Shopping for Black Friday deals in Athens on a $60 budget

I tried. I really did. I set four different alarms at 4 a.m., 4:05 a.m., 4:10 a.m. and 4:15 a.m. I couldn’t pull myself out of bed to ride my bike in the 25 degree morning that was Black Friday. Doorbusters were going on on East State Street, but I wasn’t going to make it in time for the savings, even if I was able to drag myself out of my bed.

Black Friday is a big deal in the United States, the start of the holiday shopping season as well as the holiday season in general. Many shoppers across the country flocked to their favorite retailer to secure the latest deal — except for Athens.

Athens becomes somewhat dormant during breaks from classes. Most students head home for Thanksgiving, leaving the streets of Athens like something out of a scene from “The Walking Dead.”

In response to this, many businesses and restaurants closed their doors for the holiday, but some local businesses in town kept their doors open and offered specials and deals. I decided to head out to see what Court Street had to offer, but being the college student I am (i.e. broke) I kept myself at a $60 budget.

A pair of fuzzy socks and a coloring book for $40 started my Black Friday
A pair of fuzzy socks and a coloring book for $40 started my Black Friday

At first, I was worried. I walked onto Court to be greeted only by closed doors and dark stores. I originally hoped to go into the bookstores to pick up some OU gear, but both had closed. So I continued my journey through the vacant street until I came to the last section the street, near BP and such. I found one store during my entire walk though that had a specific Black Friday sale, and that was Import House, a local clothing and tobacco  shop that specializes in outdoor wear. The store was offering 25% off anything that was already on sale, meaning whatever was on sale, one could add an additional 25% off. I was shopping for my girlfriend so I was in luck. I was able to leave Import House after spending half my budget on a pair of socks and a coloring book that is designed for older doodlers.

A koala riding a bike or a shirt worth $20, you decide!
A koala riding a bike or a shirt worth $20

Determined to use the rest of my budget, I went back down Court Street toward campus and noticed Artifacts Gallery was open. Artifacts Gallery is a clothing store  next to Casa Nueva, and has a variety of funny and interesting shirts, trinkets and posters. I decided to treat myself a little bit here as I saw a shirt I couldn’t walk away from.

The store had a line of shirts that were of animals riding bikes. As silly as that sounds, they had tons of different animals to choose from. Llamas, sharks, deer, and even crabs were some of the options, but one was especially cool, a koala. It was a tough choice between the koala and deer, but I had to go with the bear. Cause I mean, come on who wouldn’t want to see a koala on a bike?! I picked up the shirt for $20 and left with $10 remaining.

I tried to find more deals on Black Friday, but most were in my email inbox, so I decided that my final purchase would be a well needed lunch after a morning of shopping.

I should have gone out a day later to Artifacts Gallery. The Saturday following Black Friday is labeled as Small Business Saturday, a day where everyone is encouraged to shop local, and support the small business owners instead of using the chains for holiday shopping. This is the “holiday” I wish shoppers would rally around. Paying the little bit extra to shop local is very beneficial, and not only does it help the shop owners, it helps the entire community and creates a stronger bond between the shop and customer.

Say what you will about Black Friday, as fun or embarrassing as it may be, it does offerers some of the best deals on the top holiday gifts,  but one should always remember to shop locally if you can, and support the local business owners.

*Source of top image on this page: http://www.saintpetersblog.com/archives/245485

OU students help dogs with Paws for a Cause

Each year during the holiday season, many children will find robots, action figures, or other toys under the tree or given to them on one of the nights of Hanukkah. For a special few, a Christmas morning I wish I got to experience while growing up, some children will pull out of a box, a new, four-legged best friend.

This is Juno. A one-year old hound mix who is a big lover. Check out her profile here: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/32631887
This is Juno. A one-year old hound mix who is a big lover. Check out her profile here: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/32631887
This is Goldie #2, a Boxer mix who loves people and belly rubs. Check her profile here https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/32871280
This is Goldie #2, a Boxer mix who loves people and belly rubs. Check her profile here https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/32871280

Dogs are one of the most influential beings in some peoples lives. They quickly become members of the family and are treated just as anyone would treat a close friend or family member. While some dogs get to be the luck ones with a bow tied to the collar, others live their lives in shelters and in the care of the Athens community and one local organization in town, Paws for a Cause.

Paws for a Cause is a student organization on campus centered on helping out with the Athens County Dog Shelter and the Friends of Shelter Dogs and the employees there. The organization raises fund for the shelter and dogs, donate supplies and especially their time to helping these animals get the love and attention they need. Vice President of Paws for a Cause Savannah Williams elaborated more on the organization,

Paws for a Cause is a non profit organization that was formed by Ohio University students,” Williams said, “every penny that we raise goes directly back to the shelter for their needs including the sick and injured fund where we help to provide medical treatment to the dogs that normally wouldn’t be able to have those procedures done due to limited funding.”

Not only do they spend their time working at the shelter and with the dogs, members of the organization also spend their time raising awareness for shelter dogs.

Paws for a Cause Vice President Savannah Williams with her dog, Ahsoka. Williams adopted Ahsoka from the shelter a year ago
Paws for a Cause Vice President Savannah Williams with her dog, Ahsoka. Williams adopted Ahsoka from the Athens County Dog Shelter a year ago

Play Time with Puppies is at the residential halls where the RA’s put on an event for their residents and we bring dogs from the shelter that they can play with for an hour or two,” Williams said, “we also do numerous bake sales/raffles here on campus with the dogs throughout the year that tend to be holiday themed, we had one for Halloween where we put the dogs in costumes, it was a blast.”  

Other events the organization puts on include adoption events at the local PetsMart on Saturdays as a way of bringing the dogs to potential families as well as trips to Laurel’s nursing home, where residents get a chance to interact with the dogs and give the dogs some attention.

Shelter dogs, unlike those bred from a private breeder, face more challenges. Not only do dogs brought to a shelter have some form of a past, one that could lead to the dog being a certain way or looking a certain way, they also have to deal with finding a home. Dogs can not stay in the shelter forever, there is not enough room to hold every dog that needs a temporary home until the right family walks in the door and that causes some dogs to be put down when they have been in the shelter for too long.

 “I often get asked “How can you volunteer and see them all and not want to adopt every single one?”  That was hard for me at first, you’d leave feeling sad that you couldn’t do more,” Williams said, “But now I look at it and see how many families get to adopt an amazing new member into their home, and my work is just the in between.  To be a part of that is all I could ever ask for”

Many loving dogs are in shelters just waiting for the right owner, and as a benefit of adopting from a shelter, dogs get treated, vaccinated, and taken care of before being introduced to their new family. Not only are the animals properly cared for before adoption, it is also a cheaper option for most families with adoption costs usually around the $200 mark as opposed to the $1,000+ price tag of a pure bred dog.

“Every time that I see one of the dogs find it’s forever home due to an event that we put on I couldn’t be happier,” Williams said. 

The shelter also has started a foster program for people to foster dogs at their homes while they continue to search for a new family for the dog. This program lets people help the dogs, while also getting the experience of what it is like to have a dog in the house, a great idea for those interested in potentially adopting.

This is Hook. He is less than a year old and is a terrier mix. Check out his profile here: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/33796976
This is Hook. He is less than a year old and is a terrier mix. Check out his profile here: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/33796976
This is Levi. A pit bull mix. Very energetic and full of love. He prefers no small children however! Check out his profile here: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/33630137
This is Levi. A pit bull mix. Very energetic and full of love. He prefers no small children however! Check out his profile here: https://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/33630137

It is important to note that when adopting a dog, one should be ready for the commitment and responsibility it takes to own and raise a dog. One of the hardest things a shelter can see is a dog return back to their shelter because of something that happened.

Paws for a Cause meets every Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in Grover, but if you feel like helping in a different way the group is always looking for donations of things such as dog food, blankets, and first-aid items. Pine Sol is also the biggest need of the shelter. If you would like more information about the organization follow @oupawsforacause on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and look for events involving the organization on campus.

*All photos used in this piece are of dogs currently available for adoption at the Athens County Dog Shelter, follow the link here for the complete list of adoptable dogs in Athens:  http://www.fosdathens.com/#!adopt/cihc

A Return to Roots

Tom Costello teaches his COMS 1100 class
Tom Costello teaches his COMS 1100 class

Each day is the same for Communication Studies Professor Tom Costello. He wakes up, brews a cup of coffee, and enjoys taking in the scenes around campus. However, Tom doesn’t sit on his porch while enjoying his mornings, instead he, like many of Ohio University’s freshman and sophomores, Costello lives on campus.

A lawyer and Ohio University alum, Costello returned to campus when he was asked to be a Faculty in Residence. The Faculty in Residence program allows for professors to come to campus, teach, but also live in and assist with the Residence Halls,

“The faculty in residence has two responsibilities. First is to the staff, so there to interact with the staff, provide any guidance, advice, counseling, Costello said,“the second piece is interacting with residents, getting to know them, serving as a resource.”

Costello’s background in law has allowed him to host programs in the complex about how to avoid trouble with the law and how to stay out of jail. He has also hosted meals and programs, while also using his appointed budget to help residential assistants plan programs of their own. Costello also volunteers his time to assist in big weekends such as Halloween.

“I think It’s really helpful because they come from whatever background, that they have, especially like Tom, he was a lawyer for a while so having his insight on a couple topics and things like that., having him just share his experiences is really cool and he just helps a bunch” said sophomore RA Erin Walsh.

Costello was a resident of Detroit for over 20 years and this past summer, he sold his home for most of that time, fully committing to life in Athens.

“The first two years I still had a residence in Detroit so the summers we’d go back, this summer we sold the house so this is really home now”

Costello has one more year left on his contract and is excited to continue to experience on campus life, while being able to give life lessons outside of the classroom,

“It’s teaching outside the classroom in a way that, if you are doing it correctly, students are learning without knowing they are learning so by giving examples, counseling, advice and the like, as opposed to standing in front of a classroom and lecturing on a topic,” Costello said.

How RAs celebrate HallOUween

Students were only allowed to use one door this weekend. People were paid to watch the doors to make sure no one snuck in
Students were only allowed to use one door this weekend. People were paid to watch the doors to make sure no one snuck in

Ah Halloween in Athens, you lived up to completely up to my expectations, and boy were they high. I did not think this year’s HallOUween celebration could be anymore boring or slow than last years, but I was wrong.

How can the supposed third largest block party in the nation be so boring one may ask? Well, I was one of many RAs on campus that had to work Friday and Saturday of Halloween weekend. Each year, Housing and Residence Life bumps up all the security for on campus life. Locks are changed so students only have access to one door, wristbands are distributed and required to get back into the halls and every staff member is on duty. These precautions come as a result of the massive influx of people Athens receives for the weekend. People come from all over to experience the bricks of  Court St on Halloween, and for most it is a blast, for RAs, it is a constant battle to stay awake.

RA Halley Davidson shows off her Halloween spirit while on rounds
RA Halley Davidson shows off her Halloween spirit while on rounds

HallOUween preparations begin weeks in advance for RAs. We received documents and went over proper procedure for the weekend three weeks in advance of the holiday. When the weekend does arrive, RAs are present as early as 6 p.m. Friday evening to begin organizing the wristbands to hand out. For my complex, Tanaka-Luchs, we had over 100 registered guests to check in. This process is probably the hardest part of the weekend. Imagine trying to heard a bunch of confused cattle into a room that is clearly not big enough, and then get them to follow a straight line. That’s what it felt like to organize the students and get them the proper wristbands. The line remained outside the door for about an hour and half. Then the real fun began, if one was not on rounds, one was to sit and check wristbands. The thing was that from around nine to around midnight, no one really came back as most were out enjoying the weekend. We had 16 staff members on duty, four of which were checking wristbands, the rest on rounds or on breaks.

My Staff wristband for the weekend. Residents had to wear similar ones, but blue.
My Staff wristband for the weekend. Residents had to wear similar ones, but blue.

Rounds consisted of constantly walking each floor of the building on Friday night, but we changed the role on Saturday, which made it easier, but also made the time go by slower. We stationed a person by the elevator on each floor and they were in charge of making sure no one was doing anything against policy or sneaking in. I was on rounds for three straight hours on Saturday. As the night went on, and I ran out of episodes of “Rick and Morty” to watch, I faced my biggest challenge of the night, staying awake. I actually lost that challenge for about 15 minutes early on, but after hearing reports of a light bulb thief on the loose, I got the kick start I need.

This was my floor at about 12:30 a.m. It was so quiet I could have heard a pin drop
This was my floor at about 12:30 a.m. It was so quiet I could have heard a pin drop

Needless to say HallOUween left much to be desired on my end, but it seems that the precautions taken by Housing and Residence life are a little much. Maybe I was just lucky that our building remained pretty calm throughout the night, but the extra measures taken seem to only add to the lore surrounding the block party. I couldn’t help but wonder that if we didn’t try so hard to keep people out, would it make the festivities less appealing? Adding a $50 charge for students to have a guest sure sounded like it was going to decrease the number of people visiting, but as mentioned before, Tanaka-Luchs saw over 100 guests come to visit.

 

It seems HallOUween will always be a big deal. My father told me about how crazy it was during his time here in the 70s, and despite increased security measures and rules, the party will continue to be one of the best events of the year, except if you’re an RA.

Settle it in smash: the rise of E-Sports and video games

Video games are a part of many people’s individual lives. Each week, new, groundbreaking titles come into the market and people flock to the stores to pick up the latest title.

While many people play video games just for fun, the competitive video game scene, also known as E-Sports, is on the rise. Different types of games will bring different forms of competition, one of the most popular genres of competitive gaming are fighting games.

Fighting games give people the sense of a real fight and provide intense head-to-head competition, which is why many aspiring competitive gamers choose to pick up games like Super Smash Bros Melee. Melee has been one of the most popular fighting games since its release in 2001, but the competitive scene continues to grow, not only in size, but skill.

I went to one of the Ohio University Smash Team’s weekly meetings to find out more about this game, and if the future of sports is in video games.

 

Athens lands in the top 10 campuses for recruit visits

While it may still be the off-season for Ohio’s basketball teams, Athens still found a way to make it into a recent top 10 article by ESPN, albeit for something other than legendary parties.

In a nice twist to the typical “Top 10 colleges for recruits to visit,” ESPN blogger Dana O’Neil determines how much college campuses, instead of the programs themselves, influence college recruits. One of Ohio’s biggest strengths and talking points is the location and the campus. When OU is talked about, it is usually related to two things, parties and a beautiful campus. Fall in Athens produces some of the most picturesque landscapes of what a college town should look like. If I was a recruit who didn’t mind the status of my program, it would be hard to turn away.

O’Neil had this to say about Ohio,

“The school’s spring celebrations known as Fests, are so popular they have their own Twitter handle…plus Court Street, which includes 20-plus bars,” O’Neil wrote, “the folks of Athens, Ohio have this fun thing down.”

That is something everyone can agree on. Athens knows how to have a good time, even if it is mostly fueled by our 20-plus bars.

O’Neil also had some comments about our Bobcats, which accurately reflect the current status of our men on the hardwood,

“The Bobcats are a lot like their campus-sort of an under-the-radar gem…but with one good coach begetting the next (Saul Phillips is the latest) they have the potential to gear up for another Cinderella season at any time,” O’Neil said.

While a couple of key losses from last year’s team may get in the way of any Bobcat runs for the time being, coach Saul Phillips will continue to rebuild this team and return it to the NCAA tournament in the spring.