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THIS IS GOING TO TAKE A WHILE

OK, you're Queen Fabiola of Belgium and you've showed up with other members of the royal family to vote in last Sunday's national election just as all but two of the computers at your local polling place crashed. What do you do? Answer: wait on line for your turn, just like everyone else. In this case, for at least two hours. Well, there were exceptions. Crown Prince Philippe and his wife, Mathilde, did jump the queue, but only because she is six months pregnant.

MY EYES ARE A LITTLE WEARY

Take six 16-year-old girls in a small town in Germany with a long weekend ahead of them and nothing else to do: How could they possibly set a world record? By sitting in the display window of an optician's shop, of course. It seems the teens read, without interruption, from books provided for the occasion, which was to raise money for charity. By the time it was all over, 61-1/4 hours later, they'd gone through as many as 2,000 pages - and shattered the recognized mark by more than seven hours.

Why you should think Austin, Texas, as career launch pad

As the state capital, home of the University of Texas, and an incubator for high technology, Austin rates as the best metropolitan area in the US for careers and business, according to Forbes magazine. Western and Southern cities dominate this year's list, although all six of 2002's California standout cities fell out of the top 10 due to a change in methodology. In addition to income and job growth, the magazine measured such criteria as labor, energy, and housing costs; taxes; and the comparative skill levels of available workers. Forbes's top 10 cities:

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

1. Austin, Texas
2. Boise, Idaho
3. Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
4. Atlanta
5. Madison, Wisc.
6. Provo, Utah
7. Omaha, Neb.
8. Des Moines, Iowa
9. Dallas
10. Washington/ Northern Virginia

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