We live in a troubled world, no doubt. Every day, when we roll out of bed, we can’t help but wonder what the next big thing in the headlines will be. For me, it feels like the past two years have been especially tumultuous in this way.
The scale and severity of the problems ebbs and flows. Mostly flows. There are the problems of climate change, large scale conflicts, inequality, poverty, government accountability, acts of hatred, and on. And on. And on.
But now, we have a major crisis. I just read the headline this morning, and my gut sank. Party City announced Thursday it will be shutting 45 stores in 2019. Now, we don’t have a Party City here in Preble County, but I have noticed them in my travels. They purport to be the place where “nobody has more party for less.”
Adhering to complete transparency, I must disclose that these days I am not much of a partier. In fact, not at all. I think I wore out the party sector of my brain when I destroyed that entire panel of brain cells in the 1980s and 90s. Since that time, my party hat and that little horn that flips out when you blow it, have been retired. Despite that admission, I see that the rest of the world still likes a good party from time to time. It is the Great Gatsby in us, I think.
And now that Party City is turning off the lights, what in the world will become of all of this?
Yet. There is more trouble than the scarcity of party streamers and candles for our cakes. It is the REAL reason they are closing. There appears to be a world-wide shortage of helium. I kid you not. And, as a former Chemistry major, this gives me great cause for concern. In fact, the scientists of the world are more than a little upended by this.
Take this guy: “It is a serious problem,” said Roman Dembinski, an organic chemistry professor at Oakland University. “A shortage and disruption would quench our magnets, so we would be without instruments.”
Scientists, without instruments. Now THAT can’t be good.
Helium is an element — an inert gas. One of the Noble Gasses. Its atomic number is 2. You know, as gasses go, I’d say that Helium is one of the good guys. We use it in all sorts of things. Medical MRI scans. Space flight suits. Satellite instruments. They combine it with O2 for deep sea divers. And of course, those coveted party balloons.
But, silly me, figured that it occurs in nature on its own little self. In fact, it is the second most abundant element, right after Hydrogen. So how could we be short? Well, apparently we have to generate it and contain it. A big reason for the shortage is that about 75% of all the helium comes from just three places: Ras Laffan Industrial City in Qatar, ExxonMobil in Wyoming and the National Helium Reserve in Texas, according to gas-trade publication Gasworld.com.
And those guys aren’t making enough. You’d think we’d be able to get a rise out of them.
So now. NOW. On top of everything else — all the governmental lies and deception; all the world injustice; the global crises — now. Noooowwww. We are out of Helium too.
Well, folks. I’m sorry to tell you. It doesn’t appear that things are ever going to look up.
The party’s over. Oh, and by the way. Do you know what you do when balloons get hurt?
“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“Live each day as if your life had just begun.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe