"The Gates Countdown."
When the next president takes the oath on Jan. 20, 2009, Gates will be just 65 years old, but he insists he will retire from public life, this time for good. A friend recently gave him an electronic key chain, inscribed “The Gates Countdown,” with a small screen reading out how many days remain till the end of the term. He carries it everywhere, in part as a joke but not entirely. Told that those screens can be reset, he replied, “Not this one.” When I mentioned that some lawmakers would like him to stay on in the next administration, he replied, “I am very wary of saying, ‘Never,’” but added, “The circumstances under which I would do that are inconceivable to me.”