- Childhood influences: My favorite childhood book was Mark Twain's "Tom Sawyer," which without exaggeration I probably read more than 40 times as a kid - certainly once, sometimes twice, on every long family car trip.
- Music matters: I'm an autodidactic musician, though not a particularly good one. Since leaving college I taught myself to play the trumpet and the guitar, and have tried my hand at several other instruments with less success including the Turkish saz. I prefer the guitar because I like to sing. As David Alan Coe crooned, "I can sing all those songs about Texas, and I still do from time to time."
- Early political leanings: Though still too young to vote, I volunteered nearly all my spare time during the summer and autumn of 1984 for Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign. Rumors that I spent extra hours at the regional campaign HQ because I had a long-time crush on the campaign manager's daughter, Liz, were only partially accurate.
- True family story: My paternal great grandfather was among the last of the working cowboys in the Old West at the XIT ranch in the Texas Panhandle. (The XIT was the biggest-ever ranch under one fence; the Chicago owners were given ten counties worth of Panhandle property in exchange for financing construction of the current Texas capitol building.) When Teddy Roosevelt came through looking for horsemen to join his brigade that would ultimately charge up San Juan Hill (the "Rough Riders" trained in San Antonio before heading to Cuba), my great grandfather met the charismatic future president and desperately wanted to join, but because he was only 17 required written permission from his mother. She refused. Her family had been burned out of their home by Gen. Sherman during the Civil War, and she wouldn't allow her son to wear a blue uniform.
- Too many kid in this tub: Maybe it's because I've wiped more baby bottoms recently since becoming a grandpa than I'm used to, but this Shel Silverstein ditty has been running through my head for three straight days: "There's too many kids in this tub. There's too many elbows to scrub. I just washed a behind that I'm sure isn't mine. There's too many kids in this tub."
Thanks, Colin. That was a nice little break from politics this morning.