Sixteen days - that's how long the government shutdown lasted, at a total cost to the American economy that may reach $24 billion. About one fifth of that amount would have come to the Treasury as tax revenue, so the government itself may have lost $300 million for every day that Congress dithered.

These statistics certainly sound depressing, but their importance can be hard to grasp without some concrete points of reference. So, to lighten the mood - and because the holidays are just around the corner - here's a little ditty that can help to make the numbers seem real. You already know the tune.

“On the Nth day of the shutdown, Congress took away from me:

One year of nuclear fusion experiments

Two Mars landers

Three Joint Strike Fighter airframes

Four interstate truss bridges

Five embassy buildings

Six emergency management headquarters

Seven green vehicle research programs

Eight nationwide HPV vaccinations

Nine flood levees

Ten museum renovations

Eleven rural electricity projects

Twelve low-income housing grants

Thirteen tanker spill cleanups

Fourteen veterans’ homes

Fifteen beach restorations

And sixteen urban development corridors.”

Now, let’s all sing the chorus together: “Five… embassy… buildiiiiiiings!”