th3 This just in: Men prefer sex to a Valentine gift.Stop the presses, right? It certainly doesn’t surprise me that 66% of the men polled by Retail Me Not would choose the pleasures of the flesh over, say, a teddy bear holding a red sateen heart embossed with “I Wuv You.”

They’re likely to be disappointed. In the same survey, 70% of the women said they’d much rather have a present than an extremely personal moment.

Selfish? Maybe. But let’s face it: Most women in relationships can get all the sex they want. Gifts, on the other hand, are a surprise.

Well, sort of: Apparently it’s expected that we’ll be getting gifts on Valentine’s Day. Just flip through any store circular, turn on the TV or surf the Internet to be bombarded by ads that shriek some version of, “Feb. 14 is at hand! Buy the right gift or you won’t get laid for the rest of the year!

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th5 Starting the conversations.The demon malware has been vanquished at last. How odd it felt to be unable to write or check comments for a week. And, yeah, to look at pageviews. (Number monkey, right here.)

I missed you guys, and appreciate the Facebook comments saying you missed coming to the site. While the break certainly didn’t hurt me, given the sorrow and disruption surrounding recent events, it made me feel disconnected.

Even though I don’t post daily I’ve come to rely on the chance to put my thoughts out into the blogosphere – and to listen to feedback from readers.

For me the point of having a personal blog isn’t to make money. It’s to start conversations.

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th3 Im through explaining.Recently I followed a link at Grumpy Rumblings of the (Formerly) Untenured to a website called Thought Catalog. The article in question is called “18 things women shouldn’t have to justify.”

Things like “putting themselves first,” “how little or how much they’re eating” and “not having baby fever.”

I particularly loved the “amount of makeup worn on any given day.” The writer, Brianna Wiest, says we can go au naturale or “work it like you’re in a drag show…Your face. Your rules.”

I’ve been known to put on a little makeup when I’m having photos taken, but mostly it just seems like more trouble than it’s worth. And again: Nobody tells guys that they ought to wear a concealer or that a good mascara would make their eyes look larger.

Now I’ll see Brianna her 18, and raise her six of my own. Among other things I’m through explaining are:

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th1 The (sorta) poor relation. Several times during this visit I’ve tried to pay for things but my daughter wouldn’t hear of it. At one point she noted that she now makes considerably more than I do, thanks to my recent economic downturn

She wasn’t snide or condescending, but rather expressing a “so glad I can help you for a change” vibe. When I thanked them today for buying me lunch out Abby’s response was, “Thank you for cooking and cleaning.”

Having my daughter pay for groceries or meals out while I’ve been here feels weird. Sure, it’s a cheap price for a maid and cook, and I know she really can afford it due to her own awesome budgeting and frugal-hacking skills.

Oh, and her salary, which is now larger than mine.

For years I’ve been the one who helped, even when I could barely afford to do so. Now I’m the one who gets helped.

Then again, that was my choice.

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th7 Still in Phoenix, and staying for a while.If 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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