Etc...

Oh, OK, if you insist ...

You might think that for all the spectacular successes of its Summer and Winter Games in recent decades, the Olympic movement wouldn't feel threatened by a low-profile competition that doesn't even involve humans . But you'd be wrong. Take the Ferret Olympics, for example. This year's edition in Eugene, Ore., was the ninth in a series dating back to 1996. Alas, under threat of a lawsuit by the US Olympic Committee, it opened under a new name. Founder Melanee Ellis said she was disappointed when the USOC called to demand that she cease and desist because her, um, pet project was an infringement of its trademark . So, when 75 of the slinky critters vied for medals in the paper bag escape and other tests last weekend, it was in the ... Ferret Agility Trials. The USOC says it intervenes in such cases about 50 times a year.

Long-distance commuters: road warriors of drive time

A "stretch commuter" isn't someone driven to work in an elongated limousine. Rather, he or she is a person whose ride to the job is so long that it's a stretch - at least as defined by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The agency applies the "stretch" label to anyone who travels 50 or more miles, one way, to get to work - an estimated 3.3 million Americans. The Census Bureau also totes up people who make what it calls "extreme" commutes, or those whose ride takes an hour and a half or more. This is far longer than the average daily commute to work, which the bureau says was 24.3 minutes in 2003, the latest year for which data are available. The cities with the highest percentages of extreme commuters:

Baltimore (tie) New York 5.6%
Newark, N.J. 5.2%
Riverside, Calif. 5.0%
Los Angeles 3.0%
Philadelphia 2.9%
Chicago 2.5%
Washington 2.2%
San Francisco 1.5%
Miami 0.7%

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