Well, I’m late. This blast was almost ready to go, and then I showed up on Friday to learn that my office Christmas Party was cocktail attire, requiring me to drive home and change instead of working until 7 and walking over. This has been an interesting/terrible/typically-year end week of work,
and punctuating all that excitement on Friday was extensive fretting over my lack of maternity “cocktail” and how much time I could shave off of my work day.
But where were we?
First off, thanks to Mary for her interim research on the uses of helium. To recap:
Helium is used in cryogenics (its largest single use, absorbing about a quarter of production), particularly in the cooling of superconducting magnets, with the main commercial application being in MRI scanners. Helium's other industrial uses—as a pressurizing and purge gas, as a protective atmosphere for arc welding and in processes such as growing crystals to make silicon wafers—account for half of the gas produced. A well-known but minor use is as a lifting gas in balloons and airships.
I don’t want you guys to be too down on heavy industry and cancer patients for ruining the party….the helium shortage is actually just a pricing problem--there is tons of it, but the price has spiked due to the fact that the supply of helium is controlled by the government but is set to be privatized in 2015, and they are trying to push prices up to market level. Yeah, the government “nationalized” helium in the 1960s. (Such a heady time…I believe in a Great Society, but my current, Democratic leanings would categorize me as a Nixon era Republican). This one pager gives you a lay of the land…
I’m glad we all agree that a shit-ton of balloons is an objective good.
On a positive note, you don’t need helium for a balloon arch. I’ve instructed Kevin that I want a massive balloon arch in the church at my funeral (assuming I pre-decease, yada yada). I think it would be marvelously confusing and uncomfortable for the attendees. You all are now on notice—in the event of my untimely demise, you should feel comfortable inquiring as to whether he made that arrangement. And obviously, to borrow Nick Swardson’s genius idea, if the funds are available I’d like someone to hire John Stamos to attend and cry. (ps—that link is sound only, can’t find better link).
I would like to spend my Saturday doing this:
Just paper, yet so chic! I’d go giant paper pointsettas instead of their flowers but I love how it works (sidebar: is it weird that I really love the pink pointsettas sprayed in glitter? Part of me knows they’re tacky…but I think that like balloons, en masse may be the way to go….). As I price fresh garland, this is looking better and better. And it will be delightful with this year’s primary wrapping paper: black with giant gold foil polka dots. Jealous much?
HOWEVER………..This is also one of those things that look amazing b/c a skilled stylist who spent 4 yrs at RISD and interned with Martha did it, and they have around $75 in chic colored candles…and the space is clean and empty. It could be an epic fail, but at least it’s not super expensive to try. It is much cheaper than the turkey day epic pinterest fail: marbleizing Christmas ornaments with nail polish. We all lost some brain cells, and the amount of trial and error involved is too high—do not recommend.
But Vegas odds favor that by the time I hit Char's dance class, Santa photos, and errands (every coat I have is missing key buttons…what did I do last winter?) I will be cleaning, etc. and not creating paper marvels. Plus, I’m heading down to Bloomington on Sunday to watch an encore showing of the National Theatre’s Othello performance on Sunday.
|Yeah, that's Adrian Lester, nerds.|
I’m super psyched they are doing an encore showing (originally, it was a live simulcast). It is a surprise for Kevin, who is way more into Shakespeare than I am. For you fellow cultured nerds, there will be a live simulcast of Coriolanus on Feb 16th (although Tara and everyone else frequenting London--you should hit this in person). I also highly recommend the live simulcasts from the Met Opera…and yes, Kevin (and his bro) are really into opera and I am less into opera, but the Met is so good you can’t go wrong (pick a non-Mozart or non-Britton opera, IMO, and non-opera lovers are safe).
If you prefer a less Technicolor Christmas, check out this oldie-but-goody posted on Savvy Home this week: An Upper West Side X-mas from Lonny. (I haven’t had time to check out this month’s Lonny, but chatter is pretty good….Ruthie Sommers is featured, design nerds! )
Audrey found this: Krampus. We missed it this year (tied with St. Nicholas Day). Apparently, Krampus (a devil-like creature) visits the bad kids and scares them while St. Nick leave presents for good kids.
How awesome is that? In Germanic and Eastern European countries (including a few I’ve never heard of….northern Friuli, anyone?), it is OK to dress up like Krampus and roam the streets scaring kids…not dissimilar to Halloween, I suppose, (but we’ve pretty much Disney-fied Halloween at this point, so I still vote crazy).
A few vintage Krampus images incase you hadn’t picked up how crazy the Germans are. Excellent find, Audrey.
But now, time for a brief rant on my pet peeve: The reason for the season people. As someone who’s fully decorated 9ft Frasier Fir has crashed to the ground 3 times, they have been down-graded to my 2nd biggest annoyance this season. But for those of you who don’t live with a history nerd, I thought this information was important to pass along incase your Facebook feed is getting cluttered with their bullshit.
Did you know that the phrase “X-mas” was started by Protestant Christians? It was considered blasphemous to use Christ’s name in association with a pagan, Catholic holiday. Christmas was celebrated by Catholics mainly, and to some extent the Episcopalians (Church of England kept it up—go Britain) and Lutherans (thanks, Germany). B/c of its blatantly pagan roots (Google Yule and Saturnalia), and being associated with worshipping Mary, Protestants hated it. It was illegal to take Christmas off in many states well into the 19th century—despite the rhetoric, early Americans were actually WAY better at separation of church and state than we are. It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that Protestants began celebrating it in America….in large part due to how AWESOME those German Christmas Trees are (the New York Historical Society claimed to have invented Christmas). And did you know, those early Germans used fake trees? They were made out of chicken feathers, often died green but sometimes left white. Further explains the HOUSE FIRES, GENIUSES…but also makes that fake, white tree at Target seem less Mad Men, no? (PS—if you ever see a German feather tree…BUY IT!!! I’m always looking…Martha collects them, of course). Charles Dickens is credited with popularizing Christmas by portraying it sans religion turning it into a “family holiday”…yep, had religion not been “taken out” and all the awesome decorations/commercialization not been present, Christmas might be like Ash Wednesday. First state to make Christmas a holiday? Alabama. First president to put up a Christmas tree? If you are on Jeopardy, go with Benjamin Harrison. But there is recent dispute that it could have been Peirce or even Tyler. So bring on the tinsel—because in America, if we want to go back to the good old days, that was way more important than baby Jesus.