A daily look at life's oddities by Ana Samways

Sideswipe: August 3: Don't be a tool

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

A reader writes: "My friend Lisa is an extremely capable handy woman, amateur engineer, professional prop maker ... You name it. Here's a great feedback comment she left on a hardware store's Facebook page ...

Food fiddle takes the tears out of cooking

Japanese company House Foods Group is about to launch the world's first tear-free onions, named "smile balls", to the market. In 2002, House Foods Group scientists published a paper in which they suggested that tear-inducing enzymes in onions could be weakened while retaining their full flavour and nutritional value. Their research won an Ig Nobel Prize - an award for unintentionally amusing science achievements - but went no further. Onions produce the chemical irritant known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. It stimulates the eyes' lachrymal glands so they release tears. The Japanese company managed to suppress the production of syn-propanethial-S-oxide by bombarding onion bulbs with irradiating ions, which made the vegetables less pungent, releasing almost no tear-inducing compounds when chopped or eaten raw. They are also said to have a sweet taste reminiscent of apples or nashi pears.

School Daze

1. "In the 1980s, my sister and her 7th Form classmates iced some blocks of wood to sell for their fundraising cake stall," writes Jo Huggins. "I still wonder what the people thought when they got home and tried to cut a slice!"

2. "Way back in 1968, I attended Flock House farm school at Bulls with about 60 other young men. The superintendent was an old stickler about as round as he was high, who we affectionately called Barrel Guts, but only behind his back of course. One day he bought himself a new Trekka NZ-made utility that he was very proud of. When he wasn't looking, our rugby team quickly pushed it around the block and left it bogged up to the axles in mud on the footy field. We waited not far from his office to see his reaction and soon saw him rushing around asking all and sundry if they had seen his truck. When it finally turned up covered in mud, we not only had to polish it within an inch of our lives but the footy team lost all traces of a smile when old Barrel Guts cancelled the next three weeks of rugby participation. Them were the days eh!"

Suzanne Paul, world famous in Amsterdam. Photo / Supplied
Suzanne Paul, world famous in Amsterdam. Photo / Supplied

Good read: How dog breeders have intentionally selected for traits which result in diseases. "It seems incredible that at one time the Bull Terrier was a handsome, athletic dog. Somewhere along its journey to a mutated skull and thick abdomen the bull terrier also picked up a number of other maladies like supernumerary teeth and compulsive tail-chasing." Read about other dog breeds here...

Before and after Bull Terrier.
Before and after Bull Terrier.

Picture this: Next level balloon art...

Video: Chemistry is a thing of beauty...

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Got a Sideswipe? Send your pictures, links and anecdotes to Ana at

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