Apologies for the silence last week. And congratulations. Today marks one year since I started writing these updates. Although, of course, #50 should have been #52 had I not skipped two weeks. Well, whatever.
Today also marks the end of virtually all Covid limitations in the Netherlands. A bit uncertain, I entered a building with a group of grown-ups this morning, unmasked, still doing the odd elbow shakes I’ve come to appreciate. Some were met with an outstretched hand. For the official press photos, we socially distanced, to be sure.
The pandemic is far from over. It’s best to assume this is a temporary lull, and we’re back to restrictions after summer. Unless we beat it everywhere in the world, we don’t beat it at all. We haven’t yet reached the level of global solidarity required for that. Alas.
This morning’s event was the unveiling of a street artwork to raise awareness about privacy, a collaboration between the municipality of Amsterdam and the Street Art Museum Amsterdam. I had been the jury chair for the paintings, the most straightforward job in the world: we only had to confirm the popular vote. The work we visited by York One. Data does not define me. Old school graffiti. Wonderful.
The work was painted above the entrance of a food bank for undocumented people. The volunteers of the food bank shared how data and privacy are an ongoing struggle for them. They can get subsidies, but only when they share their list of customers with the municipality, which they don’t. People aren’t undocumented without reason in the Netherlands. The city alderman nodded understandingly. Art cannot fix this, but it planted a seed.
I took J to show him the other world that is just around the corner. Under way, we bumped into Danish soccer fans milling around the stadium for tonight’s match against Wales. Another world just around the corner. We wished them well; they did invent legos after all.
I was meant to speak at the ICAHM annual meeting this week. First, they had tech issues. Then I couldn’t log on to their platform from mobile, and my laptop was 100+ kilometers away. It is the first time I didn’t show up at an event in forever, and it felt terrible. My prerecorded talk about the role of archeology in achieving the SDGs should be online somewhere.
The conference should have been the bookmarks to a day at Holland’s best amusement park: the Efteling. I’ve been to the Efteling many times, maybe 50. Sometimes, five six seven times per year. I don’t know where I got the money — it is shockingly expensive. Making friends with a staffer helped. Nonetheless, it had been half a generation since my last visit, and it was time to bring the next generation.
The Efteling does storytelling exceptionally well. They’re on par or better than Disney but without the global franchise. There are some fairytales and a few 1001 nights stories. The heart of their programming, however, is based on local legends. J and I took a ride on the Flying Dutchman dark ride/watercoaster. The interpretation of the famous ghost ship story was terrifying.
By far, the highlight of the day was their relatively new dark ride Symbolica. The message the ride shares is that imagination enriches your life. My wife, the kids, and I left the ride feeling lighter and happier, and enriched. This is what art can do.
The only downside of the park is that you used to be able to entirely visit it in one day. I think we didn’t even do half this time. We missed the fairytale forest and many of their classic rides. Next year, we’ll make it two days.
What else. Tuesday, J had his first theatre performance. He loved it, being on stage. Then on Thursday, I drove to a beautiful estate for a distributed version of the annual Veerstichting (Feather Foundation) event. With four others and a few hundred online, we explore the issue of trust. Friday, I went by the studio of Rotganzen, who have been doing beyond incredible over the past year. Also, I’m fighting a copyright troll with the stellar support of Maarten at Open Nederland. Support them, if you can.
I know this one should have been a book one, but I got utterly stuck last week working on a chapter that is actually an idea for something much bigger. So I may have to break it down into pieces. There doesn’t seem to be an excellent app to count all the words in all 50 updates, but averaging out the various totals, we’re at a good 60k words now. And most of what I had meant to say, I didn’t. Well, whatever. 🙂
Next week, back to the book business. Thanks for being here the past year or the past weeks. Without you, I wouldn’t have made it! Thank you so much, see you next week.