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Why Your Retail Experience Just Changed Forever — Amazon Swallows Whole Foods

The Whole Foods Market in Midtown New York. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Last Friday, Amazon.com AMZN +0.93% sent another shock wave rippling through all retailers. The e-commerce giant announced the intention to purchase health foods grocer Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Share prices for Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Costco all tumbled. The New York Times described Amazon as the “new breed of Silicon Valley conglomerates.”

The size of the deal is atypical. Since listing its stock publicly in 1997, Amazon has acquired nearly 80 other companies, including movie-and-TV information provider IMDB, the video game streaming site Twitch, and the audiobook service Audible, among others. In all earlier acquisitions, Amazon has eschewed big takeovers. The biggest deal thus far has been the 2009 purchase of online shoe retailer Zappos.com, for roughly $1.2 billion — dwarfed significantly by the Whole Foods announcement.

Stranger still was the market reaction. Economists and financial analysts routinely conduct “event studies,” examining how markets react to firm announcement, whether the market views the investment announced by a company as value-enhancing or value-destroying.

To successfully acquire a target company, bidders often resort to paying an acquisition premium, that is, the difference between the estimated real value of the target and the actual price paid to obtain it. Amazon’s offer represents a 27% premium to Whole Foods’ closing price on Thursday. Similarly, when Microsoft MSFT +0.51% acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, it represented a 50% premium. Last year, when AT&T T -1.32% announced their acquisition of Time Warner, it also paid a 35% premium.

In the short-term, therefore, the target tends to win, while the bidder loses. For example, as expected, LinkedIn’s stock rose 47% to $192.21 while Microsoft’s stock fell 2.6% to $50.14 immediately following Microsoft’s announcement. Between October 19 and October 26, 2016, AT&T’s market capitalization shrank by nearly $20 billion, while Time Warner’s surged by $8 billion. Traditionally, that is exactly what happens after a takeover is announced. Except, that is, when you are Amazon.

On Friday, Amazon’s shares jumped by 2.4%, adding another $11 billion to its market valuation, thus making the whole acquisition nearly free. Whole Foods’ stock, meanwhile, soared by 29% to $42.68 a share, the highest level since May 2015. Then on Monday, it closed even higher, at $43.22 a share.

So exactly what is so special about Whole Foods — which has been struggling with a long slump in sales and a recent reshuffling of its top management — that could take Amazon to new heights? Why are investors warm to what CNBC’s Jim Cramer has called “the most disruptive deal in ages?”

Not All Acquisitions Are Alike

In 2001, Harvard Business School’s Joseph Bower wrote an influential piece in the Harvard Business Review where he described how managers often mistakenly lump all mergers and acquisitions (M&A) together, which in fact, represents very different strategic activities, each presenting differing challenges. Mixing them only makes it harder for an M&A to pull off. That explains, in part, the abysmal track record confirmed by nearly all studies: 70% to 90% of mergers and acquisitions fail.

When a CEO wants to boost corporate performance, the most common form of M&A in a mature industry is to consolidate capacity. In May 2016, Nissan acquired a 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors. Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan said, “We have the potential to be in [the] top three.” Such is the business logic of “to eat or be eaten.” The parent company closes the less competitive facilities, eliminates overlapping functions, shuts down idle capacity, and improves operational efficiencies. The goal is to achieve greater economies of scale to lower overall costs.

Alternatively, top management may use M&As to jump-start long-term growth by embarking on a “geographic roll-up” or “product-market extension.” The parent company lets the newly acquired entity leverage the existing model to turbocharge growth. When Spinbrush was acquired, it gained immediate access to the distribution channels that P&G had nurtured over the years. When VMware was acquired, it tapped into a long list of existing EMC customers. Few changes with respect to strategy or operating models were required on either side. Synergy was immediate and apparent.

Obviously, what may seem a perfect match on paper may not be so in reality. The success of Pepsi-Cola’s acquisition of Frito-Lay, owing to the direct store delivery logistics system which PepsiCo had honed over the years, didn’t translate well when PepsiCo later acquired Quaker Oats. As the latter acquisition unfolded, managers at PepsiCo painfully discovered that its traditional warehouse delivery method had very little in common with that of Quaker’s, and consequently, the acquisition failed to meet the financial expectations.

Most interesting perhaps is the third type of M&A. It entails investing in a company whose business model has yet to be proven. The target company is often an upstart poised to disrupt an existing industry. The acquisition is as much about preempting future competition as it is about buying a disruptive business model. That’s what drove Wal-Mart to acquire Jet.com for $3 billion in 2016. The same can be said for Unilever’s $1 billion takeover of the Dollar Shave Club, or for General Motor’s $500 million investment in Lyft—made in the hopes of doubling down its ride-sharing efforts. Growth prospects notwithstanding, these startups were far from achieving profitability. However, they offered a promise to pivot the outmoded business of the established companies.

Acquire to Reinvent

Viewed in this light, Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods is truly in a class of its own. None of the conventional reasons can explain the acquisition. For one, Amazon won’t be consolidating the grocery sector. By the end of 2016, Walmart commanded the lion’s share with 14.45% in the food and grocery market. Whole Foods had a paltry 1.21%, while Amazon’s share was negligible at 0.19%. The product categories between Amazon and Whole Foods are also so distant that it’s hard to imagine a viable “one-stop shopping” strategy. It’s unlikely that quinoa lovers would pick up an e-reader or set of Wi-Fi speakers while shopping at Whole Foods. And Whole Foods itself is definitely not going to disrupt Amazon.

 

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WARNING: Bullshit alert – how do they get away with this crap? JOANNA GAINS TO QUIT FIXER UPPER AND SELL FACE CREAM

Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper Breaches Her HGTV Contract, But You’ll Never Guess Why

UPDATED WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2017

BREAKING NEWS: HGTV has ousted Joanna Gaines for breaking her contractual agreement, not even Chip knew what was going on. News broke of this legal whirlwind just a few days ago. Apparently, things have been going downhill for a while; but now it’s safe to say the boat has sunken.


It all started late last November when Joanna Gaines, host of the popular HGTV show Fixer Upper, signed a deal with Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner. The deal states that Joanna’s New Cosmetics Line will be picked up and promoted by the shopping channel QVC. Joanna is very proud of her line. She has been quoted as saying, “This is more than just a beauty line. This is what every woman has been dreaming of for most of her adult life.”

The problem is: HGTV and QVC are rival competitors. There is a clause in Joanna’s HGTV contract that clearly says she is forbidden from promoting or doing business with any other channel or media company. It was later discovered that not even her husband, Chip, knew what she was constructing in the background. When her hidden secret surfaced, it caused a rift in their marriage. Because of this, HGTV has decided to let him carry on the show by himself, without her.

The decision doesn’t seem to bother Joanna at all. She says the show was just a stepping stone to her real dream; which is running her beauty line. When the executives at HGTV discovered she has no intention of canning her cosmetics business, they fired back with a law suit. The law suit claims that she is contractually obligated to request permission of the network before she can start any new business. In response, Gaines has filed a counter suit. She says the only reason HGTV is giving her a hard time is because her miracle face crème really works, and they want to own a portion of her company.

What Is Her Beauty Product And What Does It Do?.

We were able to do a little snooping and found out what this mystery line was all about. The company is called Luminary and it is a cutting-edge Wrinkle Reducer And Anti-Aging Serum. Her product line is becoming so popular, even top beauty experts such as Bethany Mota and Michelle Phan are singing Luminary’s praises.

“Something was just telling me this is the next chapter of my life.” Joanna said in a recent interview. She continued, “There are lots of skin products out there that didn’t work for me… So, I got some of the world’s leading skin experts together to create Luminary. And this one actually works. I truly feel like the show was holding me back from realizing my true potential. But my new path feels right.”

But What About Chip?

Chip is such a great husband that he’s decided to decline HGTV’s offer to do the show by himself. Instead he’s opted to work alongside wife and become the director of operations at her new company.

Since her secret has been leaked to the public, Joanna has decided to break ties with QVC and focus on promoting Luminary herself.

We asked Joanna if she could provide coupons that would allow our loyal readers to try Luminary at a discount. Her response was better than we could have imagined. Joanna went a step further by agreeing to give 150 of our readers a supply of Luminary absolutely Free! You just cover shipping. TRY OFFER FREE NOW

Gaines said she is certain her magical face cream will work wonders for anyone who tries it. And she is so certain, that she is willing to let you try it for free.

So We Decided To Put her rising product to the test

Our interns sent out a companywide email asking both men and women if they’d like to try Luminary for our test. Some wanted to try it, some wanted to see how it worked for other people first. However, nobody wanted to be the first to try it… Except one brave soul. Brenda Talarico, our 54-year-old Senior Editor. She volunteered to go first and give this magical elixir a shot.

Here Are Brenda’s Results:

DAY ONE:

“It’s just the first day and I could already see a big difference. Within seconds my loose, saggy skin began to tighten and firm up. I could literally feel the difference as soon as I put it on. It was a slight tingle, but nothing over-powering. To be honest it was actually kind of soothing and therapeutic. My husband even took notice, he said I look just like I did when we met 25 years ago! I’m already in love with Luminary and it’s just day one… Let’s see how tomorrow goes…”

DAY SEVEN:

After five days of using Luminary, I was shocked at the drastic results.

“Within my first 5 days of using Luminary, I was a total believer. Now it’s day 7 and I’m still seeing my appearance improve daily. I used to have blotchy, dry skin… But now my skin-tone is even, and moisturized. Those yucky fine-lines and dark circles under my eyes are beginning to vanish too. My results haven’t stopped yet, so I’m going to keep going and see how young I can truly look.”

DAY FOURTEEN:

“This is incredible! I ran into an old friend from college and she told me I look exactly the same as I did back then… She went on to ask me which plastic surgeon I used. I explained to her that I didn’t have any cosmetic surgery done, but she didn’t believe me… I had to show her my bottle of Luminary just to prove it to her. Wow! This stuff is truly amazing. Words can’t even begin to describe.”

Brenda’s Final Thoughts:

“I’m only 54 and had already given up skin products… I was convinced that none of them worked… However, I must admit; Luminary has proved me wrong… It has truly improved the texture of my skin dramatically. The dark spots have all disappeared and the puffy bags under my eyes have been deflated. I’m so glad I put my skepticism to the side and decided to give this amazing face saver a try. – Brenda Talarico, Senior Editor – PEOPLE Magazine

The Verdict:

Using the Luminary system has removed over 87% of Brenda’s fine lines and wrinkles. It has also tightened and smoothed out the skin on her face and neck. All while removing the sagging, aging, and dehydration from her skin

Here’s How It Works:

Decades worth of sound science has been used to develop Luminary. This incredible face cream contains high concentrations of Proprietary Biosphere and QuSome, which are well known for their age defying properties. This topical treatment also contains Dermaxyl (better known as a facelift in a jar), and Ester-C (an active anti-aging compound in Biosphere). When these ingredients combine, wrinkles and fine lines stand absolutely no chance whatsoever.

But Will This Work For You?

The short answer is yes. We asked Joanna if Luminary will work for anybody, and here is what she had to say. “If you have a face, and your face has skin, Luminary will work for you. Guaranteed. It doesn’t matter your skin type, skin condition, race, or age. Luminary was created with everybody in mind. As a mixed-race person, that was the first thing I made sure of.” – Joanna Gaines

NOTE: In order to achieve the best results, you have to use the entireLuminary system for a minimum of 30 days.

There are less than 150 free bottles of Luminary left, so act now in order to claim yours. .

offer

(*EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR OUR READERS*)

Note: Brittany used both Luminary to erase her wrinkles, we suggest to use both products together to get the best results possible.

Update: Only 6 Trials Still Available. Free Trial Promotion Ends: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Receive A Free Bottle Of Luminary

Take advantage of our exclusive link and pay only $4.95 for shipping!
Risk FREE Trial!

This special offer ends: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

 

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What exactly did happen to Uncle Ed? Or, Fear and Loathing while growing moss between the fingers in the Pacific NorthWest.

What exactly did happen to Uncle Ed? Or, Fear and Loathing while growing moss between the fingers in the Pacific NorthWest.

by Stephen Ulrich

Another beautiful rainy June day in Vancouver.   Washington, not Canada.  For some reason, we live here.  OK, I know why we live here:  Family, friends, Wide Open Spaces, Affordability…… certainly NOT the weather.

The month of February where it didn’t get over 28’F for two weeks, and marked the wettest weather in recorded history, was entertaining in it’s own right.  Not unlike Oakland (where I was born) boasting the Greatest Basketball Team of all time, the Pacific Northwest is smashing records left and right.  Trump be damned (please) we are hellbent on being singularly responsible for refuting global warming…. but I digress.  Suffice it to say that grey weather in the farking winter is just fine, but the middle of June?  No esta’ bien!

While waiting for my Gardner’s aid, helper boy, skilled laborer, (i.e. my hands) to arrive, I find that the caffeine has once again drawn my fingers to the keyboard.  I was, honestly, just stopping by to check the weather to see if it could possibly be drier this afternoon so we could plant the Dogwood.  Dogwoods are a most resplendent ornamental tree, and given the grey nature of the sky in this area, they are a modest accoutrement for an otherwise dreary backyard skyscape.  No wonder the wife has “bedazzled” the interior of our spacious abode with the maximum lighting the square footage would allow.  The photo above depicts the exact amount of light normally required to depilate the nose and body hairs from an adult male homo-sapien.

The weather being confirmed as abysmal for the remainder of the day, the timing of the planting of said Dogwood has become secondary to its placement.  According to those in the know, the root system of a Dogwood is extremely shallow and likely not to require the three-foot pipes full of rocks I was intending to supply to direct the water to a deeper root system.  This is a blessing not to be taken lightly.  What it means is that I really don’t have to install a separate drip line/system for a Dogwood, rather it needs to be insured that the lawn gets watered regularly during those hot dry summer months which are apparently feigning complete avoidance of the entire area, all up in here!

Now my lovely and attractive wife is concerned that the placement of the Dogwood will not only interfere with the Badminton net/players that grace our yard at least twice a year, but endanger our view of the entire sky itself. I guess if we lay down under it?

The trees are gorgeous.  It is 80 degrees in San Francisco and I miss it.  The waterfalls are beautiful here and the trees are green all year long.   Except for the ones that lose their leaves completely. How am I supposed to spend the day in the garage working on my boat to enjoy the sunny lake we are visiting on Sunday when it is raining outside?  Maybe I should eat something.

What DID ever happen to Uncle Ed?

 

 

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What did I ever do to deserve this girl?


by Stephen Ulrich –

My wife is the most wonderful, inelligent, strong, loving, attentive, patient, beautiful, sexy, and dependable partner a man could ever ask for. Did I mention that I like her too?  And that her job pays for my health insurance?  It just doesn’t get any better than this.

I must admit I did work my ass off during the selection process.  Being a crusty 30 year veteran of nuts and bolts sales and marketing, I treated dating and Match.com like any other sales vetting process. The process was not romantic at all.  I sent out a simple statement “I like your smile” to dozens of probablle matches, and evaluated their responses for creativity and suitability.  There were dozens of meetings for coffee, scores of dates, and not a minor amount of frustration.

The sample population ran from those who wanted to boss me around, those who wanted a sugardaddy, those who wanted a “friend” to those who had a monicum of possibility.  A couple that were really suitable in my mind, did not share that opinion of me, but most never got to the second date stage.

When I first communicated with Mary, I thought “what a lovely, solid, professional girl.”  She had a great job, was quite sharp, was well polished in her commnication and seemed to be honest and of good character.  We had both been on Match for so long that we had pretty much given up the ghost, but felt it was worth “one last try.”

Our first meeting was coffee (per usual) at a Starbucks that ended up beind just below the window of ther apartment building.  Coffee after dinner, turned into another quick snack, followed by a nightcap at one of my local blues bars.  There had been no planning, but my flute happened to be in my car, and the band was on a break.  A quick conversation with the band leader sent me scurring to my car, only to arrive back to the table with a dozen red roses (from a street vendor) and a little black box containing my axe.   A couple of songs later, it was announced that “we would like to invite our friend Steve to come up and sit in on a song with us” and up I went.  They performed “Sweet Home Chicago” in the key of C so it was easy for me, and I’ll have to admit I crushed the song.

Arriving back to the table my date was suitably impressed, we kissed, and the rest is history. The storybook date was followed by her announcement that her entire month of November was spoken for……hmmm. Not the follow-up that I had expected, but it never got me down and the fact that it didnt ended up working to my advantage, as the month long absence never materialized either.  Aparantely there were plans with an old lover in Australia that were far more in her mind than his, but that again was MUCH to my advantage.

As the months, then years flew by I asked her to marry me.  She refused.  I asked again.  She refused again.  I am persistant, and for the sake of brevity in this writing suffice it to say that she did finally relent.  The wedding was as storybook as the first date had been.  

There have been ups and downs.  It is told that I am not the easiest man to live with. There is a certain critical nature, and inate arrogance in my otherwise perfect Arian demeanor that some find less than attractive.  That, and my propensity to consume massive amounts of spirits at even the slightest suggestion of a party, or celebration, or boredom, or frustration, or…  left me asleep on the couch far to many an evening. That, by the grace of a higher power I choose to call God, has been lifted and life has gotten far better as a result.

I have mastered the three words that make a marriage work, “that’s right dear.”  The work on my cynicism is, regrettably, ongoing. It is, however, generally accepted that it’s good to be me.  My wife is as good as they come, my dog is the same, we live in a beautiful home with great family and friends, and our basketball team is among the greatest this planet is likely to ever see.

Then there’s the Vancouver WA weather, but as stated previously, I’m still working on the negativity. 🙂

The secret to a wonderful marriage is simple.  Work your ass off to find the best woman in the world.  Get lucky beyond your wildest expectations. Work your ass off to get her to marry you. Get lucky again.  Work your ass off to keep your head out of said ass, and give FAR more often and far more than you percieve to be the “fair” 50% and there is hope for you yet!

 

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Now we know the reason for the narwhal’s tusk

narwhals tusking

Male narwhals will rub their horns together, an action known as ‘tusking.’ (Photo: Glenn Williams/National Institute of Standards and Technology)

Known as “the unicorns of the sea,” narwhals are unique for the solitary tusk that protrudes through the tops of their heads. The horn is actually a canine front tooth that can reach as long as nine feet. But until recently scientists weren’t sure what, if any, purpose it had.

Research from 2014 suggests that the tusk is used as a sensory organ, helping the narwhal pick up changes in its environment. Researchers say males of the species may use the horns to look for food or find mates. The results of the study were published in the journal The Anatomical Record.

“People have said it’s everything from an ice pick to an acoustic probe, but this is the first time that someone has discovered sensory function and has the science to show it,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Martin Nweeia from the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, told the BBC.

A team of international investigators worked together to understand the function of the narwhal’s unusual protuberance. To do so, they captured several of the elusive animals and anchored them using a net anchored perpendicular to shore.

The researchers found that the outer cementum layer of the tusk is porous, the inner dentin layer has microscopic tubes that channel toward the middle, and the pulp in the center has nerve endings that connect to the animal’s brain. The structure makes the tusk sensitive to temperature and chemical differences in the environment.

When the tusk was exposed to different levels of salt in the surrounding water, for example, the researchers noticed a change in the narwhal’s heart rate.

The animals can basically “taste” the concentrations of chemicals in the water. Because of that, researchers believe males may use the tusk to find food. They also appear to be able to find females that are ready to mate.

Nweeia told the BBC that he’s fascinated that narwhals put all their energy into growing a single tusk rather than having a set of teeth to help them eat their diet of large fish.

“If you were looking for an ideal and fascinating tooth to study, there’s no question this would be it.”

Stunning tusks

Footage from Canada may support one of the tentative conclusions Nweeia’s study: using the tusks to find food. One additional quirk? The horns may also help the narwhals prepare to eat that food, too.

The video above, shot using drones by the WWF in Canada in 2017, shows narhwals in Tremblay Sound, Nunavat, striking Artic cod with their tusks to stun them and then gobble up the fish.

Steve Ferguson, of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, explained in a video for the agency that the drone footage shows male narwhals “kind of tracking the cod with the tusk […] and as the cod was positioned close to the tip of the tusk, the narwhal sort of gave it a quick, hard tap that likely stunned the fish — it looked like it was momentarily not moving — and then the narwhal would move in with its mouth and suck in the prey.”

Given that we’re only seeing this behavior now, in no small thanks to the general unobtrusiveness of drones, researchers are eager to learn what other possible uses there are for the tusks. A dual purpose sensory organ and cod stunner is already pretty exciting, so what other uses could these creatures of the deep have for this horn-looking tooth?

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Posted by on May 17, 2017 in All, Business, Entrepreneur, Finance, Market, Marketing and Sales, Money, Small Business, Start-up, Uncategorized

 

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Jaycee Dugard, Her Daughters Today, and if They Ever Want to See Their Father

By SEAN DOOLEY –

“I want them to make their own choices in life, and if that’s something that they need to do, then you know I’d … I wouldn’t be OK with it. But I wouldn’t not let them do it,” Dugard, 36, said in an interview with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer.

Dugard was abducted at age 11 in 1991 by Phillip and Nancy Garrido in 1991. She was held captive in Garrido’s California backyard compound and had two children fathered by him.

Dugard and her daughters were rescued in 2009. Phillip Garrido pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping and 13 counts of sexual assault and was sentenced to 431 years in prison.

Nancy Garrido pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping, one count of rape by force and to California’s “one strike” rape law. She was sentenced to 36 years to life in prison.

More than two years after Dugard was kidnapped, when she was 13 years old, she learned she was pregnant and gave birth at 14 years old to her first daughter.

“I can’t fathom how I kept it together or, you know, I must’ve been checked out, you know, on a different level. You know, [I was] present, but not present for, you know, some of it, because it’s terrifying on its own. But being alone, how did I even do that?” Dugard recalled.

When the Garridos found Dugard in labor, she said they gave her codeine. Dugard said Phillip Garrido told her he had watched videos about giving birth and knew how to deliver a baby. Dugard said she was in labor for another 12 hours.

In 1997, Dugard gave birth to her second daughter.

“Anything could happen,” Dugard said of the dangers of giving birth in such difficult conditions. “And I had two.”

As she and her daughters grew older, Dugard said she planted a flower in front of the shed and set up a little school to teach them as much as she could with only her fifth-grade education.

“They’re so resilient, and they’re beautiful and loving, and I’m really lucky,” she said.

Dugard has protected her daughters’ privacy and said some of their friends don’t even know of their past. She said the three of them are able to talk about what happened with each other.

“When I refer to him … I think I’ve been calling him Phillip lately, actually,” Dugard said.

Five years ago, Dugard said she called Phillip Garrido their dad.

“They saw his craziness and ups and downs and knew how unpredictable he was,” she said.

She said she and her daughters have learned to laugh at the challenging life they live together.

“To know it was OK to laugh about, you know, Phillip and Nancy and their … craziness … it helps,” Dugard said.

Both Dugard and her mother, Terry Probyn, said they would not want the two girls to see their father in person, but that they would respect their decision if they wanted to meet him.

“I would hope they wouldn’t want to, but as long as he’s behind bars, and they’re safe, then I wouldn’t hinder their ability to make that choice,” Dugard said.

Probyn said: “It’s their decision. I would hope that they would choose not to.”

Dugard said she has done everything she can to not let her own fears limit her daughters’ lives.

“Do we scare our kids into never wanting to do anything or do we prepare them for the worst in life, never knowing if, you know, if it’s really going to happen?” she said.

Dugard first detailed her horrific experience in her 2011 bestselling book, “A Stolen Life: A Memoir,” and now has a second book, “Freedom: My Book of Firsts,” about moving on after those years in captivity.

Her memoir is due out July 12.

 
 

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Portland to fuel city vehicles with sewage fumes

The City of Roses’ poop-to-power plan is nothing to hold your nose at.

by MATT HICKMAN –

Columbia Wastewater Plant, Portland, Oregon

Methane converted into renewable natural gas at this Portland wastewater treatment plant will power diesel trucks. (Photo: Eli Duke/flickr)

Portland, Oregon’s reputation for setting itself apart from the pack — and then some— is well deserved.

And while not the first city to capture noxious sewage gas and convert it into vehicle fuel, Portland’s newly approved $9 million “poop-to-power” scheme is certainly ambitious, aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 21,000 tons annually while producing enough homegrown, revenue-generating natural gas to power the equivalent of 154 sanitation trucks for a year.

Portland Environmental Services, the city’s wastewater and stormwater management utility, anticipates that capturing methane-rich waste gas produced at the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant and converting it into renewable natural gas (RNG) will bring in a minimum of $3 million per year through sales of the fuel. The city itself will, of course, also power some its own vehicles with the diesel-replacing poop fuel.

Built in 1952 on Portland’s north side, the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant is the larger of two wastewater treatment facilities, serving 600,000 residential and commercial customers in this Salmon-Safe city of roughly 619,000 residents. Previous to the construction of the plant, raw sewage flowed directly into the Willamette River and floodplain of the Columbia River.

About 2,500 miles of sewage-conveying pipes feed into the plant, which has undergone numerous improvements and expansions over the decades including the addition of a striking, LEED-certified support facility in 2013. The construction of a methane-to-natural-gas conversion facility along with an on-site RNG fueling station is the biggest greenhouse gas-curbing project in the 65-year history of the plant. The scheme is also being heralded as the biggest emissions-reduction project in the history of the entire city although some, including Vivek Shandas, a professor of urban studies at Portland State University, feel that estimation is a touch too generous. “Arguably, we’ve done more with the urban growth boundary, with a number of density policies than we have with any single win, any single project like this,” he tells Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Currently, 77 percent of the methane gas generated as a byproduct in the processing of solid human waste at the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant is harvested and used to generate electricity and heat. But as the Oregonian reports, the remaining 23 percent is flared — or burned and released into air. Along with releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, the wasteful practice of methane flaring has also shown to have other disagreeable impacts on the surrounding environment. Once the new facility is constructed, flaring will cease as Portland achieves full methane recovery status from sewage waste.

A garbage truck in Portland, OregonBy converting methane into renewable natural gas, Portland will produce enough fuel annually to power 154 garbage trucks. (Photo: mike krzeszak/flickr)

Poop gas: Portland’s new clean fuel export

Approved unanimously by Portland City Council on Earth Day, the first major components — the conversion facility and the on-site RNG filling station — of the methane-to-renewable-natural-gas scheme are due to be completed and up and running by the end of this year. Initially, the gas will exclusively be used to fuel converted diesel trucks operated by Portland Environmental Services and other city entities. But by the end of 2018, the sewer gas-derived fuel will be connected via pipeline to a natural gas distribution network owned by Portland-based utility NW Natural (née the Northwest Natural Gas Company) and sold both locally and out of state on the renewable energy market.

The Oregonian elaborates:

The city plans to sell the product for credits they will be awarded based on the volume of natural gas they sell to oil companies and other ‘obligated parties’ required to invest in renewable energy or purchase carbon offsets under The Clean Air Act, said Paul Suto, supervising engineer at Portland’s environmental services bureau.

The environmental services bureau’s natural gas production is expected to bring in $3 million to $10 million of revenue per year, depending on the value of the credits in state and federal energy markets, bureau officials estimated.

While Portland’s buses currently run on biogas, there’s the possibility that the public transit system and other city agencies with sizable fleets could switch over to this special homegrown natural gas at some point down the line.

“We are creating a triple-win for the public in terms of revenue, climate action and cleaner air,” says City Commissioner Nick Fish in a press statement. “The renewable natural gas we will produce is truly local and homegrown, a by-product of the waste from every Portland household that we can now repurpose.”

With the water flushed by Portlanders soon to be producing a clean source of fuel for diesel trucks, it’s worth noting that in 2015, the city announced plans to tap into its drinking water supply as part of a cutting-edge in-pipe hydroelectricity project that’s been touted as a low-cost, environmentally friendly alternative to conventional hydroelectric projects like dams. That project, powered by the city’s drinking water naturally flowing through tiny turbines, harnesses enough juice to keep the lights on and appliances humming in an estimated 150 Portland homes.

As Portland has proved, when you have thousands of miles of pipes running beneath a city, it only makes sense to use these hidden renewable energy goldmines to their fullest advantage — in the end, it doesn’t matter if the water flowing through them is potable or filled with poop.

 
 

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Three Ways To Stay On Track When Feeling Overwhelmed

Everyone feels overwhelmed from time to time.

Nik Shulihin, Unsplash

Everyone feels overwhelmed from time to time.

Entrepreneurs are no strangers to the odd bout of existential terror. Usually, these period of stress and fear flair up only to die down rather quickly.

Sometimes, however, these stresses persist and can make you feel totally overwhelmed.

Fortunately, I have plenty of experience coping with the feelings of being overwhelmed by the responsibilities of my life. Over the years, I’ve learned three coping mechanisms that enable me to not only deal with feelings of being overwhelmed, but thrive.

Understand your priorities

No matter how talented or motivated you are, it’s impossible to do everything at once, so stop trying.

The best way to dig out of an overwhelming situation is to pick your top priorities and work from there. Prioritization is difficult for many entrepreneurs because everything seems to be equally important at first glance.

When we step back and practice mindfulness, however, we realize that isn’t the case. It’s always possible to prioritize things in your life; it just isn’t always easy.

When juggling priorities, it’s important to remember that matters of the heart, be they relationships, family, or personal fulfillment, are the most fragile.  If you fail to keep these relationships healthy, there’s a good chance they’ll be irreparably damaged.

Work, on the other hand, is far more resilient. Even when you make a terrible mistake and drop the ball, it almost always bounces back. The key to happiness is recognizing which priorities are fragile, and which are more durable.

For me, priorities are absolute and fall into three categories. My first priorities are the needs of family.

My second priority is my company. For entrepreneurs and leaders, work needs to be a higher priority than it is for most people. The reason for this is that it isn’t just about dealing with your job.

As the leader of a company, you have many people who depend on you, including team, clients, and investors.

The third priority is personal fulfillment. If you’ve taken care of your family and your team, then you have the right to focus on yourself. Clearly defining these priorities makes dealing with even the most overwhelming of situations more manageable.

Find ways to practice mindfulness

When things start to pile up, and you start to feel overwhelmed by the tasks ahead, don’t panic.  Remember to stop and be mindful of the present moment.

More often than not, the anxiety and stress entrepreneurs experience is due to what they think might happen in the future, not what they’re dealing with in the present.

Practicing mindfulness and focusing on the current moment can give you a reprieve from the thoughts and concerns that cause anxiety.

The benefits of mindfulness have been well documented, and a recent Harvard Business Review article points out that it takes as little as six seconds of mindful meditation for these benefits to manifest themselves.

Quieting your mind and moving away from the endless “what-if” scenarios helps to center you in the present and prepares you to deal with the tasks that lie ahead more effectively.

Accept the fact that not everything will be perfect

Last but not least, it’s important to learn to accept imperfection. Perfection is an unattainable goal, and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded.

It’s far better to recognize that we live in an imperfect world and that sometimes our best is good enough.

This applies to both work and personal life. Sometimes, it’s better to let the housework slide for playing with your kid or to relinquish control on a project rather than micromanage it.

Learning to accept imperfection enables you to keep moving forward, and that’s precisely what you need to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Everyone gets overwhelmed from time to time, but it doesn’t need to lead to anxiety or excessive stress.

The trick is to make sure that you stay in the moment, pick your priorities, and accept imperfection. Once you do those three simple things, you’ll find yourself in the position to overcome the challenges you face and move forward with confidence.

 

 

Chris Myers is the Cofounder and CEO of BodeTree and the author of Enlightened Entrepreneurship.

 
 

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No — I Won’t Work Until Midnight And Then Come In At 8 a.m

Dear Liz,

I’m a software developer. I’ve had my job for three years. I like the job.

Lately my job is forcing me to set boundaries. I never had to do that before, until this year.

I have to set limits with my boss “Larry.” Larry is a new manager and he pushes us to work as many hours as we can. I am a salaried employee so I don’t get paid for working overtime.

I try to leave work by 6 p.m. most nights. Larry offers to buy us pizza all the time to get us to stay longer but it’s not healthy. My brain gets fried and I have to go home and recharge.

Shutterstock

Last week we had to finish up a project that got delayed because of a bug in a piece of third-party software. It slowed us down right at the end of the project schedule and I stayed late at work every night for a week. I don’t mind because I know the project is important and I want to get it done.

Last night,  we finally sent the release to QA for testing.

We didn’t finish until 10:30 p.m. Larry had been working alongside me the whole week so he knew how much time I had put in.

We had worked until midnight the night before.

We were crossing the the parking lot when Larry said “Be sure to be here at eight a.m. tomorrow for the Product Update meeting. Don’t be late.”

There were three cars in the parking lot — mine, Larry’s and the night guard’s truck.

Larry wanted me to talk at the Product Update meeting. He wanted me to tell the team how we worked late at night for a week to get the product out. Larry is always worried about his image. He wanted to make himself and our department look good.

I said, “Larry, it’s 10:30 now and I haven’t had dinner, I haven’t had a shower, I’m not going to be here at 8 a.m. tomorrow. I’ll be in at 10:30 or 11:00.”

During the week of late nights Larry never said “Thanks” or “I really appreciate this, you guys” much less “Please sleep in tomorrow.”

As you always say, fearful people lose their perspective and Larry definitely loses his when he’s under stress. He doesn’t do it intentionally.

He becomes unreasonable and irrational. My teammates and I have to set him straight. He gets angry and blusters but he knows he needs us.

Larry said “Get in as early as you can, then” and that was it. This morning I pulled into the parking lot at ten a.m. on the dot. It turns out they cancelled the product update meeting anyway.

Larry was nowhere to be seen. His assistant told me his wife called and said Larry was exhausted and was sleeping in. Good for him! Maybe I’m having an influence on Larry after all.

Thanks for all you do Liz –

Yours,

Norman

 
 

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Bad at remembering to take care of yourself? These 25 tips can make it almost automatic.

Most of us want to take good care of ourselves, and we know that good, preventive self-care routines are the best way to do that.

But it can also be overwhelming, stressful, and time-consuming to try to remember all the things that we’re supposed to do.

Have you had enough water? Did you take a minute to meditate? Shouldn’t you get up and take a walk? When’s the last time you ate? Or slept eight hours? How long have you been sitting at your desk?

Knowing that you haven’t done any of these acts of self-care can feel super stressful — exactly the opposite of the effect self-care is supposed to have.

The last thing you need is to stress about how to care for yourself.

But when you have a busy schedule, it’s tough to stay accountable to yourself too, and so it’s easy to let your own well-being — and health — slide. And that is when health problems — brought on by stress, poor eating habits, lack of exercise or something else — can develop.

Luckily, there are lots of hacks out there to help automate taking care of yourself.

They help take the stress out of, well, de-stressing by helping you build a healthy self-care routine and making it a habit that’s easier to stick to.

Self-care isn’t selfish, despite how it is sometimes perceived. Image via iStock.

Here are just a few ideas and apps that can help automatically make self-care a priority — whether you have two minutes or two hours:

1. Do nothing for two minutes (while listening to some soothing waves).

2. Or try this quiet place if waves aren’t your thing.

Just a few minutes of quieting your mind can help relieve your stress and regroup your thoughts.

3. Listen to this comforting rain noise or create your own calming noise.

Image via iStock.

4. Pot some succulents on your phone.

5. Weave colorful silk on the screen at this website.

6. Get up and take a walk outside.

A 2016 study showed that even a small dose of nature, such as a simple walk down a tree-lined city street, can reduce stress. So once a day, if you can, try to carve out a small amount of time to get outside and see some trees or grass — even if it’s doing a small walk around the block, spending five minutes in a park, or parking down the street from work so you can walk by some trees for a few minutes.

7. With the help of an app, remember to stay hydrated.

We all know that we’re supposed to drink water, but remembering isn’t always that easy. Apps like iDrated, Waterlogged, and Eight Glasses a Day — most of which are free — can help.

8. And check out WeTap to find the closest water fountain or fill-up station.

9. Keep forgetting to take lunch? Temple and Time4Lunch can help with that.

10. Challenge yourself to make your lunch the evening before.

That way you won’t have to take the time to make it or buy it when it feels like you just don’t have the time or energy.

11. Track your sleep cycle with a fitness tracker gadget like FitBit or Jawbone or a phone app like Sleepbot.

It’s one step toward building better sleep habits.

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12. Try out the iPhone’s Bedtime function.

It’s located within the alarm clock app, and it will not only wake you up and track your sleeping patterns, but it will also gently remind you when you should start heading to bed to get a good night’s sleep.

13. Schedule some “do not disturb” time so you can focus on yourself without distractions.

For example, Offtime helps you schedule “do not disturb” times when you just need to focus or take a break or when you’re getting ready for bed.

14. Check in with this calming manatee. (He really does help!)

15. Look at some photos and videos of cute fluffy animals online.

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Research suggests that looking at images of baby animals not only can make you happy (because, awwww!) but also boost your productivity and focus.

16. Snuggle a shelter pet.

Studies have shown that petting dogs can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress, anxiety, and loneliness. If you don’t have your own dog (or even if you do!), you can help out at your local shelter (and get lots of snuggle time). And you’ll be helping those animals get some love and attention too, which they need while they wait for their forever home.

17. Check out instructional and motivational videos.

The Coach by CignaTM app can help you reach your stress, health, and sleep goals with over 300 instructional and motivational videos — and you don’t have to be a Cigna customer to use it.

Or check out Happify, a program designed to help you improve your emotional well-being by taking control of your feelings and thoughts through games.

18. Journal every day, and stay on track with apps like DayOne.

Journaling has been shown to have a positive impact on our physical and emotional well-being. Writing in this phone journal is secure and as easy to do as texting on the go. Plus, it will even remind you when it’s been awhile since you last wrote.

19. Keep track of what’s bothering you with apps like Worry Watch.

This app works like an anxiety journal, letting you write down what’s bothering you as a first step toward letting that concern go.

20. Go see your doctor and get your four health numbers —blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI) — checked.

That way you won’t have to worry unnecessarily about your health — and you can get help if there is a problem.

21. Let go of bad or intrusive thoughts with games like Good Blocks.

22. Meditate for five minutes — even that’s enough to help shave some of that stress off your day.

Apps like Headspace or Calm make meditation simpler (especially if you’ve never meditated before) by guiding you through it.

23. Practice some office yoga if you don’t have the time to step away from your desk.

24. Volunteer.

Research has shown that volunteering and helping others is good for your physical and mental health.

25. Make a habit list.

Habit List is a one-stop shop to help you develop your own self-care routine. It will help you set goals for yourself — like meditate more or remember to eat lunch — and help you break bad habits. And the best part is that it’s completely customizable.

Of course, self-care is by its very nature personal — so no one thing will work for everyone.

The important thing is to figure out what pro-active steps you want to take to get a better handle on your health and well-being. And, once you’ve done that, the good news is that there are lots of apps, websites, and tricks to get you started.

 
 

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