Friday, August 28, 2015

How to Get Rid of Stinging Insects, 1633

Francesco Stelluti, Persio (1630)
University of Oklahoma
"The Generall Method of Preventing, and Curing all venemous Stingings and Bitings. Prevention is onely two wayes: By having an eye to all places where they are likely to be abroad: And by driving them from the place of a mans habitation. All venomous Creatures are driven from the house by these fumes and washings following. Fume your roomes with the smoake of Harts-horne shavings, burnt in a chafing-dish or firepanne: or the shavings of sheepes hoofes: or the parings of old shooes. Wash the walls with the Gaule of any beast boyled a little in water." 
Stephen Bradwell, Helps for Suddain Accidents Endangering Life
Got an infestation? Time to light the old-shoe incense. (Simply whacking the insects with your old shoes is also effective.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

How to Train for Walking, 1813

Captain Barclay,
Celebrated Pedestrian
"When the object in view is the accomplishment of a pedestrian match, his regular exercise may be from twenty to twenty-four miles a day. He must rise at five in the morning, run half a mile at the top of his speed up-hill, and then walk six miles at a moderate pace, coming in about seven to breakfast, which should consist of beef-steaks or mutton-chops under-done, with stale bread and old beer. After breakfast, he must again walk six miles at a moderate pace, and at twelve lie down in bed without his clothes for half an hour. On getting up, he must walk four miles, and return by four to dinner, which should also be beef-steaks or mutton-chops, with bread and beer as at breakfast. Immediately after dinner, he must resume his exercise by running half a mile at the top of his speed, and walking six miles at a moderate pace. He takes no more exercise that day, but retires to bed about eight, and next morning proceeds in the same manner.

After having gone on in this regular course for three or four weeks, the pedestrian must take a four-mile sweat, which is produced by running four miles, in flannel, at the top of his speed... He is then put to bed in his flannels, and being covered with six or eight pairs of blankets, and a feather-bed, must remain in this state from twenty-five to thirty minutes, when he is taken out and rubbed perfectly dry. Being then well wrapt in his great coat, he walks out gently for two miles, and returns to breakfast, which, on such occasions should consist of a roasted fowl. He afterwards proceeds with his usual exercise."
Walter Thom, Pedestrianism; Or, an Account of the Performances of Celebrated Pedestrians 
Looking for a new competitive sport? Try pedestrianism: all the mania and discomfort of long-distance running, without all the actual running.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How to Drive an Electric Car, 1896

"Such a motor is odorless, almost without vibration, and is practically noiseless. It can run with great speed and climb almost any hill road so long as it is smooth... When the battery is empty it may be recharged again at electrical stations maintained for the purpose, after which the carriage is ready for its journey once more... Aside from the device for supplying power to the wheels, there are numerous others for guiding and controlling the machine when it is under way. Near the seat of the driver are a number of switches and levers, which to one just learning how they operate are rather bewildering... The driver must keep his eyes wide open and both his feet and hands busy. With his left hand he grasps the power lever which controls the speed, while with the right he manages the steering lever. He has one heel all the time on an emergency switch that cuts off the current, and at the same time must ring a gong to warn people of the approach of his pneumatic-tired conveyance. With the other foot he manages a reversing-switch that will back the carriage, while with his toes he applies a quick brake. When he wishes to turn on the lights he presses a button under the seat. So it may be seen that he is rather busy, and can never go to sleep and let the old horse carry him home."
Henry Davenport Northrop, The Gem Cyclopedia of Universal Knowledge
On second thought, just forget all the levers and focus on ringing the gong very loudly.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How to Use Chocolate, 1672

Nicolas de Blegny, Le bon usage du thé, du caffé,
et du chocolat
“It revives the drooping spirits, and chears those that are ready to faint; expelling sorrow, trouble, care, and all perturbations of the minde; it is an Ambrosia: And finally, in a word, it cannot be too much praised… [It] keepeth the body fat and plump; and also preserveth the countenance fresh and fair… and certain it is, that a man may live longer with it, then with any kinde of Wine whatsoever... It is a great Cordial... strengthening the natural heat in all parts, and thereby prolonging life; for it is by an easie transmutation converted into blood. It preserveth in vigour the principal faculties, enabling men to prosecute their Studies and tedious exercises, expelling winde, opening obstructions… and is most excellent against Hypochondriack melancholy.” 
William Hughes, The American Physitian
Revives drooping spirits? Check. Prolongs life? Check. Turns into blood? Apparently.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

How to Throw a Party (Single Ladies' Edition), 1896

Manners and Customs of Polite Society (1896)
"The bachelor women in their cosy little city apartments, or even their one apartment, refuse to be debarred from the pleasure and privilege of giving the little entertainments so dear to the heart feminine. They not only give the most charming little "teas" and "coffees," but they are past masters in the use of the chafing dish... A sandwich spread is another entertainment easily given by a "bachelor maid." This is a meal at which everything, barring the tea and coffee, is served in the form of a sandwich. Not until one has tried does one realize to what excellence and variety this form of viand lends itself. Deviled ham sandwiches, egg sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, lettuce sandwiches, potted ham, potted fish, potted cheese sandwiches, pineapple sandwiches, peanut sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, tomato sandwiches, walnut sandwiches, oyster sandwiches and so on indefinitely."  
Maud C. Cooke, Manners and Customs of Polite Society
You won't be single for long once the guests taste your walnut sandwiches.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How to Grow Eggplants, 1616

Ulisse Aldrovandi, Il teatro della natura
(vol. 1-1, p. 53, University of Bologna)
"Manie men being verie desirous to adorne and set forth their Garden with all sorts of Plants, doe amongst the rest provide to furnish it with Apples of Love (which the Latines call Mala insana) by reason of the beautie of their fruit, which is as thick as a Cucumber drawing towards a red colour. They must be sowne in the Spring, in a fat and well battild soyle, and where the Sun hath great power, because they cannot abide any cold: they crave the like ordering and husbandrie that the Cucumber doth. Many licorish mouthes... cut them in slices, boyle them in water, and after frie them in the flower of meale and butter or oyle, and then cast upon them pepper and salt: this kind of meat is good for such men as are inclined to dallie with common dames, and short-heeld huswives, because it is windie, and withall ingendreth cholericke humors, infinite obstructions and head-ach, sadnesse, melancholicke dreames, and in the end long continuing agues: and therefore it were better to forbeare them." 
Charles Estienne, Maison Rustique, or, The Countrey Farme 
Do you like common dames, intestinal gas, and sadness? Try fried eggplant.

Friday, July 17, 2015

How to Choose a Sports Drink, 1899

Charles Terront (Le Petit Journal, Sept. 26, 1891)
"The cause of thirst, what best quenches it, what one should not drink, the opinion of the medical profession in regard to the fancy drinks, etc., are all questions which profoundly interest the bicyclist... Of the different fancy drinks, iron tonics, blood purifiers, magic strength-impacters, etc., it is necessary to say very little. Leave them alone, one and all, from A to Z. They are apt to do you more harm than good. It is true the effects of Kola and its class are increased strength, endurance, wind and general well-being, as long as you continue to take them in ever-increasing doses, but when you stop – what then? Collapse... If you require a drink that shall be strengthening as well as refreshing, you can take nothing better than a glass of cool water with a teaspoonful of Wyeth's Beef Juice in it. The nourishment in that will be equal in amount to what is contained in a half-pound of steak."  
Victor Neesen, Dr. Neesen's Book on Wheeling
Looking for a performance-enhancing drink that won't get you in trouble for doping? Try beef juice: so much more convenient than sucking on a steak during the race.