Just follow the crowds

Their pro hockey team has been defeated 18 straight times. Their Major League Baseball team appears headed for a 12th consecutive losing season. Their once-proud Steelers were one of the National Football League's biggest disappointments last year, finishing with a 6-10 record and failing to qualify for the playoffs. Still, Pittsburghers soon will see a genuine sports titlist crowned in their midst. Yep, the city will stage the International Tree Climbing Championships this summer. Fifty elite men and women climbers will - um - clamber up stately oaks in the National Aviary Aug. 7-8. Last year's competitions, in Montreal, were won by German Bernd Strasser, a four-time champ, and by Kiah Martin, an Australian.

The traffic is terrible! A fact of life for Angelenos

According to a study commissioned by the American Highway Users Alliance, Los Angeles has four of nation's 10 most bottlenecked interchanges. The study shows that the number of severe choke points on major highways has risen from 167 to 233 since 1999 - a 40 percent increase. The worst bottlenecks, with the number of vehicles each handles daily and driving delays (in millions of hours):

1. Los Angeles (Ventura Freeway at I-405) 318,000 27.1
2. Houston (I-610 at I-10) 295,000 25.2
3. Chicago (I-90/94 at I-290) 293,671 25.1
4. Phoenix (I-10 at Routes 51/202) 280,000 22.8
5. Los Angeles (I-405 at I-10) 296,000 22.7
6. Atlanta (I-75 at I-85) 259,128 21.0
7. Washington (I-495 at I-270) 243,425 19.4
8. Los Angeles (I-10 at I-5) 318,500 18.6
9. Los Angeles (I-405 at I-605) 318,000 18.6
10. Atlanta (I-285 at I-85) 266,000 17.0
- Associated Press

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