Mike Madden has abandoned his latest invention: a mobile bird feeder. As we pick up the story, he was testing the thing last week in a woods near his home in Huddersfield, England. First, though, you should know that it consists of a hat/tray for seed and nuts so the chirpers can land and eat as the wearer strolls along. Alas, the unsuspecting inventor was knocked to the ground when a large squirrel spotted the goodies and leaped onto his head from high in a tree. Madden's injuries aren't major, but he said: "Someone told me afterwards that ... squirrels can be quite aggressive and opportunistic. I wish I'd known that before."


Then there's Jonas, an elephant at Portugal's Lisbon Zoo. He rings a bell and is rewarded with a tasty snack each time a visitor places a silver 20-escudo coin in his trunk. Jonas has learned to reject nonsilver coins of lower denominations. But soon he either must be retrained or the routine will have to end. That's because on Jan. 1 Portugal will switch to the euro, phasing out its escudo. The closest euro equivalent to the 20-escudo coin is a 10-cent piece, and it's bronze.

Ranking the US's slowest cities for harried commuters

Suppose you live within the corporate limits of the same city where you work. How long, on average, does it take you to reach your place of employment? If it's New York, the latest Census Bureau data says your commute is the nation's most time-consuming. The 10 cities with the longest commutes, followed by the average number of minutes it takes most people to get to work, no matter what their mode of transportation:

New York 39.0

Chicago 33.1

San Francisco 29.6

Newark, N.J. 29.5

Oakland, Calif. 29.4

Miami 29.4

Philadelphia 29.2

Riverside, Calif. 29.0

Washington 28.5

Los Angeles 28.1

- Associated Press

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