What Exactly is Boxing Day?

It’s something you’ve probably seen on every paper calendar turned to the month of December. Most of us are familiar with Christmas Day on December 25, but we see December 26 marked as Boxing Day and always wonder what exactly that means. I remember asking that exact question to my family when I was younger and this was the explanation my grandmother gave me: “It’s the day when you put all the toys you got for Christmas back in their boxes after you’ve played with them.” Well upon further examination it seems that my late grandmother was more interested in giving me an explanation that kept her house clean than saying she had no idea what it was. In truth we don’t really know how the holiday originated.

Here’s what we do know: There are two possible explanations concerning how the holiday came about. During Advent in the weeks preceding Christmas, the Church of England would set up boxes that the congregation would put money into. The day after Christmas those boxes would be emptied and donated to the poor. The other possible explanation is that the aristocrats of Victorian England would give Christmas presents to their servants on the day after Christmas in boxes and the servants would then have the rest of the day off. In truth though we don’t know for sure if either of those explanations is correct or not.

Another thing we know is that it is a national holiday in the UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia and many other former British colonies. In Britain the holiday has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year, compatible to Black Friday here in America. They also have annual fox hunts and football matches (the kind of football where players actually use their feet) much like we have sporting events on Christmas and Thanksgiving. It is an interesting holiday and no one really knows why it exists. But if this is a holiday you celebrate and you have the day off, well happy Boxing Day!

Also Boxing Day has nothing to do with the sport of boxing. Sorry Mr. Ali.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or National@FurnishedHousing.com for more information.

Why Do We Say Merry Christmas?

I always thought it was quite strange that when wishing someone well on the holiday of Christmas we would say “Merry Christmas.” It is curious because the term “merry” is seldom used in any other context in modern English anymore and it is only used for Christmas. When wishing someone well on just about any other holiday we always say “Happy (insert holiday here)”. In fact during this time of the year phrases like “Happy Holidays”, “Happy New Year”, and “Happy Hanukkah” are all commonly heard. What is it that makes Christmas so special in that respect?

Well, here’s a pretty good explanation why. The first known Christmas greeting in the English language we know about came from an informal letter written in 1699 wishing someone a “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” so we know that such a distinction existed since at least then. It is also thought that the phrase “Merry Christmas” got a very strong cultural endorsement by Charles Dickens in his famous novel “A Christmas Carol” where all of the characters would use that phrase in the same way that we would use it today and that became extremely popular thing to say in Victorian England which eventually made its way over to America.

But if you were to go to the UK or Ireland today you will find that many of the people there will be wishing you a “Happy Christmas.” Having lived in England during one holiday season I speak from personal experience. Why is it that they say “Happy Christmas” like any other holiday? One of the explanations as to why that’s the case is that the word “merry” has an alternate meaning in England. As well as “joyous and happy”, it also means “drunk” in English English. This was further reinforced by Queen Elizabeth II in her annual Christmas addresses to her country. Well aware of this alternate meaning she has never once wished her country a “Merry Christmas” during her 61 year reign.

As for me, I agree with the British on this one. The phrase “Happy Christmas” makes far more sense to me rather than using a word that is hardly used anymore outside of December. So with that being said, on behalf of all of us here at Churchill, we wish all of you a very Happy Christmas.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or National@FurnishedHousing.com for more information.

Some Maps of How Educated America is

Here’s an interesting new interactive map to look through. The US Census Bureau has mapped the United States on a county by county basis based on education level. This is a map of every county in America sorted by high school graduation rate (a darker color indicates a higher percentage):


Here’s one for the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree (again, a darker color indicates a higher percentage):


Here’s a better way to look at college graduates per county. in terms of raw numbers:

The message these maps show us is that it’s the Amtrak corridor (Washington DC, New York City, and Boston), the Great Lakes and California that really dominate the battle for the most educated areas of the country. I love it when people take raw boring statistical data and translate into something visually interesting to look at. This is just another interesting way to look at the various regions of America.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or National@FurnishedHousing.com for more information.

A Real-Time Map of Wind on Earth

The wind is an incredibly interesting thing to think about. It is something that is completely invisible to us. We can hear, feel, smell, and even taste it but we can only see what it does to things that we can see. Ultimately it is just air in our atmosphere moving from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure and that is one of the most important parts of what makes weather possible on Earth.

I bring this up because I found an incredibly cool interactive globe last night that shows you the wind speeds everywhere on Earth in real-time. Looking at it zoomed out you’ll observe that the strongest winds at any given time will be over our oceans where there’s no land to get in the way. You have to zoom in pretty closely over the continents to actually see how fast the air is moving on land. It is a really fun tool to play around with and it gives you a good sense of what the weather might be like everywhere in the world at the moment.


If you want to see something really cool, check out Antarctica.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or National@FurnishedHousing.com for more information.

How to Efficiently Pack a Suitcase

The widespread implementation of checked bag fees has made all of us want to travel lighter and bring more with less bags. It turns out though that many of us don’t know how to get the most out of a suitcase. Packing efficiently will save you lots of time, money and space wherever you go and Gizmodo has a great article on how to do just that. Here’s their main points:

Don’t bring what you don’t need:
Here’s how much of each article of clothing you should pack and it’s not as many as you think:

Socks and underwear: One pair of each per day traveled.
Shirts and dresses: Two less than the total trip length. Wear the same outfit on the flight there and back.
Pants: A pair of jeans for every other day. These can be replaced with slacks if the occasion calls for them.
Shoes: A pair of sneakers or sandals. Bring boots or formal shoes if needed. If you need to bring boots, wear them on the flight.
Coats and Jackets: Wear these on your flight. If you’re going to a warm weather destination don’t even bother with them.
Toiletries: Pack the essentials in a small bag. Make sure any liquids are in a TSA compliant container.

Know the Weather: Take a look at the extended forecast for your destination and pack accordingly.

Roll or Fold:
Roll anything that you don’t mind getting wrinkled. It is far more space efficient. Folding should only be reserved for nicer clothing that you don’t want to iron later.

The Order of Packing:

1. Stuff your shoes full with socks and underwear and put the shoes in first.
2. Put in your heaver rolled items like jeans and sweatshirts squeezed in as tightly as possible.
3 (optional). Put in any fragile items you have. Putting them in the middle will make sure they’re cushioned at all times.
4. Put in the lighter tightly rolled items like t-shirts and underwear
5. On top of all of that place your nicer, folded clothing.
6. Stuff any other lightweight items into the sides.
7. Put your toiletries bag on top.

Coming Home
You can be less precise in your packing on the return trip. I recommend investing in a compressor bag like this one for all of your dirty clothes. At this point you probably don’t really care about wrinkling your dirty clothes so just use a compressor bag to drastically reduce the space taken up by your clothing. This will allow you ample space to fit souvenirs from your trip.

This doesn’t have to be you.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or National@FurnishedHousing.com for more information.

New York City in the 1990s

New York City or really any major city in the world is in a constant state of change. Old buildings are being torn down while new ones rise up to take their place. Even more buildings are finding themselves remodeled to meet the needs of their current occupants. New business are starting up while others are shutting down. New bike sharing programs are being added to the streets while old rail lines are becoming public parks. I received a reminder about this fact of life when I saw this wonderful collection of photographs of New York City in the 1990s. I always find it somewhat remarkable seeing pictures of old businesses that no longer exist even going back to the not-too-distant past of the 1990s. Pictures like these are a good way to tell what has changed and what has stayed the same over time.

That was back when MTV actually broadcasted music.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or National@FurnishedHousing.com for more information.

The Lottery Explained By Math

The Mega Millions jackpot is approaching record levels. At the time of this posting the jackpot is currently $636 million. I am currently involved in two lottery pools here at Churchill and would absolutely love to be instantly wealthy from sheer dumb luck. But even though I currently have a stake in about 100 sets of numbers, I’m well aware of the odds. Gizmodo has a good list of things that are more likely to happen than winning the grand prize tonight. Among the highlights are:

Houston Astros Winning the 2014 World Series: 200-to-1
Bowling a Perfect 300: 11,500-to-1
Dating a Supermodel: 88,000-to-1
Getting Struck by Lightning: 576,000-to-1
Being Canonized: 20,000,000-to-1

Business Insider also has a great article concerning the math behind the lottery. I won’t bore you with the various regression analyses but I’ll share some of their conclusions.

1. The takes are incredibly high if you take the lump-sum jackpot. All of it is taxed as earned income so just in federal income tax you’ll be paying 39.5 percent of your winnings straight to the federal government. Taking the money as a 30 year annuity will significantly reduce your tax burden if you win, as will moving to a state without an income tax.

2. According to their math it only makes sense to buy in when the jackpot exceeds $380 million.

3. Try to play in smaller state lotteries that don’t get much press. The odds of winning those are much higher (though still ridiculously low.)

Don’t spend too much money on lottery tickets though. For the most part you’re only buying a daydream and you can do that for free. Just remember putting $20 into a retirement vehicle like a 401(k) or IRA will yield you far more money in the future than hoping for the best with the Mega Millions.

Churchill has short-term corporate housing available Nationwide. Please contact us at 866-255-0593 or National@FurnishedHousing.com for more information.


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