Blog Posts by Eric Pfeiffer

  • Babysitters average nearly twice the national minimum wage

    Babysitting has become good business in some parts of the country. (George Niktin/AP)Babysitting is good work if you can get it. The average hourly rate for child care services is $12.75, nearly twice the U.S. minimum wage of $7.25.

    And babysitters in the Northeast do even better, earning an average of $15.50 per hour.

    "Nannies and college graduates with early childhood education experience are the ones who command the higher fees," Lynn Perkins, CEO of UrbanSitter, a site that helps parents locate babysitting services, told New Jersey 101.5. "But, that could cost you $70 for date night on child care alone. That's not even including your dinner or movie."

    However, before you quit your day job and launch your own babysitters club, those lucrative hourly rates aren't necessarily supported by a 40-hour workweek.

    Perkins says that the Northeast and San Francisco Bay Area have the highest hourly rates, which she attributes both to local income averages and necessity.

    "I believe it's also a cultural thing," she said. "In the Northeast and in the Bay Area, you have many

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  • Latin American Clown Congress convenes in Guatemala

    Participants in the fourth annual Latin America Clown Congress (AP)If you're among the majority of voters who think the U.S. Congress is a joke, imagine a congress literally composed of clowns. That's what is happening right now in Guatemala City, where two hundred professional clowns have gathered for the fourth annual Latin American Clown Congress.

    Clowns from across Central American, South America and the Caribbean gather each year for three days in the country's capital city to exchange ideas and attend workshops.

    Of course, if you were one of those kids who found clowns to be terrifying, this gathering could stir up all kinds of childhood traumas.

    Among the variety of clowns in attendance are jugglers, a clown dressed as a soldier and even one dressed as a nun. Participants in the Clown Congress parade through the streets of Guatemala City before getting down to business.

    Attendees at this year's Latin America Clown Congress gather. (Jorge Dan Lopez/Reuters)

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  • Scottsdale, Arizona, debating whether to lift decades-old ice-cream truck ban

    A treat in Boston, a crime in Scottsdale (Ann Hermes/Christian Science Monitor/AP)Ice cream trucks are a welcome addition to thousands of neighborhood streets every summer. But they've been illegal in Scottsdale, Arizona, since the 1970s.

    And the Arizona Republic reports that the ban isn't likely to be lifted without a fight, despite a recent proposal that would allow the trucks to return.

    An ordinance that would allow ice-cream trucks in Scottsdale neighborhoods was met with mostly criticism during an open house this week. The trucks were originally banned over concerns that vendors were actually selling illegal drugs.

    About 15 residents who attended Tuesday's session said they opposed the proposal to lift a decades-old ban on street vendors in Scottsdale.

    Under current law, vendors are allowed to operate only on private property or during special events and after obtaining a permit from the city. However, some city residents say they're more worried about public safety.

    "It wasn't just the drugs being sold in high schools from the vendors, but it was because of

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  • Nebraska man rooming with 40 deadly spiders that have invaded his apartment

    Some of the brown recluse spiders inside Baumann's apartment (KETV)A studio apartment is typically suited for one occupant. But Dylan Baumann has been forced to coexist with about 40 lodgers in his small living space in Omaha, Nebraska. Even worse, the new tenants are potentially deadly recluse spiders.

    "I saw them crawling across my walls, crawling along my floorboards and saw it crawling by my foot," Baumann told KETV.

    The brown recluse spiders are rare in Omaha but have been spotted with more regularity, particularly since the area experienced an unusually short winter, according to Dennis Ferraro, of the Douglas County Extension Office.

    'We virtually did not have a cold winter this winter, and the hotter temperatures that we're having would probably allow for more reproduction,' Ferraro told KETV.

    Yesterday, it was reported that while there are more than 40,000 known species of spiders, that number may be less than half of all the different types of spiders currently living around the world.

    Still, even with the near-constant threat of venomous

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  • Runaway camel races down Dubai highway (VIDEO)

    A man driving in Dubai captured a strange video spectacle: a camel running across the highway. The camel was running so quickly it outpaced many of the actual motorists.

    Camels can reportedly run at speeds up to 40 mph in short bursts and maintain speeds of around 25 mph for longer durations.

    The video was uploaded to YouTube by Peter Lee, who notes that the incident took place near the Dubai Marina.

    And as one commenter points out, the camel is a conscientious commuter, staying within the confines of its lane.  Perhaps it was an impromptu audition for the neighboring United Arab Emirates' annual camel races, which begin in the summer months.

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  • Man refuses to leave jail; cited for trespassing and sent back to prison

    Rodney Dwayne Valentine (Rockingham County Sheriff's Office)Rodney Dwayne Valentine had just been granted his freedom from the Rockingham County jail in northern North Carolina on Saturday morning. But when Valentine refused to leave the prison, police arrested him for trespassing and sent him back to his cell.

    The News & Record of Greensboro reports that Valentine, 37, reportedly refused to leave the jail site, after authorities declined his request for a ride to a local motel. He had been in prison since May 22 on a charge of damage to personal property.

    Officers reportedly suggested that Valentine simply take a cab to the hotel, but he allegedly refused. When he still hadn't left the premises that afternoon, Deputies charged Valentine with second-degree trespassing.

    And now, Valentine is being held on a $500 bond while he awaits a scheduled court appearance on August 9.

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  • Iowa State Fair vendor offering double bacon corn dogs

    The double bacon corn dog (Campbell's Concessions)When this year's Iowa State Fair rolls around on August 9, there will be a new headline-grabbing snack on the menu: double bacon corn dogs.

    As the Des Moines Register notes, "that deep-fried butter thing is sooo last year." But a vendor named Campbell's Concessions has stepped in to fill the void.

    "We've been at the fair about 100 years and we try to keep it pretty basic. But I thought, 'We need to do something fun with these corn dogs,'" Eric Campbell told the paper.

    But this ticket to pork paradise didn't come without a little effort. "Keeping (the bacon) on the hot dog took a lot of experimenting," he notes.

    The process goes like this: Wrap a hot dog in bacon and deep-fry it. Then dip the corn dog in bacon-bit batter and send it back for another deep fry.

    However, this food fairytale does have a bit of a let down for anyone convinced of its all-American values. It turns out that the double bacon corn dog has already made its debutin Canada. Yes, it turns out our neighbors to the

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  • $140 sewer bill turns into foreclosure notice and $50,000 tab for homeowner

    An aerial photo of the Vulpis home (Bing)Dominick Vulpis admits he had an outstanding $140 sewage bill. But when that bill went unpaid for four years, the $140 bill turned into a home foreclosure notice and $50,000 in debt.

    MSNBC reports that Middletown, N.J., turned over the utility bill to Approved Realty Group, an investment company. The practice is far from unheard of. Private companies buy up existing debts from local governments and then pursue the responsible parties, charging interest and fees. Several states have placed limits on the amount of money these private companies can charge for unpaid public utility bills.

    But last December, Vulpis, a 60-year-old plumber, and his wife, Lindarose, discovered a notice that their home was being foreclosed.

    "It was never brought to my attention until it was too late and we were served with papers saying we had to move out of our house," Vulpis told MSNBC.  "I may pay a bill late, but I pay them. I'm not trying to beat anyone for $140."

    Eventually, Vulpis was allowed to keep his

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  • Sherman Hemsley dances during an episode of "The Jeffersons." (YouTube)Today, the world is remembering the legacy of "The Jeffersons" star Sherman Hemsley, who passed away at the age of 74. And pretty much any reference to Hemsley brings up memories of the equally famous theme song from "The Jeffersons" 1980s TV sitcom.

    But Hemsley reportedly had a little-known passion for psychedelic rock music and … LSD. A former keyboardist, he even recorded an unreleased album with Jon Anderson, singer of the band YES.

    The primary evidence supporting Hemsley's psychedelic leanings is a 1999 Magnet Magazine interview with musician Daevid Allen of the seminal prog-rock band Gong. During the interview, Allen describes how he was shocked to learn that Hemsley was a huge fan of his work. In fact, the actor paid for Allen to fly to Los Angeles, where he described plans to create a tribute to one of Gong's songs along the famed Sunset Strip. But things only got weirder from there:

    "I thought, 'Well, even if he's a nut case at least he's coming up with the goodies.' The

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  • Kim Kardashian (Joe Kohen for Motorola/AP)The existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once wrote that, "to love God is to love oneself truly." Conversely, reality TV star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian once said, "It doesn't matter if you have a valentine or not - just love yourself and be your own."

    And now, the two inspirational voices have come together in one amazing Twitter feed, titled KimKierkegaardashian. The account is only a few weeks old but has already accumulated more than 26,000 followers. Each of the account's tweets contains the self-described, "philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard mashed with the tweets and observations of Kim Kardashian."

    Some recent observations include, "Good morning Miami! Here everything lies naked and visible before God, and consciousness has nowhere to hide."

    And this offering from July 20, "I scarcely recognize myself. My mind is like a turbulent sea. I was testing new mascara!"

    Or this July 18 entreaty on modern beauty: "Botox, to me, doesn't even count as plastic surgery. But out of

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