: 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

My iPhone Envy and the coming New World Order of Mobile Devices

I’ve contracted a nasty case of iPhone envy lately, inspired mostly by the 3G powered lightning fast web browsing, iPod functionality and the army of application developers churning out cool new stuff for the App Store. Apple solved most of what kept me tethered to my Crackberry by adding real GPS functionality and ability to play nice with Exchange Server e-mail used by most large companies. Giving me pause is the hefty hidden pricing and subpar service that come with being stuck with ATT as the sole service provider and my lingering suspicions about a button-less interface. While I had assumed that I would slowly succumb to becoming ‘one of those people’ I’m now faced with more of a conundrum.

TechCrunch has posted pics of the HTC Dream G1 handset in the wild (see above). HTC Dream G1, aka the gPhone, runs Google’s highly anticipated new Android cellphone software designed to compete with Apple’s iPhone. Google has scheduled the official announcement for this tuesday with retail availability scheduled for October. Analysts expect a $200 subsidized price with a 2-year contract from T-Mobile, which I already use as the the cheapest unmetered data plan available at the time. Choices, choices….

Equally interesting in an anthropological platform-as-social-signal-of-my-worldviews kind of way is that this promises to transcend the usual I’m a PC/I’m a Mac paradigm where it’s cheaper vs. better. This is Google, whose history of game-changing products, vaunted engineering prowess and relentless pursuit of novel solutions to consumer needs, promises if nothing else to send the development of handheld devices into competitive overdrive.

See the video below for a demonstration of Google’s Android software at their Developers’ Day in London.

Answer Questions, get Free Rice for UN Food Program

grains-of-riceFree Rice is a website that allows you to answer questions and earn 20 grains of rice for each right answer, to be donated to the United Nations World Food Program. In the past year over 43,564,381,610 grains of rice have been donated through the website.

FreeRice is a sister site of, partnering with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the United Nations World Food Program.

Donating 2500 grains of rice only took me about 20 minutes and I learned a few words in the process. It’s surprisingly addictive.

Errol Morris’ film "Stand Up to Cancer"

Errol Morris continues to amaze. Already my favorite documentarian since Thin Blue Line, his short film for the Stand Up for Cancer cause is beautifully done.

Video: Errol Morris, Stand Up to Cancer

Hurricane Ike Aftermath in Houston

Hurricane Ike came through Houston on Sept. 13th forcing mandatory evacuations of coastal areas and knocking out the power for over 3 million people. The major effects in Houston proper were relatively minor compared to the storm’s destructive potential, but the collateral effects have been severe for some with many left without power, ice, food and water and in some cases severe property damage. Here’s a recap-

Geraldo bites it

Hurricane Ike was already claiming casualties even before landfall.

Hurricane Ike Eyewall Video 100 MPH Winds Plus Storm Surge

Although many residents refused to leave following the false alarm of 2005′s Hurricane Rita which the effects of the evacuation were worse than the storm damage, Ike carried a tremendous amount of destructive potential.

Crystal Beach and Bolivar Peninsula

Galveston and the surrounding coastal areas bore the brunt of the storm and remain uninhabitable.

Hurricane Ike Damage in Houston, Texas

Though not approaching the scale of devastation on the coast, Houston sustained most of its damage from flying debris.

Brennan’s Restraurant Burns

One of my favorite Houston restaurants burned down on the first night of the storm, apparently after a transformer exploded. This photo and other great shots available from Charlie McRae.

Picking Potatoes in Northern Maine


The Library of Congress has a new photostream on photo-sharing site Flickr. This particular image struck close to home. The caption is “Children gathering potatoes on a large farm, vicinity of Caribou, Aroostook County, Me. Schools do not open until the potatoes are harvested.” I grew up in the neighboring and superior-in-every-way town of Presque Isle (Go Wildcats!) and picked potatoes for exactly one day with a friend of mine before saying the hell with farming and getting a job with the news.

(L to R) Octavia Panzeri, 16,  of Milan Italy, Kathrine Just, 16, of Laasby Denmark and Franze Zehentner, 17, of Villach Austria join other Caribou high school sudents in the New Sweden potatoe fields of classmate Finn Bondeson. (Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett)

While the schools today open before the potatoes are harvested, they still close down again for Harvest Break from mid-September until the first week or so in October. It’s a way of life that seems to say the more things change the more they stay the same, but it wasn’t always that way.

As the New York Times noted in 1989 in Presque Isle Journal; Changes On Horizon In Fields Of Potatoes changing economic pressures and the mechanization of farming have made the practice of Harvest break less of an economic necessity for farmers or children, but the tradition still seems to be thriving and is a point of pride for the people there.

See also: Aroostook County Potato Harvest and the Bangor Daily News, New hands share hard work of harvest