Barbed Wire Museums Take On A Prickly Subject

barbed wire
I’ve always loved museums on obscure subjects because they teach you how overlooked objects can have a big influence. Barbed wire is one of those objects.

While various inventors started experimenting with barbed wire in the 1850s, the founder of barbed wire is generally considered to be Joseph Glidden, whose 1873 design soon stretched across the American West. Before then, it was nearly impossible to enclose the vast rangelands of the West. There were constant fights over whose animals were on whose land. With the advent of barbed wire, land became enclosed, and the fights turned to passage rights and boundary disputes.

It’s often said barbed wire tamed the Old West, and while that’s true it also led to its demise. The West became more organized; freedom of movement suffered, and bigger and bigger ranches began to enclose huge swaths of land. Barbed wire was a boon to some and a curse to others. Many called it “the Devil’s rope” or “the Devil’s hatband.”

There are three major museums devoted to this humble but important invention. The Joseph F. Glidden Homestead & Historical Center in DeKalb, Illinois, is devoted to the inventor of barbed wire and his carefully restored home, barn and blacksmith shop. The museum has a blacksmith who gives live demonstrations of his traditional craft including, of course, wire making.

%Gallery-155001%The Devil’s Rope Museum on Route 66 in McLean, Texas, has a huge collection of barbed wire. The original design inspired countless variants and supposed improvements. Also, thefts of barbed wire led manufacturers to design specific wires for large companies and ranches. Hundreds of these variants are on display, as well as art created from barbed wire and a room devoted to the history of Route 66.

Over in LaCrosse, Kansas, there’s the Kansas Barbed Wire Museum, which has more than 2,000 varieties of wire as well as wire-making tools and displays of barbed wire being used in peace and at war. It’s the headquarters of the Antique Barbed Wire Society, one of several societies of collectors and historians. Yes, there are collectors for everything, and with so many variants of wire and so much history for each one, the hobby has attracted some devoted followers.

Lots of historical societies and pioneer museums have small displays of barbed wire, so the next time you pass one on the highway, stop by and check it out. Just remember: look, but don’t touch!

[Image courtesy Coyote Grafix via flickr]

Airport security checks your luggage, carry-on and… penis size?

Airport security never ceases to amaze me, every time I think things are getting a little wacky, I’m shown something new that makes everything I saw in the past suddenly seem logical.

Urinals at the Southwest airlines terminal at Houston’s Hobby airport have a sign warning peeing passengers that:

Automatic infrared flush sensors also provide video monitoring for security purposes”

Seriously, the department of homeland security now considers male genitalia to be a threat to national security?

Now, before I blame the department for being total idiots, I can’t help feel that this entire thing is a prank, and that everyone reporting on it is part of one funny joke.

In fact, despite their track record of silly decisions, I doubt they’d do this. Obviously, someone decided to have some fun, and made some homemade stickers. If I am proven wrong, I’d be really interested to hear why the TSA is so interested in these images, and how long until we are all warned about the dangers of penis bombs.

Click read more to see a larger version of the photo.

Taking travel photos with a homemade lens

My knowledge of photography is limited. I’m one of those “who needs a photo? It’s all in the mind” kinda people, probably because I’ve been using a crap digital camera for the last 5-years.

If I could take mind-blowing photographs, I’m sure that would change. Short on time, yet somewhat eager to try doing just that, I have often gone to check out professional cameras but looked at price tags and walked right out.

So when I saw an article on homemade digital hacks for your camera I saw hope! The lens is the most important (and most expensive?) part for your camera and this piece expertly tells you how to put together a fish-eye lense for $10. It looks pretty bad, but it also looks like it might do the trick.

True, the world of DIY Photography is large, but it seems so far ahead of me I often get lost when I scout those websites. The terminology, physics of light, situational photography — that stuff still hits off a tangent for me. I might start here though (I could borrow my dad’s old Pentax SLR), and if this homemade fish-eye lens produces even half a decent photo, there may be hope at kicking off an amateur DIY photography hobby.

[Via Vagabondish]