Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Train derails; rail cars full of alcohol burst into flames

    One of the alcohol-filled trains photographed as it explodes (Kely Gray/Billings Gazette)

    A train traveling through Montana derailed on Sunday, and eight of its cars carrying alcohol burst into flames.

    The Billings Gazette reports that no one was injured in the derailment and subsequent fire, which spread to eight of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train's 15 derailed rail cars. Fourteen of those cars are said to have been carrying denatured alcohol, a fuel additive, while the 15th car was carrying cardboard.

    "Eight cars are on fire. It was a chain reaction of one car catching fire and another car catching fire as well," BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas told the paper. "It's a fuel additive. There are no air-quality issues. They are letting the product burn."

    Firefighters initially raced to the scene to put out a grass fire at the crash site but retreated a half mile away before the rail cars exploded.

    "We were just waiting for the cars to blow up and got a good mushroom percussion," firefighter Kelly Gray told the paper. Gray captured an image of the rail cars exploding

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  • The top 10 cities for bald men to date online

    There are several cities in which comedian Larry David may find relief from his bald conspiracies. (Matt Sayles/AP)

    A new survey of online dating rituals has come up with a list of the top 10 hot spots for bald and singer boomer men.

    The survey was conducted by Our Time, a dating site that caters to daters over the age of 50. Results were organized by compiling the number of bald men in cities who were receiving the most messages and general communication from other daters.

    In general, Florida might be the best state for balding men wanting to hedge their bets. Fort Lauderdale was found to be the top city for bald men to date, while Tampa rounded out the list at number 10.

    New York State also had two locations on the list, which may owe something to its sheer population density. New York City came in second while the borough of Brooklyn, part of New York City, also fared well on the list, placing sixth. So there seem to be plenty of men and women who love the bald look in the Big Apple.

    However, some other major population centers, such as Los Angeles, did not make the list. L.A.'s apparent hair

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  • Experts say the six highlighted points indicate this may be a daVinci original (Daily Mail)

    Fiona McLaren, 59, had kept an old painting in her Scottish farmhouse for decades. She reportedly didn't think much of the painting, which had been given to her as a gift by her father. But after she finally decided to have the painting appraised, some experts are speculating that it may in fact be a 500-year-old painting by Leonardo da Vinci and potentially worth more than $150 million.

    "I showed it to him [auctioneer Harry Robertson] and he was staggered, speechless save for a sigh of exclamation," said Ms. McLaren, according to The People.

    The Daily Mail says the painting may be of Mary Magdalene holding a young child. The painting is now undergoing further analysis by experts at the Cambridge University and the Hamilton Kerr Institute, who will attempt to uncover its exact age and origins.

    Even if the painting is not a da Vinci original, it is believed to at least be from the da Vinci school, created by one of the master's pupils during the 16th century.

    A papal bull was found

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  • How to keep strangers from sitting next to you: a study

    Steve Martin and John Candy in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"A new study offers some helpful hints on navigating our "culture of social isolation in public places," better known as, how to keep people from sitting next to you on the plane, bus or train.

    Yale University's Esther Kim spent three years traveling thousands of miles across U.S. bus systems to compile her observations.

    "I became what's known as an experienced traveler and I jotted down many of the different methods people use to avoid sitting next to someone else," Kim told Science Daily. "We engage in all sorts of behavior to avoid others, pretending to be busy, checking phones, rummaging through bags, looking past people or falling asleep. Sometimes we even don a 'don't bother me face' or what's known as the 'hate stare'."

    Some of the tips for avoiding your fellow travelers are dictated by physical postures, such as avoiding eye contact, staring out the window with a blank stare or simply pretending to be asleep. While others are more overtly antisocial, like placing your bag on the

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  • Alaskan fishermen save bear cub from whirlpool (VIDEO)

    A boat  of Alaskan fishermen documented their successful, and risky, attempt to rescue a bear cub who was struggling against the river current and in danger of being pulled into a nearby whirlpool.

    Mike Polocz tells the Anchorage Daily News that the bear was struggling to stay afloat in the Kenai River when Polocz, his son and a fishing buddy went into action.

    "I couldn't watch this defenseless animal suffer," Polocz told the Anchorage Daily News. "I was ready to go in after it if it went under."

    And aside from the obvious risks involved with trying to save even a bear cub, Polocz notes that the cub's mother, along with its siblings, were all standing nearby on the shoreline watching the entire scene unfold.

    "I was so close I could look into its eyes and they were wide open and filled with just sheer terror," Polocz said.

    On a somewhat unusual aside, the bear is screaming throughout the video in a tone that almost sounds like a disgruntled human yelling the word, "bear." But anyway,

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  • Long Island man may have faked own drowning to claim life insurance

    Raymond Roth (LinkedIn)An aggrieved New York woman has told police that her husband faked his own drowning to collect on a life insurance policy and to abandon his marriage.

    "This is a terrible nightmare that I just want to wake up from,'' 43-year-old Evana Roth told the New York Post. "Why did he do this? I think I'm just numb.''

    On Sunday, July 29, Raymond Roth, 47, told his wife that he was going for a swim at nearby Jones Beach and would be back in about an hour. However, his son claims that his dad disappeared while out on the water and never returned.

    However, Evana Roth says she discovered emails allegedly sent from Raymond to her stepson Jonathan, 22, outlining details of his staged disappearance. After finding the details, Evana then contacted Raymond's brother and the police.

    "I need to get to the bank for cash for the trip," Roth allegedly wrote in one email. In others, he instructs his son to not allow his wife to sell their house.

    In another email obtained by the Post, Roth writes: "about the

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  • World’s longest yard sale stretches 690 miles from Michigan to Alabama

    A scene from the World's Longest Yardsale (Fentess County Chamber of Commerce)The self-proclaimed World's Longest Yardsale kicked off on Thursday, stretching a reported 690 miles down the U.S. 127 corridor from Addison, Mich., to Gadsden, Ala.

    Along with the thousands of individual vendors selling their goods, the giant outdoor sale is meant to highlight the character and culture of the region, featuring musical performances, food and more than 300 other activities along the way.

    And early reports say the massive bargain bin is off to a busy start.

    Over it's 25-year history, the yard sale has gotten even bigger, nearly doubling in size since its 1987 debut.

    "A few dislike the snarled traffic associated with the sale, but all must admit, the sale is good for the economy along the corridor route," a press release for the event reads. "Locals sell their crafts, accommodations are filled, restaurants are crowded, and those renting vendor spaces also add to the local economy."

    A 2010 Time article said the annual sale was a sign of economic despair in the United

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  • New Jersey man finds second python in yard in less than a week

    Two pythons, similar to the one in this photo, turned up in man's backyard just days apart (AFP)High school teacher James Geist was shocked when what he thought was a fallen tree branch in his backyard turned out to be a 16-foot albino python.

    "Dispatch told me to stay away, and I'm not a fan of snakes so I wasn't going to go near the thing," Geist told The Bergen Record.

    But just four days later the 46-year-old New Jersey resident spotted a second python in his back yard.

    And while the first python was "docile" the second one, which is 10-feet-long, reportedly snapped at police a few times before the same snake handler who had just been there earlier in the week showed up to help.

    "I would rather face a black bear than a python," he said.

    Still, that sounds less frightening than a 2010 incident during which police found a hungry albino python resting on top of thousands of dollars worth of cocaine while raiding a suspected drug dealer's apartment.

    Earlier in July, a 12-foot python was recovered in Massachusetts after it bit a man.

    The snake handler told Geist that the albino

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  • Dolphins form social cliques and share hunting secrets, study finds

    A young bottlenose dolphin uses a sponge to protect its nose while huntingA scientific study conducted over two decades has found that wild bottlenose dolphins form social cliques and share specific, personalized information, including how to use natural objects as tools.

    The Telegraph reports that these closed communities of dolphins keep their knowledge hidden from those outside their social circles, challenging previously held beliefs that "inclusive inheritability" is limited to humans.

    The study results, which were published in the journal Nature Communications, was led by researchers from Georgetown University who monitored the behavior of dolphins in Shark Bay, Australia, over a 22-year period.

    Specifically, the researchers followed a group of 36 dolphins that used sea sponges as tools to protect their noses while hunting. The results were compared with 69 other dolphins from the same location that did not pick up the sponging behavior.

    "Homophily (the tendency to associate with similar others) based on tool-using status was evident in every analysis,

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  • Cinnabon is first U.S. franchise to open in Libya

    Cinnabon is the first U.S. company to take root in Libya (Discovery Channel)Just months after the country went through a dramatic revolution, Tripoli is welcoming Cinnabon, the first U.S. franchise to open in Libya.

    Mike Shattuck, president of the Atlanta-based company, Focus Brands International, tells CNN there are plans to open Cinnabon outlets in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco as well.

    Shattuck said the 7,500-square-foot Cinnabon store is the first of 10 planned locations set to open in Libya over the next four years.

    "Ultimately, we think there's an even larger opportunity in the country for us," Shattuck said.

    Interestingly, the company had already been in negotiations with Libya for two years before the Moammar Gadhafi regime fell to revolutionary forces earlier this year.

    "We quickly halted everything because the revolution happened," said Shattuck. "Fortunately we were able to secure the location, and it made it without serious damage."

    And it seems the U.S. franchise is already a hit in Libya, registering more than $45,000 in sales during its first

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