Figuratively Speaking for December 26, 2010

Percentage of Americans who have tried a retail store, restaurant or hotel for the very first time after having received a gift card for it, according to findings of a survey commissioned by Givex: 41

Percentage who later returned to the business: 72

Source: Givex.

Percentage of Americans who plan to return at least one holiday gift this season, according to a Consumer Reports holiday shopping poll: 20

Source: Consumer Reports.

Estimated year that revelry and resolutions first rang in the new year, when Babylonians held semi-annual festivals around the spring and autumn equinoxes: 2000 B.C.

Fast-forward a few millennia to New York City -- the year that Adolph S. Ochs, publisher of The New York Times, commissioned the construction of a 5-foot iron globe studded with 216 electric lamps that would fall from a 70-foot flagpole at midnight in Times Square on the last day of the year: 1907

Weight of the sphere clad in Waterford crystal with 30,000 watts of light-emitting diodes that will descend this year on Dec. 31: 1,200 pounds

Source: "Dream It. List It. Do It. How to live a Bigger & Bolder Life" by Lia Steakley Dicker, a Seattle-based journalist, editor and author at 43Things.com.

Percentage of senior managers who said their employees are less productive the week before a major holiday, according to a survey by Accountemps: 34

Source: Accountemps.

Percentage of decisions and reactions made behind the wheel that depend on good vision, according to a survey commissioned by Essilor of America Inc.: 90

Percentage of eyeglasses wearers who sometimes drive without their prescription glasses and instead wear non-prescription sunglasses: 20

Source: KRC Research.

Percentage more waste -- an extra 5 million tons -- that is generated during the holidays compared with the rest of the year, according to a survey conducted on behalf of Plastics Make It Possible: 25

Percentage of U.S. adults who plan to reduce their impact on the environment over the holidays this year: 86

Percentage of those adults who know how they plan to reduce their impact on the environment over the holidays that will do so by recycling the plastic shipping, mailing and packaging materials that protect the gifts they receive: 66

Source: Plastics Make It Possible.

Percentage of men who would opt to toast with beer vs. champagne if given the choice, according to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Samuel Adams: 60

Number of ingredients demanded by the rigorous standards of the Reinheitsgebot, the historic German beer purity law that states all beer must be brewed using only these ingredients: 4 (malt, hops, water and yeast)

Source: Samuel Adams.

Percentage of women who have had their mood affected by wearing an ill-fitting or unattractive pair of underwear, according to a poll published by ShopSmart magazine: 25

Number of pairs of underwear owned by the average woman: 21

Percentage of women who own 35 pairs or more: 10

Source: ShopSmart.

Ranks of Sophia, Charlotte, Ava and Addison on the list of most popular baby names for girls in 2010, according to BabyNames.com: 1, 2, 3, 4

Ranks of Aiden, Liam, Noah and Jackson on the list of most popular baby names for boys: 1, 2, 3, 4

Source: BabyNames.com.

Percentage of Americans who plan to spend more on leisure travel in 2011 than they did this year, according to TripAdvisor's annual travel trends survey: 36

Percentage who plan to take two or more leisure trips next year -- a slight increase over the 89 percent who said they have done so in 2010: 90

Source: TripAdvisor.

Idle Thought

"New Year's Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual." -- Mark Twain

(Readers can contact John MacIntyre at johnmacintyre(at)bwr.eastlink.ca.)

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