First 30 days

It’s been just over 4 weeks since Lauren, Sam and I arrived in Prague. It’s been an absolute whirlwind and only in the last few days have I started to feel a bit settled in.

The Credentialing ceremony took place a few weeks after my arrival — and something I will never forget. At the ceremony, I presented my credentials from President Biden to the Czech President Zeman. As I paid my respects to their military commander, their band played the Star Spangled Banner in the courtyard at the Castle. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

Prague Castle, February 15, 2023 / photographer: Hana Brožková

The history of this country and the success of democracy is remarkable and inspiring. For those not familiar, I highly suggest A Prague Winter by Madeline Albright. The residence we are living in is owned by the US Government and has its own compelling story. For a history on this residence, the iconic book is The Last Palace written by Norm Eisen, former US Ambassador to the Czech Republic.

I’ve been so touched by the warm welcome since our arrival. We have been met with so much kindness by Czech people, members of the government and other diplomatic families. And they deeply love dogs here — so Sam is loving it too. The city of Prague is gorgeous. It’s been wonderful to explore the country on weekends. But I’ll save those explorations for a future post.

It’s an honor of a lifetime to represent the United States here in the Czech Republic. I’m so proud to work with my colleagues at US embassy Prague. They are extraordinary people doing such extraordinary work.

Spain, 2022

In November, we spent Thanksgiving week in Spain. We stayed in Barcelona where Ellie was studying for the semester. We had been to Spain before but this was my first trip to Barcelona and we also took the train for a day trip to Montserrat.

It is very hard not to fall in love with Spain. The culture, food, sights and people are amazing.

(All photographs made with a Leica M6 and Kodak Port 400 and 800 films. Developed and scanned by Richard Photo Lab in California)

Trying out Mastodon

It is so painful watching Twitter go into a horrible tailspin.

I was always against the idea of selling Twitter to Elon Musk but I never imagined it could get this bad, this quickly. He never wanted to buy it, he clearly doesn’t know how to unlock its potential and he’s just flailing. Just this week he has suspended a number of independent journalists without warning and banned any and all tweets mentioning competing social platforms. Unsurprisingly many of my friends and creative folks I follow have either left or are substantially using it less.

I am not giving up entirely on Twitter. But I will use it less. And I’m now giving Mastodon a shot.

I’m still getting the hang of it and suggest a few tidbits if you want to learn about it as well.

Start by reading Joanna Stern’s article which provides a great intro and overview on how it all works

Next, visit Fedipages to find your friends on Mastodon (I’m @bijan@home.social)

The onboarding is clunky for sure. But it’s also a breath of fresh air.

Also leave me a comment with your Mastodon username. Unlike Musk’s Twitter, you can do so freely on my blog

There is so much opportunity to build what’s next. I don’t know if Mastodon is the answer but it’s worth our time to find out.

ps: oh, and please don’t delete your tweets

Rome, 2022

In June of this year I made a quick five day trip to Rome for a set of meetings. It’s been years since I’ve been to Italy and even longer since visiting Rome. And I just loved every moment. The people, the language, the food and the Italian spirt on every street and every interaction. I carried one camera and one lens everywhere and tried to capture little moments here and there.

Oh, Italy. You are amazing. I miss you already.

Iceland, 2022

We have been wanting to visit Iceland for a long long time. We made plans and had a trip on the books for April 2020 but that trip was canceled due to the pandemic. Two years later and a lot has changed and we felt like it was a safe time to make the trip. So last month we visited Iceland for the first time.

Iceland is truly magical. Many Icelanders believe in elves. And after my first trip I can imagine why. So much rich history and a breathtaking landscape combined with the heavenly northern lights makes for a place of wonder. This first trip was clearly too short. We only had time to visit Reykjavík and a portion of the southern coast. The weather this time of year was also extreme. Blistering winds and rain, followed by blue sky and then hail. All within the hour. And then the cycle seemingly repeats throughout the day. But it was an amazing experience and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

Iceland, you are amazing. We will return.

(All color photographs made with a Hasselblad 503cw and Kodak Portra films. Black and white photographs made with a Leica MP and Kodak Tri-X 400. Developed and scanned by Richard Photo Lab in California.)