The wayward bus.

I flew back from Alaska on Monday morning. It was standby – a friend gave me an airline buddy pass, bless his heart – but I got on. The last person to get on, mind you, and in a middle seat, but how could I complain? It cost only $65 including fees and they didn’t charge me to check a bag.

From there it was the light rail into downtown Seattle, followed by a most unusual Metro bus trip: The driver didn’t know where she was going.


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Online or in person, the after-Christmas sales can be worth the trip – and not just for extra wrapping paper. This is your chance to replenish the gift closet and to find good deals on items for your home or yourself.


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I’ll be heading back to Seattle soon, but I can’t leave the Last Frontier without giving away some Alaskana.

Here’s what’s up for grabs this week:

The 2011 Alaska Moose calendar — a year’s worth of funky ungulates. My favorite is July, a mama moose soaking herself in a lawn sprinkler. The calendar is photographed and produced by the Anchorage Daily News, my former employer.

An “Alaska Girls Kick Ass” bumper sticker, aka a little attitude from a northern latitude. (This item generated much interest during summer giveaways.)

To enter:

If you do any (or all!) of these things, please leave additional comments to get credit for each entry.

Entry deadline is 9 p.m. PST Monday, Dec. 27.

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I’ve been reading and re-reading this wonderful Charles Portis novel since I was a teenager. Mattie Ross is a hell of a protagonist. She’s strong, determined, relentless and, above all, frugal.

Here are 10 things you could learn from her story, courtesy of Mr. Portis and the Coen brothers. And without a single song by Glen Campbell!

1. Negotiate. Mattie convinces Stonehill the stock trader to buy back the four ponies he’d sold to her now-dead father for $25 apiece. (Whether it’s the price of a car or a shirt, you might be able to strike a deal. Doesn’t hurt to ask.)

2. Stand up for your rights. Since her father’s horse was stolen from the stock barn, Mattie asks Stonehill to accept responsibility. He refuses, she persists. (If you think you’re being hosed, say so.)

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MJ is the winner of the box o’ Christmas oddities, courtesy of RetailMeNot.com. I just returned from the post office. Maybe there will be a Christmas miracle, i.e., it will get there on time.

A whole bunch of you sure liked that bling mug, aka the “2 Carat Coffee Cup.” If you’re interested in getting one of your own, start your shopping here — and be sure to look for a coupon code, too.

In other news:

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