Our 35 Most Popular Stories of 2018

iStock.com/titiya
iStock.com/titiya

From understanding weird pet behaviors to learning the proper way to wipe your butt, our readers have a thirst for all sorts of knowledge. Fortunately, so do our editors and writers. For proof, look no further than our 35 most popular stories of 2018. In case you weren't obsessively refreshing the Mental Floss website all year, here's what you missed:

1.New Guidelines Redefine Birth Years for Millennials, Gen-X, and 'Post-Millennials', by Jay Serafino

2. The Mysterious Bronze Objects That Have Baffled Archaeologists for Centuries, by Tom Metcalfe

3. The Pasta Sauce Hailed as the World's Best Is Surprisingly Easy to Make at Home, by Shaunacy Ferro

4. The Fascinating Reason Why There Are No Mosquitoes at Disney World, by Madeline Raynor

5. The Best Way to Wipe Your Butt, According to the Experts, by Alvin Ward

6. The Real Reason Costco Employees Check Receipts at Exits, by Jake Rossen

7. Where Did the Ex-Confederate Leaders Go After the Confederacy Was Defeated by the Union?, by Jay Bazzinotti

8. The Key to Robert E. Lee's Puzzling Death Might Be Hidden in a Photo of His Earlobe, by Evan Lubofsky

9. 14 Haunting Facts About the Winchester Mystery House, by Kristy Puchko

10. Why Is the American Flag Displayed Backwards on Military Uniforms?, by Jake Rossen

11. George RR Martin Confirms Popular Fan Theory About Game of Thrones's White Walkers, by Mason Segall

12. This Beatles Poster Breaks Down the Instruments Played in Every Fab Four Song, by Madeline Raynor

13. How the World’s Only Feudal Lord Outclassed the Nazis to Save Her People, by Lucas Reilly

14. 15 of the Most Successful Products from Shark Tank, by Jake Rossen

15. How Much You Need to Make to Afford a Home in Each State, by Michele Debczak

16. Traumatic License: An Oral History of Action Park, by Jake Rossen

17. 12 Facts About the Penis, by Jordan Rosenfeld

18. The 10 Best Movies on Netflix Right Now, by Jake Rossen

19. 12 Facts About Evil Genius, Netflix’s Addictive New True Crime Series, by Jennifer M. Wood

20. 15 Old Things In Your House That Are Worth a Fortune, by Jay Serafino

21. The Surprising Reasons Your Dog Curls Up in a Ball Before Going to Sleep, by Natalie Zamora

22. The Easy Way to Reduce Robocalls on Your Smartphone, by Jake Rossen

23. 'Bizarre as Hell': The Disappearance of the Yuba County Five, by Jake Rossen

24. Authorities Have Cracked a Bizarre Cold Case That Could Have Ties to the Zodiac Killer, by Bess Lovejoy

25. The Best Scary Movies on Netflix Right Now, by Jake Rossen

26. These Are the World's 10 Most Expensive Cities, by Shaunacy Ferro

27. The Only Way to Answer ‘What Is Your Greatest Weakness?’ In a Job Interview, by Jake Rossen

28. We've All Been Threading Needles Wrong This Whole Time, by Michele Debczak

29. 15 EGOT Winners (and 20 Almost-EGOTS), by Jennifer M. Wood

30. Why You Should Stop Washing Your Clothes in Warm Water, by Shaunacy Ferro

31. The Quest to Break America’s Most Mysterious Code—And Find $60 Million in Buried Treasure, by Lucas Reilly

32. 10 Science-Backed Tips for Getting a Cat to Like You, by Mikel Delgado

33. The One Harry Potter Character JK Rowling Regrets Killing Off, by Natalie Zamora

34. Why You Sometimes See Black Tubes Stretched Across the Road, by Michele Debczak

35. 9 Bizarre Facts About Nicolas Cage, by Jake Rossen

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The Reason Your Dog Stares at You

Dogs stare for a number of different reasons.
Dogs stare for a number of different reasons.
sankai/iStock via Getty Images

Sooner or later, every dog owner will find their pet expressing an innate curiosity over even the most mundane of actions. Watching television? The dog will observe you closely. Folding laundry? The dog will stare at you like you’re a Magic Eye poster.

You can tell the dog it’s rude, but they’ll continue doing it. So why do dogs stare at us?

It often has little to do with what we’re doing and is more about what we might do. Dogs are big on visual cues. They know a walk is preceded by you picking up their leash; dinnertime might involve going to the pantry; a car ride means grabbing the keys. If they get a treat by obeying a command, then they know you’re probably going to start pointing at them and want to make sure they don’t miss it. In keeping an eye on you, a dog is looking for hints that you’re going to do something they want.

Dogs may also use staring as a method to train their owner. Most people are more likely to slip a dog something off their dinner plate if the dog is looking up at them wistfully. If that behavior is rewarded, then the dog knows giving you a pleading look may result in some pork chops landing at their feet.

But not all dogs stare out of greed. For dogs, just like humans, making eye contact releases oxytocin, otherwise known as the “love hormone.” It’s a bonding experience for humans and their animal companions.

Of course, staring can have other connotations, particularly if it’s not a dog you know very well. An unblinking, focused stare with a rigid body posture can mean the dog is feeling territorial or might be considering taking a bite out of you. It’s best to back away. It’s also not advisable to hold a dog still and stare at them, as this might be considered an act of aggression.

The next time you catch your dog eyeing you, it’s likely they’re hoping for a walk, a treat, or just want to bond. Absent other methods of communication, staring is an effective way for getting their humans to behave.

[h/t American Kennel Club]