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19 Bits of Advice About the French, As Told to American Servicemen in WWII

In 1944, American soldiers were given a booklet to read and keep in their gear as they prepared to storm the beaches of Normandy. Titled A Pocket Guide to France, this short text contained basic cultural background for the country they would help liberate, as well as practical advice for interacting with the French.

The booklet has since been declassified and can be read here [PDF]. (It is also available in print via the University of Chicago Press, under the name Instructions for American Servicemen in France During World War II.) It holds up as a culturally sensitive and practical work, albeit one that pertains to the highly specific scenario of traveling through France immediately after D-Day.

Listed below are examples of the kinds of things the American military wanted its soldiers to be cognizant of as they worked their way into Nazi-occupied France. While the advice here is chippy and optimistic, other parts of the booklet serve as a reminder of the precariousness of the entire ordeal: "We don’t know just what the war has done to Paris. These notes will assume that there’ll still be lots to see."

The French Character

1. "The French are mentally quick."

2. "The French … have an extreme respect for property … the Frenchman’s woodpile is just as sacred to him as the Banque de France."

3. "The French are individualists … this has its good as well as its bad side … Stay out of local discussions, even if you have had French II in High School. In any French argument on internal French affairs, you will either be drowned out or find yourself involved in a first class French row."

4. "The French are not given to confidences, or to telling how much money they make—or used to make—or to bragging. And they think little of such talk from others."

5. "The French have a remarkable capacity for minding their own business."

6. "The French also shake hands on greeting each other and on saying goodbye. They are not backslappers. It’s not their way."

7. "France has been represented too often in fiction as a frivolous nation where sly winks and coy pats on the rear are the accepted form of address. You’d better get rid of such notions right now if you are going to keep out of trouble."

8. "You have certainly heard of gay Paree yet the French have far less the regular habit of pleasure than we Americans."

9. "The workman will welcome you; he is a regular fellow. In his velveteen pantaloons and beret he will look more picturesque than his opposite number back home in the United States. He is what the French call le peuple—The People. They have more sense, resistance, and pride than any other class in France."

10. "Mostly, the French think Americans always act square, always give the little fellow a helping hand and are good natured, big-hearted and kind."

Food and Drink

11. "The French are good talkers and magnificent cooks—if there still is anything left to put in the pot."

12. "The neighborhood French café is the most French thing in all of France. If you want to be welcome when you come back a second time use the café the way the French do. As you’ll see by looking around you, the Frenchman comes there with his family. It is NOT a place where the French go to get drunk."

13. "Like all wine-drinking people, the French don’t drink to get drunk. Drunkenness is rare in France."

14. "French beer is flatter and more slippery than our beer but the French like it."

15. "The French have never liked their drinks ice-cold just as they have never liked strong mixtures like cocktails, which they think ruin the appetite before a meal."

Love and Sex

16. "France is full of decent women and strict women. Most French girls have less freedom than girls back home. If you get a date, don’t be surprised if her parents want to meet you first, to size you up."

17. "While it is true that the French point of view toward sex is somewhat different from the American, it does not follow that illicit sex relations are any safer than in the United States. As a matter of fact there is a greater risk of contracting venereal diseases."

18. "Almost anybody in France can get chummy with a special sort of hard-boiled dame who, for obvious reasons, is sitting alone at a café table."

19. "If a girl doesn’t carry a prostitute’s card, then she is an 'irregular' … bur 'regular' or 'irregular,' either kind can present you with a nasty souvenir of Paris to take back home."

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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

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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

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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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