When exactly three months ago, on March 10th, the national advice became to stop shaking hands to reduce the spread of the Corona virus, I created a spreadsheet to track the numbers for myself. By the 13th we were advised to stay home from work, and by the 15th everything got shut down.

When I created the list I thought we might be in this for a long time, and set-up the table for three months, until today. By the time the lock-down measures were announced my estimate was it would be like that until June 1st. I filled out the last line in the original table just now, like I’ve done every day for the past three months.

At this moment, various measures have been eased, restaurants reopened. Much remains as well. No events, social distancing applied in trains and buses, and working from home until September (but several of my clients already saying January).

The numbers show things have been shifted back to a manageable level. Here’s the graph of deaths per week, against the log scale of the number of total cases tested positive. We’re not done, but we’re not being overwhelmed either. At a equilibrium of sorts.

I’ve come to the end of my original tracking table. Haven’t decided yet if I add another three months to the list.

Liked Love and sayur lodeh by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller
The food I cook is made from spices and the history of all of us, our family and the families like ours, fractals of ebbs and flows of people that form the atoms of history and culture. This is the world. We're all part of a constantly-changing map of humans caught up in each others' wake: twisting currents in the tide of generations. We are constantly moving and we have always been. All of us are immigrants. All of us belong. All of us survive through kindness and ingenuity, despite the forces of militarism, hate, and intolerance.

Thank you Ben Werdmüller. An evocative post about your family history and comparison with our current times. Now I crave some sayur lodeh.

The Dutch, it must be added, were themselves a brutal colonial power.” Yes, we were. And the echoes and consequences still ripple and ricochet through our society, often ignored.

Words you don’t want to hear… “we have lost your package”. Words you don’t want to hear after that… “if after a few more days you don’t hear anything, contact the sender, to ask us to start searching for it”. If you already know it’s missing, why not search now? Oh DHL, why are you so crap? Consistent over the years, I’ll give you that, but still it’s consistently crap.

When I made a visit to East Berlin a few years before the wall came down, my teenage eyes wondered about shopping and customer service.

To visit a bookstore near Alexanderplatz I had to stand in line. There were only a handful of shopping baskets available, and they were mandatory, so you stood in line until someone left the shop and returned the basket. I stood there for a while, and then with a basket could browse the shelves. There were less than ten people in the shop. While many more stood outside waiting.

Visiting a cafe with two others, the tables were all the same size, only the number of chairs at each table differed. We were three. A table with two chairs was free. Next to it was a man on his own, I remember he wore a leather jacket sipping coffee and reading a paper, at a table with three chairs. We asked if we could have a chair, and pull it up to our table. “Na klar”, he said. We looked at the menu. No service came. We waited. No service came. I went up to the waitress and asked if she could take our order. No, she said, “you’re with three people on a table for two so you’re not getting served.” I was stunned. I tried logic, “look the tables are all the same size!”, but failed. In the end we returned a chair to the table with the guy in the leather jacket and asked him to trade tables. He picked up his coffee and newspaper (it was the 80’s remember), and sat at our original table, while we moved to his. Within seconds the waitress was with us to take our lunch orders.

For years I shared these anecdotes as examples of how odd it all was during that visit to East Germany.

Fast forward 33 years, to our pandemic times.

In our neighbhourhood most shops have introduced a system of mandatory baskets. They use it to cap the number of clients in the store to the maximum they can accomodate within the 1.5m distancing guidelines. Outside others wait their turn.

From next week cafes and restaurants can open again, and I see and read how those here in town are arranging same sized tables out on the market square, varying the number of chairs to make it all work, and setting tables inside for specific numbers of people to stay within max allowed capacity.

After 33 years I need to retire my anecdotes from 1980’s East Berlin it seems. It wasn’t odd, it was avant garde!

East Berlin 1987
Walking down Friedrichstrasse in East Berlin, in 1987

Bell¿ngcat explains how Untappd beer check-ins can disclose more than you’ve thought about your work. Like how Strava running logs disclosed e.g. military camp locations, Untappd can be similarly used to surface the travel history, frequent locations and home location of sensitive personell. In short: sharing your location provides patterns to interested parties. Always, and everywhere. (via Roel)

I share locations sometimes, as it may help create meet-ups with people I know that happen to be near as well. It happens frequently enough to make it interesting to share location when I am outside my usual patterns and willing to be ‘found’. Inside my usual patterns it doesn’t help to share location, as it won’t create additional serendipity. At IndieWebCamp Utrecht last year, Rose worked on making location check-ins more ephemeral, meaning they are visible for a short specified time, and not available as a history of check-ins.