Figuratively Speaking by John MacIntyre

Figuratively Speaking For December 28, 2014

Percentage of Americans in a committed relationship who believe that the simple act of holding hands regularly makes a relationship stronger, according to a survey conducted by Forevermark: 94

Percentage of Americans who hold hands often who say they are completely satisfied with their relationships, compared to just 35 percent of those who hold hands less often: 71

Percentage who feel that when their significant other reaches out for their hand, their mood immediately improves: 96

Source: Forevermark.

Rank of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who made the largest donation of 2014 by giving $2.1 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the form of 16.6 million shares of his company, Berkshire Hathaway, on the list of the 10 single biggest charitable donors of 2014, according to Wealth-X: 1

Rank of Nicholas Woodman, the founder and CEO of GoPro, who gave $497.5 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation: 2

Source: Wealth-X.

Amount of money that U.S. retailers report collectively losing in merchandise annually, according to a specialized research council formed by 40 major retail chains and a specialized University of Florida research team: $45 billion

Amount of that per year that is due to shoplifting: $10 billion

Rank of December on the list of months when most shoplifting occurs: 1

Source: Loss Prevention Research Council.

Percentage of U.S. adults who have some type of goal that they would like to achieve in the new year, according to an Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Strayer University: 93

Percentage of adults who have health-related goals, such as being more active, eating more healthily or getting more sleep: 54

Percentage who have a socially oriented goal, such as spending more time with family or friends, getting involved more in their community, meeting new people, broadening their circle of friends or joining a club or organization: 37

Percentage who have a leisure-related goal, such as traveling more or taking up a hobby: 34

Source: Ipsos Public Affairs.

Percentage of ties sold annually that are Christmas gifts, according to the U.S. Census Bureau: 20

Today in the U.S., estimated value of the necktie business per year: $390 million

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

Percentage of adults who admitted to getting carried away with Christmas spending so that they end spending more than they can afford, according to a survey conducted by ComRes on behalf of Theos: 26

Percentage of consumers who do not plan their Christmas spending: 24

Source: ComRes.

Percentage of Americans who say that their top financial priority is getting caught up on bills, according to a survey: 41

Percentage who cited paying down debt: 22

Source: Bankrate Inc.

Weight of New York City's famous Waterford crystal ball that begins its descent at 11:59 p.m. on New Year's Eve, according to the Times Square Visitors Center: 11,875 pounds

Year that the New Year's Eve ball made its maiden descent from the flagpole atop One Times Square: 1907

Number of versions of the ball that have been designed to signal the new year: 7

Number of 25-watt light bulbs that adorned the first New Year's Eve ball, made of iron and wood: 100

Source: Times Square Visitors Center.

Percentage of all Americans who make resolutions for the new year, according to the Journal of Clinical Psychology published by University of Scranton: 50

In 2013, percentage of those looking for improvement in the New Year who actually achieved it: 8

Source: University of Scranton.

Rank of Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman on this year's list of the 25 most liked celebrities in the country, according to a consumer survey conducted by E-Score: 1

Rank of Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Betty White, on the list: 2, 3, 4

Source: E-Score.

Idle Thought

"There are two possible outcomes: If the result confirms the hypothesis, then you've made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you've made a discovery." -- Enrico Fermi, physicist and Nobel laureate

(Readers can contact John MacIntyre at