This is the First SSQQ
Newsletter for December 2008
The SSQQ Newsletter is written by Rick
Archer (whenever he gets around to it)
Today’s Newsletter is 35 pages long. See how many trees we
save by reading it on our computer?
Quick Note: In my Rant from two Newsletters ago, I asked
people to be nicer to my Registration Staff. I am pleased
to report that after three days of December Registration,
Marla says there has not been one negative incident. Thank
Quick Quick Note: We are decorating the studio for
Christmas on Wednesday, November 25, at 11 am. This is when
we put up the Dickens Village. If anyone would like to
help, come on by. We should be there till at least 2 pm,
probably longer since it is a big project.
We currently have 10 pages of Halloween pictures posted. Go
Starting on Wednesday, November 26, I am teaching an
interesting course titled “Sinatra Foxtrot.”
This course is something of an experiment. By and large, I
enjoy Ballroom Dancing. When we dance to Ballroom Music on
our cruises, I always enjoy the elegance of Ballroom Dancing
in such a beautiful setting. However, it hasn’t always been
this way. Of the two “Smooth” Ballroom Dances, I absolutely
love to Waltz, but I have always disliked the Foxtrot.
Maybe ‘dislike’ is too strong a word. Actually I like the
music a lot. Who can deny that Frank Sinatra is one of the
greatest singers in history?
But I have always had two objections to the Foxtrot that
kept me from enjoying the dance.
My first objection is that the footwork I knew didn’t fit
the speed of the music very well. You see, Foxtrot and the
Twostep both use the same Slow Slow Quick Quick patterns.
Except that Foxtrot music is typically 50 or 60 beats slower
than Twostep music. SSQQ footwork felt comfortable to the
speeds of Twostep music, but I didn’t feel like the Foxtrot
moved fast enough when I used the SSQQ patterns.
My second objection was that most of the women I danced with
had trouble with rhythm switches. It turns out that Foxtrot
actually uses two rhythms: Slow Slow Quick Quick (SSQQ) or
Slow Quick Quick Slow Quick Quick (SQQ SQQ). That second
rhythm is usually associated with a Foxtrot pattern known as
the Box Step.
Whenever I would switch back and forth between the two
rhythms, most women would have fits trying to follow. They
would stumble and get frustrated. You can blame my poor
leads if you want, but in my heart I know I lead pretty
well. One day I asked my instructor to lead me. Sure
enough, I had fits with the rhythm switches as well. I am
not saying it can’t be done, but I am saying that it is
tricky to follow even for experienced ladies.
One night I noticed the Box footwork seemed to fit the
Sinatra music tempo better than the SSQQ footwork. I also
noticed that if I stuck completely to that one rhythm, the
women had no trouble following. Since I preferred the Box
Step rhythm, I found myself increasingly ignoring the SSQQ
patterns and sticking strictly to Box Step patterns.
Then one day I got to thinking. If Waltz patterns can be
adapted to move around the floor to create a style of
dancing known as Western Waltz, why couldn’t the same be
done for Foxtrot? After all, there is a Twinkle in Western
Waltz and a Twinkle in Foxtrot. Who ever said the Foxtrot
Twinkle had to stay in one spot on the floor? If the Waltz
Twinkle can travel, why not see if the Foxtrot Twinkle can
travel as well?
So I began to experiment with my Western Waltz patterns. Lo
and behold, almost every single Western Waltz pattern
converted over to Box rhythm (SQQ SQQ) effortlessly. The
next thing I knew, I was circling around the floor using
Western Waltz patterns adapted to Foxtrot.
I was pleased. In the space of five minutes, I had created
for myself an entire new style of traveling Foxtrot.
Affectionately known as “Boxfox”, I liked the traveling, I
liked the fact that not changing the rhythm made it easier
for my partners to follow, and, best of all, now I was
moving at the right speed for the Sinatra music.
Whereas I once dreaded having to dance the Foxtrot, now I
began to look forward to every opportunity. I finally had
something interesting to offer the ladies on the floor. And
guess what? The ladies loved it!
The ladies enjoyed the traveling just like I did, they
enjoyed not worrying about the rhythm switches any more, and
they liked the increase in tempo. But more than anything
else, the ladies were very happy to dance to anything sung
by Frank Sinatra. Elvis and the Beatles may have made them
scream, but Sinatra music touches much deeper with his
sophisticated lyrics and cool delivery.
“Witchcraft”. “The Way You Look Tonight”. “It Happened in
Monterrey”. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”. “Night and
Day”. “New York New York”.
The ladies love every moment of every song. They get very
soft and warm. Cher Longoria always tells me that any guy
who can spin her around the floor to music this good becomes
an instant champion in her eyes.
If you like Sinatra, then I bet you will like this course.
THE BENEFIT: NICE WORK, EVERYBODY!
On Saturday, November 22, SSQQ hosted the Mr. Hat
Country-Western Dance Party that served to honor the memory
of our departed friend Gary Schweinle as well as to benefit
his financially-strapped widow Tracy.
I am proud to report that 200 people came by to show their
respect for Gary and to Tracy as well. The many smiles and
the laughter were a sight to behold.
So many people brought food that there was a huge spread
resembling a down-home country potluck dinner. The food,
the friends, and the dancing all worked in tandem as people
danced well into the night.
In addition to the people who attended, Gary and Tracy were
on the minds of many people who were there in spirit if not
body. A group of Swing Dancers who attended a party at
Charlie Denton’s house were kind enough to take a collection
of their own and make generous donation to Tracy the
The money was significant, but far more important was the
incredible warmth showered on Tracy by the many guests on
I can report with great satisfaction that for the most part
Tracy had a big smile throughout the evening. I think she is
almost ready to face the world again.
Speaking of smiles, everyone was pleasantly surprised to see
Mr. Grouch (me) actually beaming throughout the evening.
After my recent “RANT” a couple weeks ago, a fire-breathing
dragon seemed a real possibility. Surprise Surprise, I
actually enjoyed myself throughout the evening. It was fun
doing a good thing for a good person. Lots of people
thanked me for hosting the benefit. Truth be told, I
considered it an honor to throw the party. Marla and I
agreed it was one of the happiest, warmest events we have
And we were so touched by the constant generosity shown by
our guests towards Tracy. Many people contributed way more
than we asked them to. They didn’t want their names
printed, they didn’t want anyone to fuss over them, and they
didn’t want any credit. They just wanted to help.
There are some really great people that hang out at this
dance studio. Let me tell you - You all did a really good
thing. I am so proud of all of you. Thank you. RA
AND NOW TRACY HERSELF WOULD LIKE TO THANK YOU
Sent: Tuesday, November 25, 2008 12:49 AM
Subject: Benefit party
Dear Rick, Marla, and everyone at SSQQ,
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU, Thank you, THANK YOU
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Saturday night was the best night I have
had since my darling Gary had to leave me.
Gary would have been so proud to see ALL the people that
attended in his honor to help me. I know he was there with
us. I could feel him there, and so did alot of other people.
It is so comforting to me now, to be around all of our
friends. It helps me so much to talk about Gary, and share
stories, and receive the hugs, especially the
hugs.....because that is one of the things I miss the most,
is feeling his loving arms around me.
I am overwhelmed with the generosity of our SSQQ family.
This has been the most difficult time of my entire life.
The worst part was losing the best thing that ever happened
to me. But add on top of that losing our home, and not
having the resources left to me to carry on what Gary would
have wanted me to do.....has been devastating. He was too
busy being on our honeymoon to make sure that I was taken
care of. I do not fault Gary for that. I would have done
exactly as he did. I am at least grateful that Gary was able
to provide for his children......they are just as big a
victim in this whole tragedy as I am, and I hope that all of
Gary's SSQQ family, will cont. to keep, Kimberly, Amanda,
Valarie and Heather in their thoughts and prayers as much as
they have done for me.
What everyone at SSQQ did for me Saturday night....is to
help me move on with my life. I know that it will be
possible to continue forward, because I have such a HUGE
family @ SSQQ. For the first time since Gary died, I had a
little bit of fun. I just wish that he would have been
there beside me, like he always was, to share in our mutual
joy. Even though I know he was there in spirit.....I would
have much preferred he be there holding my hand....But God
has bigger plans for Gary, and who am I to hold him back?
From myself, and Gary, thanks to everyone who made this
possible. I CAN'T thank you enough.
With much love, Tracy
THE 2009 BARCELONA
A letter from Marla Archer
“Buenas Dias Everyone!
I have some great news!
The down trend in the economy does have some benefits. . .
The price for the inside and oceanview cabins on our
Barcelona Cruise next year have been reduced.
Here are the new rates:
Category N Inside
$966 per person double occupancy ($100
reduction for those of you without math
Category I Oceanview
$1206 per person double occupancy ($150
Continental Airlines currently has roundtrip airfare to
Barcelona around $1000 per person.
It might be a good idea to purchase your air now while the
rates are down if you aren't using miles.
Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
Top things to do in Barcelona
Story written by Marla Archer
The first and foremost thing I want to do in Barcelona is to
take in the all the culture and architecture of this
wondrous city. Barcelona is steeped in culture and history,
so this is an excellent place to sightsee.
Barcelona is most famous for the fantastic architecture of
Antonio Gaudi, whose buildings are scattered throughout the
centre of the city. Gaudi's work is admired by architects
around the World as being one of the most unique and
distinctive architectural styles. From the very beginning,
his designs were different from those of his
contemporaries. Gaudi's work was greatly influenced by
forms of nature and this is reflected by the use of curved
construction stones, twisted iron sculptures, and
organic-like forms which are traits of Gaudi's Barcelona
architecture. Gaudi also adorned many of his buildings with
coloured tiles arranged in mosaic patterns. This added
another important dimension to his buildings, which is so
often overlooked by architects - the use of colour. The
combination of original design, interesting shaped
stonework, and vibrant colours in Gaudi's work give the
viewer a truly breathtaking visual experience. The most
famous and impressive of Gaudi's architecture can be seen
along Passieg De Gracia where you will find La Pedrera and
Casa Batlo and Parc Guell. Parc Guell is a gorgeous parc
designed by the man himself. From the outside, the façade
of Casa Batlló looks like it has been made from skulls and
bones. The "Skulls" are in fact balconies and the "bones"
are supporting pillars. Gaudi used colours and shapes found
in marine life as inspiration for his creativity in this
building e.g. the colours chosen for the façade are those
found in natural coral. This building is a stunning and
original work and well worth the visit.
However, what I am most interested in seeing is the Sagrada
Familia, which is the most impressive of Gaudi´s works. It
is a huge, still unfinished temple. It has been under
construction since 1882. You can’t help but to be humbled
by such an imposing and ambitious project. The detail on
the exterior walls is just staggering, but beware, if you
are scared of heights don’t be tempted to climb to the top
of the turrets. Rick doesn't know it, but I plan for us to
go all the way to the top. All that working out at the gym
will come in really handy now. Let’s see if Mr. Basketball
can keep up with me.
Next thing on my list is to visit the Gothic Quarter, the
old town of Barcelona. The Gothic Quarter is filled with
cobblestone streets and tall old buildings. The giant
Barcelona Gothic Cathedral is the focal point of interest in
this area. Picasso was born and spent most of his youth
here. I hear that Barcelona has plenty of museums to
keep me happy. Rick has Friend, his beloved handheld
computer chess game, so he will surely be happy escorting me
everywhere I want to go.
The Museum of Modern Art and the CCCB next door are
definitely worth taking a look at. I hear that they
generally have good exhibitions every month. The Museum of
Modern Art is worth a visit not only for the artwork but
also for fabulous view you'll get of Barcelona. The museum
is home to a wide range of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance
and Baroque artwork and artifacts including paintings,
carvings, sculptures, metalwork, and enamels. The museum
also exhibits the largest collection of Catalán art in
Spain. The museum is host to the large collection of
Catalán artwork from the 19th to early 20th century from the
old MNAC at Parc Ciutadella. If you want to find out what
the terms new-classicism, modernism and realism mean, this
museum is for you. I can't wait to see The Picasso Museum
and the permanent Dali exhibition in the Gothic Quarter.
Another stop will be The Caixa Forum. This free museum is
popular with the locals but pretty much ignored by
tourists. Near the Caixa Forum is the Museum of Catalan
Art. It is so beautiful inside and out.
After taking in all the wonderful culture that Barcelona
offers, I am looking forward to taking a romantic stroll
down the Las Ramblas with my honey.
The word Rambla, derived from the
Arabic word ‘ramla’, serves as a reminder that in earlier
times, the street was a gully that ran parallel to the
medieval wall, and carried rainwater down to the sea. Now,
Las Ramblas is Spain’s most famous street, a boulevard lined
with trees, which is almost 2km long and is dotted with
hotels, cafes, restaurants, and newsstands. It stretches
from Placa de Catalunya, a main square full of shops,
restaurants, and banks, located at the centre of the city,
down to the monument of Columbus on the waterfront. The
avenue is broken up into five sections, each with its own
name and characteristics. The first one is La Rambla de
Canaletes, which was named after the fountain Font de les
Canaletes. Legend says that whomever drinks from this
fountain will forever keep returning to Barcelona. The next
area is named after the Estudi General (university) and is
called La Rambla dels Estudis. But some also call it La
Rambla dels Ocells (avenue of the birds), because of its
many places selling birds and small animals. Next is La
Rambla de les Flors, where you can buy all kinds of flowers.
Maybe Rick will buy me a flower to wear in my hair. As we
finish our stroll, we will approach the seafront, La Rambla
de Mar where there is an aquarium, restaurants, movie
theatres and several popular nightclubs.
This leads me to my next event in
Barcelona -- eating! Hooray!!!! Barcelona has great food,
there is no doubt about it. You can get anything you want
from international food to Catalan favourites, tapas to
seafood platters. Tapas is my favorite way of
eating, little bites of a whole bunch of different flavors
washed down with a good glass of wine. Tapas is to
Barcelona what gelatto is to Rome. Rick and I better
research this ahead of time, so we don't end up with a
repeat of our gelatto shakedown story while we were in Rome.
I hear there is even a gourmet tapas walking tour; you get 7
tapas and 3 glasses of wine for 55 euro, not too bad a
deal. This is certainly a better deal than 36 euro for an
ice cream cone in Rome. Be prepared to eat late in
Barcelona. Lunch is usually at 2 pm and dinner at 10 pm.
This worked out great for us when we were in Rome. After
walking our feet off all day, we had a chance to get a
couple hours of rest before we headed back out.
If time permits, I really want to make a side trip to the
Montserrat Monastery. This may turn out to be the
highlight of our visit.
Barcelona Montserrat is a spectacularly beautiful
Benedictine monk mountain retreat about one hour North West
from Barcelona by train. Montserrat Monastery is known for
its significant religious importance. In addition the
natural beauty surrounding the monastery is simply
breathtaking. One of my favorite things to do is to take
nature walks. There are some interesting walks through the
mountains where you can experience magnificent views of some
of the most unusual rock formations in the whole of
Catalonia. You can take a funicular to the top of the
mountain and from there you can choose a number of different
walks, all with amazing views of the Catalonian
The history of Montserrat is fascinating and started in 880
when a small group of shepherd children saw a bright light
descending from the sky in the Montserrat Mountains. In the
same moment the children heard angels singing and the music
filled their hearts with a radiant joy. A local vicar was
brought to the scene and witnessed the same experiences as
the children and parents. The visions occurred in the same
location in a cave on Montserrat mountain. When this cave
was explored by the religious elders of the community they
found an image of the Virgin Mary. And from that moment on
the cave became a holy sanctuary for religious pilgrims.
Today the site of the visions has been marked by a Holy
Grotto on the mountain. You can walk to the Holy Grotto and
see first hand where these events took place. The Holy
Grotto has now be ordained a holy place and is visited by
pilgrims and curious onlookers from all over the world.
Overwhelmed by the experience the children ran home to
frantically recall the experience to their parents. The
parents were skeptical but knew their children were
trustworthy and honest and so they went to where the
children had experienced the visions to see if they could
see what all the fuss was about. For the whole month
following the first visitation the parents were also witness
to the same heavenly experiences and were left with only one
conclusion. The visions were a sign from God.
Having filled my cultural and spiritual needs, in addition
to stuffing myself full of tapas and vino, it will be time
to spend a relaxing moment at the Parc de la Ciutadella, which is an oasis in the city. This is a
wonderful place to have a picnic. After a little wine,
cheese and bread, it will be the perfect opportunity for a
little siesta. Some of Rick and my favorite moments during
the New England Cruise were when we found a peaceful park
and rested in each others arms. It certainly was romantic.
At the northern corner of the park is the Cascada, a
triumphal arch with waterfall and fountain built for the
1888 Universal exhibition. The baroque construction designed
by Josep Fontsère, responsible for the conversion of the
citadel site into a park, took six years to complete. The
design was loosely based on the Trevi Fountain in Rome. The
architect was assisted by Antoni Gaudí, at the time still a
Another park that I think Rick would enjoy is Parc del
Laberint d'Horta. It is a labyrinth. Rick's favorite part
of "The Shining" is where Jack gets lost in the maze and
ends up freezing to death. Rick loves puzzles. This maze
is a life size puzzle. I will just make sure I don't
schedule our visit on the same day that the ship sails. We
wouldn't want to miss the ship!
So many wondrous things to see and do, Barcelona is
certainly worth coming in a few days early or staying a few
days after the cruise.
SSQQ SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE
Bruce Hanka and Mara Rivas recently
announced their engagement. I believe they plan a late
SSQQ Salsa Instructors Luis Castillo and Olga Bochareva also
announced their engagement. They plan their wedding for
late February next year.
Congratulations to both wonderful
Contributed by Denny Morse
Rick Archer’s Note: I took the test and passed. Barely.
Hopefully you will receive this test in a text format that
won’t ruin the test. One more thing - Good luck finding the
“N” in Number 3.
This is a REAL neurological test. Be
seated comfortably and feel calm.
1- Find the C below. Do not use any cursor help.
2- If you already found the C, now find the 6 below.
3- Now find the N below. It's a little more difficult..
This is NOT a joke. If you were able to pass these 3 tests,
you can cancel your annual visit to your neurologist. Your
brain is great and you're far from having Alzheimer Disease.
ISSUE REGARDING ON-LINE REGISTRATION
for On-Line Registration had to be tightened up not too long
ago. My friend Susan Arevalo discovered that we had somehow
managed to come up with quite a few duplicate student IDs.
Now it is true
that most people don’t worry much about having their dance
history stolen by another student, but when your credit card
starts paying for someone with the same student ID as you,
then that is a different matter entirely.
Susan made it
impossible from now on to have any more duplicate IDs.
Currently you must enter the exact ID and your exact email
address in order to use On-Line.
As a result there have been a few headaches, but a simple to
firstname.lastname@example.org usually gets it cleared up nicely.
Here is a funny
example from a couple days ago:
November 24, 2008 11:35 AM
As we were just
discussing by phone, I was trying to register online using
my new debit/credit bankcard and it was declined twice, in
spite of ample funds in my account.
I'm wondering if the problem is the fact that I'm using a
different credit card # than what SSQQ has previously had on
file for me. My registration ID is WHATEVER.
Thanks for any
light you can shed on the issue, N
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 12:10 PM
Subject: On-line Registration Issue Resolved!
with my bank again regarding the credit card issue & online
registration, and they are alleging a glitch in their
computers that did not allow account access (and therefore
declined all transactions.) Soooo….it appears the glitch is
NOT at the SSQQ end!
Sorry for any
REPLY TO EMAIL
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 12:20 PM
Subject: RE: On-line Registration Issue Resolved!
I can’t believe it wasn’t our fault. Typically my studio is
blamed for everything from the collapse of the stock market
to disruption in the ozone layer. I am very relieved!
REGARDING RICK ARCHER’S SELF-DIAGNOSED
Sent: Sunday, November 23, 2008 3:37 PM
To: SSQQ Newsletter
Subject: When Is it Self Diagnosed Burnout?
In my humble opinion, you are not
burned out. Your mental resiliency and physical ability are
very high for your age. Look around you.
More than likely, you are still
grieving the death of your friends, Gary and Michael.
A friend of mine learned about grief in
Her marriage of 27 years ended, her 42
year old boyfriend died of a heart attack, her mother died,
her inheritance was commandeered and her sister-in- law of
18 years died of cancer.
Now, when she is faced with heartache
and grief, she doesn't shutdown..... Instead she takes
vacation days and goes hiking, goes to Mexico
and does whatever she needs to do to get herself refreshed
I have been taught to let my business
to run itself, it doesn't run me.
As an owner, you have manager(s) who
can run the studio briefly. You have trained registrars and
instructors. Will it all fall apart if you take off for a
week to yourself?
You are a smart lad and with your wife,
I hope you can figure out what is best for your mental
RICK ARCHER’S REPLY
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 10:57 AM
Subject: RE: When Is it Self Diagnosed Burnout?
Regarding your reference to the burnout I wrote about in my Rant
two Newsletters ago, the fact is that I enjoy my job. I
enjoy teaching and I enjoy writing.
But I have created a monster. I could spend EVERY DAY of
the week answering emails, writing travelogues, posting
pictures, adding stories and jokes on the web site and
So you say I could cut back, well, every time I cut back
suddenly I get pestered by the countless people who are
impatient to see this that or the other thing on my web
site. The email pressure alone is overwhelming at times.
In addition to the RUDENESS to my Staff that needs to stop
now, I get sick and tired of being pestered to do this that
and the other thing. That issue was a major part of my
But an occasional rant like the one from two newsletters ago
usually cuts down on the complaints to make my job tolerable
Unfortunately that doesn’t solve the fact that there are two
other issues that could mark the end of the circus.
One, I am very reluctant to sign another lease at my age
when the current one expires in 16 months.
Two, I have no protégé. There is not one person I can think
of who is prepared to take my place at the studio at this
moment in time.
Until these two enormous obstacles resolve themselves, the
future of the studio remains in doubt.
THE WOMAN WHO DEMANDED TOO MUCH
Rick Archer’s Note: In the email above, the writer asserts that
I can let the job run itself and leave when I get too
stressed out. It is true that I can leave for a week at a
time. I have done so many times with the cruise trip for
But it is very difficult to walk away from the email
pressure. You might be stunned to discover the kind of
demands some people put out there.
I could be wrong, but this might actually be the most
obnoxious email person I have ever run across. I openly
admit there was something about her I could not stand from
the moment I read her very first email.
Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 3:32
Subject: Request to Reschedule Class
I had registered online to begin C&W
dance class tonight, however, my neighbor who I was going to
attend with is unable to come for the next two weeks due to
mandatory meetings scheduled at work. Is it possible for me
to switch to Sunday classes and begin this Sunday. Sunday
will work better as I don't do well with driving at night
and then she and I can ride together. Please let me know as
I don't want to lose my $40 and I DO want to take the
classes. Thank you very much.
RICK ARCHER’S REPLY TO EMAIL ONE
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 8:41
Subject: RE: Request to Reschedule
Yes, you can come all three nights the
class is offered
Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 4:02
Subject: Fw: Request to Reschedule
I'm SO sorry. I just realized that the
Sunday class I requested in my email below started LAST
Sunday. This is my first time trying to get into a class so
can you please let me know when the next Sunday would be
that we could start without missing any classes and if I can
transfer my $40 from my Wednesday class that was to begin
tonight to a new Sunday class? Thank you so much for your
RICK ARCHER’S REPLY TO EMAIL TWO
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:32
Subject: RE: Request to Reschedule
This is the first week of classes; you
can come Friday and start from scratch. Or just start
Sunday… the first hour will review all that you missed and
you can come another night… wed or fri… and get even more
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 8:12
Subject: Rick Please Reply
I sent you an email yesterday regarding
my request to switch class schedules due to a conflict my
friend (that I'm coming with) was having with work. I would
like to switch to Sunday classes beginning with the next
class that begins a new class. Please reply and let me know
if that is ok as I really don't want to just lose the $40
and I really want to take the classes.
I was told by a lady I spoke to when I
called that I needed to email you and let you know my
request and that you would send me a written confirmation of
the change. Can you please do this so I will know when I am
to start the next Sunday session that BEGINS a new class.
Thank you very much.
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 8:49
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Request to Reschedule
I've sent another email saying that I
made a mistake in the email below as I want to begin a
Sunday class when I can attend all 4 classes. Can you
please let me know what date a class would again start from
the beginning so I can begin from the beginning with other
students and is there something you need to send me showing
that I have the right to be in the class since my current
receipt shows a past start date? Thanks Rick.
(Rick Archer’s Note: After I finished
responding to Email Two, I turned my computer off for the
rest of the day.
As it happened, I was still EXHAUSTED from the Halloween
Party. Thursday was the first day where I felt like could
relax a little.
But around 8 pm that same night I decided to check my
email. I was surprised to discover not one, not two, but
three separate emails from this woman.
For some reason, there are people out there who think an
email must be responded to within 24 hours. There are days
when I working on the computer that I do respond fairly
quickly. And then there are days when don’t want to be
anywhere near the computer.
Okay, this lady has officially gotten under my skin. I will
admit I felt like I was under email attack. I had already
answered this woman twice in two days and now here were
three more emails. The woman had now changed her mind for
the third time. Can you make up your mind?
Trying to do the best I could, I issued the woman a receipt
that would allow her to transfer her western class to
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 11:20
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Request to Reschedule
I am so not trying to be difficult but
I just really want to make sure that I get to start on the
very first class day of a Sunday Class. The schedule shows
classes actually started last Sunday, October 26th. Can you
tell me when the next beginning Sunday class will be, even
if it's in December? I want to start on the same day as
everyone else and not feel like I'm playing catchup. I hope
you can understand. Please let me know when the next Sunday
class schedule begins. I would like to start then if
possible. Thank you so much for your patience.
RICK ARCHER’S REPLY TO EMAIL FIVE
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 8:33
Subject: authorization to retake beg
twostep on sunday nov 23 2008
Oct 26, 2008 Beginning Two
Step/Polka ANONYMOUS AUTH/TKT Oct 23, 2008
Print this out and bring it with you in
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:15
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: authorization to retake
beg twostep on sunday nov 23 2008
THANK YOU SO MUCH Rick. I really
appreciate it. I promise, I'm not usual this much trouble.
LOL I'll be there on the 23rd!
(Rick Archer’s Note: Okay, this lady
says she is officially a happy customer. Wonderful. Now
leave me alone.
Two weeks passed. Then the next set of emails began.)
Sent: Friday, November 14, 2008 4:50 PM
To: SSQQ Newsletter
Subject: Re: November 2008 SSQQ
Newsletter Issue Three
As a new member, I also subscribed to
the Newsletter but I must admit, although I COMPLETELY
understand how overwhelming doing all of this can be on
someone, I'm now a bit afraid to continue my membership
(beginning class is November 23rd) for fear I'll show up
again and the doors will be locked and I won't be able to
finish my classes.
I have two friends that were to join
and come with me as well. Please give me your honest
opinion as to whether or not it is worth our effort and
interest to come take lessons if you are seriously
considering closing the entire organization. If this is a
genuine possibility at all, then I would prefer a refund of
my $40.00 so that I am not left out in the cold.
A response would be greatly
appreciated. From a personal standpoint, having been in
charge of a monthly newsletter and the pressure I felt
having to do it, I would have no problem whatsoever with not
having one. A schedule of classes and/or practice times
would be fine with me. If people want pictures, I'd
encourage them to bring their own cameras and take their own
darn pictures. LOL There, that's my two cents. I haven't
even met you and yet I could so feel your frustration and
borderline anger at the people being so demanding.
Remember, there are many people in this
world that are "takers" and they will take and take without
a second thought and that will include your time and
energy. The main focus if you choose to continue should be
dance classes, not a newsletter or even organization of
group trips. I hope writing all of that at least let you
"vent" and feel a little better, however, I would like to
know if you would rather refund my money or if I should show
up on the 23rd as planned. Thank you and have a nice
(Rick Archer’s Note: I deeply resented
the tone of this letter.
She wanted me to write and give her my honest opinion
whether it would be worth her effort and interest to take
lessons from us.
I thought this was an odd sentence…” A response would be
For starters, no one in their right mind would ever respond
to this email for fear that ten more would follow! But it
also occurred to me this might be someone who is used to
having people ignore her emails.
Undeterred, one week later this woman writes again. This
week she begs for help trying to unsubscribe to my
newsletter. Do you believe these emails are real or do you
think I just make this stuff up?)
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2008 2:12
Subject: Unsubscribe to Newsletter Not
I am trying to unsubscribe to the SSQQ
Newsletter but I am getting a message that says:
“The page you are trying to access does
not exist. Please check the URL and try again.”
Can you please remove me for the
Newsletter Email List.
(Rick Archer’s Note: I actually
chuckled at this email. Can you imagine someone emailing
to ask your help for something this stupid?)
Sent: Friday, November 21, 2008 11:38
Subject: Refund Request, Why & PLEASE
I would like to request a refund of my
$40 for a class that was to begin on Sunday, November 30th.
I had written you previously about my concerns from what I
was reading in the Newsletter and mentioned my concerns in
that email about whether to continue with my membership or
not. To date I have received no response from you and would
like to request that my $40 be refunded as I do not believe
from what I am reading in the Newsletters that this is what
I was bargaining for. I am asking that you reply to this
email and let me know what I have to do in order to get my
money credited back to my bank account.
(Rick Archer’s Note: There are several
approaches I can take with email. The simplest thing to do
is not answer this at all. I am guessing this is how a lot
of people handle this woman. I surmise this based on her
“Please Reply” Subject lines in capital letters.
The next thing to do is to give a perfunctory response, sort
of a canned nondescript inoffensive robotic response. That
is probably what I should have done here.
But instead I decided to test out a theory of mine.
Back in September 2009 I wrote an article titled “COMPLAINT
OF THE MONTH - WHY CAN'T I EXCHANGE MY GROUP CLASS TUITION
FOR PRIVATE LESSONS?”
This was an article about people who ask for Refunds. In
the article I concluded that in my experience whenever
someone asks for a Refund, they are permanently lost as a
customer. Not one person in my 30 years has ever come back
after requesting a refund.
Figuring I had nothing to lose by telling the truth, I
decided to tell this woman exactly what was on my mind and
see how she would react. Here is what I said)
RICK ARCHER’S REPLY TO EMAIL NINE
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, November 21, 2008 2:42 PM
Subject: RE: Refund Request, Why &
This is your ninth email in a three
week period. Since you ask 'why' I don't respond, I am
going to tell you the truth… I have never felt so bombarded
with emails in so short a time by any other student in my
entire life. This explains why I am reluctant to continue
to reply since I am certain it will only invite more emails
on your part.
Every email is a demand for attention.
There has to be a limit. If every student emailed me as
often as you do, I believe I would never have a moment of
As for refunds, based on the rules of
our studio, the time to ask for a refund has long since
I hope you will simply take the class
you paid for over a month ago. Just because you and I have
gotten off on the wrong foot doesn't mean you won't have an
enjoyable experience in class.
EMAIL TEN – THE END OF THE STORY
Sent: Friday, November 21, 2008 3:10 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Refund Request, Why &
If I wrote what I really would like to
say to you Mr. Archer, I would be no better than you in how
you choose to handle people and difficulties so let it
suffice to say that although you are mistaken in several
items you listed in your email, all it takes is for a person
to read the pages and pages and pages of text that you call
a "Newsletter" to know that it is merely a way for you to
"vent" your frustations in life and show the weak and
emotionally fragile man that you must be to always be so
hostile. Here's a suggestion. The $40 which you choose to
keep of mine under false pretenses, why don't you use it to
either seek counseling or an anger management class as
everyone that comes in contact with you would be better
off. Example: I read the email in your Newsletter where
you THREW money on the floor back at 2 people that requested
a refund rightly or wrongly. Hence your NEED for anger
management. You must be a sad little man Mr. Archer. Thank
you for your reply as it just confirmed what my gut was
telling me about you and your studio. I will never need $40
badly enough to wallow in the same world of self pity and
hatred that you live in. Although I'm certain your head is
about to explode off the top of your head from anger as you
read this, resist the urge to reply as you are officially
"blocked" from my yahoo account and your emails will never
even reach my Inbox.
Feeling only pity for you Mr. Archer
(Rick Archer’s Note. Well, now you see
what happens when you tell someone exactly “WHY” you don’t
respond to their emails.
Dealing with the public can be quite an adventure.
Personally, I far prefer email as a form of communication
over the phone. Email allows me to respond when it is
convenient for me. The phone rings whenever I don’t want it
But email can also be a trap. If you aren’t careful, you
can spend every waking hour responding to email. And that
is why I prefer to keep many of my email responses short and
Obviously in this woman’s case, she didn’t like my style one
bit. Oh well.)
WHEN A PUBLIC AREA IS NO LONGER CONSIDERED A
(Rick Archer’s Note: This is an odd
story. I have my own point of view, but I won’t bother you
with it. Mostly I think it is an interesting situation.
Both sides have good arguments.
Santa Monica: The
Place Where the Traffic Median Is a No-Pilates Zone
From The New York Times
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
November 24, 2008
SANTA MONICA, Calif. —
From his squad car on a sun-drenched corner, Lemont Davis, a
Santa Monica park ranger, spotted the perpetrator: white
male, 40 to 45 years old, feet pressed against palm tree,
legs fully extended in situp position.
Residents' complaints about noisy
exercisers on a Santa Monica traffic median led to
enforcement of a law few had heard of.
Mr. Davis strode from his vehicle,
stopping just feet from the wide traffic median where Kieran
Clarke was clearly breaking the law. “Sorry, sir,” he said,
“I need to inform you that this area is for walking and
jogging only.” Mr. Clarke, who had been working his
abdominals, stood up and quietly walked away.
That warning the other day was among
hundreds that have been issued in a culturally tumultuous
crackdown by Santa Monica officials against violators of a
city ordinance, rarely enforced till now, that bars
congregating on traffic medians.
The target is increasingly loud,
littering and generally intrusive groups of exercisers who
gather from dawn until dusk along the Fourth Street median.
The ocean view, the air and for some the architectural
spectacle have transformed the area into a huge outdoor gym
rimmed by multimillion-dollar homes.
In the last six months, park rangers,
dispatched by the Santa Monica Police Department in response
to complaining neighbors, have stationed themselves on the
corner of Fourth Street and Adelaide Drive during much of
the day, at the ready to break up any unauthorized
kickboxing. “I agree with the residents that they should not
be rousted out of bed by a professional gym instructor at 6
in the morning saying, ‘One, two, three, four!’ ” said Bobby
Shriver, a Santa Monica city councilman (“Recently
re-elected with an even greater margin than I won by last
time!”), who lives on Adelaide Drive but says he did not
request the enforcement.
Since the patrols began, the city has
issued eight citations for the flouting of the median law —
the fine is $158 — and has given warnings, which are
generally heeded, to about 600 people a month.
“Most people will comply,” said Mr.
Davis, the park ranger.
While the median ordinance covers every
grassy stretch of its kind in the city, the one at Fourth
Street is where the workout overload occurs.
The area has long been a runner’s
paradise, and people also use it to sprint up and down an
enormous set of concrete steps that lead to the beach. “The
use of the median has been going on for years,” Mr. Shriver
said, adding that what has apparently happened more recently
“is the commercialization by these boot-camp-type groups.”
Naturally a fair share of exercisers
are unhappy with the new enforcement, and at a recent City
Council meeting, officials batted the matter around: Would
the law withstand legal challenges? What constitutes too
“early” to be awoken by whistles? But there was no
Now a community meeting to address
median use is set for Jan. 8, “just to see if we can’t get
some common-sense solutions,” said Kate Vernez, assistant to
the city manager.
“What we are trying to do,” Ms. Vernez
said, “is mediate between residents who have seen an uptick
in use of the median, with pickup gyms and the like, and the
James Birch, a music executive from the
neighborhood, is among those Santa Monicans who have not
taken well to enforcement of the law, which was passed in
the 1970s and, it is believed, was intended to keep vagrants
After 15 years of working out on the
median, Mr. Birch arrived there one day in mid-September and
saw five officers. “I went up to them,” he recalled, “and
said, ‘What’s the deal here?’ They put up these trendy new
yellow signs. The cops just looked at me and said, ‘We’ve
been told by the watch commander that we’re supposed to run
people off here.’ I told them I was going to break the law.”
So he did. One morning he showed up at
the median, video crew in tow, and refused to cease doing
situps. The exchange that followed was posted on YouTube.
“They let me do it for about three
minutes,” said Mr. Birch, 63, “and then came over and said:
‘If you continue doing this, I will arrest you. It’s not
allowed here.’ ”
Though he was arrested, he said, the
officers did not handcuff him, to his chagrin. “I asked them
to,” he said. “But they found out they could only do what
was procedurally appropriate.”
He did get a ticket, though, and now
awaits his day in court.
“I just want to go and do my push-ups
and situps that I have been doing for 15 minutes three times
a week for the last 15 years,” he said.
On a recent morning, the area was alive
with joggers, some of them pushing strollers, others walking
large dogs; a dozen people with demeanors ranging from
doleful to boastful trotting up the steps; and at least one
trainer pushing his client to move it.
An extremely fit woman of indeterminate
Los Angeles age pulled her Mercedes up to the curb on
Adelaide Drive, popped open her trunk, pulled out a
five-pound weight and began lifting.
Geoff Parcells, who was running along
the street, said that he sympathized with residents but that
the area “is a public place” and that he did not quite know
how to view the enhanced enforcement.
“If I lived here and there were all
really good-looking people working out, I probably wouldn’t
mind,” said Mr. Parcells, 45. “So I guess it depends on who
parks in front of your house.”
THE AMAZING ONE-WING
Back at the start of November, my buddy
Gary Richardson sent me a totally amazing video of a stunt
pilot who landed a plane that had lost one wing during
The stunt pilot was doing a loop for a flying show when it
appeared one of the plane’s two wings snapped off in
mid-air. People in the audience below started screaming
bloody murder. They were certain this plane would not only
crash, but it might crash on them as well!
Just when you thought the pilot was a
goner, he miraculously uprighted the out of control plane at
the last second and landed safely. It was a very impressive
performance! It was flying skill that no one would have
ever believed possible if we weren’t seeing it with our own
If you haven’t seen the video, let me
know and I will forward it.
In the meantime, my friend Ann Faget did some snooping
around and discovered this entire video was FAKE!
“It turns out that this was just a clever marketing ploy staged by a
German clothing company and posted on Youtube. I usually
check these things out on snopes.com before I forward them,
but Snopes did not catch up with this one until after I had
passed it on. My apologies”
Ann said the
actual footage of the airplane landing with only one wing
was done with a model airplane. Even though the video is
fake, you have to be impressed at how good a job they did in
fooling us. It makes you realize how easy it is to fool
people now with video imagery.
we were thrilled to see a video shot of a woman who caught a
fly ball at a baseball game. It was the most sensational
catch I have ever seen. This woman appeared to climb a
ten-foot wall like she was spiderman or something. This
video also turned out to be fake.
You just can’t believe anything anymore!
THE SSQQ JOKE PICTURE OF THE MONTH -
Contributed by Denny Morse and Judy
Personally, I think this month’s joke
picture is one the funniest ever. Denny Morse and Judy
Walsh both sent me an email about weird Headlines. I
combined the best of both emails. You just have to trust
me… you will not be able to stop laughing. Go see the
Headlines immediately. You won’t regret it!
A JOKE ABOUT JESUS
Contributed by Gerald McEathron
(Rick Archer’s note: Any joke about
Jesus has the potential to upset someone, but I didn’t see
anything terribly out of line here. In fact, I smiled all
the way through. I hope you enjoy it too. Certainly you
will agree this joke allows you to put a different light on
the makeup of Jesus.)
There were 3 good arguments that Jesus
1. He called everyone brother.
2. He liked Gospel.
3. He didn't get a fair trial.
But then there were 3 equally good
arguments that Jesus was Jewish:
1. He went into His Father's business.
2. He lived at home until he was 33.
3. He was sure his Mother was a virgin
and his Mother was sure He was God.
But then there were 3 equally good
arguments that Jesus was Italian:
1. He talked with His hands.
2. He had wine with His meals.
3. He used olive oil.
But then there were 3 equally good
arguments that Jesus was a Californian:
1. He never cut His hair.
2. He walked around barefoot all the
3. He started a new religion.
But then there were 3 equally good
arguments that Jesus was an American Indian :
1. He was at peace with nature.
2. He ate a lot of fish.
3. He talked about the Great Spirit.
But then there were 3 equally good
arguments that Jesus was Irish:
1. He never got married.
2. He was always telling stories.
3. He loved green pastures.
But the most compelling evidence of all
- 3 proofs that Jesus was a woman:
1. He fed a crowd at a moment's notice
when there was virtually no food.
2. He kept trying to get a message
across to a bunch of men who just didn't get it.
3. And even when He was dead, He had to
get up because there was still work to do!
JOKE OF THE DAY –
MOTHERS ARE TRICKIER THAN YOU THINK
Contributed by Denny Morse
Brian invited his mother over for
dinner. During the course of the meal, Brian's mother
couldn't help but notice how beautiful Brian's roommate,
Brian's Mom had long been suspicious of a relationship
between Brian and Jennifer, and tonight’s dinner only made
her more curious. Over the course of the evening, while
watching the two interact, she started to wonder if there
was more between Brian and Jennifer than met the eye.
Reading his mom's thoughts, Brian volunteered, 'I know what
you must be thinking, but I assure you Jennifer and I are
About a week later, Jennifer came to Brian saying, 'Ever
since your mother came to dinner, I've been unable to find
the beautiful silver gravy ladle we used that night. You
don't suppose she took it, do you?'
Brian said, 'Well, I doubt it, but I'll send her an e-mail
just to be sure. So he sat down and wrote:
I'm not saying that you 'did' take the
gravy ladle from the house, I'm not saying that you 'did
not' take the gravy ladle. But the fact remains that one has
been missing ever since you were here for dinner. Love,
Several days later, Brian received an
e-mail back from his mother that read:
“Dear Son, I'm not saying that you 'do' sleep with Jennifer,
I'm not saying that you 'do not' sleep with Jennifer. But
the fact remains that if Jennifer is sleeping in her own
bed, she would have found the gravy ladle by now. Love,
LESSON OF THE DAY – DON’T TRY TO FOOL
THE PERFECT HUBBY
Contributed by Tresa Frazier
Jack wakes up with a huge hangover
after attending his Company's Christmas Party. Jack is not
normally a drinker, but the drinks didn't taste like alcohol
at all. He didn't even remember how he got home from the
As bad as he was feeling, he has this
lingering worry that he did something wrong last night. Jack
has to force himself to open his eyes. The first thing he
sees is a couple of aspirins next to a glass of water on the
side table. And next to them lay a single red rose!!
Jack sits up and sees his clothing in
front of him, all clean and pressed. He looks around the
room and sees that it is in perfect order, spotlessly
clean. Something fishy is going on, Jack is certain.
Jack goes to the restroom to get some
water to take the aspirins with. He cringes when he sees a
huge black eye staring back at him in the bathroom mirror.
“How did I get that shiner?” he wonders.
Then he notices a note hanging on the
corner of the mirror written in red with little hearts on it
and a kiss mark from his wife in lipstick:
“Honey, breakfast is on the stove. I
left early to get groceries to make you your favorite dinner
tonight. I love you, darling! Your Sweetheart, Jillian “
Bewildered, Jack stumbles to the
kitchen. He is amazed to discover there is hot breakfast,
steaming hot coffee and, best of all, the morning newspaper.
As he reads the paper, Jack’s son comes
down the stairs. Jack asks, 'Son, do you have any idea what
happened last night?'
“Well, Dad, you came home after 3 A.M.,
drunk and out of your mind. You fell over the coffee table
and broke it and then you puked in the hallway and got that
black eye when you ran into the door.”
Confused, Jack asks his son another
question. “So why didn’t your mother murder me in my sleep
like she always threatens? And why is everything in such
perfect order and so clean? Your mother hates housework!
Why do I have a rose and why is breakfast is on the table
waiting for me??”
His son replies, “Oh THAT! Yeah, well,
there was a moment when I did think you were a goner. Mom
found you passed out on the floor in all that puke. She was
so mad she was ready to cut you into small pieces. She was
cursing up a blue streak as she dragged you to the bedroom
to clean you up. But when she tried to take your pants off,
you screamed, 'Leave me alone, you hussy, I'm happily
WOULD ANY MEN LIKE TO
VOLUNTEER TO HELP WITH RHONWYN’S SUNDAY 430 BEG TWOSTEP
Sent: Monday, November 24, 2008 9:00 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: All call for men to volunteer for Beginning
If you have a hot-line to volunteers
for evening up the partnerships, please send out an S.O.S.
to those men who can help. I was at 5 men and 21 women when
all was counted.....three of us ladies being helpers or
staff...in the Beginning 2-step class on Sunday afternoon.
It was an amazing imbalance the likes of which I have not
ever seen before at our studio.
The women handled it beautifully and
were good sports to take this in stride but I would like to
think we could do better for them for next week. You know
it's nicer if you actually get to practice dancing your own
ABOUT MY TESTIMONIAL TO GARY
I originally wrote the testimony
listed below to read at the Mr. Hat Party. However
once I realized the party had turned into a Celebration of
Gary’s Life, I decided this testimony was far too serious in
tone to share at the party.
That said, let me share something with you. The Mr. Hat
Party was something I thought about doing long before I
learned of Tracy Schweinle’s financial plight. My original
plan was to devote attention to Gary’s memory. But as far
as I was concerned, Tracy really needed our help more than
anything. So I turned the focus of the party from Gary over
As I said earlier, our group came through like champions.
So consider that a mission accomplished.
But in my mind, I was sad that I was unable to focus much
attention on the memory of Gary Schweinle. And guess what?
Gary would have wanted it that way. Gary would have been
very happy that we turned our attention to Tracy’s needs at
a time when he himself was no longer able to help her. So
I am okay with changing the nature of last week’s party.
Nevertheless, there were two people in particular who were
conspicuously absent Saturday night.
One person who was missing from the party was Kimberly
Schweinle, Gary’s lovely 20-something daughter. Kimberly
has been completely distraught over the loss of her Father.
Many people are unaware of this, but Kimberly lost her
mother in a horrible car accident seven years earlier. The
double tragedy that has hit Kim at such a young age has been
a terrible burden for her.
After Gary’s accident, Tracy was unable to go back to work
for months. In a similar fashion, Kimberly has been totally
unable to concentrate on her nursing school studies and has
fallen behind in her studies. Kim says she feels abandoned,
lost, confused… the works.
It is my understanding that there have been some rumors
floating around about Gary’s daughters. As far as I am
concerned, Kim stayed pretty much out of that. In fact,
this past Sunday Kim and Tracy spent two hours together as
they volunteered their time in MG Anseman’s Western class at
the studio. No one ordered Kim to help out last Saturday.
Kim came of her own free will because she remembers SSQQ
with fondness too. It would break my heart if we left Kim
out in the cold.
So I am going to ask another favor. Whatever you have
heard, don’t take it out on Kimberly. She needs a friend,
not someone treating her like some sort of leper. I know
Kimberly is a great kid. Like her father Gary, Kim has been
volunteering her time here at the studio as well for the
past six years. I have watched Kim grow from an angry,
confused kid (right after her mother’s tragic death) to
become a beautiful young lady. Yes, I understand that now
she is back to being angry and confused again… but who
wouldn’t be under the same circumstances?
So the next time you see Kimberly, give her hug, not a
frown. We need to do a complete job of healing. This is
the only wound I can think of that has yet to be handled
correctly. I know her Father would be mighty glad if you
Speaking of Kimberly’s Dad, so what is it that I wanted to
say about Gary at the party last weekend?
I realize that some of this testimonial has previously
appeared in other things I have written about Gary, but I
don’t think you will mind too much. After all, this guy was
so special I will think you will enjoy being reminded of all
the things that made Gary Schweinle special. RA
A TESTIMONIAL TO GARY SCHWEINLE
November 25, 2008
Written by Rick Archer