What a difference a city makes. Last year, for the annual RIMS conference, the city of Philadelphia practically robbed attendees at gunpoint with hotel pricing that could be most politely described as gouging. There was no such issue this year for the conference concluded last week, as the city of Los Angeles proved far more accommodating on that front. Hotels were relatively far flung across LA, but the price points were far lower this year.

My commute by shuttle bus from the InterContinental Hotel in Century City was 40 to 50 minutes depending on traffic. While that is an inordinately long drive time for a conference shuttle, I found interesting diversions on the route. We traveled through some, shall we say, “interesting” areas, and a couple businesses really stood out along the way. An eatery called the “Ho Ho Kitchen” was first to catch my eye. I don’t really don’t know why I mention it, except to note I really like saying “Ho Ho Kitchen”. Not sure what they actually serve, or perhaps who they serve at the Ho Ho Kitchen, but I certainly hope it was just a Chinese restaurant, and not some soup kitchen for wayward prostitutes. (There. I said it. Sorry.)

Besides, you’re going to tell at least two people about this, as you will likely also find saying “Ho Ho Kitchen” irresistible.

The other truly enlightening business we passed was the “LA Kush Hemporium”. According to “Drew”, in a Yelp review, The Hemporium is quite the cool operation. He says, “Johny is awesome. Super chill environment. You go through 3 buzzer doors, which is better than big angry security guards. I’m new to the scene, so I haven’t been to many dispensaries, but I’m looking forward to going back!”. Cool, dude. People should be able to buy their medicine from laid back Johnny's behind triple locked doors without big angry security guards. I will speak to my local CVS pharmacist about this next time I pick up my Asthma medication. They seemed a bit too tense on my last visit.

The conference itself was strong, as it always seems to be. A healthy blend of risk management and multi-line insurance information, the sessions available offered something for virtually everyone in attendance. One of the most innovative offerings, as I’ve previously written, was the QBE Thought Leader Theater located in the center of the exhibit hall floor. The TLT offered a seemingly endless array of “mini” presentations, each about 1/2 an hour, that ran concurrently with other sessions in the conference. What I found most appealing about the concept was how it integrated the exhibit hall into the education aspect of the conference. A very clever idea, indeed. 

The Los Angeles Convention Center itself was, in retrospect, not the best facility I’ve seen. While the LA Live area nearby provided ample opportunity for relaxation and refreshment, the facility itself, or at least major sections of it, are old and due for a major overhaul (like an implosion). Put it this way, if you like Soviet era design that is dark, damp and musty, along with community urination (otherwise known as peeing in a trough), then the LA Convention Center is a must see on your next trip to So Cal. 

The urinal was certainly an unexpected throwback. Usually one must go to a stadium or bowling alley to experience such a fusion of graceful design and utility. I’m not sure if they offer synchronized urination shows (think Rockettes, but wetter), but I am pretty sure that crossing streams is frowned upon, if not downright prohibited. 

A thanks, by the way, to Mark Walls, who cued me into the urinal situation in the 500 section of the hall. Some may find it odd that Walls, who clearly knows a quality restroom when he visits it, would share that information. I do not. I appreciate the heads up on the head. Of course, I am the guy who stood lurking in that restroom for five minutes just to get a picture while it was not in use, so who am I to judge?

All in all, minor observations aside, RIMS delivered. I am already eagerly anticipating next years conference, to be held in April in Denver, Colorado. With the recent changes in laws there, odds are good I’ll cross paths with another Kush Hemporium. Cool.

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