heading back to the groove.

Yannow, normally I'm sympathetic when someone dies, but since I also believe in actions having consequences, every now and again I just figure someone earned what they got.

Holy crap. In the first debate, well...look at Bush's back! People are speculating that he was wearing a wire, and with the picture--I mean, hell, you can see the cord--and the condition in the debate rules that neither candidate was to be filmed from behind...pretty sketchy.

Back to aikido tonight, after nine days away and lightweight training before that, pretty unusual for me. I've been feeling crappy for so long, I decided to try taking a break to see if that helped. It didn't, so as long as I feel crappy I should keep up my physical and spiritual practices. I've been hiding from it, I think, because it keeps me grounded and intimately engaged with the world, which I suppose I've been afraid of recently. I've noticed I've been cranky and pedantic lately, which I guess are my latest defense mechanisms. I'm still learning to talk less.

Fencing lessons started on Tuesday and continue Tuesdays for the rest of October (I won't do them for November because of a special beginner's program at the dojo that I want to be around for: as part of an effort to get people into the dojo and get them to stay, Sensei will be teaching beginner's classes for the first time in well over a decade). We're learning foil...after aikido tonight we were talking about what happens when you make a combat art into a sport and introduce rules that move it away from its fighting roots. As this overview of modern fencing explains, the foil and saber weapons have this right-of-way thing, where I can't attack you until I've parried your attack, and if my attack fails, you have to parry my attack, and then you have the offensive and I have to wait to parry your attack before I can attack again. Et cetera. There's something sad to me about diluting an art for the sake of making it easier to judge as a sport: it's a very different transformation than the synthesis Moriteru Ueshiba performed to create aikido, where he modified old aiki-jutsu forms so that we can control an attacker without destroying them (e.g. one of our most basic techniques, where we unbalance the attacker and pin them securely to the floor, originally involved breaking their elbow and kneeing them in the face). So I think if I keep on with fencing I would like to gravitate towards epee, which seems more like honest dueling and hence a lot more fun.

Next Tuesday or so I switch housemates, as Jeff, my current housemate, flies off to crew a sailboat from Portugal to Cape Verde (yeah, I had to look it up too), and then go adventuring in Guatemala in his search to do logistics for Doctors Without Borders. From my point of view, the chemistry of the house changes a little, and I eventually get to replace the not-too-comfy couch and Ikea chair and rug in the living room that I don't like. Not that there's anything wrong with having three vastly different shades of red in your living room between the throw pillows, the uncomfortable wood-frame chair, and the rug. Nope. None at all.

I'll miss him, though. He's very social (remarkably so for a geek) with a lot of good, bright energy. The new guy, Bryan, is quieter than me at my quietest, not from shyness but just from quietism, and the two of us together produce a whole lot of laid-back.