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Putting My Returned Tax Dollars To Good Use

Our house was built in 1923, and most of it is in wonderful shape. We love our house"¦ except for the kitchen and one of the bathrooms. They're both extremely tiny, which I could deal with, but the linoleum is just hideous. It's not quite the same in both rooms, but it's pretty similar: a perfectly pee-yellow background with a brown design etched in. The brown is just the right shade to make it look like there's always dirt in the crevices of our floors. Our friends must think we're disgusting. And there's a point to mentioning the pee-yellow color too. You might remember that we have three dogs. Most of the time they're pretty good about going outside, but when they pee on the kitchen floor, you really have no warning that it's there until you step in it with your bare feet. It's disgusting.

Anyway, 'tis the season for tax returns, so we finally decided it's time to spruce up the ugly bathroom. Isn't it funny how quickly home improvement projects can get out of control?

It started out fairly simple "“ we thought we'd replace the tile on the walls. The tile that came with the house was ivory and just looked dingy all of the time. Well"¦ if we're replacing dingy ivory, we might as well replace the toilet and the vanity, because they're both ivory too. It would look funny to have white and ivory in the same bathroom. Oh, and also, the bathtub is ivory. So, we tore out everything and bought a bathtub and a toilet this weekend (nothing says 'I'm a homeowner now' like buying a toilet and getting excited about it). Well, while we have everything out of the bathroom, it might be a good time to go ahead and replace the ugly linoleum on the floor. So yesterday we started scraping that up. We got through ugly yellow linoleum, subfloor, ugly faux-marble linoleum, subfloor and a nice layer of glue before we discovered pretty hardwood floors underneath like the rest of the house has. That's quickly motivated us to skip the tile and restore the floors to their original splendor.

Oh, and somewhere in the middle of all of this, my husband decided that he would go ahead and replace plaster in the older part of the bathroom with drywall.

So, needless to say, this is what our bathroom looks like as of yesterday:

stacybathroom.jpg

Actually, that's a lie. Since then, that little wall that juts out on the right has been removed and the old bathtub in the picture now resides in our backyard with the old toilet (yeah, we're THAT house now"¦).

On the plus side, at least we have another bathroom in the house to use. We have some friends who remodeled their bathroom and had to walk across the street to the gas station to use their restrooms for an entire weekend.

Please tell me this has happened to you - you planned some small little improvement to your house/condo/apartment that quickly spiraled out of control. Please tell me this"¦ and tell me that you eventually completed your project and it turned out awesome and was so totally worth it.

"¦OK, and tell me if it was a complete disaster, too. I guess it's best that I'm prepared for the worst.

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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