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- There can be cachet in owning a home where famous people lived -- or even died.

"Has anyone died here lately?" is not the sort of thing buyers blurt out at open houses.

As North America's housing stock gets older, chances increase that somebody died within the walls of many homes.

But not everyone is able to sleep soundly once they learn that a death -- particularly a murder or suicide -- happened in their home.

The house in Beverly Hills in which Lyle and Erik Menendez killed their parents with shotguns in 1989 lost more than $1 million in value when it was sold. But the 15th-floor apartment at 1040 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan that was home to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis -- and the place where she died in 1994 -- is by no means stigmatized. Rather, it connotes glamour and style (and is currently on the market for $32 million). In 1995 the apartment was sold to its current owner for $9.5 million.

- Cigars with legendary Cuban names have always had great cachet in south Florida. But what's being smoked? There is a booming market in counterfeit high-end cigars such as Montecristos and H. Upmanns.

These traditional brands are still produced in Cuba but in the late 1990s, Fort Lauderdale-based Altadis USA bought the trademark rights for the primo cigars from the families that used to produce them in Cuba. Altadis now makes the brands in the Dominican Republic. Prior to that, the company produced the cigars under licence from the families.

Because a box of 25 Montecristo cigars can command as much as $250 US, Altadis has found there are plenty of imitators who produce their cigars with poorer quality tobacco, slap fake cigar bands on them and package them in boxes that are similar to the real thing.

- Plenty of jobs, but flat pay. That's the word from a survey of 50 U.S. companies that hire an abundant load of summer workers.

Of 50 employers, including such outfits as pizza chains and movie theatres, 84 per cent indicated that they'll have either the same number or more jobs available this summer than last.

But only about a quarter, 28 per cent, said they expect they'll need to pay more than a year ago.

According to the survey, 16 per cent said they see a decline in teenage applicants, and 36 per cent said they plan to target older applicants this summer.

"Older workers, from recent college graduates to senior citizens, have a record of experience that is attractive to employers," said Shawn Boyer, founder and CEO of Inc., a Richmond, Va.-based job site that queried the companies.

"And very often, employers are willing to pay extra for that experience."

- There's no such thing as a free lunch -- or birthday cake -- says a recent survey by staffing service OfficeTeam, which polled 100 senior Canadian executives.

More than 80 per cent of those polled said employees are asked by peers to contribute money to pay for celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers and retirements, at least once a year.

More than one-fifth said they receive donation requests monthly.

"Employees often pool resources to plan informal events to acknowledge personal milestones like staff birthdays or weddings," said OfficeTeam executive director Diane Domeyer.

"No one wants to appear a poor sport for not contributing, but when requests are made too frequently, employees may feel tapped out."

She suggested companies do their part by leaving room in the budget for recognition events.

- Finally, online recognition for one of Canada's enduring enigmas. You can read Newfoundland legends and rum-related lore at this company site, which has history, and recipes like the Dark & Dirty.

Source: Edmonton Journal