Friday, March 21, 2008

The 4 Cs can help you save money

Thank you to Abazias for sending us this article! We thought we'd like to help those of you looking at diamonds for engagements, anniversaries, or "just because" and provide you with some good advice for selecting diamonds.

If you’ve never shopped for diamonds before and you are looking for an engagement ring or fine jewelry, you will want to start educating yourself on the 4 Cs of diamonds. The 4 Cs stand for cut, clarity, color, and carat. It’s these four characteristics of diamonds that determine how much your stones are worth. Finding out about the various gradings that the diamond industry uses to help define the quality of diamonds is as easy as getting online. Some online merchants have software applications that allow you to pick your own diamond for an engagement ring by modifying the 4 Cs. You can instantly get an idea of how one choice affects the price of your engagement ring versus a different choice.

For instance, maybe you want a very large carat diamond. You typically pay more for a large carat diamond than a smaller one. However, not all large diamonds are alike. Some large diamonds have a poorer clarity or a different color that can affect the final price you pay. By understanding what choices help you to pick exactly the type of diamond you want, you save money. It may be you don’t care how big the diamond is, and would prefer a smaller stone that has a pear-shaped cut. Again, you can lose the carat weight in favor of cut and clarity. And, don’t think that just because you are picking a colored diamond that it costs more. There are fancy-colored diamonds like pink and blue that are much more expensive than white diamonds, but there are also fluorescent, yellow, and brown, diamonds that cost less. Figure what characteristic appeals to you more and then use the 4 Cs of diamonds to help you shave money off the bottom line.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Stepford Mogul

Old folks like me remember an early 1970s book and cult film classic called The Stepford Wives (remade in 2004) . The plot revolves around a Connecticut town where everyone lives in wedded bliss and all the women are perfectly submissive and attending to their husbands. It turns out that the husbands have actually been replacing their wives with robots who do nothing but cook, clean and attend to their every need.

After spending the last few months learning about Martha Stewart, I'm convinced that America's Homemaker is the embodiment of the Stepford story. Dana is very crafty and she cooks a good meal, but she's never been all that domestically inclined. A few months ago, however, she began watching a lot of Martha Stewart on TV and a change came over her. All of a sudden, she's baking cookies, sewing and offering to cook gourmet meals with startling frequency. I was at first a little stunned by these developments, but now I'm learning to love them.

So here's my theory: The Stepford Wives story is indeed coming true, only the instigators aren't men in a small Connecticut town but rather a female ex-con media titan. Whether intentionally or not, Matha has accomplished in flesh and blood what those sinister Connecticut husbands required high technology to do. She’s made women want to be domestic.

Martha, you rock!


I think I forgot to post a picture of our wedding rings... (Yes, this is my wedding ring, not my engagement ring!)

Monday, March 17, 2008

George Carlin -- back in the funk

For a Christmas present this past holiday, Paul gave me the complete George Carlin DVD collection, a wonderful present for when I need a laugh. Which, let's face it, is pretty much all the time -- laughing's good for the soul.

So we've watched a few of the shows from his early days and we've watched the show that I fell in love with (and memorized pretty damn quickly) when I was about 15 called Jammin' in New York. Every time we fly (except for a few times about a year ago when Paul got annoyed with the repetition, although he's back now to being a fan), Paul asks me to do the Carlin bit about the airline safety lecture. I can do it pretty much word for word, including intonation, if he gets me started. All other Carlin performances are based upon the extremely high comedy level of that show, IMHO.

At any rate, I've loved watching Carlin and laughing with him pretty much all through the '90s until he hit that rough "not so funny" spot when he came back from his post-Brenda-dying (his wife -- it hit him really hard; they were pretty much madly in love and inseparable their entire marriage, so I gather) when he was too angry and serious and lost that certain element that made him funny in the first place. For the last few years, however, he's been a lot funnier.

Until this last bit. Don't get me wrong -- there was one point in his show, which we saw live at Boston's Wang Center on Saturday night with Alice and Ryan -- where I couldn't so much breathe because I was laughing so hard. But this show was definitely more political and religion-bashing (read: atheist?) than I've heard him in a while. It wasn't, as Alice said, his best. He's funnier when he's playing with words and common experiences and the human condition than when he's declaring there is no heaven or hell or that bullshit is the glue that holds the country together. He's recently celebrated his 70th birthday and comes off now as an angry old man. Which stinks. I think he has a lot of comedy left in him, especially retrospective stuff now that he's older, but I think it's not coming out so much in his current tour.

Sometimes the second time you see someone, their act is funnier. I'll have to Tivo his HBO special, It's Bad For Ya, and watch it again. I was more entertained by the performance Saturday night than my three companions were, but was disappointed there were none of his famous lists.

George: Bring back the lists! No one does that better than you! And thanks for four decades of funny material!