June 2007
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The SSQQ Newsletter
Written and Edited by Rick Archer
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This is the June 2007 issue of the SSQQ Newsletter.

You are about to read the most extensive Newsletter in history.  Don't ask what came over me, I just got into it and did a good job.

There is so much cool stuff to read, I predict you will need to come back several times to visit it all.

Let's start with two stories about SSQQ Staff Members.  Maureen Brunetti recently hit her 20th year of teaching and taking classes here at SSQQ.  And what a long stretch that has been!   I interviewed Maureen for a look back on her twenty years and added it to the Newsletter.

Scott Ladell was the leader of the Magnificent Seven at the Texas Classic in May.  Scott trained and danced with six different women.  Not only did two women win their division, every one of the ladies danced well and placed high in the standings. 

Ballroom Dancing has been added to Thursdays due to a request to be able to learn the five major Ballroom dances twice as fast.  This month I added a picture of Dakota's Accelerated Ballroom class as well.  Andy Regnier was kind enough to share it. 

My new Martian Technique class was a big success in May with over 40 students.  I expect this powerful group to simply get better and better.  You can read about the Technique class and all of our other special dance classes in
June Dance Semester highlights.

We have two great parties in June.  On the 16th we have the Me Das Fiebre (You Give Me Fever) Salsa Party.  Then the following Saturday June 23 is one of my favorite parties of the year, the SSQQ Sock Hop.

SSQQ Slow Dance and Romance has had a big month - one new engagement and three weddings!  In particular you will want to read the story about the Wedding of Bryan Spivey and Lisa Palmer.  It was quite an event.

The Carnival Conquest Cruise scheduled for late September caught on fire in late April.  33 people signed up in a period of 4 days.  It was a veritable avalanche of registrations that took us to the Magic 100 number.  The good news is that all the Troublemakers are back on board, but there is some bad news too.  Marla has run out of her allotted number of inexpensive cabins.  Although there is plenty of space left on the trip, you will have to pay more if you decide to go. 

Once upon a time, a friend of mine sent me a video of a woman partner dancing with her smart collie.  That's right, partner dancing!  The dog did all sorts of amazing dance steps at some sort of competition.  This month I have added the story of Kitty Harvey, the SSQQ lady who trains horses to Ballroom Dance.  It's quite a tale!

We have four Story in the News features this month.  Two of the stories are absolutely incredible.  Long-time readers of the SSQQ newsletter are probably well aware that I think our legal system is great need of a fix.  People can sue at the drop of a dime.  No matter how ridiculous their claim, the party being sued still has to come up with the money to defend themselves.  The only winners are the lawyers.  And the people who keep the system intact are the lawyers.  Meanwhile our medical insurance rises, our car insurance rises, and so does our blood pressure.

Never before has my point been more obvious than in the case of the $67 million dollar lawsuit filed by a JUDGE... that's right, a judge... over some pants misplaced by the dry cleaners.  Now who's getting taken to the cleaners?

The second story in the news deals with a man who died of thirst in the desert last summer.  What makes this story unbelievable is that there was a guide right beside him who had plenty of water, but didn't bother to tell the man who was suffering.  This one is straight out of Ripley's Believe or Not. 

Another story is about the man who was misdiagnosed with terminal cancer.  So he went out and spent all the money he had while he could still enjoy it.  Then one day he noticed he was still alive.  That's when he found out he wasn't going to die all that soon after all.  Except that now he was flat broke.  Now he plans to stick around, he wants some of his money back.  Do you think the hospital should compensate him for their lousy advice?

The fourth story in the news deals with a Houston woman who was robbed in broad daylight at an ATM machine on Kirby.  Her story serves as an important warning to all the rest of us.

I added a story to the website last month that you absolutely must read and see.  The World's Four Most Dangerous Roads gives you a first-hand look at the Siberian Road of Mud, the Bolivian Road of Death, the Tunnel in the Side of the Mountain, and the Most Dangerous Tourist Hike in the entire world.  I know you all think I am guilty of too much hype sometimes, but this time I am not kidding. This story is incredible.  You have to see it to believe it. 

In February 25 brave SSQQ dancers headed over to Chandelier Ballroom for a fun night of Ballroom Dancing Then in March our numbers grew to nearly 40 people!   We had so much fun it became an instant tradition.  Now we are going to the Chandelier again on June 2, so check your calendar!  In the meantime, be sure to read this cute story.

On a dark note, on Wednesday, January 31, one dance student had their car towed by the Bellaire Police and another car was nearly towed.  The problem was caused when the City redesigned the NO PARKING zones on First Street without bothering to warn anybody.  Two of the women who were ticked and towed - Maggi Dodds and Peggy Soloyov - fought back successfully.  In the meantime they went through hell fighting an illegal ticket!  You should definitely read their story.  SSQQ Parking Woes.

And now it's time to take a good hard look at yourself.  Just how smart are you?   Are you really as smart as you think you are?  My guess is you won't feel so smart after you take the incredible SSQQ Intelligence Test

Last month I introduced a new section called Letters to the Editor.  It was a spot for to put letters that were not necessarily negative.  Well, this new spot was so popular I received not even a single concept.  Just goes to show you that the nasty stuff is all you guys care about.  Tough.  I put some more
Letters to the Editor in anyway, including two letters from my friends in California.  You will enjoy hearing from long-time friend and super-nanny Aprille as well as our wonderful Lanita the Senorita who was called up from the reserves. Her letter will tell you how problems with the chemical weapons part of her training landed her in the hospital.   In addition there are two interesting stories about the mysterious disappear of bees. 

Now for something cosmic. I put together a web page on the famous Louvre Museum in Paris complete with 60 pictures of the Louvre, its artwork and its sculptures.  Now I have a problem - I don't know who painted these incredible pictures!  So do me a favor and visit the Louvre Museum article and see if you can identify any of the unknown artwork!

I know for a fact that many of you only care about is the stupid Complaint of the Month section.  Some people tell me it is only thing they read.  Do you have any idea how shallow that sounds?  You just want to read about the human misery.  Well, I disappointed everyone last month by not printing any negative letters and I am telling you people complained about no complaints.  That's how bad it is.  So rejoice, this month I made it up to you by printing not one, but TWO complaint of the month letters.  I know you will be so happy!

Uh oh, guess what?  I just remembered there are not just two complaints of the month, there are three complaints.  Woowee!  Check it out... this time I complained about something.  When was the last time I complained about something?   Probably years ago, right?  Wrong.  This time I really didn't like how SSQQ was treated by a certain cheapskate billion dollar company

But not everything in this Newsletter revolves around complaining and grumbling about law suits.  Sometimes I accidentally slip in a positive story or two for all of you to ignore.  This month is no exception.  With Father's Day around the corner, I printed an exceptional story about Fatherhood. The story was sent to me by Gareld McEathron and I have to say it is some of the best writing I have come across in a long time.  Try to stop being so shallow and add a little depth to your reading material.  Go visit A Father's Day Story right now!

Something else.  I even updated the June Jokes and Picture Jokes. 

Before I finish, let me say one more thing.  It is true I did a lot of work to get this excellent Newsletter out, but I had a lot of help from the SSQQ community.  Look at it this way.  Maureen contributed her story about the 20 years.  Gary Richardson sent me the Louvre pictures.  Cynthia Diggs, one of Scott Ladell's dance students, sent me the story about the Texas Classic.  Are you getting the drift her?   Kitty Harvey sent me the story about Ballroom Dancing and the horses.  A person at the studio told me about the $67 million dry cleaning lawsuit.  Carol Gafford sent me the story about the ATM robbery.   The Intelligence Test was contributed by several different people.  Maggi Dodds and Peggy
Solovyov sent in their stories about the Towing and Ticketing Travesty on First Street.  Gareld McEathron sent in the Father's Day story.  Aprille and Lanita contributed stories about their adventures.  Judy Walsh sent me the story on the disappearing bees.  And you haven't even heard about the biggest moron in history, Larry Walters (Letter Six)!   If you read nothing else in this Newsletter, read the Larry Walters story. It is UNBELIEVABLE!

My point is simple.  All I do is collect the stories that all my friends send me, then turn around and share them with the community.  That's my job - editing the material you send me and creating something fun to read.  But I couldn't do it without your help. 

So let me conclude by thanking all the people above for helping me put out THE BEST NEWSLETTER EVER in June 2007.

Rick Archer

Here are the Chapters in this month's Newsletter:



Story in the news: The $67 MILLION DRY CLEANING LAWSUIT
SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE - 4 new stories!

PARKING PROBLEMS ON FIRST STREET - Two Stories written by women who were ticketed and towed!




Sunday, September 23rd thru Sunday, Sept 30th

104 People going as of May 12.

Well, everybody, get ready.  The Sea You in September Dance Party is on.   The whole gang is back for more!

The Alpha Hussy is back, the Center of Attention is ready to cause more trouble, Mr. Handsome is back, and of course the Jammer - Gary Richardson - is back to take more incriminating pictures plus spin the DJ music. 

Something incredible happened on Monday, April 24 - Everybody decided to sign up at once!  Marla signed up 33 people in the space of four days.  

Marla says there is still plenty of room.  Register today and join all the fun!
Please complete the
Registration Form. You may email, fax or bring it to the studio and we will get you onboard.

Contact Marla Archer at 713 862-4428 or e-mail marla@ssqq.com with any further questions.





-----Original Message-----
From: Maureen Brunetti
Sent: Wednesday, May 02, 2007 2:51 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: #56

I realized I've been at the studio for 20 years. I started as a student
in April, 1987, when I first moved here from Philadelphia. I'd been
taking lessons and competing there. I almost didn't move here
because my dance package was not yet up and I had a few more events scheduled… oh well, here I am 20 years later!

Editor's Note: Maureen came to SSQQ as a big part of our Studebaker Generation.  Maureen's dancing was exceptional from the very start.  To this day, I don't think I have ever danced with a woman who could turn faster or better than Maureen.  She is lightning quick, faster than a speeding bullet.

Maureen also just happens to be brilliant.  One of my favorite memories of Maureen came on the 1998 Jamaica Cruise.  During the evenings, we played Trivial Pursuits. A lady named Lindy was the dominant player.  After losing the first game by a narrow margin, Lindy was a Trivial Pursuits Godzilla in Game 2, beating my team on a Sports Question (my turf) no less. 

I was so disgusted at being beat by a girl on a sports question that I decided to set up a third match. I had brought a Trivial Pursuits game of my own and offered "Silver Screen" as the venue for the championship. However when Lindy cleverly chose my ex-wife, Judy Archer, an expert at old movies, to be on her team, I figured it was the fate of the Titanic for my team. We were toast.

To my shock and joy, Maureen turned out to be a regular Silver Screen Hot Shot in her own right. Maureen single-handedly carried my team to victory with one unbelievable answer after another.

One event that Maureen enjoys thoroughly is the SSQQ Halloween Party. 

Maureen not only dances up a storm, she regularly makes an appearance on our Top 20 List of Best Costumes.  Now that I think about it, I imagine Maureen has been at more SSQQ Halloween Parties than anyone else, except me of course. 

In the picture on the left, Maureen appears with her friend John Anderson, who love to appear ever year dressed as lady.

Maureen has also made several of our cruises.  I already mentioned she was on our maiden voyage, the 1998 Jamaica Cruise.  In addition, Maureen has joined us on the 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 SSQQ Cruise Trips.  In all, she made six of our first 10 cruise trips.  That that puts Maureen squarely in the Top 10 List of number of cruise trips taken!

Maureen is an excellent instructor.  She has taught Swing and Salsa for many years.  With her incredible dancing ability and quick wits, Maureen has no trouble earning almost instant respect in every class she teaches.

I thought it would be appropriate to ask Maureen to answer a few questions in celebration of her twenty years at SSQQ, so I set up an interview. 

Maureen, you said you moved here from NJ… when?
I moved from Philadelphia in April, 1987 to work at Hermann Hospital/UT in their new Pain Management Center.

You said in your email that you were taking dance lessons before you got here.  How did you learn to dance?

I learned to dance standing on my father’s shoes. I always danced freestyle and then when disco was hot, partner dancing was back in style. 

I got serious after watching a dance competition on PBS.  I took ballroom dance lessons and did some competition for about a year before I moved to Houston in 1987.

How did you find out about ssqq?

I met Stan Woods and Judy Manlove (now Collins) at the now defunct Studebaker’s and they both told me about SSQQ.  I came to the studio for the first time during my second week in town.

What do you remember from the Studebaker years? Any interesting memories?

It was so much fun to go to happy hour to dance, get psyched and then move on to class. This was before we had regular practice nights. There was a lot of good energy and Friday nights there were great. Met, made and kept a lot of good friends from that time.

How did you become an instructor and when?

You had a couple who lived in Clear Lake who taught swing on Mondays, Tom and Tonya Binig.  They had gotten married and moved down to Clear Lake.  One day they decided they could not manage the commute any more so you asked me to step in....and here I still am.  I think that was in 1994.  I don't remember the date any better than you do.

Where you a member of judy’s first swing team in addition to the second?

Yes, both teams. First team partner was Warren Sloane.  Chris and then Neal Pellis (pictured above) partnered with me on the second team.

What are your memories of the swing team?

It was so much fun and so much work! Judy did an amazing job of herding a very unruly and often very ungrateful bunch. Performing was a lot of fun. Preparing for exhibition makes you a better dancer. You really have to work with your partner. I miss that. Darius and I were talking about competing in salsa before he got transferred to California.

What’s it like to see people come and go; does it bother you?

Yes, it is sad to see people go. I miss lots of the friends I made over the years. Some take a hiatus and return. The course of life may change but I think dancing is forever. Sometimes I wonder, “What ever happened to…?”

How has the studio changed from when you started?

The volume has waxed and waned over the years. Different dances become the rage. It’s fun to see the changes and it’s a challenge to anticipate and keep up with the trends. There are so many dance related TV shows these days. I think they have really helped bring dancing back to the mainstream and made taking lessons more attractive.

What do you enjoy about teaching dance?

I love that people are making their dream to dance come true. I love helping them learn a new skill that’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on. I resisted teaching for a while because I thought that if I did my passion as a job I would no longer enjoy dancing, but the opposite is true. Teaching has helped me enjoy it even more. I like learning new moves, new dances and keeping up with the trends and styles. Swing has changed over time, salsa too.

Then, of course, there’s the SHOES!!! I have more pairs of dance shoes than street shoes!

Homer Simpson said, “There’s not a woman alive who can resist a man who knows how to Mambo” and Mel Gibson (on the Simpsons) said he “…equates the decline of western civilization with the resurgence of swing dancing”

So there you have it.

What are the difficult sides of teaching dance?

It’s hard when it’s clear some have not even tried to practice during the week while others have come to the parallel classes and stayed to practice. I love to hear that some brave, intrepid souls have actually gone out into the world to strut their stuff. The discrepancy puts the class a bit off center.

The motivated ones are ready to move on and the late bloomers need a bit more nudging and help. It’s a balancing act to teach some, dance some, play the right music, lather, rinse and repeat. I have to adjust my teaching style to each new class’s needs. And as you well know, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to entertain a room of adults for 2 hours!  Hahaha

Twenty years is a long time.  What does it mean to you?

Hopefully it means I must be doing something right, since they keep coming back week after week.



The SSQQ New England was both amazing and frustrating at the same time. 

On the positive side, we had our chance to see the changing leaves in the fall and some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire country.  Visits to Martha's Vineyard, Acadia National Park, and New Hampshire's White Mountains revealed breath-taking vistas. New England is truly a gorgeous place to live.

We also got a chance to see history come alive with trips to Salem Village, New Brunswick, and of course by roaming around Boston.

However some of our excitement was tempered by the inexplicable rudeness and inefficiency of a cruise staff rumored to be the worst in the Royal Caribbean fleet.  You will simply have to read the story to understand the level of the incompetence we ran into.

Plus we had a couple who crashed our group even though we warned them not to.  That was a weird event.

According to one person who commented to me, this was the most interesting cruise story yet.  The pictures alone are worth taking a look at and the story is equally good.  



Back in January 2007, Gary Richardson sent me a power point presentation of the famous Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

As you know, the Louvre has been in the public eye for the past few years thanks to the runaway best-seller Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

So of course I knew about the Louvre, but Knowing is one thing, Seeing is another.  When I took a peek at the pictures of the paintings and sculptures in the Power Point, I was astounded by the beauty.

The Power Point Presentation was my second exposure to art in recent days.  Back in April, Marla and I visited the French Masters exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts here in Houston. 

And, by coincidence, I am currently reading The Messenger by Daniel Silva, which uses a long-lost painting Van Gogh to advance the plot of this counter-terrorism thriller.

Since I was already in the mood, it didn't much for this magnificent  Louvre presentation to push me over the edge.  Suddenly I found myself becoming an art enthusiast. Better late than never, I suppose.  I immediately felt compelled to share these magnificent pictures with the rest of you.  So I posted the pictures on the ssqq web site complete with some history about the Louvre.

However, in so doing, I came to the realization that I wished I knew more about the history of each painting.

I poked around on the Internet one day, but only came up with about ten titles out of 50 pictures.  I was hoping that as the rest of you visit the Louvre presentation, our readers might recognize some of the pictures and email the names to me. 

Surely we have some art historians in our midst, yes?  For example, my friend Sam Longoria, who has taken several Tango classes at SSQQ, is an accomplished artist in his own right with pictures on display at galleries here in Houston.  I bet Sam knows the names of many of these paintings.  After all, we aren't talking about obscure paintings.  These are among the most famous paintings in the world.

If you identify the name and artist of a picture, send it to me.  In our next Newsletter, I will post the results of our Louvre Museum identity quiz complete with the names of the people who identified the pictures!

Don't be surprised if you fall in love like I did.  One of these days, we are simply going to have to ask Marla to organize a trip to Paris.  This Louvre Museum is calling to me! 

Teresa Chardola, one of Linda Cook's favorite Salsa assistants, has already offered to be our guide.  Teresa lived in Paris for some time and speaks fluent French.   So let's all go!


Send any information about the paintings to Rick Archer, dance@ssqq.com  


05. THE JUNE CLASS HIGHLIGHTS – CLASSES BEGIN the week of Sunday, June 3.

Remember – if you miss the first week of class, you can always start in the second week. The Second Week Review will catch you up.  SSQQ SCHEDULE

For even more detail on many of the classes listed below, please visit the EXTRA

Special classes for JUNE include:

Hustle is the famous Disco Dance from the 70s. It is also a cult favorite here at SSQQ.

Hustle is best used to Disco music and soft R&B hits. This flashy partner dance is a clever combination of Swing footwork and Latin hip motion. Taught on Sundays at 4:30, this dance was first known as the "Latin Hustle" when it was the major partner dance back in the Saturday Night Fever Disco era.

Scott Ladell has worked magic with his Hustle class in past years. In 2006, his class was so popular that it went for five months. That was pretty impressive. You will be pleased to note that this accomplishment was no accident. Scott is considered one of the best Hustle teachers in the city and has earned the loyal following he has developed.

Scott's class in May had 50 people in it. 

One of the most popular classes at SSQQ is Dakota's upper-level Ballroom course.  For people who are already Advanced Ballroom dancers, Dakota aims to challenge his class with the toughest patterns in a different dance every two months.  Currently he is working on Foxtrot. 


Quick reminder that we will no longer be teaching SLOW DANCE as a regular four-week group class.  That said, there are special occasions like the First Dance at a wedding, a fancy New Years Eve party, a romantic standard at the Captain's Reception on a cruise, or a sultry torch song at a nightclub where the ability to Slow Dance would sure come in handy.  If you are getting married or would simply like to learn to Slow Dance, Marla Archer can teach you SLOW DANCE, WALTZ, or FOXTROT in a private lesson.  Contact her at marla@ssqq.com   

Marla teaches an average of 5 private lessons a week to couples who need to learn how to Slow Dance, Foxtrot, or Waltz at their Wedding Reception. If you know someone who needs to prepare for this important moment, read Marla’s story about her Wedding Dance experiences, please visit:  WEDDING LESSONS 

Advanced Swing and Jitterbug on Mondays currently has four levels.  You may take these four levels in any order you wish. 

The class covers all the double turns and fancy patterns that Swing is famous for.

Bryan and Lisa’s MARTIAN WHIP on Mondays is an elite class for people who wish to become either top-flight social dancers or competition West Coast Swing dancers. If you are an advanced Whip and West Coast Swing dancer, this is the place to be on Mondays!   In addition to this challenging class, Monday Night Whip Practice became a serious rocking event.   

Bryan Spivey and Lisa
became Texas State Whip Champions in 2004.  They were Regional Champions in 2005.  Then in 2006, Bryan finished in the Top 12 of the National West Coast Swing Championships.  In other words, Bryan is currently one of the top 12 male dancers in the country.  Quite an accomplishment!

Please note that permission is necessary to take Martian Whip.  Bryan and Lisa will audition all newcomers at the start of class to see if you are ready.  Auditions are also held during Practice Night on the fourth Monday of each dance semester.

The Technique class is spread over six different months.  This is another way of saying you can take Technique for six months with little repetition in the patterns.  You are welcome to start any month you like.  The first month will be difficult, but if you survive the first month, this class gets a lot easier.

The major goal of the Technique class is to train students in West Coast and Whip syncopations, also known as the Hitch technique.  The Hitch is the gateway to superior WCS dancing.  Mastery of the difficult syncopation on 1-2 (Walk Walk) allows a wide variety of new footwork patterns to develop. 

In addition to constant training in footwork and the Hitch, we also cover all the major patterns in West Coast Swing.  Six months is more than sufficient for this. 

One big advantage is that the Technique class is taught both on Mondays as well as Thursdays.  This gives you the opportunity to come twice for added training or to do make-ups if you have to miss a week.  There is no additional charge.

Entrance into the Technique class assumes you have completed Beginning and Intermediate Whip ahead of time.

Tuesday AT 7: TUESDAY SAlsa
Salsa at SSQQ is phenomenal.  We offer Salsa Dancing three times a week: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

In particular, our biggest Salsa night is Tuesday.  We have averaged close to 300 Salsa dancers on Tuesday Nights for the past several years.  Tuesday is one big party.

 Each Tuesday, there is a Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Salsa class that average 80 to 100 people in each class.  In particular, Steve Gekas conducts his elite Advanced Salsa class.  Steve's Advanced Salsa class is considered to be one of the top games in town.

Then after class is over, stay at SSQQ till 11 pm for a free Tuesday Night Practice Dance.  This dance is one heck of a party.

Sharon (Crawford) Shaw's legendary Western Waltz program begins anew in April 2007 with a Beginning Western Waltz class, the first step in a five month cycle. Yes, we know that Sharon announced her retirement a year ago, but she had second thoughts after so many people asked her to reconsider.

Sharon taught her first extended Western Waltz class back in April of 2000. In that year, Sharon had over 70 people sign up for Beginning Western Waltz in April. Due to the high energy of the class, naturally we scheduled a follow-up Intermediate class in JUNE. However there was no drop-off! Not only did the same 70 people stick around, the class grew a little bit as experienced Waltz dancers joined in progress to share the fun. Soon the students started begging for more levels. Sharon and her friend John Jones added an Advanced level in June. Then came Super-Advanced in July.

In 2000, Sharon and John stopped at four levels, but when the same thing happened the following year, they found a way to add a fifth month of Western Waltz in 2001.

What makes the class exceptionally fun is that many of the dancers stay after class to practice. Before you know, all that practice pays off - the entire room is wall to wall with beautiful Waltz couples swirling and twirling across the floor! As a result, many of the finest Waltz dancers in Houston claim they owe their skill to Sharon and John's class!

Sharon's Five Month Western Waltz cycle in 2007 marks her eighth year of teaching the best Western Waltz in the entire city. You do not want to miss it.

Scott Ladell offers parallel Ghost Towns on Wednesdays and Fridays. This means if you miss one day, you can make it up on the other.  One of the top Western teachers in town, Scott is likely to throw you a curve at any time so watch out!


Rick and Cher will teach Advanced Twostep and Polka in June 2007.  This class is a one-shot offer.  Adv Twostep and Polka covers everything you would ever want to know about Twostep and Polka Circle Turns (clockwise and counterclockwise), Advanced Twostep and Polka patterns, as well as Synchronized Polka.   

All of this material is offered from time to time in Saturday Night crash courses, but since there is no follow-up, sometimes it is tough to master the material.  This four-week class will have plenty of review so these tricky moves have a chance to sink in.

Do not take this class if you have not completed Beginning Twostep/Polka.  It will move very fast.


SATURDAY AT 4:30: Saturday Salsa Explosion
Bjorn and Rebeca Bangstein have moved their Saturday Salsa Explosion on Saturdays to 4:30 pm.  This Super-Advanced Salsa class gives us four different levels of Salsa classes on Saturday afternoons.  Please note Rebeca and Bjorn are going on vacation in July, so take the Explosion in June or wait till August.

Rhythm and Blues Twostep is taught on Saturdays at 4:30 pm by Willie Bushnell and Willie Green. Also known as "Swingout", Rhythm and Blues Twostep is a popular dance used in African-American nightclubs. Taught by Willie Bushnell, R&B Twosteppin' is a partner dance similar to Zydeco. The man and woman first dance in closed position, then the man "swings her out". g!


Saturday, June 16
9:15 pm - Midnight pm
Cover charge $7


INT SALSA - Martin


Saturday, June 23
9:15 pm - Midnight
Cover charge $7


BRYAN'S WCS STUNTS AND ACROBATICS CLASS - Bryan Spivey (couples only!)


(Special Note: we will be teaching the Line Dances for FREE on the following nights from 6-7 pm: We will start with a half-hour class on Sunday, June 10, from 6:30 to 7 pm, then Monday, June 11.  We will have another half-hour class on Sunday, June 17, from 6:30 to 7 pm, then a second Monday, June 12, 6-7. Just show up. No charge.)



Over the weekend of May 19, 2007, SSQQ Western Instructor Scott Ladell danced with six different ladies from the studio in a competition known as The Texas Classic

On Monday morning, five different people sent me emails praising the work that Scott did in preparing these ladies for competition and complimenting all their performances.  Since the newsletter is going out today, I didn't have much time to write a more thorough story. So I will simply share a couple of the emails to give an idea just how special the weekend was for Scott and Company.

Abbie Barbley, Cindy Diggs, Scott, Debra Hill, Eva Lue

-----Original Message-----
From: Cindy Diggs
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2007 8:17 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: SSQQ's Braggin' rights-- The Texas Classic

Rick, I just want you to know that the SSQQ studio earned some major braggin’ rights at the Texas Classic dance competition this past weekend!  SSQQ Pro Scott Ladell danced with six SSQQ students in country western and hustle competitions, and there were SSQQ competitors in Swing as well.

Debra Hill with Scott Ladell in Silver Newcomer:  First Place Overall
Cindy Diggs with Scott Ladell in Diamond Newcomer:  First Place Overall
Cher Longoria (pictured below) with Scott Ladell in Novice:  Fifth Place Overall
Cher Longoria in West Coast Swing:  Third Overall in both Diamond & Open divisions
Susan Arevalo (pictured at right) with Scott Ladell in Novice:  Ninth Place Overall
Abby Barbley with Scott Ladell in Intermediate Hustle:  First Place
Cindy Diggs with Scott Ladell in Newcomer Hustle:  Second Place
Eva Lue with Scott Ladell in Newcomer Hustle:  Fifth Place

Debra and I were shocked and thrilled with our wins in Newcomer, and we were all impressed with the outstanding results for Cher and Susan in the highly competitive Pro/Am Female Silver Novice Division, which was the largest division in the country western competition.  

And Abby was the undisputed Diva of Hustle!  The competition in Hustle wasn't even close.

Susan Arevalo

Scott made us all look great!

Yikes, I nearly forgot!  Joel McCleskey and his wife Ruth were competing in Couples, and Oh My Goodness, they looked ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!   I don’t know what their results were—but I bet they were good—you will have to get a full report from them!

There were other SSQQ competitors in Swing with our amazing SSQQ West Coast Pro Brian Spivey, but I don’t know their results either, so Brian will have to fill you in on that.

Finally, I have to say that the many SSQQ students who came to watch and cheer and support us as we went through the competition were very much appreciated.  It made us feel good to have so many of the SSQQ students there.   It was a great experience!

-----Original Message-----
From: Cher Longoria
Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2007 10:38 PM
To: Rick Archer Subject: Texas Classic

As you know Scotty had 5 students in addition to Abbie and myself this weekend in The Texas Classic.

We all did fabulous, Cindy Diggs and Debra Hill both got 1st places.

Susan Arevalo and I danced in the largest toughest division in the whole competition. There were 18 of us.  I made the Finals (finals being the top 5), so I was very pleased considering how tough the division was.  I danced in open and Diamond swing and came in 3rd out of 11 both times.   Not bad considering I had about 10 years on all the girls I was dancing against.

Susan came in 9th which for her was very impressive being her first competition in an upper division.

Abbie got a 1st place in intermediate Hustle, and if she should continue to compete she is unbeatable. Her dancing was awesome.

Eva also danced in newcomer Hustle and came in 5th.

Over all I am so proud and honored to be apart of such a great group of dancers. If I left anything or anyone out I apologize. I am writing this on very little sleep.  In addition, we had a big turn out of SSQQ students to cheer us on.  Maybe some of them will be inspired to join us next year! 

Rick, you should be just as proud knowing that we all represented SSQQ in such a positive way.
  And you definitely need to tell the world what a great job Scottie did getting the entire group of ladies so well prepared!

(Editor's Note: That is an impressive showing to be sure.  Scott Ladell has been training students from SSQQ now since 2005.  Now you see the results of continued effort and practice.  The prolonged work on the part of his students has really paid off.

If you are interested in competition or private lessons, you can contact Scott at scottladell@houston.rr.com )




-----Original Message-----
From: Harvey, Katherine
Sent: Monday, May 07, 2007
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Newsletter article

Hey, Rick!

I've got an interesting article for you.

I've trained horses for YEARS, but I'm fairly new to dancing, and I'm having a blast!

And I'm seeing some very interesting parallels.

As a hobby – my 20 hours a week “hobby” – I train horses.

I’ve only recently taken up ballroom dancing, and now I know what my horse feels like. I’m now following my male partner, the leader in these dances.

Here is a picture from the 1st year my friend & I performed.  She owns the horses, I train them. The horses are a particular breed called Paso Finos. In Dressage (that's the English style of riding patterns), there is a form called Pas de Deux which translates to 'Steps of Two'. We call ourselves "Paso Deux"! - -Kitty (I'm the one in pink)

The man
has to choose where we go and how we get there, all without saying a word.  Hmm... I just realized that’s what I do with my horse and now I am in the same position.

Learning to dance is like training a horse, you work on straight lines and big circles before you introduce the sharp turns and side-stepping movements. I told my riding friends that I went from “Green As Grass” to “Second Level” when I learned a twirl in the ChaCha. Heck, we riders don’t even do a “turn on the haunches” (as it’s called in English Dressage) until “Second Level” (that’s the 4th tier out of 10 tiers of competition). That means we’re nearly half way to the very best you can be before we have to do a sharp 180 degree turn!

I told my horse friends I did a “pirouette” when I learned the turn in Tango’s Promenade. Actually it’s more like half of a western spin (as in Western riding) because your partner whips you around on your one foot FAST. I also learned don’t take Benedryl before a class that practices lots of turns; I sure am glad I had partners to keep me upright.

And on that note, thank goodness for partners. In the beginning you sometimes end up balancing against them when you get out of balance – which is exactly what happens with young, “green” horses. They loose their balance, too, and you actually end up supporting them with the bit until they get their balance back. Of course, horses are a lot heavier than a human being – OOF.

My lesson partners & I have to talk to each other frequently to prevent each other from going out of step. That’s pretty similar to what I have to do with the young horses. I use verbal cues at the same time as my body cues. Eventually, the horse learns to “listen” to my body cues, because in a competition you loose points if you make a sound to your horse. When I push with my leg, the horse moves away from it; when I lengthen the rein the horse stretches out to maintain that contact. Sound like the frame used in Tango?

When you are first learning to ride, it is exactly like taking dance lessons because when there is a mistake, your first thought is whether you made a mistake or your partner. When your horse moves incorrectly, you are trying to figure out if you made them move incorrectly or did they not listen to your instructions. When I get to pair up with an experienced dancer, it’s an incredible feel! Horses must love being ridden by experienced riders! In riding lessons, the ideal situation is to put a well trained horse with a beginner rider. The horse leads the dance. Once the rider develops confidence and knowledge, the rider leads the dance.

I would love to show my dancing partners how we riders dance with our horses. The biggest difference in Ballroom Dancing versus Musical Freestyles (a class where you ride to music) is that in dancing, you follow the music. In riding, the music follows the horse. Your horse has 2 left feet … literally. Many horses learn the movement to the music, but you will never notice your horse mumbling “rock.. step.. chachacha… rock.. step.. chachacha…” repeatedly thru its performance.

Kitty Harvey

Editor's Note: You can contact Ms. Harvey at Katherine.Harvey@c-a-m.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Pat Mahaffey
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2007 11:31 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Forget Dancing With The Stars...Watch This! 

Rick, Just in case you have not seen this. Your dancing collie mention and the dancing horse story in the newsletter brought this to mind.. Too awesome to not share!


If you like horses, (even if you don't)  you will love this clip.  This video is of Andreas Helgstrand and his 9 year-old mare, Matinee, at the World Equestrian Games.  It is the Musical Freestyle Dressage competition, and they pretty much wiped the floor with everyone.  Turn up the sound and watch this mare dance... she is amazing... she KNOWS where the beat is.

( Click Here )




08. The 67 Million Dollar Dry Cleaning Lawsuit

May 2, 2007

How's $67 milllion for a dry cleaning bill?

A Washington, D.C., judge is suing an area dry cleaning business for losing a pair of his trousers. The business owners claim they have his pants, but he's pressing ahead with his suit.

From Nightline
ABC News Law & Justice Unit

Is somebody getting taken to the cleaners?

Plaintiff Roy Pearson, a judge in Washington, D.C., says in court papers that he's been through the ringer over a lost pair of prized pants he wanted to wear on his first day on the bench.

He says in court papers that he has endured "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort."

He says he was unable to wear that favorite suit on his first day of work.

He's suing for 10 years of weekend car rentals so he can transport his dry cleaning to another store.

The lawsuit is based in large part on Pearson's seemingly pained admission that he was taken in by the oldest and most insidious marketing tool in the dry cleaning industry arsenal - "Satisfaction Guaranteed."

Pearson did not return numerous calls from ABC News for comment.

It's the kind of lawsuit that makes liability reform advocates' temples throb.

"People in America are now scared of each other," legal expert Philip Howard told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit. "That's why teachers won't put an arm around a crying child, and doctors order unnecessary tests, and ministers won't meet with parishioners. It's a distrust of justice and it's changing our culture."

The civil trial, set for June, has the scope of a John Grisham courtroom thriller and the societal importance of a traffic ticket.

Pearson plans to call 63 witnesses.

Defending themselves against the suit -- for two years running -- are Korean immigrants Jin and Soo Chung and their son, who own Custom Cleaners and two other dry cleaning shops in the Fort Lincoln section of Washington, D.C.

The ABC News Law & Justice Unit has calculated that for $67 million Pearson could buy 84,115 new pairs of pants at the $800 value he placed on the missing trousers in court documents. If you stacked those pants up, they would be taller than eight Mount Everests. If you laid them side by side, they would stretch for 48 miles.

Fort Lincoln neighbors are enjoying what they consider the comedy of it all.

"The whole city is aware of this lawsuit," said Bob King, who represents Fort Lincoln on the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. "Everybody's laughing about it."

Everybody except the Chungs, who have spent thousands of dollars defending themselves against Pearson's lawsuit.

"It's not humorous, not funny and nobody would have thought that something like this would have happened," Soo Chung told ABC News through an interpreter.

Her husband agreed.

"It's affecting us first of all financially, because of all the lawyers' fees," Jin Chung said. "For two years, we've been paying lawyer fees. … We've gotten bad credit as well, and secondly, it's been difficult mentally and physically because of the level of stress."

Later, Soo Chung broke down in tears.

"I would have never thought it would have dragged on this long," she told ABC News. "I don't want to live here anymore. It's been so difficult. I just want to go home, go back to Korea."

"I've been in the dry cleaning business for 14 years, but this has never ever happened before. If anything happened to our customers' clothing, we would always compensate them accordingly and fairly," Jin Chung said through a translator.

The problems date back to 2002.

Pearson says in court papers that he took a pair of pants into Custom Cleaners in Fort Lincoln that year, and the pants were lost.

So Jin and Soo Chung gave Pearson a $150 check for a new pair of pants.

Three years later, Pearson says he returned to Custom Cleaners and -- like some real-life "Groundhog Day" nightmare -- his trousers went missing.


It was May 2005 and Pearson was about to begin his new job as an administrative judge. Naturally, he wanted to wear a nice outfit to his first day of work. He said in court papers that he tried on five Hickey Freeman suits from his closet, but found them all to be "too tight," according to the Washington Post.

He brought one pair in for alterations and they went missing -- gray trousers with what Pearson described in court papers as blue and red stripes on them.

First, Pearson demanded $1,150 for a new suit. Lawyers were hired, legal wrangling ensued and eventually the Chungs offered Pearson $3,000 in compensation.

Then they offered him $4,600.

Still no dice.

Finally, they offered $12,000 for the missing gray trousers with the red and blue stripes.

Pearson said no.

With neither satisfaction nor his prized gray pants, Pearson upped the ante considerably.

The judge went to the lawbooks. Citing the District of Columbia's consumer protection laws, he claims he is entitled to $1,500 per violation.

Per day.

What follows is the beginning of thousands of pages of legal documents and correspondence that, two years later, have led to a massive civil lawsuit in the amount of $67 million.

According to court papers, here's how Pearson calculates the damages and legal fees:

He believes he is entitled to $1,500 for each violation, each day during which the "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign and another sign promising "Same Day Service" was up in the store -- more than 1,200 days.

And he's multiplying each violation by three because he's suing Jin and Soo Chung and their son.

He also wants $500,000 in emotional damages and $542, 500 in legal fees, even though he is representing himself in court.

He wants $15,000 for 10 years' worth of weekend car rentals as well.

After enlisting neighbors and fellow customers, he sought to expand the case into a class action suit, but was denied, angrily, by District of Columbia Civil Judge Neal Kravitz.

"The Court has significant concerns that the plaintiff is acting in bad faith and with an intent to delay the proceedings," the judge wrote in court papers. "Indeed, it is difficult to draw any other conclusion, given the plaintiff's lengthy delay in seeking to expand the scope of the case, the breathtaking magnitude of the expansion he seeks, his failure to present any evidence in support of the thousands of claims he says he wishes to add, and his misrepresentation concerning the scope of his first amended complaint."

The case will now be heard by another judge in June 2007.  Both Kravitz and the new judge declined to comment on the case to ABC News.

Ironically, less than a week after Pearson dropped off the missing trousers in 2005, Soo Chung found them, she says.  She tried to return them to Pearson but he said they were the wrong pants.

"So these are the missing pants, huh?" Avila asked the Chungs' attorney, Chris Manning.

"These are," Manning said, holding up a flimsy pair of gray trousers.

Manning's argument is based on both the receipt and the telltale "three belt loop situation," as he explains it.

"When the pants were brought in, Mrs. Chung noticed the three belt loop situation and in finding them realized that they were Mr. Pearson's pants based on that."

He also said the receipt tag on the pants "exactly matches the receipt that Mr. Pearson has."

Manning is angry with Pearson, saying the judge has terrorized the Chungs for spite.

"They came to the United States hoping for the American dream," Manning said, "and Roy Pearson has made it a nightmare."

Here are three comments made by people who read this article:

This just goes to show the continuing spiral downward for our refusal to accept any responsibility. Instead we are asking government to make our decisions for us and look where it leads...67 mill for a pair of pants....millions for "hot" coffee that now is mostly tepid, all because someone was STUPID enough to put a container of hot liquid between their legs. What's next ? How long before we ask congress to take over our families because of the stress of everyday life ? We can sit on here and idly hope that someone does something for us to take care of the stupidity we have helped perpetuate...but how many in Mr Pearsons' district have called or written to have him removed from office or disbarred for his behavior ? It's our country, people fought and died for us to have rights. Why do we give them away just so we can feel blameless....or just lazy ? It's time to stop whining and act. We do have rights and one of the greatest granted to us is the power of free speech. Stand up and make yourself heard. Vote when the time comes. Let's do something constructive for a change.

this is utterly disgusting. For once in my life, I am rendered (mostly) speechless! I read his "reasoning" and "justifications" for asking for such a ridiculous amount in compensation and immediately felt nauseous. If this judge's pants were made out of diamonds they wouldn't be worth that much! I agree with hari_v in that the so-called judge should be made to pay the chung's legal fees, and add that he should be disbarred. The idea that someone with such an obvious lack of moral fiber is in the position of power that he is currently in is horrifying.

I felt sick to my stomach when I first read the article a couple of days ago. I felt disgusted and angry that a civilized nation, if not the greatest nation ever to grace the earth (for good or bad) could allow a justice and legal system to support such a vindictive and malicious claim. Now, reading these messages, I am equally stunned to read of those wishing to "hear Mr. Pearson's side of the story" or "the media seems one-sided" comments. Could that many people have lost all sensibility and empathy for others? The only power that WE have, and I mean 'we' to mean those generally without power - is to support the cause of the Chungs, vocally and financially, and to put pressure on those we elect to remove such vile people from position of influence.

EDITOR'S COMMENT:  For starters, I agree with the statement made in Comment Three...

I felt disgusted and angry that a civilized nation, if not the greatest nation ever to grace the earth (for good or bad) could allow a justice and legal system to support such a vindictive and malicious claim.

And now I will add my two bits. 

I personally am mortified by this situation.  I do not think I am alone when I say that it feels like 'American Justice' has become an oxymoron similar to 'Military Intelligence'. 

In this situation, you have a member of the legal community beating the crap out of two small business owners who seem practically helpless to defend themselves against this monster.  Then you have a legal community that will not or can not rein in someone in their own profession who is making a mockery of the justice system.  Respect for the legal community plummets further.  

Let me tell you a story.  A few months back, there was a dance at another dance studio here in Houston.  I don't know the details other than a woman slipped and fell.  She went to the hospital to get an x-ray, then came back to the same place and finished the night dancing.  Then she turned around and sued the dance studio for negligence.  

There needs to be protection against frivolous lawsuits such as this and the one against the dry cleaners.   What defense do the dry cleaners have?  No matter how the lawsuit turns out, they are facing financial ruin.

When is our legal system ever going to create true justice?  What are members of the legal community going to do to restore confidence in our legal system?   RA

And what do you think?  Email to Rick Archer, dance@ssqq.com




In May, we had two weddings and one engagement annoucement.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me take the pleasure announcing the marriage of Lisa Palmer to Bryan Spivey. 

You definitely need to read the story!  Bryan and Lisa's Wedding


While I was attending the April 28th Reception for Bryan and Lisa's wedding, I noticed two old friends in the corner of the room that I had not seen for a while.  So I went over for a chat.

They looked especially happy.  Suddenly I took an involuntary look down at the young lady's hand.  Lo and behold, I saw a ring! 

I soon discovered that Mark Sheppard and Marlies Whitmoyer were not only engaged, they were getting married in two weeks!

So I am announcing their marriage under the assumption that everything went as planned last weekend. 

Congratulations to both.

You can read more about their story at 2007 Romance


This pretty girl just happens to be Marla's lovely daughter Marissa. 

Marissa Gorzynski began dating Glenn Hebert in their Senior year of college up at Texas State in San Marcos.  Marissa, who originally went to Kingwood HS, finished up at Texas State in May 2005 as a summa cum laude graduate.   Glenn had a couple more credits to finish and graduated later that summer. 

Glenn and Marissa continued their courtship after college here in Houston.  It was so obvious how much Glenn and Marissa were in love, it was just a matter of time till this handsome young man got around to making it official.

You can see Glenn and Marissa every Sunday evening in Ballroom class as they prepare to impress the world with their First Dance.  Their wedding is planned for June 2008.  Marla is already a complete mess in anticipation of the blessed event.

Picture from the 2006 SSQQ Rhapsody Cruise


Ben Liles reports that he and his lovely wife Diana attended the wedding of the beautiful Rita Davis and her Waltz partner for life, Lewis Wagner.

Apparently Ben's wife Diana and Rita work together at a local hospital, so Ben knows more about the wedding than I do.

Ben added that Rita and Lewis met in Sharon (Crawford) Shaw's Western class. 




May 7, 2007, 6:07PM
Misdiagnosed man seeks Compensation

2007 The Associated Press

LONDON — A man who said he spent his life savings after being told he had months to live is seeking compensation after doctors conceded they had got the diagnosis wrong.

John Brandrick, 62, was told two years ago that he had terminal pancreatic cancer, Britain's Press Association news agency reported. He decided to spend his remaining time in style, quitting his job and spending his savings on hotels, restaurants and holidays.

A year later, doctors at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in southwest England revised their diagnosis: Brandrick was suffering from pancreatitis, a non-fatal ailment.

"My life has been turned upside down by this," Brandrick said. "I was told I had limited time to live. I got rid of everything — my car, my clothes, everything."

Brandrick said he did not want to take the hospital to court, "but if they have made the wrong decision they should pay me something back."

The hospital said there was "no clear evidence of negligence" on its part.

"Whilst we do sympathize with Mr. Brandrick's position, clinical review of his case has not revealed that any different diagnosis would have been made at the time based on the same evidence," the hospital said in a statement.

(Editor's Note: I am not a doctor so I don't know how similar are the symptoms of pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis.  I do know that the man made legitimate decisions based on a misdiagnosis that have now left him broke.  I think he is entitled to some money.)


(Editor's Note: I received this story, in an email forwarded to me by Carol Gafford.  I believe the story to be true.

May 8, 2007

Dear Friends,

First of all, I am fine ... but earlier today I had an experience that I'm sharing with you so that you will be careful.

After going for a run with Amanda today, I went to get cash at the Sterling Bank ATM near the Taco Milagro on the corner of Kirby and Westheimer. It's a busy area, and it was still daylight. The ATM fronted on Westheimer. There were lots of people out on the patio at Taco Milagro, just 50 yards or so away.

I got out of my car, locked it, and went to the cash machine. As soon as I had put my card into the machine and entered my PIN, a woman came up and stood right next to me on my left, put a gun in my side and told me that she wouldn't shoot me if I didn't scream and gave her $800. I had only punched in $200, so she grabbed that and told me to get $800 more.

My bank has a $400 daily limit (I have since learned), so after trying $800, 700,600 and so on, I was able to withdraw $200 more. During this time she repeatedly told me not to scream or she would shoot me, and asked many times for my PIN code. I didn't speak to her and didn't answer her question, and all kinds of things were going through my head - mostly was she going to use the gun, but also would she steal Andrew's car (which I was driving), my purse (which I was holding), my rings (which I was wearing), the receipt which showed our bank balance.

After withdrawing the second round of cash, she grabbed the money, told me to stay where I was, and took off. After ten seconds or so, I turned around and realized she had run across the little side street just east of the ATM, jumped into a car that took off just as I looked over that way. I tried to see the license plate, but they were just far enough away that I wasn't able to make out the numbers, although I did make a mental note of the kind of car and the way they headed out. I had grabbed my receipts as soon as I was sure she (and the gun) were gone, and got back in my car to get home asap.

HPD came to our house and took down the case. I am pretty sure they will be able to see the woman on the videotape from the ATM because she was standing right next to me the whole time, and I had the receipts that showed the exact times of the two transactions.

All I can say is: be careful about ATM's. The police said that robberies like this are happening all over the city, in broad daylight, in good neighborhoods. They look for easy marks (women by themselves) and they have it down to a science. I am so lucky that I wasn't hurt - and she didn't steal the car, my purse and jewelry, etc. Maybe you will be more careful than ever before and this - or worse - won't happen to you.

The entire episode made me realize that every day we are in seemingly harm-free situations that can quickly turn into dangerous situations.

Much love from Ella Lee Lane, NOT Ben Taub Hospital - Be careful!

(Editor's Note: I printed this story as a warning to everyone.  There was a similar story at Christmas time last year when a man robbed Christmas shoppers in broad daylight in front of a Galleria store with onlookers everywhere.   There is always danger wherever you may be, so pay attention.)



-----Original Message-----
From: Philip E
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2007 5:20 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Ballroom Curriculum H

Hello, Rick, I picked up the new (blue) May-June schedule last night, and I see that you're making quite a few changes to the classes and schedules. So, I guess that you'll be putting out an e-mail this week to clarify things for us, especially the ballroom classes.

Since I haven't taken these classes since the days of "slow dance and romance" and "intermediate slow dancing for the holidays," I don't know that much about the current offerings and prerequisites. For example, I noticed that there's a new beginning ballroom II, but I wasn't sure if beginning ballroom I was a prerequisite for it.

While I might not be able to take any of these for a few months, I'd like to be able to watch the schedule to see when might be a good time to start.

Thanks, Philip E

Picture of Dakota Wilhelm's Sunday Accelerated Ballroom class in May.  What a bunch of attention seekers!

Certainly you have heard the old saying, "Brought to you by popular demand?"

Ballroom dancing has made quite an impact on Sunday evening.  Other than Salsa, I would say our Sunday Ballroom Practice Night is our most crowded practice night of the week.  Crowds of 60 and 70 people dance the night away to Tango, Waltz, Rumba, Cha Cha, Foxtrot, and Swing music. 

Ballroom Dancing was also the hit of our dance cruise last August 2006.  We had 50 people a night dancing to a live band in the Centrum every night of the trip.  And while they danced, other passengers ringed the railing of the level above to watch us dance.  Although they smiled, there was a touch of sadness in their eyes because I think they wished they could join us. 
Read the story.

In addition, our Saturday night trips to the Chandelier Ballroom have been very successful. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Kaechler
Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2007 6:54 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Chandelier Ballroom dance

We had a much larger turnout in March than in February at the Chandelier Ballroom. I counted 36 from SSQQ and that was difficult to do because there are always couples on the dance floor. I reserved two tables again and we overflowed onto a third table. Some folks, after arriving came over to our area to introduce themselves and I had never seen them before but they said they were from the studio so we had a great time. One of the funniest lines I heard was when Kit and a gentleman who I think his name is Raphael came off the dance floor after a Samba.  Someone asked Kit, "Kit, I didn't know you could Samba?" Kit said, "Neither did I!"

Ballroom Dancing is not that easy to learn because there are six major dances.  Although there is at least some overlap in the patterns, for the most part students have to learn six completely different dances.   But on the other hand, Practice Night never gets boring because there is a new challenge with every song.

The flagship of Sunday Ballroom is Dakota Wilhelm's Accelerated Ballroom Program.  Dakota offers a two-month class in each of the five major Ballroom dances plus a Samba and Viennese Waltz class at the end of the year.   This class has been well-received for two reasons.  One, Dakota is an excellent teacher and two, his students enjoy learning advanced Ballroom patterns. 

However with success comes certain problems.  One night a woman came up to me and expressed frustration.   The woman said to me, "I am in Beginning Ballroom, but when I see those people dance (at Practice Night), I want to be in Accelerated Ballroom.  However my husband is not a fast learner.  I can't believe he is going to have to take SIX MONTHS of classes to get good enough to enter Accelerated!"

I have to tell you, I quickly grasped her point.  As it stands, taking Beg, Int, and Adv Ballroom I would be three months and taking Beg, Int, and Adv Ballroom II would be three months more.  That is the exact moment when I started looking through the schedule for an opening to create another Ballroom Night and saw Thursday.

Starting in May 2007, SSQQ will begin to expand its Ballroom Program to Thursdays in addition to Sundays. Our first class on Thursday in May will be Beginning Ballroom II (Cha Cha and Tango) taught by Dakota.  Then In June, we will add an Intermediate level and in July we will add the Advanced level.

This move will allow people to finish our six Ballroom levels in just three months by coming on both Sunday and Thursday.  Previously it took six months.  

Please note if you wish to take both nights in the same month, you can register for the second class at half-price. However, you will need to sign up at the door with Marla to do this.  Online Registration is not programmed to handle special offers like this.  (Please note this offer is only good for three months: May, June, July 2007).

For more information about the SSQQ Ballroom Program, click here.





Chandelier Ballroom is the name of an SPJST Lodge located in the Heights on 15th Street and Beale near Shepherd. 

Robert and Nancy Kaechler organized a group of us to go Ballroom Dancing on Saturday, January 15.  The idea went over very well - despite very well advertising, we had 25 people in attendance.

Jack Melick and his Orchestra played many Big Band favorites for Swing and Foxtrot. In addition there were songs for Waltz, Tango, Cha Cha and Rumba. 

The music was good, the floor was huge, and we had plenty of great dancers to share the evening with.  In other words, we had a great time!

Some people came as couples and some people came by themselves, but everyone danced with everyone as is the spirit of SSQQ.  No one sat still for long, I assure you.  And yes, some people were better dancers than others and yes, many mistakes were made. But you know what, no one minded?  We were there to have fun... and we did!


Good news - Robert Kaechler has organized another SSQQ visit to the Chandelier Ballroom on June 2 for a night of Ballroom Dancing

We will dance to the Ballroom music of the Jack Melick Band.

8:30 pm to midnight, $11 per person
All dances require evening attire
beer, set-ups, soda & ice at bar for sale

Chandelier Ballroom, SPJST Lodge 88,
1435 Beall Street, Houston, Texas 77008


2006 was the first year in the history of the studio where SSQQ introduced a complete Ballroom Dance Program.  I can't tell you how pleased I was to see that many people had been curious about Ballroom for some time and were more than happy to give it a try.

Houston, Texas, has had a long love for Western music.  Consequently, Western Dancing has dominated the dance landscape for the past 25 years.  To its credit, Western Dancing has made itself more interesting by incorporating the best of Ballroom Dancing.

For many years, SSQQ has seen great interest in Western Waltz, Western Cha Cha, and Night Club classes.  In other words, Ballroom Dancing has been popular at SSQQ for a long time, except that it has been disguised as Western Dancing.

However, true Ballroom Dancing differs from the Western version in certain ways.  For example, many of the Box patterns common to Waltz, Foxtrot, and Rumba are unavailable at a Western club because you will get run over.

Second, good Ballroom music is very pretty to listen to.  Don't get me wrong - there are some beautiful Western Waltz songs.  But there also some beautiful Irish Waltz songs. The point is - I like to dance to all kinds of music.  One night it might be George Strait, the next night it might be Frank Sinatra.  Why choose?  Have them both!

Third, Western dancing ignores Tango.  This sexy dance is just too much fun to do without. 

Fourth, once in a while it is downright fun to dress up and look good!  I can't tell you how much fun our dancers had on the last
Rhapsody Cruise with Ballroom Dancing.  If it wasn't the Captain's Reception or the Crown and Anchor Ballroom Dance, then the Ballroom floor in the Centrum was crowded from wall to wall every night with SSQQ Ballroom dancers.

That ship was rocking as we danced the night away.  And we will do it again this year in
Hawaii and aboard the Conquest.

I am thrilled to see that Ballroom Dancing has carved out a new niche at SSQQ.  This trip to Chandelier Ballroom was just a start.  I imagine the dancing will get more sophisticated throughout 2007 as Dakota Wilhelm's Accelerated class kicks in. 

In the meantime, each week we get better and better. Our weekly Sunday Night Ballroom Dance averages 70 people who thoroughly enjoy their night of Ballroom music and dance.  Come join us!

Doug and Sherry (?)

Viola and Ken

Paul and Jan

Laura (?), Doug, Terese, Nancy, Robert, Karen, and ??

Paul, Jan, Linda, Bill

?? and Jerry

Nancy and Robert

Marla and Rick

Jack, Jackie, and Hoover

Maggi, Karen, and Ken



On Wednesday night, January 31, 2007, the car of an SSQQ student named Maggi Dodds was towed from First Street by order of the Bellaire Police.

Adding insult to injury, Ms. Dodds was also ticketed for parking in a NO PARKING ANYTIME zone.

I did not witness Ms. Dodd's car being towed. Nor did I find out about this event until the next day. I believe Ms. Dodds car was gone before we even knew what was going on.

However at 9:15 that evening I did intervene in the towing of a second vehicle. In addition I engaged a Bellaire policeman in a lengthy conversation.

We saved the second vehicle from being towed, but the incident shook up everyone who witnessed the event. When the other people heard about it from me or the other witnesses, they too were shaken up.

Naturally this incident provoked a great deal of anger. The towing incident seemed so unnecessary that people questioned the judgment of the Bellaire Police Department and the City Government.

(The rest of this article contains maps, pictures, and several stories. If you are an SSQQ student, this is MUST READ because at issue is the safety of your vehicle.
First Street Parking Problems

SPECIAL MAY 2007 NOTE:  Two of the women who were ticketed and towed decided to fight their in court.  Maggi Dodds and Peggy Solovyov both won their cases, but not without a great deal of suffering and wasted time.

Both women were kind enough to share their stories.  It makes for very interesting reading.





Man Dies of Thirst in Desert During Survival Program
What matters more: The Customer's welfare or his quest?

Editor's Note:  This story appeared in the Houston Chronicle in May 2007. It covers the ordeal of Dave Bushow, a man who died of thirst in the desert even though his guides carried water.  

The incident took place in July 2006.  However the story you are about to read was published in the Chronicle in May 2007.  This the story was retold a year later when many facts in the story become available through the Freedom of Information Act. 

This story is a fascinating read because it calls directly into judgment the actions of Mr. Bushow's guides during his ordeal. 

From the Houston Chronicle
ED WHITE, Associated Press Writer
May 2, 2007, 4:24PM


It was Day 2 in the blazing Utah desert. Dave Buschow was in bad shape.  Pale, wracked by cramps, his speech slurred, the 29-year-old New Jersey man was desperate for water and hallucinating so badly he mistook a tree for a person.

After going roughly 10 hours without a drink in the 100-degree heat, he finally dropped dead of thirst, face down in the dirt, less than 100 yards from the goal: a cave with a pool of water.

But Buschow was no solitary soul, lost and alone in the desert. He and 11 other hikers from various walks of life were being led by expert guides on a wilderness-survival adventure designed to test their physical and mental toughness.

And the guides, it turned out, were carrying emergency water on that torrid summer day.

However Buschow wasn't told that.  He wasn't offered any water for a reason - the guides did not want him to fail the $3,175 course.

They wanted him to dig deep, push himself beyond his known limits, and make it to the cave on his own.

Nearly a year later, documents obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act reveal those and other previously undisclosed details of what turned out to be a death march for Buschow. They also raise questions about the judgments and priorities of the guides at the Boulder Outdoor Survival School. What matters more: the customer's welfare or his quest?

"It was so needless. What a shame. It didn't have to happen," said Ray Gardner, the Garfield County sheriff's deputy who hiked six miles to recover Buschow's body. "They had emergency water right there. I would have given him a drink."

The family members were furious.

"Down in those canyons it's like a furnace," said Rob Buschow of Glen Spey, N.Y.

"I don't have my brother anymore because no one would give him water."

While regretting the tragedy, the school, known as BOSS, has denied any negligence and instead blamed Buschow, saying the security officer and former Air Force airman did not read course materials, may have withheld health information and may have eaten too heavily before leaving River Vale, N.J., for the grueling course.

Noting Buschow signed liability waivers, the school said: "Mr. Buschow expressly assumed the risk of serious injury or death prior to participating."

Garfield County authorities declined to file charges, saying there was insufficient evidence the school acted with criminal negligence. The prosecutor said participants knew they were taking a risk.

The U.S. Forest Service, however, has stopped BOSS from using Dixie National Forest for a portion of the 28-day course this summer until it gets outside advice on providing food and water.

The agency said it was the first death of a participant in a BOSS survival exercise.

The Colorado-based school dates to the late 1960s. In 1994, BOSS alumnus Josh Bernstein, a New Yorker with an Ivy League education, took over marketing and administration and later became owner. He also is host of the History Channel's "Digging for the Truth," a show that takes viewers on archaeological adventures around the world.

BOSS has wilderness courses lasting just a few days to a month. During the 28-day survival course, held 250 miles from Salt Lake City, campers are required to hike for miles and drink what they can find from natural sources.

BOSS emphasizes personal growth through adversity, and using your wits to survive. The mantra: "Know more, carry less."

Tent, matches, compass, sleeping bag, portable stove, watch — all have no role. Campers are equipped with a knife, water cup, blanket and poncho and are told they could lose 20 pounds or more. Among the things they learn is how to catch fish with their hands and how to kill a sheep with a knife.

The course is intended to push people "past those false limits your mind has set for your body."

"Somewhere along the many miles of sagebrush flats, red rock canyons, and mesa tops of Southern Utah — somewhere between the thirst, the hunger and the sweat — you'll discover the real destination: yourself," BOSS says on its Web site.

Buschow had marched the arctic tundra in Greenland. And after leaving the Air Force, he worked security at U.S. bases outside the country. He recalled his days as a Boy Scout in his May 2006 application to BOSS.

"Although in the yrs since, I have continued to appreciate Mother Nature," he wrote by hand, "I still haven't ever truly immersed myself in her embrace. I fear that I'm becoming a 'comfort camper,' having never come close to looking her in the eyes."

Buschow described himself as 5-foot-7 and about 180 pounds, with a resting pulse of 66. A New York doctor checked a box declaring him fit for a survival program. Buschow signed the application, acknowledging that BOSS was not offering a "risk-free wilderness experience."

The documents obtained by the AP disclose the brief but bitter wilderness adventure of Buschow:

On July 16, he gathered here with the 11 others, including some from England and a college student who had bicycled from Maine. Most were in their 20s and 30s. They ran 1 1/2 miles so the staff could assess their conditioning.

Buschow "was not the most in-shape but not the most out of shape either," recalled camper Charlie DeTar, 25, the cross-country bicyclist.

On the second day, after a cool night, the group set out around sunrise and stopped about 8:30 a.m. to dip their cups into Deer Creek in what turned out to be the only water until evening. Buschow pulled a bottle from his pack — but was warned by the staff not to fill it.

During the early phase of the expedition, participants can drink water at the source only and cannot carry it with them.

The group, led by three guides, formed a loose chain, with stronger hikers ahead of people struggling at the 6,000-foot elevation, or more than a mile above sea level.

"We didn't cover all that much distance, maybe five to six miles. We were moving slowly, a lot of up and down," DeTar said in an interview from Vermont. "You don't have food, you don't have water, so you have to move at the slowest pace of the group."

They rested periodically under pinons and junipers, all the while looking for signs of water, such as green vegetation in canyon bottoms. At least two attempts to dig for water failed.

Not everyone had close contact with Buschow, but a consensus emerges from the campers' written accounts obtained by the AP: While cheerful, encouraging and coherent at times, he was a man in deep trouble hours before he collapsed.

"We were all desperate for water," a camper wrote. "Every time (Buschow) would fall or lie down, it took a huge amount of effort to pick him back up. His speech was thick and his mouth swollen."

"Every time he continued, he'd rush ahead, often in the wrong direction and so exhausting himself even more," the camper wrote.

The sun was described as blazing, inescapable. "There were no clouds," a camper wrote.

Some people vomited that day, including a man who got sick three times — a typical misery on the rigorous course, according to BOSS. Buschow was suffering from leg cramps about 2:30 p.m. and said he was feeling "bad."

During a break, he mistook a tree for a person and said, "There she is."

"This was the first point at which I became concerned knowing that delirium happens when dehydration becomes severe," a camper wrote. Buschow "also asked if there was much air traffic that went through here, and asked if anyone had a signal mirror."

(The Forest Service, citing privacy concerns, deleted certain names from documents.)

By 7 p.m., as the sun descended and temperatures cooled a bit, the group approached a cave in Cottonwood Canyon, known to BOSS guides as a reliable source of water.

Buschow's companions were carrying his possessions for him. Within earshot of people exhilarated about the pool of water, he collapsed for the last time.

"He said he could not go on," staff member Shawn O'Neal wrote two days later in a statement ordered by the Garfield County Sheriff's Office. "I felt that he could make it this short distance and told him he could do it as I have seen many students sore, dehydrated and saying 'can't' do something only to find that they have strength beyond their conceived limits."

O'Neal didn't inform Buschow about his emergency water.

"I wanted him to accomplish getting to the water and the cave for rest," he wrote. "He asked me to go get the water for him. I said I was not going to leave him. ... Shortly thereafter I had a bad feeling and turned to Dave and found no sign of breathing.

A staff apprentice climbed to the top of a dead juniper to get reception for a cellular call to the Boulder office.

Five people took turns trying to revive Buschow while red biting ants crawled over his face. A rescue helicopter from Page, Ariz., arrived about 90 minutes after he passed out, but a defibrillator failed to jump-start his heart. Campers gathered in a circle for the news: "Dave is dead."

They had a moment of silence and ate almonds, sesame sticks and energy bars distributed by staff, the first food since sandwiches more than 24 hours earlier.

Buschow's death was caused by dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, according to Dr. Edward Leis, Utah's deputy chief medical examiner, who found no evidence of drugs or other factors.

After Buschow's death, five people left the course. The six campers who completed the exercise returned to the site to leave a bouquet of foliage and a marker of stones.

DeTar, a camper who performed CPR, said no one was told that BOSS guides carried emergency water, but "I heard it slosh" in a pack.

Should the water have been offered to Buschow? And if it's for an emergency, what triggers it?

"Hard to say," said DeTar, who has a master's degree from Dartmouth College and is trained in wilderness first aid. "One thing that BOSS offers you is an opportunity to push yourself physically into the red zone. ... He was 200 feet from the water.  Is that the point where you give it to him? Or 500 feet?"

Bernstein, the school's owner, agreed to answer questions only by e-mail. He said BOSS instructors can give water based on their assessment of a camper's needs.

"The group appeared to be within the normal parameters we've seen on the trail over the years," Bernstein said. "Many hikers were, understandably, tired, but morale was high and the participants were determined to continue. ... He seemed capable of completing the hike to camp that evening."

In a Feb. 27 letter to the Forest Service, Bernstein said Buschow may not have trained properly, pointing to comments he made to another camper about drinking a gallon of water a day and eating cheese steaks to bulk up before the expedition.

His brother, Rob Buschow, said: "It's sickening when they blame the victim."


Obviously in retrospect, if the guides had known how serious Mr. Buschow's condition was, they would have given Mr. Buschow the much-needed water.

Similar incidents have been reported with teenagers dying in the summer heat as they underwent conditioning exercises to prepare for football season.  Coaches will withhold water to toughen them up, a very risky move.  Heat and football are a dangerous mix. For example, a professional football player from the Vikings died of heat stroke during training camp in August 2001.
And of course Boot Camp Drill Instructors are legendary for pushing recruits to their limits. 

Who decides when enough is enough? 

In the case of Mr. Buschow, how liable is the Survival Company for his death?  What do you think the courts will decide?  

Email your thoughts to Rick Archer, dance@ssqq.com  


Sent in by Chris Holmes

So, are you feeling samrt today?  If so, maybe you will get lucky and actually answer some of the questions right on this incredible test.

But if you're feeling stupid and insecure, take our advice and skip this puzzle altogether. 

Otherwise you will feel your self-esteem plummeting to the very depths of your soul.

Brain Teaser One

A father and a son are in a bad car accident. They are rushed to the emergency room and put into separate rooms. The doctors try and try to save the father, but he dies. Another doctor comes into the son's room and says, "I'm sorry, I can't operate on him, he's my son."   How is this possible?

The Answer will be posted further down.

Brain Teaser Two

n which direction is the bus pictured below traveling?

Look carefully at the picture.  Can you guess the direction? 
Do you know the answer?

(Hint: The only possible answers are "left" or "right.")

The Answer is further below.


Brain Teaser Three: AMANDA'S RIDDLE

What is greater than God,
more evil than the Devil,
poor people have it,
rich people need it......
and if you eat it you will die.

What is it??   (Answer below)

Brain Teaser Four

Okay, this one will require you to scroll down.  We do this so you don't cheat.  We have found that Cheating is very common on this test because otherwise you may discover that you are basically stupid. 

The following short quiz consists of 4 questions and will tell you whether you are qualified to be a professional person.

Remember to scroll down for each answer.

Here is a big hint.  A major part of the test involves your ability to follow directions. The questions are NOT that difficult.

But don't scroll down UNTIL AFTER you have answered the question!

Question 1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?

The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

Question 2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

Did you say, Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator? 

If so, too bad.

Wrong Answer.

Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.

Question 3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend.... except one.
Which animal does not attend?

Correct Answer: The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator.  You just put him in there.  This tests your memory.

Okay, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.

Question 4. . There is a river you must cross but it is used by crocodiles, and you do not have a boat. How do you manage it?

Remember, this is the final question. Put on your thinking cap and give it some serious thought.  If you haven't gotten any questions right, this is your last chance.  No cheating! 

Correct Answer:  You jump into the river and swim across.

Have you not been listening? All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting.
This question tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.

If you did not do well, cheer up, our research suggests you have lots of company.

According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of the professionals they tested got all questions wrong. At the same time many preschoolers got several correct answers. Anderson Consulting says this conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a four-year-old. In fact, if you did poorly, it is probably because you were unable to overcome your intelligence. You were so busy looking for trick answers and rational solutions, you were incapable of being simple-minded.


Answer to Brain Teaser One: 

A father and a son are in a bad car accident. They are rushed to the emergency room and put into separate rooms. The doctors try and try to save the father, but he dies.  Another doctor comes into the son's room and says, "I'm sorry, I can't operate on him, he's my son."   How is this possible?

The doctor is the child's mother.

Answer to Brain Teaser Two:

The pre-schoolers all answered the bus was going "left."

When asked, "Why do you think the bus is traveling in the left direction?"

They answered: "Because you can't see the door."

How do you feel now ???  I know, me too.


Answer to Brain Teaser Four: AMANDA'S RIDDLE

The Answer is NOTHING.

Nothing is greater than God,
nothing is more evil than the Devil,
poor people have nothing,
rich people need nothing......
and if you eat nothing you will die.

About the Riddle:  Amanda Keiser a former ssqq western instructor who left us around 2004 to begin law school.  Amanda originally shared this riddle with us back in 1999.

At the time, Amanda included the sobering thought that 80% of a class of Stanford students got this wrong, and 80% of 4th graders got it right. 


Brain Teaser Five: The Final Exam  (please note this is another scroll down. Don't cheat!)

First Question:  You are participating in a race! . You overtake the second person. What position are you in?

Answer to First Question:  If you answered that you are first, then you are absolutely wrong!  If you overtake the second person and you take his place, you are second!

Try not to screw up next time.
Now answer the second question, but don't take as much time as you took for the first question, OK?

Second Question: If you overtake the last person, then you are...?
(scroll down)

Answer to Second Question:  If you answered that you are second to last, then you are wrong again.  Please explain how can you overtake the LAST Person?

You're not very good at this, are you?

Third Question:
Okay, you didn't do so hot at the logic questions.  Now let's try math.  This is very tricky arithmetic!   Note: This must be done in your head only!   Do NOT use paper and pencil or a calculator.  That's cheating!   Don't cheat!  

Take 1000 and add 40 to it. Now add another 1000 . Now add 30.
Add another 1000. Now add 20. Now add another 1000 Now add 10. What is the total?

Scroll down for answer.....

Did you get 5000?

The correct answer is actually 4100.

If you don't believe it, check it with a calculator!
Today is definitely not your day, is it?
Maybe you'll get the last question right....
....Maybe not.

Fourth Question:

Mary's father has five daughters: 1. Nana, 2. Nene, 3. Nini, 4. Nono, 5......
What is the name of the fifth daughter?

Scroll down for answer.....

Answer to Question Four:
Did you Answer Nunu?
OH NO!  Of course it isn't.
Her name is Mary. Read the question again!

Our research has shown that many people fail to get any of our first four questions right, so here is a bonus round. 
Now concentrate.  This is your last chance.

Bonus Question:  A mute person goes into a shop and wants to buy a toothbrush.  By imitating the action of brushing his teeth he successfully expresses himself to the shopkeeper and the purchase is done.   Next, a blind man comes into the shop who wants to buy a pair of sunglasses; how does HE indicate what he wants?

Answer to Bonus Question:
This one was easy.  He just has to open his mouth and ask... "May I have a pair of sunglasses, please?"
It's really very simple.... Like you!


Okay, that's the conclusion of the SSQQ Intelligence Test.
So, how did you do?  How smatr are you feeling now?  
Not very samtr?   If you aren't feeling too smart, at least you have company.  Cheer up and come join the rest of us.




-----Original Message-----
From: Carol Gafford
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 9:32 AM
Subject: Road of Death

Holy Cow!!!!  Rick, you have to see these pictures. They are incredible!

From: Rick Archer
Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2007 5:51 PM
To: Carol Gafford
Subject: RE: Road of Death

There are actually FOUR dangerous roads, Carol. I wrote about them extensively and included more pictures. 

Go visit my story. The Four Most Dangerous Roads

-----Original Message-----
From: Carol Gafford
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2007 8:39 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Road of Death

Wow!!!!!  Rick that is spectacular!!!  You did a great job!

Now I know where to go to find some great information. I am going to forward this to the friend that sent me the original email.  Thanks!    Carol

Editor's Note:  I originally learned about these places from two emails sent to me in December 2006 by Milt Oglesby. Milts first email was titled "Road of Death" (it was the same email Carol Gafford sent me above).  I was fascinated.

After visiting the Internet to learn more about the "Road of Death", I discovered the "Road of Death" email had 8 pictures of a little-known location in China called "Guoliang Tunnel" mixed in with 15 authentic pictures of the frightening "Road of Death". I suppose someone mixed them together to make the truly dangerous Bolivian road seem even more scary!

At any rate, as I researched the Bolivian Road of Death further, I discovered two more incredible locations.  One is the bizarre Road of Mud in Siberia.  It turns out that every summer the most important highway in Siberia turns completely to mud whenever it rains.  You have to see the pictures to believe it!

Then I discovered the story of the most dangerous hiking trail in the world.  At Mt. Huashan in China, there is a public hiking trail that is so dangerous that you are literally risking your life to visit.  

So all in all, there are four stories that you will find are amazing and incredible.  This is one of the most articles I have ever written. 
  The Four Roads of Danger

The Amazing Gouliang Tunnel in China

The Walk of Death at Mt Huashan, China

The Bolivian Road of Death

The Bolivian Road of Death

The Highway of Mud, Siberia

The Highway of Mud, Siberia


16.  LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Rick Archer

This was a new feature that began with the April 2007 Newsletter.  For many years, the most popular section of the entire Newsletter has been the complaint section. 

It dawned on me the other day that I get lots of email that is actually quite pleasant and almost as interesting as the much-loved complaints.

I hope you enjoy this new feature.

If you have something you would like to say or comment on, send it to dance@ssqq.com


-----Original Message-----
From: T E
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2007 10:54 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: the varons

I was googling Dr. Varon and I just stumbled onto your problems with the Varon's and your dance studio. You have a lot of patience, let me tell you.

I don't understand why you did not sue them, the ball was definately in your court and it seems to me that they needed someone to open their eyes. Nobody should be treated with that type of disrespect, the entire thing just appalls me. You were so professional and courteous in your correspondence to her; you did not deserve that nose in the air treatment. Grrrrr....

I'm so disgusted with the whole thing, that I'm not even going to consider using him for surgery. I will seek other references.

Good luck and start looking for a new place that will welcome your business!

On 4/17/07, Rick Archer wrote:

The Varons are poor landlords (in my opinion).  There is more that has happened since my last update, but suffice it to say (in my opinion) they could care less about their tenants. I think the time for my studio to exit grows near.

Just out of curiosity, what made you google them?  I will keep your identity btw us.

-----Original Message-----
From: T E
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 10:12 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: the varons

I was googling the Dr. because a friend of mine went to him for a surgical procedure and I was considering using him as well. I wanted to see if I could find info on him and his medical practice. That's when I stumbled onto your little website. It caught my attention as I was really disappointed in what I read about them. Hmmm, that says something about their character, in my opinion.

I feel badly for you as you sounded so sincere in your emails to them and personally, it urks me when people don't respond to my email questions. It was obvious there was a huge problem going on at your place of business and they did not seem to care. I hope that you are able to move away from that establishment and into a new place. I guess it's easier said than done. Good luck to you and your business!



----Original Message-----
From: Tresa
Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2007 4:25 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Newsletter


I just finished reading your newsletter and I must say that Guoliang Tunnel was something else!! I can't say I'd be too happy about visiting the other roads and such but yeah, that tunnel would be a site to see!

And as far as that fella making the remark about what you said about the pathetic mail order bride business in the Pot Farm story. (Wait a minute....where is my soapbox? And now my ladder?)

Well, it IS pathetic in the sense that he very plainly states that these women are more *traditional* than the western women of the last two decades. What he is really saying here is he does not want his woman to be as independent, intelligent, or as strong and willful as we western women are now. We have evolved. We no longer wish to silently take orders from men and a good many of us are quite happy with the men in our lives that have recognized that we are human beings too and deserve to have a fulfilling eventful life alongside them as their partners rather than be a their servant. All I have to add to this is its a probably a good thing he lives outside of the US. I have a funny feeling he wouldn't want to know what secret ingredients were included in his dinner meal otherwise! (dropping off my soapbox now....dang that thing is tall!)

LOL!! Ok, I'm through.


Editor's Note: Aprille was an ssqq dance student off and on throughout the Nineties and into the 2000s.  Every now and then, I meet someone who steps out of the 'student role' and becomes a friend as well.  Aprille was one of those people.  She was kind and full of compliments.  Aprille often volunteered to help in my western classes.  She was always welcome at the studio.

However, last year Aprille mysteriously dropped out of sight.  Imagine how happy I was when she reappeared with an email.

As you will read, Aprille parlayed a job as a grade school teacher in Alvin into a job as a nanny. As you see, her Nanny travels have taken her around the world many times over and into the inner circles of 'Hollyweird' as she describes it.

----Original Message-----
From: Aprille
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2007 8:13 PM
To: rick archer
Subject: May 2007 SSQQ Newsletter

Rick Archer, I miss you, your studio and your parties and "your people" soooooooooooooo much!  When your newsletter came today via email, it was like getting the best Christmas gift ever.

Don't know if you knew it or not, but I moved to the Los Angeles area to become a Hollywood nanny in September 2006 when my oldest decided to go to grad school in Pasadena, CA. From September to January, I traveled to Australia twice, Tanzania, Africa, South Africa, Malaysia, London, and Denver (twice) with a starlet to nanny her three year old son while on holiday and it was such fun, but there was no private life for the nanny - and a whole lotta Hollyweird stuff going on that didn't mesh with my down home Texas beliefs and morals.  

AND, there was not even a country radio station in LA, but they got one in March 2007 after I had already moved away.  I was able to parlay my Hollywood nanny job to relocate two hours south to the San Diego area in Rancho Santa Fe.  Now I live in a ranch setting with a great couple. I moved in on Presidents' Day in Feb. although the couple I work for is not expecting their first baby until mid July. So, my duties include walking their German Shepherd and their Newfoundland twice each day for 30 minutes each trip, so I get 2 hours of walking in on the most beautiful mountain top ranch with mountains to the east and the beautiful Pacific ocean to the west.

Every inch I walk is so perfectly landscaped and such brilliant colors line the paths as the plants have beautiful tropical flowers. My other duty includes sitting by the pool in the heat of the day for an hour so the dogs can swim in their pool and of course I must prepare their daily meal of rice, green beans, carrots, cottage cheese, low salt Boar's Head turkey from the deli and locally prepared organic River Run dog food.

But hey, for all of this hard work, I get to live in the pool house with all expenses paid and I have the most fabulous sound system, big screen TV, with more channels than anyone needs, wireless cable and the people here treat me so very well. What more could a girl want, right?

Well, I am going stark raving mad about the (lack of) California
western swing dancers. I hate to admit it, but the very reason I picked this location was because of the three Honky Tonks, which are very close to the ranch. The dance floors are fabulous and I signed up for dance lessons at the three neighboring dance studios to meet dancers and learn some new dance styles. I am now a beginner Salsa girl, I am taking beginning West Coast Swing and Intermediate East Coast Swing and Advanced Two Step.

There is absolutely no polka here. If a good "Triple Step" dance is played, the floor is cleared for Line Dancing. What good is dancing if I can't hold on to a fella???? On the four corners of the floor, there is just enough room to squeeze in a West Coast Swing couple, so that is why I signed up for that dance, cause I refuse to reduce myself to line dancing for every freakin' polka!  Very few two steps are played as Line Dancing is preferred by the locals.

My biggest beef though, is the fact that the fellas here who take dance lessons, learn the same pattern and then when I go to a dance hall, everyone is doing the same pattern so that it looks like there is a couple' line dance show going on. I don't get it! The fellas here learn the arm movements, but there is absolutely no prep (lead) for an upcoming move because the girls learn the pattern in class as well so there is no "following" and no "leading" going on. It's a damn merry-go-round ride across the floor. Every dance studio teaches the same pattern for a month and the dancers don't seem to be able to create their own patterns using bits and pieces of past patterns.

I am paying one of the teachers at one of the studios I am taking lessons at $65 for a private lesson on Saturday to just dance and not give any verbal leads, just so I can "feel" what a California lead feels like. When I screw up a fella's move on the floor because I don't feel a lead, the fool drags me off the floor to teach me the pattern so I can be a character on the merry-go-round ride. Can you tell I'm a bit frustrated here?????  Oh my God, you should see what happens on the floor when they play a Cha Cha song. Every fool couple does the same move at the same time.

I miss Texas dance halls so much!

I am planning several weekends at home in May and June as I have weekends off until the baby comes, so I hope to make it to an SSQQ party. I need it bad!

Please keep me on your mailing list even though I am a California girl. I need a reality fix every now and then!

Take care, Aprille

FOLLOW-UP: I discretely asked about Aprille's adventures in Hollyweirdland.  She sent this reply:

-----Original Message-----
From: Aprille
Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2007 3:54 PM
To: rick archer
Subject: Hollyweird

Rick, you know the saying.  I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you!

In Hollyweird, the tighter your lips are, the bigger the salary as far as the nanny biz. If I tell about the people who I worked for, I have to pay 10 X the amount I earned and at $4,000 a week for international travel, I think I'll keep my mouth shut!

I have to admit I saw my fair share of Hollywood stars.  I passed a veritable People's Magazine lineup every day on my walks on the exclusive private beach.  But I will avoid namedropping out of respect for the people who were kind to me. 

I did get to sail in the Mediterranean on a famous designer's floating palace. The yacht had a crew of 10 plus a captain. That week I was fortunate enough to get to sub for another nanny who worked for a very gorgeous model who likes to play with Seals. I'd tell you more, but then I'd have to take you out, and I just don't want to do that!

I saw a lot, learned a lot and even made some (hopefully) life long friends. I even got a call from Oprah Winfrey's people wanting to do a positive show on celebrity nannies and I turned that down even though they offered to pay whatever fine I would be charged for spilling the beans.  So take it from me, the lid on my bean pot is tightly capped.

I am loving life right about now, you might say, but still my greatest joy comes from spinning across the hardwood floor and I will always be thankful for SSQQ and you for the joy that I get when dancing.

PS- If you do put some of my tales into your newsletter, include my email address in case anyone from the studio travels this way and wants to meet up for a dance. I know lots of good places to dance!   They can reach me at Aprillekay@aol.com


(Editor's Note:  Lani was a big part of the studio's Whip dancing for several years.   Lani was in the reserves and was called up late in 2006.  Fortunately Lani got posted in California, so she is out of danger.  Here is a recent update on her fortunes.) 

-----Original Message-----
From: Lanita Hutto
Sent: Sunday, April 29, 2007 7:38 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: My "CAMPING" Trip

Hey guys...feels like years since I left Houston. I know it's only been 4 months but it just seems longer. Life is good here. Work has been busy but starting to slow down a little. Hopefully this summer will be really slow so I can have a chance to go home and visit for a while. I'm thinking around the first part of August.

Well recently there's been a lot going on for me. The name of my unit is Navy Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 28 (all Construction Battalions are nicknamed Seabees) and they are basically construction types. Builders, Electricians, Steelworkers, Equipment Operators. They build roads, shelters, bridges...stuff like that. So our guys are overseas doing that. Reconstructing houses, fixing electricity for people in Iraq, rebuilding bridges and roads that get destroyed. Anyway, that's what they do.

Of course, I'm here in Cali handling their pay and personnel records. I'm kinda like HR. We've had a lot of pay issues here, mainly because the Personnel Support Detachment didn't train their folks how to start someone's pay correctly, plus everyone has a different way of doing something. Nothing is consistent. We're kinda doing damage control and cleaning up stuff that's been brought to our attention. But things are getting fixed and so it's slowing down.
So last week, I had the opportunity to go on a 2 week Field exercise with another Seabee Battalion just north of Port Hueneme.  Basically, they are training to go overseas to build and fight, we go out into the woods and play war games and stuff.  So I go. I have to do those things if I want to get a Warfare pin. Each pin is customized for the specialty of the unit. The one I'm working towards is called a Seabee Warfare Pin and one of the qualifications is the war games for 2 weeks.

I get there Saturday around lunchtime, and the day turned out to be a little warm but the breeze was nice and cool. We unload all our crap from the buses (two packs per person full of clothes and gear for the 2 weeks). Then we get issued more gear (bullet proof vest, ammo, ammo pouches, M16 rifle, canteens, shovel, and a belt to hold all this crap on. So were talking an extra 40 lbs. at least)

Then a cot for the tent, a mat, a small one person tent to be used later, a sleeping bag with 3 layers, a gas mask and chemical suit. By this time it's night fall, i'm tired and already dirty from the dust around there. Showers are secured, no shower. Fall into bed around 10. Next morning we get up and go to work (basically paperwork in the communications office). Do that for a while, eat a little lunch (MRE), then we (myself and a select few) have training on the proper way to don a chemical suit and gas mask, in and out, in and out of this thing. It's hot, I'm tired and sore from carrying around all this gear (we can't even go to the bathroom without getting fully dressed in all our gear and our weapon in tow). So it's dinner time then off to bed (showers are still secured, no shower).

Then on monday, I get designated as part of the CBR survey team. These are the guys that have to put on the gas mask and chemical suits and go outside, test the air to see what kind of toxins are present. :) lovely!! so back into the chemical suits for a 6 hr training in the sun and it's pretty warm in this suit. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper (giggle...pun intended). Well, I'm dehydrated by the end of training although I had 3 canteens of water (each canteen holds 2 liters) and I had to be put on a stretcher and hauled to the medical tent where they stick an IV in my hand (after 3 failed attempts in my arms). 18 gauge needles hurt by the way. Spend all night in the medical tent where I get some rest but it's cold at night (the temperature drops about 40 degrees at night) and the fluid that is pumping into my hand is ice cold, so really there's no comfort for me except that I'm no longer puking my guts out :) And I have 3 wool blankets on me, i think the girl said they were stuffed with down but you couldn't prove it by me because I was freeeeeeeezing. Next morning after I finished my 3rd IV bag and the doctor was convinced I could keep down the 5 glasses of gatorade i drank, I'm released to return to work. Showers are now working!!! Yea!! I get a shower.

Then the real fun begins. Now everyone in camp gets the experience I had over the last 2 days. We have CBR drills, in and out of the chemical suits and gas masks (spending about 45 min in it at one point in the day). There's no breeze, it's hot, I'm exhausted and life is not good. Besides what the doc gave me overnight and in the medical tent that morning, I've had 3 canteens of water and 2 bottles of gatorade that the Chaplain picked up on his way into camp. Not helping. I'm too hot still and I can't get any relief from the heat. The tents are hot and stifling, i'm carrying around all this gear, life is not good for me. So, I'm in the galley tent (one of the hottest tents in camp by the way) when I start feeling sick again. It's back to the medical tent for me where I force down another 2 canteens of water while I sit in the shade with only my tee-shirt, pants, and socks on. The Doc decided I would never get cool enough at the camp during the daytime so I was sent back to Port Hueneme after a night and half a day at the barracks in the air-conditioning. I slept almost all day on Wednesday and Thursday morning I was still a little sluggish. But today I'm feeling good. Just a little bruised, sun burnt and embarrassed. I think maybe next time I'll try it during the winter. That way I won't mind being in the suit. :)

So that's what's going on with me. I know, long story...

Hope everyone is doing well. :)

Ok...have fun all. Write to you again soon. Lani

(Editor's Note: I am pretty sure Lani would enjoy any and all letters from home.  You can reach her at her highly interesting email address:  lilnavychic@yahoo.com )


The Secret Death of Bees
Losing a quarter of the nation's hives calls for a thoughtful look at our dependence on agribusiness.

Houston Chronicle
May 11, 2007

Bees are big business. They are crucial to pollination of $14 billion in food crops and a third of the food we eat. If bees have a problem, we all have a problem. And bees have a big problem.

The chief apiary inspector for the state of Texas calls it "a hell of a problem." As many as a quarter of the nation's commercially kept bees went missing last year, presumed dead, in a phenomenon now called colony collapse disorder. Inspector Paul Jackson said it is as much a mystery in Texas as it is in 24 other states and half a dozen nations. He said it happens overnight without warning signs of distress and with no evidence left behind. The bees simply disappear.

Jackson has yet to find a pattern in this worrisome phenomenon. One beekeeper may lose 5,000 hives in a day's time while another down the road 10 miles loses none. In Texas, as elsewhere, it is the large commercial colonies that are most affected.

A threat of this magnitude to such a fundamental element in food production prompted congressional hearings last week. A specially appointed, nationwide task force of scientists will conduct research to try to pinpoint the cause and find solutions.

Pollination is the name of the game. Beekeepers in Texas and several other states send thousands of hives to pollinate crops around the country, moving them from state to state and crop to crop. Texas hives are deployed as many as four or five times a year, carried about the country on 18-wheeler trucks.

This constant mobility has been cited as a possible cause for the disappearing hives. The resulting stress depresses bees' immune systems, making bees vulnerable to a host of diseases and parasites. And their road food diet of high fructose corn syrup has been compared to a human diet restricted to soft drinks. Other possible causes include pesticides and other poisons and genetically modified crops that might introduce pesticide into the pollen.

The disappearing bee phenomenon is a poignant and alarming reminder that the food supply is part of the web of life. It cannot be separated from the profound and ongoing environmental disruption that results in numerous other threats such as rising mercury levels in fish.

Scientists likely will isolate the many variables in colony collapse disorder and determine its cause. A solution will be patched together to attempt to maintain the status quo for bees. What appears to be an agribusiness phenomenon likely will have an agribusiness cause and an agribusiness solution, raising once again the question of the wisdom in relying so heavily on farming at this scale.

A technical patch, taken alone, isn't all that reassuring. On a different level, we need to realize what's good for bees is crucial for all of us.

(Editor's Note: By coincidence, recently I received the following article from Judy Walsh. 
I cannot vouch for the science, but it was an interesting thought.)

Cell phones wiping out bee populations: Will your mobile be the next SUV?
Posted Apr 16th 2007 8:01PM by Sarah Gilbert

It was only a few weeks ago that I started reading about the plight of commercial bees in Oregon, where I live, and other nearby agricultural states: some mysterious force was causing what's called "Colony Collapse Disorder" for untold (but, by all guesses, large) numbers of bees used for pollinating crops up and down the Pacific Coast.

One beekeeper said that the vast majority of his colonies had just disappeared -- the bees would leave, and never return to the hive, presumably dying from hunger. Despite the seeming widespread nature of the problem, agricultural authorities wouldn't confirm its severity, and no one had solid numbers.

Until now, a variety of unrelated and unsatisfactory theories had been surfaced, though none even seemed half-right. Global warming. A bad batch of the high-fructose corn syrup typically used to feed commercial bees. Genetically modified crops. Pesticides. Mites. In the past few days I've seen several bees around my home, buzzing in and then fizzling out, dying slow, awful deaths on the sidewalk or windowsill. My stomach began to sink. Bees are vital to the health of so many of the world's plants. What could be done?

Now a report from Britain, where bee losses are still denied by agricultural authorities, although beekeepers are raising the alarm (U.S. beekeepers claim 60% of West Coast populations and 70% of East Coast bees have vanished): cell phone signals are disrupting bees' natural navigation systems. While alarmist, it makes sense; when cell phones are on, they're constantly crying for attention, pinging whatever tower is nearby every few minutes so that the home tower can keep track of the signal and send in whatever calls or messages come its way. Think of all the millions of pings that bounce back and forth across agricultural areas every week.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist and never worried about fears that cell phones cause brain cancer and cell death (although the reports seem to indicate this could be true). But after reading these reports my first urge is to turn off all the cell phones in the family and only use them for emergencies. If this is true, cell phones could become the SUV of 2008; a public display of a human putting its own comfort above the needs of the environment at large. And I'm sticking to land-based stocks for now!


-----Original Message-----
From: Anita H
Sent: Wednesday, May 09, 2007 2:14 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: re: your website page about Larry Walters

Hi, A friend sent me a link to your web page about the underground pot farm, which was really amazing.  I started to look at your other pages & found the one about Larry Walters & his balloon chair. 

I knew about him and was a little offended by your title of "Larry the Moron."  OK, maybe it's something most of us would not try, but I for one, admired his pioneering, adventurous spirit and do-it-yourself attitude.  Larry's adventure also spurred a new form of legitimate aviation, now called "Cluster Ballooning," so he was indeed a pioneer.

Might you consider changing the title of your page to something a little less derogatory?  The poor man committed suicide, after all.  Perhaps ridicule had something to do with that.

Thanks for listening, Anita

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, May 09, 2007 9:45 AM
To: Anita H
Subject: RE: your website page about Larry Walters

I respect your sentiment, Ms. H. You have made your point well and forced me to take a second look at my decision.

In my opinion, Mr. Walters earned this title. He is the all-time poster boy for foolish stunts. I have never heard of anything more ridiculous. Not only did he risk his own life, he forced the military to intercept him, he had rescue people on standby everywhere, and I believe he knocked out power when he landed.

His actions were so far beyond reckless that he deserves his title.

Were Mr. Walters alive today, I would soften my stance, but as it stands, his memory serves as a warning to the entire planet to think things through ahead of time.


(Editor's Note: If you have never before heard the story of Larry Walters, this is MUST READING.)








-----Original Message-----
From: jim landureth
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2007 10:44 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: exciting moment in time

At three minutes and four seconds after 2 AM on the 6th of May this year, the time and date will be

02:03:04 05/06/07.

This will never happen again.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2007 11:23 AM
To: jim landureth
Subject: exciting moment in time
I get goose bumps just thinking about it so I plan to stay awake.  How about you?

POSTSCRIPT: Bad news, I slept right through it.





Story contributed by Gerald McEathron

-----Original Message-----
From: Gareld McEathron
Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2007 7:30 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: A Delightful Article for June Fathers Day

This is a wonderful piece by Michael Gartner, editor of newspapers large and small and president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Well worth reading.
  I highly recommend it!


My father never drove a car. Well, that's not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car. He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.

"In those days," he told me when he was in his 90s, "to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it."

At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: "Oh, bull----!" she said. "He hit a horse."

"Well," my father said, "there was that, too."

So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars -- the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford -- but we had none.

My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines , would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.

My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we'd ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. "No one in the family drives," my mother would explain, and that was that. But, sometimes, my father would say, "But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we'll get one."

It was as if he wasn't sure which one of us would turn 16 first.

But, sure enough, my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown. It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn't drive, it more or less became my brother's car.

Having a car but not being able to drive didn't bother my father, but it didn't make sense to my mother. So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, and a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving.

The cemetery probably was my father's idea.

"Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?" I remember him saying once.

For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps -- though they seldom left the city limits -- and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.

Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn't seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage. (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)

He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin's Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish's two priests was on duty that morning.

If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home. If it was the assistant pastor, he'd take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests "Father Fast" and "Father Slow."

After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he'd sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio.

In the evening, then, when I'd stop by, he'd explain: "The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored."

If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out -- and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream.

As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, "Do you want to know the secret of a long life?"

"I guess so," I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.

"No left turns," he said.

"What?" I asked.

"No left turns," he repeated. "Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic. As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn."

"What?" I said again.

"No left turns," he said. "Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that's a lot safer. So we always make three rights."

"You're kidding!" I said, and I turned to my mother for support.

"No," she said, "your father is right. We make three rights. It works." But then she added: "Except when your father loses count."

I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing. "Loses count?" I asked. "Yes," my father admitted, "that sometimes happens. But it's not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you're okay again."

I couldn't resist. "Do you ever go for 11?" I asked.

"No," he said. "If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can't be put off another day or another week."

My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90. She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102. They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom -- the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)

He continued to walk daily -- he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he'd fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising -- and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.

One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news.

A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, "You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred."

At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, "You know, I'm probably not going to live much longer."

"You're probably right," I said.

"Why would you say that?" He countered, somewhat irritated.

"Because you're 102 years old," I said.

"Yes," he said, "I suppose you're right." He stayed in bed all the next day.

That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night. He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said: "I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet."

An hour or so later, he spoke his last words:

"I want you to know," he said, clearly and lucidly, "that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have." A short time later, he died.

I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I've wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.

I can't figure out if it was because he walked through life

Or because he quit taking left turns.





 -----Original Message-----
From: David M
Sent: Saturday, May 05, 2007 11:14 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Dance lessons?

Dear Rick:

Two voices from the past.

David M and Kathleen O have a $100 gift certificate for private lessons purchased by Daniel M and Tweed C about 10-15 years ago.

Can we still use it?


 -----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Sunday, May 06, 2007 4:57 AM
To: David M
Subject: RE: Dance lessons?

Boy, this is a voice from the past. Welcome back!

Yes, of course you can use the gift certificate. I will gladly honor it.

Editor's Note: I meant what I said. I was prepared to teach the private lessons myself.  But then something odd happened.  Two days later my wife Marla stomped into my office angry about something.  I asked her what was the matter. Marla showed me a copy of the email below (she had printed it out.)

From: David M
Date: 05/08/2007 8:59:18 AM
To: marla@ssqq.com
Subject: classes

We have a $100 gift certificate for private lessons. We would like to take swing and slow dance. What time would be good for you in evening?

PS The certificate was purchased about fifteen years ago. Rick said it was OK. Ask Rick if, because of inflation, is the certificate worth $200 now?

Editor's Note: I asked Marla why she was angry.  She showed me the email and asked me why I had obligated her to two hours... or possibly even four hours... of private lessons for free when I knew how swamped she was.

I was confused.  For the life of me, I couldn't recall even mentioning Marla to the man, much less promising him she would be happy to teach him. 

But once Mr. M had the nerve to tell her to ask me to double the value, Marla said forget it.  She had no obligation to this man.  Why should she offer to give up two hours, much less four hours of her time for free?   Was I going to pay her?  I replied that I had expected to teach the lessons myself and now I was confused.

I was angry too.  Not only did Marla not want to teach him a private lesson, I didn't want to teach them either.  Private lessons are personal.  That's what the word 'private' implies: one on one attention.  It makes it much easier if you like your students.  Otherwise it feels like work, not fun. 

I stopped teaching private lessons several years ago when I got sick and tired of driving across Houston in the middle of the day for a private lesson only to have the student not bother to show up or have the courtesy to contact me in advance.  Now I wouldn't teach these two private lessons for all the tea in china.

They say it doesn't hurt to ask.  That's what they say.  But in this case, the request backfired.  It's one thing to ask me to honor a 15 year old certificate, but as far as I was concerned, the request to double its value offended my sense of what was fair in this situation.  I felt taken advantage of.  There was no way I would give them a private lesson.  That would be too awkward.  So this was what I said.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 10:48 AM
To: david m
Subject: FW: classes

David, I have to tell you something… I don't appreciate at all your remark that inflation has doubled the value of your certificate.  I was prepared to pay my wife out of my own pocket to honor the gift certificate, but now she won't have anything to do with this situation.

After fifteen years, you have a lot of nerve asking me to honor the certificate PERIOD, much less ask my wife to double the value behind my back.

I will increase the value to $180… this will allow the two of you to take two complete one-month group lessons at no charge. This is my only offer.

-----Original Message-----
From: David M
Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 1:11 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: classes

1. You received the $100 and presumably used it. The delay and inflation worked to your advantage, not mine.
2. Why would you not honor the certificate because it was paid to you, despite the fifteen years...
3. It was not behind your back-"Ask Rick if, because of inflation, is the certificate worth $200 now."
4. The request was made facetiously.
5. Forget it.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 1:25 PM
To: David M
Subject: RE: classes

Email makes it impossible to read something 'facetiously' as you put it. There was no smiley face as a reference nor one of those ubiquitous LOLs.  We missed the humor.  Both my wife and I were flabbergasted.  Your request essentially would obligate my wife to four hours of service for some transaction made in the previous century.

Some people would say use it or lose it. You didn't use it, but I was willing to honor it anyway until your recent email. The private lessons are not a good idea, so I turned around and nearly doubled its value. You are welcome for the both of you to take two one-month group classes at no charge.

Sent:    Monday, May 14, 2007 2:19 PM
To: Rick Archer
Cc: David M
Subject: Re: gift certificate

Your attitude makes it too uncomfortable for us to have anything to do with SSQQ

I am returning the gift certificate. You can refund the $100, or not, as your principles dictate.

PS. Went to Jos A Banks with a $200 gift certificate a few days ago.  Asked the sales person if the gift certificate would be good if I brought it in ten years from now. It would be.  Some may say- use it or lose it. Most would not.

PPS. Three- years ago someone gave us a $50 comp to a restaurant. Two- years ago the restaurant shut down. One- year ago the owner opened a new restaurant with a new name in a new location. Six- months ago we called to see if the comp was still good. It was. Sometimes it's all a matter of style.

PPPS. I am going to write my mortgage company and tell them:
1. The mortgage was made in the last century;
2. The money was spent years and years ago;
3. Consequently, I do not feel obliged to send them any more money to honor a prehistoric transaction. I must be serious-there are no Smiley Faces.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2007 3:05 PM
To: David M
Subject: RE: gift certificate

There is no expiration date for an SSQQ Gift Certificate.  But it obviously didn't mean anything to you.  Who waits 15 years to use a gift certificate?

Perhaps you misplaced it. I can understand that. For example, I have several gift certificates in my car for a local car wash that are seven years old. I recently discovered them the other day hidden deep in my glove compartment. So I decided to use one.

Once I was there, I realized the $20 value covered only 50% of the total cost. Memory tells me that $20 was the going rate for a regular car wash at that place seven years earlier before it became popular.  But was I stupid enough to ask the woman taking my money to double the value of the gift certificate to $40 to account for inflation?

You have neglected to mention I originally told you I would completely honor the 15-year old $100 SSQQ Gift Certificate with two private lessons until your lousy attitude irritated my wife so much she wouldn't have anything to do with you.

In essence, you are asking us to work twice as much all because you didn't bother to use your certificate fifteen years ago.

Editor's Note: There is one more twist to this story.  It wasn't till I put all the emails in front of me to prepare to write this story that I realized that Mr. M had never responded to my first reply (Sunday, May 06, 2007 4:57 AM)

In other words, all I said in the first email was that I would honor the gift certificate.  Like I said, I was ready to teach the lessons myself.  All I needed was a follow-up to my email.  Please notice in my first email I never said a word to him about Marla teaching the lessons.  I never gave him Marla's email address nor did I tell him she would be the teacher.  Mr. M approached Marla without telling me.  No wonder Marla was completely caught off guard.  Once she got angry, then I got angry.

I think if Mr. M had stuck to channels and dealt with me directly, this entire incident would have been avoided. 



-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2007 5:20 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Media Event at Houston Museum of Natural Science

To Whom It May Concern:

On Thursday, May 31 from 6pm-8pm, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is hosting a media preview for the premier of our IMAX film Hurricane on the Bayou.

The preview is for various media personalities and hotel concierges throughout the city to preview the film before it opens to the general public. The event typically draws a crowd of 300+.

The film, Hurricane on the Bayou, discusses the impact of hurricanes on the Gulf Coast. 

For this reason, the event is going to have a New Orleans/Mardi Gras theme including food, beads and zydeco dancing.  I am looking for a couple, a group of people or an entire class to zydeco dance at the event from 5:30pm-6:30pm and then at  6:50pm-7pm to usher guests into the theatre for the film which starts at 7pm.

In return for the dance performances, we would provide food, tickets to our exhibitions and an open invitation for participants to stay and end enjoy the film. Also, you all would be more than welcome to set-up a table advertising your studio and/or your dance classes.

Please let me know if this is something that you can help me with. If not, can you point me in the direction to someone who can.

Let's analyze this request carefully.  To get people in the mood for a movie about Hurricanes, they are offering food, beads, and Zydeco dancing.  The museum representative is asking for a minimum of two dancers (but an entire group would be nice) to conduct an hour of Zydeco dancing, then turn around and serve as ushers.  

The museum is selling tickets.    Theoretically, you would assume the lure of Zydeco dancing would make this event even more attractive.  Throw in the dancing, the food, and an interesting movie, it sounds like fun.  So let's estimate the ticket cost is probably $15, maybe more.   You would assume that most organizations would offer to pay someone for their time and their expertise.

If someone were to ask me what I would charge, I personally would quote $75 to $100 for an hour of work, $100 to $150 for two people.  I would imagine other dance professionals might even ask for more.  After all, the Museum is asking someone to give up their entire evening.

For starters, I don't think two free tickets is going to cut it, especially if the Zydeco dancers could care less about the hurricane movie.  But asking total strangers to usher is over the top.  What an insult. 

Furthermore, if my organization isn't interested, the email asked us to suggest who they might ask to work for free next.

This takes a lot of nerve. You just have to wonder what world people inhabit when they make requests like this.  Do they really think an impersonal email is going to find someone out there who is so pathetic that they will dance and usher for food and a movie?

It never hurts to ask... or does it? 

Let us explore this axiom a bit further.  For fun, I typed "it never hurts to ask" into Google.   A couple minutes of searching turned up three interesting items.

Item One:  Monitoring Airline Fares

"If you book a flight far in advance of your departure date, monitor the price of your exact flight. If the price happens to fall below what you paid prior to your departure, contact the airline and ask for a refund on the difference you paid.  My last trip to Hawaii resulted in a $120 refund, which turned into additional spending money!

Brenda notes that this trick can also work with hotels. The key to getting these refunds, she says, is to stick to your guns.

Bankrate: People are sometimes embarrassed to speak up and ask for a refund but it’s clearly worth it. How do you get over that?

Brenda: Being embarrassed will cost you a lot of money. You have to be bold and ask. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Item Two:  Well, It Never Hurts To Ask
By Alison Go
Posted 4/8/07

"Online, they are called cyberbeggars.  Balmes Pavlov joined their ranks last year to help pay for college. Inspired by a student who asked for donations through newspaper ads, he took the idea to the Internet and set up a Web page with a link to PayPal. "I have created this website to collect donations from people as a way to help fund my college education," it reads. "This is not a joke or a scam."

After gently advertising to friends and family and in online message boards, the Fordham University freshman collected a total of $83.98.

The largesse has done little to alleviate Pavlov's financial burden, which is $42,000 a year at Fordham."

Item Three: 
Sometimes it does hurt to ask; it hurts you.
(Note: I paraphrased this story to make it more readable.)

"On one recent evening, I was pumping gas when I was approached by a wandering bum.

"Hey man," the bum inquired, "you got any spare change?”

I dug in my pocket and gave him a few quarters.

The bum then had the audacity to ask “got any more? 

I was about to tell him to piss off, this isn’t going to cut it, but then I decided he was too weird to mess with.  So I found a buck and bought another round of safety.
  But I decided that was it for bums.  It wasn't worth the risk to even mess with them.

This story reminds me of some of the people I hire at work. I discuss salary expectations with candidates at the very beginning of the interview process. Everyone understands that salaries are flexible, but that salaries are reasonable and based on experience. If you get an offer from me for the amount you were expecting, there is no need to ask for 10k more just because "it never hurts to ask". 

The truth is that it does hurt; it hurts you.  At that point I am insulted.  There is always someone else out there. I am not afraid of losing someone. I may value the candidate and want them on the team, but if they are unreasonable about money, I will make a note of it for my supervisor to see.  Afterwards, don't be surprised if my managers offer the position to someone cheaper.

They say it never hurts to ask.  To some extent this is true.  For example, the Hobo in this story asked for more and got a little more.  You, however, could be a little less lucky. Sometimes it does hurt to ask for more."



EDITOR'S NOTE: This time, I do the complaining.  I will let the correspondence start the story.

-----Original Message-----
From: Shirley
Sent: Friday, January 12, 2007 10:46 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Group Private Lessons

Hi Rick -

We are interested in scheduling a one-time private group lesson (approximately 30 people) for country/western on Monday, 22 January.  We would like lessons for 1-2 hours and would like to inquire about additional dancing afterwards. Can you please reply with pricing and additional suggestions?

Thanks, Shirley

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer [mailto:dance@ssqq.com]
Sent: Friday, January 12, 2007 11:11 AM
To: Shirley
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

We have classes from 7-9 on Mondays, so your lesson would either have to held earlier in the day at our place or more likely we could send someone over to your place.

-----Original Message-----
From: Shirley
Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 11:00 AM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

Hi Rick -  How does your studio availability look on Wednesdays?

Thanks, Shirley

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer [mailto:dance@ssqq.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 1:23 PM
To: Shirley
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

How does your studio availability look on Wednesdays?  Just as bad as Monday.  We use the studio at night for lessons.  Weekends during the day are the only possibility. 

Here is a suggestion – we have a Western Crash Course at the studio on Saturday evening 7-9 pm January 27. 

Why not talk your group into coming to that for a discounted price?

-----Original Message-----
From: Shirley
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2007 11:06 AM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

Hi Rick -

Weekends don't work for us because this is a team-building event that we are having for a training course held that week.  We're able to free up 5-7 pm Wednesday - will that work? Or maybe we can send an instructor over to Wild West from 7 - 9 pm.  Please let me know which is more feasible.

Thanks, Shirley

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer [mailto:dance@ssqq.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2007 3:12 PM
To: Shirley
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

5-7 on a Wednesday would work at the studio.  When?


-----Original Message-----
From: Shirley
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2007 3:37 PM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

Hi Rick,

Next Wednesday, 24 January, is our scheduled date. Please let me know how you would like to handle payment, registration, etc. Private group lesson for 30 people. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer [mailto:dance@ssqq.com]
Sent: Friday, January 19, 2007 4:25 PM
To: Shirley
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

I will be happy to teach the class myself.  Does $150 sound fair for the two hours?

-----Original Message-----
From: Shirley
Sent: Friday, January 19, 2007 4:34 PM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

Thanks, Rick.  Sounds great to me.  We will see you at 5 pm on Wednesday. 


EDITOR’S NOTE: I taught the lesson as scheduled.  I did not know anything about the group ahead of time, but the 30 people turned out to be delightful.  I discovered they were young professionals from all over the world.  They were in Houston for a week of training in doing audits.  The dance lesson provided them some much-needed fun in the middle of a hard week.  They rode a company bus over to the studio for the dance lesson.

It was a veritable United Nations dance lesson.  Among the nations represented were Russia, China, Cameroon, France, Netherlands, India, Chile, Venezuela, Congo, Nigeria, Canada, and of course the United States.  Amazingly they all spoke English. 

Not surprisingly, all races were represented.  I watched with glee as an Asian woman worked hard with a man from France to learn the Texas Twostep.  I smiled as an Indian man danced with a Pakistani woman.  Even their nations are enemies, they laughed as they danced together.  I smiled as Russian women danced with men from Africa.  It was gratifying to note the complete absence of prejudice.  That message alone made the entire afternoon worthwhile.

I also enjoyed the birds and the bees in action.  These people were all attractive, single, twenty-something professionals.  It didn’t matter that they were only going to see each other for a week.  As they say, Dance leads to Romance.  There was some serious chemistry there!

Shirley turned out to have a mischievous streak.  Towards the end of the lesson, she volunteered two men and two women to compete with each other in dance.  The idea was to see which couple could dance the Twostep pattern I had taught the best.  The men were mortified!  Not surprisingly, both men choked from being put on the spot.  Fortunately they smiled and were good sports about it. An awkward moment passed without any consequences.

Actually, the only negative from the pleasant afternoon was not getting paid.  That seemed a little odd to me after all the careful planning that had gone into this event, but it was no big deal.  Rather than be awkward, I decided it would be easier to send a reminder email the next day.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer [mailto:dance@ssqq.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2007 2:15 PM
To: Shirley
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

Hi Shirley,

Have Tom and Robert forgiven you for setting them up?  You clearly have a mischievous streak.

By the way, I had a marvelous time yesterday. The next time you have a group in, please consider asking me to help again.  Now that I know the nature of your group, I can be even more effective at making them feel welcome.  I wasted probably 15 minutes trying to figure out what was going on, but I will be prepared next time.

Thank you for your compliment on my knowledge of the countries. Geography is a hobby of mine. Since we take cruises through the studio, I make a real effort to be able to know a little bit about all countries because I never know whom I might meet on our trips. 

As you could see, I really enjoyed getting some first-hand geography lessons yesterday!  Now I have to go figure out how there can be two Congos at the same time!

Please remit the $150 to:

Rick Archer
Xxxx Street
Houston, TX 77xxx

-----Original Message-----
From: Shirley
Sent: Friday, January 26, 2007 1:13 PM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

Hi Rick -

Thank you for making the men better dancers and for your entertainment. All of the attendees really enjoyed having you as an instructor and were highly impressed with your knowledge of the world.

I'm very sorry that we did not remit payment on the day of the dance - my assumption was that my manager paid before my arrival.  Very very sorry...let me get the payment to you.

Regards, Shirley

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer [mailto:dance@ssqq.com]
Sent: Friday, January 26, 2007 2:02 PM
To: Shirley
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

I will let you on a secret… the money wasn’t important. I only charged because I have to pay the rent.

(Editor's Note: For those of you who are cynical, don't be.  I completely mean it when I say I would have done it for free because it turned out to be a lot of fun. 

However I didn't know the lesson would turn out to be this much fun when I was first contact. 

I charged a nominal fee because I have $8,000 in rent to pay and I assumed this wealthy billion-dollar company could afford a modest fee.  Private lessons for two people at SSQQ are $50 an hour.   I figured $150 for 2 hours and 30 people could hardly be considered price gouging. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Shirley
Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 1:17 PM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

Of course you have to pay the rent - how else would we be able to dance??? 

My director, R, has requested an invoice, as this is required for us to generate a check. Would that be possible?  If so, can you please send to:

xxx, Internal Audit
xxxx Street
Houston, TX 77xxx

Also, will we be able to have a receipt for evidence of payment?  Sorry, company policy.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you, Shirley

EDITOR’S NOTE: I realize that the business world has their way of handling things.  I am less formal.  After all the emails that had gone back and forth, it seemed ridiculous for me to turn around and spend twenty more minutes of my time typing up an invoice, adding a receipt, addressing it, stamping it, not to mention another 10 minutes driving it to the post office.

I didn’t have the energy to fool with it.  They should have paid me on the spot, much less run me through this silly routine.  So here is what I wrote back.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer [mailto:dance@ssqq.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 2:40 PM
To: Shirley
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

Shirley, In this day and age, email is considered just as legal as letters sent by mail.

I have reviewed the email chain of our correspondence below.  It lists the agreed upon amount ($150) and my mailing address.  All that is missing is the understanding that I performed said services, which I believe you should be able to confirm yourself.  A simple use of a printer or even a CC of our emails to the appropriate person should be sufficient.

I don’t need the money. Please donate it to charity.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To my surprise, a few days later a check came in the mail. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Shirley
Sent: Monday, February 05, 2007 11:00 AM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

Hi Rick -

Please let me know if you've received payment for the lessons - I sent the check to your house. Thanks again!

EDITOR’S NOTE: I failed to reply to the email above.  I was still grouchy from the way this matter was handled in the first place. 

I should have known better.  To my surprise, three months later the invoice dance began anew.

Shirley emailed me to ask me to send another invoice. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Shirley
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 5:32 PM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

Hi Rick -

I just realized that the email address you have for me on file is outdated.  Can you please re-send evidence of receipt of payment for the dance lessons provided to Internal Audit on Wednesday, 24 January?

Apologies for the inconvenience.

Thanks, Shirley

EDITOR’S NOTE: So I emailed her this invoice.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer [mailto:dance@ssqq.com]
Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2007 11:37 AM
To: Shirley
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

Sorry I did not get back to you sooner, Shirley.  I received $150 check for the event in early February.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting your people and only wish I had known more about the places they were from!

-----Original Message-----
From: Shirley
Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2007 11:53 AM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

Hi Rick -

Sorry for this request AGAIN....my manager asked if you could please send another email with more detail.  In fact, I am creating the email with the wording needed - you just have to copy & paste.

Email wording:

SSQQ received payment in the amount of $150 in Feb 2007 for the dance instructions provided to XXX Limited Internal Audit on 24 Jan 2007.  Payment was in the form of a personal check from R C.

Please accept my apologies for being so picky....I'm just the messenger, so please don't shoot me!

Thanks, Shirley

EDITOR’S NOTE: Apparently my first invoice wasn't good enough.  This was too ridiculous.  Here we go again.

I was so distracted, I just glanced at the email and started typing my THIRD INVOICE. 

The problem with email is there is so much of it, sometimes I just glance at each letter in an attempt to handle it as quickly as possible. 

In this case,
I failed to notice that Shirley had provided me a 'cut and paste' invoice.  That’s why my email below failed to have the correct wording.   Furthermore, I did not realize at the time that one of the women (not Shirley) who attended the lesson had paid me out of her own pocket because I never saw the check.  My wife had deposited it and mentioned to me in passing that it had come.  I had no idea who had sent the check.

This means the poor woman was fighting her own company for reimbursement.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer [mailto:dance@ssqq.com]
Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2007 3:17 PM
To: Shirley
Subject: RE: Group Private Lessons

To whom it may concern: I received a check for $150 in February in return for teaching a Western dance class to a group of people from other parts of the world who were in town for training.  This event took place on January 24 at 5 pm and lasted two hours.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of meeting these interesting people and thank you for considering me.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The entire affair left me shaking my head.  Much ado about nothing.  $150 to this huge multi-national company has the significance of a speck of sand on the beach.  

This event taught me once again that I probably do not have the correct psychological make-up to have ever succeeded in a large company.  Thank goodness for my dance studio.

In addition, I was given an insight into the mind of an auditor.  This is one company that knows how to find people who pay attention to detail!  In my mind, someone took this event a little too seriously, but I imagine their amazing passion for details explains how this particular person became the supervisor.

As for poor Shirley, she was always gracious to me in the emails and gracious to me in person as well.  I imagine she was caught between a rock and a hard place.  Although perhaps she is fed up with me, I for one admire Shirley for her patience.  She is a better person than me.



We publish one Picture Joke each month.  This month my friend Letty Daughterty shares a fabulous picture of a BMW with its windows bashed to smithereens for a good reason: it parked next to a fire hydrant and the firemen needed access.

SSQQ has acquired about 600 jokes over the last ten years.  My favorite joke from the June Hall of Fame was given to us by Chris Holmes.  You can read this joke and nearly 100 others at our Joke Hall of Fame

June CS 40: Not the Sharpest Knife in the Drawer - Chris Holmes

Robert's father was not doing very well. A terminal illness had entered the final phase. The doctors gave the elderly man a couple months to live.

Robert got the bad news. Outwardly he frowned, but inwardly he was thrilled!

Robert was due to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died. The man was a widower and had also outlived all his relatives and most of his friends.

Robert and his father had never gotten along well. The old man could barely stand his rotten nature, his gambling, his womanizing, his drinking, and laziness.  Robert had barely worked a day in his life, preferring to suck off of his father's wealth instead.  His parasitic lifestyle didn't bother him at all.

"So what if he doesn't like me?" Robert thought. "I'm his only heir.  The old man's got plenty of dough. Heck, why bother working?"  Of course Robert didn't like his father's constant needling, but he had gotten used to it.  Who cares?  Let him rant and rave as long as the money kept coming like it always did.

What a cosmic joke!  Once his jerk of a father died, Robert was set for life.

Robert was getting friskier by the moment thinking of all the things he was going to do with that dough.  He decided he needed a woman to enjoy it with.

So Robert went to a singles bar and he searched until he spotted a woman whose beauty took his breath away. He thought of a quick way to get into her pants.

"Right now, I'm just an ordinary man," he said, walking up to her, "but within a month or two, my father will pass away and I'll inherit over 30 million dollars.  Show me a good time tonight and I'll take you on a trip anywhere you want to go!"

The woman raised an eyebrow. She let Robert buy her a drink and sit beside her. As she sipped her drink, she asked him a couple questions to see if he was on the level.

Robert could see she dug him. Her smile grew broader with each tale he told her about the money. Later that night the woman indeed went home with Robert.

As they pulled into his driveway of the house his father had bought for him, Robert couldn't help but be pleased that his clever ploy had worked so effortlessly. This woman couldn't wait to get her hooks into him!  The only trip she was going on was right here in his bed.  In fact, he decided to have some fun and make her envious. He taunted her all night long with the things a guy like him could do with that kind of money. He knew that kind of talk would drive a gold digger like her wild with temptation!

He had been right about her.  He bragged about his money all night long. The woman just smiled quietly, but he could tell she listened to every word he said about what a fool his father was.

Four days later she became his stepmother.  Four days after that there was a new will.

And that’s a wrap for June.  Thanks for reading this month's issue of the SSQQ Newsletter!

Rick Archer

dance@ssqq.com  (email)


Please direct questions, comments, and contributions to:
Rick Archer at 

Table of Contents
Bottom of Page CHAPTERS

(Note: for people visiting the SSQQ Newsletter for the first time, here are some favorite stories from previous issues)


Twice in my life, Dancing has helped rescue me from a serious personal crisis.

In 1986, I used Whip Dancing to recover from a deep depression brought on by a divorce. It is an interesting story.  You can find it in Stories: 201 Nights

In many ways though, this 1974 saga is even more remarkable because I started my climb from a much tougher place.  This story explains how learning to Freestyle Dancing helped me climb back from the deepest hole of my entire life.

The story follows the events of a nine month period of my life, some of which you might find were pretty unusual.  Due the discovery of an odd little book, one day I decided I wanted to learn to dance. I had never danced in my life, so I was surprised at how strong the desire was. Unfortunately, after one lesson, I realized I was absolutely terrible. This wasn't going to be as easy as I hoped. Although I was discouraged, I decided to continue. Even though learning to dance was always an uphill struggle, I practiced with a relentlessness that I didn't completely understand.

I often wondered why I took this project so seriously. I certainly never imagined that pursuing a skill like freestyle would accomplish the miracle of resurrecting my shattered confidence. Nor did I have any idea that dancing would help pull me out of my terrible downward spiral.

Despite all the setbacks I encountered, I would not give up. I got on the path for no better reason than it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Then I discovered I felt better about myself when I practiced my dancing. That is why I stayed with it.



In 2006 I published a story about an ordeal I went through in court of Judge Kathy Han regarding a mistaken ticket I received for trash that wasn't mine.  Here is what I wrote in the November Newsletter:

MY DAY IN COURT  On Thursday, October 12, I had the opportunity to spend four hours in Municipal Court observing how justice is handled here in Houston, Texas.

I was there to dispute a ticket I had received for placing heavy trash in front of my house prior to pickup time.  I thought this ticket had been given to me in error so I intended to have my say in court.  Little did I know I would have to wait 4 hours! 

They say you can't fight City Hall. 

Throughout the day I was given several very interesting lessons on the possible origins of this saying. 

The reason this story is interesting is that I discovered the hard way they play dirty in trash court.  There is a fascinating shakedown game under foot.  You will just have to read the story to understand what I am talking about.



This is the true story of a multi-million dollar Marijuana Farm that was built in a cave underneath a house in Tennessee.  And guess what?  They got caught.  Of course you will be curious how they got caught.   The pictures are awesome and the story itself is very interesting.  I give the story a Must-Read status.


-----Original Message-----
From: Lester B
Sent: Sunday, May 06, 2007 11:18 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: you're #13 on reddit.com as I write this

Rick, I presume you are seeing a big spike in web traffic to SSQQ.com.

That pot story you wrote is currently rated #13 on the home page of reddit.com & 21 comments.   

Editor's Note:  Lester sent me this on Sunday night.  On Monday morning, I immediately looked on Reddit.com.  By that time, my story had dropped to 25.  By Wednesday, it was barely in the Top 500.  So much for my brush with fame.  

Nevertheless, I definitely got some emails, including some from an ex-con trying to sell me dope.  Aren't I lucky?  

By the way, it is a great story if you get a chance to read it.  



Overboard Couple Survives Fall
Man who fell off of ship will continue cruise
Woman will disembark in Mexico to receive medical tests

March 27, 2007, 12:35PM

GALVESTON — A day after two passengers who fell 50 to 60 feet overboard from a cruise ship were rescued, the man continued with the cruise while the woman was to disembark Monday in Mexico, a spokeswoman for Princess Cruises said.

The two triggered a four-hour rescue effort early Sunday after accidentally falling overboard from a balcony into the Gulf of Mexico.

The two have asked that the circumstances be kept private, said Julie Benson, a Princess Cruises spokeswoman said today. She said that they were the only two involved in the accident.

The 22-year-old man has been released from the medical center on the ship while the 20-year-old woman plans to have some follow-up testing on land



The Tale of Two Movies... Urban Cowboy Meets Risky Business

Written by Rick Archer
February 2007

This is the story about how a volatile mix of Four Women - a Beauty, a Tragic Lover, a Social Outcast, and a Mystery Woman - plus two huge Gambles - one professional and one personal - set Rick Archer on a wild Rollercoaster Ride...

... a Ride that culminated with Rick becoming Houston's best-known Western Dance Teacher even though he began teaching Western classes months before he knew how to Western Dance!

This wild tale explains how Houston's most famous dance studio came into being.


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