Sideswipe: Monday

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Meet Hannah, the life-sized 8-year-old doll. "Remember what it's like to have an 8-year-old around?" asks the sales pitch. "Collectible doll artist Julie Fischer certainly does, and so she's created Hannah, a long-limbed, lively strawberry blonde with bright eyes, unruly hair, and a non-stop personality that will amaze you!"

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For his 29th birthday, dot.com multi-millionaire Taj Chahal decided to do something a bit different. He hosted a surprise party for 300 total strangers - complete with birthday cake and party favours for everyone - at a San Jose charity that serves meals to the homeless and working poor. On Tuesday, when the regulars arrived, they found the dining room decorated with red tablecloths, balloons and festive place mats. Dinner included ravioli and meat balls, salad, garlic bread and, of course, birthday cake. Chahal served the juice. On the way out, everyone received a box lunch and a bright coloured bag containing a towel, toothbrush and other useful things. Last year Taj and his brothers sold their latest start-up to Yahoo for US$300 million ($390 million). (mercurynews.com)

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Never mind the nail scissors, what about the chainsaw. A reader writes: "My brother-in-law went through security at Auckland domestic airport and witnessed a passenger having to fish out her nail scissors from her handbag and leave them behind.

He went through security and then boarded his plane. After being seated he could smell petrol. He knew you shouldn't be able to smell petrol on a plane, because planes don't use petrol. The smell got worse and eventually he got the attention of one of the flight attendants. They started to look around to see where it was coming from. They found in the overhead compartment a chainsaw in a bag that was leaking petrol into the compartment. His plane was delayed as the owner was identified and the chainsaw removed and put with the main luggage. The owner of the chainsaw said security had stopped him but had let him through because it wasn't one of the things on their list to confiscate.

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Patsy Carlyle from St John Ambulance responds to the annoyed inner-city resident who is bemoaning the emergency service's use of sirens. "Every time I respond priority one (lights and siren) to an emergency, I take my life and those of the surrounding motorists in my hands. If I am involved in a crash while responding to a life-threatening emergency I can be charged with a driving offence and could lose my job, not to mention the possibility of someone else being injured. The use of sirens is to alert other motorists that I am responding to an emergency and that time is of the essence. Although the reader states that no one is around so why use them, the answer is quite simple - there are still motorists who appear from nowhere and can become potential hazards. I am sure the sound of a siren in the distance is very reassuring to the person waiting for their arrival."

- NZ Herald

Today's Webpick: A is kid playing up at a brass band performance, but the tuba player get s the last word. Watch it here. And then send it to Mum. These are the very best online videos from Ana's online magazine Spare Room.

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