Friday, December 21, 2012

Music Friday: Celebrate the Holiday Spirit With Straight No Chaser's '12 Days of Christmas'

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you the coolest songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. With Christmas only four days away, we bring you one of YouTube's most popular Christmas song videos of all time — Straight No Chaser's witty and masterfully arranged rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas." To date, the original version of SNC's "12 Days" has been viewed 15.6 million times.


As everyone knows, the jewelry reference in this holiday favorite comes on the fifth day of Christmas when "my true love gave to me, five golden rings."

Originated on the campus of Indiana University in 1996 as a men's a cappella group, Straight No Chaser is truly a grassroots, internet-inspired phenomenon. The 10-man group owes its worldwide fame to a video of its 1998 performance that was first posted to YouTube eight years later. That video went viral and caught the attention of Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman, who signed the group to a five-album deal in 2008.

Straight No Chaser is currently touring the Northeast, with appearances in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

SNC's "12 Days" performance includes clever touches, such as the sampling of other songs, such as “I Have a Little Dreidel” and Toto’s “Africa.” The three-minute video is guaranteed to brighten your holidays and bring a smile to your face. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Paying It Forward, Jayden Style: Anonymous Donor Drops Engagement Ring in Salvation Army Kettle in Honor of Stricken Boy

Salvation Army organizers in Midland, Mich., were stunned on Dec. 4 when one of their famous red kettles yielded a marquise-cut diamond engagement ring worth about $2,000. The anonymous donor attached a note that simply read: "Paying It Forward, Jayden Style. God Bless."


The donation was in honor of second-grader Jayden Lamb, who lost his battle with cancer on Nov. 27. Lamb would have been nine on Dec. 12.

After Jayden's death, the Lamb family decided to honor their special boy by doing random acts of kindness. This would evolve rapidly into a movement called "Pay It Forward, Jayden Style."

"The movement started the day before his funeral when we were just getting coffee," the Lambs told Yahoo! Shine. "Not knowing the person behind us, we still felt compelled to buy their coffee. It was just a small way for us to say thank you."

After their son's funeral on Dec. 1, the Lambs went to a local Walmart and asked to pay off a layaway bill. "We told the worker that it had to be for toys and that it had to be in honor of Jayden," they wrote on Facebook. "It is just so amazing to be able to do something for someone else."


The Lambs are now encouraging others to follow their lead and document their good deeds on a special Facebook page, "Keep On Truckin' Team Jayden."  The Facebook page has more than 30,000 LIKES and features an active stream of heart-warming first-hand accounts of kindness and generosity from all over the country.


Here's an example of a Facebook post by someone who was inspired by the Lambs' initiative: "I finally got the chance to 'Pay It Forward, Jayden Style,'" wrote Troy-Ciera Rill. "I was sitting in the drive-thru at McDonald's and bought a $10 gift card for the two guys in the car behind me. The [server] at the drive-thru was touched and I loved seeing the expression on their faces when she gave it to them! It's such an inspiration that your son has put on people. God Bless & Merry Christmas!"

Then, on Dec. 4, the Lambs learned of the engagement ring that was donated to the Salvation Army in honor of their son. In a joint statement to Yahoo! Shine, the Lambs said, "We were shocked and amazed that someone would do this. We know that this ring, at one point, meant everything to someone. The fact that they would pay it forward with the ring is so amazing."


Nearly 2,000 people celebrated Jayden's 9th birthday on Dec. 12 with a Chinese lantern ceremony, during which they released hundreds of floating lights to "send a birthday party to Heaven."

"Even though we are still grieving with the loss of Jayden, this is helping us cope and heal," the Lambs added. "We feel so blessed that our community and those outside of our community would do something in Jayden's honor. To have his name and his legacy still be carried out even after he has gained his angel wings in Heaven is so amazing to us."

The Lambs hope that the outpouring of love, kindness and generosity will continue long after the holidays are over.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Here's an Insider's Look at the $315 Billion Gold Reserve at The Bank of England

The Bank of England recently provided a rare and spectacular glimpse at one of the largest gold reserves in the world. Secured within the bank's fortress-like walls are a series of vault rooms containing $315 billion in gold bars, stacked four high like children's blocks on open shelves. In total, the bank is responsible for securing 4,600 tons, or 9.2 million pounds, of gold.


The eccentric and wild-haired University of Nottingham professor Martyn Poliakoff, who hosts a science web site,, and a YouTube channel called The Periodic Table of Videos, was thrilled with his opportunity to report from inside the gold vault.


In a YouTube video that has accumulated nearly two million views since December 7, Poliakoff ticks off a bunch of neat facts about the bars secured by The Bank of England:

  • Every bar has a registration number. When a bar is bought or sold, it rarely leaves the vault. The bar's registration number is simply transferred from the seller's account to the buyer's account.
  • Each bar of .999 gold weighs about 28 pounds and is worth about $748,000.
  • The oldest bar in the vault dates back to 1916.
  • Gold is non-reactive and does not tarnish, so the gold from nearly a hundred years ago looks as good as it did the day it entered the vault.
  • Every shelf in the vault contains about a ton of gold, worth $53.4 million.
  • The Bank of England stores $315 billion in gold on behalf of the U.K. and other countries.


  • All the gold that has been mined from the beginning of time could be stacked in a cube 60 feet square. This is the size of two volleyball courts side by side.

See Poliakoff's full report in the video below... (A commercial may appear before the video. You should be able to skip it after five seconds).

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Engagement Ring Lost at Holidazzle Parade Bounces Into Good Samaritan's Shopping Bag; Search Is On for Rightful Owner

Ryan Richards and his family were enjoying the colorful floats of Minneapolis' Holidazzle parade this past Thursday evening when they were distracted by a nearby couple desperately searching the pavement in the darkness for the engagement ring that had just slipped from the woman's finger.


"All of a sudden we see them running around looking for something," Richards told a reporter from the local NBC affiliate, KARE.

According to Richards, the woman's ring flew off her finger as she removed her glove. She heard the "ting" of it hitting the ground, but couldn't find the precious keepsake, despite the assistance provided by Richards and other Holidazzle enthusiasts who helped with the search and provided light from their cell phones.


The engagement ring had strangely vanished. Or did it?

When Richards and his family returned home, they were unpacking a big bag of children's clothing when the missing ring emerged with a pair of new snow pants. Richards surmised that when the engagement ring hit the pavement, it bounced about five feet into his clothing bag.


The Richards now have the ring, but they've yet to find the rightful owners. The story of the good samaritans and the crazy, bouncing engagement ring has gotten nice exposure in the Minneapolis media, and Richards even contacted the local police department and posted an ad on Craigslist. So far, the woman who lost the ring has yet to come forward.

For obvious reasons, Richards chose not to post a photo of the ring. He said that the engagement ring has a number of very distinctive characteristics, so the rightful owner will have little trouble confirming it's hers.

Monday, December 17, 2012

American Idol Kelly Clarkson Tweets Engagement Announcement and Pic of Fabulous Canary Yellow Diamond Ring

Christmas is a little over a week away and the celebrity engagements keep on coming. The latest A-lister to become betrothed during the holiday season is chart-topping singer-songwriter Kelly Clarkson, who tweeted the announcement to her 2.4 million Twitter followers.

On Saturday, the first-ever "American Idol" winner shared the news that she was officially engaged to her boyfriend of nearly one year, Brandon Blackstock. "I'M ENGAGED!!!!! I wanted y'all to know!! Happiest night of my life last night! I am so lucky and am with the greatest man ever :)," tweeted the singer.


She followed up the first tweet with a second about her new engagement ring designed by Beverly Hills-based jeweler to the stars, Johnathon Arndt. "It's a yellow canary diamond with diamonds around it and Brandon designed it with Johnathon Arndt! They did an amazing job!" she wrote, adding, "I can't wait to make Brandon's ring with Johnathon as well!"

Clarkson didn't announce the carat size of the center diamond, but it appears to be radiant-cut and larger than 5 carats. It is surrounding by round white diamonds and is set against a diamond band in white metal, most likely platinum.


The Beverly Hills designer made headlines with another canary yellow diamond in January of 2010 when he was credited as the designer of former "American Idol" Carrie Underwood's engagement ring, which featured a round flawless yellow diamond center stone framed with smaller white diamonds, and accented with a diamond band. That ring was estimated at 5-plus carats and valued at approximately $150,000.

Clarkson's new fiancé has a music-industry pedigree. He is the son of Clarkson's manager, Narvel Blackstock, and the stepson of country music star Reba McEntire. Clarkson told People magazine that her love for Blackstock has had an unusual influence on her songwriting: "I'm trying to write a tough song and it is coming out like butterflies and rainbows," she said.