Posted in In-Class Assignments, Weekly Assignments

How to do the #MannequinChallenge

So in my online journalism class we decided to do the Mannequin Challenge. For anyone who doesn’t know what that is, all you need is a large group of people and a bit of quiet. The only rule is that you and anyone who is participating has to stay as still as, well, a mannequin.

The origin of the Mannequin Challenge is a bit fuzzy, and like most internet trends, hard  to track down. But the only thing that is consistent is the use of the song “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd featuring Gucci Mane. The song is a synth-filled hip-hop song that plays in the background of every video. (In our video we removed the audio to show how it was created).

The way to do it is to stand as still as you can while a friend walks around and films everyone. Celebrities do it, athletes do it, and even Fox News did it. You can do a normal scene, or follow the footsteps of Adele and do a pub scene. Either way, this is some fun that you don’t want to miss out on!

Posted in In-Class Assignments, Uncategorized

2015 Thanksgiving Gas Prices


Everyone likes to say that their favorite season is autumn. And while getting to layer up in coats, sweaters, scarves and mittens, those colorful leaves only stay on the trees for so ling.

It all starts with October. The weather is unassuming, still offering warmth and sunshine. Next, you have the stress of picking out a costume for Halloween and figuring out what roads you’ll trick or treat on (or what parties you’ll go to).

Then, October quietly fades into November, and then you slip into December. You’ve gone from sunshine and getting to walk outside without a coat to fighting off colds and holiday’s practically every other week.

Before you know it, romantic strolls and hot cocoa by the fire turn to frantically keeping the house clean and making sure to cook everyone’s favorite potatoes for Thanksgiving. And Heaven forbid you don’t get your Christmas cards out in time.

Well, this year, let there be a little bit more sunshine for you on the holiday of giving thanks. According to, gas is expected to be the cheapest it has ever been for this holiday in a decade: just in time for everyone’s Thanksgiving holiday travels.

Gas prices are expected to be the lowest they have been in ten years, coming in at $1.99 a gallon for the national average.

According to Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for the Oil Price Information Service, the national average is at $2.072, with 60% of gas fill-up stations selling at under $2 dollars.

“We had lower prices in 2008 and 2009, but not for Thanksgiving,” said Kloza. “The cheapest markets are in the Great Lakes states.”

The states with the lowest gas prices are Indiana ($1.803), Ohio, ($1.804), and Missouri ($1.860).

Gas is relatively inexpensive in the southern states as well, including Arkansas ($1.881), Louisiana ($1.877), Alabama ($1.841), Mississippi ($1.855), Texas ($1.855) and South Carolina ($1.841).

gas graphThe state with the highest gas price is currently California, coming in at $2.740 a gallon in the Golden State.

With gas being an estimated average of $2.81 a gallon last year, we are down by more than a dollar.

The reason that the price for fuel is that the nation has an excess of it. US oil producers are still drilling despite the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) keeping production rates high.

Back in January, the national average for gas was $2.19, which was down from $3.31 per gallon the year before. Now, eleven months later, gas will be under 2 dollars for many states.

The highest gas prices we have ever had were seen back in 2008. Seven years ago, the average price of gasoline per gallon was $3.60, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Most people are not thinking about how great it is that gas prices are finally leveling out with crude oil prices, but rather that they got lucky this holiday season.

Of all the Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving, AAA estimates that close to 42 million people will drive at least 50 miles, with 67% going as far as 200 miles for the 2015 holiday. Hopefully, having such low gas prices will make that drive a little easier.

Posted in In-Class Assignments, Posts about People

A little bit about Alex Sherman

Sherman (middle) with two friends

Alexandra Renee Nelson-Sherman, or Alex for short, is a 21 year old senior at the University of Hartford. Sherman is a Communications major, with a focus in public relations and advertising. Hailing from Fairmount, Philadelphia, a tiny central city, Sherman dreams of moving to New York after graduation.

Sherman likes how there is so many things to do in New York. “Philly is like a miniature New York,” said Sherman. “But I want to experience something different.”

Even though Sherman walks around campus repping a casual style of ripped denim jeans and sneakers, she still has a love for high fashion. While some of her favorite designers are Balenciaga and Balmain, to Sherman, “staying comfortable is what’s important.”

In New York, Sherman wants to work in fashion PR, most likely with a fashion magazine.

When Sherman isn’t in the world of PR and fashion, Sherman likes to hang out with her friends and family. One of her favorite things to do is going out to eat, turning something mundane into a social event. Her favorite food is sushi, and she is a picky eater. “I’m really picky. I hate cheese, unless it’s pizza.” Sherman said.

Despite having a love of food and eating, Sherman claims going out to eat is one of her bad habits.

Before Sherman got into fashion, she used to be quite the musician. “I was decent at the guitar, I would play Red Hot Chili Peppers,” Sherman said of one of the seven instruments she played over the years. Besides the acoustic guitar, Sherman also played the electric guitar, the piano, the violin, the cello, the clarinet, and the harp.

The harp was a Christmas present from her father, and she only had about four or five lessons. Even though she abandoned many instruments for other things, Sherman still has her old acoustic guitar.

While Sherman does not consider herself to be athletic, she was required to take sports in high school. Sherman went to a private school, where she played JV tennis and softball her freshman year.

One thing that Sherman did with her family growing up was horseback riding. First, starting out at camp and winning little ribbons here and there, all the way to doing jumps in the ring, some that were four feet high.

Her father got both her and her sister a horse, plus one for himself and one to spare. Together, Sherman and her family would ride and take lessons from a trainer.

Sherman rode for about five years. Disliking her trainer combined with the money required to own and board four horses led the family to eventually sell the horses, which Sherman has grown to regret.

One thing that Sherman is proud of is that she recently did a marketing internship back home in Philly. She ran social media and wrote blog posts for the company. She also did a lot of writing and press releases. Sherman hopes that she can do something similar once she gets to New York.

Posted in In-Class Assignments

Dunkin’ Donuts vs. Starbucks

You know that old phrase about opinions and…specific lower anatomy? About how everybody has them, but no one wants to hear about it?

Well in this case, you are going to hear about it. My opinion, that is. Dunkin’ Donuts is superior to Starbucks.

Period. End of discussion. This isn’t even an argument.

Hardcore Dunks fans drink iced coffee year-round

Dunkin’ Donuts was first established in 1950 in Quincy, Massachusetts by founder Bill Rosenberg. The original shop is still in operation, though it has since multiplied hundreds of times.

While the Dunks slogan, “America Runs of Dunkin” was not applicable for a long time, California just opened their first Dunkin Donuts after years of being without the glorious franchise.

In a taste test performed by the illustrious and also perfect BuzzFeed, Californians bowed down to us New Englanders for knowing our stuff. While some of the West Coast natives were reluctant to admit, they thoroughly enjoyed their icy brews in the hot summer sun.

Dunks fans are hardcore with their iced coffee, and Dunks means business with it. When it comes down to it, DD is a no frills kind of establishment. Just a simple coffee, either hot or iced, maybe with a cream and sugar thrown in. If you’re having a really rough morning, maybe you add a turbo shot.

But don’t think that a cup full of java, chocolate sauce, chocolate chips and whip cream will gain you any respect walking around Boston. If you wish to truly fit in in New England, you have that clear plastic cup with that dark golden brew. No muss, no fuss.

New Englanders are tough when it comes to their coffee, but there are also some things that you come to except for your beverage. When I place my order, I ask for it ‘regular’, meaning one cream and one sugar. They lovely people behind the counter then proceed to add these accoutrements to my coffee for me.

At Starbuckcoffee humor :): s, after you wait in the dreadfully long line to place your order, you wait in the excruciatingly long line for them to make your drink and hand it to you. If you ordered a drink with respect and didn’t get one of those melted ice cream-with-extra-whip concoctions and you just got coffee, you then also need to wait in the painfully long line to add your cream and sugar. Basically, if you want Starbucks before work, go with 30 minutes to spare.

Speaking of getting breakfast before work, Dunkin’s caters to the worker on the run, or the morning rush hour student. If you didn’t have time to eat a nice plate of bacon and eggs this morning with the family, you can zip through the Dunks drive-thru, get your coffee, and a savory bacon-egg-and cheese on your choice of bagel, or perhaps a croissant.

If you tried to get breakfast at Starbucks, they have those tiny cake pops, which could be compared to a Dunkin’s munchkin (but why would yo
u). Or you could get some artisan flat bread that has $4.00 worth of avocado that you’ll just scrape off. If you want breakfast, you should just drive right past Starbucks and head on over to Dunkin’s.

Dunkin’ Donuts is more than just a donut and coffee shop. And by more, no I don’t mean bagels. I mean that they have an atmosphere just like how you would at home in your kitchen while you brew your own coffee. You walk in and are welcomed with a smil
e. In my home town, I can count on two hands the number of people, myself included, who frequent our local Dunks so often that after they walk in, by the time they get to the front of the counter their coffee is already made and waiting for them and all they have to do is pay.

When you walk into Starbucks, most of the time it’ll be dark. I am talking “you will reach at your face because you think you left your sunglasse
s on” darkness. The line is so long, because everyone orders some blended potion of a drink, and the machines must be cleaned every time.

When you walk into Starbucks, its atmosphere is different. It’s nothing like the neighborhood charms of Dunks but instead seems to cater its image to what is popular and trendy. Holding a Starbucks in your hand while you walk down the streets in Seattle is as much an accessory as the newest iPhone or a pair of Uggs.

Dunkin’ Donuts is built around the feeling of family, of community. Dunkin’ Donuts cares about its customers. Whenever it is sporting season, whenever the home team (Red Sox, Patriots, etc.) win a game, you get a free hot or iced coffee if you have a rewards card. Along with the rewards card, you get special deals; you even get a free drink during your birthday month!

Dunks is more than coffee and donuts: it is a way of life.

Posted in In-Class Assignments, Uncategorized

Dream Job

buzzfeed logoA job that would be truly fantastic to be a part of would be working for BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed has headquarters in Anaheim, California, with several satellite branches across the country and the globe.

Being able to work for a company that is Internet based would mean I would be a part of the “breaking news” world, writing stories about popular trends and world events practically as they are happening. BuzzFeed is more than just quizzes about what Harry Potter house you should be sorted into or what Disney princesses would look like in the real world; they also publish real stories about public events.

BuzzFeed also has several channels on YouTube with content that is relatable for ‘millennials’, and sometimes, even their parents. The whole reason I started to consider BuzzFeed as a place to work was because of their videos on YouTube. I follow a lot of “professional YouTubers” and I kept getting videos from BuzzFeed as suggestions to watch. I would soon find myself 10 videos deep on BuzzFeed’s channel, and I would be posting links all over my sisters’ and friends’ Facebook walls.

BuzzFeed has different content for every type of person: taste test videos; life hacks; “10 weird things all couples do” or “what it’s like growing up with a sister”. My personal favorites are the Try Guys. They are just a group of four men in their early 30’s trying out things that they regularly wouldn’t.

Their videos start with relatively normal topics, like, “Try To Survive In The Woods”, and slowly branch out into more–unique–ideas, like, “Try To Be Drag Queens.” At first I would just watch one or two and then go back to what I was doing before (like homework, ha!) and it quickly developed into me watching 40 minutes worth of videos, alone in my room, laughing until I cried or couldn’t breathe.

While most people would think that it is fun bordering on crazy, but that is just the kind of thing that I love. I love making people laugh, and I love getting to know people and seeing them in their everyday environments, and seeing what they do. The only problem with this is that I would classify myself as an outgoing introvert. I love hanging out with people, and I enjoy sharing the company of others. Sometimes, however, it is hard for me to get to know other people and open up to them. There are days when you just have to isolate yourself in your bedroom with all the lights off, binging on Netflix and Doritos.

BuzzFeed is made up of all different kinds of people, but the most important thing is that I see people there that are just like me. If I can see myself working there without even seeing the office or truly knowing what a job there entails, that’s how I know it’s a dream job.

Besides having a fun workplace environment, BuzzFeed allows workers to publish articles from home. Getting to stay in bed and work in my pajamas sounds like the ultimate dream job!

buzzfeed circles