Game Time?

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) -- A quarter of Americans are playing Internet games during their work breaks, according to a new Netpulse study, commissioned by pogo.com, an online game service provider. Some employers encourage their staff to play games to relieve stress; others resent office computers being used for diversion.

In all, about 42 percent of employees surf the Web during their breaks: 16 percent are planning upcoming vacations, 16 percent are checking their money and investments, 6 percent are looking for a new place to live, 3 percent are looking for a new romance and 2 percent download pornography.

Cruising trivia

BOSTON (NYT) -- Here are some fun facts about the two Disney Cruise Line ships, the Magic and the Wonder, which are structurally similar:

* The Eiffel Tower is 986 feet high. The ships are each 964 feet long.

* If the Magic and Wonder were land vehicles, each would need an eight-lane highway (median included) to handle their width.

* It takes 20,000 gallons of paint to cover either ship. That's enough to paint 2,000 average American homes.

* Each ship can make a half-million gallons of fresh water every day while cruising.

* The 1,367 miles of cable on either ship are enough to run an extension cord between Austin and Detroit. (But why would you want to?)

* Some 8,260 cups of coffee are served on board daily. Each ship can carry a maximum of 2,400 passengers.

* The anchor weighs 28,200 pounds -- roughly the weight of three elephants.

* On a three-day cruise, each ship will use 6,525 pool towels.

Fortuitous forecasting

NEW YORK (NYT) -- "Wichita, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Shreveport, Little Rock, Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta and up the eastern corridor to Washington, Philadelphia, New York City and into southern New England and Boston."

Dennis Smith may sound like a dispatcher in a big Amtrak station, but he's actually the meteorologist who does the morning travel reports on the Weather Channel, which is broadcast in 30 countries around the world and in the United States is carried on 6,500 cable systems. He was describing the remarkably wide area of the country that was hammered by severe winter weather in the last week. If you were one of the tens of thousands of business travelers whose schedules spun off the road during the snow and ice storms that snarled the air travel system and bogged down airports from Dallas to New York and beyond, you may have turned on a hotel television in the morning and encountered Dennis Smith's three-minute travel segments.

Most times, other people's weather is of only casual interest. But when you're traveling on business, weather that is occurring elsewhere suddenly shoots right up there with concepts like time and distance as basic components of the itinerary. In December, aware of the growing importance of the business-travel niche, the Weather Channel bolstered its travel-weather reporting, hiring a business travel consultant and broadcasting Smith's three-minute reports -- which include extra national airlines and airport information during bad weather -- four times each morning. Just in time, it would seem.

"It wasn't just a two-hour or four-hour thing; it was almost two full days of snow and sleet and freezing rain last week," said Smith, who works at the channel's headquarters in Atlanta, where staff members unable to get home on icy roads were scrounging for hotel rooms made scarce by the demands of the Super Bowl last weekend.

Business travelers "seem to want their weather information farther out, like five, six and seven days out," said Smith, who started as a local television weatherman in Oklahoma before joining the Weather Channel when it began operations in 1982. But since weather is of vital interest to them, business travelers tend to understand that as a science, meteorology becomes more wobbly the farther it is projected into the future. …

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