black Friday hype

Is Black Friday Worth The Hype?

Spoiler: It's not.

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I love to shop. A frequent time-wasting hobby of mine is going online to my favorite websites and scrolling through the different clothes or shoes that I might want to buy, but never actually do (which really makes online shopping even more of a waste of time). Sometimes, I'll go shopping by myself because I like looking at new clothing. Other times, I'll go to the mall with my friends because who doesn't like to go to the mall with their friends?

You would think that given my love of shopping, Black Friday would give me an all-my-favorite-holidays-rolled-into-one level of excitement, and it used to. My family normally travels on Black Friday, so on the rare occasion when I was home to shop I would always get excited about the prospect of shopping and getting lots of deals.

But now, the deals in stores aren't really even deals. The Tuesday before Black Friday, I went to the mall, and Lucky Brand was having the same deal it was going to have on Friday. The deal was actually running until the day after Black Friday! With online shopping, many of the deals offered in stores are available online or at other times, which is yet another reason Black Friday does not really live up to its hype. Unidays, the app that provides discounts to college students, often offers similar discounts year-round.

So, if you love Black Friday shopping, you might still believe the hype. If you're looking for another way to participate in the spending frenzy, though, try out Small Business Saturday and support local businesses instead of the mall where you can get deals year-round. If you don't buy into the hype at all, then donate to organizations on Giving Tuesday to make the greatest impact with your money truly. Black Friday doesn't only need to be about shopping!

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11 Phenomenal Books To Add To Your Summer Reading List

Summer is a great time to read and catch up on some awesome books you may have been too busy for during the year.

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I'd like to preface this list by saying that my taste in books is VERY broad. But because of this, I can guarantee that there is something on this list that will suit your particular interest and maybe help you learn something fascinating!

The following books are not listed in any particular order, mainly because I couldn't pick favorites amongst this list:

1. "A Higher Call" - Adam Makos

This book was recommended to me by a history teacher I had in high school and was one of my first experiences with reading nonfiction for fun. It details a riveting encounter between a German pilot and an American pilot during World War II. The book taught me a lot about the meaning of courage through its wartime narratives and the unexpected decisions made by men who appeared to be enemies.

2. "The Alchemist" - Paulo Coelho 

When I think of life-changing books, this is one of the first that comes to mind. I have read it at least three times since first reading a few years ago. Coelho tells the story of a young shepherd boy's journey in order to convey messages about wisdom, following your dreams, and listening to your heart as you travel through life.

3. "The Disappearing Spoon" -  Sam Kean

I don't have a ton to say about this book other than that I read it while taking AP Chemistry in high school. This book is HILARIOUS. In short, it is a history of the periodic table. Now, before you tune out because the periodic table brings back stressful memories of high school or college science, this book is nothing like that. It uses humor and adventure to detail the stories of each of the elements throughout history.

4. "Radium Girls" - Kate Moore

This book was also recommended to me by my high school history teacher (he recommended A LOT of books for me to read in high school). Moore phenomenally explains one of the biggest American scandals of the 20th century but was a scandal I knew nothing about prior to reading. It explores the stories of women who worked in radium-dial factories and their battle for workers' rights.

5. "Man's Search for Meaning" - Viktor Frankl

I think I enjoyed this book because I read it during a time in my life when I needed to hear the message. In this book, Frankl, who is a psychiatrist, explains how humans can find meaning in the unavoidable suffering of life and still move forward with a purpose. He explains everything in the context of his experiences and the experiences of others in Nazi death camps during World War II, which is quite fascinating.

6. "Just Mercy" - Bryan Stevenson

This book, which is also nonfiction, details the journey of Stevenson as a young lawyer working within the criminal justice system in the United States to defend the poor and those who have been wrongly condemned. The main focus of the book is Stevenson's experience defending Walter McMillian, a man who insists he didn't commit the murder that he's been sentenced to death for. This book gave me an insight into the US criminal justice system and some of its corruption while also giving me better definitions of justice and mercy.

7. "Rebel Queen" - Michelle Moran

If you're into historical fiction, this book has your name written on it. Moran explores Britain's colonization of India through the stories of the Rebel Queen and her all-female army. This books teaches quite a bit about India's history but is also filled with the adventure, love, and plot twists that fictional stories are well known for. Plus, reading a book about an entire army of badass women - absolute yes.

8. "The Last Lecture" - Randy Pausch

This book is essentially the script of Randy Pausch's last lecture at Carnegie Mellon after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. But don't assume this book will bring nothing but tears because Pausch uses this lecture to bestow lots of little pieces of wisdom on every single reader.

9. "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" - Yuval Noah Harari 

Let me start by saying that Chris Evans (Captain America) has recommended this book. I read this book a couple of years ago on an airplane trip out of pure curiosity and it has recently become fairly popular amongst celebrities and their followers (even Barack Obama and Bill Gates). This book combines history and biology (amongst other things) to explore and explain what it truly means to be human.

10. "The Gifts of Imperfection" - Brené Brown

I don't have much to say about this book because my explanation cannot do this justice. If you aren't familiar with the research done by Brown, I HIGHLY recommend looking into it and this book is a good place to start. She combines storytelling, her own research, and experiences to discuss topics like vulnerability and courage within personal development.

11. "Power of Now" - Eckhart Tolle

Once again, I don't have a ton to say about this book because I cannot do it justice and reading it involves a personal journey or connection between you and the words of Tolle. While spiritual in nature, this book focuses on increasing personal awareness of one's thoughts and actions, connecting to your self and the world, and allowing (teaching) yourself to exist fully in the now.

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You Know You're From Trumbull, CT When...

The best memories are made in this boring, little, Connecticut town.

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1. The majority of places you will consider to eat at are in Fairfield or Westport... Colony, Shake Shack, Country Cow, Playa Bowls, BarTaco

2. But if you find yourself too lazy to get on 95 for food, Panchero's is the go-to... never Chipotle. If it is past midnight, the choice always comes down to the McDonalds in Monroe, where you are almost guaranteed to see a group of people you know, or Merritt Canteen.

3. Once you got your license, your Friday night plans consisted of picking up friends, driving up and down Main Street, and, somehow, always finding yourself at the THS parking lot seeing who's car is there because there is nothing better to do.

4. In the Fall, you couldn't wait for Friday so that after school you and half of your grade could walk to Plasko's Farm for ice cream and apple cider donuts... and hope you could get them before the owners would yell at you to leave. (This one only applies to Hillcrest Middle School kids, AKA the inferior middle school in town).

5. You couldn't wait to be a senior so you could officially lead the BLACK HOLE at football games... if you were even willing to go in the cold.

6. You looked forward to the annual Senior Scav, the last week of summer before your senior year where a list of tasks is passed down by the recently graduated class... the official kickoff to senior year.

7. You pass by Country Club Rd. and get flashbacks from the worst Cross Country practices ever. Driving up Daniels Farm Rd. in the Fall and Spring, you are conditioned to yell "hi" out the window to your friends at practice.

8. You knew someone who worked at Gene's gas station... and found yourself spending more time there on the weekends than you would like to admit.

9. You are convinced Melon-heads are real after frequenting Velvet St. to see the abandoned insane asylum with your friends, IF you didn't want to drive all the way up to Fairfield Hills in Newtown.

10. You have had/have been to at least one middle school birthday party at the Trumbull Marriott.

11. You know that the 25mph speed limit on Whitney Ave. is way too slow... and can't help but hit a little air going down the huge hill at the top.

12. The guy at Towne likely knows your name.

13. You never find yourself turning right out of THS... that side of town is irrelevant for those who do not live there.

14. You know to avoid the Merrit Parkway from 4:00-7:00pm at all costs.

15. You know more than you would like to about people you aren't even friends with... in a town so small, things get around very quick.

16. Going shopping really means going to Target, or any store in the mall, for the millionth time that week.

17. The marching band was the best in the state and you would see them practicing, literally, every time you drove by THS.

19. Depending on the side of town you lived, you spent a lot of time at Five Pennies Park or Indian Ledge Park.

20. You would say you couldn't wait to leave, but when you got to college, you find yourself excited to come back to your hometown so you can reminisce on old traditions and make new memories.

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