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You and your college-bound kids can get the inside scoop on campus culture at more than 800 universities from the people who really know -- the students. CampusDirt.com, the four-month-old offspring of scholarship search engine FinancialAid.com, surveyed more than 70,000 college students and recent graduates to find the truly quiet study spots, primo late-night takeout haunts, and whether the professors really know their stuff. Pinocchio's Pizza is a favorite at Harvard, for example, and Lehigh is known as a party school. At Tulane, 25% of the respondents said the student body is very ethnically and culturally diverse; 28% felt it was not very diverse. "If you're not good at dealing with upper middle class/upper class status, don't come here," advises Paige of the Class of 2005. How's the faculty at Stanford? "We have some world-class scholars, Nobel prize winners, and leaders in their field who teach freshman courses because they love students," one student says. "It's pretty awesome."

Contingently Convertible Bonds, known as CoCos, account for 84% of the convertible securities issued this year. But new issuance could fall and even disappear next year if the Financial Standards Accounting Board (FASB) has its way. Like all convertible bonds, CoCos can be swapped for equity if the share price reaches a certain target. But the trigger price at which a CoCo can be exchanged for stock is typically 20% to 30% higher than the threshold for a regular convertible. Corporations love CoCos because unlike with regular convertibles, the shares they're exchangeable for don't have to be counted in earnings per share until the stock reaches its trigger price. But when CoCos hit the target, shareholders can get a nasty surprise, since that's when the number of shares outstanding rises and EPS falls.

Now, FASB wants to make issuers count CoCos in EPS calculations as soon as the bonds are issued, and restate past results. Unless lobbyists head off the change, Bear Stearns (BSC) projects that among issuers, EPS will fall by 6% in 2005. With the loophole closed, fewer companies are likely to choose this financing method.

Bardstown, KY., the self-proclaimed bourbon capital of the world, hosts its annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival on Sept. 15-19 (kybourbonfestival.com). Among the highlights: An auction of master-distiller bourbons, a chili cook-off, and a barrel rolling contest. Bardstown is about 40 miles southwest of Louisville in Bluegrass Country, where the corn-based whiskey was first distilled in charred oak barrels some 200 years ago.


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