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April 18, 2009

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Wally Leisering

Growing up in the Chicago area in the 50's and 60's, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to 4 daily newspapers. Columnists were by far my favorite, mostly for the breadth and depth of their musings. Many went on to write for other publications and I still get a twinge of satisfaction from remembering their names and writing styles from those early bylines.

Sydney J. Harris wrote 2 or 3 times a week for the Chicago Daily News, and an irregular feature of his column was a day when he would detail "Things I Learned While Looking Up Something Else." Elements of wonder and surprise were highlighted among tidbits unearthed through research, celebrating discoveries that have often been dismissed as daydreams or distractions that keep you from being "productive." I took it as permission to keep your eyes open and trust your instincts and observations. I still do and I think it applies to almost every endeavor, including author readings.

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