Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I get press releases, Volume 15: Have it your way or the highway

A busy day in 19 Minutes Newsland. The aversion of the Nuclear Option on judicial filibusters by the coalition of 14 centrist, or moderate senators -- ranging from Arizona's John McCain to West Virginia's Robert Byrd -- demonstrates a number of things, not the least of which is how the term "moderate" has evolved in the past decade. But the highlight of the story is the fact that the deal was apparently clinched in short order because McCain had to run out the door to go to a screening of a made-for-TV movie. About himself.

Elsewhere, the 19 Minutes staff's colleagues at the mother ship produced two stories this morning that touched on the possible loss of lifetime health insurance benefits for large groups of workers -- teachers in a variety of California school districts and GM auto workers. You'd think that such a discussion would lead to at least a debate over the concept of national health insurance. You'd think. In GM's case, what it led to was a debate that ranged from cutting the retired workers off entirely to just maaking them pay a lot more. Makes you want to run right out and buy a Pontiac, huh?

But the real news today comes courtesy of a couple of press releases that found their way to the 19 Minutes inbox. Let's start with the most important one:

Clarification: Miss America 2005 Deidre Downs Is Not Hosting Nor Associated With the Miss 500 Hawaiian Tropic Pageant in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, May 24, 2005 -- Miss America 2005 Deidre Downs is scheduled to attend a private Pre-Race Celebrity Party on Saturday, May 28th, 2005 at the Vapour Lounge and Vizion Restaurant on the Northside of Indianapolis, this race weekend. A Hawaiian Tropic pageant will be going on simultaneously on the property, but not in conjunction with the Pre-Race Celebrity Party.

This VIP Pre-Race Party will be an ultra-elite soiree, with invitees including celebrity race fans such as Sergei Fedorov, Kato Kaelin, Tara Reid, and Patrick Dempsey, top racecar drivers, and athletes. Party will feature performances by local Indianapolis favorites Five Apples and Dave & Rae, along with national breakout rock group The Franchize. Additional sounds provided by world renown DJs Slater Hogan, Unorthodox, and Noah the Arkitech.

Miss America 2005 Deidre Downs is on a national speaking tour promoting her platform of Curing Childhood Cancer. During her year of service, Deidre plans to increase awareness and research funds in the fight against cancer in children. An aspiring pediatrician, Deidre has already spent many hours on this issue in her home state of Alabama, creating the Making Miracles Program. Throughout her participation in the Miss America Program, Deidre has been awarded more than $107,000 in scholarship assistance.

It's a good thing the 19 Minutes staff bought refundable tickets to Indianapolis, because that definitely takes the shine off the Miss 500 Hawaiian Tropic Pageant. It would be nice to drop by the 'ultra-elite soiree', if only to listen to the conversation between Sergei Fedorov and Kato Kaelin, no doubt on the topic of universal health coverage. It would also be nice to learn how far such an ultra-elite soiree will go towards Curing Childhood Cancer (we personally were looking forward to the guest lecture by respected health professional Noah the Arkitech), but unfortunately, the 19 Minutes social staff has misplaced its invitation. The press release does offer to help us on that front, and in doing so, illustrates the somewhat different clienteles the two events are shooting for:

Tickets: A limited number of VIP tickets for the Pre-Race Celebrity Party are available only at http://www.vapourlounge.com. [Mitch's note: They're $200.00]

Tent tickets for the Hawaiian Tropic pageant are $10 available at the event.

The other news features the latest important polling data -- this sampling of American opinion:


FINDLAY, Ohio -- Thirty-five percent of Memorial Day travelers plan to visit fast food restaurants over the holiday weekend with another 30 percent visiting sit-down/family-style venues, according to an opinion survey of 9,000 adults released today by Corporate Research International, a national leader in tracking trends, issues and quality service. These findings mimic a national trend of increased fast food consumption.

When visiting fast food restaurants, 28 percent of respondents ranked ease of access off the highway as their number one criteria, with cleanliness of restrooms and variety of food options as runner-ups.

"Despite recent hikes in gas prices, Americans plan to travel by car and spend money on fast food this Memorial Day weekend," said Mike Mallett, CEO of Corporate Research International. "Where their dollars will be spent has a lot to do with location and store appearance."

Survey findings also indicated that when shopping for the traditional Memorial Day cookout, 70 percent of respondents will make purchases at supermarkets, while 27 percent will visit warehouse clubs or superstores for their needs.

Several key questions arise from this survey data -- first, it's nice to know that Americans are making such detailed and comprehensive plans for Memorial Day weekend that they already know they're going to be stopping at fast food restaurants. It's more of an impulse thing for the 19 Minutes staff, when the need for a Burger King Enormous Omelet Sandwich becomes simply overpowering, forcing our car to the drive-thru.

But more entertaining is the thought that Americans are making their fast food choices based on the cleanliness of the restrooms. The survey doesn't say how the respondents ascertain how clean the restrooms are, so it leaves us to imagine people pulling their RVs, Suburbans and Grand Caravans off the highway in Sandusky, Ohio, and going from Burger King, to Jack in the Box, to McDonalds, before deciding that the Arby's back in Elyria had the cleanest floor and the best functioning hand dryer.

The press release intrigued us enough to take a swing by the polling company's website, where we learned that among the survey respondents, female PhDs ranked the "speed of drive thru" as their leading criteria for choosing to use a fast food drive thru lane. Their second criteria was "number of cars in line", which tells you that women with doctoral degrees, if nothing else, have enough faith in the fast food workers that they don't necessarily believe more cars make for a longer wait in line.

There's lots more terrific data to be found, like the cleanliness ratings for convenience stores (something called "Beacon" scores the lowest among people with technical college degrees), but I'd better wrap up -- I'm feeling a craving for something greasy. I'm going to go hop on the interstate and see who has the cleanest bathrooms.


Carol Davidson said...

I'll bet you the cost of admission that Kato Kaelin crashes the Hawaiian Tropic party.

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