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Repairing the Washington Monument, 124 Years After It Opened

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The road to the public opening of the Washington Monument on October 9, 1888, was a long one: Though a design had been chosen in 1836, ground wasn’t broken until 1848, because of haggling over that design and its cost. After donations ran out in 1854, construction stopped, and didn’t resume until 1879, when Congress freed up some funds (and argued about the design some more).

The final 40,000 ton memorial was constructed using local marble, granite and sandstone, and topped with an aluminum apex—at that time, the largest single piece of aluminum ever cast. The 555 foot, 51?8 inch tall monument wasn’t just the tallest building in Washington DC—it was the tallest building in the world. But today, the Washington Monument is closed, thanks to the damage it suffered in a rare East Coast earthquake that occurred August 23, 2011.

Fixing the monument will cost $15 million, and is funded partially by Congress and partially by a donation from philanthropist David Rubenstein. Though some repairs—like the damage done to the elevator—have already been completed, the next phase is slated to begin at the end of this month and last 12 to 18 months. Massachusetts-based Perini Management Services Inc. will erect scaffolding around the monument and simultaneously work on its interior and the exterior. Repairing the exterior—including the uppermost pyramidion—involves removing some loose fragments and securing others with anchors; repairing stone and mortar damage; and fixing the lightning protection system. The interior requires structural repair of cracked stone panels and tie beams and replacing mortar joints, among other fixes.

There are other challenges to the repair job, too: Workers will have to abandon whatever work they’re doing and leave the monument with as little as 20 minutes' notice when the President flies into or out of the capital. Michael Morelli, project manager for the National Park Service Denver Service Center, told the Washington Times, “The people up there have these lines of sight that no on else has. Anytime the president moves, we have to bring everyone off the scaffold.” This could occur up to five times a week, and crews could be off the building for up to 2 hours. The cost and time of these delays have been built into the National Park Service’s repair plan.

The monument—which is still the tallest stone structure in the world—may not reopen until 2014.

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travel
The Real Bay of Pigs: Big Major Cay in the Bahamas
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iStock

When most people visit the Bahamas, they’re thinking about a vacation filled with sun, sand, and swimming—not swine. But you can get all four of those things if you visit Big Major Cay.

Big Major Cay, also now known as “Pig Island” for obvious reasons, is part of the Exuma Cays in the Bahamas. Exuma includes private islands owned by Johnny Depp, Tyler Perry, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, and David Copperfield. Despite all of the local star power, the real attraction seems to be the family of feral pigs that has established Big Major Cay as their own. It’s hard to say how many are there—some reports say it’s a family of eight, while others say the numbers are up to 40. However big the band of roaming pigs is, none of them are shy: Their chief means of survival seems to be to swim right up to boats and beg for food, which the charmed tourists are happy to provide (although there are guidelines about the best way of feeding the pigs).

No one knows exactly how the pigs got there, but there are plenty of theories. Among them: 1) A nearby resort purposely released them more than a decade ago, hoping to attract tourists. 2) Sailors dropped them off on the island, intending to dine on pork once they were able to dock for a longer of period of time. For one reason or another, the sailors never returned. 3) They’re descendants of domesticated pigs from a nearby island. When residents complained about the original domesticated pigs, their owners solved the problem by dropping them off at Big Major Cay, which was uninhabited. 4) The pigs survived a shipwreck. The ship’s passengers did not.

The purposeful tourist trap theory is probably the least likely—VICE reports that the James Bond movie Thunderball was shot on a neighboring island in the 1960s, and the swimming swine were there then.

Though multiple articles reference how “adorable” the pigs are, don’t be fooled. One captain warns, “They’ll eat anything and everything—including fingers.”

Here they are in action in a video from National Geographic:

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Pop Culture
The House From The Money Pit Is For Sale

Looking for star-studded new digs? For a cool $5.9 million, Top10RealEstateDeals.com reports, you can own the Long Island country home featured in the 1986 comedy The Money Pit—no renovations required.

For the uninitiated, the film features Tom Hanks and Shelley Long as hapless first-time homeowners who purchase a rundown mansion for cheap. The savings they score end up being paltry compared to the debt they incur while trying to fix up the house.

The Money Pit featured exterior shots of "Northway," an eight-bedroom estate located in the village of Lattingtown in Nassau County, New York. Luckily for potential buyers, its insides are far nicer than the fictional ones portrayed in the movie, thanks in part to extensive renovations performed by the property’s current owners.

Amenities include a giant master suite with a French-style dressing room, eight fireplaces, a "wine wall," and a heated outdoor saltwater pool. Check out some photos below, or view the entire listing here.

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

The real-life Long Island home featured in 1986's “The Money Pit”
TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

[h/t Top10RealEstateDeals.com]

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