BOARD GAMES COLD COMFORT FOR FINNS
You could hardly blame the Finns for warming up in their saunas and hot tubs during two weeks of an especially harsh cold snap -- but government officials say it could lead to power rationing.
The British Broadcasting Corp. says electricity consumption and prices in the Nordic nation have soared to record levels as temperatures have plummeted to minus-42 Fahrenheit.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry warned heating up a sauna to 100 degrees adds up to 30 percent more in energy costs.
It's urging Finns to use wood for heating, turn off their computers and play cards and board games where "the only energy you'll spend is brain energy."
PET OWNERS GO WITH MOVIE TRENDS
Bye bye Fido, hello Frodo. The Telegraph in London reports the huge popularity of "The Lord of the Rings" films is having its effect on pet names.
The paper says U.K. vets report a dramatic rise last year in dogs and cats being named after characters from Tolkien and the Harry Potter films -- including Hobbit, Gandalf and Harry. Some are named for soap opera characters.
Cats tend to be Nigella, Delia and Oliver and cats belonging to beer drinkers were Guinness, Stella and Vodka.
A Frontline pet company survey of 10,000 vets, the Telegraph says, shows, however, Charlie has remained the most popular name for dogs, while Tigger was No. 1 for cats.
SAUDIS, AMERICANS HAVE MUCH IN COMMON
A look at the "2002 Worldwide Time Study" finds similarities in how people in Saudi Arabia and America spend their days. The U.S. workday averages 8.3 hours, near equal to the 8.2 hours spent at work in Saudi Arabia. Commuting time to and from work averages 1.2 hours daily in both countries.
The average time spent on the computer each week is almost identical at 9.9 hours in the U.S. and 10.2 in Saudi Arabia and Americans spend 6.7 hours weekly on the phone while Saudis spend 6.9 hours.
Some 72 percent of consumers in the U.S. say they read a newspaper at least once a week -- 71 percent in Saudi Arabia do the same. Americans watch about 20 hours of television a week and the Saudis come in at 20.4.
The RoperASW "2002 Worldwide Time Study" is based on 1,000 in-depth, in-person interviews with consumers age 13 to 65 in each country.
CARS THAT HOLD VALUE
Kelley Blue Book's forecast of the 10 model year 2003 vehicles that will best hold their value over the next five years lists a mixture of high- and low-priced vehicles -- but none over $60,000.
The forecast is based on current vehicle data, expectations of the economy and the combined experience of the Kelley Blue Book editorial team.
It includes the Acura MDX, Jeep Wrangler, BMW 3-Series, Lexus LS 430, Chevrolet Corvette, Mercedes CLK, Honda Civic, Mini Cooper, Infiniti G35 and Toyota Tacoma.
Kelly Blue Book says factors that carry the greatest weight on sustained value are consumer demand, availability, and vehicle quality.