: High on the Hog Blog
Purveyor of Idle Observation

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at


Featured in a recent New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert’s Stung is about just that, bees. She begins:

Not long ago, I found myself sitting at the edge of a field with a bear and thirty or forty thousand very angry bees. The bear was there because of the bees. The bees were there because of me, and why I was there was a question I found myself unable to answer precisely.

launching into a lengthy and detailed thesis on nature and history of bees that is alternately fascinating …

Honeybees are the only animals besides humans known to have a representational language: they convey to one another the location of food by dancing.

… and unsettling…

Males, known as drones, perform no useful function except to mate. They are loutish and filthy, and the workers—sterile females—tolerate their presence for a few months a year, then systematically murder them.

ultimately focusing on the recent discovery of what is called ‘colony-collapse disorder’ in which commercial beekeepers were finding large percentages of hives 70% – 90% abandoned.

Such was the level of infection that van Engelsdorp and other researchers concluded that the bees’ immune systems had collapsed. It was as if an insect version of AIDS were sweeping through the hives.

I have only one bee story myself, from my childhood. It involves a water hose and a colony of bees living in the hollow tube of a clothesline frame in my backyard and it ended very badly.

Read: The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert, Stung

Google Street View Comes to Houston


Google added Street View mapping to Houston last week, making it possible to browse photographs of the city’s major streets from your computer as if you were standing on the corner. Above, is Google’s shot of my house. I wish they would have told me they were coming, I would have tidied up a bit.

More from – Houston Chronicle: Is Houston ready for its close-up on Google?, Houstoned: Google Maps Is Watching You. Yeah, That Means You, Dwight Silverman’s TechBlog: Smile, Houston! You’re on Google Maps Street View.

While clearly techno-licious on the one hand – the virtualization and mapping platform has untold applications that could transform how we see and interact with the world – it comes at a price that not everyone in our society is so eager to pay. The most prevalent concerns involve privacy. Mashable has posted a Top 15 Google Street View Sightings in which people are captured entering or leaving adult bookstores and strip clubs, sunbathing or hopping security gates. One Seattle woman is none to happy about Google spying on her cat. That being said, Google seems to be avoiding residential areas for the most part. Mine just happens to be on a major thoroughfare. The images are created with a vehicle mounted with cameras that drives by snapping photos at all angles. See a one of the likely suspects.

Houston Cougars Football Schedule Out


The University of Houston announced the fall football schedule, with relatively few surprises coming off a Conference USA championship in 2006-07. Practice is getting underway. With four year starting quarterback Kevin Kolb off to the NFL, the Cougars are still trying to sort out the QB position with some sizeable shoes to fill – UH trio vying to win QB job.

Date Opponent / Event Location Time
09/01/07 at Oregon Eugene, Ore. 12:30 p.m. PT
09/15/07 at Tulane * New Orleans, La. 6:00 p.m. CT
09/22/07 vs. Colorado State Robertson Stadium 3:30 p.m. CT
09/29/07 vs. East Carolina Robertson Stadium 6:00 p.m. CT
10/06/07 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala. TBA
10/13/07 vs. Rice Robertson Stadium 2:30 p.m. CT
10/20/07 at UAB Birmingham, Ala. 6:00 p.m. CT
10/27/07 at UTEP El Paso, Texas El Paso, Texas
11/04/07 vs. SMU Robertson Stadium 7:00 p.m. CT
11/10/07 at Tulsa Tulsa, Okla. 2:00 p.m. CT
11/17/07 vs. Marshall Robertson Stadium 2:30 p.m. CT
11/24/07 vs. Texas Southern Robertson Stadium 2:30 p.m. CT

Wine Library TV, An Oenophile for the Rest of Us

Via Slate I’ve discovered Wine Library TV, a web-based video show hosted by the delightfully maniacal Gary Vaynerchuk among others. Give it a looksy…

Random Factoid – First College Building built with Air Conditioning at University of Houston


Pictured above is the University of Houston campus in 1940. I ran across this factoid while researching something for another post:

The University of Houston moved to its present campus in 1939. Its first building, the Roy Gustav Cullen Building, was dedicated on June 4, 1939, and classes began the next day. The R.G. Cullen building is believed to be the first college building built with air conditioning anywhere in the world. (Wikipedia: The University of Houston)

This is, of course, if you’ve spent any time at all in Houston, about the least surprising thing you’ve ever heard.

Only in Maine – Deer hit by bike explodes into oncoming car

The Bangor Daily News reported on a recent car accident in Maine in which a deer was hit by a motorcycle and then careened into the windshield of an oncoming car driven by Addie Gilman (no relation):

Keating said much of the deer’s entrails penetrated the car’s interior, covering Gilman with blood and other matter. “She was just covered with blood,” he said, and the deer’s organs could be clearly seen on the floor of the passenger’s seat. Gilman’s son Ryan, 5, was in the back seat strapped into a booster seat. Less of the deer’s entrails ended up on the boy, but an officer’s photos show what Keating believes is the grass the deer had been eating sprayed across the inside of the back window. “It just exploded in the car,” he said of the deer. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Bangor Daily News: Palermo: Deer hit by bike explodes into oncoming car

Antonya Nelson’s glimpse of Houston in Shauntrelle

Houston is not, to my mind, a particularly literary town, that is to say, it defies one to write about it. It has no deficit of aspiration of course and has played host to many a worthy practitioner – minimalist kingpin Donald Barthelme, poets Mark Doty, Edward Hirsch, Cynthia MacDonald, Vassar Miller, and of course Larry McMurtry – and a whole flotilla of authors I’ve neglected or am not aware of.

Houstonist spotted the short story Shauntrelle by Houston-based author Antonya Nelson in last week’s New Yorker.

It isn’t just a husband you divorce but a life. A credit rating. Certain friends—sadly, some of them small children. A mother-in-law, that innocent bystander. And sometimes it seemed to Constance that she had divorced her own pronoun, I, and run away with another, she. She, she sometimes thought, of herself, and always in the present tense. As in Has she disconnected from her past so completely?

She hadn’t, however, divorced her city. Houston was still hers, although this part of it was new to her. Along with the novelty of the South Loop, she’d acquired a roommate, this after many years of the known quantity: husband, daughter. Dogs. She guessed she’d divorced them, too.

New Yorker Fiction: Shauntrelle