Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Bear that fell from tree dies after being hit by car

    A young bear that became an Internet sensation after falling from a tree has died after being hit by a car. It was a whirlwind week for the bear, which shot to prominence last week when it climbed into a tree near the University of Colorado campus, then fell to safety after being tranquilized by local police.

    The Denver Post reports that the 208-pound black bear had wandered into the Denver-bound lanes of U.S. highway 36 when a vehicle struck it at 5:40 Thursday morning.

    "It's a bummer. It's so hard to go through this and not be able to give these bears a good place to live," said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill. "The community sees relocating bears as a kind of perfect solution, and unfortunately it's a really difficult proposition."

    Churchill said authorities were able to identify the bear by an ear tag that had been placed on him after the tree incident last week.

    After it was safely removed from the tree near the CU campus, wildlife officials had relocated the bear to a wilderness area about 50 miles west of Boulder, according to the Post.

    Colorado State Patrol Trooper Josh Lewis told the paper that two cars were involved in the accident, resulting in minor injuries to one of the drivers.

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  • Prison’s ‘Cuddly Catz’ program pairs felons and felines

    Inmate Richard Amaro holds Clementine as part of the "Cuddly Catz" program (Rick Bowmer/AP)

    A prison in Washington State has begun testing out a new program, "Cuddly Catz," matching inmates with cats who have been rescued from shelters.

    The Associated Press reports that inmate Joey Contreras, 28, was transferred from a 40 man dorm into a two-person cell in March. But it's the cell's third occupant, "Princess Natalie," who has made the biggest difference in his daily routine.

    "Nobody was wanting to adopt her," Contreras said. "We got her and it's been awesome ever since."

    Princess Natalie was living in a shelter and scheduled to be put down before she was adopted out to the fledgling program. Like many of her new neighbors, Princess Natalie struggled with social norms: biting and hissing and nearly anyone who came across her path.

    Of course, the rescue cats aren't being paired with just anyone. Contreras is being held at the minimum security Larch Correctional Facility and already demonstrated a pre-determined period of good behavior before being given the opportunity to pair with the six-year-old cat. And if the prisoners don't continue to stay in line, they will lose their cat privileges and be returned to the general prison population.

    The reported goal of the program is to give the prisoners some positive responsibility that will hopefully help transition them during their eventual integration back civil society.

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  • New spray makes you ‘instantly drunk,’ and only lasts a few seconds

    WAA/HH inventor David Edwards poses with his new creation (Photo by Foc Kan/WireImage)A French American scientist has invented a new alcohol spray that instantly intoxicates the user. However, the effects are nearly as brief, wearing off in a matter of moments.

    The spray, WA|HH Quantum Sensations, was created by David Edwards and was unveiled during a recent Paris exhibition.

    The short-term effects are reportedly due to the 0.075 millileter dosage. In other words, it would take 1,000 sprays to equal the level of alcohol contained in one conventional drink.

    The spray bottle itself was created by French product designer Philippe Starck and will be sold for about $26.

    Reportedly, not only does the sensation of being drunk wear off almost immediately but the user would also supposedly be able to pass a breathalyzer test, verifying that they are no longer under the influence of alcohol.

    In other words, you won't be needing to pay a visit to the Hangover Heaven bus in Las Vegas.

    Edwards has also invented other sprays, which allow you to taste various foods and drinks,

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  • 13-year-old finds mistake in Metropolitan Museum of Art map

    An exhibition in The Met's Byzantine gallery (AP/Gregory Bull)New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is one of the world's premier destinations for artistic and historical exhibitions. But this epicenter of worldly culture is not above admitting the occasional mistake. Even when the correction comes from one curious 13-year-old boy.

    The Hartford Courant reports that 13-year-old Benjamin Lerman Coady found an error in the Met's Byzantine Gallery during a recent visit. The seventh-grader is a fledgling history buff who recently studied the Byzantine Empire in school.

    While checking some of the dates on the map, Coady noticed that sections featuring Spain and Africa were missing.

    Before leaving the museum, Coady attempted to inform the museum that the map was inaccurate. "The front desk didn't believe me," he told the paper. "I'm only a kid."

    However, Coady received an email from the museum's senior vice president for external affairs, notifying him that his request was being forwarded to the museum's medieval affairs department for further review.

    A few months later, Helen Evans, the Met's curator for Byzantine art, sent Coady an email: "You are, of course, correct about the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire under Justinian," she wrote.

    Evans even invited Coady back to the museum to meet with her in person. She says the Met is working on updating the map but isn't sure when a new, more accurate rendition can be put on display.

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  • Going vegetarian poses own set of potential health risks

    A member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) during a recent protest in the Phillippines (AP/Aaron Favila)

    Thinking of giving up meat from your diet? The potential health benefits of a green diet are well established, but a story by the Mother Nature Network (MNN) says there are also some potential side effects and health risks associated with a vegetarian lifestyle.

    Could low cholesterol kill you? A study by the Honolulu Heart Program found that elderly people with a "low cholesterol concentration" had a "significant association with mortality." In addition, a 2009 review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that while vegetarians have an overall lower rate of cancer compared with meat eaters, vegetarians do have a 39 percent higher rate of colorectal cancer.

    Other health concerns associated with vegetarianism cited by MNN included lower bone mineral density and lower levels of vitamin B12. However, the publishers of the bone density study said the "magnitude of the association is clinically insignificant," at just around 5 percent.

    Going vegetarian appears to have gained popularity in recent years. A recent Yahoo Sports article even examined the diet of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Jake Shields. Though much of the media's focus has been on a worldwide trend toward bigger diets, whether that's Pizza Hut offering strange fast food mashups or yet another customer at the Heart Attack Grill proving that there is truth in advertising.

    The lesson in these potential risk-factors seems to be that if you're going to become a vegan or vegetarian, you'll need to spend more time planning your nutritional choices to help ensure a balanced intake of vitamins and other nutrients. Though if you don't have the time or inclination for such efforts, there may be another option. University of Idaho nutritionist Katie Minor says that a "flexitarian" diet may be a viable third way.

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  • Pottery donated to Goodwill may be 1,000-year-old Native American artifact

    This potentially prehistoric vase was donated to Goodwill (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)A piece of pottery given to Goodwill by an anonymous donor may in fact be a prehistoric artifact taken from a Native American burial site in Oklahoma.

    The Buffalo News reports that the mysterious piece of pottery traveled through Goodwill's internal distribution system before arriving in New York. Employees at Goodwill had no knowledge of the item's potential significance and put it up for auction, where it received two bids for just $4.99 before several readers pointed out its potential historical value.

    A note inside the 7.5-inch piece of pottery reads, "Found in a burial mound near Spiro Oklahoma in 1970."

    "We're pretty amazed that the thing wasn't (a) broken or (b) just thrown out," Jeremy Juhasz, Goodwill's local social media and website coordinator, told the Buffalo News.

    Local New York affiliate WKBW says Goodwill has received a number of unintentional, high-value donations over the years, including a book written by Albert Einstein in German and an autographed copy of Mickey Mantle's book.

    It's thought that the piece originates from the Spiro Mounds archaeological site in Oklahoma, meaning it could potentially be several thousands of years old. According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, the site was a permanent settlement from approximately 800 to 1450 but that people have inhabited the area for 8,000 years.

    Goodwill says it is returning the piece to the Caddo Indian Nation.

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  • Mensa welcomes two-year-old into its ranks, second toddler this year

    Mensa must be looking for young blood: The high-IQ society has for the second time this year welcomed a member who is just two years old.

    The Victoria Times Colonist reports that Anthony Popa Urria is the youngest Canadian ever admitted into Mensa and has an estimated IQ of 154. The toddler can recite the alphabet backward and forward, count to 1,000 and name the planets in the solar system. He is, however, only the second two-year-old admitted to Mensa this year.

    In March, Emmelyn Roettger was welcome into Mensa one month shy of her third birthday. She is the youngest U.S. member of the group. Amazingly, doctors at first thought Roettger suffered from autism, because she appeared to avoid eye contact with other individuals.

    "It turned out that she just needed glasses!" her mother Michelle Horne, 41, told MSNBC. "It was so obvious that any delays she had were vision-related. From there on out, she just took off."

    In this video, Emmelyn shows off her impressive reading skills:

    Popa Urria has incredible comprehension skills of his own, reportedly speaking in three languages (English, Spanish and some Romanian).

    "He was very alert since he was about four months old. He was curious, looking around," his grandmother Felicia told the Times Colonist.

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  • Is this new Ashton Kutcher ‘Pop Chips’ video racist? (VIDEO)

    Ashton Kutcher is well known for his acting career, but he's also a very successful Internet entrepreneur. His Twitter account alone has more than 10 million followers. But a recent attempt at combining the two careers appears to be backfiring in some circles.

    Kutcher has teamed with the snack food company Pop Chips to launch a series of fake dating service commercials featuring the all-natural chips. In each of the videos, Kutcher portrays a different persona. The problem, at least amongst many of his followers online, is that in one of the videos, the character he portrays appears to represent racial stereotypes.

    In the video above, Kutcher portrays "Raj," an Indian man and Bollywood film producer looking for love via the fictional "World Wide Lovers" dating service. Throughout the video, Kutcher enacts a number of Indian stereotypes, though the aspect most offensive to viewers seems to be that Kutcher is dressed in "brown face" makeup.

    On Twitter, writer and self-described tech geek Anil Dash has written a number of missives to Kutcher, Pop Chips and the other companies involved in the video's promotion, asking for clarification and predicting a forthcoming apology from those involved.

    "Aside from an obligatory 'We apologize if anyone was offended,' I'm curious about all the people who had to have given approval earlier," Dash wrote in one tweet.

    Interestingly, not all of the reaction online has been negative. "American Idol" presenter Ryan Seacrest linked back to the videos, tweeting, "now it's official… @aplusk is definitely dating again"

    And reality TV star Kim Kardashian showed her support as well, tweeting: "LOL @aplusk! Love this... 'Kardashian hot'"

    And rapper/producer P. Diddy chimed in as well on Twitter, writing:

    "[M]y man @aplusk is back on the dating scene"

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  • Hang glider pilot accused of ‘swallowing evidence’ after tourist’s death

    Lenami Godinez-Avila (LinkedIn)Lenami Godinez-Avila, 27, was celebrating an anniversary with her boyfriend by taking a hang gliding trip in Canada on Saturday, April 29.

    But something went horribly wrong when Godinez-Avila fell from the glider, dropping nearly 1,000 feet to her death.

    And now the story has taken an even stranger twist as the hang glider pilot is accused of swallowing a computer memory card that may have contained video of the accident.

    Court documents accuse William (Jon) Orders, 50, of attempting to obstruct justice by swallowing the memory card that may have been part of a camera attached to the glider during the flight.

    "It's related to an allegation that he has possibly withheld potential key evidence which could help our investigation," RCMP Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth told CBC News. "We've been speaking to all the witnesses. Like I say, further interviews may be required but our investigation continues."

    Orders himself is an accomplished hang glider, having flown for over 16 years and been a member of the 2007 Canadian National Hang Gliding Team. According to his company's website, Vancouver Hang Gliding, in 2006 he placed second in the Canadian Nationals.

    The company website also touts its video-recording options, stating: "Photos and video are available using a specially mounted camera pole that captures you, your pilot and the amazing scenery around you."

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  • Sir Richard Branson ice cubes take off on Virgin

    The "Little Richard" Branson ice cube (Virgin.com)

    If you've ever wanted to chill with one of the world's richest men, this may be your best chance. Virgin Airlines announced it is now offering "Little Richard" ice cubes resembling Virgin Group head Richard Branson on all Virgin Atlantic flights.

    But even just toasting with Branson ice cubes won't come cheap; you'll have to fly as an "Upper Class" passenger to have access to the cubes that have been carved into a likeness of Branson's facial features.

    "The new ice innovation means all passengers will be able to enjoy some chill out time with Mr. Branson at the new bar—the longest of any airline—which has been designed to provide additional space and comfort for those keen to socialise while flying," a statement on the company's website reads.

    Virgin claims that the creation of the cubes required a team of four designers a "painstaking" six weeks to craft, using "laser scanning technology" to match the likeness of his face.

    "While Richard would love to be able to sit and enjoy a drink with all of our passengers, his schedule means that it simply isn't possible. Now he is able to join our guests 'in spirit' on one of the Upper Class Cabin's first flights as they raise a toast to their trip and the exciting times ahead," Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Steve Ridgway said in the statement.

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