Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Illinois family shocked by $100k electric bill

    (AP/Paul Sakuma)A family living in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park was shocked to discover their monthly electric bill was more expensive than most families make in an entire year: $107, 625.16.

    Kathy and David Rajter had used 2,236 kilowatt hours the previous month and received a bill for for $276. But the following month, their bill said the couple had used closer to 1,647,499 kilowatts. There's almost no way the Rajter's could use that much energy in one month even if they tried (unless perhaps Doc Brown of Back to the Future movie fame, has been hiding out in their garage!)

    "The taxes (and fees alone) on the bill were $16,000," Kathy Rajter told the Chicago Sun Times.

    Electricity prices in the Chicago area are already an estimated 15 percent higher than the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And this is exactly why Oak Park had recently switched to the new third party provider, hoping to save some money for the suburb's 51,000 residents.

    And to add to the anxiety, the Rajter's home is signed up for automatic bill payments. Thankfully, they contacted Integrys, who supplies the local electricity to their home, and ComEd, who handles the billing.

    "I have automatic withdrawal, and I have overdraft protection," Rajter tells the Sun-Times. "Imagine if I'd just set the bill aside — it would have wiped out my entire checking and savings."

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  • Michigan family discovers rarest football card collection in history

    The "anonymous" John Dunlop card, first issued in 1894.A Michigan family was cleaning out an old farmhouse and accidentally stumbled across a long-sought after collection of football cards worth thousands of dollars and considered perhaps the rarest such collection in history. The set is highlighted by an "anonymous" card of former Harvard football player John Dunlop, which was first issued in 1894.

    The Dunlop card alone is reportedly worth $10,000, according to Lou Brown, president of Legends Sports and Games. "If it was in the right condition, it could be worth up to $60,000," Brown told Yahoo! News in a phone interview.

    "We get a lot of calls from a lot of people saying they've got something, and usually it's not what you expect," Brown tells local affiliate Fox11. But Brown says this set is something different entierly. "It's the 'Holy Grail' of football cards," he tells Fox11.

    The Dunlop card, created by the Mayo Tobocco Works of Richmond Virginia, is called "anonymous" because it did not actually feature Dunlop's name. The entire set is considered the rarest football set in history.

    Brown tells Yahoo! News that the Dunlop card is being put up for sale by the Robert Edward Auctions this May.

    There are only 10 Dunlop cards known to still exist, with some valued as high as $18,000. The entire collection is the first ever to dedicated to football players. And since there was no NFL at the time, the set focused entirely on the nation's 35 best Ivy League college players, according to the site FootballCardShop.com.

    You can view some of the other rare cards from the collection here.

    The family also discovered several rare boxing cards, first issued by the same tobacco company in 1890. "I was hoping there might be some baseball cards in there too," Brown, who has been trading cards professionally for over 35 years, told Yahoo! News. "But I'm pretty excited with what they did find."

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  • Aspiring gymnast performs amazing moves with one leg (Video)

    In the exclusive video above, Australian acrobat Roya Abdolhosini performs a series of amazing gymnastic moves with one leg. Abdolhosini is just one of the many participants in a new video contest centered around the 2012 London Olympic Games.

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has launched a "Show Your Best" video competition, where participants upload video of themselves doing anything that counts as their best effort performing their favorite activity in 60 seconds or less.

    The possibilities are endless and can include anything from athletic demonstrations to music to an activity like cooking.

    Abdolhosini has a great story, and The Melbourne Weekly recently profiled her, noting that she overcame adversity to become a member of her college's cheerleading team. Abdolhosini tells the Weekly, "There are just a few things I can't do, like leaps and jumps, but Natalie just adjusts the routine to suit me. It's not a major problem."

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  • Hillary Clinton must not have gotten the white shirt memo!

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood out from the crowd during a G20 group photo in which she was the only participant not dressed in a white button-down shirt. Instead, Clinton arrived wearing one of her signature pantsuits, this one a shade of chartreuse green.

    Click image to see more photos 

    (Reuters)

    The photo-op was held at the G20 Ministers of Foreign Affairs informal gathering in Los Cabos, Mexico. Apparently, there was no white shirt requirement in place. The State Department told the Daily Mail that they were not made aware of any formal dress code before the photo op.

    Clinton is no stranger to fashion controversy. Ever since she first appeared on the public stage alongside Bill Clinton, the former First Lady's choices in everything from haircuts to pantsuits have been scrutinized by the media. A 1993 Chicago Tribune article written just after Bill Clinton's first inauguration is entitled, "Hillary's fashion crimes," and contains the following missive:

    "Last Wednesday,

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  • Forget about painting the town red. Calcutta to be painted ‘sky blue’

    (AP/Rajanish Kakade) Photo altered by Yahoo! News

    Calcutta's chief minister has ordered the city of 14 million residents to be painted sky blue, taking inspiration from the new Indian government's motto, "the sky is the limit." The BBC reports the mandatory changes will affect everything from government and private buildings to local taxis and even historic landmarks.

    "From now on, all government buildings, whenever they are re-painted, will be done in sky blue," Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim told The Indian Express newspaper. "The owners of private buildings will also be requested to follow the same colour pattern. The necessary government orders will be issued soon."

    While the compulsory color changes are meant to invoke national spirits, they are just as likely to anger some people, since owners of private buildings are being asked to foot the bill to pay for the cosmetic changes to their property.

    Of course, officials undoubtably will be wary of stirring up too much controversy, lest residents gather arms and set out to paint the town red.

    "Blue is a beautiful colour and is also soothing for the eyes," Calcutta mayor Sobhan Chatterjee told the Indian Express, referring to the color change.

    Calcutta won't be the only blue-streaked area in India. Tourist haven Jodhpur is sometimes referred to as the "Blue City" due to the bright blue-painted houses surrounding the Mehrangarh Fort. Likewise, other Indian cities have made monochromatic changes to buildings and landmarks. The BBC reports that in 2006, authorities in Bihar had the entire city painted pink to improve spirits in the crime-infested region. The Indian city of Jaipur, often referred to as the "Pink City," is also known for its pink dominated hues.

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  • Ancient meteorite standing between one Iowa town and its water supply

    Image via the Iowa Geological and Water Survey

    The remains of a 1.5 mile-wide, 10 billion-ton meteorite are causing problems for a small Iowa town, 74 million years after it crashed onto the Earth's surface at 45,000 miles per hour.

    The Des Moines Register reports that the 1,600 residents of Manson, Iowa are struggling to locate a site for the town's well due to the geological impact of the meteorite. The crash created the underground Manson Crater—which has a diameter of 24 miles and reaches into four neighboring counties.

    "It's hard to predict exactly what you are going to hit," state geologist Robert Libra told the Register. "It's a jumbled mess."

    For a little context, the asteroid blamed for wiping out the dinosaurs and most life on Earth 65 million years ago is estimated to have been about 9 miles in diameter. According to a 2010 article in the journal Science, that impact was the equivalent of 1,000,000 Hiroshima nuclear bombs, creating tsunamis and earthquakes measuring more than 10 on the Richter scale.

    An explainer on the Iowa Geological & Water Survey site explains that while the Manson Crater meteorite wasn't enough to wipe out the dinosaurs (it hit Earth nearly 10 million years prior), it nonetheless had a comparable effect on prehistoric Iowa. The impact is said to equal 10 trillion tons of TNT, resulting in an electromagnetic blast that incinerated anything within 130 miles and wiped out all life within 650 miles of the blast.

    In fact, the Manson Crater meteorite was long-thought to have been the cause of the dinosaurs extinction, until scientists determined that it was too old. Still, it remains one of the largest outer space collision sites in North America.

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  • Giant steel girders collapse at World Trade Center site; no injuries

    Workers inspect the crash site where steel girders collapsed at the World Trade Center site(AP/Mark Lennihan)

    The long awaited and often delayed rebuilding process at the World Trade Center site in New York City nearly took a dark turn Thursday morning after several tons of steel unexpectedly came crashing down onto a construction site. Amazingly, no one was hurt in the accident.

    According to Gothamist, the 60 foot steel girders fell 40 stories before landing on top of a loading truck, which thankfully was unoccupied at the time. Instagram user "Ddistant" snapped a shot of the incident and posted it to his account. In the photo, several construction workers can be seen standing near the damaged truck. The steel girders collapsed after a cable on a crane lifting them snapped, CNN reports.

    "It's a miracle," steamfitter Mark Sherank, 45, told the New York Daily News. "I looked outside I saw the truck it's a pancake now. A noise like that, you know something's wrong."

    Once completed, the 72-story building, which will face the World Trade Center memorial park, according to CNN. A posting from

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  • DC man’s ‘NO TAGS’ vanity plate earns him $20,000 in tickets

    Washington, D.C. driver Danny White thought he had a really good idea for a joke. But the joke's on him--to the tune of $20,000, reports local affiliate NBC4.

    White's prank started 25 years ago when he got a vanity license plate reading, "NO TAGS." He told NBC4 that he was "Just having fun!" and that "D.C. don't get the joke. They don't get it."

    The issue? Each time a car without proper identification is cited for a violation, a DMV employee enters "NO TAGS" into their paperwork. Because White's vanity plate is registered with the District of Columbia's DMV, his name and vehicle appear in the computer's system whenever a "NO TAGS" violation is entered. Notices for the fines are then mailed to White's residence.

    Vanity tags have a long history of causing trouble for the DMV and other motorists; White is hardly alone in becoming a target for bad ticket karma. In 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported on California driver Nick Vautier, who got into trouble over his personalized license plate, which simply contained his initials, "NV." Unfortunately for Vautier, "NV" is also the California DMV's code for when a vehicle's plates are "Not Visible."

    "I started to get random parking tickets from Los Angeles, where my car has never been," Vautier told the LAT. "For every type of car. Except a Mazda. Which is what I drive."

    Vautier eventually gave up his vanity plate, which White refuses to do.

    White himself drives a Chevrolet Avalanche truck. So, when a ticket arrives at his home citing a non-Chevy vehicle, he doesn't have much trouble getting those dismissed. But White isn't always so lucky when he does get a copy of a ticket meant for someone else's Chevy.

    "I've got enough tickets here to plaster my whole car," he told NBC4. "It had to be $20,000 in tickets. Over $20,000."

    White says he has to take time off from work every few months to have the tickets dismissed. And yet he still refuses to give up the vanity plate, even though the backlog of other people's tickets prevent him from renewing his license or registration.

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  • Secret $1 million gold stash discovered in French rafters

    (AP/Sotheby's)A French Champagne producer is spreading the wealth with his workers after they discovered nearly $1 million in gold coins stashed away in the building's rafters, according to Agence France Press (AFP).

    "One of the workers (was) attacking the building's ceiling with a crowbar when gold coins started to rain down on him, followed by sacks of gold," Francois Lange, head of Alexandre Bonnet in Les Riceys France, told AFP.

    It's not unusual to hear about treasure hunters combing the ocean's depth for gold and other precious metals lost at sea, but finding $1 million in your office attic is quite a steal. And a valuable one too, given that demand for gold has reached new heights recently. In 2011, just an ounce of gold was valued at $1,920.30.

    In all, 497 gold coins were unearthed, with the majority literally raining down upon the workers who were busy renovating the building. Minted between 1851 and 1928, the coins have a face value marking of $20 each. However, together they are now worth an estimated $980,000, according to AFP.

    Lange says he will keep half of the money for himself, while splitting half with the workers who made the discovery. No one knows for sure who placed the coins in the building, but AFP reports the building was previously owned by a wine producer in the 1930s.

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  • CNN producer third person this year to win Georgia lottery for second time

    In terms of jackpots, Las Vegas gets all the attention. But anyone looking to make GALottery.comtheir fortune on a gamble might be better off trying Georgia: Three people have won the lottery in Georgia multiple times in the past year alone.

    "Georgia is a very lucky state," Georgia Lottery spokeswoman Tandi Reddick tells Yahoo News. "There have been quite a few repeat Georgia Lottery winners who have Lady Luck on their side. It's fantastic for our players and very exciting for us."

    Even more amazing, Reddick provided Yahoo News with no less than 15 examples of repeat Georgia lottery winners.

    The most recent two-time winner is CNN producer Jennifer Hauser, 29, of Atlanta. Playing the instant scratch off game 50X The Money, Hauser took home a check for $1 million. Incredibly, Hauser's win came less than three months after she took home a $100,000 prize on another state lotto game, Georgia Lottery Black.

    "I was a little numb," Hauser told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "I didn't know what to think."

    Hauser says she used the first prize to buy a new car and pay off some bills and is thinking of buying her Mom a car with the second, larger payoff.

    The odds of winning any lottery are already incredibly slim, but the odds of winning a second time are astronomical. So it's especially astonishing that Hauser is actually the third person in less than a year to win multiple lotteries in the state of Georgia.

    Earlier this month, Erik Holmes, 44, won $500,000 in the scratch-off game $7 Million Jackpot less than a year after winning $104,000. And like Hauser, Holmes has been generous with his winnings, using his first jackpot to help out friends and family.

    And last November, I wrote about Delma Kinney, 50, who also is now a two-time Georgia lottery winner. Kinney won $1 million playing the Super Millions game. But that was only after another $3 million instant lotto prize back in 2008. Kinney's story may be the most touching of all: He used his original lotto winnings to set up a college tuition fund for the children he is raising on his own. And now, Kinney plans to donate part of his second prize fund to charity.

    Here are some other very, very lucky winners who have taken home a jackpot from the Georgia Lottery on more than one occasion:

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