Swearing off modern conveniences
More than a dozen students at Mundelein High School outside Chicago are experimenting with simplifying their lives by going without one modern convenience every month. Last November they gave up sugar and eating at chain restaurants; in December they swore off television. In January they wrote only on used paper, and last month they avoided buying anything that couldn’t be recycled. Currently, they are doing without cell phones and in April, it’s the Internet. Nathen Cantu, one of the students, said he and his friends are learning much about self-reliance. “There’s a pride to saying ‘no’ to things,” he said.

It's a car, it's a plane, it's ...
A car that can be converted to an airplane has completed its first test flight. Conceived in 2006 by a group of MIT-trained aeronautical engineers, the two-seat “Terrafugia Transition” can fit in an ordinary driveway but has retractable wings that can be extended in less than 30 seconds. Last week, it lifted off at New York’s Plattsburgh International Airport for 37 seconds in a 3,000-foot excursion. The Terrafugia—Latin for “escape from land”—is capable of cruising up to 450 miles at over 115 mph; its builders hope to sell it to qualified pilots for $194,000. “This breakthrough changes the world of personal mobility,” said Terrafugia CEO Carl Dietrich.

Pet parrot saves toddler
Megan Howard of Denver was baby-sitting Hannah Kuusk when she briefly left the room. Suddenly, the toddler began choking on her breakfast. At that moment, Howard’s pet parrot Willie began flapping its wings and squawking, “Mama, baby!” Howard heard Willie, rushed back, and saved Hannah’s life by administering the Heimlich maneuver. For his quick thinking, Willie was given the local Red Cross chapter’s “Animal Lifesaver Award” last week at an event attended by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. Though it was Howard who saved Hannah from choking, she said Willie was “the real hero.”