Deciding What’s Cool, Healthy Sick Days, Etc.

Pity the parents of today’s teenagers. In a poll by Decision Analyst in conjunction with Hypothesis, 35 percent of kids age 13-17 said they think tattoos are “cool.” Even more (43 percent) accorded that status to piercings. Parents must take comfort in learning that just 6 percent rated plastic surgery as cool. Ninety percent or more gave the coolness seal of approval to eating pizza, going to the movies, cell phones, laptop computers, digital cameras and instant messaging. Toward the bottom of the cool standings: dieting (14 percent) and being vegetarian (18 percent).

How have people kept spending while incomes have mostly stayed flat? We get a hint from a new Vertis survey in which credit-card holders were asked whether they pay the full balance when the bill arrives. In 2002, 51 percent said they did. Now, the figure has dipped to 44 percent. While people age 65-plus are the most likely to pay the whole bill, slippage was steepest among this group (to 61 percent, vs. 75 percent in 2002). The figures for other age cohorts: 33 percent of the 18-34-year-olds (down from 38 percent), 35 percent of the 35-44s (down from 42 percent), 45 percent of the 45-54s (down from 51 percent) and 54 percent of the 55-64s (down from 58 percent).

It isn’t stop-the-presses news that workers sometimes call in sick when they’re perfectly healthy. The practice is more common than you might guess, though. In a poll fielded for the Hudson human-resources company by Rasmussen Reports, 30 percent of workers confessed to having done it. The practice is most common among the hale and hearty 18-29-year-olds (43 percent). Happily, 77 percent of people who take fraudulent sick days do it “only on rare occasions”; just 6 percent do it as often as three times a year.

Our verb of the week—nymphing—comes courtesy of a point-of-sale poster for UpCountry Sportfishing, a Connecticut retailer of fly-fishing gear. Despite its racy sound, the word refers to a kind of fishing in which the lure dangles well into the water instead of skimming along the surface, thus mimicking the movement of a not-yet-flying insect that is still in the underwater phase of its life. As a visit to Webster’s tells us, those youthful bugs share the term “nymph” with the beautiful outdoorsy maidens of classical mythology. Keiler & Co. of Farmington, Conn., created the ad.

Where would the economy be without digits? In a survey for Ziff Davis Media by International Communications Research, consumers revealed plans to buy lots of big-ticket digital electronics products by the end of 2005. Sixteen percent expect to buy a digital camera by the end of the year, with 11 percent saying they’ll buy a video-game console and 10 percent expecting to buy a desktop PC. Also on many shopping lists: MP3 players (9 percent), photo printers (9 percent), digital video recorders (7 percent), flat-panel TVs (7 percent) and laptops (7 percent). Thirteen percent already bought a digital camera in the first half of this year, and 11 percent said they bought a photo printer.