Monthly Archives: July 2009

All-American Burger Challenge

All-American Burger Challenge

Wednesday night, July 29, a group of some four dozen high school students and their adult chaperons/drivers gathered at Pathways Community Church to prepare for a very important assignment: to determine who has the best burgers: Sonic or In-N-Out.  It was a difficult and dirty (well, at least messy) job, but they were up to the task.


Organizers Jenna Stovall and Mike Gilson had obviously done a lot of preparation for the activity.  They had developed detailed evaluation forms which included such elements as taste, presentation, bun, “greasiness,” and facilities.  They also had trivia questions for the kids to work on while waiting for their orders.  For the stop at Sonic, the organizers had contacted the auto service station next door and gotten permission to set up tables and chairs in the lot.  This turned out to be both a problem, because there was no light in the lot, and unnecessary, because by the time all the students had their orders the regular eating area had cleared out and there was enough room for most of them to sit.

In the Dark

It was obvious that the kids were having a lot of fun, and most of them were taking the activity seriously.  You could see how some of them were concentrating on their evaluation forms.  I had a chance to chat with some of them at Sonic to get their thoughts.  Heather told me, “Sonic’s good, but I don’t think it can beat In-N-Out.”  For Mikaila, it was the “amazing” tater tots that brought a smile to her face.  Jessica put it simply – “They taste good.”  An anonymous young man felt the burger had “the perfect amount of veggies.”  Not all was smooth sailing, however.  One boy’s hamburger “turned into a salad,” and another boy talked about his hamburger’s “squishy buns” – at least I assume it was his hamburger he was talking about.

The management at Sonic was very pleasant and helpful, even sending out free samples of drinks to keep folks going while waiting for their orders.  As always, the carhops were fast and efficient, although one young man did end up having a too-close encounter of the wall kind as he was returning to the restaurant to pick up another order.

All-American Burger Challenge

Part 1 – Sonic

Burger Challenge - Sonic

Evaluations and Trivia

Sonic Evaluations

Following the Sonic experience the entire crew packed up and headed down Magnolia to In-N-Out.  The group was very careful to clean up both the dining area and the lot where they had originally set up before leaving.  At In-N-Out my wide-angle lens died, so I was unable to get any group photos.  A more pressing problem was the late arrival of Mike Gilson, who happened to have the money for the activity.  Eventually he showed up and ordering began.  Here again I managed to talk to a few kids (at least those whose mouths weren’t full of food) to get their thoughts.  Amy told me “Sonic’s doing it for me, although the milkshakes here [In-N-Out] are better.”  Blake told me that “In-N-Out wins hands down on burgers, but it’s Sonic for drinks.”  His friend Ross agreed and added, “Sonic has it for atmosphere.”

All-American Burger Challenge

Part 2 – In-N-Out


The night was not just for comparing.  One of the participants had never before had a burger!  Kristin admitted that she had always been more of a “chicken person,” although several of her friends had talked about taking her out to try the beef-and-bun combination.  So this night she finally got her introduction to the All-American Hamburger.

Kristin Meets Hamburger

The final results of the All-American Burger Challenge will be announced on Sunday, August 2.  I will post the results later in the day.  But until then, I am inviting all of my readers to vote in my totally unscientific Sonic vs In-N-Out Poll.



Filed under Community, On Food Patrol

Now Rate This!

Just for fun, I have added the new WordPress rating widget to my blog.  Now you can, if you so choose, rate each of my posts.  Is it average? good? excellent? (I hope I don’t get anything lower than ‘average’).  You will be able to rate posts on a 1-5 star scale, so why not have fun – go back and rate some of my offerings.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Ultimate Challenge

Bigger than Alien vs Predator!

More exciting than Freddie vs Jason!

This is the ultimate face off…

Sonic vs In-N-Out

The Pathways Community Church high school group will be holding this amazing challenge on Wednesday night.  The event is for members of the group, but your humble blogger has been invited to cover the activity for you.  Participants will be visiting both restaurants, tasting the burgers, and filling out evaluation forms.  Final results will not be released until Sunday, but I will share some of the thoughts of the tasters, as well as some pictures of the fun.

Leave a comment

Filed under Community, Entertainment, On Food Patrol

National Night Out 2009

America’s Night Out Against Crime

The Santee Sheriff’s Station will be hosting the National Night Out event on Tuesday, August 4, from 5:00-7:30 pm at Woodglen Vista Park. They will have information about MADD, 9-1-1, fire prevention, drug prevention, and dealing with bullying, domestic violence, and crime.  There will also be fun activities for kids, SPARC will have hot dogs and chips, Shred-It will be there to dispose of your unwanted documents, and Farmers Insurance will have digital ID kits.

For more information, contact Alyssa Dean, Crime Prevention Specialist, at 619-956-4021.

1 Comment

Filed under Community, Crime Watch

The Week Ahead – July 27-August 2


I seem to be getting pretty good at keeping this up.  Let’s look at the coming week in Santee.

Santee Summer Concert Series: Thursday, July 30, The Screamin’ Primas bring their tribute to Louis Prima to the Trolley Center amphitheater from 6:30-8:00 pm.

Mission Trails Regional Park: This is a busy week, with Guided Nature Walks, an Explorers Adventure Camp for kids 6-10, and a Twilight Walk on Saturday.

Santee Lakes: Thursday, July 30, Night Fishing returns to the Lakes.

There is also a burger challenge on Wednesday night, but I don’t have details yet – I will put them up when I have some, along with any other events.

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Community, Entertainment

Cash’d Out Walks the Summer Concert Line

Cash'd Out

The Trolley Center amphitheater and surrounding mall were filled to overflowing on Thursday, July 23, as the Johnny Cash tribute band Cash’d Out brought the music of the Man in Black to the Santee Summer Concert Series.  This was easily the largest crowd I have seen so far this summer, and everyone appeared to have a good time.  The only dark cloud was the number of people who seemed to feel the rule about not saving spots did not apply to them.  But I will address them in another post.

Cash’d Out formed in 2004, started playing in 2005, and has since become a top draw around the Southwest region.  Last year the group was voted Best Cover or Tribute Band at the 18th annual San Diego Music Awards.  Not bad for a band that got its start through an advertisement in The Reader.  That was how founders Douglas Benson and Kevin Manuel got together, later adding stand-up bass player Sean Glithero and drummer Andy Robillard to round out the quartet.  About a year ago Alabama native Juli Crocket joined the men to sing the June Carter parts and play off against Douglas Benson’s Johnny Cash persona.

"Johnny" and "June"

Admittedly, I am not a huge Johnny Cash fan – at least not compared to my daughter (who probably knows all the lines from Walk the Lineby heart) – but I do know several of his songs and some of his life story, and can certainly appreciate a spot-on group like Cash’d Out.  Particularly fun to watch is the give-and-take between Benson and Crockett.  I spoke to Juli Crockett after the concert, and she admitted that it took her a little time to feel comfortable enough to “stand up” to Benson, but now feels quite up to giving it back to him the way June Carter did to Johnny Cash.

Douglas G. Benson (as he is billed on the band’s website) got the idea of starting up a Johnny Cash tribute band because he “had the voice” – but he had to work on his guitar skills first.  We can all be very glad that he paid his dues on the “guit-fiddle” to reach the level he is at now.  As for the voice – no question on that.

Douglas G. Benson

Kevin Manuel, the “Luther Perkins” of the group, is a San Diego boy who grew up on the music of Johnny Cash.  It was his answering of Benson’s ad in The Reader that led to the founding of Cash’d Out.  Manuel provides the “guit-box” lead on songs.

Kevin Manuel

Sean Glithero is another San Diego native in the group.  He has been playing bass in bands around the area for the last two decades, about half of that time with Manuel.  Glithero provides the “boom-boom” signature that Marshall Grant played with the Tennessee Three.

Sean Glithero

The fourth member of the group, Andy Robillard, keeps the beat going the way W.S. Holland did for the original Cash group.

Andy Robillard

Juli Crockett, who also sings with a group called Evangenitals, carries the June Carter parts very well and adds that touch of “Down South” to a decidedly So-Cal group of musicians.

Juli Crockett

The fun kicked off early with a warm up set by Shiloh Cook from Singing Solo, a program for talented young singers.

Shlioh Cook

Miss Santee, Sierra Billock, and Miss Santee Teen, Nicole Ehlke, were on hand as MCs.

Sierra Billock and Nicole Ehlke

On several songs, Glithero had a talented young apprentice working with him.

Glithero and Apprentice

The concert also featured an impromptu birthday serenade for a young fan.

"Happy Birthday..."

Not much dancing this week – too many people and very little open space.

Cash'd Out Crowd

Next week, July 30, the tributes continue when the Screamin’ Primas bring the music of Louis Prima to the Summer Concert Series.


Filed under Community, Entertainment

Week Ahead Update – 7/23/09

I have posted an update to “The Week Ahead – July 20-26”

Leave a comment

Filed under Community, Entertainment

Blowing My Own Horn

Surf's Up in OB

I spend quite a bit of time promoting businesses and activities around Santee, but I’m going to take a moment to “blow my own horn” for a change.  I have entered one of my photos in the Southern California’s Faces and Places Photo Contest through the San Diego Union-Tribune and, and I hope that some of you will take the time to check out the contest and my photo.  The picture is of a surfer watching incoming waves in Ocean Beach, with rainbows in the spray coming off the waves.  If you like the picture, please vote for it.  You can only vote once in each category (mine is in the Beach Life Category).

Thank you for checking out the contest and my photo.

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment

Fashion Rocks the East for Miss Santee and Miss La Mesa Pageants

Miss Santee, Miss Santee Teen, Runners-Up, and Princesses

For over 40 years young women have been vying for the titles of Miss Santee and Miss La Mesa, and more recently Miss Santee Teen and Miss La Mesa Teen.  More than just a “beauty” pageant, these contests provide the young women who become spokespersons for the two cities at civic functions around the county.  I have had the opportunity to meet and work with several of the winners and runners up for Miss Santee and Miss Santee Teen, and have found them to be bright, outgoing, and excellent representatives of the city.

In this time of a declining economy, keeping the double pageant funded (Miss Santee and Miss La Mesa are crowned during the same event) has become more difficult.  In order to continue providing scholarships for the winners of the pageants, the Pageant organizers have put together the first annual fashion show fundraiser (Fashion Rocks the East).  This event will take place on Sunday, August 9, at the La Mesa Community Services Arbor Room at 4975 Memorial Drive in MacArthur Park, and will include a silent auction along with the fashion show.  Models will include former contestants from past pageants, and I have heard that our own Mayor Randy Voepel (The Hardest Working Man in Santee) might take a turn on the runway.  Escorting some of the young ladies, no doubt.

If you would like to help support this event and the scholarship fund, tickets are $20 and can be ordered ahead by calling Pageant Director Alexandra Kuty at 619-698-4163 or email her at  The tickets are first come, first served, so you might want to order ahead since there is not telling how many might be left at the door the day of the event.  You are also welcome to help sponsor or donate to the event.  In addition, they will be collecting used gowns to be donated to the Friends of Scott Organization, which holds a special prom every year for teen cancer patients.  There will also be a special auction of a gemstone necklace donated by Michael’s Jewelers with proceeds going to Santee Santas.

If you are interested in mailing in your ticket order, you can send me a message and I can email you a copy of the order form.


Filed under Community

July Chamber Mixer

July After-5 Mixer

The July Santee Chamber of Commerce After-5 Mixer was held on Thursday, July 16, at the recently opened PakMail in the Albertson’s center.  The event was well attended by local business owners, community groups, and political representatives.  Among those attending were the local representative of U.S. Congressman Duncan D. Hunter, a Placement Specialist from Partnerships with Industry, and several members of the Chamber leadership.

Ted & Kelli Tamez of PakMail

The Mixer hosts were Ted and Kelli Tamez, PakMail franchise owners and Area Developers for Arizona and Southern California.  The Tamezes are proud of their company’s ability to pack and ship just about anything a customer might want to send, from a tea service, to a guitar, to a pocket bike.  And yes, they have done them all.

July Mixer

As always, the Mixer ended with raffle and membership drawings.  Your humble blogger won a $25 gift certificate to The Omlette Factory and two tickets to the Bulls Only Rodeo in Lakeside (which my daughter and her husband enjoyed using last Friday).  Barbara Leetch, former board member of Santee Santas, won a $50 gift certificate to Golden Spoon Yogurt and the 50/50 drawing.  Terry Summers, of Partnerships with Industry, won a PakMail gift bag.  The big winner was Greg Hagen, owner of Smoothie King, who won a Barona Resort and Casino Pack which included two nights at the resort and much more.  The Membership Drawing winner was Colin Goldman, who was not present and so must come to a Mixer and put his card back into the box to be eligible again.

1 Comment

Filed under Business, Chamber Activities