January 2002
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The January 2002 Newsletter

Here is the January 2002 issue of the SSQQ Newsletter (written by Rick Archer).


Please go to your email address book and replace our old email standard dance@ssqq.com with this more reliable email address: ssqq@houston.rr.com 
To reach our web site if it is suddenly down, first try www.ssqq.com. If that doesn't work, then try ssqq.com without the www. And if that doesn't work, try going to the new address we will use in 2002: ..................................


The Rights to host the SSQQ Web Site were purchased by a new company in October behind our back. Since then we have known nothing but continual misery under the administration of the new company. Not only has my volume of sex-related spam email tripled, but my web site has been down or frozen most of the time. Currently we cannot publish much of anything new because they didn't bother to add what are known as "Front Page Extensions". In case you don't know much about the web hosting business, this is kind of like dance teachers forgetting to bring the music with them to class.

Last month I wrote about our November web site problems. Things haven't gotten much better. For a week in December our web site was down completely.  I contacted the web server daily without much luck. They have minimal support - you are supposed to leave your name on an answering machine and they will 'call you back'. Oh Sure. Then one day I solved the problem when I accidentally found the solution myself.

Each day I went to the web site and got nothing. One day I accidentally hit a link in my 'internet favorites' and a backwoods part of the SSQQ web site popped up. Astonished, I played around and discovered most of the web site was still up, but not the vital first page. This did me little good because everyone uses the first page to find the rest of the web site, but it made me curious.

After more experimenting, I even got my first page (home page) to come up by typing in "ssqq.com" and hitting 'enter' instead of putting in the expected www.ssqq.com. In other words, "ssqq.com" worked but "www.ssqq.com" didn't.  Unfortunately almost all people look for the more common www.ssqq.com address so to the vast majority our web site was still down.

I contacted the company, but it still took my pathetic web server three more days to solve this simple problem. However it is at least back for now.  Thank goodness.

Except that it is now nearly impossible to publish updates!!!

David Schroeder is in the process of helping me transfer the web site to a more stable company, but even this transfer is having its hitches and bumps.  I anticipate the new web site problems will be over by New Years...

As for the On Line Registration which was broken at the start of December, at least it is fixed now. Thank you, David.

Lately I have felt too stupid to own a computer. Do you ever feel like that?


Our new January dance semester begins Sunday, January 6.  http://www.ssqq.com/schedule01.htm 


1. January starts quickly with Swing Acrobatics. Taught by Paul Foltyn, this special course requires a partner as the lifts, drops, dips, and jumps work off of timing. This course is only offered twice a year so grab it when you have the chance!

2. Judy Archer brings back her popular 4-week class on those tricky Twostep and Polka Circle Turns on Sunday afternoons. Then at 7 pm Judy begins a new series of Western Waltz classes. Waltz is of course the classic Western dance of Romance.

3. The Beginning Whip/West Coast Swing Superclass is back!! These two fascinating dances are taught side by side on Sunday and Thursday. Whip and WCS are danced to Disco, Blues, & Rock music. They feature fancy footwork, sexy hip motion, and flashy spins. January is the perfect month to take on this challenging project!

4. Advanced Swing and Salsa dancers take note: Judy Archer covers two relatively new Advanced classes in January. Zoot Suit Riot 6 on Mondays has only been offered a couple times and likewise for her much-praised Advanced Salsa Mambo 6 on Thursdays. Both courses will help get the new year started on the right (& left) foot!

5. Beginning Night Club Twostep will be taught by Sharon Crawford on Wednesdays at 7 pm. Night Club Twostep is an especially graceful dance that works perfectly to the many Western ballads that are too slow for Twostep or Polka. This course will be followed by Intermediate and Advanced levels as well. .

6. Martian Whip begins a new era in 2002. This class will combine the super talents of State Whip Champions Ted Jones and Margie Saibara with the fabulous women's WCS footwork of Joanne Spuck. Thursdays will cover advanced styling techniques for both men and women in the first hour along with advanced patterns taught by Rick Archer in the 2nd hour. Then on Friday there will be a review of Thursday in the first hour followed by difficult patterns in the 2nd hour. Friday Night will also tend to cover more Whip material. Sign up for either night and get the 2nd night at no extra charge.  Expect to cover a lot of material in this course!

7. SSQQ's toughest Western Swing class, Death Valley, returns on Fridays in January. Taught by Heartbeat Coach Susie Merrill, expect lots of tough patterns and the latest in 'western dance technique' from Susie every week.


THE SSQQ CHRISTMAS PARTY - Friday, December 21, 9:15 pm - Midnight $7 http://www.ssqq.com/caevent4.htm 

Wear something festive as we Twostep, Swing, Waltz, and Whip the night away.
Much of the music will have a Christmas Twist to it as we play songs like the George Strait versions of "Frosty the Snowman" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". And for one night of the year I think you will thoroughly enjoy dancing the Polka to "Feliz Navidad" and "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree". There are plenty of Christmas Swing songs to choose from - "Santa Claus Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train", "Little Saint Nick' by the Beach Boys, and "Jingle Bell Rock" by Brenda Lee. The Waltzes will be gorgeous Irish Instrumentals that will surely have you asking where they came from. And the Whip/West Coast music will be the regular fare. This is a fun party!

THE SSQQ NEW YEARS PARTY - Monday, December 31, 9 pm - 1 am $12 http://www.ssqq.com/caevent5.htm 

Our New Years Party is all about dancing. It is safe, friendly, and fun. You have a smoke-free environment, plenty of room to dance, and a relaxed atmosphere (although we do expect you to dress up!). In addition it is a nice place to visit with friends. Although there is drinking, it is much less than at other venues. We have never had a problem to date.

The music in our main room will consist of a great deal of Big Band Swing and Foxtrot Music plus the popular Irish Waltzes. In addition there will be a healthy dose of Ballroom music in Room 1 including Cha Cha, Tango, and Salsa music.

Room 4 will be Country-Western with a healthy dose of Western Whips.

Mitch Istre will be on duty as your DJ. He will take requests for both rooms.

At 11:40 we put our on crazy hats, grab our noisemakers, and start the celebration. Just before Midnight we pour out the champagne and start the big countdown to 2002!

SWING/CHARLESTON PARTY - Saturday, January 12, 9:15 pm - Midnight $7 http://www.ssqq.com/caevent6.htm 

Crash Courses 7-9:
BOX FOX - Adele/Marty 
20s CHARLESTON - Judy 
Music: Swing in Room 1, Salsa in Room 4.

BACK IN THE SADDLE WESTERN PARTY - Saturday, January 26, 9:15 - Midnight $7 http://www.ssqq.com/caevent7.htm 

Crash Courses 7-9:
LATIN HUSTLE - Jack Benard 
TRIPLE TWOSTEP - Anita Music: Western/Waltz in Room 1, Whip/WCS in Room 4 ............................


Whip was once the dominant slotted Swing dance in Houston. However Whip has always been a difficult dance to learn. When the simpler and flashier system of West Coast Swing entered the Houston dance scene in the 90s initially by way of Western competitions, it caught on quickly.

Now here in Houston, birthplace of the Houston Whip, interest in this eye-catching, sexy, hometown dance has fallen to an all-time low.

Back in May of this year, I wrote an article about the declining status of Whip dancing in Houston. If you care to read (or reread) the article, http://ssqq.com/information/savewhip01.htm 

Now in December 7 months later I believe I was correct in my predictions. I basically asserted that Whip - the hitch and bump/double resistance hip motion - was no longer being taught in the Beginner/Intermediate classes of Southwest Whip, Houston Whip, or anywhere else for that matter. I predicted that Whip would start to disappear from the Houston slotted swing dance scene since the new generation didn't have a clue what Whip was.

I think if the Whip were easier to learn, it would have a better chance to stick around, but I grow more skeptical all the time. My own staff encourages me to de-emphasize the Whip to follow the current status quo which is pretty much West Coast Swing.

Historically January has always been an important month here at SSQQ for learning Whip. Our largest classes have always been in January. It is of course the perfect time for a change so, starting in January, our basic curriculum will be mostly West Coast Swing.

We will still teach the Whip as part of the Bump Step in Beginning Whip and we will continue to teach the difficult Whip Double Resistance Basic in Crash Courses, but the majority of Whip from now on will be taught on Fridays in our advanced Martian Whip class.

And the times they are a-changin'! - Bob Dylan ..............................


At Fun Country's National Championships up in Oklahoma City on December 
7-8-9, all sorts of dancers from the SSQQ Community cleaned up. My spy reports:

Susie Merrill's fabulous Heartbeat Team was clearly the best in their division. (Editor's Note: You can see their performance any time you want during Break Time at SSQQ. Just ask and I will play the exciting tape!)

Donna Tillery won her Novice division. In the words of our spy, Donna was everyone's darling at the competition. She shined on the dance floor!

Rick Lybarger won first place in his division.

Jill Banta placed second in her division. They were all wonderful!

Coach Susie M. had these nice things to say about her team:

"Yes, the team did GREAT. I was very proud of them. One of the leading members of UCWDC was there judging the teams. His name is Dave Thornton-from Missouri. I have never had a judge seek me out before, but he came looking for me after our performance. He said that the team was great.  The dance was full of energy and never stopped. He could only find one "negative" comment to make. He felt that the men should have identical belt buckles! He would really like to see us compete on the UCWDC circuit next year because the World Championships will be back in Nashville. They are in the Netherlands this year which is why we chose to do Fun Country instead.  UCWDC is a much harder route to take and more expensive for everyone, but Ben, Diana, Ann, Ray, Janet, Brian and Anita would all like to shoot to go there next year. They are all staying on the team for sure. I know that I am losing Chris. I also will be losing Randy and possibly a couple others.

We will need a couple of new women and probably four new men. I have been looking at my night club class for likely candidates. If you see any men that you think would do well and might like to perform and travel with the group, please point them my way!!"

(Editor's Note: If you would like to try out for Susie's team, contact her at SMerril2@owenhealth.com)


Hi Rick, With Christmas approaching and my trip back to Australia looming I thought it timely to write to thank you for something you probably don't know needs thanks.

When I first arrived in Houston two years ago it was most reluctantly.

For the first 18 months I hated the place and couldn't wait to leave. Then I found dancing and more specifically, SSQQ. From that time on my whole attitude to Houston has changed and I now love it here and don't want to leave. I am even going home for Christmas wishing I could stay here instead. Quite a remarkable change in six months.

What I have found at SSQQ is a wonderful group of people, some of whom have become friends, and a place where feel I comfortable and that I belong.

When you leave your home network of security, family and work, it is very hard to find your place in a new location. To someone starved of that for many months you cannot begin to understand how fantastic it has been for me to feel a sense of belonging again. Thank you for making SSQQ the place it is. There are benefits for newcomers like me that you may not realise are there. But perhaps you do.

I wish you and your staff a very happy Christmas. Every teacher I have encountered has been terrific and part of that process of making me feel at home. It's a great team and a wonderful thing you have created.

Thank you.

(Editor's Note: and Thank you very much! Big Smooch and Hug.)


Sydney Morning Herald, Australia November 10, 2001 

From Queensland Mall comes this story of a couple who drove their car to Kmart only to have their car break down in the parking lot.

The man told his wife to carry on with the shopping while he fixed the car there in the lot. The wife returned later to see a small group of people near the car.

On closer inspection she saw a pair of male legs protruding from under the chassis. Although the man was in shorts, they had ridden up his legs, and his lack of underpants had turned his private parts into glaringly public ones.

Unable to stand the embarrassment, she dutifully stepped forward, quickly put her hand up his shorts, and tucked everything back into place.

Upon regaining her feet she looked across the hood and found herself staring at her husband who was staring at her in astonishment.

The poor mechanic under the car had to have three stitches in his head.


Hi Rick, 

My name is Frank Jefferson. I doubt you will remember me and my wife Jackie, but we remember your studio very well. We took lessons at SSQQ back in 1991 for about five months until my company transferred me to Denver that summer.

The reason I am writing is to tell you how your studio and dancing changed my life and my marriage eleven years ago. I ran across your web site the other day while I was visiting my oldest son here in Houston. He mentioned an interest in taking dance classes so I looked you up on the Internet. As I read some of your anecdotes, I started to reminisce about learning to dance Western at SSQQ. Then it occurred to me my Christmas story might be interesting to some of the people who visit your studio.

As 1990 neared its conclusion, things were going pretty well for me. My career as an accountant was going well, one boy was finishing his doctorate work at UT, my other son was in college and my daughter was a senior in high school. I thought my marriage was doing pretty well, but as I look back I realize increasingly my wife and I were spending less and less time together. Part of the problem was I had become a golf addict.

Back then I played golf Friday, Saturday, and Sunday without question and usually managed to play a round during the week plus at least go practice my driving or my putting after work one or two other days. It was an obsession with me. I love the game with a passion (still do for that matter!). What other sport allows you to visit with friends, take a leisurely stroll through the woods and beautiful scenery, gives you some good exercise, and challenges you mentally as well as physically?

Even when I wasn't playing, I was reading golf magazines or watching a golf tournament on TV or on videotape. I may have physically been in the house, but mentally I was usually on the golf course. As I said, I was a golf addict.

Then came Christmas 1990. Christmas was always an agony for me since as usual I had no clue what to buy my wife for a present. What do you give the woman who has every possession she would ever need? I wracked my brains for what to get her. Finally in desperation I gave up and simply asked, "Jackie, what do you want for Christmas this year?"

It was almost like she had been waiting for this moment! Without hesitation her reply was to grab her purse and pull out a schedule listing your studio's dance classes. I think a girl friend had given it to her. She laid it out on the table, pointed to it, and simply said, "Frank, I want you to take a dance class with me in January." No anger. No pleading. No guilt trip or anything like that. This was just like my Jackie. I asked her a question and she answered me matter-of-fact. She wanted me to take a dance class with her.

For some reason, I was stunned. I had not expected this. Money I had to give. Going out and buying something was no big deal. Even building something like a porch would have been no problem. But committing some valuable free time to do something stupid like take dance lessons? You gotta be kidding!

But Jackie knew me too well. Deep down she knew I enjoy pleasing her. She held eye contact and said nothing. In fact she smiled the whole time. I think she knew exactly what was going through my mind. For a while I sort of felt set up, but eventually I realized it wasn't the worst thing in the world that she had asked me to do. I can still remember while she just sat there at the kitchen table watching me make up my mind! I think she enjoyed watching me squirm, something she has never denied for a moment.

It took me a long time to answer. Finally I realized I wasn't going to figure a way out of this. Despite my best efforts I could not come up with one good excuse so I gave up and said, "Okay. If that's what you want, you got it!" I wrapped up a letter and put it in a box. When she opened it Christmas Day, it said, "I promise to take a dance class with you in January! Love, Frank" Jackie gave me a big hug and grinned as my kids teased me unmercifully. What had I gotten myself into?

Two weeks later we started taking a Twostep class at your studio. I think the teacher was a lady named Sharon. Fortunately the class was on a Wednesday which was practically the only day I didn't play golf.

I was so nervous the first night. I did not know what to expect. At first I didn't even know if your studio really existed. We couldn't see anything from the street that looked like a dance studio. We had to walk down this long hallway till we found the place to register. Then we sat on some chairs in a big room with about 60 other people with a bunch of guys who looked just as worried as I was.

Once we got going, to my surprise the moves weren't very difficult. Within fifteen minutes Jackie and I were already dancing to music. Then came a shock. Sharon asked us to switch partners. Jackie hadn't told me about this!  She grinned at me as suddenly I was expected to move to dance with a woman I had never seen before in my life. What had I gotten myself into? My heart sank with worry. Fortunately I soon discovered the moves worked with the other women in the class too. This was good!

In fact I began to enjoy dancing with everyone in class. Everyone was so nice! Once I got on the wrong foot and accidentally stepped on a lady's foot. I didn't put all my weight on her foot, thank goodness, but it still had to hurt. Her name was Carol. She laughed and said don't worry about it.  I just melted with gratitude at her forgiveness. From then on Carol and I became good friends. At each class she would point at her foot and say it had almost healed, but could I aim at the other one instead just in case?  By an odd coincidence another time I ran Carol into the pole in the middle of the room. This time as I stared in shock at my stupidity, Carol almost died laughing. "What are you trying to do, Frank, kill me? Did someone pay you to do this?"

At the end of the evening, Sharon told us about Practice Night. Jackie asked if I would mind staying. I looked at my watch and thought about work the next day. I was tired and ready to go, but then I saw that look on her face. Sure, why not? I said we could stay for a little while and see what it was like.

It turned out to be more of a challenge than I had expected. Without the teacher calling out the timing, I had a hard time figuring out how the steps fit the beat. And I couldn't tell a Polka from a Waltz from a Twostep to save my life if I had to. However Jackie came through like a charm. She told me to just dance and she would try to follow. Although I doubt I was anywhere near the beat, once this pressure was off, I started to enjoy plowing around the floor. I had an absolute ball! This was better than dodge 'em cars! The highlight of the night came towards the end. I had been so absorbed in counting "slow slow quick quick" to myself I was oblivious to everything around me. But after a particularly good run around the floor, I realized I had danced an entire song without making a mistake. I looked at Jackie and saw her beaming with pride and happiness. She was so grateful to be here with me that her smile brought actual tears to my eyes. I had not seen her smile at me !
in this way in a long, long time. I will never forget that moment.

To make a long story short, dancing became a hobby I looked forward to just like I did with golf. On days I knew I was going to dance class, I would hitch a ride to work. Then later Jackie would pick me up at work and we would go somewhere for dinner before class. We began to chat again just like we did earlier in our marriage. Then we would go to class and have fun learning the Western Swing. We would visit with some of the people we had grown to like before class and during breaks. Practice Night became pretty much a ritual with us as well.

Then in March 1991 I got the news - my company wanted me to transfer to Denver. God, how I hated agreeing to do it! As I talked the move over with Jackie, I was surprised that golf never really entered my mind. However one thing that kept going through my mind was where was I going to dance in Denver? But the money was too good to resist plus with my daughter leaving soon for college, it was less of a problem for the two of us to relocate than the other families in the firm.

Up in Denver we found no studio like yours was in existence. And Western dancing like you have in Houston was practically non-existent. But dancing was in my system now, so we decided to try Ballroom Dancing. To my surprise, I liked it just as much as Western. I even discovered I was able to tell a Waltz from a Tango and be able to keep the beat as well!

We discovered a 'dance underground' in Denver. Practically every night of the week a different studio would offer social Ballroom dancing, and on the weekends there were special events sponsored through a dance organization I am sure you have heard of called USABDA. The big moment for me was when I realized I was looking forward to a Saturday evening dance with my lovely wife just as much as I was looking forward to playing golf that afternoon!

I still play a lot of golf, but have cut back a little to make more time for my dancing as well. Recently I even let myself get talked into dance competitions. Can you believe that? We haven't won anything yet, but the point is I enjoy improving at dance just like I once obsessed over my putting. I realize my story borders on being sappy, but the truth is that dance has become the favorite activity for my wife and I to share.

Thanks again for helping us get started!

Regards, Frank Jefferson 

(Editor's Note: I would imagine stories like this one are more common than we might realize, but very few people take the time to write them down and send them to me. I am particularly grateful to Mr. Jefferson, whom I did indeed do not know, for sending me this timely and poignant letter.)


Marty Shea is/was a much-loved SSQQ instructor who left Houston for a job as a cancer researcher in Maryland about this time a year ago. Oddly, he left no email address for us to keep tabs on him. It was like he dropped off the face of the earth. Quite frankly, I missed him a lot!

Then magically on Friday, December 14, Marty reappeared at the studio wearing a big grin almost one year to the day he left. It was like he had never gone. Unfortunately I saw him just as I was out the door taking my daughter to an appointment, so I was unable to stay long and chat. I regret terribly not being able to see him!

Fortunately, Marty followed up his brief visit with this email:
Mon 12/17/2001 6:08 PM 

Hello all!
Greetings from the land of crab cakes.

I had stopped by the studio last Friday night and was lucky enough to see some of you. I just wanted to touch base with you and let you know how things have been up here.

It's been a little over a year now and things are moving relatively smoothly now. If you remember, I started work as a scientist at a small biotech start-up called Avalon Pharmaceuticals in Maryland. I believe I was employ #21 when I joined, and now we're up to 50. The company is involved in cancer research and is doing well. We just completed our second round of financing for $70 million, which should keep me busy for at least a few more years. The story was just published in the Washington Post:

Regarding dancing, things are much different than in Houston. Polka and East Coast swing are rarely danced, West coast swing and hustle are HUGE.  Country Western clubs are few and far between (the nearest one to me is one hour away), yet ballrooms and halls exist hosting different styles depending on the night you choose. Nothing, and I mean nothing, exists that comes anywhere close to an SSQQ type of environment, unfortunately. I'm beginning to think SSQQ is a unique situation that Houstonians should feel lucky they have available. I keep looking for a studio like SSQQ, but I have a feeling the closest one is 1400 miles away ;-)

Top 5 things I miss about Houston: Friends, SSQQ/CW clubs, Mexican food, courteous behaviour, Texas culture.

Top 5 things I like about Maryland: Close to relatives, Italian food, Washington D.C. sites, snowy winters, great hiking.

On a serious note, I sincerely apologize to everyone for not keeping in touch. I have asked myself why I had been remiss. I believe it was because when I first moved to Maryland, I was quite depressed about leaving Houston:  all my friends, the dancing, the culture, volunteer activities, my job at Baylor... Not clinically depressed, but definitely down in the dumps.  Speaking with people down there only conjured up good memories of old and saddened me. Probably subconsciously, I avoided contact because of the stirring of emotions. All this doesn't excuse my actions (or lack thereof) but may explain them. A year later, with me now settled in up here and having a more stable, enjoyable life, I find it much easier to think of Houston and contacting old friends. Again, it was never personal, and I hope you all understand and forgive my negligence.

I plan on going to World's in January 2003 in Nashville (hopefully entering a Pro-Am with Debbie Tuttle, who teaches West Coast here in D.C.). I also hope to visit Houston from time to time and would hope to see some of you again. Conversely, if any of you travel through, or visit D.C., I would love to hear from you and meet up. I hope everyone is doing well and I hope to hear from some of you, and continue with communication on a more personal level.

Because of not knowing all e-mail addresses, I know I have left some off my list. Particularly Susie (the team) and Sylvia (the center), but all others too, please give my best to others I may have accidentally neglected in contacting.

Have a happy holiday all!
Marty mshea@avalonrx.com 
345 Market St. West, #316
Gaithersburg, MD 20878 
240-683-1184 (home)
301-556-1038 (work)


A year ago this time we lost Mary Shea, now this year we lose Swing Dancer and Comets Fan extraordinaire Shine Chang. Shine leaves many friends behind in Houston who love her dearly for her warmth, her smile, and her odd beat sense of humor. Although Shine is a little too brilliant for me to always understand, she was very tolerant with me. I will miss her a lot!

Mon 12/03/2001 2:59 PM 

Yes, it's true, I'm running away!

After a short 6.23 years (1625 working days, 95% CI=5.89-6.83 years) in the Department of Epidemiology in the Division of Cancer Prevention at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, I am racing for a cure to the National Cancer Institute.

There, I will take on the role of the Associate Director of the NCI's Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program, in charge of program evaluation, epidemiology mentoring, and leadership development.
I will also continue pursing my research in cancer prevention focusing on body composition, its related correlates, and their combined influence on cancer risk and progression of disease.

My new contact information is as follows, although at this point I do not yet have an email address at NCI:

Shine Chang, Ph.D.
Associate Director Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program 
Office of Preventive Oncology Division of Cancer Prevention 
National Cancer Institute Executive Plaza South, Suite T-41 
6130 Executive Blvd, MSC 7361 
Bethesda, MD 20892-7361 
(301) 496 - 8640 (301)
402 - 4863 (fax)

In the interim, you can email to a temporary email address:  ShineChangNCI@aol.com

WINTER AT THE INDIAN RESERVATION Contributed by Marlane Kayfes and Mike Guillory 

The young Indian man had just finished his graduate school training. He had studied hard for six long years in preparation for his future role as 'Tribal Leader' for his Indian tribe. Now it was autumn. Today he was conducting his very first tribal meeting on the remote reservation.

At the end of the meeting, one of the elders stood up and asked the new 'Chief' if the winter was going to be cold or mild. The young man was taken aback, but carefully hid his feelings as his leadership seminar had prepared him to do. Since he was an Indian Chief trained in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked up at the sky, he didn't have a clue what the weather was going to be.

Nevertheless, he knew he had to respond quickly to give the appearance of competence. To be on the safe side, he replied to his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold. Several of the Indians smiled and nodded in agreement at his confident show of wisdom. This prediction indicated that the members of the village should begin to collect wood for the coming winter.

As he watched how diligently the villagers brought in the wood, the new Chief worried about his prediction. Being a practical sort, after several days the young man got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the local office of the National Weather Service and asked, "Is the coming winter going to be cold?"

"At first it appeared it would be a mild winter, but our latest indications say it looks like this winter is going to be quite cold indeed," the meteorologist at the weather service responded.

Reassured, the Chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more wood in order to be prepared. However a week later he noticed his latest order had prompted the tribe to gather what seemed to be a near mountain of wood.

Now he was sweating for two reasons: it wasn't even remotely cold and his people had gone to a lot of work based on his prediction. He nervously called the National Weather Service again. "Is it going to be a very cold winter?"

"Why, yes it is," the man at National Weather Service again replied, "we now think it's going to be one of the coldest winters ever."

Flabbergasted, the young Chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of wood they could find.

Two weeks later the temperature had only dropped at most a degree or two, yet the stack of firewood was so tall it had become a local tourist attraction. The Chief frowned as he watched all the people dressed in shorts and Hawaiian shirts taking pictures of 'Firewood Mountain'. But when he saw a TV station truck arrive to take footage of the event, he completely panicked.

Frantically he called the National Weather Service again. "Are you ABSOLUTELY sure that the winter is going to be very cold?"

"Absolutely," the man replied. "The latest indications suggest that it's going to be one of the coldest winters ever."

"The word 'Suggest' isn't good enough. How can you be so sure?" the Chief asked.

The weatherman replied, "The Indians are collecting wood like crazy!!!"


Reprinted from the December Microsoft Encarta Newsletter:

Have you ever been so moved, amused, or provoked by the first line of a novel that it stayed in your memory long after you finished the book and put it back on the shelf?

Here's your chance to see just how many first lines you remember (or how many you can guess). Try to match each of the following opening lines with the correct novel. When you get your answers, email them to Rick Archer at ssqq@houston.rr.com 10 of 13 right get you a free Practice Night in January plus credit in the next Newsletter!

1. "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."
a) Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 
b) Angels and Insects, A. S. Byatt 
c) The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka 
d) Kiss of the Spider Woman, Manuel Puig 

2. "All children, except one, grow up."
a) Winnie the Pooh, A. A. Milne 
b) Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Caroll 
c) Madeline, Ludwig Bemelmans 
d) Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie 

3. "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
a) The Fall of the House of Usher, Edgar Allan Poe 
b) Dead Souls, Nikolay Gogol 
c) Paul Clifford, by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton.
d) Bleak House, Charles Dickens 

4. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."
a) Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë 
b) Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen 
c) The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James 
d) The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton 

5. "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
a) Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy 
b) Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe 
c) Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert 
d) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tennessee Williams 

6. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair..."
a) Double Indemnity, James M. Cain 
b) The Two Towers, J. R. R. Tolkien 
c) All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque 
d) A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens 

7. "Call me Ishmael."
a) Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe 
b) Mumbo Jumbo, Ishmael Reed 
c) Moby Dick, Herman Melville 
d) The Letter of Marque, Patrick O'Brian 

8. "Call me Jonah."
a) Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut 
b) Moby Dick, Herman Melville 
c) Catch-22, Joseph Heller 
d) The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon 

9. "I am a sick man ... I am a spiteful man."
a) Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison b) Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak 
c) The Misanthrope, Molière 
d) Notes from Underground, Fyodor Dostoyevsky 

10. "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
a) The Garden of Forking Paths, Jorge Luis Borges 
b) Hopscotch, Julio Cortázar 
c) One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez 
d) The Old Gringo, Carlos Fuentes 

11. "The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended."
a) Dune, Frank Herbert 
b) 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke 
c) Brave New World, Aldous Huxley 
d) The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury 

12. "If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth."
a) The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald 
b) To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee 
c) The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger 
d) The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton 

13. "'To be born again,' sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, 'first you have to die.'"
a) The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie 
b) The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy 
c) A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth 
d) The Serpent and the Rope, Raja Rao .............................

TONGUE TWISTER - THE CAT IN THE HAT Contributed by Patty Jones 

This is Dr. Seuss' famous tongue twister from the 'Cat in the Hat'.

Take your time and see if you can read each line aloud without a mistake. No fair doing it slowly; to appreciate its tongue twisting ability completely, you must read it out loud quickly!
Ready, Set, Go!

This is this cat 
This is is cat 
This is how cat 
This is to cat 
This is keep cat 
This is a cat 
This is moron cat 
This is busy cat 
This is for cat 
This is forty cat 
This is seconds cat 

Now be sure to go back and read the THIRD word in each line from the top down to fully appreciate how clever you were! And don't forget to pass it on to your friends to spread further Christmas Joy!


In the Houston Chronicle today (December 17) I noticed an article that said Americans now have more confidence in the IRS than they do in the airline industry.

A woman friend of mine returned from a Thanksgiving trip to see her father in Philadelphia. Her necklace apparently tripped a metal detector. Despite the presence of her husband, her two children, and her distinctly non-profiled appearance, this woman was not allowed to take off her jewelry and try again. Instead she was pulled aside and practically strip-searched in the presence of her family. She said it was one of the most humiliating things that have ever happened to her.

With this story fresh in my mind, I was appalled to read this story written by humorist Dave Barry:

Air Travel with Dave Barry Sunday, November 25, 2001 

Air travel sure is a big old laundry hamper of fun these days. That's what I was thinking as I was removing my clothing in front of hundreds of people at the Denver airport.

For some reason, my particular traveling party had been singled out by the security people for a near-proctological level of scrutiny. This surprised me, because my party consisted of me, my wife, and our 20-month old daughter.

Nevertheless we were singled out. This meant that while the other travelers - all of whom, frankly, looked suspicious to me - zipped through security, we were ordered off to the side where a man told me to remove my shoes, belt and wallet, which he handed to a woman who walked off with them.

I was hoping that these were security personnel, as opposed to wallet thieves who had figured out that, these days, air travelers will do anything they are ordered to do. ("OK, put your left hand in, take your left hand out, do the Hokey Pokey and shake it all about.")

Next, the man told me to hold my arms out so he could scan me. This meant I had to let go of my pants, which, being beltless, began to slide down. While I was performing as the World's Oldest Chippendale Dancer, other security people were insisting that my daughter toddle alone through the metal detector.

They finally let us pass, but when we got to our gate, they called out our names - only our names - and ordered us to hold out our arms to be scanned again, while all the other passengers looked on, no doubt wondering what kind of low-life terrorists we were to be lugging around a baby.

It gave me the security of knowing that if anything remotely suspicious did occur on the flight, our fellow passengers would know exactly who to beat senseless first...

(Editor's Note: It is a shame that the threat of terrorism has made our nation so edgy, but some of the airline security people seem to be crossing the line between caution and senseless intimidation.)


(Editor's Note: I was fascinated by this article from the November 26 article of Sports Illustrated. It details how boys are allowed to play on girls field hockey teams. Does anybody have any sense anymore? Whatever happened to the phrase "go pick on somebody your own size?")

Sports Illustrated November 26 issue 

Not Your Average Skirt Chaser by Rick Reilly 

The strongest high school field hockey player in all of western Massachusetts stand 6' 5", weights 205 pounds and would look better in his skirt if he shaved his legs. His name is Ryan Sherburne, and he led Mohawk Trail Regional High in Shelburne Falls to the state semifinals this year.  Problem is, he's not within a RuPaul chorus line of being a girl.

Bigger and faster than a Chrysler minivan, Ryan, 17, has a slap shot that nearly separated a few girls from their sports bras this year. And people are mad about it. "What is it going to take - a girl being seriously hurt?"
ask Longmeadow High coach Ann Simmons. "Parents could sue me for having their kids out there."

One of Ryan's shots doubled over a girl on an opposing team, forcing her to the sideline. When Ryan's father, Bill, asked her coach if the girl's stomach felt better, the coach snarled, "Stomach? Put it this way: if your son was hit where she got hit, he'd still be lying on the field."

There have been a lot of snarls in Ryan's direction, and he has heard them all.

Football field is that way, Bubba.
Pick on somebody your own size!
Hey, sweetheart, you free after the game?

"It doesn't bother me," says Ryan, a senior midfielder who first tried field hockey five years ago while rehabbing from a knee injury. "I just play, and people can say what they want."

They're saying a lot. Parents are worried about their daughter's safety.
Mothers on opposing sidelines have screamed, "Kill him! Knock him on his ass!"

"It gets to the point where I don't want him going to the bathroom by himself," says Mohawk Trail coach Lynn Hoeppner. "to hear adults taunt a kid... Hard to believe. I say let everyone play."

Fine. But does Ryan have to play with girls? "He loves the game," says Bill, "and there's nowhere else to play."

Ryan isn't the only one. Seven of the 21 field hockey teams in western Massachusetts had at least one boy on their rosters this season. Two of the last three Division I state champs have started boys. Amherst-Pelham Regional High jayvee girls were led by 5' 10", 220-pound former football lineman Bradley Bell, who's a freshman and should play on the varsity next year. Longmeadow High freshman Maria Koenigs, who's about the size of a parking meter, came home in tears after a game against Bell. "I was scared," she says, "and I don't think he has a right to come into our game and make us scared. Besides, what self-respecting guy would wear a skirt to play a game?"

Not only is Ryan unashamed to wear the Warrior's pleated plaid skirt on the field - even in front of his girlfriend - but he also wears it to school on game days, as do all his teammates.

Opposing coach: "C'mon girls. I'll bet he puts his skirt on two legs at a time, just like you do!"

Boys are a problem that's whittling away at the fabric of field hockey in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. "Playing with boys is awful!" one girl wrote on an Internet field hockey site. "When you win, people think it's only because of the boys on your team. It's so defeating."

For feminists it's a nasty little issue. For one thing the reason Ryan can play is that Massachusetts has an equal rights amendment in its constitution.

Eight years ago the state's Superior Court ruled that the amendment applied to athletics. That meant boys could not be barred from playing on girls' teams. Even though field hockey is as male as jock itch everywhere else in the world, the U.S. has zero boys' high school teams. "We lost in court so many times," says Paul Wetzel of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, which appealed the court ruling, "that we gave up. (The decision) doesn't make sense, but there's nothing we can do."

Of course, a judge's allowing it doesn't make it right. True, girls play on some teams in boys' sports, but they don't fundamentally change those sports. Ryan Sherburne changes the girls' game, as does Brad Bell.

These parents must have half a brain to permit their hulking teenage piles of testosterone to go out in half a dress and whomp on girls half their size. Yeah, they have a constitutional right to do so, but not the moral right. The next dad who allows it gets a field hockey shot right were it hurts.

And that ain't the stomach.


Tokyo Woman Dies Hunting Movie Loot.
Houston Chronicle, December 8, 2001 

St. Paul, Minnesota - 

Kidnappers in the movie 'Fargo' buried the $1 million ransom in the snow along a desolate highway and nobody ever found it. But a 28-year old Japanese woman apparently died trying last month.

Takako Konishi flew from her home in Tokyo to Minneapolis last month and boarded a bus for Bismarck, North Dakota. The next day, November 10, she was seen walking along a road.

"She was just walking around out there," said Bismarck Police LT. Nick Sevart.

A citizen took her to the police department, where she pulled out a hand-scrawled map and told officers in her halting English that she had seen 'Fargo' and was looking for the ransom money.

The woman spoke very little English, and the officers spoke no Japanese.
"They tried to explain to her this was just a movie," Sevart said. "It was fictional."

That may have been hard to explain as the movie's opening credits said it was based on a true story, but no such event took place however.

After talking with Bismarck police, Konishi decided to go to Fargo, North Dakota. Police took her to the bus station. Two days later, on November 12, Konishi took a cab from Frago to Detriot Lakes, Minnesota. Appaprently she was interested in trying to see the Leonid meteor showers, said Detroit Lakes Police Chief Kelvin Keena.

The cabdriver let her out about 2 pm at Detroit Lake on the southern edge of Detroit Lakes. She apparently made no arrangements to be picked up, Keena said.

Detroit Lake has cabins and homes all around it, but no one reported seeing Konishi.

Three days later, on November 15, a bow hunter discovered Konishi's body about a mile from where the cabdriver let her off. The cause of her death is being investigated, but Keena said the likely cause was death by exposure.

VENUS AND MARS: THE COW FROM OHIO Contributed by Chris Holmes 

Cow from Ohio 

The only cow in a small town in Arkansas stopped giving milk. The people did some research and found they could buy a cow up in Mansfield, Ohio, for $200.00.

They bought the cow from Ohio and the cow was wonderful. It produced lots of milk all of the time, and the people were pleased and very happy. They decided to acquire a bull to mate with the cow and produce more cows like it. They would never have to worry about their milk supply again.

They bought a bull and put it in the pasture with their beloved cow.
However, whenever the bull came close to the cow, the cow would move away.
No matter what approach the bull tried, the cow would move away from the bull and he could not succeed in his quest.
The people were very upset and decided to ask the Vet, who was very wise, what to do. They told the Vet what was happening.

"Whenever the bull approaches our cow, she moves away. If he approaches from the back, she moves forward. When he approaches her from the front, she backs off. An approach from the side and she walks away to the other side."

The Vet thinks about this for a minute and asked, "Did you buy this cow in Ohio?"

The people were dumbfounded, since they had never mentioned where they bought the cow.

"You are truly a wise Vet," they said. "How did you know we got the cow in Ohio?"

The Vet replied with a distant look in his eye, "My wife is from Ohio."


Regarding the article "How to Plan Your Wedding Dance", students are advised to start lessons up to six months ahead of the wedding date. This is clearly the best time frame to allow the couple to prepare their dance in the least stressful atmosphere possible and maybe get the chance to try some dancing socially so they feel more relaxed and confident on the "Big Day".

It is unnecessary for a couple to change their song because it is not a strict tempo or a particular rhythm. Nor is it even necessary to take dance lessons ahead of time in order to lead a happy life afterwards.

On the other hand, a glance at the message boards from several wedding sites available on the Internet offers this interesting fact. In response to the question "What Would You Have Done Differently at Your Wedding?", at one site there were 427 responses and 207 included "we should have taken dance lessons." This conclusion was usually reached after the couples viewed their own wedding video or attended another wedding where the couple did take lessons.

The dance instructor should not choose the song. Instead it is up to the couple to pick the music, then allow the instructor to competently work with the music chosen whether it's a Foxtrot, Tango, Rumba, Viennese Waltz, Slow Waltz, Swing, or Slow Dance.

It is also recommended the length of the dance be tailored to the comfort level of the wedding couple. Most people find it incredibly intimidating to be the only couple on the floor with all eyes upon them. Few people outside the world of competitive dancing realize how long three minutes can be in that situation. I have personally heard more than one wedding couple say, "I thought that song would never end." And yes, I have attended weddings where, after the first 30 seconds of watching a couple rock back and forth, and all the oohs and aahs have subsided, wonder "when will this song end?"

The advice is to put dance lessons in the "Wedding Timeline" at the earliest opportunity.


Casuistry - noun 1.Specious or excessively subtle reasoning intended to rationalize or mislead. 2. The determination of right and wrong in questions of conduct or conscience by analyzing cases that illustrate general ethical rules.

In terms normal people can understand, casuistry in its nice sense is the study of ethics, but in its more common dark sense, it is the use of tricky explanations to justify dubious actions. Think of some of Bill Clinton's rationalizations regarding pot smoking, avoiding the draft, missing and reappearing Whitewater documents, or 'I did not have sex with that woman' for textbook examples of 'casuistry'.

HOLIDAY EMAIL BLUES Contributed by Sylvia Tucker 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, some eejit sent to me:
12 chain letters 
11 urban legends 
10 special offers 
9 animations 
8 virus hoaxes 
7 invitations 
6 weird petitions 
5 ooooooolllld liiiiiinnnks!
4 corny jokes 
3 penfriends 
2 Chinese spams and a megabyte of JPGs!


Yes, yes, yes, I know. This is your favorite section of the Newsletter. And yes, we did have some juicy complaints this month.

But it is Christmas.

I will offer two complaints next month to make it up to you.

Good will to all Mankind. Peace, Love, and Prosperity to all of you in 2002!
Rick Archer 

And by the way, as you can see, the SSQQ Newsletter is mostly written by people just like you who send stuff in. If you have any comments, suggestions, requests, complaints, jokes, pictures or poetry to share, please send it to me, Rick Archer, at ssqq@houston.rr.com
   And thanks for reading all the way to the bottom! .... I might add I do have reason to believe some of you simply scroll to the bottom to look for any little surprises I hide down here. ;-) Anyhow, thanks to all for making it this far!

Rick Archer SSQQ Dance Studio 
4803 Bissonnet 
Email: ssqq@houston.rr.com
 Web: www.ssqq.com
  Phone: 713-861-1906 

"No trees were harmed in the sending of this message. However, a significant number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced."

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