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Hazy, Hot and Houston

It's a question we've heard a lot in the last couple of days: Who decided to hold a conference in Houston in July?

Well, Microsoft did, and the thousands of partners who are descending upon the city this week will likely be met with a Texas-style welcome: temperatures in the 90s (today's high topped out at a relatively cool 92) and high humidity. Great.

Maybe it's your editor's bias toward Dallas-Fort Worth (mainly Fort Worth), but RCPU has never been a huge fan of Houston. As a native Texan, your editor knows and loves huge swaths of his home state -- Austin, San Antonio, the Hill Country, parts of the Gulf Coast, the desert mountains of West Texas and, of course, Cowtown (or Funkytown, or whatever you want to call Fort Worth). Texas can be beautiful.

Downtown Houston 1
[Click for larger view.]

But RCPU came to Houston expecting to spend a lot of time in the hotel, and, well...we've been pleasantly surprised. The RCPU team -- four strong for this event -- strolled over to a downtown steakhouse Monday evening for dinner after the show and had a great time and a spectacular meal. Then, we strolled back by Minute Maid Park -- the Astros' stadium, which, we have to say, looks kind of funny from the outside -- and over to a place called Discovery Green.

Downtown Houston 2
[Click for larger view.]

Discovery Green, officially dedicated in April, is a lovely little park with a small pond and a fairly swanky restaurant (from what we hear; we haven't eaten there) plopped in the middle of it. It's breezy and pleasant -- pretty, really -- and it's right in the middle of downtown, directly across from the convention center. Color us impressed. We had a lot of fun downtown.

Houston's still a bit sprawly for our taste -- our team's two hotels are about 15 miles apart -- but it's nothing a good GPS and a city-wise driver can't handle. It's also a bit warm, but good food and Texas friendliness -- along with ice-cold central air conditioning in every building -- go a long way toward making us feel comfortable even when the thermometer climbs toward triple digits.

Let's put it this way: RCPU firmly believes that all conferences from now on should be held in San Diego, America's most beautiful city...preferably in March, when it's 33 and sleeting in Boston. But we'll take Houston any time of year over the schmaltz of Orlando or the sensory overload of Vegas. (Most people would probably prefer Vegas, though -- your editor acknowledges being an exception in that regard.)

So, maybe it's the melted-in-our-mouths filet mignon talking, but we'll give Houston an unexpected thumbs up...for now. There's still a lot of conference to go, but as long as the AC works in the convention center, we should be just fine.

Posted by Lee Pender on July 08, 2008 at 11:54 AM