November 2005
Home Up December 2005

2005 Newsletters

January February March April May June
July August September October November December

The SSQQ November 2005 Newsletter
Written and edited monthly by Rick Archer

This is the November 2005 issue of the SSQQ Newsletter.




Doors open at 9 pm. Cover charge is $15.

Of all the many things we do at SSQQ, the studio is probably more famous for its Halloween Party than anything else. As they say, our Halloween Party is a "Tradition". This year's party is our 28th in the series. That, folks, is a lot of Halloween Parties.

So why is our party so much fun?

For starters, the costumes are phenomenal. We take pictures of every guest and add it to our web site. Who wants to be seen in a crummy outfit? As a result, people actually put some thought and effort into their costumes and it pays off. The costumes are always fabulous.

Second, we have an excellent Haunted House. It may be an "amateur production", but our Haunted House is definitely creepy. What makes it so scary is that we keep the room pitch dark. Then we pump up eerie music from "The Exorcist" and "Halloween" very loud to make sure your nerves get on edge. And you never know just who or whom you might meet in the Haunted House.

Third, we have the Monster Mash, Thriller and many other favorite line dances to entertain both the dancers and the spectators with. Nothing makes people laugh harder than the goofy Monster Mash. By the way, if you would like to learn these dances in advance, we are teaching them for free this week at the studio. Just come by any evening this week from 6-7 pm. Everyone is welcome whether you are signed up for an October class or not.

Fourth, we have a marvelous light show provided by our friend George Grega and his GJG Productions Company. The eerie strobes fill up Room 1 throughout the evening to enhance the pleasure of our dancing.

Fifth, we decorate the studio lavishly. There are monsters everywhere just watching your every move. And not all of them are paper cutouts either.

Best of all there are so many people to dance with and have fun with! Attendance is always over 200 people and two years ago we almost reached 300. This party is always a guaranteed hit.

This year Byron Holloway, the Assistant Bellaire Police Chief, will be back to patrol our parking lot. Chief Holloway has been on the SSQQ Halloween Beat for half a dozen years now. No matter how crazy our party gets, it is wonderful to know we will always be safe with him around. Thanks to his careful eye, we have never had an incident.

This year the music will include Western and Swing music in Room One, Whip music in Room Four, and Salsa music in Room Five. With great dance music and the infectious energy of the night, the dancing is fast and furious all night long.

This is a great party. Don't miss it!

PS - If you would like to see pictures of last year's party and read about the history of previous SSQQ Halloween Parties, visit


The November 2005 Dance Semester will start on Sunday, October 30, the day after the Halloween Party. If you want, go ahead and pass out on a couch after the party and we will wake you up when it is time to register the next day.

Here are the special classes for November:

Here is the November Lineup for Ballroom Classes:
1. Beginning Big Band Swing Dancing
2. Intermediate Big Band Swing Dancing
3. Beginning Tango
4. Advanced Tango
5. Slow Dance and Foxtrot for Holiday Parties
6. Beginning Waltz
7. Intermediate Cha Cha

(Starts Sunday, Oct 30, 4 pm)

Christmas and New Year is the only time of year many people dance at all.

As New Year's Eve and the office Christmas parties approach, this is the time to master the lost art of formal dancing! This course prepares you not only for Christmas parties but the fancy New Year's Eve parties as well.

When Sinatra's "New York New York" comes on at Midnight, you will be ready to Foxtrot. And when Holiday Slow Dance standards like Nancy Wilson's "What are You Doing New Year's Eve?" and Bing Crosby's "Baby, It's Cold Outside" play at your Holiday Parties, you will be ready to hit the floor and dance without a self-conscious bone in your body. You might even be surprised to see you are enjoying yourself out there!

(Starts Sunday, Oct 30, 4 pm)

Tango has become a house favorite on Sunday afternoons. In November you have two levels to choose from and plenty of partners to dance with at our 6 pm Tea Dance after classes end every Sunday evening.

1. Advanced Swing with Patty Oh
2. Advanced Lindy Hop with Gloria Sanchez
3. Beginning and Advanced Whip/West Coast Swing
4. Bryan Spivey's West Coast Swing Technique class

(Starts Monday, Oct 31, 7 pm)

State Whip Champion Bryan Spivey offers his special technique class on Mondays for the first time. Not only does he go over all those difficult patterns we originally covered in Levels in through 4, he covers new footwork and styling of West Coast Swing down to every "and" count. This course is offered as a bridge between people who have finished Lunar Whip and maybe aren't quite ready for Bryan's difficult Thursday Martian Whip class.

(Starts Tuesday, Nov 1)
Steve Gekas and Danielle Lam are the rock stars of Salsa. Their Advanced Salsa class on Tuesday continues to be a phenomenal draw as they cover the toughest Salsa patterns on the planet.

(Starts Wednesday, Nov 2)
Sharon Crawford returns with the final leg of her three month Western Cha Cha course. Sharon teaches practically every Cha Cha pattern she knows, so if you like to Cha Cha and want to learn the toughest patterns, this is your chance to do so.

THURSDAY MARTIAN WHIP - Bryan Spivey and Lisa Palmer
(Starts Thursday, Nov 3)
The legendary SSQQ Martian Whip class returns to its longtime slot on Thursday evening starting this November. Several people have asked why the Martian Whip class was moved from its popular Friday slot. The answer is that it makes more sense to have three Whip/WCS classes on Thursday than it does to have two Whip classes on Thursday and one on Friday.

Bryan and Lisa are Texas State Whip Champions. Bryan's obvious natural gifts as a dancer don't stop there. He is also an excellent teacher. Recently at two consecutive competitions he picked up prestigious "Best Teacher" awards and his students have done very well in competitions dancing with him.

(Starts Friday, Nov 4)

This valuable class has not been offered in several years. You immediately ask if the class is so useful, then why don't we offer it on a regular basis? The answer is that traditionally lots of men sign up for the course, but only a few ladies. The lopsided boy-girl ratio makes it almost impossible for the course to be a success and leads to a lot of grumbling.

That is too bad because this is a great class. We cover the difficult clockwise and counter-clockwise Circle Turns to both Twostep and Polka rhythm. The men become experts at these important patterns. We also cover many other Twostep and Polka patterns that rarely get covered in our Western Swing classes.

In other to make this class work, we have asked each guy to bring a partner. Believe it or not, the ladies are welcome to take the class for free as long as they are signed up for another November SSQQ course. All they have to do to take the class is register at the door on Friday night along with their gentleman partner.

With the big Western Party coming up in late November, this is an excellent course to take.

(Starts Saturday, November 5)
Kevin Coleman's Beg Hip Hop/Freestyle class was the hit of the summer. Now in November Kevin adds a 4-week, one-hour long Intermediate class ($20 a person) that will precede his 4:30 pm Beginner Hip Hop class.

This class will cover steps that involve coordination of the feet to the shoulders and the arms. The main thing required is that the person can walk and move any part of their upper body at the same time. It will be somewhat of a choreography-style class.

Please note this special class is not offered on On-Line Registration. To register you can show up at 3 pm and sign up at the door. And don't forget Kevin has a Beginner level Hip Hop class that follows from 4:30 to 6:30 on Saturdays.

(Note: For more details and lengthy descriptions of all the classes above and more, please go to NOVEMBER EXTRA ON THE SSQQ WEB SITE: )

If you miss the first week of classes, don't worry about it. YOU CAN SIGN UP IN THE SECOND WEEK without any problem since we spend the first hour reviewing what was covered in Week One.


Marla Archer has scheduled two cruises for 2006 and will likely add a third trip as well to the Caribbean.


We sail the Radiance of the Seas as we take a jaunt up the magnificent Pacific coast. Leaving out of San Diego, we first visit San Francisco, then stop at Astoria (Oregon), Victoria (British Columbia), and finish at Vancouver.

Inside: $610 Oceanview: $765 Balcony: $855
Round trip air fare and ground transportation available through Royal Caribbean for $569.

Come a day early and visit the marvelous San Diego Zoo with Rick and Marla. There are many options at the Bay City: you can explore the awesome John Muir redwood forest, visit Alcatraz, take a ferry across the bay to Sausalito or simply leave your heart in San Francisco! Then we can either take a trip to visit the incredible Pacific Northwest rainforest at Astoria or board a bus and we visit the infamous blast zone at Mt. St. Helens. We finish the trip in style by visiting the lush and exotic Gardens of Victoria!


Sail the Jewel of the Seas as we visit New England to see the stunning beauty of the Autumn leaves! Leaving out of Boston, we first visit Martha's Vineyard, then Portland (Maine), Bar Harbor (Maine), Halifax (Nova Scotia), St Johns (New Brunswick), then return to Boston.

Inside: $1035 Oceanview: $1185 Balcony: $1335
Round trip air fare and ground transportation available thru Royal Caribbean for $465.

Trees swayin' in the Autumn breeze and breathtaking vistas of red, yellow, and orange leaves!
See the magnificent lighthouses of Maine, come early and visit the marvelous history of Boston, explore the magnificent Acadia National Park at Bar Harbor, view the stunning Canadian landscape and seascapes, and enjoy the quaint charm and beauty of New England as the leaves change. This is a wonderful trip to a part of the country many of us have always dreamed of visiting, but never had the chance to do.


This trip is not yet a "done deal". We are still taking votes on which of the three dates people prefer. If you are interested in a Caribbean trip, email Marla at and state your preference!


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 9:15 - Midnight, $7

CRASH COURSES 7-9 PM (to register, just show up and register at the door)


ABOUT THE PARTY: We have had good turnouts for our Sunday Ballroom Practice Nights for the past several months. Now it is time to dedicate a Saturday evening to Swing Dancing to Big Band music, Tango, Cha Cha, Waltz, Sinatra Foxtrots, and some West Coast Swing. The dress code of course is to wear Black and White or Stay Outta Sight!



SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 9 pm - 1 am, $20

CRASH COURSES 7-9 PM (to register, just show up and register at the door)

DIRTY DANCING - Bryan (cpls only)

ABOUT THE PARTY: Two Tons of Steel was been voted the Top Band in San Antonio in 2004. They have several Western albums out. Two Tons of Steel is a band that is right on the edge of moving up to the next level of fame. Unlike a lot of bands, they don't spend a lot of time playing other people's music. They play their own original tunes! We are very fortunate to get a band of this caliber to come play for us. Not only do they play great Twostep and Polka song, they are an excellent Rockabilly Swing band as well. In other words, the Western dancers and the Swing dancers will all have the time of their lives at this party!


Leroy Ginzel is a marvel. At age 77, Leroy is in better shape than most men half his age. Leroy has been a studio fixture for many years. He owes his great health to constant hikes and climbs on his trips to national parks around the country.

My earliest memory of Leroy is the time he challenged Judy Archer to a cookie-making contest. I have no idea who lost, but I do remember enjoying the contest thoroughly. The sampling of the cookies was a definite win-win situation for all of us!

Leroy cracks me up. On the recent Rhapsody cruise Leroy said his ex-wife still blames him for everything that ever went wrong. In fact just the other day she blamed him for something new that went wrong. I asked Leroy how long they have been divorced. "Oh, twenty years or so."

Obviously being blamed for everything does things to people's minds. In Leroy's case, I think he became immune to having women mad at him. Leroy is fearless when it comes to women!!

Unlike someone of us who toe the straight and narrow, Leroy likes to get in trouble. In fact, I dare say Leroy invites trouble to his doorstep.

Recently Leroy decided to share his philosophies on women with the world. He sent out emails to hundreds of people on his email distribution list… including women!! The guy has more guts than any man I know. Or maybe less brains...I haven't decided.

-----Original Message-----
From: Leroy Ginzel
Sent: Sunday, August 21, 2005 4:45 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Leroy's philosophy #1

In the beginning, God created the earth and rested.

Then God created Man and rested.

Then God created Woman.

Since then, neither God nor Man has rested.

-----Original Message-----
From: Leroy Ginzel
Sent: Sunday, August 21, 2005 7:13 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Leroy's philosophy # 2

I received some very hilarious responses from several ladies regarding my philosophy #1, so I decided to share another one of my philosophies…

Why do women have smaller feet than men?

It's one of those "evolutionary things" that allows them to stand closer to the kitchen sink.

From: Leroy Ginzel
Sent: Monday, August 22, 2005 6:49 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Leroy's philosophy #3

This new one was inspired by responses from two of my "avid" readers to the previous 2 "Leroy's Philosophies":

How to impress your wife or "significant other":

The old adage: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Leroy's philosophy: Pick out something very complicated around the house that ain't broke. Make sure it is something that is easy to get to, not messy and conveniently located.

Go to work on it and be sure to spread your tools out everywhere so it is obvious you are the master of the world. If you are really smart, try to find something near a TV so you can watch the game when she isn't looking. After a while when you get tired of "working" on it, then say to your Significant Other (in a loud voice of course), " Hey, Honey, I fixed it!!!"

She will think you are a genius. The real reason for doing this is to acquire a "Get Out of Jail Free" card. That way the next time when you announce that you are going to shoot a round of golf, go fishing, or head down to the ice house "for a cool one" with the boys, she won't dare object!!

After all, you are Mr. Home Improvement! Guys like you are hard to find! Even better, you might even get a "special" reward!

PS: One important note - Be careful that you don't break it while you are "fixin' it"!!! You ain't going to get nuthin' but the dog house if that happens.

Editor's Note: At this point, I was starting to worry about Leroy so I sent him a warning note.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2005 10:18 PM
To: Leroy Ginzel
Subject: RE: Leroy's philosophy #3

I know you love good old-fashioned trouble, but this time you may have gone past the point of no return. You need to be more careful about opening that big mouth of yours or watch of for the consequences. Your face is going to end up on a "Wanted" Poster at this rate.

Editor's Note: Unfortunately my warning did no good. Leroy was having too much fun stirring up the hornet's nest. Just an hour later I got another email with a new observation from Leroy.

-----Original Message-----
From: Leroy Ginzel
Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2005 11:25 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Leroy's Philosophy #4

How many seconds does it take a man to open a beer?

None. It should be opened when she brings it.

Editor's Note: At this point I was beginning to wonder if Leroy had a death wish of some sort. I sent him another warning the very next day.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 10:12 AM
To: Leroy Ginzel
Subject: RE: Leroy's Philosophy #4

I am warning you again… you will become a lightning rod that attracts vicious women. Think about what you are doing before it is too late.

Actually I am certain it is already too late so forgive me if I don't stand near you at the studio or the cruise. I hope you will understand that danger of collateral damage.

-----Original Message-----
From: Leroy Ginzel
Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 9:06 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Leroy's Philosophy #5

How do you know when a woman is about to say something intelligent?

When she starts a sentence with "A man once told me..."

-----Original Message-----
From: Leroy Ginzel
Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2005 11:09 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Leroy's Philosophy #6

Hey, Guys... I'm sure all of you remember how whenever you make your wife or girlfriend mad, she will nag at you for days on end. It just goes on and on and on.

But then, if you really make her really incredibly mad, she turns around and gives you the horrible silent treatment.

Seems to me that it's worth a little extra effort to make her really mad!"

Editor's Note: Leroy was forced to go into seclusion after that. Showing extremely good sense, he left town for a month to go hiking somewhere. He not only missed Hurricane Rita, he missed Herricane Stephanie, Herricane Mara, Herricane Phyllis, Herricane Gina… Leroy missed lots of Herricanes!


November 4-5, 2005, at the Melody Club
Featuring Santo Rico Dance Company from New York City!!!

Complimentary Salsa Class at 8:30pm both nights...
Shows will Start at 10pm SHARP both nights!!!
Social Dancing will begin after shows until 3am both nights.
Music: Main room - Salsa and Cha cha
Mirrored Room - Merengue, bachata, reggaeton, and hip hop by DJ Robert N-D-Mix.
Will feature more than 15 salsa, swing, 2-step, and hustle performances from groups all over Texas.
Workshops on Saturday, November 5th from 11am - 5pm. Will feature Santo Rico Dance Company from NYC as well as Semeneya and Xibuke Dance Company from San Antonio, TX.
All event activities will be held at The Melody Club.
For more info and pricing information, please contact Jerome Carter at or 832-741-9854.


It was another month of just the Usual Suspects solving a very clever October Logic Puzzle. Not one newcomer joined our immortal flock, not even OJ Bowman who I believe is smart enough to overcome her Baptist upbringing and solve a simple logic puzzle.

And now a round of applause for our six wonderful puzzle solvers!

1. Ritesh Laud (18 months in a row!)
2. Susan Arevalo (Susan hits 2 years in a row!)
3. Karen Babb (Ninth victory, welcome back after a month off)
4. Anita Leung (8 months in a row!)
5. Jarvae Pollock (Second victory after a month break!)
6. Ann Faget (Our current champ is up to 25 months in a row!)

Maybe we will have better luck with the November logic puzzle.


Difficulty Level: Tricky, but not impossible. Very fun!

Jeffrey Ghost delivers mail for the Post Office. His delivery route includes the posh 10-story Haunted Towers Apartment House.

There are 10 Monster families which reside at this building (one family per floor). Each family gets 3 different publications a day. The delivery schedule to the Apartment House includes 10 different magazines in all.

Unfortunately for Jeff, it rained today. When he began pulling the magazines from his not-too-waterproof sack, he found all the labels stuck together in a gummy mess. Jeff was pretty worried because he knew from experience just how ugly things could get if some of these Monsters didn't get their favorite magazines on time!

Undaunted, Jeff sat down in the lobby to figure out which magazines to stuff into the mailboxes of each Haunted Towers family.

By close examination of the following clues can you determine which floor each horrible family lives on?

Editor's Note: The Magazine Mix-up Puzzle is complicated, but it is also a lot of fun.


Gary Richardson contributed this month's Joke Picture. It captures perfectly the absurdity of modern life - we want to get in shape, but when no one is looking, deep down inside we are all a bunch of lazy bums. Check out of the picture and see if you agree.



October produced three good new jokes. Sam Longoria and Usual Suspect Leroy Ginzel sent in two of them and my beloved Aunt Lynn from Virginia sent in a clever pun.

I think Sam's joke about "Snappy Answers" gets my vote for "Best Joke of the Month"!

The competition for Best Runner-up was a bit slim. It was tough to vote against my own Aunt Lynn. However I hate puns unless I make them up myself. Therefore Leroy wins.

For a look at the best new jokes to date, visit:


Newcomers to SSQQ may not be aware of how wonderful our Joke page is. Over the years Newsletter readers have been sending in their favorite jokes. I dutifully collect them, edit them, and save them. We are now up to somewhere around 700 jokes.

This month we added three new jokes to our Hall of Fame. I would like to thank Douglas Peabody, Pat Roberts, and Ann Faget for their contributions from November of last year. If you have a great joke, send it in! Email to

Meanwhile, you can read this month's Hall of Fame jokes at:



The lovely Angela Young Hennan, daughter of Kasandra Hennan, is getting married to Allen McConnell aboard the Elation Cruise Ship on Thursday October 27,2005. Hopefully they will bring us pictures of the event!


That SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance Magic always seems to double on our Cruise trips. Practically every cruise trip we have ever taken has produced at least one engagement, sometimes even more.

This year's 2005 Rhapsody trip was no exception as Cindy Bozeman and Jimmy Gunter proudly announced their engagement on the final night of the trip.

Congratulations to both!


Gary Richardson contributed pictures of a fabulous Arabian Palace located in Dubai. If you enjoy lifestyles of the rich and famous, you will definitely appreciate the pictures plus the fascinating article on Arab property development in the Persian Gulf.


We all returned safely from our July Cruise Trip to magnificent Alaska. For seven days we had the time of our lives visiting the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, taking a 40-mile train ride deep into the wilderness at Skagway, flying high over the incredible Misty Fjords near Ketchikan, and watching huge ice slabs fall into the ocean at the Hubbard Glacier.

It took me a while, but the story is now complete. The tales of adventure include:

1. Ballroom Dancing aboard the Radiance
2. The Mysterious Radiance DJ Booth
3. Dance Workshops
4. Fish and Bear Stories
5. Exploring Alaska's Inside Passage
6. Mendenhall Glacier and Mt. Roberts at Juneau
7. Texans Not Welcome in Alaska
8. The mysterious disappearance of Alaska's Abundant Wildlife
9. Dead Horse Trail at Skagway
10. How Rick Almost Lands in Skagway Jail
11. The Secret they did not want revealed: Madness in Alaska
12. Pictures of Hubbard Glacier
13. Tales of Woe on the Radiance Basketball Court
14. What Ketchikan Alaska is most Famous For
15. The incredible self-discipline of the SSQQ Women
16. The Siren Call of the Misty Fjords
17. What loneliness does to some people

These stories plus the marvelous pictures of Alaskan Wilderness and the members of our group taken by Gary Richardson.


1. HALL MONITOR (One Night a Week). Like police work, the Hall Monitor job is occasionally unbelievably busy and stressful, but most of the time boring and pretty relaxed. The pay is fair and classes are free. Inquire to Marla Archer at

2. REGISTRAR (One Night a Week). We had a recent resignation that leaves us one or two people short. Inquire to Marla Archer at


This month our ingenious Violet writes about her adventures with men who are rough when they dance with the ladies.

Dear Rick,
Here's my latest article. For the record, the people and situations are real, which might be kind of sad.

Hey guys and gals! It's Violet with a public service announcement:

Be gentle with your dance partners if you don't want to be stuck sitting on the sidelines.

While being physically gentle is GREATLY appreciated, I mean much more than that. I'm referring to basic kindness, politeness, and tact. Here are a few dos and don'ts to help you to be gentle with your dance partners and create an enjoyable social experience:

1) DO Say "thank you"
Most people are really good about this one, but I know from personal experience that not being thanked for a dance can leave one feeling self-conscious. If someone thinks you don't enjoy dancing with them, they won't be extending invitations to you any time soon, and they're likely to decline any dances you offer, or they'll at least tell all of their friends that they will. Don't create misunderstandings and leave yourself standing still just because you forget to utter two simple monosyllabic words.

2) DON'T Draw attention to every mistake
Dancing can be tough. Both leads and follows have to concentrate on executing moves properly to make a dance go well. It's a lot of work to be a good dancer, so it's okay to focus on perfection and call your partner out when they don't lead/follow something according to your standards.
Blah, blah, blah . . . phooey. Social dancing is supposed to be fun! Yes, please pay attention to your frame, rhythm, dance space, elbows, thumbs, patterns, etc., because all of that is important to having a good dance. But choose your battles carefully when it comes to distributing criticism, and remember that what you say and how you say it are equally important.

For example, I'm a mediocre dancer, at best. I still have a lot to learn, so there are going to be times when I have trouble following even the best lead. Whenever I make a mistake during a dance, I have one partner, named Jake, who shrugs his shoulders and says, "Well, THAT didn't go the way I planned it" in a very annoyed tone of voice. The first time Jake said it to me, I was mortified! I was certain that I was the worst dancer ever and that he would never ask me to dance again. However, Jake continued to ask me to dance every week during practice. After having heard "Well, THAT didn't go the way I planned it" several times, I finally spoke up. I apologized for my mistake and asked how I was supposed to follow that lead to make it work.

"Oh, no, you did fine," Jake explained. "I just didn't lead that move right. I was supposed to do this . . . " And he lead his intended move, and I followed effortlessly. "Remember," he reminded me, "It's always the lead's fault." After we became close friends, I finally explained to Jake that I thought he'd been criticizing me this entire time. Please understand that I never seek to change anyone (unless they have a habit of kicking puppies or something), but it is still a little satisfying to hear his comment change to "Oops! I guess I didn't lead that right." And since we are such good friends, Jake and I tend to get in a mini-debate over whose fault it is: "Oops, my fault." "No, it's my fault." "Uh-uh. I broke frame, you did fine." How sweet is that?

3) DO Smile
We're all familiar with the "concentration face". It's very similar to the "I smell something stinky! face" and the "There are lobsters crawling out of your ears! face". When you're on the receiving end of such expressions, it's very difficult to determine which one you're looking at. This was another issue to which I needed to call Jake's attention.

Jake is a perfectionist. When Jake dances, he concentrates so hard on his lead that he grimaces when he's stuck on a pattern. Much like the "Well, THAT didn't go the way I planned it" comment, I mistook Jake's grimace and thought I had done something wrong either on the dance floor or off. It was especially bad when his grimace would turn into a glare that lasted through the rest of the dance. I used to agonize over what I might have done to deserve such a look from Jake, but then I noticed that he gave his favorite dance partner the same glare from time to time.

So, the next time his lips pursed and his eyes narrowed, I asked him, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," he replied.

"Oh, you had this look, so I wasn't sure."

"Was I glaring again?" Jake blushes.

"Yeah, you were. It's cute," I tease, "but I thought you were angry or something."

"Sorry. I was just concentrating on what to lead next."

After that, I considered every lead's glare to be the product of deep concentration. I could be wrong, but the way I see it, a guy wouldn't ask me to dance if he didn't like dancing with me, right? And if that's the case, then he couldn't possibly be glaring over anything I've done to upset him, right? So, if I catch a lead glaring while he's dancing with me, I look him straight in the eye and double my already bright smile. More often than not, it produces a genuine grin that lasts for at least a few minutes, and it always results in an enthusiastic "thank you" when the song ends.

4) DON'T Divide your attention between more than one dance partner at one time.
If you have more than one dance partner during a song, then modify this guideline.

When you're dancing with someone, that's the person that gets the focus of your attention for those few minutes. I don't care how popular you are. Unless someone is about to run into you, presenting you with a million dollar check, having a massive coronary, or something just as pressing, then no one besides your current dance partner should even exist in your eyes.

I was dancing with Chris, a young student, during Practice Night last week when one of his friends entered Room 1. Chris yells a greeting at her from the back of the room. He also has a habit of watching other couples while he's dancing and commenting about them to his partner. As usual, he was doing that last week too. He has done all of this before, and I don't particularly consider it a major offense, but it can get out of hand. In fact, it did that day.

Chris and I were taking a break and having a jovial conversation. Then, a great song comes on, and I ask him to dance. He takes my hand, leads me to the dance floor, and begins his favorite pattern, but then he sees his friend picking up her belongings and heading towards the door. Chris immediately drops my hand, sprints over to her, and demands a dance before she leaves. I still can not believe he left me standing there, in the middle of the dance floor, with my jaw dropped. I never found out if he enjoyed his dance because I collected my belongings and went home for hot chocolate and cookies.
I confronted Chris the next day, and I told him how impolite his actions were. He apologized, and we're still on good terms, but he did promise to be more mindful of his dance partners and their feelings. All's well that ends well.

Well dancers, that's it for now. I'll be back again next month. Until then, keep on dancing!
Violet Steplightly

Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's looking...



I received several fascinating articles about our visitors from New Orleans that carry a less than pleasant slant. I make no comment other than to share them with you.

Article One: What the news does not show...


Thought I might inform the few friends I have on my recent traumatic experience. I am going to tell it straight, blunt, raw, and I don't give a damn. Long read, I know but please do read!!!

I went to volunteer on Saturday at the George R. Brown convention for two reasons.

A: I wanted to help people to get a warm fuzzy.
B: Curiosity.

I've been watching the news lately and have seen scenes that have made me want to vomit. And no it wasn't dead bodies, the city under water, or the sludge everywhere. It was PEOPLE'S BEHAVIOR. The people on TV, (99% being Black) were DEMANDING help. They were not asking nicely but demanding as if society owed these people something. Well the honest truth is WE DON'T.
Help should be asked for in a kind manner and then appreciated. This is not what the press (FOX in particular) was showing, what I was seeing was a group of people who are yelling, demanding, looting, killing, raping, and SHOOTING back at the demanded help!!!!! So I'm thinking this can't
possibly be true can it???? So I decide to submit to the DEMAND for help out of SHOCK. I couldn't believe this to be true of the majority of the people who are the weakest of society. So I went to volunteer and help folks out and see the truth. So I will tell the following story and you decide:

I arrived at the astrodome only to find out that there were too many volunteers and that volunteers were needed at the George R. Brown Convention Center. As I was walking up to the Convention Center I noticed a line of cars that wrapped around blocks filled with donations. These were
ordinary Houstonians coming with truckloads and trunks full of water, diapers, clothes, blankets, food, all types of good stuff. And lots of it was NEW. I felt that warm fuzzy while helping unload these vehicles of these wonderful human beings. I then went inside the building and noticed
approximately 100,000 sq. ft. of clothes, shoes, jackets, toys and all types of goodies all organized and ready for the people in need. I signed up, received a name badge and was on my merry way excited to be useful.

I toured the place to get familiar with my surroundings; the entire place is probably around 2 million sq. ft. I noticed rows as far as the eye can see of mattresses, not cots, BLOW UP MATTRESSES!!! All of which had nice pillows and plenty of blankets. 2 to 3 bottles of water lay on every bed. These full size to queen size beds by the way were comfortable, I laid in one to see for myself. I went to look at the medical area. I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing!!! A makeshift hospital created in 24 hours!!! It was unbelievable, they even had a pharmacy!

I also noticed that they created showers, which would also have hot water. I went upstairs to the third floor to find a HUGE cafeteria created in under 24 hours! Rows of tables, chairs and food everywhere - enough to feed an army! I'm not talking about crap food either. They had Jason's deli food, apples, oranges, coke, diet coke, lemonade, orange juice, cookies, all types of chips and sandwiches. All the beverages by the way were put on ice and chilled!!!! In a matter of about 24 hours or less an entire mini-city was erected by volunteers for the poor evacuees. This was not your rundown crap shelter, it was BUM HEAVEN.

So that was the layout: great food, comfy beds, clean showers, free medical help, by the way there was a library, and a theatre room that I forgot to mention. Great stuff right????

Well here is what happened on my journey -

I started by handing out COLD water bottles to evacuees as they got off the bus. Many would take them and only 20% or less said thank you. Lots of them would shake their heads and ask for sodas! So this went on for about 20-30 minutes until I was sick of being an unappreciated servant. I figured certainly these folks would appreciate some food!!! So I went upstairs to serve these beloved evacuees some GOOD food that I wish I could have at the moment!

(Note: The following statements are graphic, truthful, and discuss UNRATIONAL behavior)

Evacuees come slowly to receive this mountain of food that is worth serving to a king! I tell them that we have 2 types of great deli sandwiches to choose from - ham and turkey. Many look at the food in disgust and DEMAND burgers, pizza, and even McDonalds!!!! Jason's deli is better than
McDonalds!!!! Only 1out of ten people who took something would say "thank you". The rest took items as if it was their God give right to be served without a shred of appreciation!!! They would ask for Beer and liquor. They complained that we didn't have good enough food. They refused food and laughed at us.

They treated us volunteers as if we were SLAVES. No not all of them of course, but 70% did!!!!!! 20% were appreciative, 10% took the food without any comment and the other 70% had some disgusting comment to say. Some had the nerve to laugh at us. And when I snapped back at them for being mean, they would curse at me!!!

Needless to say I was in utter shock. They would eat their food and leave their mess on the table. Some would pick up their stuff, many would leave it for the volunteers to pick up. I left that real quick to go down and help set up some more beds. I saw many young ladies carrying mattresses and I helped for a while. Then I realized something. There were hundreds of able-bodied young men who could help!!
I asked a group of young evacuees in their teens and early twenties to help. I got cursed at for asking them to help!!! One said "We just lost our f***ing homes and you want us to work!!"

The next said, "Ya Cracker, you got a home, we don't."

I looked at them in disbelief. Here are women walking by carrying THEIR BEDS and they can't lift a finger and help themselves!!


I waved them off and turned away and was laughed at and more "white boy jokes" were made at me. I felt no need to waste my breath on a bunch of pitiful losers. I went to a nearby restroom where I noticed a man shaving. I used the restroom, washed my hands and saw this man throw his razor towards the trash can...he missed. He walked out leaving his disgusting razor on the floor for some other "cracker" to pick up.

Even the little kids were demanding. I saw only ONE white family and only TWO Hispanic families. The rest were blacks. 20% to 30% decent blacks, and 70% LOSERS!!!!!

I would call them N*****S, but the actual definition of a n*****r is one who is ignorant. These people were not ignorant. They were ARROGANT ASSHOLES. The majority of which are thugs and lifetime lazy ass welfare recipients.
We are inviting the lowest of the low to Houston. And like idiots we are serving the people who will soon steal our cars, rape, murder, and destroy our city while stealing from our pockets on a daily basis through the welfare checks they take. We will fund our own destruction.

By "US" I don't mean a specific race, I mean the people who work hard, work smart, have values and morals. Only people who want to help themselves should be helped, the others should be allowed to destroy themselves. I do not want to work hard, give the government close to half the money I earn so they can in turn give it to a bunch of losers.

I don't believe in being poor for life. My family immigrated here, we came here poor, and now thank God, and due to HARD WORK we are doing fine. If immigrants, who come here, don't know the language can work and become successful... WHY CAN'T THE MAJORITY OF THE HOMEGROWN DO IT!!!

If we continue to reward these losers then we will soon destroy our great country. I just witnessed selfish, arrogant, unappreciative behavior by the very people who need help the most. Now these same people who cursed me, refused my cities generosity, who refuse to help themselves are DEMANDING handouts on their own terms!!!!!!! They prance around as if they are owed something, and when they do receive a handout, they say it's not good enough!

Well, you know what? These types of people can go to hell for all I care!

Richard L. Johnston, M.D.
University of Mississippi Medical Center
3805 Crane Blvd.
Jackson, MS 39216
601-981-3896 (home)
601-573-0472 (cell)
601-984-0214 (pager)

Article Two: An SSQQ Student Offers His View on the Evacuees in Houston

Ok, here's my point of view and opinion of the matter.

The general feeling I have is that it is more about economic status than it is about race, but there is plenty of both to go around. It is a very hard distinction to make, if it can realistically be made at all. I basically agree with the article though.

Among the "economically disadvantaged" that I deal with there is a distinct difference in those that are poor and complaining about it and those that are poor and doing something about it. I always hated it when INS would go out at 6am and round up the guys at Shepherd and Washington and deport them, but the guys I was putting in jail for burglary did a couple months here and got back out again. Here we have guys who are working their ass off, for cheap, to make a legit living and getting deported but the guys out robbing and stealing get to stay.

I take people to jail all the time who complain about the gov't not doing enough for them, then I find 2 or 3 Lone Star cards in their pockets. I read a great article earlier today about FEMA giving people money for housing and they're still staying in hotels at FEMA's expense and pocketing the money, one guy said he was saving that money to buy stuff when they eventually get him a house and to go out to eat.

When the first Hurricane struck I worked my ass off. My first "shift" was 40 hrs, then I got 12 off, then I was back on for 29. I got to meet a lot of people arriving at the dome and a few at the GRB.

The thousands arriving at the dome were all last minute evacuees. The very first bus that came in was being driven by a 15 yr old who stole it from a bus barn, loaded it up, and got out of dodge. Of the over 1000+ busses that came to the dome, only 22 were officially sent there. The rest just showed up because they knew it was a place to take people.

I was unloading busses for hours and hours. I saw dozens of people still with their lifejackets on from being pulled out of the water. The astrodome employees were searching people for weapons, and we were announcing this to each bus load as it arrived. The first night I was there we got 50+ pistols turned in to us (I got about 10 myself).

At the GRB, the evacuees coming in were all coming from other shelters. They had all left the N.O, prior to the hurricane hitting and had been safely tucked away when it hit. They came to the GRB once it became apparent that nobody was going back to N.O. any time soon. The shelters they had been in just weren't up to the task of multi-week housing (not many places are). Many of them actually came with their own vehicles. The night I was there not a single pistol was recovered (they were all searched as well).

There was a marked difference in the people coming in to the different shelters, economic status and race being the main two.

In the dome we had fights, large brawls, a number of mentally disturbed people threatening to jump off the upper levels, shake downs in the bathroom, shake downs happening on the floors, etc. It was common for the thugs to stake out a bathroom and charge people $5 to go in, and after the FEMA money started rolling in they were charging $50 to "let you sleep peacefully through the night."

At the GRB there was none of this. Things went pretty smoothly and everyone got along much better.

At the dome I met a female who asked me where to go to get a ride. She had a shopping cart filled to overflowing with large boxes of diapers (I hadn't realized they come in boxes of 96). I told her Metro had the old downtown trolleys circling the astrodome complex that would take here wherever she needed to go (3 different housing centers, medical facility, etc).

She laughed and told me that she needed a ride home, not around the dome. She explained to me that she had gotten a wristband that allowed her in to the dome and she loaded up with supplies every day. Then she conned one of the volunteers in to giving her a ride to her "cousin's" house (at Kelley Courts, a large section 8 housing complex), who she had finally been able to contact and had agreed to take her in. After she got home each time and unloaded her loot she would get someone else to drive her back to the dome and she would go in and eat, sleep, and go on a shopping spree all over again. Then get another volunteer to give her a ride.

We were swamped with volunteers, so many that we turned thousands away in the first few days. I got to talk to some of them and there was a marked difference between the ones on the way in and those on the way out. Those coming in were very upbeat and had a great outlook, they were there to do some real good for people who really needed it. On the way out many of them were a different story. I talked to a couple in their 60's who were a bit disheartened by serving breakfast to guys in their 20's with a mouth full of gold teeth who treated them like crap. Those evacuees complained about everything and some even got pretty abusive. They berated the volunteers for bringing them food that they didn't like, thought was too cold, or wasn't enough.

I, and a bunch of other people I work with, were of the opinion that we only really needed a few volunteers as team leaders since we had quite the able bodied workforce living right there in the dome. It wasn't to be though...

At the GRB the job center was clogged with people looking at the ads and wearing out the phones making calls. At the dome it was the lines where they were handing out FEMA cards that were jammed, and the people in line were complaining about the lack of water and food being delivered to the people in line. They had 2 atms that they had to move over next to the police command post due to the number of people getting beat up and robbed as they left it.

The FEMA atm cards were the biggest joke going. We had undercover officers embedded with the evacuees who got instructed (by other evacuees) on how to get the most cards with the most money on each one. I took a guy to jail (who had been driving a stolen car) and he had a FEMA card on him. I asked the jail personnel if they were allowing the cards in with the prisoner's property or if they had to go to the property room (they look like credit cards but have no names on them). He said that he'd booked people in with as many as 4 so far that night and nobody had a problem with it so my guy with just 1 wasn't an issue.

Speaking of the jail, we had 105 evacuees booked in to our jail within the first week, then they quit letting people know what the count was. They have 4 in there for murder (1 shot a guy on Boone Rd in the forehead for saying the New Orleans gangsters were weak). The robbery of the Oshman's in Humble (where they stole 20something pistols) was guys from New Orleans. We had a chase the other night with a car stolen at gunpoint and it was 3 guys from New Orleans. We got a call at my station from a dope dealer at a housing project who said that the New Orleans dope dealers had announced that they were taking the project over and that there was sure to be some shooting over it if we didn't do something about it (they have since worked out an arrangement where the New Orleans dealers have about 1/3 of the complex and the Houston dope dealers the other 2/3).

Drifting back towards the actual topic, I'd say that the residents of the lower portions of the economic scale don't bother trying to make a difference in their lives. They don't actively try to find work, they don't bother to show up on a regular basis if they do have a job, and they don't seem to bother getting out of town when there is a hurricane coming. Their whole life they've been bailed out at the last minute by some sort of government action and have come to rely on what most of us would consider a last ditch (and not at all reliable) option.

I'm sure a lot of it has/had to do with race, but not all of it. You don't hear of lower income hispancs accusing their children of trying to act white when they do well in school, but you might hear them talking about "finishing school" as making it through high school. The lack of effort does sometimes seem to be race related, but it's hard to draw an exact correlation. The more grandparents I talk to in poor areas the more I realize the current defeatist attitude isn't all that old but is in fact a relatively recent development.

Drifting back off the subject, here's another thing for you to ponder. Say I am going to court on a 20 yr old black male defendant for something like dope dealing, auto theft, or robbery. What do I want my jury to look like? With who do I have the maximum chance at believing me, not believing him, and giving him the most time? I'll send you the answer, and the explanation, tomorrow so you can let your mind work it over a bit (and because it just turned 5 am on my clock and I can't get off on another tangent and still get anything done at a reasonable hour tomorrow).

Article Three: Politics and New Orleans

By Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson

Say a hurricane is about to destroy the city you live in.

Two questions:

What would you do?

What would you do if you were black?

Sadly, the two questions don't have the same answer.

To the first: Most of us would take our families out of that city quickly to protect them from danger. Then, able-bodied men would return to help others in need, as wives and others cared for children, elderly, infirm and the like.

For better or worse, Hurricane Katrina has told us the answer to the second question. If you're black and a hurricane is about to destroy your city, then you'll probably wait for the government to save you.

This was not always the case. Prior to 40 years ago, such a pathetic performance by the black community in a time of crisis would have been inconceivable. The first response would have come from black men. They would take care of their families, bring them to safety, and then help the rest of the community. Then local government would come in.

No longer. When 75 percent of New Orleans residents had left the city, it was primarily immoral, welfare-pampered blacks that stayed behind and waited for the government to bail them out. This, as we know, did not turn out good results.

Enter Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan. Jackson and Farrakhan laid blame on "racist" President Bush. Farrakhan actually proposed the idea that the government blew up a levee so as to kill blacks and save whites. The two demanded massive governmental spending to rebuild New Orleans, above and beyond the federal government's proposed $60 billion. Not only that, these two were positioning themselves as the gatekeepers to supervise the dispersion of funds. Perfect: Two of the most dishonest elite blacks in America, "overseeing" billions of dollars. I wonder where that money will end up.

Of course, if these two were really serious about laying blame on government, they should blame the local one. Responsibility to perform legally and practically fell first on the mayor of New Orleans. We are now all familiar with Mayor Ray Nagin the black Democrat who likes to yell at President Bush for failing to do Nagin's job. The facts, unfortunately, do not support Nagin's wailing. As the Washington Times puts it, "recent reports show [Nagin] failed to follow through on his own city's emergency-response plan, which acknowledged that thousands of the city's poorest residents would have no way to evacuate the city."

One wonders how there was "no way" for these people to evacuate the city. We have photographic evidence telling us otherwise. You've probably seen it by now the photo showing 2,000 parked school buses, unused and underwater. How much planning does it require to put people on a bus and leave town, Mayor Nagin?

Instead of doing the obvious, Mayor Nagin (with no positive contribution from Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco, the other major leader vested with responsibility to address the hurricane disaster) loaded remaining New Orleans residents into the Superdome and the city's convention center. We know how that plan turned out.

About five years ago, in a debate before the National Association of Black Journalists, I stated that if whites were to just leave the United States and let blacks run the country, they would turn America into a ghetto within 10 years. The audience, shall we say, disagreed with me strongly. Now I have to disagree with me. I gave blacks too much credit. It took a mere three days for blacks to turn the Superdome and the convention center into ghettos, rampant with theft, rape and murder.

President Bush is not to blame for the rampant immorality of blacks. Had New Orleans' black community taken action, most would have been out of harm's way. But most were too lazy, immoral and trifling to do anything productive for themselves.

All Americans must tell blacks this truth. It was blacks' moral poverty, not their material poverty, that cost them dearly in New Orleans. Farrakhan, Jackson, and other race hustlers are to be repudiated they will only perpetuate this problem by stirring up hatred and applauding moral corruption. New Orleans, to the extent it is to be rebuilt, should be remade into a dependency-free, morally strong city where corruption is opposed and success is applauded. Blacks are obligated to help themselves and not depend on the government to care for them. We are all obligated to tell them so.

The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson is founder and president of BOND, the Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny, and author of "Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America."

Article Four:
Politics over Duty

This is a post from Bill Weiler, freelance journalist, over in Merritt Island, FL, who has been researching what went on before the storm hit.)

I think all of Mayor Nagin's pomp and posturing is going to bite him hard in the near future as the lies and distortions of his interviews are coming to light.

On Friday night before the storm hit Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center took the unprecedented action of calling Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco personally to plead with them to begin MANDATORY evacuation of New Orleans and they said they'd take it under consideration. This was after the NOAA buoy 240 miles south had recorded 68' waves before it was destroyed.

President Bush spent Friday afternoon and evening in meetings with his advisors and administrators drafting all of the paperwork required for a state to request federal assistance (and not be in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act or having to enact the Insurgency Act). Just before midnight Friday evening the President called Governor Blanco and pleaded with her to sign the request papers so the federal government and the military could legally begin mobilization and call up. He was told that they didn't think it necessary for the federal government to be involved yet. After the President's final call to the governor she held meetings with her staff to discuss the political ramifications of bringing federal forces. It was decided that if they allowed federal assistance it would make it look as if they had failed so it was agreed upon that the feds would not be invited in.

Saturday before the storm hit the President again called Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin requesting they please sign the papers requesting federal assistance, that they declare the state an emergency area, and begin mandatory evacuation. After a personal plea from the President, Nagin agreed to order an evacuation, but it would not be a full mandatory evacuation, and the governor still refused to sign the papers requesting and authorizing federal action. In frustration the President declared the area a national disaster area before the state of Louisiana did so he could legally begin some advanced preparations. Rumor has it that the President's legal advisers were looking into the ramifications of using the insurgency act to bypass the Constitutional requirement that a state request federal aid before the federal government can move into state with troops - but that had not been done since 1906 and the Constitutionality of it was called into question to use before the disaster.  

Throw in that over half the federal aid of the past decade to New Orleans for levee construction, maintenance, and repair was diverted to fund a marina and support the gambling ships. Toss in the investigation that will look into why the emergency preparedness plan submitted to the federal government for funding and published on the city's website was never implemented and in fact may have been bogus for the purpose of gaining additional federal funding as we now learn that the organizations identified in the plan were never contacted or coordinating into any planning - though the document implies that they were.

The suffering people of New Orleans need to be asking some hard questions as do we all, but they better start with why Blanco refused to even sign the multi-state mutual aid pack activation documents until Wednesday which further delayed the legal deployment of National Guard from adjoining states. Or maybe ask why Nagin keeps harping that the President should have commandeered 500 Greyhound busses to help him when according to his own emergency plan and documents he claimed to have over 500 busses at his disposal to use between the local school busses and the city transportation busses - but he never raised a finger to prepare them or activate them.

This is a sad time for all of us to see that a major city has all but been destroyed and thousands of people have died with hundreds of thousands more suffering, but it's certainly not a time for people to be pointing fingers and trying to find a bigger dog to blame for local corruption and incompetence. Pray to God for the survivors that they can start their lives anew as fast as possible and we learn from all the mistakes to avoid them in the future.


Article Five: What Really Happened in New Orleans When the Storm Hit

Thursday, September 15, 2005;
By Wil Haygood and Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writers

For five eternal-seeming days, as many as 20,000 people, most of them black, waited to be rescued, not just from the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina but from the nightmarish place where they had sought refuge.

During that time, the moon that hovered over the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center seemed closer than anyone who could provide those inside the center with any help.

On the fourth day, after TV had been filled with live reports from the center describing sexual assaults, robberies and gunfire, single mothers desperately seeking help for their children and fathers doing their best to protect them, the federal official charged with leading the hurricane response, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, responded to an interviewer's question by saying it was the first he had heard that people "don't have food and water in there."

"It was as if all of us were already pronounced dead," said Tony Cash, 25, who endured three nights of hunger, violence and darkness at the convention center. "As if somebody already had the body bags. Wasn't nobody coming to get us.

"No one has been able to say how many people died inside the convention center; police, military and center officials estimate the number is about 10. Nor has there been any attempt to document the number of assaults, robberies and rapes that eyewitnesses said occurred from the time the first people broke into the convention center seeking shelter on the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 29, and when units of the Arkansas National Guard moved into the center on Friday, Sept. 2.

But even without those numbers, what happened in the convention center stands as a harsh indictment of government's failure to help its citizens when they needed it most. That futility was symbolized by the presence in the convention center for three of the most chaotic days of at least 250 armed troops from the Louisiana National Guard. They were camped out in a huge exhibition hall separated from the crowd by a wall, and used their trucks as a barricade when they were afraid the crowd would break in.

The troops were never deployed to restore order and eventually withdrew, despite the pleas of the convention center's management. Louisiana Guard commanders said their units' mission was not to secure the facility, and soldiers on the scene feared inciting further bloodshed if they had intervened. "We didn't want another Kent State," said Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, commander of the active-duty military forces responding to Katrina. "They weren't trained for crowd control.

"In more than 70 interviews, with both military and law enforcement officials -- who were themselves sometimes inside the center -- and with many of the survivors who suffered over the course of several nights, a chilling portrait emerges of anarchy and violence, exacerbated by young men from rival housing projects -- Magnolia, St. Bernard, Iberville, Calliope.

"Everywhere I went, I saw people with guns in their hands," said Troy Harris, 18. "They were putting guns to people's heads.

"Recounting their pleas for milk for their babies, for food, for protection, many survivors described the same sense of bewilderment and anger -- broadcast, surreally, on live television. "This is America," one woman shouted into the TV cameras. What she meant was, this is not supposed to happen here.

Too Late to Leave

It was Saturday, Aug. 27, when New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin pleaded with city residents to leave. Katrina would be on land in less than two days. A day earlier, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco had declared a state of emergency, prompting heightened preparation by the Louisiana National Guard.

But by this point, the appeals from Blanco and Nagin were aimed at one group in particular -- the poor. Those with resources had already bolted.

Many who had survived hurricanes figured this wouldn't get them, either. "They tend to look at evacuation orders as scare tactics," said Troy Jarreau, a New Orleans schoolteacher who has taught many children from impoverished households. Many simply had no way of leaving on their own. Many who had survived hurricanes figured this wouldn't get them, either. "They tend to look at evacuation orders as scare tactics," said Troy Jarreau, a New Orleans schoolteacher who has taught many children from impoverished households.

But by Monday, after Katrina hit New Orleans and the levees had broken, a different reality was clear. "Get out! Get out now!" was the message on WYLD ("Wild for Jesus"), a popular black radio station. It was repeated on Q93-FM, heavy with rhythm and blues and rap music.

This time, those who stayed behind found themselves wading, or swimming, using every ounce of energy to get themselves to the Louisiana Superdome, which had served as a refuge in previous hurricanes. But the indoor stadium had begun filling as early as Sunday, and by the next day, officials had started turning people away. It was becoming overcrowded, and the floodwaters had begun to encircle it.

The convention center, a sprawling complex of meeting halls nearly a mile long near the Mississippi River, was never intended as a shelter, said Capt. M.A. Pfeiffer, an operations officer with the New Orleans Police Department. "It was supposed to be a bus stop where they dropped people off for transportation. The problem was, the transportation never came."

As rising water engulfed the Superdome on Monday, trucks and vans that were rescuing people from the I-10 overpass and other locations began dropping them off on the dry road in front of the center. It was the only option, police said. Quickly, the crowd grew to 1,000 people

Katrina had ripped a hole in the center's roof, dumping pools of rainwater into Hall C in the middle of the huge complex. The center lost electricity and water pressure, but otherwise damage was not severe.

Monitoring the damage were about 40 essential convention workers -- carpenters, electricians and unarmed security guards -- supervised by the center's president, Jimmie Fore, who had arrived there Sunday determined to ride out the storm. Joining them were about 300 other employees and their families seeking shelter.

As a crowd gathered outside and it became dark, Fore said he sensed trouble, so he went down to the sidewalk and made an appeal. He warned those arriving that the center had no food, water, electricity, medical care or other provisions to serve as a shelter. They ignored him. "They just kept coming," he said.

Security guards had locked the building, but later that night, people began yanking on the doors and eventually opened one. "Once one got in, they let all the others in," said Fore, explaining that the doors had "panic hardware" and could not be locked on the inside.

At the Superdome, officials had devised a security plan to check for weapons. No such plan was put into place for the convention center, even as the numbers of people seeking shelter swelled and swelled.

Descent Into Danger

Leon Doby, 26, had gotten daughters Leah, 1, and Khaylin, 3, out of their home, put them in a crate, tied the crate with rope to his waist, then began swimming. He hustled his way, finally, onto a motorboat. It sped off to the Superdome, all aboard exhausted.

At the Superdome, they were rebuffed, and pointed in the direction of the convention center, 10 blocks away.

By the time Doby -- with the crate and the two daughters -- arrived Tuesday, he found himself gazing into thousands of bewildered faces. Gripping his daughters, he walked fast -- exactly where he was going, he did not know -- but he passed an elderly lady who seemed to be listing in a wheelchair.

"I went down the hall," he said. "By the time I was back, she was already gone."

Doby would spend four days at the center. All he had for himself and two girls during that time was a sandwich and two bottles of water that a stranger had given him.

Linda Cash, 26, arrived with her two children, Clarence, 6, and Cyrin, 2. "Soon as I got there," Cash recalled, "I saw fighting. I saw people throwing chairs. People pulling guns out, right in front of little children."

Near where Cash had hunkered down Monday night, she noticed a little boy having difficulty breathing. She figured he was having an asthma attack or an anxiety attack. She and others nearby spotted a too-seldom-seen police officer. The officer came over, his gun drawn. Cash said she pointed to the young boy. "The officer checked the boy," Cash remembered, "then turned to us and said there was nothing he could do."

The officer vanished. The boy was dead -- a death confirmed by three others interviewed for this article.

Another officer soon appeared, and Cash and the others figured he would remove the dead child. "But that officer told us he had come over to our area to check on some gunshots he heard near us," she said. The body stayed there.

By Tuesday, the center's population had exploded to nearly 20,000. "The lights never came on, for some reason, all the way," Cash said.

And among those thousands were gangsters, though maybe not members of gangs. Community activists for years had been warning the city's leadership about the folly of mixing youths from one housing project with youths from another.

"You declare martial law," said Jazz Washington, a community activist, "and to these gangsters that just means, 'We can kill you and keep on moving.' "

A gang broke into the locked alcohol storage areas and suddenly had 50 cases of hard liquor and 200 cases of beer. And before long, there were scenes of gangsters, drunk, groping after young girls -- and those scenes not far from the ones of women in corners, balled up, praying all frozen with a Hobson's choice: the gangsters, or the floodwaters.

"They took so much, they couldn't drink it all," said George Lancie, manager of the center's food-service company, who had been at Fore's side.

In the chaos, the youths hotwired anything that would move, including electric utility carts and forklifts. Tony Cash saw the forklifts being driven about in zigzags. "They were nearly running over people," he said. "I'm telling you, it was crazy."

Fore was at a loss as to how to quell the danger. He said he tried desperately to call local and state emergency authorities. But he never got through. And he looked and looked for the arrival of local police.

"You might see them drive by," he said. "Is that providing security?"

New Orleans police officials said they could not safeguard the center after Katrina left them short of officers, vehicles and a dependable communication system. And when their armory flooded, they were short of ammunition. Dozens of officers tried patrolling outside around the convention center, but, according to Lt. Melvin Howard, the crowds and darkness made it difficult and dangerous to work inside.

Police could not use flashlights without giving away their position and becoming possible targets, Howard said. Nor could they open fire, if confronted, without the risk of killing innocent people.

Troy Harris, 18, who had survived a gunshot to the stomach on the hard streets of New Orleans, thought he could handle himself anywhere in the city. The darkened convention center gravely tested his moxie. "They were robbing people in there. At gunpoint," he said. "Somebody robbed me of a hundred dollars."

Even police officers were afraid, Harris said. "I saw police officers in the bathroom taking off their uniforms!" he said. "I'm telling you, they were taking off their uniforms and throwing their badges down!"

Doby saw prostrate bodies near the bathroom -- dead or unconscious, he didn't know. He told his little girls it was okay to soil themselves. His hungry girls in his arms, Doby was furious.

At daybreak, many would flee outside, where TV cameras gave them desperate moments to make appeals. But for the most part they had nowhere else to go. It was as if they were marooned in some faraway locale, on some faraway island -- instead of New Orleans.

Rumors were treated as fact -- both inside the convention center and out. A later report that there were 200 bodies in the convention center and the Superdome brought a coroner's unit rushing from St. Gabriel and Baton Rouge, La.

One night, said Steve Rochon, a deranged man started yelling, "Here comes the water!" -- intimating the Mississippi was about to flood the center. A panic ensued, and mothers grabbed children.

The deaf didn't know what was happening. The old in the wheelchairs couldn't move. But the stampede was on anyway. A mother screamed that someone was stepping on her baby.

"People just started panicking," recalled Rochon, himself forced to move animatedly on a prosthetic leg. "People were getting run over each other."

At one point, a police car drove up. Perhaps good news. Perhaps ships were steaming up the Mississippi over there right now.

A police officer tossed out a few bottles and drove off. It ignited a free for all. Doby himself looked on in horror as a man -- arguing over the water -- struck another man with a two-by-four. "That man, he was split" in the head, said Doby. "He was leaking. He just dropped, face first."

Back inside, Doby was stilled by yet another confrontation. Three women were arguing, over what everyone seemed to be arguing about: lack of food, water, space. One of the women -- a snap-of-the-finger quick -- plunged a pair of scissors into the shoulder of the woman she had been arguing with.

Everywhere, a new woe. A group of people desperate for food broke into the kitchen. When they tried to cook something, a fire erupted.

Desperate to Flee

By Wednesday night, Fore and eight colleagues had locked themselves in an office. A gang had threatened to break through, rattling the door. A security guard informed Fore the situation appeared to be getting worse in the center.

Fore and his aides had parked their cars over in Hall J, and Fore decided they had to make a break. Thursday afternoon, they moved stealthily to their cars. When they reached them, they slipped inside and fled.

Wednesday, some buses arrived, but of the thousands in the convention center only a tiny number could board. They had been standing outside, where the buses rolled to a stop.

Then there was a miracle: Seven more buses rolled up. The race was on to get to them. Linda Cash, slow off the draw, grabbed her children anyway. And started racing. "Then the buses pulled off," she said. "And no one was on them. That's when I knew I really had to find a way out of there."

On Thursday, Cash left, taking her children and stealing a car that eventually got her to Baton Rouge. That same day, the New Orleans police made a dramatic entrance. Sgt. Hans Ganthier and 12 other New Orleans SWAT team members entered the center, M-4 commando rifles at the ready. Prayers had been answered -- only it was a rescue mission of a different purpose.

A Jefferson Parish police deputy had appealed to SWAT team Capt. Jeff Winn for help in bringing out his wife and a female relative from the center. "He knew they were there and was hearing nightmarish stories," said Ganthier, who declined to identify the officer for security reasons.

Winn approved the mission.

When the SWAT team entered at 11 a.m., the Jefferson Parish officer called out his wife's name. She heard him, and along with the relative rushed to his side. The SWAT team put the women in the middle of the team, then backed out the door.

Once it became clear that the SWAT team had come with the single goal of rescuing two white women, anger exploded.
"Racists!" one man cried out.

"Some people were upset we weren't rescuing them," said Ganthier. "It's hard to leave people behind like that, but we were aiding an officer."

'A Mob, Crazy Mentality'

By Tuesday night, a contingent of at least 250 Louisiana National Guard troops was hunkered down in Hall A, off Julia Street at the northern end of the building.

The armed troops, from at least two engineering battalions -- the 769th and 527th -- had been assigned to set up a base at the center to prepare for debris removal and road clearing, as well as rescue and security. But they had enough food and water only for themselves and had no immediate orders to provide assistance or security for the thousands of evacuees in their midst, according to interviews with a dozen enlisted soldiers and officers.

Instead, as the danger level grew, they felt they must first protect themselves.

"There was way too many of them and way too few of us," said Master Sgt. Chad Anderson, 37. "Since we couldn't help them, it was best to avoid them. They had a mob, crazy mentality."

Whenever the soldiers left the center on missions, they drove west on Julia Street and away from the throngs of people begging for food and water along Convention Center Boulevard. "When they saw the soldiers, they'd think, 'That's food,' " said Sgt. Karla Spillers, 26. "We didn't have any for them. We had to feed our own people."

Spillers said she felt pain at the knowledge that teenage girls were wandering around the center, alone, knowing they were possible prey.

"There were prisoners, mobsters, gangs" in there, she said.

Almost as soon as they arrived, Guard commanders became concerned enough about the safety of their troops that they ordered more weapons and ammunition. On Wednesday night, there was kicking and banging on the doors to Hall A, where the guardsmen were. "They were trying to break the doors and get us," said Anderson. "They knew we were there."

"About 9 that night, we started barricading the doors," said Staff Sgt. Bryan Lowery, a supply sergeant with the 527th battalion.

Guardsmen parked at least three dump trucks next to the doors to block them, and Lowery began dispensing weapons and ammunition.

"It scared me," Spillers recalled. "Everyone went to get their weapons from the backs of the trucks."

That night, Guard commanders figured the convention center was untenable as a staging base. And they, too, left the center despite what Fore said were his pleas to stay.

"We were told they couldn't help us unless the order came down from the top, from a lot of people," Fore said. "The only time they partnered with us was when there were gunshots in the area where they were actually staying. They protected themselves."

Maj. Keith Waddell, commander of the 769th Engineer Battalion, said his unit was never asked to quell the violence at the convention center. "The idea of helping with the convention center never came up," he said. "We were just preparing ourselves for the next mission."

Waddell said he believes that, if so ordered, the Louisiana Guard forces present would have been adequate to get the center under control.

"I feel confident we could have controlled it, with the numbers we had," Waddell said.

But senior commanders indicated they had ruled out that possibility. Col. Stephen C. Dabadie, chief of staff of the Louisiana National Guard, said the engineer units were "not designed to secure the convention center."

The Troops Arrive

Early Thursday, the Guard troops packed up and rolled out amid angry calls from the crowd inside. Twenty-four hours elapsed before more troops arrived -- including a contingent of the Arkansas National Guard, imposing enough so that no one tried to bother them.

Many of the guardsmen had recently returned from Iraq, and they arrived wearing helmets and full body armor, and shouldering rifles. To their surprise, they encountered virtually no violence -- only a crowd of hot, frustrated, angry people desperate for food and water. "A lot of them said we should have been there earlier," said Spec. Keithean Heath of the Arkansas Guard's 39th Infantry Brigade.

Military commanders had worried the crowd would rush medevac helicopters. Instead, soldiers faced little interference as they moved to help frail and elderly people in wheelchairs in urgent need of care, women cradling tiny infants and others about to give birth. The soldiers set up food lines to hand out bottled water and packaged military meals, and people lined up to receive them.

On Saturday, soldiers again lined up people and searched them before loading them onto buses. They counted as many as 16,000 people who got on the buses, an eerily quiet process.

Leon Doby, the daddy who swam his two young daughters to safety -- before they all arrived at the convention center -- had already left. He headed out as he had arrived, his two little girls -- his everything -- in the crook of his arms.

A genuine miracle: A man on the road picked them up and drove them all the way to Dallas.

"That was hell," Doby said of the New Orleans convention center. "They sent us to the grave."

Tending to the Dead

Three days after the evacuation, Staff Sgt. Juan Almonte, a medic with the 82nd Airborne Division, slipped past a caution sign and through a ripped metal door, bracing himself for the task ahead -- to "bag" the bodies still inside the convention center.

Inside the food-service area near Hall A, sitting slumped in a black wheelchair, was a woman of about 60 in a hospital gown. A man in a shirt and jogging pants lay curled up on the concrete floor next to her, his hand over his face.

To Almonte's right down a wide hallway, a large man -- the medic guessed he was at least 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds -- lay with his arms over his head and knees bent. Another woman in hospital scrubs lay a few feet from him, next to aluminum cans and trays with stained but elegant white dinner menus.

Around the bodies were pools of dried blood. Looking closer, he noted swelling and abrasions on the corpses. He stared at what he found next. On the gray, soiled floor several feet from the dead lay a pair of shiny brass knuckles.

"My perception was that they were beaten to death," he said last week. "Absolutely, they were killed."

Almonte and his fellow medics had to struggle to straighten the corpses to fit them in double bags -- the large man took up one by himself. The next day, about 20 boxes of body bags appeared in front of Almonte's tent, and he told his men to prepare for more recoveries. But no order ever came. Civilian authorities, he was told, would handle "packaging and retrieval."

Cutting corners often works great until it doesn't.

"It's not the people who are in prison that worry me. It's the people who aren't."

"He that is good, will infallibly become better, and he that is bad, will as certainly become worse; for vice, virtue and time are three things that never stand still."
- Charles Caleb Colton


Article Six: The History of New Orleans

Beyond the historic architecture, the spice-laden cuisine and the beguiling voodoo underground, live close to 500,000 people, mostly poor (more than a quarter live in poverty), mostly black (more than 66 percent), clustered into 73 distinct neighborhoods.

Crime, even before the hurricane, was high. The murder rate has come down in recent years, but remains 10 times the national average. Last year, researchers had police fire 700 blank rounds in a city neighborhood one afternoon. No one called to report the gunfire.

Maybe New Orleans should be nicknamed The Big Un-Easy, due to a high violent crime rate and a high unemployment rate. There's also a significant number of suicides and divorces.

The city's school system is a shambles. The district almost went broke this past year — teachers nearly missed a paycheck — and 55 of the state's 78 worst schools are in New Orleans.

Dozens of school employees are under indictment for corruption. But then, corruption in New Orleans is nothing new — politicians, judges, the police have all been caught.

These government failures are not merely a matter of incompetence. Louisiana and New Orleans have a long, well-known reputation for corruption: as former congressman Billy Tauzin once put it, "half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment That's putting it mildly. Adjusted for population size, the state ranks third in the number of elected officials convicted of crimes (Mississippi is No. 1). Recent scandals include the conviction of 14 state judges and an FBI raid on the business and personal files of a Louisiana congressman.

In 1991, a notoriously corrupt Democrat named Edwin Edwards ran for governor against Republican David Duke, a former head of the Ku Klux Klan. Edwards, whose winning campaign included bumper stickers saying "Elect the Crook," is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for taking bribes from casino owners. Duke recently completed his own prison term for tax fraud.

The rot included the New Orleans Police Department, which in the 1990s had the dubious distinction of being the nation's most corrupt police force and the least effective: the city had the highest murder rate in America. More than 50 officers were eventually convicted of crimes including murder, rape and robbery; two are currently on Death Row.

Tens of billions of dollars are about to pass into the sticky hands of politicians in the No. 1 and No. 3 most corrupt states in America. Worried about looting? You ain't seen nothing yet.



The Lion Makers

In a certain town in India there were four Brahmans who lived in friendship. Three of them had reached the far shore of all scholarship, but lacked sense. The other found scholarship distasteful. He had nothing to offer but sense.

One day they met for consultation. "What is the use of attainments," said they, "if one does not travel, win the favor of kings, and acquire money? Whatever we do, let us all travel."

But when they had gone but a little way, the eldest of them stopped and said, "One of us, the fourth, is a dullard, having nothing to offer but sense. Now nobody gains the favorable attention of kings by simple sense without scholarship. Therefore we will not share our earnings with him. Let him turn back and go home."

Then the second said, "My intelligent friend, you lack scholarship. Please go home." But the third said, "No, no. This is no way to behave. For we have played together since we were little boys. Come along, my noble friend. You shall have a share of the money we earn."

With this agreement they continued their journey. In a forest they found the bones of a dead lion. Thereupon one of them said, "A good opportunity to test the ripeness of our scholarship has presented itself. Here lies some kind of creature who is dead. Let us bring it to life by means of the scholarship we have honestly won."

Then the first said, "I know how to assemble the skeleton." The second said, "I can supply skin, flesh, and blood." The third said, "I can give the breath of Life."

So the first assembled the skeleton, the second provided skin, flesh, and blood. But while the third was intent on giving the breath of life, the man of sense advised against it. He remarked, "This is a lion. If you bring him to life, he will kill every one of us."

"You simpleton!" said the third man. "It is not I who will reduce scholarship to a nullity. It was a mistake to allow you to come along."

"In that case," came the reply, "please wait a moment while I climb this convenient tree."

When this had been done, the lion was brought back to life. It rose up, roared a mighty growl, and then instantly killed all three men of scholarship. After the lion had devoured his friends and departed, the man of sense came down, looked around carefully, then walked home.

This story was taken from the "Friendly Story Caravan". This story was retold from the Panchatantra. It was translated by Arthur W. Ryder in 1925.

Editor's Note:
Recently a group of scientists managed to bring back to life the virus that killed millions of people in the last global pandemic of 1918. And they published the DNA sequence on the Internet for every terrorist in the world to copy. You don't believe it?

From the Houston Chronicle.
Oct. 13, 2005, 9:32PM

Resurrection of deadly flu virus opens gates of hell

While official Washington has been poring over Harriet Miers' long-ago doings on the Dallas City Council and parsing the Byzantine comings and goings of the Fitzgerald grand jury, relatively unnoticed was perhaps the most momentous event of our lifetime - what is left of it, as I shall explain. It was announced last week that American scientists have just created a living, killing copy of the 1918 "Spanish" flu.

This is big. Very big.

First, it is a scientific achievement of staggering proportions. The Spanish flu has not been seen on this blue planet for 85 years. Its re-creation is a story of enterprise, ingenuity, serendipity, hard work and sheer brilliance.

It involves finding deep in the bowels of a military hospital in Washington a couple of tissue samples from the lungs of soldiers who died in 1918 (in an autopsy collection first ordered into existence by Abraham Lincoln), and the disinterment of an Alaskan Eskimo who died of the flu and whose remains had been preserved by the permafrost. Then, using slicing and dicing techniques only Michael Crichton could imagine, they pulled off a microbiological Jurassic Park: the first ever resurrection of an ancient pathogen. And not just any ancient pathogen, explained virologist Eddie Holmes, but "the agent of the most important disease pandemic in human history."

Which brings us to the second element of this story: Beyond the brilliance lies the sheer terror. We have quite literally brought back to life an agent of near-biblical destruction. It killed more people in six months than were killed in the four years of the First World War. It killed more humans than any other disease of similar duration in the history of the world, says Alfred W. Crosby, who wrote a history of the 1918 pandemic. And, notes The New Scientist, when the re-created virus was given to mice in heavily quarantined laboratories in Atlanta, it killed the mice more quickly than any other flu virus ever tested.

Now that I have your attention, consider, with appropriate trepidation, the third element of this story: What to do with this knowledge?

Not only has the virus been physically re-created. But its entire genome has now been published for the whole world, good people and very bad, to see.

The decision to publish was a very close and terrifying call.

On the one hand, we need the knowledge disseminated. We've learned from this research that the 1918 flu was bird flu, "the most bird-like of all mammalian flu viruses," says Jeffery Taubenberger, lead researcher in unraveling the genome. There is a bird flu epidemic right now in Asia that has infected 117 people and killed 60. It has already developed a few of the genomic changes that permit transmission to humans. Therefore, you want to put out the knowledge of the structure of the 1918 flu, which made the full jump from birds to humans, so that every researcher in the world can immediately start looking for ways to anticipate, monitor, prevent and counteract similar changes in today's bird flu.

We are essentially in a life-and-death race with the bird flu. Can we figure out how to pre-empt it before it figures out how to evolve into a transmittable form with 1918 lethality that will decimate humanity? To run that race we need the genetic sequence universally known - not just to inform and guide but to galvanize new research.

On the other hand, resurrection of the virus and publication of its structure opens the gates of hell. Anybody, bad guys included, can now create it. Biological knowledge is far easier to acquire for Osama bin Laden and friends than nuclear knowledge. And if you can't make this stuff yourself, you can simply order up DNA sequences from commercial laboratories around the world that will make it and ship it to you on demand. Taubenberger himself admits that "the technology is available."

And if the bad guys can't make the flu themselves, they could try to steal it. That's not easy. But the incentive to do so from a secure facility could not be greater. Nature, which published the full genome sequence, cites Rutgers bacteriologist Richard Ebright as warning that there is a significant risk "verging on inevitability" of accidental release into the human population or of theft by a "disgruntled, disturbed or extremist laboratory employee."

One batch of 1918 flu has the capacity for mass destruction that no Bond villain could ever dream of. Why try to steal loose nukes in Russia? A nuke can only destroy a city. The flu virus, properly evolved, is potentially a destroyer of civilizations.

We might have just given it to our enemies.

Have a nice day.

Charles Krauthammer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C. (



Oct. 17, 2005, 12:52AM

New planetoid finding spurs fight between scientists
Associated Press
October 17, 2005

LOS ANGELES - The discovery of a new planetoid has set off a bitter feud between American and Spanish scientists.

Michael Brown, a professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, discovered a new planetoid.

Days before he announced his discovery, however, a group of Spanish astronomers claimed the new planetoid.

U.S. researchers learned that the Spanish scientists had discovered where Brown was aiming a Chilean telescope by using an Internet search engine.

Scientist Jose Luis Ortiz said the data found using the Google search engine should be considered public and thus free to use.

Editor's Note: I am kicking myself that I didn't find the web site first and claim that planet discovery for myself! I would suggest to everyone they should name the new planet after me in honor of my long afternoon of hard work searching the Internet for scientists who are about to announce breakthroughs so I could claim them for myself.


Recently I received the following letter:

-----Original Message-----
From: Wm. G. (Bill) Scarberry, Jr (mailto:
Sent: Friday, October 14, 2005 9:10 AM
Subject: larry the moron

Hi Rick;
In my never-ending search for balloon history I got waylaid by your page on "Larry The Moron".

Two faults I have with it (easily changeable) are the two statements copied from that page below:

"Larry stopped climbing at 16,000 feet into the atmosphere!! Now perched 5 miles above the earth" ...............16,000 feet is barely over 3 miles, I know because I have piloted my own balloon to 12,500' which is 500 feet beyond the legal limit in American airspace without the pilot being on aviation breathing oxygen. 5,280 feet being a mile, I wanted to go to the limit which is greater than two miles.

The other: "Fortunately he had popped enough balloons before dropping the gun and slowly the lawn chair began its ascent."............. That would be a "descent" if by shooting out some of his balloons caused him to go down.

All in all, that's a pretty wonderful page you have on him. I was not aware of the time frame on his flight. I remember hearing about it in the 90's. I thought it was current news when I heard it. Thank you for your informative page on Larry. I learned something and hopefully helped you.

You are very welcome to visit my "Ballooning History" page and pick it apart!
Have a Good Day!

Wm. G. (Bill) Scarberry, Jr.
Concord, NC USA 28025

Editor's Note: Larry the Moron is the true story about a guy who thought he would attach a few balloons to a lawn chair and float about 20 feet in the air in his back yard. Instead he skyrocketed 16,000 feet into the atmosphere! It is the story about a stunt fueled by colossal stupidity.

For a good laugh, here's the story:

And that's a wrap for November!

Thanks for reading this month's issue of the SSQQ Newsletter!
Rick Archer (email)


SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar of Events Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ