Capitalism: if the shoe fits ...

Peter writes: "The idea that goods are priced at the level the local market will bear was brought home forcefully to a Westmere reader when he visited Iran in September. Top-brand sneakers, which sell here for between $100 and $250 were easily found for US$16 - about $24. The countries of manufacture - Vietnam, China and Indonesia - were the same prices as the sneakers sold here.It is an instructive lesson in how capitalism works."

Residents don't own off-street parking

Chloe writes: "I received this note on my windscreen this week after parking legally in an empty car space in Selbourne St in Grey Lynn. Since when did Grey Lynn become a gated community? Supposedly this Selbourne St resident never legally parks on any Auckland streets as they believe they are privately owned spaces?"

Urgent phone call

Paul Murray writes: "During recent travels through Auckland Domestic Airport last week, I made a necessary visit to the urinal ... and both times I found middle-aged men standing there operating a mobile phone with their spare hand. Notwithstanding the privacy issues, I cannot figure out why men think this is an appropriate place to use the phone. Surely, the call or text can wait a minute."

Win for Sideswipe and stairs

A reader writes: "After four years of inaction, as a result of the publicity in your column, we are now assured by The Deputy Chairman of the Waitematā Local Board, that he has been assured by The Project Manager that he will negotiate for the earliest start and finish times possible for the Bentley stairs in Parnell. Early January even! Thanks Sideswipe! A beloved and much-used community amenity may soon be restored."

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Living Christmas tree

In 1980, 18-month-old Tracy McIntyre, from California, inhaled a sprig from her Christmas tree. As she grew up, she suffered shortness of breath, coughing fits and bad breath. In 1995, her parents took her to the doctor and it was surgically removed from her lung - it was still green. Normally, after the death of the plant cells, the sprig would become bleached by exposure to environmental elements.