Thanks and more thoughts
Thanks for the answers. They have helped. I have contacted a Sensei in town who might be able to teach me both Aikido and Muso Ryu Jodo--which is probably more what I am after. I like the jo, as I said, but I certainly believe in empty-hand fighting.
As far as the cost--I agree that $2/hour isn't bad. But when you add up class fees ($60-70/month), gi ($100-$200) and possibly practice weapons ($200-400), you come out with a sum well in excess of $1000. I realize that I may not be required to purchase all of this stuff in advance, or even in the first month, but it's still something that must be considered.
After much reading, some thinking and more reading, I have come up with (what else?)--more questions!
Does anyone have an opinion on Fugakukai? I couldn't find anything praising it as a style, or condemning it, or in fact treating it any differently than any other style of Aikido. I took this as a good sign.
On the same note--the Karl Geis Organization? Any experiences?
On promotion--I'm a little perplexed how it works. I know it's basically based on accumulated practice time and technical knowledge/proficiency, but any guidelines about the thresholds? I am by no means looking for a black belt in a week; but promotion/advancement serves not only to recognize a student's achievement but to also encourage the student. And encouragement is a good thing.
What sort of questions should I ask of a Sensei? What should I look for in a dojo? What are the signs of a bad Sensei? What do you dislike in a Sensei?
Sorry again for the inane questions, and thank you for your patient and knowledgable answers.