So, I was on the road again yesterday. Destination de jour: Houston, Texas. The scenic, must see destination for those who love heat and 100% humidity. Do you consider 90+ degrees not hot enough for you? Well, step outside and let the temperature humidity index give you the wonderful sensation of drowning in your own sweat in less than five minutes. It’s also giving Detroit a run for its money at the top of the crime statistics thanks to the draft picks Houston picked up from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Houston actually is a fascinating city. It is the only major city I am aware of that has absolutely no zoning regulations whatsoever. You can literally build a 100 story building, next door to a factory, next door to a topless bar right next to a Catholic church if you were so inclined. On Broadway leading to/from Hobby Airport (depending on your perspective) there are a bunch of older, decrepit apartments/tenements some of which have had units turned into convenience stores. Can you imagine having the unit next door to the convenience store when a robbery is going down? I’d be lining the walls with inch thick steel armor plating.
Houston is also, apparently, THE mecca for some good eating. At least, that’s if you believe the statistics indicating it is home to the highest per capita population of fat people. There are definitely some good restaurants to be had there. I was fortunate enough yesterday to eat lunch with a friend at my favorite Chinese food place on the planet: Kam’s Fine Chinese on Montrose Blvd. just north of the Hwy. 59 overpass. Literally, you can walk out the door of Kam’s, turn to your right, and be close enough to throw fortune cookies and hit cars traveling on 59. My only gripe with Kam’s is that their parking absolutely sucks. It’s practically non-existent. But, the steamed dumplings are to die for, and their Kung Pao chicken rocks. I always eat too much when I go there, but it is so worth it.
And don’t think I haven’t earned my right to an opinion about Houston. My dad moved there in 1989 giving me reason to visit regularly (he lived there for almost 20 years and has since moved back to the Dallas area), I started going down their a couple of times a month on business beginning in 1995, and I lived there for 3 years myself beginning in 2005. I know me some Houston. It’s like a second hometown for me. A hot, smelly, moldy, slightly run down second home town….but homey none the less.
For any Houstonians reading this (yes, that means you World Famous Trial Lawyer…you know who you are), yes, the traffic in Houston really is worse than in Dallas. Own up to it already.
In all seriousness, there are some really wonderful people in Houston. Some of my best friends live there in addition to the aforementioned favorite Chinese place. Dad and I once showed up without tickets at the Summit (before it was sold to Joel Osteen to become the Lakewood Baptist Church) to see the Houston Rockets play. We walked up to a guy to ask where the ticket booth was, and he GAVE us 14TH row seats for free. He was a season ticket holder who couldn’t attend the game for some reason that escapes me now, and he couldn’t sell them because of Houston’s scalping ordinance. Free tickets to an NBA basketball game. Sweet. Good times.
Anyway, you have now waded through yet another of my world famous set ups for the real story. Don’t you feel enriched by the experience? I’ll settle for warm and fuzzy or slightly annoyed.
The mediator’s office where I was camped out for the day yesterday is one of my faves. This mediator really gets it. “It” being how to keep adjusters, attorneys and their clients entertained and comfortable for four or more hours of sitting around waiting for the mediator to come in and share whatever bits of wisdom you are paying him to impart to the negotiating process. This mediator stocks his fridge with cold drinks (no alcohol…drat) in a variety of flavors which is pretty much standard for all mediators. The caucus rooms (small conference rooms where parties can have privacy to discuss their positions with the mediator away from the opposing side) are stocked with M&Ms, peanuts, Chex Mix which is not standard among all mediators. The decorations are tasteful and more homey than law office-like. But, the piece de resistance are the large, flat screen TVs with cable hookup and cable internet/WiFi access in ever room. The extra special bonus for me (since my company’s IT department thinks I am incapable of safely changing the wireless settings on my laptop) is that this mediator considerately provides a hard wire ethernet connection in each room. Which means I can actually get into my company’s network and not lose a complete day of work to being out of the office.
I didn’t bother messing with the TV yesterday since our co-defendant’s attorney and adjuster camped out with us in our caucus room, and we spent the day trading war stories which was not nearly as painful as it sounds. The TV was on with the volume turned down tuned to the Headline News channel though. I happened to glance at the TV at one point just in time to catch the Charmin toilet paper commercial.
I don’t know if you’ve seen this commercial before or not. I know I’ve seen it a couple of times but just never thought anything about it. Thanks to DVRs, I get to skip most commercials these days. Anyway, this particular commercial has two cute cartoon bears (a big bear and a small bear…both gender neutral) out in the woods next to a tree with a roll of toilet paper hanging off it. The point of the commercial seems to be that Charmin toilet paper is less likely to result in Dingleberries/Klingons hanging off your tookus after a major dump than other leading brands.
As I said a moment ago, I know I’ve seen this commercial before. However, it finally struck me yesterday in the middle of a business meeting…I know…he who laughs last thinks slowest. But, some GENIUS sold the idea of bears scatting in the woods to a major company as a national TV ad campaign.
Does a bear scat in the woods? Why, yes. Yes, they do. And they use Charmin’s dingleberry free formula to wipe up with afterwards.
And here, all this time, I thought they just used rabbits.
Mr. Whipple would be proud I’m sure.