The Men of Track 9 Diner

The Men of Track 9 Diner

When we were back in Connecticut for the holidays we stopped in a traditional American diner called Track 9 Diner. Kabuki noticed a large group of men at a table across the way who she felt had good character and asked the waitress for the “back story” … turns out they all knew each other from Vietnam and they’ve eaten together at the diner every weekday for 20 years. Wow. Anyway, we had the story but the group had already left. So we did what any nosy couple with an expensive 35mm camera would do … we came back a few days later and asked them if we could take their picture. 🙂

Great character … love it! Click on the image above to get a bigger version of the collage. For full sized individual images head over to my photo blog: Track 9 Men.

Berlin Trip

Kabuki took her global team to Berlin for a week for some team building and all I got was a lousy teeshirt. Isn’t that what those stupid teeshirts say? Well in my case my wife outperformed (as she often does) and I got to hang out in Berlin for 4 days in her swanky hotel. “Schwing” as Wayne from Wayne’s world would say. Like many people — at least of my generation — I associate Berlin with those heady days in 1989 when the wall came down. It was such an optimistic time and it created the template for peaceful revolution that allowed other countries and people to believe that this could happen. Well, as this trip would prove, that was a long time ago. Not that the mood of optimism has vanished — to the contrary — but the distinction between east and west, the “wall”, the tension of the cold war, all of that has gone. I guess in a way that was both the promise of the revolution and a reasonable expectation of more than twenty years of integration. Anyway, I hadn’t intended to get on a podium and philosophise so let me get off my high horse and share some pictures from the trip.

First, and to shift the mood completely away from high-minded idealism, here are pictures of a duck. I like ducks. Really I like birds in general, I’m not overly preferential of ducks but being part of the larger bird family makes them good by me. Fortunately for my duck friend I had an amazing f2.0 prime lens in my bag and got some pretty decent shots of said duck:

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Now obviously very few people travel to Berlin to see the ducks so much as it pains me … it’s time to move on to other topics. Most of the remaining pictures were taking in and around the Tiergarden which is in central Berlin. Around the periphery of the park you have the Holocaust memorial, Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag building, and many other fine tourist attractions. Much cooler than a duck but maybe not quite as personable. Here than is the Tiergarden … enjoy:

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The holocaust memorial in Berlin was build in 2005 and has over 2,000 cylindrical blocks spread over 3.4 acres of land. It was built to create a sense of uneasiness and confusion that was representative of this tragic time. It was weird though being there as there were solemn moments in the memorial where you could reflect and feel the intent of the architects but on a warm summer day over 60 years after the end of WWII there were many young people who were playing and laughing and seemingly not behaving in a manner befitting of the memorial. Personally I went back and forth on this as I think you could argue their happiness and disregard for the seriousness of this memorial is an icon for human renewal that is both a great strength and potentially a curse to repeat our mistakes throughout time. Either way, I don’t think anyone had any bad intent and being a “glass half full” guy that I am I’m happy to pass on criticising their behaviour. 

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The Reichstag building is a classic. Build with heavy masonry and of an architecture very different from the modern era. After reunification the Reichstag again became the centre for German government. As there had been so much damage to the building during the war the modern Reichstag was built to mimic many of the older features of the building but also has an ultra modern core and dome structure at its centre. Pretty cool architecture and the contrast between the two styles is pulled off really well. 

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Because of my association of Berlin to “the wall” I was quite keen to see what remained of it. The answer? Very little. It’s amazing that something so important and iconic could disappear to the amount that it has here. I guess for some Berliners this is a very good thing. The wall represented the problem, the absence represents the integration and that things are back to normal. That said, I’ll speak up for the tourists and say I’d like more wall please. We did see a little part that was restored but it is in rather poor condition and I doubt it will last to many more years:

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And of course it is considered “best practice” to always include at least one picture of yourself in your pictures so as to prove that you were indeed “there” rather than simply pulling others pictures off of google. Note the photographer is my lovely wife who made sure to include the word “madness” directly above me in the second shot. Accident? No, I don’t think so.

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And then there’s “Checkpoint Charlie” which is now manned by beggars in fake uniforms who carry American flags but speak with a distinctly un-American accent. 

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Oh and a trip to Berlin wouldn’t be complete without a picture of the couch in our hotel. To be fair, it is pretty cool. At a distance the couch looks like it was a fabric on its surface but on closer look it’s just nails that have been bent over. Did I sit on this bed of nails? No. But I did admire it and capture it on digital film:

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Padstow Weekend

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On July 1st this year Kabuki and celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary. As part of that celebration Kabuki organised a trip to Padstow, a quaint english seaside village in Cornwall (the southwest corner of England for those of you who don’t know). It was a nice chance for us to relax, get away from the city, and spend time together without too many distractions. One of the things that Padstow is known for is for its food. This is in part due to Rick Stein (a well known british chef) owning huge parts of the town … nice restaurants, fish and chip joints, bed and breakfasts, and more. We took advantage of this gastronomic inclination and ate like royalty … eating at Stein’s Seafood Restaurant and two of Paul Ainsworth’s restaurants (Number 6 and the more informal Rojano’s). In between meal sit downs we also made sure to break for the famous Cornish Pasty. Here are some pictures from the trip (for a complete set in higher resolution visit my smugmug gallery):

Seafood Restaurant

The town

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Melody Visiting

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Melody was in Germany for work but stopped by for a visit before heading back to sunny California. Melody, great seeing you and glad that we squeezed out a few hours of good weather into what was otherwise an all too typical “London summer.” 

Christmas 2011

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We’re back in London for the new year, the jetlag is (mildly) fading and I figured it was about time to post the Christmas pictures from Connecticut. As is always the case, certain moments were experienced without camera in hand and as an unfortunate consequence some people whom I really enjoyed seeing didn’t make it into the album (Dylan, Anduin, John, David, and Sarah immediately come to mind). Oh well, what can you do?

All the pictures (and more) are available in their full resolution, downloadable versions on my SmugMug site: http://kensnyder.smugmug.com/.
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