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September 17, 2002
Excerpts from the Great Woodlief 2002 Migration

This weekend I drove 1300 miles with my wife and sons from Kansas to an undisclosed haven in North Carolina. The haven is undisclosed not because I fear any of you people, but because most of our family lives in North Carolina, and some of them track how much time we spend at the homes of other family members. On the way we stopped at the St. Louis Arch, where we learned, just before being hauled over 600 feet to the top, that the Arch was the site of some of the first high profile affirmative action (read: race-based) hiring in the U.S. Fortunately, this was back before skill had been completely displaced by race as a criterion for employment.

We also stopped at Mammoth Cave, where Caleb thoroughly resented the fact that I made him hold my hand in order to prevent plunges into dark uncharted depths. There we learned that the cave system was once owned by a ruthless entrepreneur who despoiled this natural resource in order to provide tours. But I think that if the Feds had found the cave first, it would have remained the private playground of researchers living on the government teat. Thank goodness a ruthless entrepreneur had the foresight to blast out some entrances and carve walkways before the government confiscated it.

So we'll vacation here for two weeks, though half of that will be taken up by work. Not that I'm bitter.

Okay, so I'm bitter. But I'll get to see my family, bust some caps with my brother-in-law the deputy, and eat food that can only be survived for extended periods when you spend 12 hours a day priming tobacco. I'll also write, and some of that will be to you, here at Sand in the Gears. Then we'll drive up to our new home in Virginia, and the next stage of life will begin.

As always when I travel, I store up little snippets of reality to share here. What follows is a sampling. In the next couple of days I'll put together an actual cogent essay for you, on a topic I think you'll like. But for now I give you excerpts from the Great Woodlief 2002 Migration:

It is mile 675, and the wife and I have engaged in a running temperature skirmish since St. Louis. When she is absorbed in her book, I turn the temperature up. When I'm trying to keep runaway tractor trailers from grinding us into aluminum dust, she turns it down. Finally, she catches me in the act:

Wife: "Will you stop turning it up? It's hot!"

Me: "I'm really cold."

Wife: "Did your mama birth you in Hell?"

Me: "I wasn't born in hell, but I was raised there."

Wife: "Self-pity is unappealing."

Me: "So is frostbite."

Later, I ask the wife to turn down the narration of the train video Caleb is watching.

Me: "Can you turn down the volume? That guy is loud AND boring."

Wife: "Caleb won't be able to hear him. You get a headache when you can't hear what people are saying."

Me: "Can I test that hypothesis for a while?"


Me: "Why are you pointing that remote control at me?"

Wife: "I'm looking for the 'Nice' button."

Me: "I don't come with that feature."

Wife: "I knew I should have bought the newer model."

One morning we were enjoying the continental breakfast in the restaurant of a hotel (On what continent do they eat instant grits and greasy doughnuts for breakfast? Is Hell a continent?) when a man with gray hair tied back in a pony tail strolled in with a book under his arm. He walked over to the waiting area adjacent to the restaurant section, turned up the television, and then took a seat in the restaurant as far away from the television as possible. Then he opened his book and began to read. I wish I were more comfortable telling people like this that they are rude. Instead, I listened to Bob Schieffer conclude "Face the Nation" with the most ridiculous soliloquy on September 11th that I have heard to date. "We still don't know for sure," he opined, "why these people did what they did."

Oh really, Bob? Those bin Laden videos haven't quite laid it out for you? The hateful screeds pouring forth from Muslim countries don't compute? I think when one examines all the evidence that contradicts your claim, one can only conclude that you, Bob, are a moron. You shouldn't be on television. You should have a job that requires you to wear a shirt with your name on it.

The reality, I think, is that even though we know precisely why the September 11th perpetrators "did what they did" (here's a hint, Bob: it's called "murder"), liberal elites aren't comfortable confronting the truth, because it contradicts their peace-loving-brown-people-oppressed-by-capitalism paradigm. I say Toby Keith should get his own Sunday morning talk show, and use it to interview American servicemen. There would be a dearth of J.D.'s, Ph.D.'s, and journalism B.A.'s, but I think we could all cope, don't you?

And finally, because I know why many of you are really here, a brief Caleb update:

* He is getting very good with his unprompted "thank you"'s.

* When he wants to be held, he sticks his arms up and says, "Can I hold you?" Sometimes I respond by putting my leg against his chest and acting like I'm going to jump into his arms.

* He has learned that the word "big" always sounds better when followed by the word "ole." Examples:

"I want a big ole kiss!"
"I want a big ole bite of ice cream!"
"I had a big ole poopoo!"

* He thinks that the Southern "bye" (pronounced "baa") is a different word from "bye." A few months ago he told his great-grandmother "bye," and then, as if remembering that he was speaking to someone of another language, threw in a "baa."

* On the steps up to the St. Louis Arch, he got just his toes on the next step, and nearly fell backwards. "Whoa, that was a close one!"

* Sometimes when we play I pick him up, cradle him, and then lay him on the ground with mock force while I say "body slam!" He likes this. Unfortunately, he sometimes requests a body slam in front of total strangers, who look at me in dismay. They seem to think that either I physically abuse my child, or let him watch professional (i.e., fake) wrestling. I'm not sure which is worse, by the way.

* He has become the master of two year-old sound effects. My daughter used a hair brush to brush a doll's hair, my son uses it as a gun. This would seem to contradict the "social construction of gender" theory espoused by childless women's studies professors. Don't tell them though -- as my wife learned whilst earning her M.A. in Education at the University of Michigan, they get really snippy when you make arguments based on facts. I'm reminded of one of my favorite taunts:

"So, you're a feminist. Isn't that cute?"

Posted by Woodlief on September 17, 2002 at 10:04 AM


MMMmmmmmm...Toby Keith! Why ruin a good show by having anyone else on it? Of course, a few ripped servicemen wouldn't hurt. Would he have to interview the women too? Mmmmm...Toby.

Even instant grits are better than none at all.

And I think a hairbrush gun is a classic in the 007 field. Isn't it? Maybe Caroline was just a subversive before her time, practicing diversionary measures...

(Feminist women ARE cuter than feminist men. Ew. But neither is much to write home about.)

Posted by: susanna at September 17, 2002 10:27 AM

Croppin' 'bakker? Oooh, what fun! Reminds me of the tales my wife would tell of working in the fields, with a lunch consisting of pouring salted peanuts in an RC Cola, followed by dessert of a MoonPie with Sundrop "cold drank". Are you getting to eat western or eastern-style barbecue? I am just out range of the eastern-style (far superior to western) where I live.

Hope you get a chance to enjoy Tarheel livin' awhile!

Posted by: MarcV at September 17, 2002 12:02 PM

Seeing someone else mention RC sends a little chill down my eyeballs. I've been temporarily consigned into yankee territory for a few years, and I have to search high and low for RC. I'm always the one guy at the grocery store picking up merchandise from Royal Crown's sad little shelf display.

Posted by: hbchrist at September 17, 2002 2:57 PM

Guys, I will plead ignorance here - I grew up in India, so forgive me my ignorance. What is a moonpie, and a Sundrop "drank"? Though I live in liberal yankee country, I do redeem myself playing down home bluegrass music!!!!

Posted by: sid at September 17, 2002 11:54 PM


You and your wife do some good verbal parrying while on the road. Not up to the high standards of Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter, but good nevertheless.

Re 9/11: Yesterday, Michael Medved had a peace activist (Cathy Kelly? Kathy Kelley? Cathy Goofball?) as a guest. Her message was that warmongers (read: white males) have misruled for two millennia; we must now let the peacemakers run the show.

A woman called in to say that she agreed with the peace activist "100 percent." Medved asked her whether she thought the killing of large numbers of Germans in the 1940s to rid the world of Nazism was justifiable and beneficial for the human race. She responded, "I believe that all war is unacceptable. I would have thought that we would have gotten beyond war at this point."

This seems the equivalent of saying, after one's toilet starts backing up and excrement and other sewage starts spilling over the bathroom floor, "I believe that plumbing problems are unacceptable. I would have thought that we would have gotten beyond plumbing problems at this point."

I am more alarmed by the pandemic of college-educated idiots in this society than I am by the presence of Islamic terrorist cells. If this country ever falls completely apart, it will certainly have more to do with the former than the latter.

Posted by: jim at September 18, 2002 2:10 AM

What I dig about having smart readers like you is that I can go on vacation and the blog writes itself (and probably gets a notch or two better).

Posted by: Tony at September 18, 2002 7:59 AM

Sid -

Moonpie: picture in your mind two circular graham crackers, about 3" in diameter, a 3/4" thick marshmallow filling between the crackers forming a sandwich, with the "pie" coated in chocolate (they have tried other flavors, but chocolate is the original).

Sundrop is a local version of Mountain Dew, about the same color but a different taste (hard to describe). When someone asks for a "cold drank" they are handed usually a soda (or pop depending where you are from), but if you're lucky you might get an authentic glass of sweet tea with lemon.

Posted by: MarcV at September 18, 2002 11:22 AM

Sorry about that, Dude.

Posted by: An Anonymous Blogger Who is Producing Work for You While You're on Vacation at September 18, 2002 2:37 PM

One thing left unexplained:

"Drank" is the "down south" way of pronouncing "drink". Sounds exactly that same as the past tense of drink, at least to yankees. We refined types can hear definite tonal changes between "Drank m'saylf sillay" and "J'like a nice, col' drank?"

Hope that helps.

Posted by: hbchrist at September 18, 2002 3:04 PM

thanks for the laughs. I needed them.

Posted by: JenBen at September 19, 2002 12:31 AM

James D. aka "Jimbo" got the idea during lunch one day in the breakroom to microwave his moonpie. We all began callin him the next Tom Edison and promptly put up a sign that read "Menlo Park Ain't Got Nuthin on Us Baby !"

You know you got a good one if the wrapper started to melt before the insides did !

We have never been the same since and Jim...remind that woman that the idea is to keep the outhouse as far away from the living quarters as possible. Ask me and bringing the toilet in the house is just askin for trouble that nobody really wants.

Posted by: Rob at September 21, 2002 9:30 PM

MarcV and hbchrist - Guys, thanks for educating me. Here in the super PC town of Ann Arbor, I wonder if i can find moonpies and a cold glass of Sundrop. maybe I ought to go and ask for it at the local Peoples Food Coop, and ask one of the ugly, female, grad-student types that works there, and then also ask them about the lecture by the peace activist Kathy Kelly. BTW, here in Ann Arbor, Kathy Kelly and the likes of Noam Chomsky are real popular, and it is indeed fashionable to be anti-American. For example, I had a couple of Stars-nStripes poster on the window of my house facing the street, and a couple of months back, someone shot a the windo with a bb gun!!!

Posted by: sid at September 21, 2002 9:36 PM

First time reading your blog
I linked from cut on the bais and I think your style is great Keep up the good work and your son is a fantastic
My boy just turned three and the are too tasty at this age
I will try and remember his "c'mon daddy lets go"
when he is a 16-22 year old monster
And yes B Schieffer is a moron I work on Wall and was here the 11th and if HE still does not know why they did it i can introduce him to about 70 Iron worker buddies who will help me explain

Posted by: Howard at September 27, 2002 11:13 AM