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

I am sorry there wasn't any April Newsletter, but here is my excuse...

Back in high school, I always turned in my homework.  I was a very conscientious student.  But I carried an inordinate fear that one day I would forget to turn something in on time and it would cost me dearly.  I was always on guard against a slipup.

I turned into such a worry-wart that now as an adult I still have an occasional recurring nightmare that I have failed to study for a high school test or have forgotten to do my homework.    Well, last month one of my nightmares did come true:  Trying as hard as I could, last month I still didn't send out a Newsletter. 

I contend that two companies - Centerpoint and Time Warner - inadvertently combined forces to make my life absolutely miserable for three weeks in March and April.  I have decided to blame them for missing last month's April newsletter.

So you are my school teacher.  It is your job to listen to my excuse and decide whether it is justified or whether I am full of beans and need to go to detention.  Be sure to read the complete story of the
Missing April Newsletter

There have been two big changes in our dance curriculum.  Ballroom Dancing has been added to Thursdays and our Martian Whip Technique class has been upgraded.  Both of these stories are covered at length in this issue of the Newsletter.  Plus we have more May Dance Semester highlights as well as three parties to check out.

Slow Dance and Romance has had a big month - one new engagement and three weddings!

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 a little bit extra to go.   If I were to guess, this is shaping up as the wildest trip on record.  You do not want to miss this trip at any price!

We have three Story in the News features this month.  One is a bizarre story about a woman who was dropped on her head while
dancing. The second story is a fascinating list of the Ten Best April Fool's Jokes ever played. (Yes, this story was supposed to run in last month's issue, but let's not talk about that.)

The third story in the news is the best of all:
Cruise Blues in the News.  Yep, lots of crazy things have been going on in the Cruise Industry.  This story gives you the INSIDE SCOOP of what really happened when that couple fell overboard recently.  Very suspicious... this is DON'T MISS READING.  Let's just cross our fingers and hope none of this stuff happens to us on the Wild and Crazy September Conquest Cruise. 

I added a story to the website 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. 

Many of you have no idea how talented the SSQQ Hall Monitors are.  For example,
Diane Murrell has not only recently gained a Masters of Social Work degree, she has put the finishing touch on her third published book about the subject of autism.

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 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.  There have been several developments since then, but I am still waiting on the final story from one of the women involved.  Nevertheless this is an important story to read if you haven't read it so far because it covers SSQQ Parking Woes.

I know all of you live for the Complaint of the Month section.  Many people tell me it is their favorite thing to read.  Well, sorry to disappoint you.  I don't have anything juicy to print.  However I did add one new feature to this Newsletter: Happy Letters to the Editor.  One day it dawned on me that I get lots of interesting emails, but I rarely print them.  Well, that has changed.  This month instead of the negative, I will accentuate the positive with 11 letters.  Please forgive. I will go back to dirty stuff next month.   In addition I will try to catch up on the jokes as well.

Let me add one thing: in my humble opinion, you will be very pleased at just how interesting all the features are in this Newsletter because it is the culmination of two month's worth of work, not just one as usual.  There are some great articles to read!

Be sure to read all these stories and more in the May Newsletter!

Rick Archer

Here are the Chapters in this month's Newsletter:



(reprint from Feb)



STORY IN THE NEWS: Woman dropped on head alleges 'negligent dancing'
(reprint from February)
story in the news: Ten of the best April Fool's Day hoaxes ever (Chris Holmes)
JOKE OF THE MONTH: hopefully this feature will be back next month



Sunday, September 23rd thru Sunday, Sept 30th

100 People going as of April 26.

Well, everybody, get ready.  The Sea You in September Dance Party is on.

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.  

So how did the flood of registrations begin?

Sunday night at the studio, six people handed Marla their cruise registrations in person:  Phyllis Porter (Center of Attention),  Judy Walsh, Viola Hernandez, Ken Robeson, Vicky Jimenez, and Meg Hada.  Marla was impressed.  Six in one day!  Not bad.   Two other people - Lin Mills and Rick Elizondo - came up to Marla and verbally committed as well.  

After the big rush on Sunday evening, Monday morning things were pretty quiet.  Marla was sort of disappointed because she thought the previous night was the start of something big.  Nope.  Not one new registration the entire morning or afternoon.

On Monday night at the studio, Doug Ferris and Vivian Gustafson both handed Marla their registrations.  That made 10 new registrations in two days.  

On Tuesday morning, the dam broke.  As Marla walked in her office at 10 am, there was some sort of groaning and moaning coming from the fax machine.  Marla went over to take a look.  Holy Cow!   The poor machine was jammed with paper.  As Marla untangled the mess, she realized there were seven cruise registrations.   Julie Johnson, Marian Patterson, Charlie Denton, Joan Recht, Sandy Upchurch, Sandra Palmer, and Karen Wisniewski had all sent in registrations. 

Marla was sitting at her desk trying to process their reservations, her phone rang.  Joe Lachner called to say he and Patty Harrison were back for the third year in a row.  Now we were up to 19 registrations in three days.

On Wednesday, the registrations came in fast and furious.   Some came by email, some came by fax, some came by phone, but every minute Marla turned around it was someone else.  Mickie Benoit, John Safos, Nancy Neuhaus, Terri Beeler, Jeff Margolis,  Conor O'Muirgheasa, Cristina Lozano, Gary and Betty Richardson, Marlanea Taylor plus Alpha Hussy Leslie Goldsmith.  Plus three more people handed in their registrations at the studio in the evening (but as I write, they aren't confirmed).  Assuming the Mysterious Three go, that's fourteen registrations in one day.  Or 33 people in four days.  Amazing.

There was one downside to the flurry of registrations - Marla sold out of her original allotment of inexpensive cabins.  Carnival originally gave Marla 50 cabins.  Now that we reached 101 passengers, all 50 cabins were all gone. 

The good news was that there was still plenty of space on the ship, but the bad news was it would have to be purchased at the prevailing rate.  The first victim of the shortage was none other than the Alpha Hussy herself.

Marla Archer wrote:

Hi Leslie,  I wish I could say Welcome Aboard, but I have a problem. It appears that this cruise has gone WILD over the past 48 hours!

We are currently SOLD OUT of all inside and oceanview cabins at the original group rate. I have only one balcony cabin remaining at $762 PP.

Today's prevailing rate is as follows:  inside -- $614 PP, oceanview -- $664 PP

Marlanea called me earlier today and is in the same situation. situation.  Maybe the two of you could room together?

From: LeslieG
Date: 04/26/2007 8:06:44 AM
To: Marla Archer
Subject: Re: SSQQ Western Caribbean Cruise

MUST be on that ship!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Sign me up at best deal available.....

Marla Archer wrote:

Welcome Aboard Ladies, You are confirmed in an inside cabin at the rate of $614 PP.  We are almost at 100 passengers!!!!

From: LeslieG
Date: 04/26/2007 12:06:46 PM
To: Marla Archer
Subject: Re: SSQQ Western Caribbean Cruise

YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for all your work!!!!  

Marlanea Taylor wrote:
Can you believe they are going to let the two of us be in the same room??!!

From: LeslieG
Date: 04/26/2007 12:19:32 PM
To: Marlanea Taylor
Subject: Re: Cruise

That's EXACTLY what I was thinking!!!!!!!!!!!!

One room, TWO Hussies........ They're just ASKING for trouble!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  

If you aren't afraid of the Hussy Cabin and want to join us, Marla says there is 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 with any further questions.









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.  



The 2006 Rhapsody Reloaded Cruise last August was an incredible trip.  It was without a doubt the most successful cruise trip we have ever taken, but it took me several months to actually write the story. 

So what took me so long to put the story together?  I attribute my writer's block to 3 reasons.

First, my friend Gary Richardson put together an overwhelming CD collection of pictures.  Although I am grateful for all his hard work and the pictures were great, I felt kind of overwhelmed.  Gary's CD had over 1,300 pictures of 136 different people!  If you believe every picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how I didn't even know where to begin.

My second problem is going to sound silly, but it took me so long to format and post 650 pictures, I was so tired I didn't have much wind left.  Furthermore, since this was our fourth trip on the Rhapsody, it was difficult for me to find new things to say about the ship, the ports, the dancing, and the hot tub nonsense.  Maybe it is time to switch ships after all.

But the third reason is the real reason - I didn't have anything to talk about!  I have to tell you something - people have learned to keep their mouths shut around me.  I got the feeling all sorts of interesting things were happening all around me, but no one would talk.  I was unable to penetrate this conspiracy of silence.

It was a wonderful trip, but next time I am going to hire me an informant.  Then you will get a great trip writeup.

SHOCKING DEVELOPMENT:   In February, I inadvertently ruled that the new HOT TUB record of 24 was invalid.

That is when Jan Milz stepped up to report that her husband had made an incredible sacrifice to guarantee the record would be set!  I reviewed the facts and declared the record of 24 VALID thanks to the heroic efforts of Bob Milz.




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  EXTRA

Special classes for May 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 one of the best Hustle teachers in the city and deserves the loyal following he has developed.

His class in April has 50 people in it.

SUNDAY AT 7: Dakota Wilhelm's ACCELERATED BALLROOM FOXTROT II.  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 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:

MONDAY AT 7: 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!

Click here for information on the


Tuesday AT 7: SAlsa is phenomenal.  Each Tuesday, there is a Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Salsa class that average 80 to 100 people in each class.  In particular, Steve & Danielle conduct their elite Advanced Salsa class each Tuesday.  The Tuesday Salsa Practice Night hosted by Linda Cook is smokin’. 

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 May. 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.


FRIDAY AT 7:  Rick and Cher will teach BEGINNING WESTERN CHA CHA on Friday. Western Cha Cha is the traditional Cha Cha used to slow, graceful Polka-speed music. Many of the songs Western Cha Cha works best to can be described as romantic or sultry, often with a Latin beat in the background.

The most famous Western Cha Cha is "Neon Moon" by Brooks and Dunn. "Shagging" by Alabama and "Tequila Sunrise" by the Eagles are two more examples. The Western Cha Cha is a clever dance that works well as an alternative dance to the Polka.

Quite popular in Western clubs in other parts of the country, Western Cha Cha is also a fixture at Western Dance Competitions. The patterns vary from the simple to the complex and use double turns when the mood strikes. Best of all, the Cha Cha has an attractive hip motion that makes Wrangler Jeans do for Western dancing whatever it is that Gap Khakis do for Swing dancing.

Cha Cha is flirtatious, sexy, easy to learn, and lots of fun!

SATURDAY AT 4:30: 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.

SATURDAY AT 4:30: ZYDECO  Willie Bushnell has Zydeco starting on Saturday at 430.  Zydeco dance music originated in the state of Louisiana. Similar to Cajun music, Zydeco is more heavily influenced by blues and music from the West Indies. Zydeco is fun, sexy, and pretty easy to learn! This is a great Saturday class that will have you laughing all night long!



Saturday, April 28
9:15 pm - 11:30 pm
Cover charge $7

BEG SALSA!! - Alex
SALSA DIPS & LUNGES I Steve/Daniele (cpl)

Saturday, May 12
9:15 pm - 11:30 pm
Cover charge $7


ZYDECO - Ronnie
RUMBA - Rick
SLOW DANCING (Cpls only) - Marla


Saturday, May 19
9:15 pm - 11:30 pm
Cover charge $7


DIRTY DANCING (Cpls Only) - Ben



As this Newsletter goes out, SSQQ Martian Whip instructors Bryan Spivey and Lisa Palmer will be getting married on Saturday, April 28.  Bryan and Lisa met here at SSQQ 5 years ago.  They began dating in 2004.  In 2005 they became engaged.  

By coincidence, in May 2007, Bryan and Lisa's wedding will coincide with a major restructuring of the SSQQ Whip/West Coast Swing program. 

As always, we will offer Beginning and Intermediate Whip/WCS two times a week.  However our Thursday class will move to Sunday afternoons at 4:30 pm to create an opening for a second Ballroom night. 

The major change will be the implementation of a six-month pre-Martian Whip program known as Martian Technique.  Previously this class has been offered only one night a week, but starting in May we will offer it on two nights a week: Monday and Thursday.  When we finish implementing our complete Ballroom program on Thursday, the second Martian Technique class will move to Fridays in July.

The purpose of Martian Technique is to offer six solid months of different material to prepare our students for Martian Whip.  The first hour of each week will be footwork and fundamentals that students will need at the higher level.  Then the second hour will cover important patterns.  One person - Rick Archer - will teach the Technique Program.  The main reason for a single instructor is that is much easier for one person to teach the complicated parallel class system.    

Martian Technique
will be available to anyone who has completed Intermediate Whip/WCS or similar material elsewhere.  I will be honest - if this class is too tough, I will not hesitate to suggest you move back to an easier level.  

With the same thought in mind, Martian Whip will move to elite status - at the start of each semester, new students will be evaluated at the start of class by Bryan or Lisa to make sure their are ready to enter their program.  

-----Original Message-----
From: Maria B
Sent: Friday, April 27, 2007 10:29 AM
Subject: what happened to advanced whip?

Hi Rick,
I am Maria B, a former whip student. I took Advanced and Lunar Whip a few years ago and wanted to come back, but these classes are not listed any more. I am mystified because a couple weeks ago I checked your schedule and saw your advanced class listed. What happened to you it?

By they way, your newsletter didn't explain things very well so I thought I would write and see if you could help. I am not ready for some technique class... I barely remember how to walk much less do any difficult patterns. What do you suggest I do, take Beginning Whip over again? Thanks, M.

Rick Archer wrote:

Thanks for asking me to clarify things, Maria.  Sometimes something is quite clear to me, but I don't explain it properly, so it helps me that you spoke up. 

Regarding the Technique program, you are not the only person who is confused.  There have been several people who did not understand what I am doing.  So let me try again.  

What we once called "Advanced" and "Lunar" Whip are now Technique 3 and 4.  That material is not going to disappear. 

hat I am doing is replacing a two-month program with a six-month program. This way, after a student finishes Intermediate Whip, they now get six months of advanced classes offered twice a week before the material begins to repeat.  This course is basically Space Station Whip... a six-month class that trains people to enter Bryan and Lisa's Martian Whip program.

No one says a student has to take all six months of Technique.  The moment a student gets bored, they can go to Martian Whip assuming they pass the test.

We had something similar to this on Thursdays. 
The Thursday Technique program was popular, but it had two flaws: it was only offered once a week and there was no coordination btw the three instructors.  It seemed to me there were gaps in the training.  Since I am the only one teaching Technique, I promise you there will strong continuity.   

The biggest problem for me will be integrating graduates of Intermediate Whip into a class with people who have had two to six months more experience.   I expect the Intermediate graduates to struggle a little, but you know what?  The people who are ahead of them often appreciate the review.  That's how they get really good.



Story written by Rick Archer, May 2007

  In April 2007, there was no SSQQ Newsletter because one thing after another went wrong.  It drove me nuts.

Back in high school, I always turned in my homework.  I was a very conscientious student.  But I carried an inordinate fear that one day I would forget to turn something in on time and it would cost me dearly.  I was always on guard against a slipup.

I turned into such a worry-wart that now as an adult I still have an occasional recurring nightmare that I have failed to study for a high school test or have forgotten to do my homework.   

Well, last month one of my nightmares did come true:  Trying as hard as I could, last month I didn't send out a Newsletter. 

I contend that two companies - Centerpoint and Time Warner - inadvertently combined forces to make my life absolutely miserable for three weeks in March and April.  I have decided to blame them for missing last month's April newsletter.

So you are my school teacher.  It is your job to listen to my excuse and decide whether it is justified or whether I am full of beans and need to go to detention.


The background events to this story took place in 2006 when the property across the street from my house here in the Heights was bought by a company known as Tricon.  They wasted little time.  Men quickly cleared the property for construction (see pictures above).  

I soon discovered that Tricon had acquired another property nearby. About the same time as they cleared the area in the pictures above, Tricon also demolished some old apartments about six houses down the street from my house.   No problem.  The apartments were crumbling tenements rife with crime.  I hailed the move.  And as for the property across my street, gee whiz, it was five empty lots just begging to be developed.  It had once been owned by a cement company that filled in pools, driveways, and sidewalks.  All they needed was a place to park their trucks and store concrete.  The 5 lots had two old structures on them, but otherwise had been underdeveloped for the 30 years I have lived here.

Construction on both sites - across the street and down the street - began in January 2007.  Below are pictures of some of the condos down the street that replaced the aging apartments.  Those guys worked fast - it is only April, but some of the units have already been sold now and people are moving in.

In the pictures below, you can see the progress of the new homes across the street from my house.  Tricon put five homes on that property, but the arrangement is bizarre.  Two homes face the south while three others face the west.  There is practically no yard for any of the five homes, mainly because the three homes facing west were given large free-standing garage apartments.  Thus there is little symmetry to their plans.  Oh well.  It's still better than the empty dirt lot.

The Coming of  the Martians - Can We Turn Your Lights Off?

I generally start writing the Newsletter on the third Monday of every dance semester.  After eight years of writing Newsletters, I have developed a certain rhythm to this.  The third Monday is the ritualistic start to two weeks of serious writing.  Step One leads to Step Two and so on.   I have it down to a science.

However, even before I start the April Newsletter, I was already worried.  I was concerned I might not have enough time to do a thorough job because my wife's brother Larry and his wife Roz were coming to spend Easter Weekend with Marla and me.  Their visit would shorten my available time to write by two days.  I reassured myself that I had enough time, but very little to waste.   If there were any interruptions or delays, I might be in trouble. 

On Monday, March 19, I sat down at my desk to begin typing the April Newsletter.  I was 3 words into my project when the doorbell rang.  I bristled at the interruption.  Then I shuddered - it was a Bad Omen to have my Newsletter interrupted just as I got started. 

It turned out my premonition was absolutely on target. Had the Martians arrived?  I felt like trouble was knocking on my door.  One of my favorite books is HG Wells "War of the Worlds".  For some odd reason, I actually thought about that book as I walked to the door.   Chapter One is titled "The Coming of the Martians".  I opened the door.    No, the visitor was not a Martian, but he was almost as bad - it was some guy from Centerpoint.  What was he doing here?

Centerpoint has a bad reputation at our house.  Recently in January Marla opened up a $1700 monthly light bill.  She gasped when she saw the amount.  This light bill was twice the amount from the same time last year.  Marla was concerned because our energy habits had not changed.  If anything, the mild winter did not require any special heating.  Marla protested the bill.

However Centerpoint demanded Marla pay the full amount.  Mysteriously, the bill returned to normal the following month.  We have been suspicious of this company ever since.

When I saw the guy was from Centerpoint, at first I thought he was here to investigate the mysterious $1700 light bill.  Fat chance of that; now how stupid was that thought!?

Instead what Centerpoint Guy wanted to do was turn my home's electricity off for a couple hours in the middle of the day. He had his crew ready and waiting to hook up some of the new homes being built down the street.  Looking over his shoulder, I saw a phalanx of six huge trucks on the street behind him.

I was completely taken off guard.  You want to do what?  Finally I regained my senses.  I explained to him I was working.  This was a bad time for me.  Couldn't they come back around 4 pm when I go to pick up my daughter from school?  The Centerpoint guy replied that he was working too, that his crew was already here, and that he had a job to do.  He then pointed to six trucks.  I would be doing him a real favor. 

There was something fishy going on.  Why was he asking permission?  Does anyone ask permission when they don't need to?  There was a warning note sitting right on edge of my mind, so I hesitated till I could figure out what it was. As we talked it over for a while, I was on the verge of cooperating when I suddenly remembered a letter from Centerpoint that Marla had shown me last week.  I excused myself for a moment and went inside to retrieve the letter.  Then I showed this guy the letter from his own company instructing me that all my power would be turned off the following Thursday ten days from now.  

You know how Dracula recoils from Holy Water?  Well, this guy did not want to see this document.  He fidgeted and bit his lip.  His face crinkled up.  Seeing I had an advantage, I asked why couldn't he come back and do his work then?   

That's when I figured out that he was here to do the same project as was mentioned in the letter.  He decided to do it ten days early!  So I asked him about it.  The man's reply was that he wanted to do it now since it was convenient.  It would save him a trip next week and he could move on to his next project.

That's when I lost my temper.  I couldn't believe he was trying to do today the same work his company had scheduled for the following week because it was 'convenient' for him.  He wanted not just me, but ten other people also hooked up to the same service to drop everything we were doing at the drop of a hat.  Even more ridiculous is that there wasn't anyone desperate for the new service; those condos were still vacant.  This guy was willing to inconvenience my family just so he could hook up some homes ahead of time that weren't even occupied! 

After I got indignant, this guy gave up and went away.  But not for long.  About two hours later he came back to ask again.  Now the two of us started the same old dance again. 

Again I held my ground.  I had already told him 4 pm would work.  Why couldn't he and I agree on a time when my family could be away?  He said he didn't work that way.  Why was I not surprised? 

Finally the scourge left with my lights still intact, but a lot of good it did me. His two interruptions and the tension between us pretty much shut down any creativity towards writing the Newsletter that day.  It is hard for me to write when I am upset unless I am writing about the thing that made me mad (take a quick guess why I am writing this story for the May Newsletter... I need to get it out of my system!) 

The following day, Tuesday, was uneventful.  I actually got some work done on the Newsletter.

Unfortunately Wednesday was lost due to a rescheduled dental appointment in the middle of the day.  My hygienist had moved our date so she could take a vacation, but to accommodate her, I had to sacrifice a valuable Newsletter day.  I was running out of time.


The trees in front of my house are a source of joy.  I love them for their beauty, for their shade, and for the privacy they provide. 

There is a garden behind that fence.  These beautiful trees help create the effect of a hidden sanctuary.

The array of trees in the picture includes 4 oak trees, 2 pine trees, 3 sycamore trees, and a Chinese tallow tree.  I freely admit I am a big tree hugger - I planted every one of those trees myself.

On Thursday, March 22, I was determined to make up for yesterday's dentist appointment which had cut my day in half.  I was just settling down to continue work on the Newsletter for April when there was another knock on the door.  I had one of those deja vu experiences.  Did they have spy watching to determine the exact moment I sat down at the computer?

I figured it was another Centerpoint guy demanding to cut our power off, but instead this time it was some guy from Trees, Inc.  They wanted to trim my trees surrounding the Centerpoint power line in front of my home.  I groaned to myself.  These tree trimmers are a yearly plague.  Why did they have to show up just when I was writing the Newsletter?

I knew from bitter experience this was a problem that should not be avoided.  Over the years I have learned to take the tree cutters seriously.  These people have been overzealous in the past, so I have learned to negotiate with them.  My yearly give-and-take has paid off.  I understand that they have a job to do, but they also have some leeway.  So we agree in advance on what they will cut and what they will leave intact.  As a result, in recent years, the trimming has been much more careful.  As a result, now the trees in front of my house have never looked better, yet at the same time the power lines have stayed free of any limbs and branches.

If you look at the picture above, you won't even see the power line.  This is because the trees are cut in a V-Shape that conceal the presence of the power line running along the V.  Thanks to the way they cut the branches, the foliage is so thick that the power line disappears. 

Okay, it must be that time of year again.  I was frustrated at the distraction, but I wasn't worried about the cutting. I assumed today would be no different than last year.  We would go outside, look at the branches and make compromises like we always do.  So the tree man and I carefully went tree by tree. I listened to what he wanted to do and I told him what I thought was fair given my understanding of the rules (7 feet from the line). 

Finally we got to a tree where the trunk was growing about 7 feet from the power line straight up as part of the V-Shape.  He wanted to cut it.  I said no way.  I pointed to the houses going in across the street and said this part of the oak tree provided privacy from people looking in my bedroom window.  The guy took a look to see what I was talking about, then nodded.  He said he saw my point, but added he would need permission to avoid cutting it. 

What he said worried me.  I had first negotiated this particular tree trunk with the tree cutters about five years earlier.  Each year the people would trim anything growing towards the power line, but allow the trunk to grow and spread branches in the other direction that created privacy.  I wondered to myself why after five years of cooperation this tree trunk was now a problem. 

I also knew I was going to have trouble concentrating on the Newsletter until this tree business was taken care of.  This is hard to explain, but I am a born fidgeter when it comes to writing.  It requires my complete concentration, but I am easily distracted.  Therefore I don't handle interruptions well when I am trying to write a newsletter. 

Every time there is an interruption, it might take me up to an hour or two hours to settle back down again.  But once I get locked in, I can work for four to six hours straight.  The hard part is getting locked in.

Today was no exception.  After the tree guy left, I sat back down to try to get my momentum to start writing. 

But  just as I settled down to begin the newsletter for the second time, the doorbell rang again.  I bristled and cursed to myself.  Now what?

Sure enough, it was the Tree Cutters back again.  The same guy wanted to talk with me about the trees some more.  He said he had talked with his supervisor.  His supervisor said they wanted to do a lot more cutting than usual.  I raised an eyebrow.  I asked him to explain, but soon realized he wasn't high enough on the ladder to know what the reasons were.   I replied that as long as they followed the same guidelines as we had in the past, I would cooperate. 

So we went over the same trees again.  When we came to the V-shaped oak tree, he said his supervisor still wanted to cut down the trunk despite the face that he agreed it was growing seven feet from the power line.  I explained that this trunk was not a threat to the power line.  In case of wind, the way it was cut,  the trunk would fall AWAY from the power line if there was a problem.  After all, the heavy limbs were growing away from the power line.   He agreed with me on this point too, but then he shrugged his shoulders and said his orders were orders.  He said he would go back and talk to his supervisor again.

Although I still had a couple hours left before I had to go to the studio, at this point, the constant interruptions had taken their toll.  I was completely distracted.  I decided to put things off till tomorrow and try to get a fresh start.  Another day down the drain.

On Friday, March 23, I was about an hour into working on the Newsletter when the doorbell rang.  Here we go again.  Standing before me was a new person.  But he turned out to be okay.  So we went outside and began to discuss what they wanted to do with each tree.  It was all very cordial, but when we got to the tree trunk 7 feet from the line, he said his orders were to cut it back severely.  However this time I had a new trick up my sleeve - I had brought along a tape measure.  I showed him that the tree trunk was exactly seven feet from the power line.  What was the problem?   

A funny look came over his face.  This man wasn't angry at me, but he looked very unhappy.  Something was wrong; this whole process was different than in the recent years.  Where was the give and take? 

He told me that two days had passed and no progress had been made on the tree trimming.  He was getting a lot of pressure to get me to agree.  He said he would call his supervisor who would come over and make the final decision.  He added the supervisor could drop by in 30 minutes. If so, would I be around?   Hoping to get this over with, I agreed to meet the supervisor's supervisor the same day. 

I was darkly amused that the current supervisor was worried about all the wasted time.  What about my wasted time?

Helpless to concentrate on the newsletter, I sat down in my chair and did a sudoku while I waited for the next supervisor.  And waited.  And waited.  Seven sudokus later, I realized I had wasted the rest of Friday waiting for him.  

Now I was in a really bad mood.  I was so far behind it was ridiculous.  I took stock.  I had blown practically an entire work week.  Only Tuesday had been solid. 

But I hate starting the Newsletter on a weekend.  Saturday is my day off to play basketball and watch movies.  And Sunday is known as 'Marathon Sunday' because I work at the studio from 4 to 10 pm.  Enough said.  I decided to shoot for Monday, the day I typically get the ball rolling.   I could put out an abbreviated issue that would still be effective.


On Monday, March 26, I was getting ready to work when the doorbell rang.  Uh oh.  It was the supervisor's supervisor's supervisor. The moment I saw him, I sensed trouble.  His demeanor was Macho Man.  My instincts were correct.  The other men had been polite, but this guy was a punk. 

Before I even said a word, the Big Cheese Supervisor announced that if I didn't like his decision, he would call the police who would enforce any action he wished to take.   Let me repeat - there were no hellos and no introductions.  The first thing out of his mouth was a threat to call the police.

I lost my temper.  I told him he had no business threatening me.  I had done nothing to deserve that kind of attitude.  What gave him the right to threaten me with the cops?  Did I break some Tree Law I didn't know about?   I told him he had a lot of nerve coming into my home and talking to me this way.  Maybe he should just go right ahead and call the police if that's how he had learned to do his business.  I pulled out my cell phone and asked him if he wanted me to call them.   That worked.  Big Cheese immediately became a little more civilized.  After he calmed down a little, he decided to show me his plans tree by tree just like the last two guys.  As usual, I disagreed on the key tree.  I brought my ruler.  It showed there was exactly 7 feet.  

He didn't like that trick one bit.  Big Cheese got angry and said he would consult the Forester, who would be at my house in the morning to make the final decision.  I told him I had a doctor's appointment.   Would it be asking too much to ask the Forester to come at 11 am?  The man shook his head and said if I was home, fine, if not, tough.

Needless to say, I didn't write any more newsletter that day.  I was angry at being pushed around and threatened.  Nor did I sleep well that night because I was worried sick what might happen to my trees if I wasn't there to stick up for them.

In the morning, I asked Marla to watch out for these guys and ask them to wait.  I would be back at 11 am.  No luck.  While I was at the doctor's office, Marla called to say she heard cutting on trees outside the house.  They had not even bothered to knock.  She had gone outside to see what was going on.  A very cocky man from Centerpoint told Marla the decisions had already been made, so go back in the house.  Marla tried to explain that I would be home soon, but the man replied he wasn't going to wait, then brushed her off.  

I was furious.  I rushed home from the doctor's office, but it was too late.  The butchering had begun and it was worse than I had ever seen it before.   Three of my oak trees were literally sawed in half.   That's right.  Halfway up the tree, they severed the trunk.  Oh my goodness.  This was the most aggressive cutting I had seen in 20 years of this annual plague!!  

In the past, these people have trimmed limbs away from the power lines.  That's their job and I accepted it.  But not today.  Forget the word 'trimming', their idea was to chop half the tree down.  What kind of pro was this guy?  I wondered just exactly what the exalted Forester had learned at tree school.

I was beyond furious.  This wasn't necessary.  I confronted the Centerpoint Forester and asked him to explain why he cut my 3 trees down.  He explained that they were going to be doing some work on the lines and he wanted to make things easy for his men to move around by doing a little extra trimming.   

I screamed at him. "Extra trimming?  Are you nuts!!  You didn't trim my trees, you cut them down, you idiot!  What in the hell are you doing?!"

"Hey, don't worry about it, Mister.  The trees will grow back."

I guess that's what he learned at tree school.  What a genius.


This guy is Centerpoint's tree butcher.
If you see him, cling to your trees and beg him for mercy.

As you can see in the picture on the right, two telephone poles are quite visible.  Before the Forester's Hatchet Job, my trees were cut in a V-shape that extended on either side of both poles.  The reason these poles are easily visible now is because the two trees standing next to them were cut in half below the line.  Four 15-feet high segments were destroyed.  The picture cannot really show how bad it is because other trees in the background prevent you from seeing the enormous gaps.  No attempt was made to trim the branches within 7 feet as was the stated policy.  

Centerpoint's Forester must have gone to tree school for a long time to learn such precision cutting. 

In addition to the two trees in the picture, seven other trees were also severely cut back.  I could not understand this excessive work.  The damage to my trees really hurt.  I went into a pretty serious depression after this incident.  


Later that night, Marla asked me how to fix the TV in our bedroom.  The cable wasn't working.  After some investigation, I realized there was no cable signal at all.  None.  So I called Time Warner.  They would send a guy out the next day to have a look at it, but it was scheduled during the evening.

As a result Marla had to cancel her evening appointment to wait at home for four hours till Mr. Cable Guy showed up.  Naturally he showed up at the last possible moment.  At that time, the repairman confirmed what I suspected - the Centerpoint butchers had not only seriously cut back nine trees, they had severed our cable line for good measure.  He said the cable had been sliced by a saw.

The repairman added that the cable was nowhere near any of the trees that were cut.  Therefore I strongly suspect it was deliberate, perhaps a payback for wasting three days of their time till they brought the Butcher in.


By coincidence, on Wednesday the next morning, my Internet cable known as Roadrunner went out.  How was I supposed to write a newsletter without email or Internet?   Did Centerpoint cause this problem too?

I called Roadrunner repair only to get a recorded message that they were experiencing problems in the Heights area followed by a request to be patient.   Since Roadrunner is usually just down temporarily, I decided to bide my time. 

So I twiddled my thumbs for the rest of the day.  Between losing my trees, my TV, and now the Internet, I was in a pretty foul mood.  Not only Wednesday, but also Thursday was a lost cause - Roadrunner was down till the afternoon.  Two more days of Newsletter work down the drain.  I was a basket case.


It was now Friday, March 30.  I was completely out of my rhythm on the Newsletter project.  Classes were starting in two days on Sunday and I had only written about 25% of the April Newsletter.  Oh well.  Better get to work.  Maybe a last-ditch effort would yield results.  But I didn't get very far.  I actually tried to work on the Newsletter on Friday morning, but found I was still too upset over the tree incident to be very effective.  Slowed by my depression, I just muddled along at the keyboard with some perfunctory pecks.

Besides, I had something else bothering me. I had some unpleasant hatchet work of my own to do.  An poignant email served as a reminder that a certain persona non grata was coming to the studio tonight.  I had made the decision to ask this individual to leave the studio for a variety of reasons.  I know you are curious, so I will say that this individual was accused of being highly deceitful to another student.  However, since this person didn't give us an email address, I had to write a letter so I could hand deliver it.  I have to tell you, this ruined my mood.    First Centerpoint, then Roadrunner, now a deceitful jerk.

The featured event on Saturday, March 31, was our Red and Black Western Party.  I had committed myself to creating a new crash course - Advanced Synchronized Polka Patterns.  I spent most of the afternoon working on creating new patterns.  Thanks to my effort, the crash course that evening was a terrific success.  The patterns were intricate and challenging.  However, after creating the new patterns, I wasn't in much of a mood to write a Newsletter too.


The following day was another Marathon Sunday.  By coincidence, it was also April Fool's Day... how appropriate.  Since it was the start of the new April semester, I had extra duties like printing volunteer cards and getting various forms printed.  Working on the Newsletter was out of the question.


 If you are keeping count, this story is now 14 days old and still no newsletter.

Believe it or not, I still had hopes of putting out a Newsletter for April.  On Monday, I started writing with a passion.  I followed that up with more solid work on Tuesday. With two solid days of no interruptions, I was half done. I had a shot at finishing tomorrow.

But that night Marla came home in a furious mood - Roadrunner had gone out at the studio!  Registration was a fiasco.  Because there was no cable, the registration staff had to register 150 people by hand.  This meant Marla would have to key in all of those registrations herself on Wednesday here at home.  Marla was exasperated.

I was worried too.  I needed to get Roadrunner up and working again at the studio.  One night with Roadrunner down was bad enough, but I couldn't allow the entire week's registration to be done without the use of our database. 

What could have gone wrong?  Marla's story had me confused.  Marla told me she had already called Time Warner only to be told Roadrunner was actually working just fine at the studio.  The signal was there according to the tech guy.   After she was told this, Marla made a beeline to the office.  She examined the cables and router box for clues.  She was appalled to discover that all the Internet cables had been unplugged from the router!   It appeared to her that someone had sabotaged our cable set-up!

I raised an eyebrow at that conclusion.  That didn't make a lot of sense.  My daughter had been in that same office on Monday night.  I asked her if she did anything to the cables.  Sam replied that everything was business as usual - Roadrunner was working just fine and she didn't do anything to the cables.  Then she reminded me that we had LOCKED the door to the office when we left. 

Hmm.  This meant if someone sabotaged our cable, they would first have to have a key to the studio, then have a key to the office.  I was becoming very skeptical of sabotage.  Still, I had to solve the problem.   What could have gone wrong?

That night, I was terribly restless worrying about the sabotaged cable.  I woke up at 2 am.  With nothing else to do, I walked into my office and started to work on the newsletter.  Uh oh.  Now my home Roadrunner was out!   When I called, the Heights wasn't listed on their outage areas, so I stayed on the line till tech support picked up.  The gentleman said that he had received several calls from the Heights area, so he would report the problem immediately.   Oh hell.   I went back to bed.  Another wasted opportunity.

On Wednesday the next morning, I noticed that my home Roadrunner was back on.  However I was too worried about the problem at the studio to concentrate on the newsletter so I went to the studio to figure the problem out. 

I soon discovered that Marla had accidentally looked at the wrong cable box.  There was no sabotage after all.  Then after I rebooted the correct router, we were in business again.  But it was 1 pm before I got back to work.  I was only half-finished on the Newsletter and I had lost an entire morning.

This studio cable problem could not have come at a worse time.  The pressure was already intense - tomorrow Thursday the power would be turned off.  I typed and I typed and I typed some more.   The Newsletter was three-quarters done.  I was almost home.

Thursday was the day Centerpoint had scheduled to turn off our power for a minimum of four hours.  The reason was simple - they needed to hook up electricity to all those new homes down the street and across the street.  This project was why the Forester had butchered my trees in the first place.  It was no coincidence the two trees that were damaged the most were the trees near the two telephone poles.  He had whacked these two trees in half to make it easier for the men to work on the poles. 

Somehow I found no solace in making life easier for them by chopping down my trees - I had lost the beauty of my trees and all my privacy in the process.  I could see the windows in the new houses across the street plain and clear.  Where there had once been foliage, there was nothing.  I shook my head in helpless anger just thinking about it again.

On Thursday morning, sure enough, there were a half-dozen Centerpoint trucks on our street.  Around 10 am on Thursday, March 29, the power to our house was turned off.  There wouldn't be any Newsletter work until our power came back on.  No computers, no TV, no lights, no air-conditioning.  It was painful to be reminded how dependent we are on electricity.   But it wasn't all bad.  Since we had been warned in advance, I was able to schedule a morning of errands to avoid the inconvenience.  


When I got home that afternoon, I noticed the power was back on.  All right!  Home stretch.  Time to finish the Newsletter. 

Except when I sat down, I made a terrible discovery - I had no Roadrunner again!  I groaned.  For the third time in a week, I had no access to email and the Internet.  How would I ever finish the Newsletter?

So I called Roadrunner and got the same message as last time- 'problems in the Heights; please be patient'.  I assumed all the work that Centerpoint was doing that day had disrupted Roadrunner.  After all, Time Warner and Centerpoint and ATT use the same poles.  Now Thursday was completely shot. 

Meanwhile my brother-in-law Larry and his wife Roz flew into town Thursday evening for their Easter weekend visit at our house.  
Although I was really happy to see Larry and Roz, I have to be honest and say the futility of the Newsletter was haunting my conscience at every turn.   

I still had a chance.  I crossed my fingers and hoped that Roadrunner would be back up on Friday.  I had a major commitment on Friday - I had promised Marla I would join the three of them on Friday for a visit to the French Masters Art exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts that afternoon.  However if I got up early, all I had to do was put the finishing touch on the newsletter on Friday morning and it would be good to go. 

So at 6 am on Friday morning, April 6, I got out of bed and went to my computer for my last chance at getting the Newsletter out.  I may have been exhausted and bleary-eyed, but I was determined to finish my work.  So imagine my consternation when I discovered I still had no Internet connection.  The cable was still out!! 

Softly so as not to awaken Roz or Larry, I said a very serious curse word.  What had I ever done to deserve this insanity?  

I decided I had one last shot.  If Roadrunner would come back on Saturday, we would be good to go.  But when Saturday rolled around, the cable was still out. That is when I became suspicious.  Three days was a long time for a 'temporary outage'.  So I called Roadrunner Tech Support.  They said there were no outages in my area, so they scheduled a service appointment.

I sat in my office Monday morning twiddling my thumbs.  The man was supposed to be there from 7-11 am.  At 11 am, no one had shown up.  Just as I called Roadrunner to see what the problem was, the doorbell rang.  The serviceman walked in, replaced my cable modem, and was gone in 5 minutes.  Just like that, problem solved.  

I was really frustrated. My old modem had been the problem all along, but the coincidence of the Heights reports on Time Warners' answering machine and the Centerpoint activity had completely tricked me.   I had assumed that Centerpoint's electrical work on Thursday had been responsible for the latest problem when in reality the modem was going out.  What a stupid mistake.  Due to my ignorance, I was unable to access the Internet for five crucial days. 

How ridiculous is it to send out an April Newsletter in the second week of the semester?  By the time most people got the email, it would time to start registering for May.  So that was the end of my three week long nightmare.   I threw in the towel.  And now you know my excuse.

One more thing - as I finished writing this article, Marla reminded me to call Time Warner.  The cable TV is out at the studio.  Does that sound familiar?


-----Original Message-----
From: Gary Richardson
Sent: Saturday, April 28, 2007 5:42 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: May Email Newsletters

I had a great deal of difficulty helping to send out the newsletters because my Roadrunner kept going in and out.  What a nightmare!

Roadrunner tech came out to the store and replaced my cable modem and it seems to have solved our problem, so only one group had to be resent and only 31 went out of it successfully the first time so very few (31) will get a newsletter twice.

sorry it took so long. Now all but one has gone out fine and I will send it out in the morning.




April  was quite a month - three weddings and one engagement.  Wow!

-----Original Message-----
From: Tamara Kidwiler
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2007 6:36 AM
Subject: engagement

Rick,  Jason and I met at Tumbleweed Texas dancing on April 2, 2005!!  Jason had already taken dance lessons. He impressed me from the first night I met him. As a pilot, he was soon to be leaving for training in Salt Lake City. I was still in physician assistant school and studying a tremendous amount.  

We knew that we had found someone special and made time for each other! Our love continued to grow through deaths in the family, Jason's move to Chicago with Skywest airline, PA graduation, a vacation to Jason's grandparents' farm in South Dakota, and then our engagement in Prague, Czech Republic.

I am 50% Czechoslovakian, and I had always wanted to trace back my heritage. We had planned a trip there in April 2006. Jason surprised me by a romantic proposal on Charles Bridge!! The country was beautiful and we highly recommend this vacation site to everyone.
 During our engagement, Jason and I began taking dance lessons. I was taught by my father to dance at an early age, but never professional dance. Our experience at SSQQ has been terrific! Our wedding is planned for April 21, 2007 and since it is fast approaching, many details are awaiting completion. We are taking a break from dance lessons for now.

We will be back soon-- we promise!

Tom Huddleston and Bette Polishak came up to me at the studio on Sunday afternoon, April 1, with a grin on their face.  I knew immediately what they were up to!

Even though it was April Fool's Day, based on their smiles I had a hunch they were quite serious about announcing their engagement. 

Bette confirmed that Tom got down on his knees to propose.  Awesome!  In fact, I think she said he did it twice... once before the ring and once again after the ring just to be sure.  I'm sure you ladies like that story.

See ring pictured at right. Oh, that's Tom and Bette in the picture behind the ring in case you didn't see them.  Congratulations!


It is my understanding that Keith and Betty were married on April 14 with a reception party at Wild West.

I will add details when they come in, but for now let this wonderful couple serve as yet another reminder that it is wise to either smile for all Halloween Party pictures or to send me a better picture ASAP!


As this Newsletter goes out, SSQQ Martian Whip instructors Bryan Spivey and Lisa Palmer will be getting married on Saturday, April 28. 

Bryan and Lisa met here at SSQQ 5 years ago.  They began dating in 2004 and in 2005 they became engaged.  

In the next newsletter we will have lots of pictures!


Becky and John Sartain were married last year, but their Halloween snapshot was the only picture I had. 

Thank goodness their friend Lin Mills sent me a definite improvement!



10. STORY IN THE NEWS: Woman dropped on head alleges 'negligent dancing' -

Woman dropped on head alleges 'negligent dancing' (contributed by BK Moring)
POSTED: 9:25 a.m. EDT, April 3, 2007

Story Highlights• Lacey Hindman, 22, is suing a dancing partner

• She says she was dropped on her head at an office party

• Attorney David Baum says his client is a victim of "negligent dancing"

• Hindman suffered a fractured skull and brain injury, suit says

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- A woman is suing her dance partner, claiming he dropped her on her head after flipping her into the air at an office party.

Lacey Hindman, 22, was a victim of "negligent dancing," says her lawyer, David M. Baum.

In the suit, Hindman claims that during a party at a Chicago bar and restaurant in April 2006, David Prange grabbed her by the forearms and tossed her in the air, and then she crashed to the wood floor.

"I was in the air, over him," Hindman said. "I fell hard enough you could hear the impact of me hitting the floor over the sound from the jukebox."

Hindman said in the suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, that she suffered a fractured skull and brain injuries. She is seeking damages for medical bills and lost wages for time missed from work.

Hindman worked for Prange's wife, Kate Prange, at Shop Girl, a women's boutique.

There was no immediate response to a call seeking comment from David Prange on Tuesday.




-----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

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
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





Editor's Note:  As you will soon read, these are exciting times to be cruising!   I have always felt completely safe on every cruise ship I have been on.  That said, with the incredible number of ships and passengers, the odds are always there that something can happen. 

Angry Cruise Tourists Break Mugger's Neck
Story contributed by Steve Casko

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, Feb 24 (Reuters )

A group of U.S. tourists, including a former Marine, killed a Costa Rican mugger by breaking his neck after he pulled a gun on them in a Caribbean port, a local police official said on Thursday.

The cruise ship passengers told police they jumped on Wagner Segura, 20, to defend themselves when he pointed a .38 caliber revolver at them near the Caribbean port of Limon on Wednesday, and somehow snapped his neck, regional police director Luis Hernandez said.

Segura died instantly and two other unidentified thieves, one of whom was armed with a knife, fled the scene, Hernandez said.

"One of the tourists was a former Marine and he was probably the one who broke (Segura's) neck," Hernandez said. "The man obviously knew what he was doing. The mugger's neck was completely snapped in two."

No charges will be filed against the tourists because police viewed the incident as an act of self-defense. Police questioned and released the group, which rejoined the cruise and left Cost Rica.

The Americans were passengers aboard the Carnival cruise ship Legend. They got off their tour bus to take photos in a notoriously rough neighborhood a short drive from Limon.
After the attack, they put Segura's body on their bus and found a police officer in Limon to report the incident.


Greek Cruise Liner Sinks

On Thursday, April 5, a cruise ship sailing in Greek waters known as the Sea Diamond struck underwater rocks near the coast of Santorini, Greece, and began taking on water.  Passengers and crew abandoned ship in a rescue operation described as "chaotic" and "orderly" depending on various reports.  However everyone appeared to get off the ship.  15 hours after the collision, the vessel sank into the Aegean Sea.

After extensive head counting, it was determined that all but two of the Sea Diamond's 1,156 passengers and 391 crew members were safely evacuated by military and commercial ships and local fishermen.  Unfortunately a 45-year-old Frenchman and his 16-year-old daughter were found to be missing.  Divers continued to search for the missing passengers in adjacent waters and soon a remote-controlled undersea probe was being readied to search the sunken ship, resting in approximately 300 feet of water (the sink's unstable position prevented a human search.)

The accident was an ecological catastrophe.  Many gallons of the ship's oil immediately leaked into nearby areas and a massive containment operation was underway.

The ship, owned by Louis Cruise Line, was in the midst of a 4-night Greek Islands cruise.  It was just minutes from anchoring in the harbor when it sailed into rocks marked with warning lights and clearly indicated on navigation charts (these rocks were part of an underwater extinct volcano formation that is are said to be well-known to anyone with even the slightest experience in these waters.)

Not surprisingly, t
he captain of the Sea Diamond and five other officers and crew members have been charged with causing a shipwreck through negligence, breaching international shipping safety regulations and polluting the environment. The captain has said the ship was on a normal course when a strong current caused it to move suddenly to the right, and although the order was given to turn the ship to the left, the ship could not be turned in time. The investigation is continuing.

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

Associated Press
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, Benson said.

She said that the two, who have requested that no personal information be released about them, had only minor injuries. She said that they were not married, but did not know how long they had known each other.

The ship, the Grand Princess, was about 150 miles off the coast of Galveston when friends notified the crew around 1:30 a.m. that the two had fallen, Benson said.

The captain turned the ship around, and the crew used high-powered spotlights to scan the water and launched rescue boats to find them. One passenger was pulled into a rescue boat around 5:30 a.m., and the other was found about 30 minutes later, according to a statement by the cruise line. A Coast Guard helicopter crew, called in to help, spotted the male passenger.

"Just falling 50 feet, you can do some serious damage and basically knock the wind out of you," said Coast Guard swimmer Micah Franklin, who participated in the rescue. "If you survive that part, then you've got, depending on your swimming ability, how long are you going to be able to survive in the seas."

The waves were swelling up to 6 feet, and the wind was gusting to up to 30 mph, Franklin told NBC's Today show on Monday. He was he was impressed the two survived.

Benson said the railing around the cabin balcony is at least 4 feet high and meets all standard safety requirements.

She said that the man, who was wearing no clothes when he was rescued, told them he took off his clothes in the water as a survival tactic.

The ship was on its way to Costa Maya on Mexico's coastline, Benson said. The Grand Princess was carrying 2,783 passengers on a seven-day tour of the western Caribbean.

DENVER — An Air Force Academy cadet who plunged about 50 feet from a cruise ship balcony into the ocean with a female passenger thanked his rescuers today but would not discuss the details of what happened.

Ernesto Guzman, 22, and Celeste Clarice Partee, 20, fell from the balcony of Partee's cabin on Princess Cruises' Grand Princess about 150 miles off the coast of Galveston on March 25.

Both were rescued hours later by boats launched from the ship.

In a statement issued through the academy, Guzman thanked Princess Cruises and the U.S. Coast Guard.

"The combination of their quick response and my water survival training at the United States Air Force Academy combined to save my life during those five hours in the Gulf of Mexico," said Guzman, a junior at the school.

The company has not disclosed the circumstances of the incident or identified the 20-year-old woman involved.

"We have concluded that their going overboard was an accident, and we consider the matter closed," the company said in a March 26 statement.

(Editor's Note:  I have three questions. 

One, how many of you believe the man took off all his clothes as a survival tactic?
Two, why does the paper identify the name of the female victim, then point out the cruise line won't release her name?
Three, why do you suppose Mr. Naked Survival Tactic Guzman will not explain what happened?

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to 'accidentally' fall off one of the ship balconies?  They come up to most people's chests.

Here are some possible explanations:
1) They fell overboard in a drunken frenzy
2) They read my article on
Costa Maya and decided anything was better than going there.
3)  Hmm. I can't think of any other explanations.

All I know is:  Cruise trips are getting more interesting all the time.

The Cruise Bruise Reports a Different Tale

(Editor's Note: The entire story reported by the press was so hokey that I decided to do some hokey-pokey of my own and see if any other reports had surfaced.  Sure enough, I found a web site known as Cruise Bruise that published a much different version of our story and confirms exactly what I said above. The Cruise Bruise website apparently specializes in all things unfortunate that happen on cruises.)


A Cruise Bruise visitor named Rob Jones tells a different story about the Guzman incident.  The Cruise Bruise visitor says he was on this cruise and says the mainstream media representation of the incident is inaccurate.

Rob Jones says, "Forget the saving and survival garbage, I just got home yesterday from that sailing. I'm offended that you guys label him a hero. He's a punk cadet that will not represent our country well in the Air Force."

Jones says that during the balance of the cruise, everyone was talking about the incident, and the story unfolded quite differently than earlier thought. The story was, Guzman was not acting in a manner that would have been considered honorable.

Jones tells us according to onboard reports, "They were drunk and having sex on the railing of their room. They had met earlier in the day, partied that night, got kicked out of the on-board nightclub and resumed in their rooms. That's when they went overboard and why he was naked in the water."

This version is also alluded to in a passenger video at You Tube, the poster says, "March 24, 2007, as the Grand Princess was leaving Galveston, Texas. A few hours later a couple, doing who knows what, fell overboard.  If you look closely you might see the cabin where the tryst took place"

This contradicts another story circulating on ABC news.  That report says that they were both fooling around on the balcony and they decided they wanted to lean over and pretend they were in that movie 'The Titanic'. The term "fooling around" could mean many things, however.


Another passenger onboard this cruise, a travel agent staying in a cabin several decks above the deck where the incident took place, confirms that the couple were involved in a lover's tryst when the accident took place.

Sandy Darley says that she looked over her balcony and saw the couple going at it.  She snapped a picture of the two, she says, so the flash would go off, and let them know other passengers could see what they were doing.

Darley says the flash didn't go off, so she went back into her cabin to check the camera.  Right after that, she says she heard a crash, followed by shouts for the woman, who she later learned had gone overboard.

Her photo documented the time the two went overboard, and she rushed to relay that information to the ship's officers so they could pinpoint exactly where the couple went overboard.

While the couple is seeking privacy after the incident, Darley confirms they were not seeking enough of it beforehand, and their indiscretion contributed to the incident.

(Editor's Note: Isn't it amazing that when a story sounds fishy and smells fishy, it turns out to be a complete lie?)



14. story in the news: Ten of the best April Fool's Day hoaxes ever
Sent in by Chris Holmes

From television revealing that spaghetti grows on trees to advertisements for the left-handed burger, the tradition of April Fool's Day stories in the media has a weird and wonderful history.

Here are 10 of the top April Fool's Day pranks ever pulled off, as judged by the San Diego-based Museum of Hoaxes for their notoriety, absurdity, and number of people duped.

-- In 1957, a BBC television show announced that thanks to a mild winter and the virtual elimination of the spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. Footage of Swiss farmers pulling strands of spaghetti from trees prompted a barrage of calls from people wanting to know how to grow their own spaghetti at home.

-- In 1985, Sports Illustrated magazine published a story that a rookie baseball pitcher who could reportedly throw a ball at 270 kilometers per hour (168 miles per hour) was set to join the New York Mets. Finch was said to have mastered his skill -- pitching significantly faster than anyone else has ever managed -- in a Tibetan monastery. Mets fans' celebrations were short-lived.

-- Sweden in 1962 had only one television channel, which broadcast in black and white. The station's technical expert appeared on the news to announce that thanks to a newly developed technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to receive color pictures by pulling a nylon stocking over the screen. In fact, they had to wait until 1970.

-- In 1996, American fast-food chain Taco Bell announced that it had bought Philadelphia's Liberty Bell, a historic symbol of American independence, from the federal government and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell.

Outraged citizens called to express their anger before Taco Bell revealed the hoax. Then-White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale and said the Lincoln Memorial in Washington had also been sold and was to be renamed the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial after the automotive giant.

-- In 1977, British newspaper The Guardian published a seven-page supplement for the 10th anniversary of San Serriffe, a small republic located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semicolon-shaped islands. A series of articles described the geography and culture of the two main islands, named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse.

-- In 1992, US National Public Radio announced that Richard Nixon was running for president again. His new campaign slogan was, "I didn't do anything wrong, and I won't do it again." They even had clips of Nixon announcing his candidacy. Listeners flooded the show with calls expressing their outrage. Nixon's voice actually turned out to be that of impersonator Rich Little.

-- In 1998, a newsletter titled New Mexicans for Science and Reason carried an article that the state of Alabama had voted to change the value of pi from 3.14159 to the "Biblical value" of 3.0.

-- Burger King, another American fast-food chain, published a full-page advertisement in USA Today in 1998 announcing the introduction of the "Left-Handed Whopper," specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new burger included the same ingredients as the original, but the condiments were rotated 180 degrees. The chain said it received thousands of requests for the new burger, as well as orders for the original "right-handed" version.

-- Discover Magazine announced in 1995 that a highly respected biologist, Aprile Pazzo (Italian for April Fool), had discovered a new species in Antarctica: the hotheaded naked ice borer. The creatures were described as having bony plates on their heads that became burning hot, allowing the animals to bore through ice at high speed -- a technique they used to hunt penguins.

-- Noted British astronomer Patrick Moore announced on the radio in 1976 that at 9:47 am, a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event, in which Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, would cause a gravitational alignment that would reduce the Earth's gravity. Moore told listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment of the planetary alignment, they would experience a floating sensation. Hundreds of people called in to report feeling the sensation.



-----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



This is a new feature that begins 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 as well regarding the studio and the web site.   Hope you enjoy the new feature.


-----Original Message-----
From: Debbie V
Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2007 12:29 AM
Subject: ssqq newsletter

I certainly don't want to be taken off your mailing list!

As a matter of fact, I would like to continue to receive your newsletters and would appreciate you changing my email address.

I enjoy reading every copy...and if I hadn't hurt my knee 2 years ago, I'd be stepping with the best! I was scheduled to start my very first class with SSQQ on July 12, 2005 when I fell and hurt my knee at work on July 9th...a real bummer!  Can't seem to get the knee back.   Thank you!   Debbie


-----Original Message-----
From: mina
Sent: Monday, April 02, 2007 12:16 AM
Subject: question about class history

Hey,  My name is Mina G..... I was wondering if you can access my file and tell me which salsa classes i took already?
If I decided to repeat any of the courses, is there a discount?

Thanks, Mina G

(FYI: Most people can access their own history by going to the SSQQ Online Registration page and click the HISTORY link.  All you need is your name and your birthday.)


-----Original Message-----
From: Tresa
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 4:05 PM
Subject: Dam Letter from the Government

Rick, you have got to read this smart-ass letter about a Beaver Dam some guy sent to the government.  You will be in stitches.

Rick's Response: Surprise, Tresa, I already have that infamous letter on the ssqq web site and it is indeed hysterical.  Here is the opening paragraph from the ssqq web site:

In July 1997, a Michigan man noticed flooding on his property. He traced the problem back to a dam on a nearby stream. He complained to the Michigan Dept of Environmental Quality.

Five months later, the agency responded with a letter to the offending land owner. Written by David Price, a Michigan DEQ official, the tone was quite threatening. Citing the "unauthorized construction of the dams", the letter demanded the property owner "cease and desist" any further construction and remove the offensive dams under penalty of $10,000 a day!

The letter was a comedy of errors. First it was sent by certified mail to the wrong man. When the letter finally reached the correct owner, Mr. Stephen Tvedten, he said he would be happy to help, except he didn't build the dams. A bunch of beavers did.

What makes this story so interesting is the classic letter that Tvedten wrote in response.

Go visit Beaver Dam and read for yourself how one man responded to a letter from the government demanding that his beavers stop building dams on his property!


-----Original Message-----
From: Bob L
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 9:39 AM
Subject: Drug House

Where would one look into buying this?
Thanks, Bob

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 11:05 AM
To: Bob L
Subject: RE: Drug House

I heard it burned down.

-----Original Message-----
From: matt s
Sent: Tuesday, December 26, 2006 12:38 PM
Subject: Fred Strunk's pot mine

I am Fred Strunk's nephew. It's December 2006, and I am just now finding out about this. Please reply

-----Original Message-----
From: Malcolm C
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 7:34 AM
Subject: Pot Farm

Hey Rick...  Outstanding Web Page... Thanks so much for all the work. Well done, awesome, & interesting!!!

Thanks again, Mal

On Nov 30, 2006, at 6:02 AM, Rick Archer wrote:

How did you find that page?  I was going to announce it today in the new December Newsletter.

Thanks for the compliment. I hope it didn’t show I was rooting for the crooks…. ;-)

-----Original Message-----
From: Malcolm C
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 1:57 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Pot Farm

Hi Rick...

I did a search in "Dogpile" for it... A friend had sent it to me in an email previously (how to do that is over my head), & I had saved it as a "Draft", but I had lost it accidentally when I was installing an updated email program...

I use it periodically when I minister at a Boy's Prison camp in a "Keynote" presentation (they love it)... Although I'm a pastor now, I'm a retired Robbery-Homicide Detective, & it is a great piece to share with the kids as an object lesson...

Re the "rooting for the crooks", yeh, it kinda came across that way initially, but I thought your analogies were really good, & at least from my point of view, you brought it back "on track" again very nicely...

Anyhow, the kids really appreciate it, as do I (only now I can give you credit when I share it), & I thank you once again for all the effort you put into it... I sure hope I'm not violating any copyright laws in sharing this with the kids...

If you have done or ever will do any similar pieces in the future, & there is a way to tuck me into your, "NOTIFY WHEN COMPLETED FILE" that would be great...

Sincerely, respectfully, & with much gratitude,


On Nov 30, 2006, at 12:44 PM, Rick Archer wrote:

Ah, you ran across it with a Search Engine. That makes sense.

As I said in the article, I am a law-abiding citizen. I pay my taxes, have little debt, and have never been arrested for anything in my life. I am respectable enough that I am fortunate to have a policeman working for me as a part-time dance teacher. I consider him a friend so I hope he doesn’t get mad at me when he reads this story.

I suppose my sympathy for the bad guys in this story revolves around the fact that I don’t think marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol and there were no victims (except for the power company that was out $61,000).

If anything, this story is a law enforcement coup! It shows no matter how smart the bad guys think they are and no matter how clever their well-financed operation is, they will probably make some mistake that will trip them up in the end.

Moral of the story: Crime doesn’t pay.

Why else would law enforcement people put this story out on the Internet for people like me to see? They probably would be pleased to see it getting as much coverage as possible.

I wish I could think of another story to help you with, but I think this story is one of a kind on my web site. Thanks again for the nice words.


-----Original Message-----
From: Malcolm C
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 5:02 PM
Subject: Pot Farm

You're more than welcome Rick... It's been great chatting with you!!!

All the best, Mal

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard from the United Kingdom
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2007 8:10 AM
Subject: Russian Wives

Hi, Just read your article about the weed farm in Tennessee, it was good to get a bit more information because I had seen pictures of the same place before but without the background.

However, in your article you also write:

"The last time I heard of Robert, he was running a business for men who wanted to marry Russian wives. From Russia With Love!! Same old Robert - always into risky business. Some people just aren't cut out for the normal life. They would rather live life on the edge of danger."

"Don't cheaters win some of the time? If it isn't Fred, then it is my old friend Robert trying to cash in on a pathetic scam like Russian wives. "

I fail to see why running a dating agency is living on the edge of danger, or why Russian wives are a pathetic scam. Many people in western Europe, including myself, have met their wife from former Soviet states now in the EU and are very happy. The UK and Ireland has a large community of Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian workers as well as some Russians, who all came here to work. The women from Russia and ex-Soviet eastern Europe are in the main wonderful, kind and traditional in a way that has not been seen in the west for 1 or 2 generations. It is slightly offensive to read someone would consider the whole idea of meeting women from there pathetic.

Anyway I enjoyed the rest of the article but felt I had to write to you about that!

Best Wishes, Robert

(My Response: This one left me speechless.  He may have a point.)

-----Original Message-----
From: Joe Smith
Sent: Tuesday, February 27, 2007 11:09 AM
Subject: Your Article ...POT

Mr. Archer

I just read the article about the house in Tennessee. As I read in fascination, I realized, it really wasn't the information that was keeping my interest. It was the way this information was being told. Your descriptive dialog is what was intriguing.
Your very good, at letting people see your personality. Now your probably thinking this is a compliment and it surely is, but the reason I'm contacting you is. I'm wondering, if you would perhaps be interested in Ghost Writing a manuscript I wrote back in the Eighties. I think its very good, but of coarse I would. I am not as gifted a writer as you. It was something I did, to see if I could, as I always had a yearn. But once you do this, you see your limits and face the truth. So I packed it away.

This day and age there are several ways to publish any writing. I dont know, the legal obstacles, that would surface. But I know 50% of something is better then 50 %, of nothing . As it could be alot of work for nothing. Just a thought.

Thank you for your time.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Sunday, March 04, 2007 2:30 PM
To: Joe Smith
Subject: pot farm RE: Your Article ...POT

Bless your heart, you have given me a wonderful compliment. Thank you very much.

I will be honest - I run two businesses (dance studio, travel agency) that I can barely keep up with as is. I can't see any chance of finding any free time to help you as I continue to write my own stories.

Nevertheless, I am deeply touched by your request. I am very grateful that you have thought of me in this way.




-----Original Message-----
From: Hans Hofmeister
Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 5:52 PM
Cc: Hans Hofmeister
Subject: 6 Part "Advice to Men"

Hi Rick,
Thanks so much for taking the time to write the Mens' Advice part of the SSQQ website.

You have written a lot of very helpful points with good stories to illustrate them. I appreciate these hints for how to better approach the opportunity of SSQQ!

Have a great day, Hans Hofmeister

 -----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Thursday, September 07, 2006 12:22 PM
To: Hans Hofmeister
Subject: Advice to Men

Thanks for the nice words, Hans. I wrote it to help others to avoid all the mistakes I made.  If a couple of men could sidestep even a few of the many stupid things I had to learn the hard way, then my effort was justified.  I appreciate your kind encouragement.



-----Original Message-----
From: jim landureth
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2007 10:44 PM
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?


-----Original Message-----
From: S. Garrison
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 12:30 PM
Subject: Your website made me happy!

Dear Mr. Archer:

A couple weeks ago I happened to be in Houston late and wanted a beer. Since I left Houston in 83, I don't know who is who there anymore. Some local directed me down the street to a place called the Westwind?? I believe. (off 290)  While there I got to talking to these folks next to me and we were talking about the old clubs and who was who and the Winchester came up.

It seems that both of us had lost a hell of a lot of brain cells there and we talked about Ike Sweat and the Cotton Eyed Joe.  So I went to the DJ, and asked him if he had Cotton eyed Joe. He said yes and played Ike Sweat's version from Live at the Winchester. Well I was just looking on the net for a copy of that recording and found your website. Sure made me happy. I was never much of a dancer, but I sure was good at drinking too much and meeting women there.

They sure were some good times.

You don't know what you've got till it's gone........................

BTW if you ever remember a 6'8" hippie/biker there it was probably me.

Doug (Stretch) Garrison

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 5:57 PM
To: S. Garrison
Subject: RE: Your website made me happy!

Thank you, Stretch.

I imagine my story is the only place on the web where pictures and memories of the Winchester Club are listed.

I just finished it a few weeks ago and I am glad to know some other fans of the place have found it.

I appreciate your kind words.

(Editor's Note: The Winchester Club was the place where SSQQ got its name. If you have never read the story, I guarantee you have a big smile after you find out what happened.  The Winchester Club was also the place where SSQQ first began to marry off couples right and left.  The old adage was that you came to the studio without a partner, but you definitely left with one.  The story about the Winchester Club is a good story.)






-----Original Message-----
From: Diane Murrell 
Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2007 10:58 AM
Subject: newsletter

Rick, would you mind mentioning my new book a little in the next newsletter?

It is called "Friends Learn About Tobin" and is a sequel to my book "Tobin Learns to make Friends".

Both books are for children ages 4 - 9 and deal with social skills concerns. They assist children who have autistic spectrum disorder (ASD currently has a prevalence rate of 1 in every 150 kids according to the CDC 2007 ) and may also be used to help typical peers understand the child with an ASD.

The books are published by Future Horizons Publishing House and available online through the publisher, or Amazon, or can be ordered through local bookstores. They will be placed later this year in Walmart and can be ordered through Walmart on-line.








We publish one Picture Joke each month. The April picture joke is called "The Hungry Deer".  It was sent in by my friend Gerald McEathron.

SSQQ has acquired about 600 jokes over the last ten years.  Each month we roll another 50 or so for your reading pleasure.
Please visit our
Joke Hall of Fame

This month Gareld wins both prizes.  Here is one of my favorite Hall of Fame Jokes taken from the April collection. Actually this Irish joke is brand new. Gareld sent it in a week ago.  With St Patrick's Day around the corner, I thought you would enjoy it.  

April BS 18: The Irish Bar - Gareld McEathron

John O'Reilly hoisted his beer and said, "Here's to spending the rest of me life between the legs of me wife!"

That won him the top prize at the pub for the best toast of the night! Another beer came sliding down the bar as his reward.

Proud of himself, O'Reilly went home and told his wife, Mary, "I won the prize for the Best toast of the night".

She said, "Aye, did ye now. And what was your toast?"

John hesitated, but thinking fast he said, "Here's to spending the rest of me life, sitting in church beside me wife."

"Oh, that is very nice indeed, John!" Mary said.

The next day, Mary ran into one of John's drinking buddies on the street corner.

Upon seeing her, the man chuckled and grinned at her leeringly. He said, "You know, Mary, your husband John won the prize the other night at the pub with a splendid toast about you."

Mary replied, "Aye, he told me, and I was a bit surprised myself. You know, he really doesn't spend much time there, maybe twice in the last four years. The first time he fell asleep, and the other time I had to pull him by the ears to make him come."


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

Rick Archer  (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 the 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.



As surely you know, recently former football star Emmitt Smith and his professional dance partner Cheryl Burke were crowned the winners of this weekly dance show.  They best the team of Mario Lopez and his partner, professional dancer Karina Smirnoff.

This result was just as stupid as it could possibly be.  I had no complaints with the dancing of Emmitt Smith. I enjoyed watching him immensely.   But for his dancing to be better than that of Mario Lopez?  C'mon now.  What a joke!

Mario Lopez was the most gifted male dancer I have seen on the show. He has a phenomenal talent for dance.  If he were to train and compete against professionals, I imagine he would do quite well.  So let's just call the result what it was: a popularity contest. 

The decision was not based on dancing, but on Emmitt Smith's fame as a professional athlete.

A similar thing happened in the First season of the show.  In June 2005, hotsy totsy Kelly Monaco and her partner Alec Mazo scored a narrow victory over John O'Hurley and his partner Charlotte Jørgensen.  Kelly and Alec managed to get two miracle 10s in their final performance despite the fact that she nearly fell down twice in the routine.  The result was a complete farce. 

I wrote about it in the newsletter at the time. 
Dancing with the Stars 2005

I completely skipped the Second season because I could not stand how the outcome had been rigged in the First Season.

But one night in October 2006, my wife was watching an episode of Season Three when I walked in, so I decided to watch a while.  I was impressed.  First the caliber of the celebrities had clearly risen from D-List unknowns in Season One to people I had actually heard of in Season Three.  Second, the majority of these people were very good dancers.  They were obviously taking their dancing seriously!  So Marla and I watched practically every week after that.

I skipped the final show because I was certain Emmitt Smith was going to win and I knew it would make me angry.  I am not the only one who thought this way. I grabbed the following quote of the Internet. I took me about 20 seconds to find someone who agreed with me:



Besides Emmitt's popularity, the other reason I was certain Emmitt would win is because America loves the Underdog.  Mario lost because he was too good!  Every Bubba and Yahoo in America resented this gifted, pretty boy dancer and decided to teach him a lesson. 

You know how I guessed?  The same thing happened to me once.   Sharon Crawford (Shaw) and I were the victims of the exact same phenomenon back in 1988. 

If you want to read a funny story, visit



Last month 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.

I have written many stories over the years, but this particular story made more people mad than I ever would have imagined.  I received several emails commenting on the runaround I wrote about.  I will share with you the most interesting one.

-----Original Message-----
From: Brian N
Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 5:30 PM
Subject: Kathy Han

Email I sent to Judge Kathy Han:

Judge Han, you should be embarrassed if the story titled 'My Day in Court' is true. Your position as a judge is designed to benefit society, but in actuality it seems to be a cancer. Although you failed to extend the same courtesy to Rick Archer, I will give you the opportunity to explain your side of the story and how Rick Archer's treatment in your courtroom was not a mere "shakedown" as he put it. If it was a shakedown, you have no right, absolutely none, to preside on behalf of the people.

Brian N

From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 5:54 PM
To: Brian N
Subject: RE: Kathy Han


I will be curious to see if she responds.

-----Original Message-----
From: Brian N
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 9:12 AM
To: 'Rick Archer'
Subject: RE: Kathy Han

I doubt she will respond. Regardless, I believe you are correct; she is concerned about her reputation. Perhaps a few more scathing emails from others may be cause for change. I applaud you for taking the time to document your experience, despite the immateriality of the "alleged" crime.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2006 1:13 PM
To: Brian N
Subject: RE: Kathy Han

I am one of those people who firmly believe that bullies will walk on people unless they think someone is watching.

That is why I am grateful for the freedom our media is given here in America.



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: Malcolm C
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 7:34 AM
Subject: Pot Farm

Hey Rick...  Outstanding Web Page... Thanks so much for all the work on 'Pot Farm'. Well done, awesome, & interesting!!!

Thanks again,  Mal C

On Nov 30, 2006, at 6:02 AM, Rick Archer wrote:

How did you find that page? I was going to announce it today in the new Newsletter and you beat me to it.

Thanks for the compliment. I hope it didn’t show I was rooting for the crooks…. ;-)


-----Original Message-----
From: Malcolm C
Sent: Thursday, November 30, 2006 1:57 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Pot Farm

Hi Rick...

I did a search in "Dogpile" for it... A friend had sent it to me in an email previously (how to do that is over my head), & I had saved it as a "Draft", but I had lost it accidentally when I was installing an updated email program...

I use it periodically when I minister at a Boy's Prison camp in a "Keynote" presentation (they love it)... Although I'm a pastor now, I'm a retired Robbery-Homicide Detective, & it is a great piece to share with the kids as an object lesson...

Re the "rooting for the crooks", yeh, it kinda came across that way initially, but I thought your analogies were really good, & at least from my point of view, you brought it back "on track" again very nicely...

Anyhow, the kids really appreciate it, as do I (only now I can give you credit when I share it), & I thank you once again for all the effort you put into it...

Sincerely, respectfully, & with much gratitude,  mal



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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