Figuratively Speaking by John MacIntyre

Figuratively Speaking For March 20, 2011

Percentage of top performing high school students (those with grade averages of A and B) who used words like "lemony," "clean" or "baked goods" to describe the smell of their childhood homes, according to a study conducted by Dr. Alan Hirsch and the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation: 84

Percentage of lower-performing students (averages of C or below) who associated negative smells -- urine, fecal matter or mold -- with their homes: 34

Source: Clorox Company.

Amount of money the average person still owed in bank card debt at the end of 2010, according to data from Experian: $4,200

Average number of bank cards held by consumers (a drop of nearly 23 percent since 2007): 1.97

Percentage of their total available bank card balance now used by consumers since using fewer bank cards, a nearly 10 percent jump since 2007: 30

Source: Experian.

Percentage of managers who felt NCAA basketball tournament (March Madness) activities shouldn't be allowed in the workplace, according to an OfficeTeam survey: 32

Percentage who said group events tied to the playoffs are OK in moderation: 57

Source: OfficeTeam.

Estimated amount of total student loan debt, according to the College Savings Foundation: $850 billion

Estimated amount of credit card debt: $820 billion

Source: College Savings Foundation.

Ranks of recommendations from friends, online searches, online reviews from other travelers and travel books on the list of most trusted sources of information for people deciding on their vacations, according to a Smart Destinations survey conducted by Zoomerang: 1, 2, 3, 4

Source: Zoomerang.

In 1920, the number of standard signs on the nation's more than 3 million miles of roads, according to the U.S. Census Bureau: Zero

Year that state and federal officials met to solve the problem and came up with standard signs and numbers -- highways running north and south had odd numbers and those going east and west were given even numbers: 1925

Today, estimated number of miles of roads in the U.S., including about 47,000 miles in the Interstate Highway System: 4 million

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

Percentage of drivers who drive at least one hour a week, own a smart phone and have a valid driver's license who admitted to using the Internet while driving, according to a survey by State Farm: 19

Approximate percentage of the U.S. population who own a smart phone: 40

Source: State Farm.

Percentage of Internet users who say they have gone online to find others who might have health concerns similar to theirs, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project: 18

Percentage of people living with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart conditions, lung conditions, cancer or some other chronic ailment who say they have gone online to find others with similar health concerns: 23

Source: Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Percentage of billing-related executives who view billing as a utility, according to a survey released today by billing outsourcer Billtrust: 67

Percentage who see billing as strategic: 33

Percentage of respondents who are not confident their bills will get paid on time: 25

Source: Billtrust.

Average age of a tour passenger, according to a survey of United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) members: 53

Among USTOA members with escorted tours, percentage of their business that is accounted for by this segment: 72

Source: United States Tour Operators Association.

Idle Thought

"Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy." -- Edmund Burke

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