Some 140,000 Americans are hospitalized each year with the flu. One way to avoid that fate is to get a flu shot during October or November. Vaccinations are 75% effective in preventing the flu and reducing its severity. To find a pharmacy or grocery store that gives shots near you, go to findaflushot.com. You can search by Zip Code, area code, or state, and indicate how far you want to travel. Each shot costs $20 and covers three strains of the virus. Those of us who want to believe nice guys finish first are getting a kick in the rear courtesy of this year's stock market. Economists at Morgan Stanley recently wondered whether companies that have done the right thing and begun charging the cost of their employee stock options against current earnings have been rewarded by higher stock market returns. The unequivocal answer? Nope.
This year through mid-September, the 76 companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index that do expense options saw their share prices rise 15.9%. Those that didn't? Up 25.3%. The most honest defense for companies unwilling to deduct options expenses, Morgan Stanley concludes, "is that if analysts start recognizing options as a cost, earnings estimates will decline and [stock prices] will fall." Accounting authorities recently postponed rules mandating expensing of options -- a depressing, if perhaps pragmatic, signal to stay bullish on stocks. Ez-D DVDs have the same sound and picture quality as conventional dvds but without extras such as commentary. Oh, and another thing: They self-destruct in 48 hours. The disposable disks just became available in Austin, Tex., Charleston, S.C., Kansas City, Mo., and Bloomington/Peoria, Ill. Buy one or about $5 (the price of a rental), play it as much as you want for 48 hours, then send the disk to a recycling facility or throw it away. If you don't open the package, it has a shelf life of one year.