th10 Celebrate the Iditarod start: Win a hat!The 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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144056972X b 150x150 Trending: The post work world.It’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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th9 Traveling for spring break? You need this bag. This 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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guidetoretirement 201x300 A book that could change your life. Ladies: How’s your retirement planning going? Have you even started? Do you fear you’ll never be able to stop working?

Have I got a book for you.

Mary Hunt’s “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning For Retirement” is designed for women of all ages. Yes, I’m looking at the 40- and 50-somethings who don’t really have a clear plan except, “I hope Social Security isn’t gutted by the time I retire.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 55 percent of women have no savings at all and thus depend entirely on Social Security. Since the average monthly check is $1,130, that would be like working for $6.40 an hour, the author notes: “Could you live on that?”

Those who retire with some savings don’t fare much better. The average account has less than $30,000 in it; assuming you live to 85, it works out to just an additional $125 a month.

Want to take charge of your own finances? Enter for a chance to win a copy of this book.

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th 11 Giveaway: The cold and flu package.I’ve heard a bunch of hacking and coughing lately, and I bet Alaska isn’t the only state thus afflicted. With so much time spent indoors, you’re likely to run into some kind of rhinovirus or other virulent cootie just lookin’ for a home.

Once it hits, having to pay $7 for a bottle of cough syrup adds fiscal insult to physical injury. I think that’s why these cold-and-flu giveaways are so popular: Nobody wants to shell out $20 or more for analgesics and expectorants.

This time around the package features:

Advil Congestion Relief. It’s a non-drowsy version, in case you really can’t take time off from work, and it’s a one-pill dose so you don’t have to remember to take it throughout the day.

Tissues. With all the suffering in the world it’s a little embarrassing to complain  about a chapped honker. But after a couple of days of nonstop blowing our noses really do get sore. That’s why I’m including a box of Kleenex Lotion Aloe & E Tissues.

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