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IMG_20150503_130130A couple of weeks back I gave away a 2016 calendar created by “Tundra” artist Chad Carpenter. Or would have, if the winner hadn’t been from Canada.

Not that I have anything against our brethren to the north (or, in my case, to the east). It’s just that mailing the calendar would have been ridiculously expensive.

That’s why I note that winners from outside the United States will receive a gift card instead of mailable items. In this case, I sent the reader a $15 Amazon.ca card.

Which means, of course, that the calendar is still up for grabs. So is a $50 gift card of your choice from the Swagbucks shop. But first things first.


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thAt the end of April I got some unpleasant news concerning my teeth, news so unpleasant that it made me want to go out and waste money. Regular readers know that would indicate some serious upset.

As I explained in “How to avoid takeout,” the Maryland dental bridge I’ve had for 31 years needs replacing due to a cavity underneath it. The first stage — cutting apart the bridge, fixing the cavity and crowning the tooth — would cost approximately $1,222.

Today I had the first part done and the appointment revealed both very good and very bad news. Typical.


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The 876 scam is back.

thWhen the phone rang yesterday and caller ID noted an “876” area code, a warning bell dimly clanged in my head. Some kind of scam, I think. As I started to say so, DF answered the phone.

“Hello…Pretty busy, actually, what’s up? Oh, really? Well, send it to me.” He ended the call – and along with it, our chance to win $8.1 million dollars in a foreign lottery.

Yep, the 876 scam is back. Previous scammers have claimed to be associated with Publishers Clearinghouse, UPS, loan originators or credit repair agencies.

The crooks explain that once they’ve received a wire transfer or prepaid card to cover “taxes and fees,” their prizes will be sent along.

Of course that sounds ludicrous. But people fall for it all the time – especially the elderly.


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thWant a $50 head start on your summer fun? Let the Swagbucks rewards site give it to you.

The program, which is my favorite rewards site, is sponsoring a “Gateway to Summer Fun Giveaway.” The prize: a $50 card from its Rewards Store.

Normally you get up to five ways to enter my site’s giveaways. This time it’s different: Only one entry per person is allowed, and you have to do a little work to get it.

The good news? Some of this “work” will actually benefit you – that is, if you like earning free gift cards year-round.


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thRecently I flew from Anchorage to Las Vegas to give a talk at the New Media Expo. Going from a chilly climate to a potentially blast-furnace-hot one meant I’d need nothing but sandals, so why bother wearing shoes on the plane?

But this was an overnight flight and I can’t sleep when my feet are cold. Sighing, I made a sartorially awkward choice: gray wool socks with my Teva sandals.

And yes, I know how fugly that looks, but I’m built for comfort, not for speed. Besides, it wasn’t wearing the socks with sandals that left me feeling embarrassed. It was the removal.

The terminal in Los Angeles made my feet feel overdressed, instantly. Yet I felt it absolutely necessary to remove the socks in the ladies’ room. Doing so in the waiting area – even an empty one – seemed indecent somehow.


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thAlaska is full of kick-ass women, and I was privileged to meet a bunch of them during my 17 years of working for the Anchorage Daily News. That’s because I wrote for the features section, which meant getting sent out to interview women who’d either suffered great losses or done something intriguing. Sometimes both.

I learned something from all of them, and was fortunate enough to get to know some of them better. When I met Dana Stabenow she was at the tail-end of a carefully chosen yet potentially disastrous decision: to quit her lucrative job, get a master’s degree in creative writing and become an author.

She went broke in the attempt, but that’s not the end of her story.


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