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You've heard the saying, "Where there's a will, there's a way"? Well, where there are bored college kids, there are ways. At many campuses across the United States, students have managed to wiggle into underground maintenance tunnels or skulk up roof access ladders. This practice is known in some circles as tunneling, roof and tunnel hacking, urban spelunking or vadding. The tunnels, set up to channel steam and other utilities (that T1 line has to come from somewhere) are filled with pipes and machinery and typically lined with scrawls of graffiti from past travelers. Stories of these tunnels are made of both truth and legend...

Miskatonic (Bradford)

The ghost hunters at HollowHill.com claim that the tunnels at Bradford College (now defunct) are not only haunted, but also have a famous connection with H.P. Lovecraft. According to legend, Lovecraft dated a girl at the college who helped him bury the real Necronomicon in an unused tunnel that ran under the pond. The tunnel was sealed off and the exact location of the evil book is unknown.

Hey, Free Uranium! (Columbia)

Columbia University continually vows to lock and guard their extensive underground tunnel system. Understandable, given that in 1987, freshman Ken Hechtman and his merry band of tunnel hackers (known as ADHOC: Allied Destructive Hackers of Columbia) used the tunnels to steal uranium-238 from Pupin Hall. Despite the tunnel lockdown, student spelunkers still manage to sneak into the labyrinth - which winds around the 19th century Bloomingdale Insane Asylum, abandoned bomb shelters, and Manhattan Project research facilities - to throw parties.

Exterior Decorating (MIT)

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Freshmen at MIT can take an Orange Tour led by upperclassmen who know their way around the roofs and tunnels. It's an important tour to take, because MIT students are infamous for the pranks they pull by hacking university buildings. The IHTFP Hack Gallery documents all types of structural hacking. The Great Dome on the McLaurin building, for instance, has been transformed into a giant R2D2, the one ring to rule them all (above), and most famously, a parking spot for a police cruiser.

Underground Creek (UCLA)

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UCLA's six mile network of tunnels is allegedly one of the cleanest, and connects to all major buildings on campus. The tunnels mask an underground room 100x200 feet wide with a thirty feet drop lined in brick, dubbed "The Bridge" because it once served as one. A creek used to run across campus, but was later dammed up and filled in for construction purposes. When it rains, the tunnels sometimes still flood with water. Rumor has it that the system was so extensive it even reached the residence halls, but that these tunnels were sealed up for security reasons when UCLA's dorms served as the Olympic Village during the 1984 summer games.

Be the Ultimate Underground Dungeon Master

Due to sensationalist journalism in the late 1970s and early 1980s, skulking in steam tunnels is also associated with Dungeons & Dragons and Live Action Role Playing (LARP). These urban myths claim that hardcore role playing gamers traipse into the steam tunnels while prancing about hitting each other with sticks and pretending to be paladin elves and sorcerer dwarves. The disappearance of Michigan State student James Dallas Egbert is often used as an attack on RPGs. Many misconceptions about the dangers of roleplaying gaming and LARPing stem from stories of these steam tunnel incidents.

The alt.college.tunnels newsgroup and defunct sites Steam Tunnels and Infiltration all have information about college steam tunnels. Specific campuses have student-run sites as well, which can be located on Facebook and through Google searches.

Oh! The places you'll go! (Or not. You're not really supposed to.) Obviously, the areas hacked are restricted, so you'd be, er, trespassing and definitely violating university policy. That said, if you do ever venture down the campus hidey holes, be sure to wear long sleeves and the proper footwear, and take plenty of water and a flashlight. Do not go alone, do not go inebriated, and understand there are dangers like sudden drops, heatstroke, burns, electrocution, and asbestos, just to name a few.

These are just some of my favorite stories about little-known places and tunnels at universities "“ I know every college has its secrets. Does your school have any interesting tunnel lore?

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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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