Baby Boy Number 2

Dec 4, 2004

Chase Kenneth Wootton

I didn’t really expect to find myself in the hospital just after midnight,
early on a Sunday morning. The wife had emerged from the bathroom
just a short while ago. Her water had broken. It was time to go.

I didn’t anticipate that it would happen so fast. It seemed only moments ago
when the babysitter for Cam arrived. I packed the truck.
I threw the camera in the back. I added the new car seat in its
proper spot. Less than four hours later, 7 centimeters was the
measurement of interest.

And I really didn’t know what to do with myself when the doctor
and nurses began to move with a sense of urgency. The little
heartbeat emitting from the nearby monitor was straining.
Contractions made it dangerously slow. I found myself slightly
out of the way while the hospital staff took the necessary precautions.

My wife found her bed titled — her head lower than her feet. An oxygen
mask was placed over her mouth. The strained lines that crossed across her
face weren’t the result labor pains.
In a fit of courage, she pleaded with the doctor. “Tell me what I
can do to help my baby. I’ll do anything.”

The doctor replied in a calm voice, “Just try not to wander into the

Shortly thereafter, things settled down. My wife’s blood pressure
rebounded. The baby’s heartbeat stabalized. Active labor was about
to begin. We waited for things to remain calm for a bit.
Twenty minutes followed. The quiet beep of the baby’s heart kept
us company.

Chase, Taking it Easy

We were relieved when things began in earnest. The wife was prepared –
even excited – to begin pushing. She barely got the chance. After a
couple of pushes, I stole a glimpse of a small tuft of hair. A few
pushes later, the doctor grabbed a pair of forceps and told the wife
he’d take things from here.

Before I knew it, my second son lay in my wife’s arms. He cried, providing
two parents the desired assurance that he was ok. I followed his lead.
Chase Kenneth Wootton, meet world. World, meet my youngest son.

I’ve tried to write this blog, a chronicle of the birth of my second
son, several times. Each time the events of the birth sound
dire, something that will likely surprise those who’ve talked to me since.
In casual conversation, I tend to dismiss the harried events of the actual
birth rather quickly. However, when putting things in writing, I can’t
seem to dodge the sparks of fear and worry that preceded the little gift
from God that followed.

I suppose it is a reminder of just how lucky we are. From what I understand,
all the concern I felt was not a mistake. It wasn’t just a feeling brought
on my watching scurrying folks in hospital scrubs. We were later told
that a nearby room had been prepped for an emergency C-section, just in case.

God has blessed us. The Wootton clan now counts 4 in their number.
We are, by all official measures, a family. We no longer
talk of our child. We speak of “our boys”. We fret over “the kids”.
Critical mass has been reached, filling our house, heart, and
lives rather nicely.

I believe the biggest surprise in the end, if you speak to my wife and I, is
that this family thing happened at all. Three years ago, we would have given anything for
what we have now. Two years of trying with no results ensured we felt
the grips of despair. Now we pick our little dreams up for hugs and nestle
them close just because we can. There isn’t a better feeling in the

The Wootton Family

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Books About Money

Nov 5, 2004

I’m starting to work on my Christmas list for Santa and surprisingly – at least to me – three books about economics have floated to the top. I shouldn’t label it as a total surprise; I was one class short of an Economics minor in college. However, the fact that I’m choosing non-fiction over my normal fare of swords and sorcery is certainly a change.

Both The Armchair Economist and Fair Play by Steven Landsburg are on my list. I seem to catch Landsburg’s articles on The Slate relatively often (check out Bush’s Tax Cuts Are Unfair … for a interesting sample). My interest in his books is definitely an offshoot of that. I have a particular interest in Fair Play. The subtitle of this particular book, “What Your Child Can Teach You About Economics, Values, and the Meaning of Life”, provides a great angle for a fun discussion of economics. Interest in economics? Check. Kids? Check. This preview was the clincher.

The third book about money to make my list, The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing: A Guide to Profitable Decision Making (3rd Edition), came to my attention via Joel on Software, a software oriented blog I frequent. Joel casually referenced it while discussing IMail, an application that apparently doesn’t understand what it is worth. Again, the preview sparked my interest. It has almost nothing to do with the fact that the paperback version of this puppy costs more than the hardcover copy. How intentionally odd.

I don’t intend to spend my whole winter thinking about macroeconomics and price tags but I do expect some variety in my reading. I just hope this doesn’t take the place of any potential toys I might garner. I wouldn’t want to think I was growing up.

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Alternate Worlds

Nov 2, 2004

John Kerry, in his acceptance speech, thanked voters for his victory. “I want to thank everyone for looking past niggling issues such as the war on terror to vote me into office. By the way, I was joking. I really am a liberal.”

His running mate and soon-to-be vice president Hillary Clinton chirped in with some thoughts of own, speaking about aggresive legislation they would help put on the books. “My first act as co-president will be to introduce a bill outlawing extramarital affairs. Violators will be castrated.” Follow-ups with members of congress resulted in many shocked faces and harried brows.

Ok, ok, this didn’t really happen. Well, it did happen but only during a game of The Political Machine, a fascination of mine this election cycle. The game challenges you to win the election. It allows alternate realities. I had a lot of fun knocking around my man George by simply changing the subject of the debate.

That said, I don’t see something similar happening tonight. I certainly could be wrong but I don’t see Kerry winning this evening. Why? I’m glad you asked.

I liken this election to the one eight years ago. Much like that election, a lot of folks were less interested in voting for a candidate than voting against one. Heck, I voted for Dole and even I, a devote Republican, will cop to that.

Voting against someone generally doesn’t inspire people, even in times of war. You need something to push folks to the polls. I don’t think a lack of confidence does that.

If Kerry does come out on top, I believe that a general hatred of our war in Iraq will be the reason. That said, I wouldn’t cash in the meal ticket too early. I’ll agree that the folks that disagree with the war in Iraq have certainly been loud. I’m not yet convinced they have the numbers they claim. Are they a vocal majority or simply vocal?

By tonight we’ll know for sure. I have my opinion. I’ll place my vote and I’ll stand behind the winner, no matter who it is. In the meantime, Kerry might want to visit Stardock and make a purchase. In fantasyland, he and Hillary make a perfect match.

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Way back in 2002, I opened my votes on the coming election to the general public. I’ve decided to continue the tradition.

I have to say it was easier this time around. There are far less offices up for grabs. Finding information on each candidate was only a google search or convenient voter guide away. Below is my full ballot for tomorrow, Nov. 2nd.

President and Vice President: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

This choice was the easiest of the lot. I’ve been exposed to the issues and I’ve had a lot of time to think about it. I feel comfortable with my choice. Here’s why.

I’m not a huge fan of the President when it comes to a lot of things. He spends way too much money. The government has grown in both size and power since he took office. These are hardly the acts of a conservative man. While we may agree on the issue, his plans for a constitutional ammendment on gay marriage is a waste of time on an issue that should be settled by the states. There are are other issues I’d rather consider when pandering to the religious right.

Does all of this matter? Not really. The War on Terror has center stage. It’s the issue that directly affects me and my family. It’s the issue that determined my vote this time around.

I’m of the opinion that President Bush has done good and, sometimes, great job of fighting terrorism. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, we’ve shown resolve. We’ve chased terrorists into their holes. We’ve taken their money. Today we fight them on their soil, not our own. We’ve found a language they can understand: force.

You can argue that we’ve screwed the pooch in Iraq. I’d disagree. There’s some tough work to be done there. A declared enemy is gone. The efforts of our military have freed millions from an oppressive regime. We’ve done some good. We’ll continue to do some good.

On this issue, Bush wins clearly.

Kerry offers change. He promises cooperation. He expects France and Germany, the two missing pieces of our alliance against Iraq, to throw their hat in the ring just because of a changing of the guard. That’s very optimistic. I fear he doesn’t understand how international diplomacy thing works.

Kerry promises that he won’t turn the keys of our military over to the United Nations. He says he’s a moderate. I don’t believe him. His voting history and words betray him. We don’t need a global litmus test. We need to act like the most powerful nation in the world and, sometimes, we need to act in our own best interests.

I know only one candidate I trust to do that.

U.S. Senator: E.J. Pipkin

This choice was difficult. On one hand, Mikulski‘s long tenure in the Senate positions her well to protect the interests of Maryland. From what I’ve seen, she’s done exactly that. Her record on national defense can be questioned. Her commitment on issues of terror cannot.

On the other hand, Mikulski and I disagree a lot. Her opponent, E.J. Pipkin has done little to impress me and still wins my vote by default. I’ll take solace in the fact that he doesn’t stand a chance in hell. Four more years of Mikulski is par for the course.

Side story: I once met Mikulski at the state fair years ago. She was handing out banners. I expressed no interest in attaining one. What followed was an odd exchange of refusal. I didn’t realize it was her doing the solicitation. If I had, I would have been more receptive to her attempts to label me with a sticker. She gets my apologies. She still doesn’t get my vote.

Representative in Congress, District 2: Dutch Ruppersberger

Ruppersberger and I also disagree a lot. That said, we agree more than Mikulski and I. He isn’t a bad choice and is better qualified for the job than his upstart opponent. Hopefully, this vote will balance out my vote above.

Judge of the Circuit Court, Circuit 5: David S. Bruce, Michele D. Jaklitsch, Rodney C. Warren

The difficulty of this selection lies in the lack of information I have to make a decision. Who are these people? My guess is that the first three on the ballot will win. However, I’ll buck this sure to be trend and go for the incumbents.

Judge, Court of Special Appeals at Large: Joseph F Murphy, Jr.

This vote is for a continuance in office. Given that I haven’t heard anything bad about Mr. Murphy, I’ll fall happily in line.

County Question A: Purchase Contract Limits: Nay

In their second attempt in as many election cycles, the county wants to raise the minimum value of a purchase that they can make without having to open the purchase up for competitive bidding. I might not have a problem with a slight raise. However, they want to raise it by 2 1/2 times its current value. That’s too much. Do your homework, officials. Go get us a good price.

That’s it. With my choices made, I plan to hang around the TV a lot tomorrow evening. It’s going to be an fun race. If you are still undecided, feel free to print out the above and copy it down at the polling place of your choice. I won’t mind. Trust me.

by | Categories: politics | 2 Comments


Oct 30, 2004

John Scalzi, the grand poobah of AOL’s journals, has a regular habit of handing out weekend assignments to his readers over at By The Way. He provides the idea. You write it up and provide a link to share the results of your labor.

I can’t say that I don’t need the help — my head feels empty more than occasionally — but I’ve never bothered to take one on myself, even if some of the ideas are genuinely good. That is, until now.

See, a while ago, I chimed in on his site to offer what I considered a fun idea for weekend assignment. Apparently, he agreed. The assignment for this weekend was written by yours truly. For those with a lazy mouse finger, here it is:

Write your own, preferably rhyming, epitaph. For example,

Here lies Jed,
He fell out of bed.

Extra credit: Write a cute epitaph for your favorite loved one, relative, or family pet. Suggestion: keep it light. You might want them to continue being your favorite loved one, relative, or family pet. Nothing is worse than having Fido dissing you over some silly words on a gravestone.

Given, that I’m the originator of the assignment, I couldn’t avoid the work. Here’s my attempt:

Here lies Ken
He had a wife named Jenn
They were found together dead
They didn’t expect a piano on the head.

Shew, I completed my homework and the extra credit all in one shot. Mom would be so proud.

If anyone else bothers to do so, shoot me a link in the comments thread. There’s nothing like good gravestone poetry. In the meantime, I’ll regurgitate the entries collected by the kind Mr. Scalzi below. Enjoy. I know I will.

Collection 1
Collection 2

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Oct 19, 2004

I’ve been eyeing The Political Machine, a game that would allow me to play out my political fantasies, a lot lately. Given its timely subject matter and rather positive reviews, it’s right up my alley. I’d love to add it to my always growing stable of games. However, I’ve run into one issue that has, so far, stunted any immediate purchases. I haven’t determined the form or packaging that my purchase of The Political Machine should take. Let me explain.

The Political Machine is one of many games out there available for purchase outside of normal retail channels. That is, instead of running off to Best Buy or EB, I can purchase it directly from the developer. While that alone isn’t what I’d called unique, the delivery mechanism, which includes installing an application to do all the heavy lifting for you, is a bit different. There is no box to open or manual to hold under the light. There’s no shipping in the traditional sense. You ask for the game, put down your credit card, and you have it.

From a technology standpoint, I find this appealing. Patches are delivered more or less automatically. The $5 I would hand to UPS remains in my pocket. To its credit, the rules of use, especially as the pertain to digital rights management, are very flexible and open. You can back up your games whenever or however you want. You can install the software you attain on any PC you own. I’ll miss the comfort of a box on my shelf but I’ll get over it. There’s little room anyway. However, none of this speaks to my problem.

The problem is that The Political Machine is available standalone or as a part of a bigger package called This is where my temptations come in to play. allows you to subscribe to a library of games. Rather than purchase only one a single game, I can get a bunch of them. But, of course, the price is higher. I have not yet decided if the increase in price is worth the additional games I’d receive and, presumably, play.

The studs of, in my opinion, are Galactic Civilizations and The Political Machine. This opinion stems from personal interest. Galactic Civilizations is a spiritual successor to the Master of Orion series, a series that once caused my room to glow with the light of a computer monitor well into the night. The Political Machine, fills an immediate gaming desire.

Celtic Kings and Robin Hood appear to be good games but I wouldn’t consider them reasons to make a purchase. They would be a bonus. If they happen to show up on my desktop, I’ll check them out but my level is interest is more like that of a demo than genuine excitement. Disciples 2, another game on the list, would approach the stud category if I didn’t already own the game.

All in all, it’s a good package but it isn’t a cheap one. $89 is the current asking price. Owww. I tend to think of my gaming purchases in chunks of $50 or, lately, chunks of about $20. Ninety dollars is a lot to plunk down in one sitting, especially in a year where so packed with great releases.

Timing is also an issue. I’d love to have The Political Machine right now but the other games could really wait. My gaming itinerary is nearly full. The recent crop of sports game from Sega have my fingers bleeding. Come November, I’ll be defending the earth with a crowbar one day and dual needlers the next. Christmas is coming and the gaming goose will be getting fat. However, quite the opposite will happen to my wife, as she has plans to deliver another brave sole into this world.

Throw in the fact that The Political Machine is available for $20 and the math demonstrates my conundrum. My calculator says that the games I really want cost $80 ($20 for The Political Machine, $40 for Galactic Civilizations and $20 for its expansion), just $10 less than the full asking price.

That extra $10 buys me two games I’m unsure that I’ll play to any great extent and — here’s the kicker — any game released by StarDock in the next year. Is it worth it?

Well, I might have a better idea if I knew what was coming down the pipe, despite the fact that release dates are very rarely worth the pixels they’re displayed on. $10 for two games and a player to be named later sounds like a great idea. $70 for games I have no hope of playing immediately is much more dubious.

For the moment, I’m leaning towards the single purchase. If I muster the interest at a later date — perhaps when game releases are a bit more thin — I’ll pick up the whole kit and caboodle, kissing the value of my initial purchase away in the process. In between now and the time I enter my credit card number, I think I’ll open the question to a more qualified audience. What do you think?

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Game Night

Oct 18, 2004

It’s not quite Shoot Club, but Gaming Night is something special nonetheless. It’s a gathering of friends. It’s a gathering of controllers. The five console machines under my TV do all the work. The rest is a fellowship of a normally destructive kind. There’s yelling and screaming. There are takedowns and cut downs. Mothers are mentioned in casual conversation. Few mothers emerge unscathed as a result.

Gaming night has become something of a tradition around these parts, despite its lack of a proper nickname. What started as a regular meeting of a couple guys looking for a gaming fix has morphed into an event, an event that requires planning. Those same guys are a wee bit grown up now. Some have kids. Some have wives. Oh yes, wives. Honey, can I go over Ken’s and play games on Saturday?

The set up for gaming night can range wildly, jumping from a single TV and a few players on a couch to multiple machines and network cables. For this past weekend, which marked the Last Gaming Night Before Child Number 2, I’m leaned towards the later. I brought a second TV downstairs and hooked up a second Xbox. I set up DDR upstairs to entice the occasional passerby.

The DDR pads saw a small share of dancing, mostly due to the determination and gusto of one particular DDR addict. The second Xbox was barely touched, reflecting the group’s dissappointment that Burnout 3, an otherwise awesome game, could only be played by two players at a time.

Most of our time was spent in front of screen number one. The quirky Japanese game Katamari Damacy made its rounds, in more way than one. Mario Kart saw a fair share of action. Throwing giant turtle shells from the back of a pink Cadillac being driven by my partner is my idea of fun. I’m not alone with this sentiment. We capped off the night with a little tennis and a good helping of basketball.

All in all, it was a fun night. With my second namesake on the way, I don’t expect to do this again for a good while. I’ll live. I appreciate the time I get for diversions such as these and, quite frankly, I don’t think my mother’s reputation should take another beating like that for a while.

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Sports Fan

Sep 28, 2004

A couple of Sundays ago, the wife ran off to a baby shower — probably the 100th baby shower she’s attended since getting pregnant herself — leaving me in sole possession of our child. I was a little worried. Sunday in the fall should really be referred to as Football Sunday. The Ravens were suiting up. The kid was asleep. I worried about my ability to watch 22 men fight over an odd-shaped ball and entertain my child at the same time.

It turned out that he was a welcome addition to my Sunday ritual. The kid slept for much of the first quarter. When he did wake, he was as good as gold.

Outside of a request for some Baby Einstein, he didn’t seem to mind that dad was watching the game. He played on the floor. He visited me on the couch. He learned to signal touchdown. For a just a little while, he watched some football. He and dad managed to get some pigskin bonding in between commercials.

Afterwards, we walked around the block. His tiny legs and distracted eyes made the short jaunt a longer, but enjoyable, trek. After all, the sun was shining. The sky was blue. My little boy was keeping me company. Sometimes parenting is all it is cracked up to be.

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Sep 27, 2004

I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately. The fall season is in full swing. My TIVO is back from its summer vacation. The wife and I often settle down for the evening and catch some rays from the boob tube. The only odd thing about this is that I’m often watching alone. The wife is there in body but not in spirit.

She’s mailing in her attention. After a day of carrying around quite a sack behind her belly button and chasing the previous contents of her uterus around the living room, she’s ready to relax. This relaxation normally includes her eyelids. I can’t blame her. I’m glad I don’t have a bowling ball clamoring around in my insides. I only worry about the content of the TV she watches. It’s incomplete and, in some cases, disturbing.

For example, Monster House is a show we watch a lot. To me, it’s a home improvement show with a guy’s twist. To her, the show is about a group of contractors that start an ambitious project only never to complete it. What a mess these folks make! At least they could clean up.

Her vision of CSI is even more disturbing. Apparently, CSI is a show about horrible crimes that forever remain unsolved. Heinous acts are committed and no one ever figures out what happens. The nightmares must be awful.

The thing is she doesn’t care. Only my compulsive desire to watch more TV than is healthy and my compulsive need to see everything to completion drives TV to a realm where it might be considered important. She’s just happy to find any place and any position that allows her even the shortest moment of shut-eye. More power to her.

by | Categories: family, t.v./movies | 1 Comment

My Baby This Week

Sep 24, 2004

I think BabyCenter rocks.
Outside of the occasional advertisement in the mail (hey, they have to pay the bills), their weekly updates on both my little boys, born and unborn, provide some of the best email I get.

They say
Cambell is learning new words. They aren’t joking. New words sprout
from his tongue every day. Pete and RePete are pretty good friends.
Occasionally he takes time from his work with linguistics to surprise us
with new abilities. Today, he grabbed the wand from me as I was blowing
bubbles in the backyard. Before I could instruct him, he put it to his
mouth and blew. His bubbles chased mine into oblivion. There’s a lot
of that “guess what he did today” going around lately.

They say
the baby in the belly is growing at a rapid rate; muscles and lungs
are forming. My wife will attest to that, along with the heartburn they
mention. Those muscles are fueling the poking and prodding she feels

If you are have a young one or, better yet, one on the way, check them
out. Their weekly factoids are easily
digestible, sometimes offering a quick peek at progress and sometimes
giving you a peek into what is going on in there. Who knew?
This internet thing is pretty cool.

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