, I was offered Satisfries with my meal.

Unsure what was meant by the term Satisfries, the girl taking the order explained they were crinkle cut fries. Sure, I’ll take Satisfries with my order.

As I pulled away from the drive through, I popped a fry in my mouth and quickly deposited it in a napkin. How could a french fry taste so awful?

When I got home, I salted the fries and got out the ketchup in an effort to make the fries edible, but even that didn’t work. Why can’t Burger King make french fries? Burger King’s been serving burgers and fries for 60 years. How can this still be a problem?IMG_3068

As I tried to find the words to describe the fries, I found an article on Bloomsberg Businessweek which reviewed fries from several fast food restaurants and decided their review clearly describes the Satisfries I tried to eat:

Burger King (BKW)
#WTFF. That’s the hashtag the Miami-based fast-food chain uses to promote its new crinkle-cut Satisfries, which boast a special coating designed to absorb less oil. Unfortunately, they taste so terrible you’ll throw them out before eating more than a few. The exterior is undersalted and sometimes sandy. The interior has a dry, gravelly texture, evoking a poorly made batch of mashed potatoes. #WTFF indeed. Rating: 0.5/10

The Best Fast-Food Fries: How Burger King’s Satisfries Compare Bloomsberg Businessweek

My advice: just say no to the Satisfries!

VAM Formula: Fake or Florida

Late Night with Seth Meyers introduced a skit last night called Fake or Florida in which contestants identify ridiculous news stories as made up or as real stories from Florida. For years, Carl Hiaason has made a living writing about the bizarre events in the news in his home state. Pythons preying on poodles, pop stars acting badly, gators, corrupt politicians, and flip flam men populate Hiaason’s books that are uniquely Florida.

Meyers asked questions about pastors eating cockroaches, scorned lovers, and attacks on a pizza delivery driver. I’d like to suggest a question for the next edition of Fake or Florida.

Is the following statement Fake or Florida?

In Florida, the pay of public school teachers is tied to an evaluation to determine their effectiveness based on the following formula:

VAM-formula-webFake or Florida?

Sadly, this is another example of Florida.

In the 2012-2013 school year, this formula was used  in teacher evaluations to determine a teacher’s VAM (Value Added Measure) and despite teaching in the state for 34 years, I do not understand the formula or how it measures my effectiveness as a teacher. But what I do know is that my VAM score was based on the scores of 200 students that I did NOT teach in the 2012-2013 school year. In fact, I’ve never taught any of the students used to determine my VAM.

This score is used to evaluate my effectiveness as a teacher, calculate my final evaluation, and in the future will be used to qualify teachers for pay increases. This week my score was also released to the public so parents can see how their child’s teacher stacks up.

I’d like to share the letter I wrote to Senator Dorothy Hukill and Representative Dennis Baxley explaining why VAM is not an effective measure of my teaching ability:

As a public school teacher in Marion County, I am concerned not only about the current process used to determine a VAM score for educators, but about the release of these scores to the public. For example, my score was formulated from students I do not teach. As a teacher for Marion Virtual School, I am assigned for administrative purposes to Marion Technical Institute; however, in the 2012-2013 school year I did not have even one student from MTI enrolled in any of the classes I teach. Nevertheless, my VAM score is based on data collected from MTI students. This quite obviously does not reflect my skills as a teacher, nor my impact on students attending Marion Technical Institute. I’m asking that you lead the charge to initiate a common sense method for determining VAM scores, and in the meantime, share my story and those of others in an effort to inform the public that these scores have little if any value in determining the effectiveness of teachers in our schools. I appreciate your help in finding a remedy for the damage inaccurate VAM scores cause to dedicated Florida educators.

Help me spread the word about VAM scores. Florida uses “voodoo math” to evaluate its teachers and the published scores are fake since the flaws in the process are numerous.

Now take a few minutes and watch Late Night with Seth Meyers Fake or Florida skit. After the bad news about Florida’s teacher evaluations, you need something to put a smile on your face.

Weigh In Wednesday: February

IMG_3062The last Wednesday in February means it’s time to weigh in on my progress on meeting my final weight loss goal. I only wish I had better news to share…2014 has not been a good one on the weight loss front.

Although I haven’t gained any weight in February, I’m stuck a couple of pounds heavier than in the final days of 2013. There has been some good news. I’m exercising more consistently. I’m recording on Lose It more often. But obviously not enough to make a difference.

The biggest mistakes I’m making…eating too much sugar! Last year I eliminated all candy from the house, but not so this year. Too many celebrations with cake. I’ve also let soda slip back in too often.

Researchers report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that sugar is harder to resist than any other food and I’d have to agree with their findings. I’m cleaning the cabinets today…getting rid of the sugary foods. In March I want to report that I’m back on the path to weight loss.

See Blowing Rocks

You can’t drive in the south without see the ubiquitous See Rock City signs, but instead of Rock City, we visited Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island.

Blowing Rocks Preserve is a barrier island sanctuary set aside to protect both the rocky limestone coast along the Atlantic Ocean and the mangroves, and tropical and oak hammocks on the Indian River Lagoon. From the Hawley Environmental Center a trail wanders through native species to the Indian River where mangrove restoration is underway.

Across the road from the Environmental Center you’ll find the sandy path leading to the Atlantic. Pay the $2.00 fee at the ticket kiosk and then continue down the sea grape lined trail to a beach unlike any other the Florida. Limestone rock eroded by the waves leaves sea caves along the shore.

On rough days, the waves crash through the rocks at heights up to 50 feet…not the case on the day we visited. No large waves, however, an aggregation of manatee could be seen just offshore.

With two and a half miles of trails, sea caves, tidal pools, reefs, and nesting sea turtles I’m surprised there are no signs in Florida shouting, See Blowing Rocks; but that’s a good thing…let’s keep this place a secret.

Keep Moving!

Sitting Can Kill -Yahoo Health

Are You Sitting Down? Your heart failure rate is higher. -USA Today

Sitting Risks: How harmful is too much sitting? -Mayo Clinic

Women Who Spend Too Much Time Sitting May Die Earlier -Health News

Don’t Just Sit There! It Could Be Harmful -USA Today

Sitting has been in the news lately, and the news isn’t good. Many of the reports actually have included a new term: sitting disease. Research links sitting disease to heart failure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even death from cancer. In fact, excessive sitting also increases the chance a person will become disabled.

It’s easy to collapse on the couch after a hard day at work, but don’t make a habit of sitting. Exercise will re-energize you so walk, bike, stretch, play games. Do anything that requires you to move!

When working at the computer, get up every hour and move.

Avoid parking in the closest space at work or when shopping (unless it’s raining again) to get in a few extra steps. Maybe that’s the point of all those unused handicapped parking spaces at Target…they’re just trying to encourage customers to walk a few extra steps to improve their health.

Can you take the stairs instead of the elevator or deliver a message by walking across the hall instead of sending an email?

Even on those particularly hard days when the couch calls your name get up and walk around the house during commercials.

Maybe you can check out the Monday Mile website which encourages starting each week by walking a mile on Monday or join Coach Kim from inSHAPE Fitness for a 15 minute Move It Monday workout!

Treadmill desk - a great birthday gift!
After starting the day sitting at my desk, it’s time to move to the treadmill desk and start moving!

My own prescription for health is less paperwork and more running barefoot through the grass. ~Terri Guillemets

Avoid sitting disease…keep moving!



A Place, But Not a Home

On Sunday’s I’m posting poetry written by my mother-in-law, Bettie Lou. Writing poetry was a form of therapy after losing her husband and then her youngest son in 1985.

A Place, But Not a Home

I am in limbo

            A place—


Not a home.

I move the bed.

I move the chair.

I lace my pretties

            Here—and there.

A place—


Not a home.

What is the difference?

            A place?

            A home?

I need to feel secure.

            Entwine me—

            Hold me—

Keep me here.

Let me know

I’m needed here.

Don’t chide me—

            Scold me—

Draw apart—

I need to heal

            A wounded heart.


2 Down; 12 To Go

IMG_2886One of the adventures that both John and I included in our list of 14 in 14 was the Tamiami Triathlon, something we’d learned about last year on a trip to South Florida. It’s the perfect triathlon for us since it is not a competition and there is only minimal training required.

Participants can complete the paddling, hiking, and biking portions in one, two, or three days; and they can even be completed over the course of several weeks or months. The long President’s Day weekend seemed like the perfect time…not too hot…not too wet…not too buggy.

We saved what we expected to be the most difficult part of the triathlon for last. However, after slogging through the mud for five miles, biking fifteen miles on a flat, paved trail turned out to be the best part of the adventure.

There’s certainly no shortage of wildlife along the trail. Of course, the most famous residents of the Everglades, alligators, lined the path, but Shark Valley is actually a bird watcher’s paradise.

Three hours after climbing on the bikes we collected our prized Tamiami Triathlon bumper stickers. I’m glad it wasn’t a race so we could enjoy the Everglades, climb the lookout tower, and take lots of pictures. What a great adventure!

We even saw a mysterious reptile that not even the ranger could identify. What do you think? An immature alligator (about 5 feet long)? A crocodile? An exotic species? Leave a comment with your opinion.


Taste = Tasty

IMG_3004We stopped at Taste, a restaurant located on Dixie Highway in Hobe Sound, for a late lunch before embarking on the final leg of our trip home. Arriving a little after 3:00, there were only a couple of other tables of diners so despite good reviews on Yelp, I was a little apprehensive.

Seated on the screen porch, we ordered pretty basic lunch fare. The waitress suggested the Lobster roll and the house specialty Savannah Gorgonzola Salad, but we settled on the Blackened Mahi tacos for me and a French Dip Sandwich for John since we weren’t feeling especially adventurous.

Coleslaw accompanied the tacos and fries came with the French Dip and both meals were delicious! In fact, since we had such good luck, we ordered the Coconut Key Lime cake for dessert.

IMG_3002While tasty, the cake was served cold…I’d prefer room temperature, and I’d hoped the key lime filling would be a bit more tangy. Nevertheless, I would definitely make a return visit.

Hobe Sound’s near Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Seabranch Preserve State Park, and Blowing Rocks Preserve and since the Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge and Nature Preserve schedules turtle walks on Tuesday and Thursday evenings during the months of May, June, and July, another trip may be in the cards.

Maybe we’ll try the lobster roll next time.


Happy Birthday, Betty Jean!

Mom, the birthday girl, and Dad
Mom, the birthday girl, and Dad

For the past six month’s I’ve been sharing poetry written by my mother-in-law, Bettie Lou; but today I want to wish a happy birthday to my mother, Betty Jean! (That’s right Bettie Lou and Betty Jean!)

Betty Jean, Mom, does not write poetry…at least I don’t think she does; however, she puts the wants and needs of her family above her own. She takes great pride in each and everyone of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren as well as her high school sweetheart to whom she’s been married for nearly 57 years. So, today, I want to say happy birthday, Mom!

Happy Birthday from your children!

Happy Birthday from your granddaughters!

Happy Birthday from your grandsons!


Happy Birthday from your great grandchildren!

Sahiya and Zachary

Happy birthday, enjoy the cake, and make yourself #1 today!


Play Ball!

February 14th, the day we’ve been waiting for since June. Sure Valentine’s Day, but more importantly, Opening Day of the college baseball season. This year we traveled to Miami for the big day to watch the Canes take on the University of Maine Black Bears.


Game one saw the Hurricanes take advantage of Maine’s opening night jitters, walks, and errors. Game two, Bryan Radziewski struck out seven of the first ten batters and a total of ten batters in five innings…not bad for the first start of the season. Then Sunday’s starter Andrew Suarez fanned another ten and finally the Canes bats warmed up with a dozen hits, half of them for extra bases for an 11-2 victory.

Of course, UM won all three games. That was inevitable since UM was playing UM in this series. Unfortunately for the University of Miami’s UM fans, the winning UM on Saturday was the team from the Pine Tree State, not the one from the Sunshine State.

We’re planning a future trip to Miami to watch the Canes this season and the calendar’s marked for trips to Stetson and UCF for games in March and April. We’ll be checking the TV listings for televised games and WVUM will be playing in the background most weekends throughout the spring. After all, it’s college baseball season!