Somewhere between two-cans-and-a-string and Ma Bell lies the barbed wire fence telephone networks used by ranchers in the early 20th century. From CF Eckhardt's short history of these "rural telephone systems" at TexasHillCountry.com :
Across much of the west, to the west of old US 81 (present I-35) in Texas--and not a small part of it east of that demarcation--there was already a network of wire covering most of the country, in the form of barbed-wire fences. Some unknown genius discovered that if you hooked two Sears or Monkey Ward telephone sets to the top wire on a barbed-wire fence, you could talk between the telephones as easily as between two "town" telephones connected by slick wire through an operator's switchboard. A rural telephone system that had no operators, no bills--and no long-distance charges--was born.
Most ranch perimeter fences joined at corners, and in most cases the top wires touched each other or were even interwoven for strength. Where it became necessary for a telephone system to cross a road, all that was required was two posts about 15 feet long, buried about 3 feet into the ground for stability, and enough wire to go from one top fence wire up to the top of the post, across the road, and down the other post to the top fence wire on the other side.
Lisa Hix of has written a lengthy piece for Collectors Weekly on the Oneida Community of the late 19th century, and how it morphed from a group of men and women who “believed the liquid electricity of Jesus Christ’s spirit flowed through words and touch, and that a chain of sexual intercourse would create a […]
Mojoptix designed and built a sundial that displays the time in its shadow. You can download the 3D printer files on Thingiverse, or buy one on Etsy. Fun fact about this sundial: You will most likely never see it in a supermarket or a department store. The swiss cheese inside the sundial is so intricate, […]
In a new Tested.com video, Adam Savage celebrates the upcoming National Week of Making that the White House is hosting again this year. To kick off his week in the sort of unique way that only Adam Savage can, he has been asking his social media followers to tag pictures of their personal workspaces, the […]
Experienced shutterbugs with DSLR cameras have boatloads of lens options for capturing the moment. Unfortunately, smartphone photographers often get stuck with their one crummy lens, which means limited zoom and focus for their final image.Step up your smartphone’s photographic power with the Acesori 5-Piece Smartphone Camera Lens Kit, now just $9.99 in the Boing Boing Store.Magnetic rings easily […]
Some truths are universal. For one, your phone will always run out of power when you most need it. For another, the charging cords that come packaged with your Apple device will fray, split, and rip faster than Usain Bolt in a game of tag.Instead, pick up a charging cord that anyone would have a tough […]
Some people say magic tricks are nerdy and best left to your 12-year-old asthmatic cousin. But others see value in perfecting the slight of hand and showmanship associated with a perfectly executed routine. We’re firmly in the latter camp. And now, we’re giving you the ability to put a few parlor tricks up your sleeve with the Penguin […]