I returned to Southern California via the Bradley International Terminal at LAX, a particularly sophisticated form of purgatory. Luggage retrieval and customs processing must have been designed with the objective to inflict as much discomfort and waiting time on arriving passengers as possible. I am sure that all officials working there had to undergo special training that allows them to suppress any human emotion and to exude so much subliminal (and not so subliminal) threat that conversations stop mid-sentence. Why anyone thinks that this is an effective or desirable way to introduce arriving passengers to the United States is way beyond me.
My trip to Germany was, weather aside, useful and enjoyable. I met with a number of clients and with people who serve as information resources throughout the year. I spent some time looking at new reference materials and, generally, recharged my language batteries. Here some highlights: