Are you ready for retirement? Ultimately, retirement is about having the financial independence to do what you want when you want. That day may come when you're 40 or 65 or (gulp) never. But whether you envision palm trees and margaritas, endless golf, tackling Mt. Everest, or just humbly living a comfortable life at home, we want to help you reach your goals on the way to and through retirement. This summer we're launching a new service to do just that. Let us know if you're interested, and we'll be sure you get more information.

In today's Motley Fool Take:

Google Goes Corporate

By Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)

In another step toward a friendly takeover of the technology universe, Google said today that it's launching its corporate search tool. Most of us are used to the free approach to Google search, but this requires that its target market of universities, corporations, and government agencies pay up cold, hard cash for the Google Search Appliance.

Anyone who's tried to find information on their company's intranet and found themselves in a tangled mess -- often not even finding the right information after a ton of digging -- understands why such a product would save corporations and their employees loads of time (and money).

Meanwhile, also think of organizations that have large customer service components, where a search across internal data would help them swiftly pinpoint the answers to queries that need to be answered in real time.

Google's Search Appliance, which the company said is already being used by Boeing(NYSE: BA), National Semiconductor(NYSE: NSM), the U.S. Department of Education, Stanford University, and Gannett's(NYSE: GCI), costs $32,000 a year for starters.

This new search tool has a lot going on under its hood. For example, Google has perfected "continuous crawl" for ultra-timely searches (the advertising-funded Web version of Google that you and I use has its robots "crawl" the Web monthly to cull new search results). Google's corporate search blazes through more than 300 queries per minute and can handle expanded document collections, which scale from 150,000 to 15 million-plus documents.

Another benefit: It's easy to use, with Google claiming that the server works within 30 minutes of being plugged in, with little technical support needed.

A few months ago, I might have doubted that Google could pull a Microsoft(Nasdaq: MSFT) with search, but I have to admit, it's been coming up with lots of interesting ways to get under our collective, technological skin. It's not just Gmail, Google Local, Froogle, or the other myriad ways it's competing with Microsoft and Yahoo!(Nasdaq: YHOO).

Consider the formidable list of products splashed across its Google Labs page -- potential new products currently in beta tests. I stopped by the lab and found several new innovations in beta mode: Google Groups, Google Sets, Google Voice Search, and Froogle Wireless. It's also moved aggressively into a very popular technological area, the blog (or Web log, if you're unfamiliar). (Personally, I'm waiting to see if they ever roll out Google Dates.)

And now, back to reality. The point that Google's trying to reduce its reliance on advertising revenues is one that shouldn't be lost on investors. After all, considering that 95% of Google's revenues are currently from advertisers is certainly a risk, when you think of the cyclical and fickle nature of advertising -- and the intense rivalry of the other firms competing with Google in the search game. Drilling into the corporate market is a logical -- and necessary -- step. We'll have to wait and see if it's fruitful.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.

Di scussion Board of the Day: Building/Maintaining a Home

Will your next home be new or are you lured by the location of existing homes? Will you dare to do some remodeling work yourself? Stuck on stucco? All this and more in the Building/Maintaining a Home discussion board. Only on

Walgreen's Mellow May

By Alyce Lomax (TMF Lomax)

Walgreen's (NYSE: WAG) sales data showed a healthy May, but investors may have expected something closer to April's stellar showing and nudged shares down in recent trading. Meanwhile, has the company lost some of its luster now that rival CVS(NYSE: CVS) has received FTC approval to buy Eckerd from J.C. Penney(NYSE: JCP)?

Same-store sales at Walgreen were up 8.5% in May, with overall sales increasing 12.8% to $3.18 billion. However, compare that to last month, when Walgreen reported a same-store sales hike of 10.3%, with total sales up 14.9% and pharmacy sales higher by 17.2% overall.

One might imagine that springtime staples like suntan oil, bug spray, and allergy meds drove consumers to drugstore chains in May, but the picture here is mixed. Walgreen's pharmacy sales increased 14%, while comparable pharmacy sales rose 10.5%. The company's "front-end" sales rose 5.3%, a tad lower than April's 5.6% number.

Walgreen, of course, has been the No. 1 drugstore chain for some time now, with CVS doing its darnedest to nip at its heels. The latter company's planned purchase of Eckerd -- approved by the FTC yesterday -- will put CVS at the top of the heap in terms of its number of stores, and CVS's addition of Eckerd will put it close to Walgreen in annual sales as well.

Many people don't see third-place Rite Aid(NYSE: RAD) as much of a threat to anybody. However, with CVS encroaching on Walgreen's territory through its new Eckerd chain, it could add up to some heated rivalry -- if CVS knocks Eckerd into tip-top shape. Or could it? On the Walgreen discussion board here at the Fool, some investors have kicked around the issue, and many believe that Walgreen is too formidable an enemy for CVS to beat at its own game.

Today, Walgreen shares lost a little more than 1% in recent trading. Maybe investors are a little spooked by a May that seemed mellow by comparison to April. Maybe it's the specter of CVS making Eckerd a contender in Walgreen territory. At any rate, trading at 27 times forward earnings, Walgreen currently sounds a bit rich to buy in.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.

Sh ameless Plug: Motley Fool Income Investor

Did you know that dividends have accounted for 42% of the S&P 500's total returns since 1926? If you'd like to find out more about dividend payers and their place in your portfolio, sign up for a free, 30-day trial of Motley Fool Income Investor right now.

Is Sa fer Smoke a Joke?

By Seth Jayson

It sounds like a punch line or, at best, a cynical PR maneuver, but the nation's biggest cigarette producers are aiming to put a "safer" smoke on the market by the end of the month. Wire reports today indicate that Altria Group's(NYSE: MO) Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds(NYSE: RJR), and Lorillard Tobacco, a.k.a. Loews Corp.'s(NYSE: LTR)Carolina Group(NYSE: CG) have all committed to meeting a June deadline to create a cigarette that meets a New York consumer-protection statute. The goal? A cigarette that's less likely to start a fire if dropped.

The technology has been around for nearly three decades. Basically, by incorporating a dense ring at intervals in the cigarette, the smoldering tip can be starved of oxygen and snuffed out, unless it's being actively puffed. That means lots of relighting for smokers, and it also means cigarettes won't burn through as quickly on their own. That translates into reduced cigarette consumption, which explains why big tobacco hasn't incorporated the solution until now.

I'm a pretty big anti-tobacco type, but even so, I find myself wondering whether our nation's legislators couldn't be doing something just a wee bit more productive with their time, like appropriating taxpayer dollars for taxidermy. Just how dangerous is the threat from fires touched off by cigarettes?

Killing an estimated 800 people per year, it ranks far below other unlikely risks, such as drowning or falling down a flight of stairs. You are 50 times more likely to be killed behind the wheel of your car. You are four times more likely to be flattened by an SUV while walking across the street for your morning Starbucks(Nasdaq: SBUX). You have about the same chance of freezing to death or becoming the victim of a thrown or falling object.

But here's the kicker: You are 500 times more likely to die of health problems caused by inhaling the cigarette smoke. In this light, New York's law makes as much sense as requiring the folks on the bomb squad to wear oven mitts, lest they singe their fingers.

Predictably, this do-little law has already spawned a national copycat that is winding its way through the House under the tutelage of Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Peter T. King (R-N.Y.). Even without this bill's passage, cigarette makers may have to make the switch for the other 49 states, as the trial lawyers are sure to smell money and culpability in the mere existence of the firms' special New York cigs.

Fool contributor Seth Jayson owns no company mentioned. View his Fool profile here.

Qu ote of Note

"What is the use of a house if you don't have a decent planet to put it on?" -- Henry David Thoreau

Mo re on Today

Return on equity is a good measure of management effectiveness. But Rex Moore has several modifications to make it even better. Read on in Cash Isn't a Cruel Measure.... From licorice essence to golf swings, public companies come in every tenor imaginable. Hey, on the three stock exchanges, more than 6,000 companies are traded. Bill Mann shares with you some of his favorite oddballs in Carnival of Freaks.

In other news:

For a list of all our stories from today, see our Today's Headlines page.