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What's the best way to keep roaches from entering my home? I'm having to battle the full-grown ones every day. I'm sure they are getting in from outside.

Sprinkle boric acid powder under appliances, behind the refrigerator, under counters, and in any other places that are out of the reach of children and pets. The roaches will step in the boric acid and ingest it when they groom themselves (yes, they do groom). Roaches love the area under the refrigerator -- especially the drip pan and motor -- so vacuum up dirt and dust and wash the drip pan often. You can also make a trap with a glass jar about four inches high. Put some bacon grease and a small chunk of banana at the bottom. Smear a band of petroleum jelly about three-quarters inch wide around the inside of the jar, about one-half inch from the top. Stand it in an area where roaches are a problem. The bugs can crawl in but not out. A common passageway for roaches is through the holes for the plumbing under the kitchen sink. Plug these tightly with rags, and you'll stop the roach traffic there.

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Not really. Not until large populations of Irish immigrants came to the United States in the mid-19th century did some of the secular Halloween customs become popular here.

What does the phrase "from pillar to post" mean?

"Running from pillar to post" means to go from one thing to another without any definite purpose. It seems to be an allusion to manege, a dressage training regimen for horses. The pillar is the center of the riding area, and the posts are columns placed equidistantly around the ring.

When were zippers invented?

First referred to as the clasp locker, or unlocker for shoes, the zipper was patented in 1893 by Judson Whitcomb.

Does ash make good firewood? How does it compare to red oak and hickory?

All three -- ash, red oak, and hickory -- are on the list of firewood with the highest heat value, where 1 cord = 200 to 250 gallons of fuel oil. The other woods on this list are American beech, apple, ironwood, sugar maple, white oak, and yellow birch. Any one of these woods provides an economical way to heat your home in the winter.

My elderly mother mentioned remembering that it rained frogs years ago. I also remember that in Pineville, Kentucky, after a hard rain, many tiny frogs would be on the main highway hopping around. Do they come from their hiding places or from the clouds, after being sucked up into a storm?

In the United States, documented cases of showers of frogs have been recorded since 1794, usually during heavy summer rainstorms. Whirlwinds, waterspouts, and tornadoes are given as the conventional explanations. Falls of fish, birds, and other animals also have been reported.

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