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holidays, sheep fighting, and ablutions

Holidaying

In Romania for the last couple of weeks, which should explain why I’ve skipped some of these weekly entries. I didn’t really know much about Romania before I went – and I’m obviously far from an expert after a fortnight there – but suffice to say it’s an interesting country to go to, and there are some really beautiful places to visit. We pretty much kept within Transylvania (central Romania); mountains, castles, medieval towns, and a big Hungarian & German influence. It’s nothing like what you’d think from reading Dracula. Plenty of photos and a write up to come.. there’s a stack on my instagram if you can’t wait ’til then.

Reading

Spent one day by the pool and managed to get through Ablutions by Patrick deWitt. Another really enjoyable read from a dude who I can probably safely say is my favourite author these days (albeit based on a relatively small oeuvre). I could potentially have spent some time actually in the pool but I didn’t want to put the book down, and it’s short enough to read in a day so it felt rude not to finish it.


I Fell 70ft Into a Crevasse. Written by John All, a man who (as the title suggests) fell 70ft into a crevasse. Clearly, he survived, but the experience sounds nightmarish and is exactly why I’m scared of crevasses. Granted, I’ve not ever been in the vicinity of a crevasse and nor is that likely to change anytime soon but still, terrifying.

Suddenly, the snow gave way beneath me and I was plunged into darkness. I was inside the glacier, tumbling into a crevasse. My face smashed against ice as I ricocheted between the frozen walls. I thought I was about to die, but instinctively tried to use an axe to stop my fall. I felt bones snap and my arm was pulled clean out of its socket. I landed hard on my side, crushing my shoulder, the impact forcing all the air out of my lungs.


The brutal world of sheep fighting. Yes, I had some downtime on holiday and somehow this came up. It sounds ridiculous, but is a genuinely fascinating look at sheep to sheep combat in Algeria.

The sheep are given names that inspire fear, like Rambo, Jaws or Lawyer. In the third round of one recent match, Hitler delivered a brutal defeat to Saddam.

To be honest, it’s as disturbing to me as dog or cockfighting.. just because the thought of sheep going horn to horn has a little more comedy to it, doesn’t excuse that it’s a barbaric blood sport. And yet, as a window into life in Algeria, this piece makes the whole story very compelling. It’s gorgeously written by Hannah Rae Armstrong.

These days, although the Algerian capital pulses at a low intensity, beguiled by a weary calm, currents of violence still wash through it. The authorities have managed to co-opt or eliminate all major pockets of dissent, yet scarcely a week goes by without protests – localised, spontaneous micro-riots usually sparked by government policies to redistribute oil profits that favour some at the cost of others. Another common trigger for unrest is the publication of housing grant lists, since the government routinely gives out free apartments to relatives of local officials rather than low-income families who have been waiting for years. These protests purge, at least briefly, the shame of being dependent on a repressive state, enabling people to reclaim some form of agency.

The Algerian government’s toleration of sheep fighting is a tacit acknowledgement that outlets for male aggression are needed.


‘Never assume anything’: The golden rules for inclusive design. Another reminder that designing/building with accessibility in mind should be the base level, not something that’s added on at the end.

Inclusive design is also future-proofing technology for everyone. Swan noted that many more developers and designers are considering accessibility issues as they age and encounter poor eyesight or other impairments. “Nobody is exempt from accessibility.”

Some disabilities are temporary, such as repetitive strain injury, while others develop over many years. Even trying to use your mobile phone in the blazing sun can be classed as a situational disability.

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