Kahn Firm - February 2020

February 2020

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Mardi Gras Traditions What Mardi Gras Means to Us

W ith Valentine’s Day right around the corner, many are thinking of their loved ones, but during this time of year, we’re always excited for Mardi Gras! Mardi Gras is an important holiday in the Kahn household as it’s deeply rooted in our family traditions. The occasion is so much fun because of how happy everyone is. Whether it’s the food, the parades, the music, or the costumes, there is something for everyone to look forward to. Being a Houston area law firm, you may wonder why it’s so entrenched in our traditions. Well, before we answer that, let’s go back to the 1600s and look at how Mardi Gras began. It’s a common belief that Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday as it has long been known in France, came to fruition in America when French- Canadian explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville settled 60 miles outside of what would become New Orleans in 1699. At the time, it was Fat Tuesday in France, so to celebrate, Iberville named the area Point du Mardi Gras and held a small party. Mardi Gras wasn’t celebrated in New Orleans until 1718 when the town was first established. In the early 1740s, the Louisiana governor established lavish grand balls that became

the model for the Mardi Gras balls celebrated today. In 1875, the governor signed the “Mardi Gras Act”making Fat Tuesday a legal holiday that continues today. The exact date of Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras season changes from year to year, but it always begins on Jan. 6, the date of the Feast of the Epiphany, and ends on Fat Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple, gold, and green. Purple stands for justice, gold for power, and green for faith. Since John grew up in New Orleans, the parades were a staple of his childhood. His family was highly involved with the Knights of Babylon organization. So, every Mardi Gras during the parades, John acted as one of the pages, and his grandfather was even “King of Babylon” one year. After the parades ended each year, everyone in the Knights of Babylon gathered for an elaborate party. Jennifer grew up in Baton Rouge, and her family ventured to New Orleans every year to see the parades. Her fondest memory is sitting on a ladder chair on the side of the street, watching the bands and parade floats passing by her yelling the traditional phrase “throw me something Mister!”Who knows, we could have been at the very same parades growing up!

To keep the traditions alive with our kids, we try to make Mardi Gras fun for them every year. We dress in fun Mardi Gras-themed shirts and hats as we watch the parades in New Orleans or Galveston. As the colorful floats pass us, our children have a great time trying to catch as many beads, doubloons, cups, and footballs as they can. In 2009, our oldest son was in the New Orleans paper, the Times Picayune, for saluting a military band as they passed us during the parade! Several years ago, we even organized a little Mardi Gras parade in the neighborhood for the kids! They all decorated their tricycles, wagons, and strollers with Mardi Gras streamers, beads, and other festive items. As we walked through the neighborhood for the parade to second line music and zydeco, the kids threw Mardi Gras beads out to the parents, and we ended the day with John’s famous homemade jambalaya. Does your family have any fun plans for Mardi Gras? If so, let us know the next time you’re in the office!

“Since John grew up in New Orleans, the parades were a staple of his childhood. His family was highly involved with the Knights of Babylon organization.”

-John & Jennifer Kahn

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“To me, they’re the first line of defense,” United States War Dogs Association President Ron Aiello told Vox after the news about Conan came out. “They’re such a great asset to our military today.” Military dogs are put up for adoption after 6–8 years in the service, which means a lucky civilian could take Conan in as early as 2022! Meanwhile, dozens of other smart canine heroes are looking for homes. To learn more about military and other working dog adoptions, visit MissionK9Rescue.org.

In college, arriving late to class might earn you a stern look from your professor, and turning in homework late normally results in a docked grade. For one student, however, these actions resulted in veneration from the academic community and a story that has become legend. George Dantzig, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, arrived late for a graduate statistics class one day in 1939. He saw that his professor, Jerzy Neyman, had written two problems on the board, and guessing they were the homework assignment, he wrote them down to solve later. A few days later, Dantzig delivered his answers to Professor Neyman. He apologized for turning them in late, remarking that they seemed more difficult than usual. When Neyman told him to just throw the answers on his desk, Dantzig reluctantly did so, fearing his homework would be lost forever in the sea of papers already there. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Six weeks later, Neyman went to Dantzig’s house and excitedly asked him to read the introduction he had written on one of Dantzig’s papers. Of course, Dantzig had no idea what he was talking about. Over the course of the conversation, however, he found out that the two difficult problems he had thought were homework were actually examples of famous unsolved statistical proofs — and Dantzig had solved them! On Oct. 28 last year, President Donald Trump tweeted a photo that quickly went viral. It showed an adorable snapshot of a bright-eyed Belgian Malinois, tongue lolling, still wearing its camo military vest. In the caption, President Trump explained that the pup, Conan, was a national hero who was instrumental in taking down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. With four years in special operations forces and roughly 50 missions under his collar, Conan was selected to be part of the team that pursued al-Baghdadi through a network of underground tunnels in northwest Syria, where the terrorist ultimately died. It’s unclear whether Conan was there to track al-Baghdadi or to spot improvised explosive devices that may have been planted on the route, but either way, he performed well. According to NBC News, Conan was injured by some live electrical cables during the mission, but he recovered quickly and was back on duty within the week. Meanwhile, President Trump invited the brave pup to the White House and tweeted out a doctored photo that showed him awarding Conan a Medal of Honor. President Trump captioned the photo “AMERICAN HERO!” and he’s not alone in his appreciation for the hardworking dogs that have been helping our military since WorldWar II.


Neyman published the first of the two proofs soon after. Then, a year later when Dantzig was struggling to decide on his doctoral thesis topic, his professor just shrugged and told him to wrap the two problems in a binder. Neyman said he would accept them as his thesis. Dantzig’s story has been retold in various versions over the years often as an illustration of what a person is capable of when they think positively. After all, Dantzig may not have solved these proofs if he believed they were “unsolvable!” However, even though some versions might lean more toward urban legend, it’s still an impressive story of the best consequence a student ever received for arriving to class and turning in homework late.

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FROM ZERO TO 300 Meet the Women Who Pioneered Motor Sports

While Danica Patrick and Courtney Force are well known as modern faces in motor sports, they’re far from the first women to cross the finish line. Since the early 1900s, women have been a constant fixture of automotive racing, including the following three who each left their marks on the sport.

SHIRLEY MULDOWNEY Shirley Muldowney is professionally known in the drag racing community as “The First Lady of Drag Racing.” In 1973, she was the first woman to earn a Top Fuel license from the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and, despite backlash from competitors, went on to win the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series an unprecedented


three times. Twentieth Century Fox documented her trials and accomplishments in the 1983 biopic

“Heart Like a Wheel.”Muldowney famously loathed her own characterization but still lauded the film as required viewing for anyone interested in the sport of drag racing. JANET GUTHRIE Janet Guthrie had her sights set on the stars from day one. A skilled aerospace engineer, she began her racing career in 1963. After taking home two class wins in the famed 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race, Guthrie became a well-known figure among racing gurus. In 1976, she became the first woman to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series when she finished 15th in the Coca-Cola 600, then called theWorld 600. To date, Guthrie’s storied career has landed her in the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, and the Automotive Hall of Fame. DOROTHY LEVITT Dorothy Levitt is known for her driving skills on both land and water, setting the first water speed record and an early women’s world land speed record. Her motor racing career started slow in 1904 due to illness and various car troubles, but Levitt eventually went on to garner a reputation for her speed and earn the nickname “The Fastest Girl on Earth.”When she wasn’t racing, she spent her time writing. In her book “The Woman and the Car,” Levitt recommended that women carry a small mirror with them for driving in traffic, effectively inventing the rearview mirror five years before it went into production. If you want to learn more about these women and others in motor racing, pick up Todd McCarthy’s book “Fast Women: The Legendary Ladies of Racing.”


Make date night simple with this easy shrimp scampi recipe.


1/2 tsp oregano

4 tbsp butter

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tbsp minced garlic

8 oz cooked linguine

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup parsley


1. In a skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp of butter with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. 2. Add shrimp and oregano, stirring frequently until shrimp is pink. Remove shrimp from skillet. 3. Add wine and lemon juice to skillet and bring the mixture to a boil. 4. Stir in remaining butter and olive oil and cook until butter is melted. 5. Add cooked shrimp to skillet and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. 6. In a serving bowl, top cooked linguine with shrimp mixture. Garnish with parsley and serve. Inspired by The Blond Cook

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What Mardi Gras Means to Us


Easy Shrimp Scampi Fearless Women Who Pioneered Motor Sports Meet the Dog Who Helped Take Down al-Baghdadi The World’s Hardest Homework Assignment



A Slippery Crime


STEALING MISS HELEN ‘Ocean’s 3’ Attempt a High-Stakes Heist

The Animal Welfare Act, which was adopted in 1966, is the only federal law that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. Interestingly, it only applies to warm-blooded animals, so if Miss Helen had needed further protection, she would be left out in the cold.

The aquarium staff was grateful to have Miss Helen back unharmed, despite her ordeal. “She’s a tough little horn shark, I’ll tell you that,” affirmed Jamie Shank, the assistant husbandry director at the aquarium. NO MINOR CRIME While many animal lovers might disagree, animals are considered personal property, so stealing them is a crime of theft, not kidnapping. The penalties for stealing animals vary depending on each state’s laws, and some states have specific laws regarding animal theft. In Texas, larceny law designates the theft of property valued between $1,500–$20,000 as a felony. In the case of Miss Helen, who’s valued by the aquarium at $2,000, the thieves committed a felony. Also, transporting certain animals requires special permits, which led to additional charges against the three thieves.

On a hot summer day in late July 2018, three people entered Miss Helen’s home, forcibly removed her, put her in a stroller, and ran toward their getaway vehicle. This might sound like a typical kidnapping story, but Miss Helen is no ordinary person. She is a 16-inch horn shark living at the San Antonio Aquarium. Fortunately, their fishy behavior didn’t go unnoticed, and someone alerted the aquarium staff. One perpetrator drove away with Miss Helen in tow, but the other two were stopped by aquarium staff, later confessing to their involvement. Thanks to some observant witnesses and aquarium surveillance, police were able to identify the third thief and obtain a warrant to search his house. As it turned out, he had an extensive aquarium in his home and possibly hoped to add Miss Helen to his collection. After being identified, Miss Helen was returned home safely.

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