The association that judges the worthiness of entries for the Guinness Book of World Records is awaiting Jim Hager's application. The Oakland, Calif., resident hopes to qualify for his feat last weekend: gobbling 115 M&Ms in three minutes in an event sponsored by a local shop. But, wait, you say: That doesn't sound like very many. Perhaps not ... until you learn that the criteria for this category call for carrying the little candy-coated chocolates to the mouth one at a time - with wooden chopsticks. Oh, the current record: 112.
If you lived in Calcutta, India, and were politically active, you'd no longer be able to attend a rally for - say - a candidate seeking reelection. At least, not if it were scheduled outdoors on a weekday. Why? Because a senior judge banned all such gatherings last week after one caused a traffic jam that made him two hours late for work.
Does your rush hour commute seem as though it's becoming longer? It just may be. According to the Urban Mobility Report, an annual study by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University, the average American spent 51 hours mired in traffic jams in 2001, the latest year for which data are available. That's a four-hour increase from 1998. On the positive side, the study found that public transportation, bus and carpool lanes, traffic- signal coordination, and other efforts are helping to alleviate congestion. The 10 US cities where gridlock is worst, by annual hours that drivers spent stuck in traffic:
1. Los Angeles 90
2. San Francisco/Oakland, Calif. 68
3. Denver 64
4. Miami 63
5. Chicago 61 (tie) Phoenix
7. San Jose, Calif. 60
8. Washington 58 (tie) Boston (tie) Portland, Ore./Vancouver, Wash. - Associated Press