Sure, we're apostates, but I bet we're happier than you.

Fucking Texas. Welcome to the future--I feel safer already, how about you?

Adam Michnik, a Polish dissident during the Cold War, has a fascinating response to a German newspaper article condemning him, Vaclac Havel of Czechoslovakia, and George Konrad of Hungary (other dissidents--apparently they were grouped together about 20 years ago) for their allegedly unrestrained and uncritical support of America in its various escapades since 11 September 2001. His point, in general, is that even a lame-ass, conservative, reactionary democracy--the current state of the US--is better than and worth defending from any totalitarian dictatorship. We can argue about whether Saddam Hussein was actually a threat, but I agree with Michnik. I hate hate HATE when people paper over obvious, glaring differences to create a stupid false harmony. A bad democracy is not the same as a momentarily useful dictatorship. George W. Bush is not the same as Al Gore. Repeat after me and vote Democratic next time. Bloody hell.

I spent the weekend in San Diego, for the CAA's Division 2 Memorial Day gasshuku--a multiple-day seminar that I think has connotations of a social gathering and people sleeping in the dojo. I think there's always been a Memorial Day gasshuku with that crowd, but the CAA's division structure is fairly new and last year was the first in San Diego. It was a great time, although I've decided that it's absolutely not worth driving. Shell out the hundred bucks for a plane ticket next time.

The drive down took 9 hours, because we hit LA at 4pm (and by most accounts we got lucky). On the drive back, we hit Del Mar and the Toyota Prius we were driving just sort of...stopped working. It's a hybrid, so the manual essentially says that if anything goes wrong it needs to go to a Toyota dealer. We had a little bit of adventure getting towed and then getting a rental car and then getting going, and overall the whole thing took about 14 hours. Which sucked, but it could have been so much worse: wonderful company, people from the dojo, including our sort of quirky ten-year old (are all ten-year olds quirky? I don't remember). And we weren't going to get mugged, at least not successfully: all of us aikido people, and Brandon who just got his 3rd dan (3rd-degree black belt) on Saturday, and me who is big enough to just resort to brute force and hit somebody if I need to. And we swapped driving shifts and generally had a pleasant time, modulo the annoyance of the extra six hours. I'm glad I came back Sunday instead of Monday though. I'm sure traffic would have been worse, and I got to rest and spend some time with the loved one.

Plans for moving are coming along. I think I'm aiming to be moved within a month. I'm tired of driving and I want this transition to be done with.

I haven't done aikido in three days and my skin is all itchy. Time to train again.