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Spend the Night in Paris's Bone-Filled Catacombs

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Airbnb

Lodging website Airbnb isn’t hurting for unusual accommodations: Travelers booking rooms can arrange to stay in a teepee on Idaho’s Snake River, a treehouse in France, a cubehouse in the Netherlands, a seashell house in Mexico, and even a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. But none of these places packs the spook factor of Airbnb’s latest listing: Paris’s Catacombs.

Initially a series of stone quarries, the Catacombs became the final resting place to bones from several Parisian cemeteries beginning in 1786. Officials moved the bones there after overcrowding in cemeteries, combined with improper disposal techniques, led to the spread of disease in the city. The last bones were placed in the Catacombs in 1859. Today, the Catacombs are a macabre but popular tourist attraction, drawings thousands of people every year.

Airbnb Ireland is giving two lucky winners a chance to spend Halloween night among the bones of six million Parisians. The listing description promises “a dazzling culinary experience,” a personal storyteller who “will have you spellbound with fascinating tales from the catacombs, guaranteed to produce nightmares,” and a private concert “in the most incredible acoustics under the earth.” (This is a throwback—the underground crypts hosted small concerts in the late 1850s.) Finally, the winners will "enjoy dawn with the dead, as you become the only living person ever to wake up in the Paris catacombs."

But there are a few rules the winners must abide by, according to the listing:

No tricks. But plenty of treats.
Please respect the Catacombs as you would your own grave.
Be mindful of your Parisian neighbors, both the living and the dead.
No bobbing for apples in the Catacomb pools.
Don't forget your toothbrush and pajamas. Bonus points if they glow in the dark.

Does this sound like your ideal Halloween night? Then prepare a 100-word essay that explains why you deserve to stay in the Catacombs. (The originality and creativity of your story—"Does it surprise and delight us?"—is weighted 70 percent, while the remaining 30 percent is all about spirit: "How does your submission relate to the Paris Catacombs and Halloween?") Participants must be 18 years old and signed up with Airbnb. Entries are due by October 20; you can submit them here.

All images courtesy of Airbnb
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A Simple Trick For Figuring Out the Day of the Week For Any Given Date
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People typically remember anniversaries in terms of dates and years, not days of the week. If you can’t remember whether you got married on a Saturday or Sunday, or don't know which day of the week you were born on, there’s a simple arithmetic-based math trick to help you figure out sans calendar, according to It's Okay To Be Smart host Joe Hanson.

Mathematician John Conway invented the so-called Doomsday Algorithm to calculate the day of the week for any date in history. It hinges on several sets of rules, including that a handful of certain dates always share the same day of the week, no matter what year it is. (Example: April 4, June 6, August 8, October 10, December 12, and the last day of February all fall on a Wednesday in 2018.) Using this day—called an “anchor day”—among other instructions, you can figure out, step by step, the very day of the week you’re searching for.

Learn more about the Doomsday Algorithm in the video below (and if it’s still stumping you, check out It’s OK to Be Smart’s handy cheat sheet here).

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Pig Island: Sun, Sand, and Swine Await You in the Bahamas
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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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