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Back Home Again

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Signs of Decline

I was stopped at a traffic light not long ago and noticed, off to my right in front of a strip mall, a person dressed as the Statue of Liberty standing in the rain. In the past year, I’ve seen three Statues of Liberty, two Uncle Sams, and one Little Caesar. The weather in each instance was unpleasant, either boiling hot, rainy, or bitterly cold. But there they stood, beside the road, waving to passersby, directing potential customers to a place of business.

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Bedtime Story

While reading the newspaper not long ago, I grew depressed by the number of challenges our nation faces—the decline of the middle class, the ballooning of the national debt, underperforming schools, and a war in Afghanistan with no end in sight. They almost make my problem seem insignificant: an ongoing struggle to find good bed sheets.

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Sacred Cows

I was recently gratified to learn that filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have been collecting the paintings of Norman Rockwell. I enjoy it when other people like the same things I do, and I think more highly of those movie moguls, having discovered we share similar tastes in art.

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Ticked Off

There are two clocks in my office. One is connected through the ether to the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado, whose quantum-logic clock is so precise it will not gain or lose more than one second in 3.7 billion years. The other clock was made for me by Bob Hatch, an Indianapolis retiree, who carved every gear from hard maple, cut the hands on his band saw, made the weight by filling a tomato-paste can with lead he’d melted with a plumber’s torch, and fashioned the verge escapement from a piece of steel and the pendulum from cherry wood and brass. That clock gains or loses a couple of minutes a day, depending on such factors as the humidity and whether my dog Zipper accidentally jostles it when she naps on the shelf underneath it.

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Restoring A Memory

I first saw my wife’s childhood home 29 years ago when I rode my bicycle from Plainfield to Paoli to stop an encounter I believed harmful to my best interests—the introduction of her boyfriend to her mother. It turns out that if a man rides 95 miles in July heat to court a woman, it tends to impress her. The next week my future wife, Joan, bid her boyfriend goodbye and began dating me.

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