"High in the hills of Waiatarua in the soupy mist of Christmas night, with the children finally in bed we sat down to watch a movie with our visitors from Wellington. An hour in, just starting to truly unwind, there was an almighty boom and an explosive orange flash outside our window. All four of us leapt from our seats - I went to check the kids downstairs and the others raced outside in case it was a car crash and someone needed help. There was no sign of anything. We wondered if it was a P-lab exploding down the road, a drive-by shooting or a Molotov cocktail being lobbed unfestively ... After some rumination (and whiskey all round) we rang the police ... And good on them, we heard them do a drive-by with their search light a short time later. The next morning a chat with one of our neighbours revealed the explosion was the power transformer on nearby Tui Crescent blowing up. Apparently it's not the first time it's happened. Maybe now is a good time for the power company to pull finger before someone gets hurt?"

Seeing red over AA eye tests
A reader writes: "In response to the reader who's frustrated with the AA eye test. I failed the AA eye test at my learner, restricted and full licence, as well as six months ago when I lost my licence and had to renew it. All four times I've paid a lot of money to be told by an optometrist that I'm fine to drive. Even the AA staff have commented how ridiculous it is and that optometrists must love it."

Warehouse's packaging overkill
Michelle Robson has a nomination for the most environmentally unfriendly retailer this Christmas. "My husband placed a large order of toiletries recently with The Warehouse online. Rather than package them up together and send once all products were available, they split the order up and sent each item individually via courier. This morning's example is a small 250ml body wash sent inside a large box, wrapped in inflatable plastic packaging and delivered by a large courier van. Talk about overkill."

Grandmother loses jewellery
"On Thursday, December 20 a black velvety pouch containing a collection of very personal and sentimental rings was lost at the Highpoint shopping centre in Highbury, North Shore, after my grandmother had her Christmas manicure. If anyone happened to pick these up we would very much love to get them back and a reward for your honesty will be provided. Please contact Sideswipe if you know where they may be."


Picture this: The book Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes was published ion 2007. The photographer asked all his subjects: Why do you own a gun?

Local: One person's parody is another person's truth...

Picture this: Before he was famous...
Video: Water turns to snow right before your very eyes! Egads! (This video was filmed in Novosibirsk, Western Siberia. The temperature was -37 Celsius)

Got a Sideswipe? Send your pictures, links and anecdotes to Ana at ana.samways@nzherald.co.nz