Archive for February, 2012

Want to experience Linsanity at Philips? It’ll cost you

The biggest socio-sports story of the year (now that Tebowmania has cooled a bit) is the coming out party of Harvard grad Jeremy Lin whose ascent to stardom as a point guard for the NBA New York Knicks has  been noted and celebrated everywhere lately, and we do mean everywhere.

Lin’s Ivy League educational background, Asian-American heritage  and out-of-nowhere success on the hardwood have turned the unknown into an American sensation in a flash. Playing in the biggest market in the country  in front of the  New York media hasn’t hurt.

Atlantans can get a TV look at Lin tomorrow night when the Hawks travel to New York for a game against the Knicks.

But if you want an up-close view of the phenom, you’ll have a chance  late next month when Lin and his teammates come to Philips Arena for a game Friday March 30.

Yes, seats are still available. But don’t expect any bargains.

A check of the Hawks website as well as the online ticket brokerage StubHub shows sufficient supply, …

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Want to save on the price of gas? Fill up on Wednesdays

As noted in an AJC story today, gas prices are getting to the point where even people who don’t normally pay attention to them are starting to wonder what they can do to find a better price. They’re up 45 cents a gallon over where they were a year ago, and the price wasn’t exactly a bargain back then.

So what can you do, other than take MARTA? Or telecommute?

A blogger for Breakout has some suggestions.

A couple are kind of obvious: use self-service, for example, and use the Internet to track the rise and fall of gas prices.

But here’s another one: buy your gas on Wednesdays.

This, the writer says, is when the lowest prices of the week are posted.

“Urban legend,” he notes, has it that gas prices are lowest when people are asleep, in the wee small hours of the morning.

Not true, he says. Wednesday is when you want to fill up.

And avoid weekends, when prices rise as more people hit the road.

We can’t vouch for this ourselves, but it might be worth checking out.

The writer also …

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LegoLand at Phipps looking to fill jobs

Is there a Lego job in your future?

Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta, a $15 million attraction opening March 17 at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead, is looking to fill more than 100 part-time positions at a job fair Saturday and Sunday.

The job fair is being held from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. both days at the Marriott Buckhead Hotel & Conference Center, 3405 Lenox Road NE.

The jobs are in the areas of food and beverage, entertainment, retail, janitorial, admissions and cashiers. While the company says it prefers applicants with guest and entertainment experience, it didn’t say it would turn away applicants with other experiences.

Take your resume and references with you because there will be some on-site interviews, and dress appropriately.

The Phipps LegoLand, which will cover 35,000 square feet, will be the third in the nation. It will feature a MiniLand exhibit made from Legoland bricks that recreates landmark buildings in Atlanta. The attraction also will feature play …

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IRS lists top tax scams for 2012

The IRS has released its annual list of tax scams to be on the lookout for this filing season.

“Taxpayers should be careful and avoid falling into a tax scam trap,” IRS spokesman Mark Green said. “Scam artists will tempt people in-person, on-line, using text messages and by e-mail with misleading promises about lost refunds, tax credits and free money. Don’t be fooled by these scams.”

Here are several from the list:

1. Identity theft: The IRS says it is seeing more thieves looking to use a legitimate taxpayer’s identity and personal information to file a return and claim a bogus refund.

2. Phishing: The IRS says it doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers via email to request personal or financial information, including text messages or social media channels.

3. Return preparer fraud: Some 60 percent of taxpayers use a tax pro, and most are honest. But some are not. Watch for a preparer who does not sign the return or put a preparer tax ID number on it; who does not give you a …

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EEOC: Bias against pregnant workers persists

Pregnant workers still face the threat of firings and other discriminatory practices despite a federal law against such practices, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and an MSN report.

The EEOC pursued 20 cases last year against employers suspected of discriminating against pregnant workers,  one more case than the year before. Claims filed by workers, however, are up about 15 percent from a decade ago and numbered nearly 5,800 last year, the agency says.

MSN cited a $1.64 million settlement that Akal Security Inc. reached with the government in 2010 after claims that the company, the largest provider of contract security services to the federal government, routinely forced pregnant employees working as guards on U.S. military bases to take a leave of absence or discharged them because of their pregnancy.

Discrimination can also include harassing pregnant workers. Low-wage pregnant workers, especially those who have few if any sick days, …

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Whitney Houston mansion for sale, at a discount

Whitney Houston’s former house in New Jersey is up for sale.

Her 12,600-square-foot mansion in Mendham, N.J. is on the block for $1.75 million, according to Curbed, where you can have a look at the trimmings and trappings.

Perhaps owing to the realities of the modern real estate market, that sum is down from the original asking price of $2.5 million when it was first listed in 2009.

The home has been on and off the market since.

If you’re interested in the property, though, know that it’s a private listing and that it’s only being shown to pre-approved parties with $1.5 million in liquid assets.

That ought to keep the gawkers away.

As anyone who keeps up with the lives of the rich and famous knows, Houston, despite a lifetime of big paydays, was a lot less rich at the end.

How much her estate will capitalize beyond the sale of the house has yet to be determined, although Michael Jackson’s did after his death. But that was a different situation.

According to CBS News,

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1-800-Flowers feeling jilted lovers’ wrath

“Really, honey, I did order you roses. Honestly. Cross my heart!”

The phone and online destination for petals galore,  1-800-Flowers, has put scores of significant others in the dog house after it failed to fulfill what appears to be tons of orders on Valentines Day.

The bad part is that many were left trying to explain to their wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, flings etc. why they were left hanging high and dry on such an anticipated day.

On the other hand, many others who hadn’t bothered to place  an order could still blame the absence of a bouquet on Flowers.

The company’s Twitter and Facebook accounts were flooded Wednesday with comments that expressed anything but love.

Asked @kyrauff, “How many couples broke up because of @1800flowers’ no good, very bad Valentine’s day?”

“Travis” tweeted,  “Well my wife didn’t receive her Valentine today!! Thanks a lot 1800-flowers!! What a freakin joke!!”

Many also complained about not getting answers at Flowers’ 1-800 …

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Is your vehicle among the most dependable?

If you’re driving around metro Atlanta in a Toyota Yaris, a Ford Fusion or a Buick Lucerne, you’re probably pretty happy with how well it has held up. Same story with the Ford Explorer, Nissan Murano, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tundra.

J.D. Power and Associates, considered the Cadillac of dependability surveys when it comes to finding out whether owners are still satisfied with their rides several years after driving of the lot, is out with its 2012 most dependable vehicles list.

The company surveyed original owners of 2009 models and measured problems experienced during the past 12 months. J.D. Power found that, overall, vehicle dependability was up 13 percent from last year’s results, and problems were at their lowest level since the company started tracking them in 1990.

J.D. Power said 25 of 32 brands have improved in dependability from 2011. Six have declined and one has remained stable.

The highest-ranked nameplates (in order) are Lexus, Porsche, Cadillac, …

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Georgia’s financial distress owes to housing, credit, employment woes

Georgia didn’t fare very well in any area of the latest CredAbility Consumer Distress Index.

As noted in a story by the AJC’s Arielle Kass, Georgia ranked as the third most financially distressed state in the union in the fourth quarter of 2011.

That low ranking was reflected in the individual category measurements used by CredAbility, including employment, housing, credit, household budget and net worth.

Of those areas, Georgians did best in net worth where the state’s residents were only the 26th most distressed.

Georgians also ranked in the middle in household budget, at 25th.

Where we really fared poorly was in employment at No. 8, in credit at No. 6 and in housing at No. 5.

Probably no surprises there.

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Georgia exports hit record in 2011, Asia leads way

International trade in Georgia increased to a record total last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

The value of goods exported from the state hit $34.7 billion _ up 20 percent _ from $28.9 billion in 2010.

That’s the highest total ever.

“More and more companies in Georgia are discovering how trade can help them grow, and learning what the state can do to help them. Job growth created through global trade is helping economic recovery not only in Georgia, but around the country,” said Chris Cummiskey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

Asia, for the first time, was the top destination for Georgia exporters, ahead of the Americas and other regions. In 2011, 39 percent of exports went to Asia, up from 33 percent the year before. The Americas took 36 percent of Georgia exports. The European Union took 18 percent.

Georgia ranked 12 in in the U.S. in the value of its exports. The top three export countries for Georgia were Canada, China and …

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