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Wikimedia Commons

The ABCs of Bachelorhood, According To An 1897 Guide

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Think the life of a bachelor is carefree and fun, full of nothing but poker nights and light beer? Walter Germain, an editor at Vogue, didn't believe that for one second, and in 1897 he wrote The Complete Bachelor, an etiquette guide for the single man.

These excerpts run the gamut from apt to archaic, so follow Germain's guidance cautiously, lest your 19th century manners be mistaken for 21st century creepiness.

American Butter Plates

"The butter plate of a few years ago was never seen outside of America, and is now destined to vanish from our tables. It is needless to add that butter is never served at dinner."

Bicycle Riding

"The present fashionable costume for cycling consists of tweed knickers and short lounge jacket of same material, brown leather or linen waistcoat, colored shirt, with white turn-down collar and club tie, golf stockings, and low-quartered tan wheeling shoes. A cap of tweed to match the suit completed the rig."

Clowning

"Do not be a professed jester nor yet a punster. The clowns of society are not enviable beings."

Dandruff

"Constant combing with a fine-tooth comb is apt to irritate the scalp and provoke dandruff, which can be allayed by brushing, shampooing, and the use of borax."

Elevators

"In these places a man keeps on his hat, his deportment being the same as he would observe in the street. But when the lift or elevator is fitted up as a drawing room, such as is used in hotels and other semi-public buildings, a man removes his hat when the other sex is of the number of its passengers."

Feet

"The nails of the toes should be kept as carefully as those of the hands. In summer a little talcum powder on the feet will prevent the odor of perspiration."

Golf

"Golf is the easiest game at which to cheat. However, apart from the moral effect of cheating at any game, if a man is dead to all sense of honor, he should be alive to the fear of being found out. Such discovery means social ostracism."

Hair

"Water is bad for the hair."

Introductions

"Introductions are never made in the street or in public places of any kind, or in public conveyances, unless under exceptional circumstances."

Jewelry

"Jewelry is vulgar. The ring for a man is a seal of either green or red stone, or of plain burnished gold with the seal or monogram engraved upon it. It must be worn on the little finger."

Kernels, Corn

"Corn on the cob is a favorite at small informal dinners as a separate course. In polite society you must remove the grains of the corn with your fork or your knife and fork, and never eat it off the cob holding the end with your fingers."

Legs

"As the man who crosses his legs in the presence of ladies is absolutely impossible, so should be the individual who commits the same crime in a public conveyance."

Menservants

"In the treatment of servants a man must exercise an iron will. He can be kind and considerate, but he must never descend to dispute with one, and certainly not swear at him. To be on familiar terms with one’s servants shows the cloven foot of vulgarity."

New York

"When speaking of the city of New York, do not refer to it as 'Gotham.' This shows the worst kind of provincialism and a vulgar spirit."

Ogling

"Staring at or ogling women, standing at the entrances of theaters, churches, or other public buildings, stopping still and turning back to look at some one or something in the street, can be classified as offenses of which no gentleman can be guilty."

Princes

"It is only civil to bow when passing the Prince of Wales or members of the royal family."

Quarreling

"No gentleman quarrels with a billiard marker or golf caddie; still less should he dispute a point at cards. Better lose, especially when women are present, than enter a controversy."

Romance

"A man should send from time to time, according to the state of his finances, flowers, sweets, or other tokens. A sensible girl will not approve of costly gifts if you can not afford them."

Slang

"Avoid slang, especially that of the music halls or the comic (?) newspapers. You can well afford not to be 'up to date.'"

Tipping

"Tipping is demoralizing, but it is an accepted custom."

Umbrellas

"The umbrella is an instrument of peace rather than a weapon of war, and should not be carried as 'trailed arms,' but like the stick it should be grasped a short distance below the handle, and the latter held almost upright on a very slight perpendicular."

Vacations

"There is, in these days of luxurious traveling, but little occasion to be flurried, and no excuse whatever for not being as well dressed as you are calm and self-possessed."

Whistling

"Whistle all you like in your bedroom, but not in public."

X-Rated Language

"Under great provocation the expletive 'damn' is tolerated by society, but it should be whispered and not pronounced aloud."

Yachting

"The proper entertainments for a yacht in harbor are luncheons, dinners, dances, and short cruises. None of these should be elaborate, the yacht itself—a thing of joy and beauty—being alone a great attraction."

Zipping Around Town In Your Carriage

"Drive with one hand and keep the whip hand free, except for its legitimate use in touching your horses now and then, and in saluting."

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DIY
DIY Tips for Preventing 5 Household Bugs from Infesting Your Home
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Most American homes—whether they're houses, apartments, or something in between—have bugs. A 2016 study estimated that there are more than 100 species of creepy crawlers in the average house. Pest Web suggests the global insect pest control market will hit $17.3 billion by 2022.

Bed bugs, cockroaches, termites, ants, and mosquitoes are some of the most prevalent intruders—and they can damage your health, your building’s structure, and your wallet. Fortunately, there are DIY ways to prevent these household pests from getting in the door. Grab your sponge and sealant: This is a long war.

1. BED BUGS

Bed bug on a piece of white fabric
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Though they’re not known to transmit disease from one person to another, bed bugs—which pierce exposed skin to suck blood, causing itchy, red welts—are still bad news. They can sneak into your home via used furniture, luggage, or, if you live in an apartment, from your neighbor's place. And infestations are on the rise.

“Everyone is really concerned with bed bugs because they’ve made a real resurgence in the U.S. in the last 20 years,” Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist at the National Pest Management Association, tells Mental Floss. In 2015, 99.6 percent of exterminators treated bed bugs during the year. That number was just 25 percent in 2000.

With all pests—but especially with bed bugs—the best treatment is prevention. A little time and money up front can save a huge headache later on, because professional bed bug treatment can run from $1000 to $10,000. Bed bugs aren't microscopic (and they leave behind markers like reddish stains or dark spots) so a periodic inspection of your home, especially your bedroom, is key. Apartment renters with nearby neighbors should be extra vigilant.

When you return from vacation, wash and dry all your clothes, towels, and bags from the trip. Drying on high heat for 30 minutes will kill all live stages of bugs that may have hitchhiked home with you. (If any garment can’t be washed or dried in a dryer, experts suggest storing the items in bags for a few months and, if possible, storing in direct sunlight or in a freezer, which can dramatically decrease the storage time needed.)

And don’t let the “bed” in bed bugs fool you—they don’t always need fabric to make themselves at home. Bed bugs can also hide behind loose wallpaper, wall hangings, the corners where ceiling meets wall, and electrical outlet covers. Follow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rule of thumb: If a crack can hold a credit card, it could hide a bed bug. Do a sealant sweep of the house to keep unwanted visitors at bay.

If prevention fails, it’s time to call in the big gun exterminators. They have specially designed equipment that will heat up your house enough to kill bed bugs and eggs.

2. COCKROACHES

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Cockroaches come in two main sizes: big and small. American cockroaches (which are actually native to Africa) are one of the heavyweights. This large breed typically lives outside, and there are things you can do to keep it that way. For example, don’t store trash or wood close to the exterior of your house, and if you’re bringing firewood inside, tap it on the ground before crossing the threshold to shake off any hangers-on.

German cockroaches—which migrated to the United States long ago—fall into the small set. They can stealthily slip into your abode with everyday movement, like in a package fresh from the delivery truck. Once they’re inside, their population grows rapidly. Of all the pest roaches, German cockroaches have more eggs, more successful hatchings, and the shortest time from hatching until sexual maturity, which speeds up their reproductive cycle. In just a year, it's possible to go from one egg-laden female German cockroach to 10,000.

To keep these pests at bay, maintain a neat interior and don’t forget to clean regularly behind the stove and fridge. Watch for grease buildup in sneaky spots like the hood over your stove, and clean the bathroom drain. Though you may prefer not to think about it, hair can be a food source if it collects gunk.

If you live in an apartment, there’s another consideration. Heavy rain can cause the sewer line to fill up with water, and cockroaches of any size living inside will rise to the top of the sewer and move to someplace dry. Sometimes when this happens—particularly in large cities—they’ll start moving into buildings through the pipes.

In your home, look for pipes that attach the sink to the wall. If you see a gap, close it with a surface sealer like Poxy Paste. You can also get a small mesh screen to put in the drain so cockroaches can’t get through.

3. TERMITES

Termites eating rotten wood
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Termites, which are hardwired to seek out wood for food, can often go undetected for years, by which point (depending on the size and age of the colony) they've already done a lot of damage. So don’t give them a reason to get close: Keep logs, wood piles, and mulch away from your exterior walls. Be on the lookout for raised tubular trails around the base of your house’s foundation, which indicate that a termite network has already arrived; shredded cardboard boxes in the garage or basement are also telltale signs of termite infestation.

Though physical termite barriers—plastic or metal guards that prevent termites from burrowing into the house's foundation, which can last up to 50 years—are often installed when a house is built, a chemical barrier can also be installed along the foundation of any existing structure for extra protection. They'll last five to 10 years before the pest control company needs to upgrade.

Since termite damage can have devastating consequences on buildings, think seriously about professional help if you fear an infestation. “Let’s say you have a support beam in the center of your house that’s been damaged—you need to have that repaired,” Dr. Angela Tucker, a Tennessee-based Terminix entomologist and manager of technical services, tells Mental Floss. “At some point you’re going to have an issue with the foundation of your house. It’s the same thing with floors and walls.”

4. ANTS

Ants invade a house
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Ants can appear in and around your home even if you're not prone to picnicking. Once inside, they can contaminate food, and carpenter ants can cause structural damage by nesting in soft or weakened wood.

If you’re eating outside, always clean up so you’re not attracting ants to the building. Keep them outside where they belong by filling cracks and crevices with weatherproof sealant.

Inside your home, store food in airtight containers. Original packaging isn’t necessarily bug-proof, and ants are savvy at finding those food sources. And rinsing cans and plastic food containers before disposing of them can go a long way toward repelling ants. “You’re doing a good thing, you’re recycling your soda cans,” Orkin entomologist Chelle Hartzer tells Mental Floss. “But the last few drops of soda in there can build up in the bottom of your bin and be attractive to cockroaches, ants, and other pests.”

5. MOSQUITOES

Mosquito biting a man's hand
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Contrary to popular belief, mosquitoes don't just bite at night—they can be active outside day or night. Beyond the exasperatingly itchy bites they cause, mosquitoes can carry a slew of serious diseases, including the West Nile virus and the Zika virus—which might explain why, in 2016, mosquito control services were among the fastest-growing pest segments.

When a virus-carrying mosquito is looking for a watery place to breed, “it doesn’t even need to be as big as a saucer,” Tucker says. “They need as little as a bottle cap with water to get the eggs in it.”

To keep mosquitoes out, confirm that all of your window and door screens are intact—look for rips or worn-out rubber seals and replace them if needed. If you keep plants right outside the door, check the saucer underneath for stagnant water. In fact, make sure there are no areas of standing water—birdbaths, patio décor, or children's toys in the yard—near your home.

According to Mosquito Squad pest control group, if mosquitoes do infiltrate the house, place a small bowl of water in the corner and add a camphor tablet. The odor will drive mosquitoes away.

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Live Smarter
The Google Docs Audio Hack You Might Not Know About
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To the uninitiated, Google Docs may take some warming up to. But although it may seem like any other word processor, Docs offers its fair share of nifty features that can make your life a whole lot easier. The only problem is that few people seem to know about them.

The Voice Typing function is one such example. As Quartz discovered, this tool can be used to drastically cut down on the time it takes to transcribe an interview or audio recording—a feature that professionals from many fields could benefit from. Voice Typing might also be useful to those who prefer to dictate what they want to write, as well as those with impairments that prevent them from typing.

Whatever the case may be, it's extremely easy to use. Just open a blank document, click on "tools" at the top, and then select "voice typing." A microphone icon will pop up, allowing you to choose your language. After you've done that, simply click the icon when you're ready to start speaking!

Unfortunately, it's unable to pick up an audio recording played through speakers, so you'll need to grab a pair of headphones, plug them into your phone or voice recorder, and dictate what's said as you listen along. Still, this eliminates the hassle of having to pause and rewind in order to let your fingers catch up to the audio—unless you're the champion of a speed typing contest, in which case you probably don't need this tutorial.

According to Quartz, the transcription is "shockingly" accurate, even getting the spelling of last names right. For a how-to guide on the Voice Typing tool, check out Quartz's video below.

[h/t Quartz]

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