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Do you like to shop at these stores? What do you buy most often? If you name a few items, I might go try them.

I’ve only been to Trader Joe a couple of times.  I think it’s a little overrated compared to all the praises I’ve heard, but I decided to give it another try. I’m going to a dance workshop at 3-Legged Cowboy this Saturday afternoon, and there’s a Trader Joe next door.

I’ve never been to a Whole Foods yet. Since I live only two miles from the wonderful DeKalb Farmers Market, I’m a little spoiled. But last week a coworker bought a Whole Foods strawberry &cream cake to work and I really enjoyed it, so I decided the explore the store. I found out that there are two stores within four miles from my home, and one of them is also on my way to 3LC.

Weekend Misc.


Got up at 7:50 a.m.; walked 7,000 steps in the neighborhood after breakfast; completed one Rob French C4 tip; read in the library.

Went to Hotlanta Squares’ holiday dance, called by local caller Richard Smith; ate four lemon pepper chicken wings brought by Danny and Bill and two coconut macaroons baked by Dave.


Got up at 8:20 a.m. and went to the DeKalb Farmers Market right after it opened at 9 a.m. I’ve moved my weekly food-shopping trip to a weekend morning to give myself extra incentives to get up earlier.

Surfed on the internet; should have used that time to write a LJ post.

Went to the Chamblee branch library, which has a large collection of Chinese books, and then bought some snack from a Chinese supermarket.

Played a half hour of Wii Fit at Ed’s house before we drove to Hapeville for Matrix South’s holiday dance, called by Hotlanta Squares’ club caller JR. We had a little more than three squares and alternated A2 and C1 for three hours.

I ate plenty of finger foods at the dance, but still cooked a light dinner for myself afterwards, just so that I ate enough vegetables. There was not much time left for LJ after dinner.

Of course I’d like to present my journal in coherent paragraphs instead of sentence fragments, but sometimes setting a high standard is the main reason that I end up doing nothing at all.

2010 Dance Expense - $2,389

I don't have much time posting on Monday nights, because it's Hotlanta Squares' class night.  So I'll post statistics here instead of words.  This year is not over yet, but I'm done with traveling. 

$1,889 for out-of-town square dance weekend.  Click on the journal title to see a better formated table.  I couldn't figure out how to get rid of the extra spaces below the table
 Maryland C4 workshopAACEIAGSDC ConventionSeptember ImportersNovember ImportersTotal
Other Transportation$2$1$5$2.5$2.5$13
Lodgingfree lodging and free meals$156 - four nights with two roommates at hosting hotel$152 - four nights at youth hostel$62 for one night at Redroof Inn$62 for one night at Redroof Inn$432
Hours of dancing112626101083
$ per hour$29$16$21$31$31$23

$500 for local dancing:

$259 for Hotlanta Squares class nights, club dances, raffles, fly-in and membership
$65 for other local square dances
$14 for drinks and coat check at 3-Legged Cowboy
$53 for a-la-carte admissions for the Peachstate Country Western Dance Weekend in March
$5 for my first and only English country dance
$7.5 for C4 MP3s
$96 for estimated dancing related gas cost

Cafe MoMo

This is where I buy my breakfast on weekdays. It’s one of the incentives that motivate me to get up earlier. I’d also recommend it to the convention attendees next year.

It’s located in the Peachtree Center food court. You’ll pass it on your way from the MARTA station to the hosting hotel. For $4.99 a pound, it offers a big buffet that includes all kinds of eggs and breakfast meats, toast, French toast, pancake, potato, grits and fruit. They also sell a Seattle’s Best coffee that has a hint of hazelnut cream flavor, good enough to drink black. (If you want more luxury coffee, there’s a Caribou next to it and a Starbucks across the street that’s a little cheaper than the one in the hotel.)

I’ve been eating there every day since it opened in July, and I never get tired of it because I can pick something different each day. I usually get $2 worth of food and a cup of coffee. I’ve been enjoying it even more since I started getting up earlier, knowing that I now have plenty of time on my hand. I even read a couple pages of my book while sipping my coffee slowly, and then walk to my office feeling refreshed and satisfied. 

It has a lunch buffet too, but it’s not as interesting as its breakfast.

Year-end Resolutions Update

On every work day of this week, I set my alarm at 7:20 a.m., left my bed before 7:30, walked into the Decatur MARTA station before 8, caught the 8 a.m. train, arrived at the Peachtree Center station and bought my breakfast in the food court before 8:30, finished eating by 8:50, and walked into office at 9 a.m.

I made some small changes to my routine to making my early mornings more comfortable:

1.       I turned up my bedtime room temperature by one degree, and in the small unit I live, the difference is quite noticeable. At night I could fall asleep more quickly, and in the morning I was no longer afraid of exposing to the cold air.

2.       Of course the bathroom was the still a little cold, so I brushed my teeth in the shower.

3.       I turned down the volume of my radio. I realized that if I was woken up by a intrusive noise, my natural reaction was to shut it off immediately and do exactly the opposite of what it told me to do. A gentler wakeup call worked much better, and the radio was more pleasant than the buzz sound. For the same reason, I will not use the “put the clock at the other side of the room so you’ll have to get up to shut it off” approach. 

4.       I moved my pillow to the other end of the bed, so now I lay facing a window and I can see more lights in the morning.

5.       Notes to self: I’m doing fine as long as I catch the 8 a.m. train. I don’t need to jump up in the second the alarm goes off. I’m not in the military. It’s OK to stay in bed and listen to a good country song or two, but I try to keep my eyes open during those few minutes.

6.       Selected my clothes and organized my purse for tomorrow before I went to bed.

Lessons learned: Don’t just use my willpower to tolerate something that I dislike. Try to look at it from a different angle and add more joy to it. 

My First Square Dance MP3

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I ordered my first MP3 square dance recording from Keith Rubow.

I’ve been buying cassette tapes since I started learning C4 in the summer of 2005. Why cassette tapes? Because I didn’t have a home computer until a year ago and I still don’t have a MP3 player. I had an AM/FM stereo cassette recorder that a friend bought for $10 at a yard sale long time ago and then passed on to me, so cassette was the natural choice. Besides, the two tape groups I danced with were using mostly tapes, so I was just used to it. 

Of course a tape cost twice as much as a disc, but it was just easier to make a lot of small purchases overtime than to shop for a new gadget. But drawing sequences turned out to be more addictive than I had expected, and over the course of three years I bought close to $500 worth of tapes. Considering how much fun I had from drawing sequences and the ending result of my practice, I think I’ve got my money’s worth. 

In the past two years I’ve been getting choreographies in word document from various callers and dancers, mainly to save me the trouble of transcribing.

Added on Thursday, 12/9:)

But I ran out of choreographies last month, so I dug out the three tapes that I abandoned half-way and finished transcribing and drawing them last month. These were the recordings of three Japanese callers at the Petaluma C4. Whiling I was working on them, I rediscovered the joy of drawing sequences from recordings. When I heard a caller’s voice (and dancers’ noise) on the recording I almost felt like I was also in the dance hall with them, so my practice seemed more “real”. Trying to jot down words at dance speed also got my adrenaline going, and brought me more energy. And of course good background music was always exciting. On some days I could easily complete more than a dozen sequences in one sitting and still wasn’t very tired. That rarely happened when I used printed choreos.

So I started ordering recordings again, this time MP3. For $7.50, I bought all the 15 C4 tips from the Feb. 2010 Petaluma weekend, called by Clark Baker, Vic Ceder, Richard Tuck and Rob French. I asked Keith to just email them to me in attachments, and he did it right away. Over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend I completed 62 sequences, with minimal help from SD. After this binge, I decided to establish a more moderate but regular schedule. I will work on one tip each weekend. A tip usually has 8 to 10 sequences. From transcribing to finish it normally takes me a little over two hours, about the same length of a live dance session.

Ben Rubright Weekend

Ben was in Atlanta on the weekend before Thanksgiving. As usual he stayed at the Tapps’ home in Kennesaw. I missed the C2 session there on Friday night. We had a meeting at work that lasted till 5, and after that I wasn’t motivated enough to take the 30 miles of suburb-bound commute. 

I also didn’t attend the two C3A/C3B sessions Ben called in Chattanooga, TN on Saturday, because JR called an A/C dance at Hotlanta Squares from 2 to 5 p.m. I forgot to mention that the A2/C1 session John Marshall called for us in August was the first A/C only dance in our club history, so this was our second time. We alternated Class-level A1/Full A2/Class-level A1/C1. Exactly 16 dancers attended.

On Sunday evening Ben called for the Matrix South tape group in Hapeville at their usual time: A2 from 5 to 7 and C1 from 7 to 9. He used easy and smooth flowing material at solid speed. No Block Concept. We had exactly three squares for A2 and 2.5 for C1, including three Hotlanta members: Ann, Ed and JR. I was glad to see a few local new A dancers that I had never met before. I hope they will start dancing with the tape group. 

Guests from Chi-town

At my last Importers weekend, Lynette and Carl Smith each told me separately that she/he would be in Atlanta for business this week. But I didn’t know that they didn’t know that they would both be here, so it was a nice surprise to them when I sent both a confirmation email last week. And their work locations are very close to each other!

They are only able to come to our club on Monday night, but IMHO the Monday night classes (MS and Plus) is a lot more fun than the Tuesday classes (C1 and A) anyway. Carl has a car, so he picked up Lynette and we met outside of the dance hall at 6:30. Lynette wanted to go to a restaurant nearby called Hawaii Waikiki (her company’s headquarter used to be just across the street from where we dance), but it was closed on Monday nights, so we went to the Thai Chilies across the street, and it turned out to be a very good choice.

We went to the class at 7:30. We had a small crowd tonight, 4 squares for MS and 3 squares for Plus, but a good time was had by all.


I danced at 3LC and returned home at midnight. But like a lot of nights after dancing, I was wide awake and couldn’t fall asleep for quite a while. I was probably a little dehydrated too. I woke up early in the morning feeling thirsty, but didn’t want to get out of bed to drink water. So I probably didn’t sleep well for the rest of the morning either. When the alarm went off at 7:20, I was so not ready to get up. So I shut the alarm and didn’t get up until 10:30, although during the last hour I was awake and just daydreaming. Surprisingly, I felt sleepy again in the afternoon while I was reading in the library, and actually took a 15 minute nap there. 

I won’t go to 3LC next Saturday, because Hotlanta Squares will have a holiday dance that last till 10 p.m. I’ll see if that makes any difference next Sunday. I’ll try to remember that oversleep did not make me feel better for the rest of the day.

Earlier Bird

I’m back.   Last night I did my weekly food shopping at the DeKalb Farmers Market. This is one of the few places that I find shopping a pleasant experience. Even though I go there every week, and rarely spend more than $30 each time, I always end up spending more than an hour in the store. So by the time I finished cooking and eating, it was already 10:30 p.m. I tried to log on to LJ several times in the next hour, but my attempts always failed due to possible “website under maintenance” or “programming error”. So I went to bed at 11:30.

I looked up in the dictionary, and its definition for “get up” is “to rise from bed in the morning”. It does not specify that I must get out of bed. I’m not looking for loopholes but, on last Wednesday and Thursday morning I “rose” as soon as the alarm went off, and sat in bed with my head pressed against my knees for about 10 minutes before I managed to get out of bed. On both mornings I missed a train by 2 minutes and had to wait for 13 more minutes for the next train. I learned my lesson and got out of bed a little faster on Friday. After I had breakfast and coffee at the food court next to my office, I felt fine all day, so I must had enough sleep.

It was much harder on a Saturday morning. I sat in bed for more than 30 minutes wrapped in my blanket, listening to the country music station, daydreaming, and did a little stretching at the end. I didn’t use the snooze button and didn’t lay down again. I’m making progress. 

After a shower and breakfast my energy came back. It was cloudy and a little chilly outside, just the kind of weather I like, so I clipped on my pedometer and walked in the neighborhood for 45 minutes, or 5,000 steps, or 1.6 mile. Then I walked to a coffee shop and read a book there for two hours, and came home for lunch at noon. It felt good to be eating lunch at the time that I normally eat breakfast.

Since it’s not too cold outside, I’ll leave for 3-Legged Cowboy in half an hour. I’ll keep in mind that I still need to get up at 7:20 tomorrow.