Joel Riggs teaches Aikido, plays piano, enjoys California, and reads voraciously.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Happy at Home

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hi World!

Rocket Nov 4, at 7 weeks...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Glad to See Them

My mom is one of five children, and between them, from 1971 to 1983 these five had four spouses and ten grandchildren. My nuclear family of four lived in the same town as my grandparents, but the other four families (15 people total) lived spread across the country.

Every Christmas the extended family would descend on my home town of Ruston, LA, for a week of festivities, and all the travelers stayed in the old home place where the five siblings grew up. Hosting so many people was quite a large amount of work for my grandmother especially, but she loved us all dearly and never complained. In fact, I think she would have complained if everyone did not appear each year.

She enjoyed our company, but also enjoyed her rest and peace when we had all left. Many times I heard her say, "I'm glad to see them come, and glad to see them go." We all knew what she meant.

Monday, November 19, 2007

No Longer Oblivious

Rocket turns two months old today, and this evening for the first time his eyes tracked over to the television as we were watching Seinfeld. Uh oh! He is no longer oblivious to what we are watching. Time for us to shut off the tube. Maria says that watching the flickering screen harms the brain development of small children. (She then also said it harms the brain development of sedentary adults as well.)

In another move of signficant personal sacrifice, Maria gave up coffee today, and Rocket had no digestive distress this evening, as has been his usual pattern. Coffee in the morning, TV this evening? That is a lot to give up in one day! Are we going to clean up our act once an for all for this kid?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Microsoft Tells the Truth With World's Most Appropriate Image

In my new job I am using a Microsoft Windows PC for the first time to any significant degree. While searching for a file in "My Documents" (the "Finder" in Mac-speak), as the computer scans its filenames for the string I entered, a small animation of a dog leafing through the pages of a book appears. After it did not finding anything during 35 minutes (!!!??) of scanning my drive--but it was still looking--I canceled the search. Turns out that a dog looking through a book is the perfect image for such a useless and slow search utility.

UPDATE: November 29, 2007

I have just added 'Google Desktop' to my work PC, and after a few hours indexing everything, it can find files based on titles and content in a fraction of a second. Microsoft: over half an hour; Google: <0.1 second. This is the reason Microsoft is on the way out, or at least very concerned!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sensei Nick

This evening I drove to Frank Pryor's studio in San Francisco for a soirée celebrating Nick Scoggin on his way out of town. He is off to Los Angeles to throw himself into the mix of Hollywood, hoping to grow his career in television and film. Nick has been my sensei in aikido at City Aikido since September 1993.

The first night I met Nick sensei, I walked into the dojo in the big ballroom on Oak Street, and dressed out. I walked onto the mat standing 6 foot 6 and wearing a ponytail. He took one look at me and declared "You are the same size as my previous sensei, Steven Seagal, and so there is no reason you cannot learn this art."

The next year, after Nick pulled my ponytail to demonstrate what you can do if your attacker has a ponytail, I cut my hair short. It was on my 30th birthday. (On my driver's license for the next nine years I had long hair, even though I wore it almost shaved for all that time.)

When I took my blue belt test (fourth kyu), I felt I had muffed quite a few of the techniques. (I had passed, however.) After we bowed out, I found Nick and asked him point blank, "What do you think I did wrong on that test? I did not feel very good about it." He smiled at me and said very gently, "That was a perfectly fine blue belt test. Not good enough for third kyu, but fine for fourth kyu." I learned from that wise instruction that each step has its own level of accomplishment, and it does not benefit me to be too hard on myself. Keep learning and keep trying to improve, but I should not hold myself to some standard I am not yet close to.

This is Rain

Yesterday, Maria gave a client a massage here at the home for the first time since she quit at 7-1/2 months pregnant. So I took Rocket over to the video store to rent the series finale of The Sopranos. (Rocket loved it.) As we got out of the car, i imagined that he had a quizzical look on his face, and I had to explain to him, "This is rain. It is wet and it falls from the sky every once in a while." He had never seen it before.

Today, I introduced him to the sound of a trumpet.

So many things this little guy is running into for the first time.

Check Your Doors

When I was a kid of about 10, I rode with my dad on the interstate one day. I saw a car with their door not quite closed, and I wanted dad to pull up beside them so I could roll down my window and yell at them to shut their door. But he refused. "Don't worry about other people's doors," he said. "When you see someone else's door is open, just check your own door. That's all you need to worry about."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Halloween 2007, in Fairfax

For his first Halloween, Rocket went as a carrot, courtesy of Maria's creation of a beautiful costume. We strolled through Peri Park in Fairfax (CA), THE see-and-be-seen spot that night.

In 2002, Maria and I met the night I went to see my housemate Wendy Fitz play music with Steve Wolf and Otis Scarecroe.

Wendy Fitz and Steve Wolf, May 24, 2002, Café Amsterdam

Otis Scarecroe, May 24, 2002, Café Amsterdam

This year on Halloween, Rocket met them all for the first time:

Steve Wolf, Halloween, 2007

Otis Scarecroe, Halloween, 2007

Wendy Fitz, Halloween, 2007

In a very real sense, Rocket has these three to thank for his very existence, for if it were not for them, I would not have walked into the Café Amsterdam that Friday evening in late May 2002 and might never have met Maria, who was collecting money for the band at the door.

Sushi for Birthday

Maria and Rocket with Maria's dinner.

Joel lives as the nouveau pauvre/nouveau père: note the Two-Buck Chuck and the diaper as napkin.

43 Days, 43 Years

On Thursday, Rocket was 6 weeks and 1 day. On Friday, I finished 43 years. Maria captured the moment beautifully:

Thursday, November 01, 2007

On Having a Big Little Guy

Yesterday, Rocket finished his first six weeks. He has grown from 7 lbs. 10 oz. to 12 lbs. 5 oz., and he looks substantially plumper and longer. The tiny little guy we brought home from the hospital is no more.

A week ago, he started making deep, steady eye contact.

A couple days later, he progressed to smiling, although not quite yet on cue.

Maria and I still look at each other in amazement and ask, "when and where did we get this guy?" He appears still new and fresh to my eyes.

Nobody ever told me that it can take a while to grow attached to a new baby. Maria is with him 24/7 (though she has had a couple trips to the dentist without him), and so she is very strongly attached to him at this point. I am steadily growing attached, however, and I already am deeply fond of him.

I look forward to knowing him when he is an adult. I can hardly wait to see what new things he brings into our lives.

A couple of times I have turned to Maria and said, "if he is this much fun now, when he is little more than a digestive tract, how much more fun will we have when he can walk and talk and bring us cookies?"

His only real way of communicating with us right now is vocalizing, which can start with a quiet grunt, but can quickly escalate to a piercing cry if he feels ignored for too long (like 7 seconds). Maria is awesome the way she attends to him, comforts him, and takes care of him. We share all the care duties except the one that only she can fulfill; it gets easier quickly.

When I hold him, I feel a tiny bit afraid that he could fall or be dropped or be bumped into a corner or the wall. So, I just slow down and step carefully and always double check my grip on him.