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The holidays can bring enormous joy–after all, most of us get some time off work, there’s great conversation with loved ones, and you get to stuff your piehole with plenty of edible treats. Somewhere between the turkey and the drive home, though, letdown–that horrible, disappointment-laden feeling that the best is over–can creep in. To keep your productivity and health up, you have to wage war on this negative mindset.
Why you feel so yucky, according to science and psychology
Beating holiday letdown means understanding that the holidays are very similar to other goals you might have in your life. Your brain anticipates them, associating them with all kinds of positive rewards. And as your anticipation grows, your body releases chemicals like dopamine that help you feel happy. But once the holiday you’ve looked forward to is over and done, you’re not anticipating anymore, and the chemical reward systems in the brain put on the brakes. You lose your buzz.
On top of this sequence, psychologically, we can get a sense that our connections are breaking, simply because we have to distance ourselves from loved ones again for a while. That feeling can connect to all kinds of deep fears of not having anyone to comfort and protect us. And even the basic understanding that we’re leaving something that feels better can awaken a powerful sense of injustice in us. We can feel sad at the world for daring to drive us back to routine and hard effort and creative or recreational confinement.
5 ways to perk yourself up
1. Schedule in lots of small events you like. Each of these give you something else to look forward to, engaging the brain’s reward system. Staying busy also gives you less time to ruminate on the loss or disappointment the post-holiday season can usher in.
2. Do something new. Novelty is like candy to the brain, getting dopamine flowing. This is the perfect time to find a hobby, take a few extra vacation days to a place you’ve never been, or even just take a different route home.
3. Schedule in some conversation. Part of the reason we can feel like connections are precarious after the holidays is that we tend to let interactions with loved ones we’ve just visited drop off a cliff. (After all, responsibilities, right?) Instead of parting ways with cookie-cutter comments about how everyone should write or call or video chat, set up appointments! Know for sure that there’s a commitment, that you have a “when”. Anticipating these conversations engages your reward mechanisms, too!
4. Keep the buffet going. This isn’t an excuse to expand your waistline and slip into another turkey coma. But because our senses are so interconnected, exposure to your favorite tastes and smells can help you retrieve happy memories you associate with the foods. In fact, this is a huge reason why Thanksgiving and Christmas are such emotionally charged holidays. Think outside the usual holiday fare and make some other dish that’s been handed down. If you make sure that the recipes have a healthy base, the nutrients and vitamins can make it easier to maintain mood stability, as well.
5. Volunteer. People need help year round, but the holidays can be especially painful for those going through trauma, financial trouble or other problems. They need to feel connected as much as you do. Get out into the community wherever you can and do some good for others, whether that’s at the local soup kitchen, your kid’s school or offering to snowblow your neighbor’s driveway. As you work for others, you’ll reaffirm your sense of purpose.
Post-holiday blahs are normal, but they’re totally controllable. Let these tactics be a bridge to the next season, and then tackle your new year like the lion(ess) you are.
High-speed cameras, commonly known as slow motion cameras, imbue milliseconds with the weight they’re so rarely granted. A balloon pops, with the water inside it still holding its shape; a bullet shot underwater leaves an attenuated cone of air in its wake. Daniel Gruchy and Gavin Free, known on YouTube as The Slow Mo Guys, have captured these moments and more than 150 others in painstakingly slow detail. (In one personal favorite, the duo recorded the fracture pattern in glass that was heated and then rapidly cooled. At 343,000 frames per second, five seconds of IRL action resulted in 19 hours of footage.)
“Everything looks cooler in slow mo,” says Free, who aside from his involvement in multiple RoosterTeeth productions also works as a slow-motion cinematographer on big-budget features (Dredd, Snow White and the Huntsman).
Since November 2010, the Slow Mo Guys channel has amassed millions of subscribers and nearly 1.5 billion views—which is a lot of frames, feats, and stories to share. In this Tech Support, the guys answer viewers questions about where they get all of the food they blow up, and which stunts were the messiest, the hardest and the most painful (like having a soccer ball thrown against your face). Gruchy shares that he’s tried much of that exploded food, and Free reveals his sound design technique for filling lapses in sound during the videos.
Watch the video to learn more. Don’t worry, it plays at regular speed.
More Great WIRED Stories
When Elon Musk was a kid, he had so much trouble managing his time, that his younger brother Kimbal would lie to him about the bus schedule. Elon would show up a few minutes after the supposed arrival—and have just enough time to hop aboard. A few decades on, the whole world knows about Elon’s habit of blowing deadlines. And he admits it can be a problem.
“This is something I’m trying to get better at,” he said from the stage of Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum on Tuesday afternoon, at Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting. “I’m trying to recalibrate these estimates.”
A few days after a Twitter rage fest aimed at the media, a month after refusing to answer questions about Tesla’s financial state during an investors’ call, and two months after getting in a public spat with the feds investigating a deadly crash in one of his cars, Musk’s attitude when he appeared before his fellow shareholders was conciliatory. He even seemed emotional at times. “We build our cares with love,” he said, with a slight quaver in his voice. And he noted how brutal the auto industry can be, especially to newcomers. “It’s insanely hard just staying alive.”
For an hour and a half, Musk patiently fielded questions on just about every part of Tesla’s sprawling business. He said the Model 3 production rate will hit the long-promised 5,000 cars a week rate later this month, predicted an enormous increase in battery production, announced upgrades to the Autopilot semi-autonomous system, and even appeased PETA. If you missed the meeting, here are the key takeaways.
Elon Retains the Reins
The official business of the meeting included voting on the reelection of venture capitalist Antonio Gracias, Elon’s bus-catching brother Kimbal, and 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch to Tesla’s board of directors. (Only a third of the nine board members come up for election at a time—it’s like the US Senate that way.) Last month, activist investor the CtW Group urged Tesla shareholders to replace the trio with people who had automotive and manufacturing expertise. Another investor, Jing Zhao, filed a proposal to strip Musk of his position as Tesla’s chairman, which he has held since 2004 (he took the CEO job in 2008). But the shareholders stuck with Musk, reelecting the board members and nixing the leadership change by an overwhelming majority. (Tesla will file the exact vote count with the SEC in the next few days.)
The loss didn’t surprise CtW executive director Dieter Waizenegger, who argues control of Tesla is too concentrated in people tied to Musk. “This opinion is shared by a significant number of shareholders of Tesla,” he says. “We expect the final vote tally to reveal that.” Even if he’s right, Musk remains fully in charge.
More Model 3
Musk’s acknowledgement of his timeline trouble didn’t stop him from announcing that, by the end of the month, Tesla will be building 5,000 Model 3 sedans every week, which should be enough to start turning a profit on the car. The uptick is thanks to Tesla’s rebalancing of the workload between humans and robots in its factory in Fremont, California, where the company is adding a third Model 3 production line. It is also planning to open a factory in China, to go with its plants in Fremont and the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, Tesla is gradually expanding options for Model 3 owners, who so far have been limited to the version with an upgraded battery and premium interior, which starts at $ 56,000. By the end of this year, Musk hopes to start production of the version closer to the car’s $ 35,000 base price, with the smaller battery pack. Also coming soon: right hand drive.
Even as it struggles to build the Model 3, Tesla is planning on three new vehicles: the Semi truck, the revived Roadster, and the still mysterious Model Y. Musk told shareholders he’s hoping to start production of all three in the first half of 2020, though he has yet to specify where he’ll do that, or how. He’ll unveil the Model Y in March (it will be “something super special”), and expects the truck and the sports car to deliver better specs than the already very impressive numbers he announced last fall. Oh, and he’ll never build an electric motorcycle.
Without getting into details, Musk said Tesla is making steady progress to improve its Autopilot feature, and is now working on adding the ability to change lanes and handle highway on- and off-ramps (Musk noted he was testing new software around 1 am this morning). For drivers who aren’t sure they want to spend $ 5,000 on the feature, Tesla will soon start offering free trials. Musk also reaffirmed his distaste for lidar, the laser shooting sensor most autonomous vehicle developers say is key to building a safe, capable robo-car.
Tesla now runs nearly 10,000 Supercharger stations around the world, the stations where its drivers (and no one else) can plug in and charge a depleted battery to about 80 percent in 30 minutes. And Musk is working to keep improving charge times, saying a three- or four-fold improvement is possible. (That’s only true for relatively new cars, he added, disappointing the 2012 Model S owner who asked him about it.)
Unlike many automakers, Tesla has been offering leather-free versions of its cars for years, appealing to its vegan and vegetarian fans. But it’s still using some leather in its steering wheels, and a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) rep took the mic to press Musk on it. He explained Tesla can make leather-free steering wheels, but the work has to be done it its design studio, making it something of a pain. But he promised it’ll be easier once the Model Y comes around. Now he’s just gotta hit that 2020 goal.
More Great WIRED Stories
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
They say you should get out ahead of a bad story.
Present your version before the story hits, so that people can have good feelings about you before aspersions are cast.
I wonder, therefore, what Allegiant Air might do this weekend.
I wrote about this airline a couple of years ago, after it had been accused of having planes that break down four times more often than those of other airlines.
In mid-air, that is.
Of the airline’s 86 planes, it was said that 42 of them had broken down in mid-air the previous year.
The airline fought back and claimed that the accusations were “incendiary.” Indeed, its stock went up 24 percent soon after the original Tampa Bay Times article was published.
Now, though, Allegiant might have a bigger PR problem.
On Sunday, it’ll be featured in a 60 Minutes segment, one that CBS teases will be twice the usual length.
Here’s the teaser.
Just those 48 seconds suggest that Allegiant should brace for something of calm, considered skewering.
I asked the budget airline what it thought of the upcoming exposé. A spokeswoman told me Allegiant would wait until the segment airs before offering a rebuttal.
One of the main issues with Allegiant’s record of breakdowns is that it flies old planes. Very old planes, some 22 years of age.
Recently, though, it has begun to replace these planes with Airbuses. Indeed, last May was the first time that Allegiant enjoyed the experience of fitting out a new(ish) plane.
The question, then, is how much Sunday’s 60 Minutes piece will reflect the whole current scenario.
The problem for the airline’s PR department, though, is that Allegiant will surely come out looking not so good on one of the most respected news programs in America, one that’s watched by 12 million people.
It’s inevitable, then, that it will instantly be associated with the sort of bad reputation that plagued United Airlines over the last year.
Worse, perhaps, is the idea that instead of a brutal lack of customer sensitivity — as in the United case — Allegiant might be tarred with the notion that it’s simply an unsafe airline.
On Friday, the airline’s stock began to drop. What might happen to it on Monday?
(Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) was reported to be making 2,000 of its Model 3 sedans per week, enough to ease stock market nerves around billionaire Elon Musk’s electric carmaker on Monday after a week dominated by news of a crash involving its semi-autonomous autopilot.
Musk told employees in a company-wide email on Monday that Tesla had just passed the 2,000 per week rate, according to auto website Jalopnik.
That was short of its 2,500 per week target but a big increase on the 793 Model 3s that the company built in the final week of last year. It produced 2,425 of the cars in the whole fourth quarter. [nL4N1OY42A
Tesla shares recovered from an 8 percent loss before the Jalopnik report filtered into markets to trade down 3.5 percent on the day. bit.ly/2uFdEBr
The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Jalopnik also quoted Musk in the email to employees as saying: “If things go as planned today, we will comfortably exceed that number over a seven day period!”
Reporting by Sonam Rai in Bengaluru, Editing by Peter Henderson and Patrick Graham
(Reuters) – Rocket company SpaceX’s verified Facebook page disappeared on Friday, minutes after its founder and Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk promised on Twitter to take down the page when challenged by a user.
SpaceX’s Facebook page, which had more than 2.7 million followers, is no longer accessible. (bit.ly/2G8BGWo)
Musk had begun the exchange by responding to a tweet from WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton of the #deletefacebook tag.
“What’s Facebook?” Musk tweeted.
Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru
HINDHEAD, England (Reuters) – For 93-year-old Daphne Padfield, a dementia sufferer in an English care home, the arrival of a virtual reality (VR) headset offered a window back to the day in 1953 when Britain crowned its new queen.
“Those things don’t happen too often, so we were very privileged that day,” said Padfield, casting her mind back to the coronation.
The VR film she watched is the work of a project called The Wayback, designed to trigger memories and emotions in people with dementia and help them re-engage with relatives and carers.
The first film in a planned series saw filmmakers and a 170-strong volunteer cast recreate a street party held to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s coronation on June 2, 1953.
Users can view the film by downloading a free app onto their smartphone, which they then insert into an inexpensive virtual reality headset.
“It was born of frustration, really. I wished there’d been something around at that time that would have helped me and my family through a difficult period,” said co-creator Andy Garnett, who lost a family member who suffered from dementia.
“Using VR just seemed like a really interesting way to perhaps create a memory …and spark a bigger conversation.”
Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by strokes or diseases such as Alzheimer‘s. People with dementia can suffer from memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language.
There are over 850,000 people living with some form of dementia in Britain, with that number estimated to rise to one million by 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Society, a charity.
At Langham Court Dementia Home in Surrey, The Wayback has been introduced for relatives and carers to use with some residents.
Sarah Chapman, a director at the home, told Reuters that the film evoked detailed recollections in those who viewed it. “It was just amazing to see them so happy,” she said.
A senior researcher at a British dementia charity welcomed VR technology as a means of helping suffers, but cautioned the technology needed to be used with care.
“For instance, some people with dementia experience what are called misperceptions,” Dr Karen Harrison-Dening, head of research and publications at Dementia UK, told Reuters via email.
“…This can lead to confusion over which images are ‘real’ or not, and may prove unsettling for the person.”
The filmmakers are planning their next work around England’s 1966 soccer World Cup victory celebrations, and also hope to expand the project to other countries.
Reporting and writing by Matthew Stock and Mark Hanrahan; Editing by Tom Balmforth
By Bob Ciura
Apple, Inc. (AAPL) stock whipsawed after the company posted quarterly earnings. After initially dropping 2%, shares turned up 3.5% in after-hours trading, only to give up the gains and decline nearly 3% on Friday, February 2nd.
Indeed, there is reason for the market’s mixed reaction. On one hand, Apple sold fewer phones than it did a year ago. And, after a massive 32% rally in the past one year, the stock is trading well above its average valuation.
On the other hand, Apple is still generating strong growth rates. Average iPhone selling prices continue to rise, and the services business is booming. Apple also has appeal for dividend growth investors. Since Apple re-instituted its dividend in 2012, it has increased its dividend by 10% each year. Apple is one of 331 stocks in the technology sector that pays a dividend. You can see all 331 dividend-paying tech stocks here.
There seem to be good reasons for both the bullish and bearish case for Apple. This article will discuss why the tug-of-war could continue.
For the fiscal 2018 first quarter ended December 30th, Apple had earnings-per-share of $ 3.89, on revenue of $ 88.3 billion. Earnings-per-share beat analyst forecasts by $ 0.04. Revenue increased 12.7% from the same quarter a year ago, and beat expectations by $ 670 million. Apple sold 77.3 million iPhones in the quarter, which was down from 78.3 million in the same quarter last year. Apple was expected to report 80 million iPhones sold.
At the same time, average iPhone selling price increased over $ 100, from $ 695 last year to $ 796 in the most recent quarter. Analysts were forecasting an average iPhone selling price of $ 737. This could be the reason why Apple stock jumped over 3%, after initially selling off. While Apple sold fewer phones overall, the bigger-than-expected increase in average selling price indicates a more favorable shift to higher-priced models. Stronger demand for upper-end iPhones, such as the iPhone X, would be a very good sign.
Once again, Apple’s cash mountain continued to grow. Cash, marketable securities, and long-term investments hit $ 285.1 billion, which represents an all-time high. Cash and investments totaled $ 268.9 billion in the same quarter last year. Apple’s current cash pile amounts to 33% of its market capitalization. This is a huge amount of cash, which Apple can use to reward shareholders with cash returns, and invest for future growth.
Overall, Apple had a good quarter. Revenue and earnings-per-share increased 13% and 16%, respectively. Both measures hit all-time records, and going forward, there is plenty of room for growth to continue. Apple continues to be hugely popular; its active installed base of devices reached 1.3 billion in January, a 30% increase in the past two years.
Earnings growth of 10%+ each year is within reach for Apple. Consumers love their Apple devices, and are willing to pay a premium for them. Apple is the most valuable brand in the world, and as a result, the company holds tremendous pricing power. Since the iPhone business is Apple’s most important by far, the ability to sell higher-priced iPhones is crucial to future earnings growth.
Another catalyst for Apple is its booming services business, which includes iTunes, the App Store, Apple Pay, and more. Services revenue is now a $ 30 billion-a-year business for Apple. In the most recent quarter, services revenue increased 18%, the highest-growth product aside from the “other” category. Services are now Apple’s second-largest segment, behind the iPhone.
Valuation & Expected Returns
Apple is a very high-quality business, with continued room for growth. But even after its strong quarter, the stock fell over 2% after earnings. After a huge gain last year, Apple seems to be taking a breather, which is confusing since the company is still generating strong growth. One reason for the market’s cautious tone toward Apple, could be the valuation of the stock, which has expanded significantly in recent years.
Apple had earnings-per-share of $ 9.73 in the past four quarters. As a result, the stock has a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.8. At first glance, Apple does not seem to be undervalued, relative to the broader market index. The S&P 500 trades for an average price-to-earnings ratio of 26.3.
But in a different context, it is reasonable why investors might be reluctant to bid the stock up even further. In terms of its own historical average, Apple’s valuation is at a multi-year high. Apple has not traded for a price-to-earnings ratio above 18 since 2009. According to ValueLine, over the past five years, Apple has held an average price-to-earnings ratio of just 13.1.
Apple currently trades at a 35% premium to its average price-to-earnings ratio of the past five years. A reversion to the mean would negatively impact the stock. For example, if Apple reverted back to a price-to-earnings ratio of 15-16, the stock would decline approximately 10% to 15%.
To be sure, Apple will generate positive returns, from earnings growth and dividends. In the past 5 years, Apple has increased earnings at a 10% average rate, each year. A potential breakdown of future returns is below:
- 6%-8% sales growth
- 3% share repurchases
- 1.5% dividend yield
The combination of earnings growth and dividends could yield annual returns of 10%-13% each year. But even in this scenario, total returns could still be mediocre, if the valuation multiple declines. For example, if Apple’s price-to-earnings ratio declines to 15 over the next three years, contraction of the valuation multiple would reduce annual returns by 5% per year. In that case, total annual returns would be in the 5%-8% range over that time.
Apple is a fantastic business, and the company is growing revenue and earnings at impressive rates. The only significant risk for the stock moving forward, could be the valuation. While Apple is not overvalued relative to the S&P 500, it does trade at a much higher valuation than it has over the past five years. If the stock were to return to its average valuation, it could be a headwind for the stock.
Investors looking for superior returns should consider high-quality dividend growth stocks, such as the Dividend Aristocrats, which have increased their dividends for 25+ consecutive years. The Dividend Aristocrats have outperformed the S&P 500 Index in the past 10 years. Apple is not yet a Dividend Aristocrat, but there are many other high-quality Dividend Aristocrats, with lower valuations and higher dividend yields. Find them with our service Undervalued Aristocrats provides actionable buy and sell recommendations on some of the most undervalued dividend growth stocks around. Click here to learn more.
Disclosure: I am/we are long AAPL.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
LuLaRoe is no stranger to controversy. But the multilevel marketing women’s clothing company has really stepped in it after a battle with the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) over a shocking video that mocked the disabled. Attempts to spin the controversy are challenging at best.
The company faced significant bad press during 2017, whether for changing return policies to the detriment of independent sales agents, trying to force a critical blogger to divulge sources, or reportedly using an artist’s designs without payment or permission.
A lawsuit last October alleged that the business structure was an illegal pyramid scheme. And founders and owners Mark and DeAnne Stidham have been accused of blaming the independent salespeople for problems that might have been the company’s.
This latest tussle is particularly ugly. For some time, LuLaRoe has been an official supporter of NDSS as DeAnne Stidham, who had a grandchild with the condition. Even that has some questions tied to it, as one promotion that tied a $ 1 donation for sales of two different special items would be more than offset by increased costs to the salespeople.
The latest situation came about when an independent sales agent mocked people with special needs, as reported by KXTV television, in a video posted to YouTube. The specific remark starts at about 55 seconds in.
NDSS posted on Facebook about the incident. The organization had received an apology, but apparently told LuLaRoe that it would not maintain relationships with the company unless the seller was terminated, which did not happen. Here is what NDSS posted on Friday evening:
Within the last 24 hours, it has come to the attention of the National Down Syndrome Society that an online video by a LuLaRoe independent retailer, which mocks a person with a disability, was posted on YouTube. This video is unacceptable and further perpetuates the stigmas we work to fight and end each and every day at NDSS.
While we appreciate the apology from this individual and the previous support from LuLaRoe, we must uphold our mission statement, and end our partnership and any further programming with LuLaRoe immediately.
We are deeply saddened and disappointed to announce our decision to end our relationship with the National Down Syndrome Society. Our company and the Independent Fashion Retailers have embraced the NDSS and its important work, and have enthusiastically supported the organization’s efforts over the past year.
Regrettably, a LuLaRoe Independent Fashion Retailer exhibited unacceptable and insensitive behavior during a live sale, which understandably offended viewers as well as everyone at LuLaRoe. His bad judgment in no way represents the beliefs and character of LuLaRoe or Independent Fashion Retailers.
Immediately after his sale, the Retailer posted an apology. He also reached out to NDSS and said he and his wife have agreed to use the incident as a learning experience and expressed his intention to focus his business on support for the organization and its cause.
After speaking with the Retailer at great length, we believe his apology is sincere and accepted his assurance that this type of behavior would never happen again. We are also using this unfortunate incident as an opportunity to redouble our sensitivity and tolerance training efforts and policies for Independent Fashion Retailers.
Unfortunately, NDSS leadership is unwilling to accept the Retailer’s apology and has informed us that unless we terminate his contract with LuLaRoe, the organization will no longer associate with us. We do not believe the most productive response to his actions, which he has fully apologized for, is to close his business and threaten his ability to provide for his family.
Trying to decide who is “right” can be difficult. LuLaRoe claims that an apology that it thought was sincere should have been enough. At the same time, it would seem that NDSS would be the party to decide whether the apology was adequate, as its cause was the one injured and it has doubtlessly faced analogous situations over the years. Words of contrition in uncomfortable cases often are the result of people trying to avoid the consequences of their actions. Would NDSS essentially support the idea that everyone had one free pass to mock people with Down Syndrome? At a time when there seems to be zero tolerance for sexual harassment, why wouldn’t other concerns receive the same degree of respect?
Aside from those considerations, however, LuLaRoe handled the situation badly in three ways. When you employ independent people as agents of your company, you have tied yourself to them and their actions. By decided that “education” had already been achieved, LuLaRoe effectively handed itself a pass on the issue.
Not only did LuLaRoe forgive itself, it compounded that action by blaming NDSS through its choice of words. By saying, “Unfortunately, NDSS leadership is unwilling to accept the Retailer’s apology,” the company shifted responsibility to the organization by implying that NDSS was unreasonable in its approach.
Finally, the company’s navigation of cause marketing is problematic. To partner with an organization and gain some marketing advantage requires the following:
- Your company’s values or interests should have an organic connection to the cause.
- You need to understand the requirements and implications of partnering with an organization.
- To be sincere, you then have to not only support the organization and cause, but meet the requirements going forward.
LuLaRoe should have identified any difference in philosophy with the organization before pledging support, no matter how much its founders believed in the cause. Had it done so, it would have known in advance the necessary course of action should a conflict arise and then known whether or not it could live with the conditions.
The seller in question may have been sincere in having learned a lesson, but NDSS had its own need to see that disrespect carried a penalty beyond momentary embarrassment. Ultimately, it is LuLaRoe’s fault for not having asked the right questions and then deciding that the organization should change its philosophy to accommodate the company’s.