Whether dieting or eating ice cream, skipping school or studying, getting married or getting divorced, Americans every day unwittingly become statistics.It isn't done consciously, of course, but between government and private bureaucracies, the bean counters have compiled significant collections of numbers about life in America what's typical and what isn't.
In fact, almost every American, from Oklahoma Gov. Henry Bellmon to tiny Alice Feagin Jones of Frankfort, Ky., is part of the statistics of daily life in the United States.
Each day, America's 244,427,098 people (as of Jan. 1) work and play, love and hate and contribute to the endless collection of data about themselves.
The good and the bad, the fun and the tragic, this information eventually supplies a compilation of bits and pieces of the things Americans do to and for each other.
Folks facing the battle of the bulge may take some solace in the estimate that, on any given day, 63,092,400 adults are trying to lose weight.
Of those, the statisticians say, 51,735,768 try to do it by dieting, while 37,855,660 are exercising to trim off pounds. Many, of course, are doing both.
On the other hand, Americans consume an average of three-fourths of an ounce of ice cream every day of the year.
The average daily American diet, the Department of Agriculture reports, also includes 3.5 ounces of beef, 2.7 ounces of pork, 0.6 ounce of fish, 3 ounces of poultry, 9.4 ounces of milk.
Add to that, 5.4 ounces of breads, a half-ounce of pasta, about the same for breakfast cereals, 2.8 ounces of sugar, plus 3.8 ounces of corn sweetener, a little more than one cup of coffee; 15.9 ounces of soft drinks, 2.5 ounces of juice, 8.2 ounces of beer, 0.8 ounce of wine and 0.6 ounce of liquor.
It's unlikely that any individual consumes those exact quantities on any particular day, of course, but a good chunk of food was consumed by elderly South Dakotans last July 30.
More than 125 braved 100-degree heat that day for a potluck dinner at the Pierre Senior Center.
Usually, when senior citizens are mentioned, popular retirement areas like Florida and Arizona come to mind, but senior citizens are in every state and community in growing numbers.
Indeed, the Census Bureau reports that nearly 6,000 Americans turn 65 every day.
Did you just buy a new home? You're not alone.
On an average day in America, 107,887 people move to a new home.
And that's not all.
The federal government hires 216 new workers, and 236 are hired by state governments; 37,514,400 adults get less than 7 hours sleep, 56,061 drive a car after drinking alcohol, 337 children are injured while playing with toys, 1,594 people are hurt in bicycle accidents and 108 men cut themselves seriously while shaving.
Among the younger set, on a normal day 36,582,990 children attend public school, while 2,951,836 children who should be in school, aren't.
For Oklahoma youngsters, the statistics on those playing football may change a bit under a suggestion by Gov. Bellmon. He has proposed a rule that students who fail their studies be barred from extracurricular activities such as sports.
Also in a typical day, 6,548 American couples are wed, according to federal statistics. In addition, 288 couples decide to live together without bothering to marry, and 3,230 couples are divorced.
In a nation with more than 244 million people, crime is a continual concern, statistics by the Federal Bureau of Investigation show.
No particular day is, of course, typical, nor is any individual crime. But on average, the statistics say a day in America includes 239 rapes, 1,364 robberies, 1,980 assaults, 8,419 burglaries, 18,975 thefts, and 3,021 motor vehicle thefts.
All the news and numbers can't be bad.
Take for example Rhododendron, Ore., where the U.S. Forest Service last summer began cutting logs for breakwaters and digging out ponds along Still Creek to create quiet areas for salmon and steelhead to breed.
More and better spawning grounds mean more fish, and in the long run more game for fishermen, a boon for the 99,000 Americans who buy fishing licenses in an average day, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
An estimated 78,000 Americans buy hunting licenses every day although most are sold during hunting season.
In addition, 721,643 people visit national parks and landmarks daily, while the folks less inclined to outdoor activity buy some 5,643,000 books, 789,000 records and 940,000 tapes on an average day.
And potential future outdoors enthusiasts, readers and musicians continue to arrive. For example, little Alice Feagin Jones, who debuted at 8 pounds on Jan. 1, the first baby of 1988 in Frankfort, Ky.; offspring of Wesley and Alice Jones.
Katie and John, meanwhile, probably were among the first new Nebraskans arriving.
In Lincoln, Neb., the state health department took a look at the names most popular with new arrivals there in 1986. The winners: Katie for girls and John for boys.
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that 10,279 babies are born on an average day in the United States. There is, however, no longer such a thing as a typical day.
Of the more than 10,000 babies born daily, 1,994 are children of unwed mothers.
The other side of birth is death, and on a typical day more than 5,700 people die in this country.
Fires join accidents among the most common threats to Americans.
A Toledo, Ohio, family of eight was left homeless on Aug. 8 when a child playing with matches started a blaze that caused extensive damage to their apartment.
The fire was one of an estimated 1,704 house fires in the nation if that was an average day, according to the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission.
While the elderly population is growing rapidly, so are those in middle age, children of the post-World War II Baby Boom, meaning that more than 10,000 Americans turn 40 daily.
But those folks haven't been replacing themselves, resulting in smaller populations of young people. Only about 8,800 people become teenagers each day.