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.

May 4th is Remembrance Day in the Netherlands. Shortly before 8 the national ceremony at Dam Square in Amsterdam is usually attended by thousands, filling the square. The entire population observes 2 minutes of silence at 20:00hrs.

But this 75th Remembrance Day is not just silent for 2 minutes, but was eerily silent throughout. An empty Dam Square with just 6 people attending (the King and Queen, the PM, Amsterdam’s Mayor, a representative of the armed forces, and a member of the May 4th /5th national committee). Standing 1.5 meters apart.

Where each community in the country usually has their own local ceremony, none took place this year. The King gave a speech on that empty Dam Square, where normally he doesn’t, talking about how we are currently voluntary relinquishing some of our freedoms, while remembering when that freedom was taken by force and we fought to get it back. This is the weirdest Remembrance Day in memory.

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20200504_195607

In deviation from the usual flag protocol for this day, which calls for flags at half mast from 18:00 until sunset, today the protocol asked for flags at half mast from dawn. There were more flags flying than usual in our part of town.