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Mixed Blessings

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A well-to-do American is a relaxed American—or, at least, aspires to be one. So we gather from a Country Home survey conducted among urban and suburban homeowners whose household income averages $130,000 and whose home value averages $430,000. Asked to cite the lifestyle attributes they find most appealing, 41.5 percent picked "casual" and 40 percent chose "relaxed." By comparison, there were few takers for "elegant" (7.5 percent), "sophisticated" (6.5 percent) or "chic" (2 percent). While "authentic" had less appeal than "real" (1 percent vs. 5 percent), neither had as many adherents as "warm" (10.5 percent).

Why is it tough to be a kid? In part, because you spend much of your time with other kids—i.e., among bullies, gossips, teasers, etc. In a survey of students in grades 5-12 by the Families and Work Institute and Colorado Trust, 57 percent confessed they'd teased or gossiped about someone at least once in the past month; 23 percent said they had bullied someone. For good measure, 37 percent said they'd hit, shoved, kicked or tripped someone during that period.

Thirty years from now, Bruce Springsteen can sing about fellow geezers who no longer drive down the Jersey Turnpike because they're too old to have a driver's license. Already, the aging of America has yielded a sizable number of former drivers. A bulletin from the National Institutes of Health describes one study in which researchers estimated more than 600,000 people age 70 and over stop driving each year. In the population sample that was studied, "driving cessation" peaked at age 85. And, as the NIH notes, the 85-plus cohort is "currently the fastest growing segment of the older population." Thus, getting former drivers from Point A to Point B could turn into a sizable industry.

Bali is best, but Tasmania would do. Those two places finished first and second in a Travel + Leisure poll when readers were asked to pick their favorite island travel destination. The Great Barrier Reef Islands, Maui and Kauai completed the top five. Meanwhile, they might or might not want to live in Sydney, but respondents would love to visit. The Australian city topped the list of best cities in the world for travel, followed by Florence, Bangkok, Rome and New York. When people were asked to pick the best travel city in the U.S. or Canada, New York came in first, followed by San Francisco, Vancouver, Chicago and Santa Fe, N.M.

You can take the sandwich shop out of the city, but can you take the city out of the sandwich shop? And would you want to if you could? As Potbelly Sandwich Works branches out from its Chicago site to add a suburban outpost, an outdoor ad takes note of the different manners and mores that prevail in these places. No doubt suburban sandwich fans will appreciate the tribute to their superior gentility. Rubin Postaer and Associates of Chicago created the ad.

As the sagging stock market imperils consumer spending, polling by Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown suggests the leisure-travel sector could escape relatively unscathed. Among adults who had planned to take a pleasure trip by the end of the year, 94 percent said they won't change their minds due to Wall Street's woes. Still, 58 percent of leisure travelers who own stocks said they'd be less likely to take an overseas vacation. Perhaps feeling they're already risking enough by investing in the stock market, 57 percent of this cohort said they'd be less likely to take a gambling trip.