I had a lovely date Friday with a lovely woman, with a lot of good conversation that has me looking at some of my attitudes and assumptions about how and under what circumstances I relate to people. She's nice.

I'm noticing a fascinating shift away from Bush in the general zeitgeist. It's as if a lot of people are realizing the election is very soon, and thinking very hard about the past four years and realizing that they're not terribly happy about them. When Bush was elected, there seemed to be a feeling of national surprise: "Wait, he's president now? Just because I voted for him doesn't mean I wanted him to win! WTF?". As if votes for Bush were actually protest votes against Gore, and it just worked out there were a lot of them. But now the polls are gradually tilting, and various media are finally giving some voice to Bush critics, like today's fine NY Times article by Ron Suskind (local copy). The Tampa Tribune, which has apparently endorsed almost every Republican since Eisenhower, has declined to endorse anybody this year. The New York Times endorsed Kerry yesterday (local copy); the paper in Bush's "hometown" of Crawford, Texas endorsed Kerry, though it sparked a bit of a fight in doing so. It's all sort of odd, but encouraging to me, that maybe America is snapping out of its fearful stupor and starting to think about what's actually been done.

Finally back to aikido in earnest yesterday and today, and I already feel more grounded and engaged. I'm going to bail on my remaining two fencing classes: I don't want to even start developing non-martial habits with regard to weapons, and more importantly, it messed up my legs something fierce. Aikido is deeper, more fun, more useful (e.g. the Mirror Incident), I'm better at it, and it's spiritually and physically very important to me, so if anything comes into conflict, aikido wins. W00t.