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51HixOXuQXL._AA200_As summer slips away we prepare to move more of our lives indoors. That is, unless we’re clever enough to live somewhere that’s temperate year-round.

Warm interiors. Hot drinks. Burning inspiration.

If you were ever going to write poetry, plays, short stories or the Great American Novel, you’re a lot less likely to do it when the weather is fine. No, fall and winter is when we head indoors and think deep thoughts.

(Or watch televised sports or “The Walking Dead,” or indulge in whatever nerdy pastimes make us happy.)

This week’s giveaway will give you two tools of the trade, or rather the accoutrements of the affected: a notebook and some coffeehouse scrip.


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Let your geek flag fly.

thMy friend Linda B. is a major genre fangirl. There was a time when she could be spotted at MediaWest conferences, dressed as a middle-aged Corellian spice trader* and participating in blaster battles all over the conference hotels.

She and other fellow geeks would see plays and skits, admire others’ costumes, buy fan fiction (including some rather startling “slash” fiction) and, yeah, shoot at one another.

She and several other middle-aged women would share hotel rooms and at some point conduct readings of abysmally written fan fiction. A particular “Star Wars” story always brought the house down with the line, “Han spurted into the room.”

Good times, despite the expense of traveling from Alaska to Lansing and the “con crud” that she always seemed to catch.

These days she’s staying closer to home – working, writing plays, making jewelry and doing free-form bead weaving – but she’s still a geek. Or maybe she’s a nerd. Probably both.

Either way she’s a fangirl, which is how she came to send me the link to this Wil Wheaton video, “Why it’s awesome to be a nerd.” This is the kind of thing that slips over her transom on a regular basis, along with things like song parodies based on characters from “The X-Files” or news about the latest Doctor to play “Dr. Who.”


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XSmallWant to take charge of your debt, your spending, your retirement or some other aspect of your finances? Maybe it’s time to go back to school.

Jean Chatzky’s “Money School” opens Sept. 10 – and since friends don’t let friends pay retail, I can offer you a discount code.

The financial editor for NBC’s “Today” show and the author of eight books, Chatzky will teach half a dozen virtual personal finance classes in real time (more on that in a minute).

You can choose one or two or take all six for an additional discount. Bonus: You won’t have to worry about mean kids who slam you into lockers or steal your lunch money.

What’s on the syllabus? So glad you asked.


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choc_nola15_9Remember those gorgeous French macarons I gave away a few months ago? The sponsor of that offer, the Sucré Sweet Boutiques and Confection Studio of New Orleans, is at it again.

No, it’s not a king cake (even though that’s a specialty confection often associated with New Orleans). This time around the giveaway is in the universal language: chocolate.

Not just any chocolate, either: Sucré is giving away a 15-piece New Orleans Chocolate Collection.  


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thEvery so often I get an e-mail about the “Mensa Invitational,” a word game hosted by The Washington Post. It asks readers to make up new words by adding or subtracting a letter from an existing word.

A few examples:

Foreploy: Misrepresenting yourself for the purposes of obtaining sex.

Intaxication: The euphoria that accompanies an income tax rebate (which lasts only until you realize that this was your money to begin with).

Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic humor and the person who doesn’t get it.

Glibido: All talk, no action.

Pretty clever, huh? The only problem with the Mensa Invitational is that it doesn’t exist. (Yet another reason to stop blindly forwarding every e-mail you get.)


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