like the good kind of drug.

Back to aikido tonight, after only two classes last week (to rest my body)--it felt much longer than it really was, maybe because life has left me rather cranky in the meantime. It really is like a fantastic drug, though: I sit at the beginning of class and focus on being there, and from then on for the most part it's just sheer joy. And I can do rolls now, sort of! I can do back rolls for the most part; forward rolls I'm a bit more skittish about because they have greater potential for making my shoulders hurt. But my muscles have strengthened a lot, and when I press my arm into the mat, everything flexes enough to support my weight without a problem.

I'm loving this "being in shape" thing. In addition to letting me lift obscene amounts of furniture without getting tired, I'm strong enough to lift with my legs most of the people I train with (which means that if they're doing a technique on me and they're not doing it properly by taking my balance, they have a noticeably difficult time trying to muscle me through it with brute force, depending on how hard I fight back). Declan and I were messing with each other during class, trying to learn a new technique--part of aikido's partner practice is letting the nage know when they're not getting something quite right, and favorite ways of doing this include the uke getting up when he is supposed to be pinned, or poking nage in the ribs that should be protected but aren't. I could still stand up when Declan left me my balance but had most of his weight on my shoulder; I suggested he should just jump and sit on my back next time. He got me by throwing a pulled punch at my face, which he wouldn't have been able to do if my hand were at his chin like it should have been.

Good times, I tell you. Ann is going to watch a class and may join the dojo if it's agreeable...I have some selfish territorial feelings about this, but I'm pretty sure they're shallow and not what I feel farther in (I have layers of feeling--you probably do too--and it can take some time to sift past the surface thoughts and find out what's really going on underneath). There is also the feeling that this is a wonderful thing that Ann would appreciate and it is good to share the joy, and I think that is the ultimate feeling.

So I've been watching the House Democrats with some interest as they scramble to regroup after getting their asses kicked in elections again and having Gephardt resign as leader. The minority leader election has dropped out of the news since Sunday for some reason, and most of what's come out seems to be op-ed pieces, and those and the editorial cartoons I've seen are strikingly conservative. Take this gem from the Salt Lake Tribune, for example, which stands as the best example (at least in terms of having the most name-calling) of conservatives trying to convince Democrats that they should reject Pelosi for their own good.

The first victory, on Election Day, gave Republicans control of Congress and the White House for the first time in half a century. The second will come with the election of Pelosi as minority leader. It will allow Republicans to again invoke the image of Democrats as the big-government, high-taxing, over-regulating, entitlement-establishing, unaccountable, irresponsible, gun-confiscating, totalitarian-coddling, peace-at-any-price, ACLU card-carrying, same-sex-marrying, unrestricted-aborting, anything-goes philosophy of the Dukakis-Mondale-McGovern extreme left wing of their party.
The ACLU bit is my favorite. I love how Republicans talk about states' rights and individual responsibility but can't stand the organization that has the defense of individual rights as its reason for being. And it's not as though the ACLU has an aggressively Democratic agenda: they give everyone a chance to be pissed off about their activities, and God bless them for it.

Business needs to be regulated so it doesn't kill consumers, which it's only too happy to do if it helps profits and lacks consequences. People need public assistance so they can become self-sufficient--no denying it needs to be better applied and administered, but taking away the life preserver from a drowning man is really, really not going to teach him how to swim. And Republicans maybe shouldn't bring up accountability if they're unwilling to look into the mysterious failures of companies run in part by President Retarded Monkey and his friend the Vice President.

All of these things are evident and easily supported by fact and would be devastating presented with rhetoric, but the fact of the matter is that the Democratic Party has been a load of pussies at least as long as I've been paying attention to politics (1988, give or take, so I got to see Dukakis lie down and take a year's worth of political kicks to the head). Republicans turned "liberal" into a dirty word, and liberals interpreted "turn the other cheek" to mean "step forward and hand your opponent a baseball bat to make it easier to beat you up". Seriously. When was the last time you heard a Democrat argue the simple idea that HELPING PEOPLE IS A GOOD THING? While we're at it, get the friggin' poor people to vote and ask them if they'd rather feel morally superior or financially self-sufficient.

If I'd thought about it with more warning, I could have run for public office this year. Then I'd have a job, at least. Maybe next year, then. This year JD wrote my name in for Directory of the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which would be kinda fun, but I didn't win.

Speaking of which, I'm getting zero response from a bunch of networking contacts, which seems strange--usually with networking people will at least take the time to say they don't want me. I also went to apply for a warehouse job, and the guy found out I did computers and wanted my resume because he might have some part-time computer-related stuff to do. He was also concerned about my continuing to look for computer work and then maybe leaving soon after starting--bleh. Given the difficulty involved in even getting employers to look at me sidewise, let alone respond, I hate to tell him he has little to worry about on that score, but it's the truth.

Time to crawl into bed and let my back disengage.