Blog Posts by Mike Krumboltz, Yahoo News

  • Man survives New York blast thanks to 'cocoon' of pianos

    5 stories of debris fell on Colin Patterson's ground-floor apartment

    Emergency workers respond to the scene of an explosion in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (Jeremy Sailing/AP)

    As horrific as Wednesday's gas explosion in East Harlem, N.Y., was, it could have been even worse were it not for a "cocoon" of pianos that kept one man safe from the debris, the New York Post reports.

    The suspected gas explosion left at least seven dead and two buildings as a pile of rubble. Colin Patterson was lucky enough to survive the catastrophe. The piano technician told the New York Post he was watching television when the 1646 Park Avenue building came crashing down on him.

    An explosion that felt "like a sonic boom from a jet" hit, and "the whole building was on me," said Patterson, who lived on the building's ground floor.

    Via the New York Post:

    “The pianos flew in the air — pianos were all around me,” he said.

    “They were literally on their side. I was stuck in some miraculous cocoon” of pianos, he said of the massive wood and steel instruments that fell benignly around his body — shielding him from the weight of five stories worth of debris.

    Incredibly, Patterson escaped

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  • Ping-pong-pow! Over-the-top ad shows robot playing table tennis at human level

    Hollywood has taught us that robots are better than humans at a lot of things, including war ("Terminator"), love ("A.I."), policing post-apocalyptic Detroit ("RoboCop"), and cracking wise with Steve Guttenberg ("Short Circuit").

    But, according to this over-the-top advertisement from Kuka Robotics, the human race still has the upper hand when it comes to table tennis. It ain't much, but we'll take it.

    Full ad below:

    In the ad, professional table tennis player Timo Boll does battle with a long-limbed robot from Kuka. At first, the robot appears to have Boll's number, blasting shots past the apparently overwhelmed Boll (remember this is an ad, so take everything with two barrels of salt).

    But then, like Rocky fighting off a relentless Ivan Drago, Boll mounts a comeback for the ages, eventually besting the robotic limb. At the end of the spot, the screen reads, "Not the best in table tennis. But probably the best in robotics.”

    Also, not the best when it comes to sportsmanship. Notice

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  • Amazing video captures hippo saving a gnu from a crocodile

    Score one for Team Mammal.

    In addition to their reputation for being hungry (HUNGRY!), hippos are also known for being rather ruthless, and one of Africa's most dangerous animals. But let it never be said that the hippopotamus doesn't have a heart. 

    Case in point: This video captures the moment when a hippo came to the rescue of a gnu that had been attacked by a crocodile.

    The heroic hippo chases off the crocodile, then does what it can to help the injured gnu get to shore, pushing it along with its snout.

    The photographs in the slideshow below were taken by Vadim Onishchenko, 34, who was visiting the Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya.

    He told MailOnline: "I've heard of cases where the animal's instinct is to protect other species, I think the hippo's parental instincts took over."

    The footage appears to have been taken in 2012. It only recently went viral.

    Click image to see more photos. (Vadim Onishchenko/Caters News)

    Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).

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  • Video of store clerk refusing 'armed' robber is mesmerizing

    He recognized the gun as a replica. The crook turned and left

    Crime doesn't pay, especially for the man who tried and failed to rob a convenience store in Victoria, Australia.

    The masked man was thwarted by employee Steve Ewart, who wasn't intimidated by the would-be robber's replica gun (despite the robber holding the gun in an I-mean-business sideways manner).

    The robber, yet to be identified, had little choice but to turn around and exit. He didn't even grab a loaf of bread on his way out.

    The security footage doesn't have sound, but Ewart, 46, spoke to MailOnline.com about the experience. The conversation was part "Dirty Harry," part "Dumb and Dumber."

    Via MailOnline.com:

    "He told me 'give me all your money.' And I said: 'It's not going to happen.' Then he pulled the gun out. Now, I've been around guns all my life and I knew he had a replica gun. So I said to him again: 'It's not going to happen.'"

    "Then he had another go and said: 'Do you want to test me, mate?'"

    "And I said, 'It's still only a cap gun, I'll test you all day." Then he gave

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  • 20 years after being told he had just two weeks to live, a Nebraska man looks back

    Don Brouillette celebrates life as heart transplanted in 1994 still beats strong

    Twenty years ago, doctors told Don Brouillette he had about two weeks to live. But decades later the Omaha resident is still going strong, thanks to a heart transplant that gave him another chance, KETV reports.

    In 1994, when Brouillette first got the news that he needed a new heart, the procedure was considered risky. Bypass surgery failed the previous year, according to a blog from the Nebraska Medical Center.

    Brouillette told KETV that when he was going down to the operating room, he had a 50-50 chance he'd be coming back.

    "We were treading in waters that we hadn't put our feet in yet," Dr. Thomas Sears, a cardiologist at the Nebraska Medical Center where Brouillette received the transplant, told KETV. “He turned out to be our first cardiac transplantation that we actually had that was done at our institution."

    Brouillette and his wife Maria have made the most of the past 20 years. He told KETV, "It feels wonderful. I've got to see two grandkids grow up. I've just enjoyed life and

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  • Boy's call to 911 during fire helped save mom, brother

    "There's a fire in our house," boy calmly told dispatcher

    A 9-year-old boy's quick thinking helped save the lives of his mom and brother after a fire broke out in their New Bedford, Mass., home Saturday, WCVB.com reports.

    The third-grader remained remarkably calm during the 911 call, reporting that his house was on fire and that people were trapped in an upstairs room.

    New Bedford Fire Chief Michael Gomes praised the boy's actions, saying, "He was giving us the information that there were people trapped. Fire safety training is provided to all third-graders in the New Bedford public schools to prepare them to take action during emergencies like this," according to WCVB.

    The 911 call, which you can hear via the above video from WCVB, also features the boy's father, who can be heard screaming, "I can't go up there, there's too much smoke!"

    District Fire Chief Michael Dandurand told NECN that the boy "heard the smoke detector, woke up, woke up his parents, and made the call."

    Via NECN:

    "The timing, hopefully, will send a message to others,"

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  • After audit reveals corruption, Florida town's days could be numbered

    "They make Boss Hogg look like a Sunday school teacher," says sheriff

    After a state audit revealed massive corruption, the Florida town of Hampton could be completely wiped off the map if state lawmakers have their way, CNN reports.

    Critics of the town (population less than 500) argue that it has long existed for the sole purpose of enforcing a speed trap on a 1,260-foot stretch of highway. Issued tickets (12,698 between 2011 and 2012, according to the New York Times) resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

    But where did the money go? No one knows. Auditors were told by city officials that some of the records were "lost in the swamp," according to CNN.

    CNN notes that while it does have a bloated police department, the town isn't filled with McMansions or flashy cars.

    But there are some signs of extravagance. The excess in fines allegedly resulted in a city clerk being overpaid to the tune of $9,000. Perhaps most amazing, according to the audit, city employees charged $132,000 on an account at a BP convenience store located next to City

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  • Criminal lawyer's ad is subversive, sarcastic and pretty awesome

    Move over, Saul Goodman. Step aside, Lionel Hutz

    Busted for a crime in the Steel City? Plan to call Dan.

    Daniel Muessig, the criminal defense lawyer whose cheesy, over-the-top ad went viral yesterday, says Saul Goodman from "Breaking Bad" was definitely an inspiration for the commercial.

    "As a criminal defense attorney and as somebody who is a cinefile and film buff, I'm aware of the trope, which is why I decided to do the sendup of the trope," Muessig, a 2012 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, told Yahoo News.

    In the ad, while there are cheesy re-enactments of crimes being committed, Muessing lets potential criminals know, “I pick up the phone, I answer calls, I return letters and I make jail visits. Because I’ll probably be there visiting my friends anyway."

    Of course, the Internet took notice. The ad quickly went viral, racking up thousands of views on YouTube and coverage from Slate, Deadspin and more.

    "People's reactions to the video seem to break down along professional and generational axises," Muessig

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  • Simple sticks contain potential answer to cleaner drinking water

    Pores underneath bark filtered out as much as 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria in study

    Scene of water and trees (Thinkstock)

     A lack of clean drinking water is a major problem in many parts of the world. A scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology thinks he may have come up with a low-cost solution: sticks.

    Yes, sticks. Rohit Karnik recently co-authored a study published in the journal PLOS ONE that details how xylem can be used to filter bacteria from water, NPR reports. Xylem, for those whose grasp of botany is tenuous, is a kind of "vascular tissue" in trees and plants "primarily involved in transporting water and nutrients."

    Karnik told NPR xylem has "membranes with pores and other mechanisms by which bubbles are prevented from easily spreading and flowing in the xylem tissue." Those pores, Karnik found, could also be used in the filtering of bacteria in water.

    From NPR:

    To prove it worked, he created a simple setup in his lab. He peeled the bark off a pine branch and took the sapwood underneath containing the xylem into a tube. He then sent a stream of water containing tiny particles

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  • Why the SAT had to change

    The New York Times gives the inside story on the College Board's decision

    The dreaded SAT gets an overhaul (Thinkstock)

    This week, high school students were given a surprise gift — the dreaded essay portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test would be going optional in spring 2016, along with a host of other changes to the annual exam.

    No longer would stressed students be forced to come up with thoughtful and well-reasoned responses to prompts such as, "Do memories hinder or help people in their effort to learn from the past and succeed in the present?"

    The New York Times examined the motivations behind the changes, and it essentially boils down to one thing: money.

    The genuine hope and goal of David Coleman, president of the College Board (the organization that administers the SAT), is that the SAT can once again be used as a test that actually helps to level the playing field instead of making a college education less accessible to certain groups.

    Studies showed that students whose family could afford often-expensive test preparation were more likely to do well. That was something Coleman sought to

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