Politics has been an enduring joy of living in California, between term limits and the ease of buying ballot initiatives to avoid dealing with that pesky legislative branch. Willie Brown was in the State Assembly for a long time before ruling the San Francisco political machine, soon to be handed over to his student Gavin Newsom (who, as people like to point out, is still a pretty far-left Democrat even as he's slimy and corrupt, and his competition is from the Green Party). Jerry Brown, now mayor of Oakland, was "Governor Moonbeam" for a while: I believe he may still hold yoga sessions in his loft apartment. And of course we elected the Gropenfuhrer, who is starting to do about as well as one might expect. I thought I had it pretty good coming from Massachusetts, where, besides all the fun that comes with Ted Kennedy, the President of the State Senate and later President of the University of Massachusetts, William Bulger, has managed to stonewall federal authorities for decades about his brother Whitey, an informant protected by the FBI while he continued to murder people and run organized crime rackets, and who has been on the Ten Most Wanted list longer than I can remember. It's just in the past couple of months that his apparent protection of a wanted crime boss has indicated to people that maybe this man should not be in respected leadership positions.

Ever wonder why allergies haven't always been the widespread problem they are now? Turns out we may actually need some of those intestinal parasites after all.

Years ago, I think in 1998 or so, I bought a knife, a Ka-Bar, wanting an inexpensive, fixed-blade utility knife. Taking a hint from a review of military survival knives I read once, one of the first things I did with it was to go out into the woods around Skidmore and...cut down a tree for a walking stick.

Now, this review of survival knives had precious little detail about how exactly one goes about chopping down a tree with a glorified kitchen knife. I can say with some certainty, having learned over the course of an hour or two on a four-inch-thick tree, that the best way is to hold lightly it by the pommel and let it move freely there like a hinge, so that your arm and the knife work as a set of levers similar to how you would thresh grain.

Needless to say this is not the most efficient way to take down a tree, but it's educational, good exercise, and a good test of the knife (I expect I'll be passing it on to my children or grandchildren). Ka-Bar, if the name sounds familiar, is the company that makes the rather fiercer-looking traditional Marine Corps knife. I love the hunting knife: it fits my hand well, holds an edge, and just looks nice.

Aikido test tomorrow. I'm sure I'll be nervous and sweaty, but it'll be fine. The point is to train for it and then do it, not to enjoy it...