Until Chicken Spaghetti tagged me. Here goes…

1. What are three of the stupidest things you’ve done in your life?
a. Jumping off our neighbors’ two-story house when I was 4 or 5 (though I did yell “Geronimo!” and thus was not hurt).
b. Parking in the mud on Pipeline Road while showing my first college girlfriend around my hometown, getting not only my car but also my shoes stuck, and having to walk a couple of miles barefoot around midnight, until one of Sulphur Springs’ finest took us the rest of the way in the back of a squad car.
c. Not being able to get it through my thick, early-20s head that the two BusinessWeek editors I had traveled from Atlanta to meet with were practically handing me a reporting job outside New York — one that could lead to an editing job in New York. I just I insisted that what I really, really, really, really wanted right then was an editing job in New York. It never happened.

2. At the current moment, who has the most influence in your life?
My wife. No question. She makes everything work.

3. If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to pick up to five people to dine with, who would you pick?
a. Joe Switzer, one of the subjects of The Day-Glo Brothers. By all accounts an exuberant guy, he died relatively young and without leaving behind many letters, quotes, etc., so I’d like to get to know him better.
b. Elizabeth Partridge’s latest subject (and my adolescent hero), John Lennon.
c. E.B. White.
d. Ben Franklin.
e. My dad. He died when I was eight.

4. If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be?
To be able to travel to each place I write about and stay for as long as I need to, to learn to play that guitar I’ve had for 13 years, and to never grow tired of cheese enchiladas.

5. Someone is visiting your hometown/place where you live at the moment. Name two things you regret your city not having, and two things people should avoid.
a. Light rail, and family-friendly live music in the northwest part of town.
b. The local children’s museum (pretty much all children’s museums, for that matter), and pulling into an intersection until the light has been green for three or four seconds. (In Austin, red and yellow are seen as just different shades of green.)

6. Name one event that has changed your life.
My installation of a smoke alarm, my then-toddler son’s retelling of which led directly to my beginning as a children’s writer.

7. Tag five other people.
I’ll be glad to. But only if they ask for it. Want to be tagged with this meme? E-mail me at the address in the right column. Offer expires in one billion years.