The last post here was from back in January. There has not really been a whole lot of news, anyway. The book clubs have continued to meet, mostly online, but some are meeting again in person. I hope that some of you had a chance to enjoy our Beergarden “tour” (which consisted of a single Beergarden repeated through-out the summer).
We are back inside now in our winter quarters. I hope you have all gotten your vaccinations and can safely join us on Thursdays at Café Bleibtreu. Check the events page for times and dates. If you haven’t been there before, ask for “die englische Gruppe”. The staff will direct you to our table. Numbers always vary, but we had a good crowd last week of regulars and one new face.
It has been a difficult time for social groups such as ours. Personally I am happy to see people face to face instead of just squares on a Zoom call. So I expect that things will get back to normal. I have had some personal distractions and I haven’t been able to direct much attention to the software we use for the book club in recent months, but I have a few improvements planned.
To celebrate the New Year, we are planning an online open house for the book club. Mark your calendars for 2 Jan. Everyone is welcome. The hangout will start around 5PM CET but you can drop in or out whenever you like. There is no agenda, but we can talk about books you read that you enjoyed or books you would like to read. If it doesn’t bore you too much, I can talk about some of the plans for our web page. This post will be updated with the link (at the bottom) shortly before the start.
The meetup will be using Jitsi. You do not need to sign up, you do not need any special software. You need a microphone, preferably a webcam. You can (probably) use any browser, but Chrome may work better than Firefox. I recommend the “Electron” based app. There are also apps for smartphones here.
Dear friends, as you are aware an in-person Christmas Party is not possible this year. It has been too long since our last get-together. We miss seeing you all. Be of good cheer. Let’s meet online. Mark your calendars for Saturday, December 19 at 6PM. Warm up some glühwein and think warm thoughts in this cold and dark time of year. An email has been sent out with the details. If you are not already on our distribution list, send an email to forumadmin -at- connectberlin.com.
We are taking a small pause this week, the next Online Stammtisch is scheduled for the 17th of July. Check the calendar for details. I want to take the chance to remind our American members that they should request an absentee ballot early/now because with the current situation there may be more delay than usual. Go to Vote from Abroad to start the process online. It is quite easy. You get a PDF which you can print and mail.
For those in the Book Club there is also some news. We are migrating away from the pure PHP application. All of the functionality is now available in WordPress. You are encouraged to go to your profile page and follow the link to create a WordPress account. Eventually, the PHP application will be removed. I hope to add some new functionality in the WordPress version.
Enjoy your weekend. Take a walk. Ride a bike. Go for a swim. If you have some inside activity, Wear a Mask!!!! We want you to be safe.
Let’s get together online to celebrate the end of the week. Ros will be our host and we will meet on Zoom. If you haven’t installed the Zoom client, you can find it at this link – https://zoom.us/download.
We had a lovely time at our previous meeting. And because it was online, we were able to include members in the UK and Ireland.
The meeting is planned for Friday, 12th of June, 19h (7PM) CET, 6PM UK/Ireland.
Please send an email to forumadmin -at- connectberlin.com to get the complete details. Also mention if you want to be added to the list for future notifications.
We are still planning to start meeting in person again but there has not yet been enough interest. Get in touch at the same email address if you want to meet in person sometime soon.
Greetings dear Connect-ers. Your favourite English Stammtisch has been on hiatus now for more than two months. Our dear leader has been trapped in Brexit land and restaurants have been closed. A few of us have discussed whether we can start meeting again in Beergartens at some point now that the lock-down is being eased. Of course, it would be difficult to communicate when we are all separated by 1,5 meters. But perhaps later in the Summer the restrictions will be reduced.
In other words, there is not much news other than what you could already guess. But we are still keen to get the ball rolling and start making plans. It would also be so lovely to see all of our friends online. Probably most of us have already been doing this using Zoom, Jitsi, Slack, etc. The book clubs have all moved online already.
So we have decided to schedule an online meeting of our regular Stammtisch for the 28th of May at a slightly earlier time, 19h CET or 6PM for UK and Ireland. We will probably use Jitsi because this allows everyone to join without installing special software. But the exact details are still being determined. Of course, our dear friends in the UK and Ireland are also welcome.
To avoid “Zoom bombing”, we will not put the details on the web site. But we will send out E-mail to some of our regulars. If you want to make sure you are included, send an E-mail to me. I will be checking the forum E-mail address – forumadmin -at- connectberlin.com.
Headphones are recommended to avoid feedback. It also helps to mute yourself when you are not talking to avoid picking up extraneous noise. And the joke these days is to recommend that people don’t forget to wear pants. It should be possible to use Chrome, Firefox or Safari. Some problems have been reported for Firefox, but I use this and haven’t had any problems. Other browsers will probably also work. I don’t know how well this will work with a smart phone, but you are welcome to try.
For those of us privileged to live in one of the world’s great cities, one of the advantages is the sheer number of activities that are available to engage in. Of course there is also the opposite side of the coin, living in a big city can create an amount of social isolation. “Social distancing” is exactly what Connect was designed to combat.
Perhaps a bit “Last Days of Pompeii,” I went out four days out of five last week. Numbers were sparse for our normal Stammtisch, but with fewer people you also have a chance to get to know people better. I had sad news Friday. One of the people at one of the events I went to now has some “symptoms”. Just to pre-answer – it was not Connect and I don’t think I was exposed.
I have already been social distancing – not shaking hands, not touching my face (Oh this itch is killing me but it is right at my eye!), washing my hands whenever I go anywhere, keeping my distance on the U-Bahn and taking a shower when I get home. I hope that you are all taking measures to keep healthy.
In 1665, Isaac Newton studied at home in Woolsthorpe because his university in Cambridge had closed as a precaution against the Great Plague. During this time, he began to work out some of the mathematical foundations of what would become Calculus. He would have probably done it anyway. And Leibniz also helped develop Calculus, but I am looking for silver linings.
If bars and restaurants are closed, we probably will need to resort to more “online” ways of getting together. One advantage here could be that we don’t need to be separated by physical distance. I’ll try to post an update when I have any news about any plans we have.
Update: I think restaurants are still open, bars are not. Another restriction on activities (Paragraph III) was added last night that might apply to us. I think, actually, that it applies more to private clubs and meeting rooms and not to friends getting together in public restaurants. But I have cleared the calendar of future meetings. Nothing to stop you from still showing up, but you are on your own. Use your own judgement. Stay safe!
Are you going to the Berlinale? What are your favourite movies? Who are your favourite actors? Why has English taken the (originally) male only name for a profession to now apply to both sexes whilst German has gone overboard making obligate two versions of each. This was one of the topics of our last Stammtisch.
For me, Stammtisch was always a wonderful word for people getting together and making friends. There isn’t really a good English equivalent.
But someone mentioned that in German the word also has negative connotations — a bunch of loud alcoholics, probably right wingers. In the past, the alcohol part may not have been so wrong for our group. But last night more than half of us had none. I guess we all get a bit older.
Are you celebrating Fasching? It is celebrated differently in different parts of Germany. And it is celebrated more by Catholics than by Protestants. I guess you don’t need any particular religion to celebrate.
For Altweiberfasching on Fat Thursday, women may dress as witches and if they see a man wearing a tie, they take out their scissors and cut it off.
R. shared some wonderful cooking tips for parsnips. This delicious vegetable has unfortunately gone out of fashion. Somehow from there we also got to talking about ferry trips, but I’ve forgotten the connection.
Are you an American living in Germany? You know you can vote in federal elections (President, Congress) by requesting an absentee ballot. See Vote From Abroad for information.
Would you like to vote for the Democratic presidential candidate? You are in luck! Democrats living abroad count as an extra state for the Global Presidential Primary. There will be in-person voting in Berlin March 3rd and 8th (more information).
Everyone who knows Paul appreciates his sense of humour and his engaging stories. Since moving to Ireland he has been honing himself to the peak of physical perfection by going to the gym three days a week. He also quite enjoys a nice long walk in the countryside.
One evening on one of these walk abouts he managed to get himself turned around in the bogs and wasn’t sure which direction was home. It started raining and he had no “brolly” with him. On top of this he began sinking into the mire up to his knees. He managed to pull his foot out sans boot. So he narrowly avoided ending up as a future “bog man”. But thousands of years from now when the area is excavated by alien archaeologists and the boot is discovered, they will be scratching their heads wondering which kind of strange creatures these were that hopped around on only one foot.
Paul managed to come across a fence. Where there’s a fence, there must eventually be civilization. He followed it along and ultimately came upon a lone farm house. The occupant there took pity on him and offered him a “cuppa” tea. At this point it was already daylight.
There was a road nearby so he started to walk back towards town. Would you ever stop to pick up a dishevelled hitch-hiker wearing a single boot? But the Irish are very “sympathisch” and eventually a kind woman pulled over and offered him a lift. His absence had not gone unnoticed. They were already announcing that a man was missing on the radio. So he has become somewhat of a local celebrity.
I’m sure I haven’t done justice to Paul’s story. And I have probably committed errors of omission and commission. Paul would love to hear from Connect-ers and I am authorized to pass along his contact details to those in our group. You should hear the story first-hand.
Paul still enjoys a nice walk through the bogs but he knows his way around better now.
On the eve of Brexit, a little birdie informs me there will be a flash mob at midnight in front of the British Embassy to sing “An die Freude” / Ode to Joy. It was good to see U. last night, whom I haven’t seen for quite a while. I think an interesting topic for this column would be to catch up with old Connect-ers who moved away, or even those who are still around. But I will ask permission before I post about them here so I can use a first name instead of just an initial.
One topic last night was vegans / vegetarians. This seems to have become very popular in Berlin, especially within the last few years. K. offered some book recommendations. We talked a bit about changes in Germany since “Die Wende”, some places in the East, a bit of history about the “Ostsiedlung”, living in Czechia, Holocaust Remembrance, Polish politics and several other topics.
Anyone interested in a trip to a museum, please get in touch. The Brunch is planned for the 16th of February so let Katja know if you plan to come so she can adjust the reservation.
I have reworked many of the pages on our web site. It has been planned to integrate the book club software into WordPress. Testing for the next phase is complete so book club members at some point will see a link on their profile page to create WP accounts.
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