lukegilman.com : High on the Hog Blog
Purveyor of Idle Observation

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

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.

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Charlie Rose talks with Teach for America Founder Wendy Kopp

Charlie Rose featured an interview with Wendy Kopp, the Founder of Teach for America (official website) last week. For anyone interested in education the conversation is a fascinating one, following the recent publication of her book One Day, All Children…: The Unlikely Triumph Of Teach For America And What I Learned Along The Way.

I’m fascinated with Teach for America as a program. It’s most impressive accomplishment in my opinion, is not teacher recruitment or classroom performance, on which most commentators in educational circles understandably focus, but on Kopp’s more ambitious purpose in raising a generation of leaders who understand teaching from the inside. I’ve run into a number of Teach for America alums here in Houston, most of whom are no longer teaching but who remain deeply committed to the issues they were exposed to through the experience. Kopp’s original inspiration, to create an alternative to allow America’s top graduates to explore careers that offered a more meaningful impact on their society than the corporate jobs many were being recruited for, has been a wild success.

Those who have stayed in teaching are doing some remarkable things. KIPP Academy, a charter school founded by Teach for America alums Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg and Chris Barbic’s YES Prep have become widely recognized as exemplary schools. I’ve taught in KIPP’s saturday school as part of the Street Law program at the University of Houston Law Center and the mindset of the kids is remarkable.

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Houston Ready for its Close Up, Bucks National Economic Trend

Daniel Gross has nominated Houston as the poster child for bucking the recent downturn in the economy in Newsweek’s Houston, We Have No Problems: Houston has become a sort of Silicon Valley for the global energy industry. Urban cowboy? Think suburban geek.

To find a hot spot where soaring oil and commodity prices, and the booming economies of the developing world, are keeping cash registers ringing and construction crews fully employed, you don’t have to trek to Dubai or Moscow. You need travel only as far as Houston. In May, the unemployment rate in the nation’s sixth largest metropolitan area was a measly 3.8 percent. In the past year, Houston-based companies, which include 26 Fortune 500 firms, added 71,000 jobs to their payrolls.

It’s not an altogether unfamiliar role, as the soaring energy prices that sap the margins of industries in other parts of the country tend to fill the coffers of the energy complex that dominates Houston’s economy. As Gross notes, however, Houston has outgrown it’s rough and tumble wildcatter heritage to become an engineering haven built on the minds oil has attracted over the years. For instance, this statistic surprised even me – “The city’s biggest employer: the Texas Medical Center, the nonprofit megaplex that runs two medical schools and 14 hospitals.”

Similar sentiments lead Kiplinger magazine to vote Houston the Best City to Live, Work and Play for 2008 in their annual rankings. The reasons it cites are heavy on the economic scale, with Houston’s higher than average average income and lower than average cost of living tipping the scales in its favor.

Population: 5,542,048
Population Growth Since 2000: 14.9%
Percentage of Workforce in Creative Class: 31.3%
Cost-of-Living Index: 88.1 (100 being national average)
Median Household Income: $50,250
Income Growth Since 2000: 13.1%

Other links of interest: Houstonist, Houston Strategies

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Cardboarding, like Snowboarding, but without Snow or Excitement

This Houstonist post brought back fond memories. Since my elementary school had a giant hill behind the playground cardboarding was a frequent pastime in the spring and fall, as was sledding in the winter. How we didn’t break our little faces I’ll never know.

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The Caroline Collective

The irrepressible Monica Danna clued me in to her new project the Caroline Collective, the city’s first creative coworking space; here’s the shpiel:

coworking is a cafe-like environment that provides freelance workers, artists, designers, and entrepreneurs a space to conduct business in a community environment; complete with office space, desk space, a conference room, coffee, wireless internet, event space and, of course, community interaction. Caroline will be a first of it’s kind in Houston. And judging by the city’s response, much needed and overdue.

How has no one thought of/done this here before? Brilliant! – Website | Photos | Grand Opening par-tay June 7th 2008

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That Ain’t No Beaver Kid…

kid feeds nutria rat

That, son, is a grown-ass nutria rat. Look at the freakin’ TAIL for chrissakes… not that you have any business feeding french fries to a beaver either. via the Houstonist.

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Slice of Houston, Expats Fuel Thriving Amateur Cricket League

houston-cricket.jpg

A visiting professor remarked that Houston was not quite what he expected as I was driving back to the airport after one of our conferences. The image projected is a bastion of oil-rich, good-ole boy, SUV-driving, God-fearing, Bush-loving conservatism, and like most images, the reality is a lot more complex.

Case in point, the Houston Chronicle profiles an amateur cricket league driven by the part of Houston’s massive immigrant population hailing from those parts of the world where football is played with your feet and takes a backseat to the more gentlemanly sport of cricket.

Houston Chronicle: Bringing passion to the field: As immigrants with various backgrounds make Houston home, many are finding common ground through a love of cricket

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S.O. Young’s Historical Collections of Houston Stories

Houston Chronicle Blogger J.R. Gonzales at Bayou City History clued us in to two classic titles in early Houston history being reissued in limited edition sets by Copano Bay Press. Dr. S.O. Young’s “A Thumbnail History of the City of Houston, Texas” and “True Stories of Old Houston and Houstonians.” Copano Bay is producing 500 beautiful, gift-worthy sets, priced at $124.95.

If that’s a little too rich for your taste, the Internet Archive has copies for download.

One of my favorite chapters so far begins…

EARLY HANGINGS IN HOUSTON.
It is an historical fact that at the first session of court held in Harrisburg County, as Harris was then called, two men were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. It is stated that those two men were hanged immediately because the jail was uncomfortably cold and the kind-hearted judge did not want the prisoners to suffer unduly.

I don’t mention this because I approve, of course, but as a rather graphic illustration that Houston’s love affair with rough justice has deep roots.

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Houston Police Department Tests Unmanned Spydrones

Acting from a tip from farmers convinced the government was turning their pasture into some sort of Area 51, Click2Houston stumbled onto a cadre of Houston police surreptitiously testing an unmanned aircraft. As for the purpose of the craft, it looks like our beloved red light cameras were just the tip of the 1984-iceberg.

Montalvo told reporters the unmanned aircraft would be used for “mobility” or traffic issues, evacuations during storms, homeland security, search and rescue, and also “tactical.” She admitted that could include covert police actions and she said she was not ruling out someday using the drones for writing traffic tickets.

No posts on the subject yet from Big Chief Hurtt on his newly minted HPD Chief Blog

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Google Street View Comes to Houston

my-house-google-street-view.jpg

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.

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