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Tuesday
Sep022014

Dunkin' Donuts Opens First 'Full Expression' Locations in California

Oliver Hoffman/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) -- Dunkin' Donuts opened its first traditional stores in California on Tuesday, bringing its full assortment of coffee and baked goods to West Coast residents for the first time.

"Today we continue to celebrate our highly anticipated expansion to California, starting with the opening of our new restaurants in Modesto and Santa Monica," said Paul Twohig, President of Dunkin' Donuts U.S. and Canada.

The company plans to open approximately 200 new restaurants in California over the next several years, and perhaps over 1,000 in the long-term.

Dunkin', an East Coast staple, had locations in California, but the new restaurants are the brand's first "full expression locations on the West Coast."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep022014

More Women Renting Wedding Gowns

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What bride-to-be would actually rent her gown for the big day?

More than you think. With an increasing number of women shifting away from preserving gowns for family heirlooms, many of today's brides are more interested in saving some money on the way from the boutique to the chapel.

Longstanding designer rental website Rent the Runway offers 4- and 8-day rentals of upscale gowns by designers ranging from Badgley Mischka to Monique Lhiullier.

"I think some women value the experience over the ownership of their gown," said a representative for Rent the Runway. "If they already use Spotify or Uber, services where you’re not necessarily owning something versus experiencing it, they will also feel comfortable with renting a wedding gown."

For instance, a sleek, long-sleeved, cocktail-length wedding dress by Dsquared that would normally retail for approximately $830 can be rented for $125 on Rent the Runway.

Big discounts leave lots of funds still in the wedding budget for food, music or other desirable decor elements. It stands to reason that if the groom isn't planning to keep his morning jacket, proponents say his betrothed should be able to follow suit with her tulle.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep022014

Revel Casino in Atlantic City to Close Doors Tuesday

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.) -- Revel Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City will close its doors Tuesday at 6 a.m., marking the fourth Atlantic City casino to shut down in recent weeks.

The city, which had 12 casinos when August began, now has just eight.

Revel announced that hotel guests had to be checked out on Monday morning, and that all reservations for stays beyond that date had been cancelled. Room deposits on such reservations were to be refunded.

The casino would remain open for an additional day, with all free slot play and gift cards required to be redeemed before 6 a.m. Tuesday. Casino chips and slot vouchers will still be able to be redeemed at the Revel General Cashier Office during weekday business hours until Sept. 30.

Revel also cancelled all events and concerts beyond Sept. 1.

The casino and hotel, which had been open just about two years, warned its employees earlier this summer that they could be out of a job if a buyer wasn't found in bankruptcy court.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep012014

Top Tips to Ease Back Into the Office After Summer Vacation 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What may be worse than a "case of the Mondays?" The day after a three-day weekend. Here are some steps to help ease the transition back to work.

Returning to the office on Tuesday morning will feel to many like the last day of beaches, pools, and sunshine itself. (But take heart: the last day of summer is technically weeks away.)

Tom Gimbel, president and CEO of LaSalle Network, a staffing firm based in Chicago, offers easy steps to take both during the weekend to provide a healthier transition after your time away from the office.

Here are healthy things to consider for a smooth transition back into the workplace after a vacation.

Before Returning to the Office:

1. Create a Task List

"Employees should write down where each project stands and the immediate steps they need to take once upon return. No one wants to stress during a break, so plan everything ahead of time," Gimbel said. "Coming back to a to-do list will allow you to hit the ground running."

2. Scan Emails

"The employee may resent the fact that they have to work outside of the office, but at the end of the day, the pros outweigh the cons in dedicating an hour for managing an inbox or checking voicemails," Gimbel said.

Upon Returning to the Office:

1. Get to the Office Earlier

Gimbel suggests at least an hour earlier on their first day back to get organized.

"That way they are prepared to meet as soon as their managers get in to recap anything they’ve missed," he said. "Employees have to be laser-focused, which means putting phones away and not constantly checking social media updates or looking at the trip's photos. They shouldn’t set themselves up for distractions."

2. Consider the Week Ahead

Before going home that first day, employees should create an agenda of what the rest of the week will entail, he suggests.

3. Consider Office Social Dynamics

It's important that employees are empathic to their teams who may have picked up their slack while out, he said.

"It wouldn't hurt to write a quick thank-you note to team members who did work on their behalf. Appreciation goes a long way," he said.

4. Stay on top of Updates

If the employee works directly with clients, they should make calls to each when they return to simply catch up and recap where projects stand, regardless if coworkers filled them in or not, Gimbel said.

5. Use the Energy!

With the exception of diverted planes due to belligerent passengers, hopefully your vacations allow you to rest and recharge.

"Being on a vacation revives an employee who may have spent months at the office without taking a trip," Gimbel said. "Bring that fresh energy into the office and apply it to current projects."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep012014

How Venmo Is Turning Into a Hilarious Social Network 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  If you use Venmo, you already know how convenient it is to pay your friends instantly, splitting the bill at dinner without hitting up an ATM or getting exact change. With a couple of taps on the app, your portion of the bill is settled, and you didn't even have to irritate the server by handing over seven credit cards.

But lately, it seems the handy app is something more, morphing into a full-fledged social network as more users join and many get creative with their eye-raising payment explanations, which are public to other people on the app. Venmo, whether you realize it or not, has become a place to brag about your wild night out and clue in friends on who you've been sharing cabs with.

"Once I'm on the app, I definitely find myself scrolling through," Jarell Cardoza of San Francisco told ABC News.

He uses the app to split rent and bills with his roommate, and also when he goes out with friends or his girlfriend.

Today, payments for "forgetting my wallet like a scrub," "Costco goodies" and "kale" were among the thousands of transactions visible on the global newsfeed of the app. Venmo conceals actual dollar amounts paid or charged, but everyone can see who is paying whom, and for what -- from bills to late-night jaunts to the strip club.

And the descriptions are increasingly hilarious.

"It's almost like the same thought that goes into sending a tweet goes into what you write for Venmo," Keisha Follins, 36, told ABC News. "Because you know other people are going to see it and you want it to be amusing."

When Venmo users log in to make a transaction, many find themselves staying a while -- browsing their friends' activity like one would on Facebook or Twitter.

"I did that yesterday and I felt kind of creepy because I was like: Why do I care about what other people are doing?" Follins said. "But it kind of encourages you to be funny when you write something. It's entertaining."

Cardoza also uses the app to see what his friends are up to, sometimes stumbling upon cryptic emoji-filled payments.

"When you see a 4 a.m. New York City charge with double horns on it, I find myself wondering and sometimes shooting a text, like, 'What was that about?'" he said.

Allyson White of New York City also gets a laugh out of some of the outrageous Venmo posts.

"I've seen a lot of funny ones around bachelorette parties," said White, 25. "A lot of people seem to communicate only in emoticons, which makes it funnier. If I can think of something clever on the spot, I'll try to make it funny."

Adding to the social aspect is Venmo's version of friend requests. Users connect with people they know through email and Facebook, so while their transactions will show up in your main newsfeed, they're not necessarily people you exchange cash with. Just like Facebook, it's a passive way of knowing what someone you don't even talk to anymore is up to nowadays.

Users can even like or comment on transactions.

Venmo is a free app available on iPhone and Android platforms.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep012014

After Nude Photo Hack, Should Cloud Users Be Worried?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For anyone whose digital life needs some extra space, the cloud seems like a miraculous solution.

But after dozens of nude photos of celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, leaked online late Sunday, reportedly hacked from their personal cloud accounts, users might be concerned about their own cyber safety.

"A lot of people don't understand how far their information is spreading," Clifford Neuman, the director of the USC Center for Computer System Security, told ABC News. "There's a lot more stuff that gets sucked into these sites than one would understand."

Many people use the cloud and don't even know it -- Google Drive and Dropbox are common examples.

What is clear is that cyber safety is a serious issue. It's important to remember how the cloud works, and that when you sync a device like your smartphone to the cloud, it creates two copies of files. At least one of the hacked stars, Mary E. Winstead, said she deleted the leaked photos "long ago."

But if you delete something from a device like a tablet or smartphone, it doesn't necessarily delete from the cloud, Neuman pointed out.

"You still have to go into the cloud account and delete it, in many cases," he said.

Another problem is passwords. If you use the same password for multiple accounts, as many people do, you're at greater risk. If one of your digital accounts is hacked and you're using the same password for your cloud account, hackers can also gain access to what's on your cloud.

"You should be using a different password for your cloud account than you do for other accounts," Neuman said.

People should also know that they can unlink their devices from the cloud.

"The downside, of course, is that if you lose your phone you lose everything that's on it, like photos," Neuman said.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Aug312014

Three Atlantic City Casinos Are Closing Their Doors

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.) --  In the past few years, the dozen gambling venues in Atlantic City have been rolling the dice to try to turn a profit, but too many casinos and too few tourists are leading to dramatic changes.

The Showboat Casino-Hotel is closing its doors this weekend for good and will soon be joined by two others, the Revel and the Trump Plaza.

More than 6,000 people, or about 25% of the Atlantic City work force, will be jobless.

Now, Atlantic City's mayor Don Guardian is saying New Jersey may try to help with possible mortgage payment extensions, and the remaining casinos are also pledging to hire some of those laid-off workers.

"The governor is bringing down a program to the state of New Jersey that has forgiveness for mortgages," Guardian said. "It's really a holiday. So you add up to 12 months of non payment to the end of your mortgage. So you get the credit now, you don't pay the mortgage until you get some time."


Watch more news videos | Latest from the US


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Aug312014

Six Things You Should Know About Money and Happiness 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you were offered a well-deserved raise at work or a no-strings-attached wad of money, would you take it? You've surely heard that money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly get you closer to an enjoyable life, right?

Yes and no, says Elizabeth Dunn, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and author of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. "It turns out, what you do with your money seems to matter just as much to your happiness as how much you make," she says; good news for those of us without a sudden windfall or promotion in our near futures.

Here are six facts that may surprise you—and tips on how to live the good life, no matter how much you've got.

1. Don’t sweat the six-figure job

"There is definitely a correlation between income and happiness," says Dunn. "But actually, money buys less happiness than people assume."

And in some ways, it buys happiness only up to a certain point: A 2010 Princeton University study found that emotional well-being—defined by the frequency of emotions like joy, anger, affection, and sadness—tended to rise with salary, but only up to about $75,000. Beyond that, people continued to rate their lives as more satisfying, but they didn't seem to experience any more happiness on a day-to-day basis.

2. Spend on experiences, not things

Material goods may last longer, but a 2014 San Francisco State University study shows that life experiences—like trips, fancy dinners, and spa treatments—provide more satisfaction in the long run. Researchers interviewed volunteers before and after they made purchases of both types, and found that afterward, most people viewed the intangibles as a better use of money. However, they add, an experience has to fit a person's personality in order to have benefit; someone who doesn't like show tunes, for example, probably won't see the value in a Broadway play.

3. Donate to charity

Giving to people or organizations in need "has a direct correlational effect on happiness that is basically equivalent to a doubling of household income," says Dunn, citing research from a Gallup World Poll. How you give matters, too, she says: You'll get more of an emotional reward by supporting groups you feel closely connected to, or when a close friend asks for your help. (In other words, accept that Ice Bucket Challenge already—the giving money part, at least!)

4. Pay it off early

"The pleasure of consumption can be dragged down by the pain of having to pay for it," says Dunn. One way to get around that? Put money down for things as early as you can, even if you won't actually experience them for a while—book trips months in advance, pre-order books and albums you're excited about, or purchase credit for a service you can redeem at a later date. "Research shows that what lies in the future is much more emotionally evocative than what lies in the past," she adds. "If we paid for something last year, it's almost like our brain forgets we ever spent money on it."

5. Give thoughtful gifts

When money gets tight, it may seem wasteful to splurge on presents and tokens of affection—but Dunn's research shows that spending money on others, especially a loved one, is one of the happiest things you can do with your money. (In one study, people who had been asked to spend $5 on someone else felt better at the end of the day than those who’d been asked to spend it on themselves.) It's the thought that counts, too: Both givers and receivers are happier when a gift is a good fit for the recipient's personality.

6. Use a debit, not credit card

Being in debt is negatively associated with happiness, and is linked to health problems such as depression and anxiety. It may be hard to avoid all forms of debt, but one way to keep from falling deeper into it is to make everyday purchases with debit accounts, rather than charging them.

"Debit cards are way happier plastic," says Dunn. "They provide a lot of the same conveniences as credit cards, but don't have the same long-term problems associated with them."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Aug302014

The Latest Bridal Trend: Renting Your Gown

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For traditional brides, "carrying something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue" has long been a way of inviting good fortune and prosperity into a marriage. But what if the borrowed something is the big white dress?

A host of new retail outlets are offering all of the glitz and glamour of a fairy tale wedding gown experience, but with a return-by date akin to Cinderella's famous midnight curfew.

Ladies and gentleman, you may now rent the bridal gown.

"When we recently launched Little White Dress rentals for brides, we received orders for events the next day," said Kelsey Doorey, whose new e-retail site Vow to Be Chic, launched with rentals for bridesmaids and then quickly expanded its offerings. "It's clear that women are looking for ways to make the experience more affordable and convenient without sacrificing style or dress quality."

Popular designers featured on the Vow to be Chic site include Jenny Yoo, Nicole Miller, Jill Jill Stuart, Tadashi Shoji, Watters, Theia, Joanna August, LulaKate, Alvina Valenta, Jim Hjelm and Swoon.

And it's not alone in its business model.

With an increasing number of women shifting away from preserving gowns for family heirlooms, many of today's brides are more interested in saving some money on the way from the boutique to the chapel.

Longstanding designer rental website Rent the Runway, which offers 4- and 8-day rentals of upscale gowns by designers ranging from Badgley Mischka to Monique Lhiullier, recently debuted a bridal category after its brick-and-mortar store in the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas saw a steady stream of women shopping for their wedding day.

"I think some women value the experience over the ownership of their gown," said a representative for Rent the Runway. "If they already use Spotify or Uber, services where you’re not necessarily owning something versus experiencing it, they will also feel comfortable with renting a wedding gown."

Plus, the savings of renting are not insignificant.

A sleek, long-sleeved, cocktail-length wedding dress by Dsquared that would normally retail for approximately $830 can be rented for $125 on Rent the Runway. And at Washington, D.C.-based bridal rental atelier Borrowing Magnolia, a Jenny Packham "Aspen Gown" featuring a draping silhouette, meticulous bead work and an illusion lace back that would typically sell for $5,000 before alterations, can be rented for $1,250.

Those discounts leave lots of funds still in the wedding budget for food, music or other desirable decor elements. And if your groom isn't planning to keep his morning jacket, proponents say there's no reason why his betrothed can't follow suit with her tulle.

"Guys have been renting tuxes forever," Doorey told ABC News. "It finally dawned on me: Why can't women enjoy the same concept?"


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug292014

Why a Former Letter Carrier Says Drones Will Never Replace Postal Workers

Credit: Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Google, Amazon and Domino's Pizza are big fans. The FAA is feeling it out. But one person clearly not a part of "Team Drone" is Matty Rose, a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran and retired mail carrier.

Google announced Wednesday that it tested drone delivery of items like dog treats, vaccines and candy to farmers in Australia. Though companies like the search giant are figuring out the legalities of FAA rules regarding commercial drone use, the realities of food and product deliveries by small aircraft appear to be closer than ever before.

Though no companies have declared they will replace mail delivery, Rose says you can count him out of the fan club if they ever decide to do so when it comes to packages and letters.

"I don’t think letter carriers can be replaced. Everything else can be automated or bar-coded to every state for the same price," he said. "But somebody has to deliver it."

A former union officer for the National Association of Letter Carriers, Rose delivered mail for more than 12 years in Hollywood, Florida, north of Miami, after his military service in 1966. He is now the president of Nalcrest Trustees, a 500-unit retirement community in Central Florida for former letter carriers.

"The Postal Service is part of the fabric of this nation," said Darleen Reid, a spokeswoman for the United States Postal Service. "Postal employees make a difference in every community across the country."

Here are some of the reasons mail carriers may be better than drones:

1. Drones can't cheer up lonely residents.

"Everybody’s working and busy these days, but in most neighborhoods, especially with people who are seniors, letter carriers are sometimes the only people they get to meet during the course of the day," Rose said. "Letter carriers keep an eye on the elderly and the neighborhood.

2. Mail carriers have saved lives.


"Letter carriers are saving people’s lives and they can stop crimes," he said.

Exhibit A: One mailman in Akron, Ohio, Keith McVey, is credited with saving three lives, including saving a drowning girl from a lake, helping a teen who jumped off a bridge on a snowy day and performing CPR on an unconscious man.

Reid said that in 2013 the Postal Service recognized 262 "employee heroes."

3. Drones can't be Santa Claus.


Since 1912, postal employees, charities and individual and corporate volunteers have helped children and families in need experience the magic of the holiday season by answering letters to Santa.

4. Mail carriers won't drop packages on your head.


"A drone could hover over your head. I don’t know if people would trust drones," whereas many Americans would prefer the "personal touch" of a letter carrier, said Rose. "Something about delivering a letter is special. Look at what we have now. Drones dropping packages on your head. You certainly don’t want that."

5. Your postal worker knows everything about you, hopefully, in a good way.


"The letter carrier knows everything about you: the kind of mail you get, your hobbies, magazines and who you’re fooling around with," Rose said.

6. Drones can't hold food drives.


Reid said the Postal Service and the National Association of Letter Carriers held the largest one-day food drive in the nation. In 2013, more than one million pounds of food were collected. More than one billion pounds of food have been collected since the drive began in 1993.

7. Postal service workers will take a dog bite for you.


Medical expenses from dog attacks cost the Postal Service more than $1.4 million last year, based on data through June 2013. Each year in May, the Postal Service supports National Dog Bite Prevention Week. The campaign raises awareness concerning animal attacks. Last year, 4,734 postal employees were attacked in more than 2,200 cities.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio