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No Place Like Home: Truly Disgusting Houses

I've lived in a bad apartment or two in my time; most of us have. My worst overlooked the I-10 freeway overpass in Los Angeles, which despite double-paned glass on the windows rattled my ears night and day; worse still, the homeless folk who collected on the adjoining embankment (a mere 10 feet from our "balcony") would hang out, drink, fight, copulate beneath thin blankets and shoot up in broad daylight ... welcome to Hollywood!

The inside of the apartment was considerably better -- and thankfully, you could always close the curtains. Much worse IMHO than an unsightly view out the windows is an unsightly mess inside them -- which is exactly what we'll be looking at today. Partly out of looky-loo fascination, and partly out of some kind of decor schadenfreude, seeing messy houses always makes mine feel cleaner by comparison. These make me feel downright OCD.

Houston's House of Horrors

Recently made famous on Digg, this apartment is either home to the messiest person on Earth, or some kind of ingenious art installation. I mean, just look at the repeating patterns and colors here:

Here are the Landlord's 2 cents:

We had a resident who had an outstanding balance for over a month and no one could get ahold of her. The Bookkeeper went inside after so many tries to leave a note and this is what we found. The pictures do NO justice. There is suppose to be 2 cats living here but we cant find them (we think they're dead somewhere inside the apartment-we contacted the SPCA). The place REEKS to say the least, i gagged non stop.

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I for one am stunned -- and somehow impressed. Firstly that they didn't burn the place down after stubbing out a thousand lit cigarettes on evry available surface, and secondly that owning a trash can seemed like more hassle than being evicted from your apartment.

Scaling the Beer Can Mountains

YouTube user CuddlyPythons uploaded this video of an (attempted) animal rescue from an apartment someone was being evicted from. (They never found the cat in question.) Mind-boggling numbers of empty beer cans fill each room -- the bedroom seems to be entirely devoted to empty boxes of Natural Light and Milwaukee's Best. Amazing.

Rathouse of the Palisades

I blogged a few months ago about a local (LA-based) messy house horror story -- the pestilence in question being not just trash, but rats, fed huge bags of dog food by two elderly sisters for years and years in West LA. When the neighbors noticed rats leaping from the sisters' roof into their yard in large numbers, they tried to get the city to take action; barring that, they threatened the sisters with legal action and publicity until they agreed to hire exterminators. This was the result:

A crew wearing facemasks and hazmat suits emerged pale-faced and sober, as if they had just witnessed the aftermath of a biohazard spill — which, in a way, they had. Scott Denham says they hauled several large garbage bags heavy with dead rats from the bedrooms, kitchen, attic, basement and guesthouse, as the Denhams took photos.

What's the messiest apartment/house/trailer/yurt you've ever been in?

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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.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

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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