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Basic emacs lisp question

From: Ken
Subject: Basic emacs lisp question
Date: Tue, 09 Sep 2014 15:35:59 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3 (gnu/linux)

I want to capture whatever is at point in a file into a variable
something like the following, but it doesn't seem to work. Can any one
suggest what I an doing wrong. It is probably a silly mistake I am
unable to see. I am just learning Emacs lisp.

(defun process-diary-file ()
  "Perform some manipulation of the diary file"
  (find-file "~/diary")
  (goto-char 1)
  (set a (thing-at-point))
  (message a))

Thanks in advance for your assistance,

Q:      What do you call a WASP who doesn't work for his father, isn't a
        lawyer, and believes in social causes?
A:      A failure.

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