Europe makes Net work
Europeans are getting more plugged into the Net, according to a study by Nielsen/NetRatings. Nielsen studied 20 countries in Europe, Asia and North America and, not surprisingly, found that the largest Internet populations reside in the United States and Japan. About 82 million Europeans have access to the Internet from a home computer. That's about one household in five. In Europe, the British bought the most products online - about 64 percent of consumers who researched products made a purchase in the past six months.
Teachers gain prestige
The latest ranking of prestigious occupations says doctors, scientists and teachers are at the high end of the respect scale, while accountants, bankers and union leaders are not.
The ranking, based on 1,010 telephone surveys conducted by The Harris Poll in August, shows that teachers, military officers and members of Congress are making gains, while lawyers are losing ground.
Sixty-one percent of the respondents to the Harris survey said doctors have "very great prestige," but just 14 percent said the same about accountants. Journalists didn't rank too high on the list, either. Only 16 percent of respondents said reporters have "very great prestige."
Growth sparks job switch
It seems the strong economy is encouraging many experienced American workers to switch jobs more often. But it's not necessarily money alone that's prompting the move.
A recent survey of about 3,000 jobless executives by Challenger, Gray & Christmas found that, compared to figures from 1991, 48 percent more white- collar managers in their 30s and 40s have worked at four or more companies.
The 1991 survey was taken while the country was still in a recession and as American companies were slashing jobs by the thousands, leaving workers feeling less secure about changing jobs than they currently are.
After interviews with human resources professionals, Challenger, Gray & Christmas concluded that nowadays many executives entertaining new job offers are looking for flexible scheduling and family-friendly policies, not just higher salaries.
Workers head online
A worldwide recruitment firm reports that 32 percent of U.S. companies have lost an employee to an Internet company but that the high-tech opportunities are not being extended to all sectors of the work force.
Telecommunications and information technology firms are roughly five times as likely to have employees depart for Internet-related jobs as textile, furniture and construction companies, according to a survey by Management Recruiters International Inc.
Also, the apparent drain is most prevalent in New England, Mid-Atlantic states and in the West; companies in the South, Central and Midwest United States were about half as likely to report losing employees to Internet companies, the MRI survey found.
Media choices abound
A study of home technology found that one-quarter of American families now have a choice of two or more personal computers and 80 or more television channels.
The survey of more than 2,000 households, conducted by Statistical Research Inc. of Westfield, N.J., also found cell phone ownership to have grown by more than one-third since 1998, meaning roughly 48 percent of American households have at least one wireless phone.
Families also tend to want bigger TV sets, according to the survey. Twenty-six percent of respondents reported owning a television with a 30-inch or bigger screen. That's up from 19 percent just two years ago.
Mercedes tops stolen list
The four-door Mercedes S-Class (models 1997 through 1999) had a combined frequency of theft and insurance losses 10 times greater than the average passenger car in the United States, according to the insurance industry's Highway Loss Data Institute.
The two-door and four-door Acura Integras were ranked second and third, respectively, and the four-door sports utility vehicle Mitsubishi Montero Sport placed fourth in the institute's records. In the five previous years, SUVs had finished at the top of the list of theft frequency, but the institute says improved anti-theft devices by automakers have helped curb the problem.
Trips create tired drivers
People are more likely to drive when they are fatigued either en route to a summer vacation or on a return trip from one, according to a survey of more than 400 consumers by auto insurer The Progressive Corp.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they drive when "overtired" when returning from weekend getaways, while 59 percent said they do so in order to sneak in a one-day vacation.
People with children were six times more likely than those without children to drive home from a long day trip while fatigued, the survey found.
Inheritors get advice
There are plenty of books offering advice to people writing wills and planning estates. But inheritors, writes financial expert and author Dan Rottenberg, "whose needs may be far greater, and whose powers are far fewer - have had few places to turn for help." His new book, The Inheritor's Handbook (Fireside, $13, paperback) seeks to fill the void. It covers the financial, legal and emotional issues beneficiaries will face.
Lard gets new use
When health-conscious cooks stopped putting lard in cookies, pork producers went up in smoke. Now the lard you aren't using may go up in smoke, too. In search of alternative uses, pork producers have found that lard and choice white grease can replace No. 4 and No. 6 heating oil in a process steam-boiler with little or no retrofitting, Penn State University and Hatfield Quality Meats researchers report. According to the researchers, the two pork-fat products burn cleaner, producing fewer pollutants, than fuel oil. All you have to do (and we're not making this up) is preheat the boilers.