I can’t remember the fall foliage ever being this vivid.

I also can’t remember the last time I loved a TV show as much as I love Cobra Kai.

It took more than a year, but I finally started grooving my new Callaway driver, just in time for golf season to fade away.

Speaking of golf, Tara roped me into playing disc golf for the first time and I love it, even though it’s almost as infuriating as trying to learn B chords on an acoustic guitar.

The Steelers are finally Super Bowl contenders again, which is a relief because it’s been a torturous 12 years since we last won it. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers.

I would love to talk more about any of that stuff. But I know. There’s way more serious shit going on in the world right now.

Every week when I sit down to write this prologue, it takes a herculean effort NOT to opine about politics or COVID, or COVID and politics. Not only are they the most ominous clouds of my lifetime hovering above me; I have so much to say about them, so much data.

It’s just so dark.

Sure, there are silver linings. I’ll be forever grateful for the time COVID has given us with our daughters – and them, with each other. Quarantine has also been good for the environment, I’m told.

I can’t really think of any silver linings about politics. Well, I suppose the insidious campaign ads are propping up local media in a time of need. But that’s about it.

Making it all especially difficult is that we don’t know when it will end. COVID is getting worse, not better. Whatever progress we are making toward a vaccine is offset by growing trepidation about vaccine safety. It could be like this for another year. Years, maybe.

As for politics, maybe Election Day will be the finish line. Or maybe it will be a few days later until all the mail-in ballots are counted. Maybe it will be weeks or months, after messy recounts and court battles. Or maybe, it could be four more years. The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t blinding anyone, that’s all I know.

So, in case these clouds don’t dissipate anytime soon, I’d better keep some of my political and COVID perspectives in my back pocket.

At least until next week.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

Even as people are growing more concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, confidence shopping in stores has hit a new high point. See, I had to write about COVID anyway. At least this is good news – 62% of Americans say they feel comfortable shopping in a physical store, which is the biggest number we’ve seen since the pandemic started. It seems counterintuitive because fear about the virus is spiking to levels we haven’t seen in months. Trepidation about eating in restaurants is also on a steep rise. But for now, it seems people realize that socially-distanced shopping, with masks adorned, is pretty safe. Hopefully it stays that way as the holiday retail season approaches.

Nearly half of U.S. parents are a hard ‘no’ on trick-or-treating this year, unless it’s a neighborhood with a bunch of Trump yard signs. Damnit. I had to mention politics, too. Oh well. Forty-eight percent of parents told us this week there’s no chance they’ll let their kids peddle for candy this year. Only 37% said they definitely will. When we cut the results by political leanings, though, we saw a more nuanced story. Over two-thirds of conservatives said they will let their kids trick-or-treat, compared to just 21% of liberals. Guess we won’t be seeing many Joe Biden costumes on the streets this year.

In related news, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are still 2X more popular than the next ranked candy, but the gap closed just a little since last year. See here for yourself.

Advertising alongside political content is a high-risk, high-reward proposition. It’s almost impossible to avoid political content online today. Part of the reason is that it drives eyeballs. People either love Trump or they love the train wreck of Trump. So, if you want people to see your ad, you have to fish where the fish are. The problem is that up to 29% of people could be pissed off if your ad shows up next to the wrong story. Eleven percent  of people don’t want you advertising near political news at all. Proceed cautiously, my friends.

If you ever want to be elected president, run on a platform of making Daylight Saving Time permanent. First, did you know it’s “Saving Time” and not “Savings Time?” I, along with 60% of Americans had it wrong. But an even larger number – 72% — would support making DST permanent. Only 17% of people would oppose it. So, why the hell don’t we do it? COVID is the perfect excuse. Everyone would love one extra hour to be outside. Trump, Biden, get on this! It’s a no-brainer.

One-third of Americans never have trouble sleeping and I want to punch them in the face. I suck at sleeping. I think I’ve told you that. Nineteen percent of people are like me, finding it tough to sleep most or all of the time. It gets worse when you’re older and especially worse if you watch TV to fall asleep, which is a lot of people (but not me – I just stare at my phone, which is even worse). Interestingly, Netflix fans sleep better than most. No surprise, however, we’re struggling to sleep more during COVID. People who’ve lost their job because of the pandemic have it the worst. I’ll stop complaining.

A few more cool studies from our team:

And the most popular questions this week:

Hoping you’re well.