History of Cyber Monday and Black Friday

Today is Cyber Monday but where did the terminology come from? This blog will look at the history of both Cyber Monday and Black Friday. Information used was obtained from What Is Cyber Monday – History of How the Shopping Holiday Started and What’s the Real History of Black Friday?

Cyber Monday

The Monday after Thanksgiving has been a popular online shopping day since the turn of the 21st century. Before the smartphone era, consumers used the first workday after the long Thanksgiving weekend to check their favorite retailers’ websites for deals they might have missed at in-person Black Friday sales or more leisurely weekend trips to the mall.

In 2005, the National Retail Federation (through its commercial portal, Shop.org) decided to give the day a name: Cyber Monday, coined (per Fast Company) by a young NRF public relations executive named Ellen Davis. NRF capitalized on Davis’s flash of marketing brilliance by launching the one-stop shopping site CyberMonday.com, a clearinghouse of sorts for post-Thanksgiving discounts and deals.

NRF could not keep Cyber Monday under wraps forever. Almost immediately, major online retailers (along with e-commerce platforms operated by brick-and-mortar retailers like Target and Walmart) began offering their own Cyber Monday deals unconnected to CyberMonday.com making the original website obsolete.

ComScore began tracking Cyber Monday sales in 2006 when shoppers spent $608 million online. Since then, the holiday has seen double-digit sales increases almost every year. The sole exception was 2009, as recession-weary U.S. consumers tightened their belts. Cyber Monday 2009 sales grew a mere 5% over 2008. In 2014, ComScore reported that Cyber Monday desktop sales surpassed $2 billion for the first time ever. Total Cyber Monday sales, including mobile, were hundreds of millions of dollars higher. And sales jumped 12% in each of the two subsequent years. Considering the higher baseline, that is noteworthy; 12% of $2 billion is a lot more than 20% of $608 million.

The United States might be the only country in the world that celebrates Thanksgiving (or an equivalent giving-of-thanks holiday) on the fourth Thursday of November. But it is not the only country in the world to host a blowout online shopping sale around that time. Other countries that observe Cyber Monday are Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, India, Australia, and China.

Black Friday

The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to holiday shopping but to financial crisis: specifically, the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869. Two notoriously ruthless Wall Street financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, worked together to buy up as much as they could of the nation’s gold, hoping to drive the price sky-high and sell it for astonishing profits. On that Friday in September, the conspiracy finally unraveled, sending the stock market into free-fall and bankrupting everyone from Wall Street barons to farmers.

The second coming of sorts for the term was back in the 1950s. Police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Not only would Philly cops not be able to take the day off, but they would have to work extra-long shifts dealing with the additional crowds and traffic. Shoplifters would also take advantage of the bedlam in stores to make off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache.

By 1961, “Black Friday” had caught on in Philadelphia, to the extent that the city’s merchants and boosters tried unsuccessfully to change it to “Big Friday” in order to remove the negative connotations. The term did not spread to the rest of the country until much later, however, and as recently as 1985 it was not in common use nationwide. Sometime in the late 1980s, however, retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positively, rather than negatively, on them and their customers. The result was the “red to black” concept of the holiday mentioned earlier, and the notion that the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when America’s stores finally turned a profit.

Since then, the one-day sales bonanza has morphed into a four-day event and spawned other “retail holidays” such as Small Business Saturday/Sunday and Cyber Monday. Stores started opening earlier and earlier on that Friday, and now the most dedicated shoppers can head out right after their Thanksgiving meal (at least prior to 2020).

Black Friday VS Cyber Monday

According to Bloomberg, Cyber Monday’s dominance is in danger of eclipse by Black Friday, the original holiday shopping season blowout day. On Black Friday 2019, online sales topped $7.4 billion, according to TechCrunch, thanks to deep discounts from hundreds of major American retailers, including Walmart, Best Buy, Apple, and Target.

There are some notable difference between the two though as detailed below.

Cyber Monday Is Terrible for Productivity. Since the Monday after Thanksgiving is a workday for most 9-to-5ers, it is no surprise that tens of millions of Americans spend at least part of that day using their work computers to find the hottest deals. According to a 2019 survey by Robert Half (reported by CNBC), 52% of respondents said they would look for Cyber Monday deals while at work. The survey found that Cyber Monday was by the most popular day of the year for “workshopping,” followed by Amazon Prime Day.

Black Friday Is More Mobile. Black Friday is marginally more mobile-friendly than Cyber Monday. According to Marketing Land, 34% of total Black Friday purchases came from mobile traffic sources in 2018, compared to 28% of Cyber Monday purchases. Still, more than $2 billion in Cyber Monday sales occurred on smartphones, according to TechCrunch.

Black Friday Is Great for Electronics Deals. Virtually every major retailer participates in both events, but Black Friday and Cyber Monday have distinct focuses. Notably, Black Friday is a better day to stock up on heavily discounted electronics, including TVs, mobile devices, PCs and PC equivalents, AV devices, and home office equipment.

Cyber Monday Is Great for Home Goods and Soft Goods. Counterintuitively, Cyber Monday is a better fit for clothing and home goods, such as furnishings and fixtures. If you are buying clothing on Cyber Monday, make sure your retailer has a generous return policy.

Black Friday Is More Stressful. Though stress is subjective, veteran shoppers who have experienced Black Friday firsthand know how crazy the day can get. Long lines in the wee hours, thick crowds in stores, congested parking lots, heavy traffic on adjacent roads, arguments and fights over limited-quantity merchandise, door-buster stampedes – these perils, and many others, await brick-and-mortar Black Friday shoppers. By contrast, Cyber Monday is a breeze. The biggest inconveniences you are likely to face are an earlier-than-usual wake-up and a longer-than-usual load time at busy shopping sites.

Cyber Monday Is Prone to Scams. Only the biggest, flashiest, and most disruptive retail data security incidents make headlines. For every Target or Home Depot data breach that spews tens of millions of individuals’ personal and financial data out into the ether, there are hundreds or thousands of smaller-scale cyber-thefts. As the original online shopping holiday, Cyber Monday is particularly prone to e-commerce scams: phishing emails advertising too-good-to-be-true deals, fake sites that exist solely to steal credit card numbers, fly-by-night sellers that take your money and disappear, phony or counterfeit products sold under false pretenses, and more. Know how to protect yourself from these risks every day, not just Cyber Monday.

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Cooking Gadgets to Help with Holiday Meals

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and ILA cares about both safety and delicious well-prepared food. This week’s sale items will focus on things to help around the kitchen. Product highlights will include the ways that these products are special and how they might benefit everyone from the novice cook to the well-seasoned chef. Keep reading if you want to learn more about the advantages of using an air fryer, talking kitchen scale, and a slow cooker.

Air Fryers

Air fryers have become one of the most popular kitchen appliances. You can cook nearly any food item in them, and they are great if you like fried food but do not want the high calories. Empish Thomas, a visually impaired person, wanted something to spice up her cooking routine during the pandemic and was no longer eating out. She was unsure of which one to purchase, but she knew two things: (1) she did not want a digital display because of inaccessibility (2) she did not want one she had to operate via smartphone with a Bluetooth connection. Advanced technology is not something she wants to deal with when she is cooking and has her hands deep in the ingredients.

She continued by stating one might ask, “So, what do you cook in an air fryer?” All kinds of interesting and delicious foods. She discovers something new all the time, but the basic things are traditional items like chicken, fish, or French fries. You can prepare meats in various ways depending on the recipe. I checked online and found too many to count. I have cooked salmon croquettes and hushpuppies. Next, she wants to try veggies like frozen cut okra, or fresh cut squash and zucchini. She is open to experimenting.

She has discovered that air frying is a way to take those old favorites of fried foods, which she had reduced but not completely stopped eating, and make them healthier. There is no oil or shortening. She just uses a little cooking spray and that is it. The food has the same consistency as if it were fried in oil in a skillet. Using an air fryer also keeps the level of heat down in her kitchen. Her gas stove creates a hot and uncomfortable environment but using an air fryer does not. Also, cooking time is reduced. For example, air frying meat takes about 20 minutes depending on if there are bones. While the meat is air frying, she can prepare her sides. Using an air fryer has become a great way to keep cooking simple, easy, and healthy during the pandemic.

Components of an air fryer includes: the base (houses the electronics and holds the air frying drawer, pan, or tray), the heating element/fan (creates the air frying environment), the basket (vessel with holes where one places whatever is going to be air fried), and; the pan, drawer, or tray (solid piece where the basket sets, catching crumbs, fat, oil, sauce, etc.).

ILA proudly offers the Chefman3.5L Air Fryer for purchase. Excerpts from this section were taken from a VisionAware article entitled, Air Fryers Prove to be a Simpler and Healthier Way to Cook.

Talking Kitchen Scales

Kitchen scales are no longer an essential kitchen tool for professional chefs and bakers but rather a must-have item in every household. In addition to the benefits below, a talking kitchen scale also helps take the guess work out of what the scale shows/reads. If you are visually impaired, hearing the weight spoken is especially important. Most talking scales can be programmed to weigh in either grams or ounces. In many cases, you are not limited to just one language if English is not your native language.

Meal Portions: Kitchen scales can help you weigh your food and help keep your meal portions in check. They can also help you tremendously if you are on a particular diet or cooking for a diabetic person.

Calorie Counting: Food scales can help you track your calories and give you the correct information as compared to what is written on the food packaging.

Encourages Mindful Eating: Practicing weighing your food and eating your meals at home can give you a great idea on what healthy portions are and what foods are low in calorie. It can help benefit you a lot when you eat outside or are on vacation and cannot carry your equipment along with you.

Helps in Cooking and Baking: Recipes from cookbooks or off the internet require you to measure your ingredients for best results which is why it is essential to stick to a scale. A small digital scale can truly become your best friend in the kitchen.

Compact Size and Affordable: These days kitchen scales are extremely compact and take up little space in your kitchen. Also, apart from being space friendly, they are super affordable and do not burn a hole in the pocket.

ILA proudly offers the VOX-2 Talking Kitchen for purchase. It can be programmed to speak in in English, Spanish, French and German. Information from this section came from the article, Find The Perfect Balance: Benefits Of A Kitchen Scale.

Slow Cookers

A slow cooker can come in handy with a delicious meal waiting for you and your family at the end of the day. Most slow cookers have two or three settings. When using the low setting, food will cook in six to 10 hours. Using the high setting allows food to cook in four to six hours. If possible, turn the slow cooker on the high setting for the first hour of cooking time and then use the setting that fits your needs. One hour on high is about equal to two hours on low. One hour in the oven at 350° F is equivalent to about 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low. Similarly, 3 hours in the oven is equivalent to 4-6 hours on high and 8-16 hours on low.

Benefits of Using a Slow Cooker:

  • Have a meal at home in the slow cooker eliminates the temptation to order take-out which is often less nutritious and more expensive.
  • Slow cookers usually allow one-step preparation. Placing all the ingredients in the slow cooker saves preparation time and cuts down on cleanup.
  • Slow cookers are useful throughout the year. Coming in from a cold winter day, the aroma of hot soup is welcoming. Slow cookers also work well for summertime use; they do not heat the kitchen the way an oven might.
  • As a result of the long, low-temperature cooking, slow cookers help tenderize less-expensive cuts of meat.
  • A slow cooker brings out the flavor in foods. A wide variety of foods can be cooked in a slow cooker, including one pot meals, soups, stews, and casseroles.
  • A slow cooker uses less electricity than an oven.

ILA proudly offers the Hamilton Beach 4 Quart Oval Slow Cooker for purchase. Information from this section came from the article The Benefits of Slow Cooker Meals.

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Amplified Telephones

If you have noticed that either yourself or a loved one has begun having trouble hearing conversation at normal level and/or difficulty with being able to hear on the telephone due to white noise there’s a chance hearing loss could be the culprit. Hearing loss does not automatically mean you need hearing aids, but it does mean that you should start looking for things to help normalize your hearing as much as possible. One possible route to investigate is purchasing and utilizing amplified telephones. This blog will look at what amplified telephones are, types of hearing-impaired phones, and questions to help determine whether you might benefit from purchasing one.  Information in this blog came from Hearing Impaired Phone and Amplified Phones.

What Are Amplified Telephones?

A hearing-impaired phone opens a world of conversation for a person with hearing loss. When a person experiences hearing loss, phone conversations become more difficult. The lack of physical interaction during a phone call compounds the hearing difficulties. One cannot read the other person’s lips or facial expressions to try to understand the conversation. When the physical and visual elements are missing, it becomes even more important to have a clear auditory experience. Fortunately, there are phones for people with hearing loss which amplify sounds to make the person on the other end audible.

Amplified phones are specifically designed for people with hearing loss, allowing you to turn up the volume as necessary to hear speech clearly. Most people who use amplified phones do not use hearing aids yet, but people with hearing aids can certainly use them, as well. Amplified phones have features that make it easier to hear high-pitched noises, which many people with hearing loss find challenging.

They have a couple of key features to make speech audible for those with hearing loss. First, amplified phones have a built-in amplifier to increase the intensity of sounds. Secondly, amplified phones offer tone control to adjust the frequency of the caller’s voice. Amplified phones have several channels to personalize your frequency settings.

Hearing impaired phones come with other helpful features to consider. For instance, a hearing-impaired phone could come with extra-large number buttons to make it easier to see and press the buttons. There are also amplified phones made with speaker phones. Speaker phones are very convenient because you do not have to hold a receiver. You could sit peacefully on your sofa as you have a hands-free conversation. The Alto Plus Big Button CID Speakerphone is an example of a phone with a built-in speakerphone, as well as, large buttons, 100 decibel ring tone, and large LCD screen.

Some phones have outgoing speech amplification. If you speak softly or low, this feature helps the person on the other line hear you better. People who have hearing loss sometimes start speaking softly. Ask for feedback from your friends or family if you think you may be speaking too softly. Some phones offer hearing aid compatibility which is important if you have or are considering wearing a hearing aid.

Types of Hearing-Impaired Phones

There are many types of hearing-impaired or amplified phones. When choosing a hearing-impaired phone, it is important to determine how much amplification is necessary for you to hear well. Some phones will amplify sounds up to 50 decibels above normal sounds. Others will amplify sounds up to 90 decibels. Those with severe hearing loss might need amplification up to the 90 decibels. Hearing impaired phones also come with ringers up to 100 decibels and some even come with visuals ringers. The Serene Innovations HD-60 Amplified Phone is an example of a corded amplified phone that fits the criteria of this type phone complete with 2 bright visual ringers on the front and side.

Once you determine how much amplification you need, you can choose the design of the phone which best suits you. There are amplified phones with cords, corded phones with expansion headsets, amplified wireless phones, and amplified Bluetooth phones. When deciding between a corded phone and a cordless phone, you must think about your needs. Do you like to walk around a lot during conversations? Do you like to have a charged phone in a stationary place? If you like both, then choose the corded phones with extra handset. A simple, not too expensive, option for a corded amplified phone with two-way speakerphone is the Amplified Corded Telephone by Future Call.

Another type of hearing-impaired phone is the captioned telephone. This is a hearing-impaired phone which combines amplification with large screens to display the words of the caller. These types of phones for hearing impaired offer people a visual way to engage in conversation. A person listens to clear, amplified sounds while also reading the text.

Questions to Determine if You might Benefit from an Amplified Phone

People with hearing loss have many resources available to make it easier to understand others and communicate properly. If you are unsure if getting an amplified phone is the best option for you, here are some considerations:

  • How often do you ask family members and friends to repeat themselves while on the phone?
  • Are you constantly turning up the volume on the radio or television?
  • Is it difficult to understand conversations in loud restaurants or crowded rooms?
  • Do you avoid talking on the phone because it is hard to hear the person on the other end of the phone?
  • Do you find yourself avoiding social situations because you are hard of hearing?
  • Is hearing more difficult in open spaces than in a closed room?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you can greatly benefit from having an amplified phone.

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November is Diabetes Awareness Month

November is American Diabetes Awareness Month. World Diabetes Day (WDD) is celebrated globally on November 14 to raise awareness about both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The date of November 14 was chosen to honor Dr. Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin back in 1921 along with Dr. Charles Best. This blog will look at defining what diabetes, how it can affect your eyes, and the best ways to control it once diagnosed.

What is Diabetes?

The information in this section is taken directly from two articles from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Article one discusses statistics of the disease and article two goes over defining what it means to have it.

Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Currently there are 34.2 million Americans (just over 1 in 10) have diabetes, and approximately 88 million (or just over a third) are prediabetic, meaning they are at a high risk of developing it.

Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.

If you have diabetes, your body either does not make enough insulin or cannot use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there is not enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Over time, that can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

There are three main types of diabetes, Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational. Many people, however, will go through a prediabetes stage first.

Prediabetes raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction (the body attacks itself by mistake) that stops your body from making insulin. Approximately 5-10% of the people who have diabetes have type 1.

In type 2 your body does not use insulin well and cannot keep blood sugar at normal levels. About 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2. It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults (but more and more in children, teens, and young adults).

Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes, your baby could be at higher risk for health problems. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born but increases your risk for type 2 diabetes later in life.

How Diabetes can Affect the Eyes

Information from this section comes from the American Diabetes Association. People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are at a heightened risk for eye complications and peripheral neuropathy. They also have a have a higher risk of blindness than people without diabetes. But most people who have diabetes have nothing more than minor eye disorders over time.

With regular checkups, you can keep minor problems minor. And, if you do develop a major problem, there are treatments that often work well if you begin them right away. The three main categories of diabetic eye issues are glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma occurs when pressure builds up in the eye. The pressure pinches the blood vessels that carry blood to the retina and optic nerve. Vision is gradually lost because the retina and nerve are damaged. There are several treatments for glaucoma. Some use drugs to reduce pressure in the eye, while others involve surgery.

Cataracts: Many people without diabetes get cataracts, but people with diabetes are more likely to develop this eye condition. People with diabetes also tend to get cataracts at a younger age and have them progress faster. With cataracts, the eye’s clear lens clouds, blocking sight. To help deal with mild cataracts, you may need to wear sunglasses more often and use glare-control lenses in your glasses. For cataracts that interfere greatly with vision, doctors usually remove the lens of the eye and replaces it with a new artificial lens. In people with diabetes, retinopathy can get worse after removal of the lens, and glaucoma may start to develop.

Retinopathy: Diabetic retinopathy is a general term for all disorders of the retina caused by diabetes. There are two major types of retinopathy: nonproliferative and proliferative.

  • Nonproliferative retinopathy: In nonproliferative retinopathy, the most common form of retinopathy, capillaries in the back of the eye balloon and form pouches. Nonproliferative retinopathy can move through three stages (mild, moderate, and severe), as more and more blood vessels become blocked.
  • Macular edema: Although retinopathy does not usually cause vision loss at this stage, the capillary walls may lose their ability to control the passage of substances between the blood and the retina. Fluid can leak into the part of the eye where focusing occurs, the macula. When the macula swells with fluid, a condition called macula edema, vision blurs and can be lost entirely. Although nonproliferative retinopathy usually does not require treatment, macular edema must be treated, but fortunately treatment is usually effective at stopping and sometimes reversing vision loss.
  • Proliferative retinopathy: In some people, retinopathy progresses after several years to a more serious form called proliferative retinopathy. In this form, the blood vessels are so damaged they close off. In response, new blood vessels start growing in the retina. These new vessels are weak and can leak blood, blocking vision. The new blood vessels can also cause scar tissue to grow. After the scar tissue shrinks, it can distort the retina or pull it out of place, a condition called retinal detachment.

Huge strides have been made in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy. Treatments such as scatter photocoagulation, focal photocoagulation, and vitrectomy prevent blindness in most people. The sooner retinopathy is diagnosed, the more likely these treatments will be successful. The best results occur when sight is still normal. (See the linked article for a more in depth look at the treatment options available)

Ways to Control Diabetes

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) provides a four step plan on the best ways to control your diabetes.  

Step 1: Learn about diabetes.  Talk to your doctor about how you can best care for your diabetes to stay healthy. Also inquire about other specialists you should be seeing such as nutritionist, eye doctor, dentist, and podiatrist. It may also be beneficial to participate in a diabetes class to learn all the ins and outs of controlling your disease.

Step 2: Know your diabetes ABC’s. A is for A1C. The A1C is a blood test that measures your average blood sugar level over the past three months. It is different from the blood sugar checks you do each day. B is for blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the wall of your blood vessels. C is for cholesterol. There are two kinds of cholesterol in your blood: LDL and HDL. LDL or “bad” cholesterol can build up and clog your blood vessels. It can cause a heart attack or stroke. HDL or “good” cholesterol helps remove the “bad” cholesterol from your blood vessels.

Step 3: Learn how to live with diabetes. Cope with your diabetes not letting stress overwhelm you. Eat well making a diabetes meal plan with the help of your health care team. Be active setting a goal to be active most days of the week. Know what to do everyday including taking your medication and checking your glucose levels. Talk to your health care team with any questions or concerns.

Step 4: Get routine care to stay healthy. See your health care team at least twice a year to find and treat any problems early.

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