Parents who eat out often with tots might want to bring along a product called the Clean Diner. It's a fitted, quilted cover designed to protect little hands (and bottoms) from germs lurking in the grimy corners of those wooden restaurant high chairs. The cover costs $22.95 and is available at specialty stores or cleanshopper.com. The site also offers a cover for shopping cart seats. March madness starts on the 16th, and the odds are far better that you'll win the lottery than blindly pick every winner in the 65-team NCAA men's basketball tournament (an 18 quintrillion-to-one shot). But to win the office pool, you only have to choose better than your co-workers.
Fortunately, some Web sites can help handicap the teams and devise pool strategy. They include mratings.com and poologic.com. USA Today's sports stat whiz Jeff Sagarin crunches the numbers at usatoday.com and his own site, accessible through the newspaper's. About.com's Pro Basketball channel also carries March Madness scouting reports.
Get started now because the teams will be selected on Mar. 14, leaving little time for research before the tipoff. For those who flinch at the thought of a colonoscopy, there's a new option. The PreGen-Plus test, rolled out last year by Exact Sciences (EXAS), screens the patient's stool for DNA shed by a cancer or precancerous polyp. It's a noninvasive alternative to the procedure that snakes a five-foot long fiber optic tube through the colon. Here, the patient simply takes a stool sample to a lab.
Early results show the PreGen-Plus more than twice as effective at finding cancers and large polyps than the most-commonly used noninvasive screen, the fecal occult blood test, which checks a sample stool for hidden blood. In a study involving almost 5,500 patients, it was four times more likely to find cancer in average-risk, asymptomatic patients. (However, since the fecal occult test is supposed to be done every year -- vs. three to five years for the DNA test -- its effectiveness would improve over time. Neither stool test is as good at spotting cancer or polyps as a colonoscopy.) The new test costs $795, vs. about $15 for the fecal occult and $1,500 to $2,500 for a colonoscopy. Insurance generally covers each.
Robert Smith, the American Cancer Society's director of cancer screening, calls the DNA test "quite promising," but is withholding final judgment until there is additional testing.
Two months down for '04, and the stock market is in the plus zone -- depending on the index, 1.6% to 3.3% What about March? If history is a guide, there's a 2-to-1 chance stocks will be higher by the end of the month, says the Stock Trader's Almanac though in recent years the month has finished on the down side.