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thThe Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has its ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage on the first Saturday in March. People line the streets, which have been prepared by having snow put on them and which are aflame with barking, leaping, howling dogs.

If you happen to speak Canine, you’ll be able to hear what they’re saying: Let’s GO! Let’s GO! Let’s GO!

Come to think of it, you don’t need to know what a dog’s saying — just check his body language (See “barking, leaping, howling,” above.)

I hope to be there myself, although it will be a late night on Friday — I’m reviewing the touring company of “The Addams Family” for The Anchorage Daily News (my former long-time employer), and I’m expected to put the review up on the Arts Snob blog that same evening. The show probably won’t let out until about 10:30 p.m., which means I won’t even start to write until 11 p.m. Who knows what time I’ll get to bed?

I’ll be there in spirit if nothing else, having attended Iditarod starts in the past and enjoyed them hugely. I’ll also check out photos on the Daily News website of both the ceremonial start and then the next day’s re-start in Willow, Alaska. You should, too: The ADN shooters are masters of the art.

But that’s not what I came here to talk about. I came to talk about a hat.*


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th-2I just went shopping in our basement, bringing up several items that were missing in our upstairs cupboards: catsup and ibuprofen (both from Costco), a jar of homemade jam, a can of chicken soup.

It always tickles me to see how much we’ve got stored down there, from the kale we grew and dried to bedpillow-sized sacks of dried beans.

Since I live in a really seismic state, the stockpile also makes me feel safe and prepared. Well, as prepared as one can ever be for another Good Friday Earthquake. (And yes, I’ve thought about what might happen if the house collapsed into the basement: Anger, panic and finally rueful laughter.)

That’s probably why an Everyday Cheapskate post called “Don’t be scared, be prepared” resonated so much and got me thinking, once again, about food preparedness.


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144056972X_bIt’s all retirement, all the time around here lately. Ever since I posted a giveaway of Mary Hunt’s “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Retirement,” various once-you’ve-quit-working items have drifted my way. One of them, an upcoming TweetChat, could win you a nice big prize.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.


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9751250Personal finance writer Liz Weston is giving away two of her best-selling books to five lucky winners. Maybe one of them will be you, if you enter the drawing before Friday.

Each will receive both “The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy” and “Your Credit Score: How to Improve the 3-Digit Number That Shapes Your Financial Future.”

Head over to this post on AskLizWeston.com to sign up. All you have to do is leave a comment on the post.

Newbies take note: Since Liz moderates all comments, it may take a little while for yours to show up if you’ve never left one before. Be patient.

The winners will be selected on Friday evening. Watch your inbox because Liz, like me, is a tough-love kind of gal: If she doesn’t hear back from you by noon PST on Monday, she’ll draw another winner.

Frugal tip: One or both books would make a good graduation gift.


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thThis winter has been a real bear for much of the Lower 48. If you’re lucky enough to have the time and the money to plan a little break, it will feel soooo nice.

Except maybe when it comes time to pack. More of us are choosing to go carry-on vs. paying to check a bag — but that means you can’t take your giant economy-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner, or the big tube of toothpaste you got on sale.

This is one time when frugality is frustrating. Why pay big bucks for teeny toiletries?

Win this bag instead and you’ll have that much more to spend on wherever your spring break takes you.


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