A daily look at life's oddities by Ana Samways

Sideswipe: Nov 19: Liberia's blackboard blogger

"The ageing of our returned servicemen and women seems to be more apparent," writes Barry Foster. Photo / Supplied
"The ageing of our returned servicemen and women seems to be more apparent," writes Barry Foster. Photo / Supplied

Many people in the West African city of Monrovia can't afford to buy newspapers or electricity to access the internet, so Alfred J Sirleaf had to come up with a way to bring information cheaply to the people. He believes a well-informed people are the key to Liberia's rebirth so he's been providing valuable news every day on a huge blackboard in the centre of town. For local news, he relies on a team of volunteer reporters who come to him with stories, while for international events he goes to an internet cafe. Then, in the newsroom, a small wooden shed attached to the back of his blackboard, he updates The Daily Talk with chalk.

Native birds turn bullies

"Our obsession with everything native has resulted in tuis becoming big bullies," claims Suzanne from Rotorua. "With great aggression they chase away any other birds in their vicinity including waxeyes, and they dive-bomb other nests.

I used to feed them honey water but have now stopped because they were becoming so aggressive ... now the waxeyes are no longer harassed and we again hear the beautiful song of the thrush and blackbird. So long as we continue to plant ugly kowhai in their thousands, we will see a big demise in other bird species ..."

Tui trickster

Catherine Curlett writes: "Some years ago I had a tree with flowers that tuis loved. In fact, they used to get quite drunk and flop around all over the place. They were a happy tui family. Eventually the grandfather grew old, grumpy and territorial. No other tui was allowed on "his" branches, he would drive them away viciously. Then he lost a leg, which made him bossier and aggressive. He was unsteady and unhappy with his lone leg and the other family members wouldn't mix with him. However, there was one thing that always brought a smile to his beak ... Whenever I was outside gardening I would hear my phone ringing but as soon as I was inside it would stop and a happy chuckle would come from Old Grumpy. He was a natural mimic. He played this trick on me for many years and I always fell for it."

Bra flag a contractor must-have

Regarding the bra attached to a ladder in West Auckland: "The bra as warning flag on protruding items was made famous in a TV ad about 10 years ago," writes a reader.

"Since then the contractor's habit of keeping a bra ready for such times has been an unspoken requirement for contractor membership. I keep two, one belonging to my wife, the other, my girlfriend. Different sizes for different needs."

Going viral: A 72-year-old grandfather was just trying to help out his granddaughter and her clothing store when he started modelling the shop's fashions...

Picture this: A terrifying pizza ...

Listen to this: Crappy ringtones is a collection of hit music divested of all merit as it is turned into a ringtone.

Video: It's not often you find a dance club song about your favourite middle eastern dish...

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

- NZ Herald

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