We’ve Been Busy…

I could hem and haw about all the crazy little errands, and work, and books I’m reading, and everything else. That would just be deceptive though.

Of course, I’m talking about the birth of our son. You remember – I posted about him earlier. Well, he finally arrived on Saturday, the 27th of October.

As a technology nerd, I had envisioned his birth as being very “connected”. I was going to take a ton of pictures, post them instantly on Facebook and elsewhere, maybe even make a few videos.

The day before we were scheduled to go in for our induction, my dad and I were talking on the phone about what was about to happen. He mentioned that when I was born, he didn’t have his camera with him – you see, my birth was something of a surprise, schedule-wise, and he didn’t have time to go home and get his kit after work.

He also told me that he was happy that it happened like that.

If you know my dad, you know how surprising this is. Family photos are painstakingly arranged; taking lighting, different angles, and depth-of-field into account. They are composed, and carefully captured. (They also take about 45 minutes, and by the time they’re done, not everyone is in such a smiley mood). It isn’t really his fault. He went to art school.

My dad was happy in retrospect, because if he had his camera, he would have been (as he put it) “working“. He would have been worrying about getting the right angle, the right light, waiting to set up that once-every-45-minutes shot. He would be focusing on capturing the moment, and he wouldn’t have been in it.

While I didn’t necessarily go in to the Howard County General Labor & Delivery department expecting to heed that advice, it was certainly in the back of my mind.

So, how’d I do?

I did post a photo of my son on Facebook. 4 hours after he was born. In total, I took less than 20 pictures over the 3 days we spent in the hospital. Not a single video. There was no live streaming. No podcast. Obviously, no blog posts.

Instead, I spent my time coordinating family members’ visits on the phone. I ran little errands to get food and drinks for my wife. I closed the curtain when she didn’t want to be seen. We walked around the unit together (anyone who has been involved in a birth knows how integral this is to the process). I spent my time with my wife, and when he arrived, with my son. I saw him come out. Not through a viewfinder, or on an LCD screen – I saw it with my own eyes.

It was miraculous, and I highly recommend it.

His name was a closely-guarded secret (that my wife only told about 300 strangers over the last few months, I later found out): John Andrew Skillman. We wanted something classic, strong and (as my teacher friends recommended) easy-to-spell. We really liked the name John (and it doesn’t hurt that one of our closest friends is named John). His middle name, Andrew, is a nod to my little brother, Phillip Andrew Skillman.

I’ll put together a more in-depth post (or series of posts, more likely) about the whole experience (it didn’t go exactly as we planned – does it ever?) But for now, I know what everyone wants. I know what gets the ratings and page-views on the Internet. The cute pictures! (The few that I took, anyway):

2 minutes old
John Andrew Skillman, 2 minutes old.
John Andrew Skillman
Probably the best photo we got of the little guy at the hospital.
John and Daddy
Getting some quality time with Daddy.


One of the things that REALLY irks me, is the idea that politics was never this bad back in the “good old days”.

They say it about nasty election-season ads. They say it anytime there’s a natural disaster (like the recent Hurricane Sandy). They say it wistfully, in support of a return to “civility” (whatever that means). Most importantly, they say it when they’re in the majority.

The trouble is, this “good old days” that people pine for never existed. This sentiment is raised by those who are utterly ignorant of history (which seems to be a requirement for political punditry nowadays).

To wit:

1) The Election of 1800.

This video from Reason pretty much says it all (all of these lines were written by the partisans for each candidate):

2) Abraham Lincoln.

While Lincoln is widely regarded these days as being one of our greatest Presidents, contemporaries did not see it that way.

The event of his election -literally- tore the country apart. He had no support in the South. His re-election in 1864 was far from certain until the tide of the war changed shortly before the election. Many members of his own cabinet didn’t like him.

He was accused of waging a war for his own political gain (and for the financial gain of the monied industrial interests in the north) against the simple, agrarian South that wanted nothing but peace (or so they claimed). Even his refusal to “compromise” on the issue of slavery was trumpeted by his opponents. On top of that, he was apparently a terrible public speaker!

And as if you needed more evidence, he was assassinated because of his politics.

3) FDR.

We think of FDR as being a super popular President (since he was elected to 4 terms – more than any other President), but his pinnacle really occurred in that second election (the election of 1936) when Roosevelt got almost 61% of the vote. His final 2 re-election campaigns saw steadily declining numbers.

Of course, the only thing you need to know about FDR is the history of the 22nd amendment.

FDR died April 12, 1945. On March 21, 1947 (less than 2 years later), Congress passed an amendment to the Constitution limiting the President to only 2 terms (it would officially become part of the Constitution in 1951 when Minnesota ratified it). Some may say this is purely coincidence. I’d argue that the country had just lived through the economic disaster that was FDR’s Presidency and collectively said, “Lets not do THAT again.”


The point is, we’ve NEVER been “civil”. We’ve never all agreed. We’ve never had an issue that had no dissenters. We’ve always been pricks to each other when it comes to politics.

That hasn’t changed – and I don’t think it ever will.