Cityscape, Los Angeles downtown

Cityscape, Los Angeles downtown

I was filled with good intentions to get out and see the sights.  When it came right down to it, I never got too far away from the hotel.  My sightseeing was limited to a perimeter of several walking blocks and to the sights I could see from either the taxis or buses as they shuttled us to and from our various sights of instruction.  This is a skyscraper (obviously…) which I shot in the first day or so I was here.  What can I say?  Our hosts kept us very busy.

Today’s session, our final session, ended around 11 am.  My choices were as follows:

1 ) go back to the hotel and, with some luggage stowed behind the desk and some (heavy) items in tow that the hotel would not stow for me (like my cameras and laptop), I could walk around the surrounding area OR…

2)  I could just go to the airport.

I picked the airport.

Unfortunately, my flight does not leave until 11 pm.  I am not sure who made these arrangements for me.  Apparently, I angered someone at the travel agency (or my secretary did).  But here I sit.  I’ve wandered from terminal to terminal.  Spent more money here than I did when I was in the city (except for the rather lucrative killing the sushi bar made on me last night), and I believe–I fear–that since I’ve been like a nomad traipsing about the airport, security likely has their eye on me, ready to pounce at any moment.  Dare I say I look suspicious?  Yes, I dare, I dare!  I’ve gone about, from floor to floor, searching for little shops to look in, coffee to drink, and a place to plug in my laptop and blackberries so as not to drain the batteries down too much.  I’ve been doing this for almost eight hours.  I would arrest me, too.

Earlier this week as I flew from East to West, I peered out my window a good deal of the time, fascinated by the landscape below me.  Do you know how much of the USA appears to have almost no one living in it?  Surely, many areas are relatively uninhabitable.  I viewed desert and canyon areas for much of the last part of the trip.  But we also flew over quite a bit of territory where, other than some farms here and there, it appeared no one was occupying it.  I realize that this is our heartland, where the cattle roam and the potatoes grow.  But from an aerial view…it looks pretty darned empty.

When we flew over LA and subsequently arrived here, I realized why the middle of the country was so sparsely populated.  Everyone lives here.  In Los Angeles.  Its wall-to-wall people, wall-to-wall buildings and, gosh darn it–wall-to-wall vehicles.  There’s a very nice subway system (allegedly–I didn’t get on it)–but apparently it is not well used because everyone loves to drive their cars.

Why?  I am not sure.  This puzzles me.

Driving is somewhat of a misnomer here–sitting in traffic is really what people here must like to do.  Perhaps there is some level of enjoyment or challenge to driving out into a swarm of stopped vehicles, just to see how far you can get each day before having to come to a complete stop.  I would imagine they take laptops and get a good deal of their work done while they wait for the traffic to move an inch or so.  Maybe they don’t even make it into an office.  They just drive out as far as they can get on the freeway, get out their mobile work stations, produce a lot of whatever, and then–when traffic thins–they hit the nearest exit and return home.  Sure would save on gas if they followed this method of commuting.  A new idea is born?  Perhaps I will win some Nobel prize for thinking green and solving (or at least putting a sizeable dent) into today’s energy crises.

But then I digress.  This was a learning mission, and learn we did.  Our training included an on-site visit to an agency office in one of the more difficult neighborhoods served by the county’s child welfare system.  I have to say, with complete respect, our hosts were extremely gracious and their presentations and practice models very, very impressive.  The child welfare system here has struggled over the last few decades.  And it continues to struggle.  New leadership is slowly but surely righting the ship.  An overwhelming and thankless task to which innumerable individuals are completely dedicated to and passionate about.  There is no mistaking the care and love these individuals are putting in to reshaping their system, and I take my hat off and bow in respect.

Thank you, to the angels serving the angels, in the City of Angels.

The very best to all this evening.

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