Archives October 2015

If the Tesla Model X Is Such a Great Car, Why Are Tesla Shares Down?

This is what passes for criticism in the tech journalism world of 2015: “Elon Musk is a genius. He’s a business icon. He’s a massive force for good on our planet, and he’s one of the most impressive people of this century, having founded PayPal, SpaceX, SolarCity, and, of course, played a leading role in building Tesla, perhaps the most innovative car company on the planet.”

That’s Venture Beat’s John Koetsier complaining that Musk’s grand unveiling of the Tesla Model X just wasn’t amazing enough. He continues, concluding that “Tesla will go on. The Model X will sell well. And Elon Musk will continue to be an outrageously successful individual. But it could have been much better.”

And over on Fast Company, Neal Ungerleider claims the Model X represents the mainstreaming of the electric car, despite its $130,000 price tag. While the Silicon Valley fan club that is tech and venture capitalism journalism seemed reluctant to admit that Musk is a mere mortal, you can find the true skeptics on Wall Street. Not everyone is actually convinced the Model X is going to sell. Despite nearly universal praise for the Model X, which is by all accounts a truly impressive specimen, shares for Tesla are dropping so far this week.

Far from going mainstream, the Model X is just too expensive. Not only that, but most Americans would struggle to find accessible charging stations on the road. While there remains a niche for hybrids and all-electric vehicles, the $130,000 Model X is a tough sell. Hybrid cars are 20-35% more fuel efficient than traditional vehicles, and produce about 20-35% less emissions as a result. However, while total U.S. sales of hybrid cars have been flat in recent years, electric vehicle sales are modestly increasing.

Despite small gains in the market for EVs, analysts say the newly released Model X and its “falcon doors” are unlikely to appear in many driveways. This week, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas — another noted fan of Tesla and Musk — revised forecasts for Tesla sales downward. Jonas issued sharply lower projections for Tesla’s sales through 2018, and Wall Street reacted accordingly.

For now, the mainstreaming of electric cars appears to be on hold.

Cool Weather Great for Hunting

Fall is the best time of year for those who love to hunt or fish. With more than 38 million Americans enjoying fishing and hunting, it is a wonderful time of year for many.

Now that the U.S. is about a month into bow hunting season for deer, hunting is picking up. According to Don Roscovius, who is the owner of the small shop Rosco’s Live Bait in Tomah, WI, he hasn’t seen many deer, but knows that many are hunting this season.

With a new electronic registration system, Roscovius says he likely won’t see many of the deer hunted, as he just helps people figure out how to use the system. The sale of hunting licenses tells him there is an increase in hunters this year, though.

“License sales have been steady, and more people seem to be getting out there now,” Roscovius told The Tomah Journal.

So far, Roscovius says he has only had to register one deer at his shop: a 10-point buck. The increase in hunters can be attributed to a youth hunt that took place in the area recently. The cold weather, though, is also a contributing factor.

“Turkeys have been pretty good; I’ve gotten seven so far,” he said. “In the fall they just bunch up, so you just have to get ahead of them and wait for them to get to you to ambush them.”

The conservation warden for the Department of Natural Resources, Matt Modjeski, says that duck and goose hunting has also had a great season so far.

“The hunters were having some pretty good success with mallards, blue wing teal, green wing teal that were harvested,” he said. “We also saw wood ducks and a ring neck duck were harvested. Also there were geese all over the area.”

He also added that the season has been a safe one so far, with very few citations issued. One of the only citations thus far was for a man shooting Canada geese without a permit. Another was issued to a man who shot swans.

“Swans are protected and you can’t shoot at them, so enforcement action was taken,” he said.

While bear hunting is still open, it is slowing down, Modjeski said, and fishing has significantly slowed down.

“The water temperature is starting to cool, and fishing tends to turn off locally,” he said. “I have not talked to wardens on the Mississippi River or the Wisconsin River, but usually closer to the end of October into early November walleye can get pretty good out there.”

Roscovius echoed that statement, saying that bluegills and bass have slowed; however, northern fishing has been picking up.

First Rare Liquor Lottery to be Held in Pennsylvania Next Week

Most people play the lottery to win vast amounts of money they’d otherwise have a very low probability of acquiring on their own. But some people in Pennsylvania also play it to acquire rare liquor they might not otherwise be able to.

At least that’s what the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) has decided they’re going to do starting next week, according to the consumer advocacy site

“In recent years, certain products have become very popular among aficionados, enthusiasts and collectors,” said Tim Holden, PLCB chairman, in a statement. “When sold through our traditional online store in the past, the extraordinary demand for these products, which are often sold at prices far below what consumers find in other states, often led to products selling out within only a few minutes.”

The situation Holden is referring to occurred last year when the PLCB implemented a first-come first-serve policy for a shipment of rare Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. There was so much traffic it crashed the website set up to sell it through.

In Pennsylvania, the state’s LCB controls all liquor stores owned and operated in the state, making it necessary for everyone to go through them to purchase alcohol.

In-state competition is not the only factor for rare-liquor hopefuls either, according to the local NBC affiliate

“One of the concerns we’ve heard most from Pennsylvania residents and licensees is how folks from other states are able to buy up what vendors allocate to the commonwealth,” said Dale Hurst, PLCB director of marketing and merchandising.

The first lottery will be held on October 13 where 24 bottles of Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection bourbon will be in essence raffled off. In total, 75% of products will be available to the public with 25% set aside specifically for bars and restaurants — as opposed to traditional lotteries, where 25% of jackpots are withheld by the government.

“In order to ensure that all consumers interested in a particular high-demand product have a fair chance to purchase the product, we have developed a lottery system for our most limited products,” Holden said.

Philips U.S. Subsidiary Agrees to $900M Pension Risk Transfer with UK and US-based Insurers

The U.S. subsidiary of one of the world’s biggest technology giants, Philips, agreed last week to a $900 million deal with two insurers. Those insurance companies include U.K.-based Legal and General (L&G) and U.S.-based Prudential, according to the industry news source

The agreement is what’s known as a pension risk transfer, as Philips will transfer the $900 million they owe in retirement obligations and annuity payments to 14,000 former employees in an even 50/50 split between the insurers.

Nigel Wilson, chief executive of L&G believes the agreement, which is the company’s first of such in the U.S. market, will open up many more opportunities for them. He expressed this in a press release LandG released to

“We are very pleased to have signed an agreement with Philips for our first U.S. pension group annuity contract,” Wilson said. “The U.S. is a key market for Legal and General. We have a successful U.S. life assurance business, are rapidly growing our investment management business, and have now entered the U.S. pension risk transfer market. We are a leader in these markets in the U.K., and plan to be a major participant in them in the US.”

Annuity payments are common in corporate retirement accounts for many reasons, not the least of which is their flexibility. Payments generally have several options, including payments over a designated time span, like 10 or 20 years, or for as long as the person happens to live.

Another portion of the agreement concerns employees who had not yet retired by May 2015. American United Life Insurance Company, a OneAmerica entity, will provide their annuities bringing the grand monetary total to approximately $1.1 billion and covering 17,000 people.

According to the company’s press release, Legal and General currently controls over $68 billion worth of annuity payments to over a million annuitants.

Landscaping Thieves Located By GPS in Stolen Truck

If you’re one of the 878,969 people employed by the U.S. landscaping industry, take note to keep a close eye on your equipment, lest you run into thieves like these from Sarasota, FL.

According to a recent report from Fox 13 in Miami, a Sarasota landscaping company had to recover thousands of dollars in equipment that was stolen last week, along with a truck from the lot, which was used to take and transport all the stolen equipment.

Around 7:00 p.m. last Sunday, the thieves cut through the chain-link fence that surrounded ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance and Design and began their spree.

They tried entering the vehicles parked in the lot, but when they discovered that they were locked, the thieves used an axe to smash through the cinderblock wall of the business.

They then disabled the phone lines, as well as the alarm, and stole up to $80,500 worth of equipment — a total of nearly 50 pieces.

Account Manager Jeremy Lepper said that “rooms that are usually full of equipment were empty. Mowers, edgers, blowers, weed eaters and trimmers had been stolen.” Lepper decided to check the GPS unit that was inside the truck that was stolen, and it led them to where the thieves had parked it in Miami Gardens.

“We had the truck located, and we were able to tell that the truck had been moved and stopped at a location in Miami,” Lepper explained.

After the Miami authorities matched the serial numbers to the missing mowers, they arrested Rauniel Quintero, 32, and charged him with dealing in stolen property. The stolen mowers were then returned to ArtisTree’s premises, and further arrests are being investigated.

Without the help of the GPS system, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office would never have been able to track down the stolen equipment or the suspect, which Lepper said was “invaluable.”

Michigan Factory Worker and Grandmother Strikes it Lucky With $310.5M Powerball Winnings

Winner with stars on white background - High quality 3D RenderIt’s never too late to strike it lucky; one woman from Michigan learned this after winning the $310.5 million Powerball jackpot. After she won, the grandmother and long-time factory worker quit her job and has taken her husband and adult children on an indefinite work exodus.

According to the NY Daily News, Julie Leach, 59, took home a lump-sum payment of $197.4 million— losing around $140 million to taxes. But when she claimed her prize at the Michigan Lottery Headquarters on Tuesday, the lottery winner didn’t seem fussed.

In her winnings photo, Leach is seen clad in her Tuesday’s best, smiling triumphantly as she holds the larger-than-life winnings check above her as if it were a sports trophy.

Since winning, Leach, along with her partner Vaugh Avery and their children, made the decision to leave their jobs. She plans to buy land and build homes for her entirely family.

“I’m going to take care of my kids,” Leach said. “I don’t want them to work like I had to work and deal with the kinds of things I had to deal with over life. I just want to make it a good life for them, take care of them.”

Typically, sweepstakes are games of chance, purchased in the form of lottery tickets and deduced by drawings. For the Powerball, Leach took a chance on the way to work one Wednesday and picked up tickets on the recommendation of Avery, who works in the factory with her.

In total, the Powerball tickets Leach purchased totaled to $20, along with a cup of coffee from the Three Rivers Shell gas station.

Early the next day, Julie Leach found out she won after checking her number in the drive-thru of a McDonald’s. She had just taken her lunch break, and after a long night shift at the factory, the win couldn’t come as any more welcome of a surprise.

Leach worked at the fiberglass factory for a total of 23 years, and described the conditions there as deplorable. She dubbed her role at the factory as “one of the dirtiest, nastiest, jobs in there.”

Everything You Know About Standing Desks Is A Lie!

Office deskOr, at least, that’s the claim made by new critics of the standing desk trend. The backlash against the standing desk movement seems to come from two primary sources: annoyed coworkers and health experts. A growing body of standing desk truthers argue that too much standing is just as unhealthy as too much sitting.

As more American workers spent more time sitting in front of the computer and being sedentary, doctors began to warn that sitting can lead to negative side effects. That led to a rash of articles warning about the dangers of our cubicle-bound lifestyle, and a number of companies touting the health benefits of their standing desks. In 2012, U.S. News and World Report ominously asked “Are You Sitting Yourself to Death?”

In one study, researchers did find that adults who sat for eight hours a day had a 15% greater risk of early death. Those who sat for 11 hours a day had a 40% greater risk. Excessive sitting can also lead to lower back pain, one reason that doctors say 80% of the U.S. population will experience back problems in their life. Not only that, but 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 64 suffer from lower back pain already.

But, in what’s become a rather predictable cycle in the online content industry, a backlash has begun against standing desks. In September, the New York Times published an article titled, “How To Use a Standing Desk Without Annoying Your Co-Workers.” The Wall Street Journal released a report chronicling dubious claims about standing desks, while The Week published a tirade against those Standing Desk People called “Down with standing desks!”

Finally, in a sign that a meme has reached its peak, Good Morning America covered the issue, with a report called “Debunking Fitness Myths: Standing Desks.”

In reality, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Standing at your desk all day is just as unhealthy as sitting all day. However, proper posture, stretching, and periods of standing or walking can help decrease the potential risks. As always, without a healthy diet and exercise, it doesn’t matter whether you stand or sit.