thIf things had gone according to plan I’d be getting on a plane this evening and returning to Anchorage. But one thing I’ve learned in all my years is that plans are really just God’s laugh track.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook and/or my daughter’s website know that she’s had three miscarriages in a row. In the middle of the night Saturday she started to spot and cramp. She and Tim went to the emergency room and I stayed here: sniffling, setting up the Roomba, doing dishes and then mopping most of the living area. If I wasn’t going to be able to sleep, I figured I might as well do something useful.

The ER doctor said it wasn’t clear whether she was miscarrying again. “Too soon to tell” wasn’t of much use, but it allowed for hope.

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thShow of hands: How many of you have received an inappropriate gift card at Christmas?

Maybe it’s a steakhouse card from the grandparent who doesn’t understand what “vegan” means, or a gift card to a store where you’d never willingly shop.

Or perhaps a well-meaning pal sent a movie theater gift card, but your new apartment is an hour-long bus ride away from that particular chain.

The easy answer: Sell the gift card on the secondary market.

The best day to do it: Dec. 26, aka Gift Card Exchange Day

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th-1In the past month or so I’ve had four credit cards compromised. Notice of the latest breach came via e-mail this morning: Some thieving bastard(s) purchased hundreds of dollars’ worth of stuff from Walmart.com and then tried to spend hundreds more at a different online company.

The other three credit cards weren’t part of the latest Target breach, in which as many as 40 million people had their data stolen. But that theft should help convince people to come around to my way of thinking: that you need at least two credit cards. Suppose you were on vacation or traveling on business and found your plastic didn’t work?

Which is exactly what happened to me: I’m currently in Phoenix, about to celebrate Christmas with my daughter and son-in-law. The card that got hacked is now kaput. What if I wanted to go shopping, or needed to pay for a van ride back to the airport?

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thIt was 7 below zero and 12:45 a.m. when I left Anchorage for Phoenix, a city where I don’t think it’s ever been below zero. My layover in Seattle was marked by several startling holiday visions:

  • An electric cart driven by Mrs. Santa; beside her, Santa played the guitar and sang “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas.”
  • A life-sized plush snowman and a holiday princess walking through saying “Merry Christmas!”
  • An old time Father Christmas giving coloring books to kids and asking adults to applaud in appreciation of several embarrassed-looking Navy dudes.
  • A quartet of strolling carolers wearing Dickensian garb.
  • Someone dressed as a reindeer and what I think was a one-man band (but since the music was far away, it could also have been a one-woman band).

But you know what seems stranger than that now? The fact that I took a walk in shirtsleeves, on sidewalks I could actually see.

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Coupons.com wants to give you a $100 Amazon card.

XMAS_BLOGGIFT_MOM_FINA couple of dozen bloggers were given the chance to participate in the Coupons.com Holiday Sweepstakes. I’m happy to be among them because of the possibility that one of my readers will be chosen as the winner of a $100 gift card to Amazon.com.

The contest is designed to call attention to the site’s holiday gift guides, which offer ideas for presents for moms, dads, teens and younger kids. This being Coupons.com, online coupon codes are included with each gift idea.

Among the four Coupons.com holiday gift guides, my favorite is – naturally – the mom page. That’s because it includes a class of gifts I hope to see under the tree: skin-care items.

It’s cold and dry here in southcentral Alaska, which is hard on the skin. Looking at the moms’ gift guide I see a three-pack of fragranced body butters from Sephora. The  accompanying coupon codes bring free shipping and a gratis “deluxe sample” item. (Hint: Those small sample items are obviously good for travel but they also make very nice last-minute stocking stuffers.)

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