Sunday, February 28, 2010

The average Internet user watches 182 online videos per month

Make this video number 1 of the 182 online videos you watch in March.

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from Jesse Thomas on Vimeo.

via Buzzfeed

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The quality of a diamond depends on the C's

The quality of a diamond depends on the C's - four of them actually - the 4C's of diamond grading rate the carat weight, color, clarity and cut of a diamond. This grading system was created by the Gemological Institute of America, and has become the industry standard for rating diamonds. While each of the 4C's is important, it is the combination of all that determines the value of each diamond.

Carat Weight
Carats measure the actual weight of a diamond (one metric carats is equal to 0.2 grams). As the weight of a diamond can have a significant impact on its price, they are usually weighed to the thousandth of a carat.

The color of a diamond can range from no color (D, highest quality) to yellow color (Z, lowest quality), with the exception of fancy colored diamonds, which can be found in many colors including blue, pink, yellow and chocolate.

The clarity of a diamond refers to the presence or absence of blemishes (external faults; scratches or pits) and inclusions (internal faults; knots). Diamonds free of imperfections are the most valuable. There are 11 grades of clarity, ranging from FL (flawless) to Is (imperfect).

The cut of a diamond determines its shape. A brilliant round diamond (the classic cut) has 58 facets. The quality of proportions, symmetry and polish determine the value of a cut diamond.

Once a diamond is chosen, it is usually set within gold (yellow, white, rose) or platinum, which also impacts the cost of and quality of a ring. If looking for an engagement ring (note, I'm not hinting at anything - only right hand rings for me) one of the most famous engagement and anniversary ring retailers is Tiffany & Co. Checkout the Tiffany & Co. Diamond guide for more information on these gorgeous gemstones.

Who could say no to a turquoise box?
Another popular option (at least in the NY Metro area) is to visit the Diamond District, where you can pick out a ring a la carte, choosing every aspect of the ring from stone to setting.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fresh snow is the most reflective natural surface on earth

Fresh snow is the most reflective natural surface on earth because it has the highest albedo, or how strongly an object reflects light from other light sources (i.e. the Sun). At first thought you might think that water would be the most reflective surface on earth - on sunny days a body of water (with an albedo of can look like a mirror of the sea, and snow just remains white - but water allows some of the light absorb below the surface, while snow reflects almost all light back to the sky.

Sample Albedos

Surface Typical Albedo
Fresh asphalt 0.04
Worn asphalt 0.12
Bare soil 0.17
Green grass 0.25
Desert sand 0.40
New concrete 0.55
Ocean Ice 0.5–0.7
Fresh snow 0.80–0.90

Still don't get it? Check out this diagram...

The albedo of snow drops significantly as the snow gets older. As snow its on the ground it gets dirtier and the surface becomes rough, leaving room for the light of the sun to be absorbed. This is why ski goggles are so important - without them the snow would be blinding. Last weekend I visited Shawnee Mountain in PA to give skiing another chance, and I'm thankful that my Aunt had some ski goggles to lend me, because there was a lot of fresh snow (the only thing brighter than the snow was Jeremy's lime green jacket and matching snowboard).

I had a pretty good time and enjoyed a couple of good runs (conquering the Little Chief trail in one try and created a new method for skiing called "Fauxhawk and Blowout") until my knee started to hurt.

Little Chief

Then I retired to the lounge, enjoyed a Bud Light (or two) and listened to live music courtesy of Steve McDaniel (of the Steve McDaniel Band). Steve did an awesome cover of Johnny Cash's A Boy Named Sue, and was nice enough to give me a CD. Check him out on MySpace Music.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How to build a snow sculpture

The Northeast was hit with a lot of snow last week. For some people, that means shoveling, digging out cars and walking to CVS during a blizzard because your dog ate her tail (sigh). For others, mainly children and unemployed adults, snow provides an opportunity to go skiing, snowboarding or just to play outside.

This particular snow accumulation is wet, perfect for packing and sculpting. So take a break from deicing the driveway and use the piles of white stuff as an opportunity to exercise your creativity.

Here's how to do it...

Step 1: Dress warmly. Gloves would be a good idea as you will be handling snow.

Step 2: Go outside (if not already there).

Step 3: Locate a GIANT pile of snow that has been firmly packed - think plow piles.

Step 4: If GIANT pile cannot be found, fill a trashcan with snow, pack firmly and turn over onto the ground. The bigger the better. Your sculpture will only be as big as your base.

Step 5: Decide what you want to make and add additional piles accordingly (for example, if you were making a giant snow turtle, you would need one big lump for the shell and little lumps for the appendages.

Step 6: Start sculpting from the top down. Use garden tools for large areas, and spoons and spatulas to create details.

Step 7: If you are really creative, use water dyed with food coloring to add color to your sculpture.

Step 8: Once complete take a photo of your sculpture and send to EVERYONE and post on every social media community you belong to, even if it looks terrible

Step 9: Hope no one comes along and destroys your masterpiece i.e. high school students or the sun
Step 10: Repeat steps 1 - 9 over and over

Step 11: Compete in the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition

Step 12: Win competition, thank Encyclopedia Branigan for the instructions.

I was walking my dog tonight and came across a GIANT Tiger and Dragon...made of snow. This guy was carving them (on Valley Rd. in Montclair, right after Claremont) to promote his Web site I was able to snap a few pitcures...check them out...

The Tiger was dyed orange, and had actual lights for eyes.

LOOK at its teeth! It even has wings...and he wasn't done yet.

If you live in the area, I would recommend checking them out before they melt away, which according to Phil will be in about 6 weeks.

Happy sculpting!