Monday, 28 October 2013

The Mother Of All Shoes

I love me some original heels and this one takes the cake. 

This shoe is the result of a collaboration between famous architect Zaha Hadid and United Nude, one of my favorite shoe brands. They wanted to create a shoe design with no pre-conceptions and that's exactly what they've achieved with this beauty. 

Nova Shoe Black Chroming
Nova Shoe Silver Chroming
Nova Shoe Rose Gold

According to its creators, "The NOVA shoe combines innovative materialization and ergonomic considerations with the dynamism of Hadid’s unmistakable architectural language to convey an inherent sense of movement; revealing the experimentation and invention of Hadid’s process through every stage of design and construction". 

If you want to learn more, check out this video

Thursday, 4 July 2013

New Mom/Parent? Helpful books

I enjoy posting book reviews but I didn't get the chance to read much fiction in the past year. Yet I went through a few books of the parenting variety and since I felt lost in the early days after my baby’s birth, I thought I would post this in case it helps new parents.

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As a typical new mom, I was eager to do my absolute best and was looking for specific instructions to follow and goals to work towards. But it seemed none of the professionals I spoke to, Midwives, health visitors, paediatricians or even friends and family would give me the information I needed. Most said “follow your baby’s lead”. Well, I had no idea what following the lead of a newborn meant and said newborn's communication skills were kind of limited.

So here are the resources that made it easier: 

- Your Baby Week by Week The ultimate guide to caring for your new baby by Dr Caroline Fertleman and Simone Cave was by far the most useful book in the first couple of months.  One of the authors is a paediatrician, so it provides clear information about how much baby should be eating, sleeping, crying, etc. It is divided in weekly sections until 25 weeks of age. I read 2-3 weeks ahead of where my baby was which helped prepare me for things that would have otherwise been worrying. It was also helpful with weaning.  

- What to expect the First year by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel. There’s a reason the What To Expect series is so popular and I suspect it’s because they provide lots of information in manageable amounts and give sensible, well researched advice. Unlike other books, they don’t talk down to the reader or try to impose a school of child rearing thought on them. I use it mostly to track baby’s development.

- The new contented little baby book by Gina Ford. Gina Ford is an expert maternity nurse and the champion of baby scheduling. To me, though, her emphasis on scheduling is a bit much as I’m nowhere near disciplined enough to follow such tight timetables, so I borrowed a few useful tips without actually applying her method. I found this book most helpful when the baby was ready to sleep full nights.
- Jo Frost's Confident Baby Care: Everything You Need To Know For The First Year From UK's Most Trusted Nanny. You may remember Frost from her hit TV series “Super Nanny” and although she is mostly known for her wizardry in keeping toddlers under control, she also has a lot of experience with newborns and babies and the book is full of practical advice without being overbearing. Here, though, I would have liked her to focus more on problem areas such as fussy eating etc. She touches on a few but doesn’t go into enough depth.

When it was time for weaning I read the following:

- The contented little baby book of weaning by Gina Ford. It explains in simple terms the basics of weaning with a helpful guide on when and how to introduce various foods. It also includes simple recipes.
- Annabel Karmel's New Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner. This one can be a bit of an overkill for those of us who aren't accomplished domestic goddesses but it does contain some recipes for punters. Also, the meal planners provide a better idea of the type of foods to serve baby throughout the process. For example when to stop giving full feeds of fruit and start introducing fruit as desert.

Online my top would be:
- This comes up at the top of google searches. They have great videos and a pool of experts to answer questions. I love their newsletter, which is tailored to your child’s age and provides insight about their development.
- Is an amazing resource, especially if you live in the UK.  
- Just like the book version, this is the place to get quick and easy tips. They also have mailers based on your child’s age.

… and remember, use Google with caution, especially when it’s about potential health issues…

Friday, 3 May 2013

E-books vs paper: there's enough for everyone

This week's stats about the book industry show that somehow book publishers have avoided the downfall that music publishers experienced when their customers went digital. Maybe it's because the digital era meant that people not only pirated music but also only bought specific tracks instead of whole albums, whereas with books you generally have to buy the full thing.
Although there was huge growth in e-reading ( up 149%), physical book sales only went down by 1%, and certain genres within that, such as children's books, actually grew.
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I can see why publishers felt threatened by e-reading, but I didn't understand why this was ever an issue for readers. I have a slight preference towards e-books mainly because they're more environmentally friendly, but essentially I'm in it for the content regardless of the medium. Sometimes I buy paper books because I don't want to see bookstores completely disappear from the streets.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Why Civil marriage in lebanon would be pointless

Photo by Richard Adelta

I understand why civil marriage is an issue in Lebanon, but frankly it’s pointless to isolate it as an individual goal.

Even if people became able tomorrow to tie the civil knot, in the absence of complete civil legislature and governance, the marriage itself would still be governed by sectarian laws, where the husband’s sect would dictate which edicts would rule the couple’s lives as well as those of their children.

And seeing how today Lebanese society is more separated than ever along sectarian lines, I don't think we can dream of civil (or even civilized) anything anytime soon. Just saying...

Friday, 15 March 2013

It's more than just civil marriage

There’s no one more hypocritical than people in Lebanon who claim that they believe in sectarian co-existence, then lose it every time talk of civil marriage comes up. But it's not only about inter-marriage. To me, the reason why it’s such a hot topic is because the existence of civil marriage would necessitate the establishment of civil law and the creation of a real justice system where the law would need to be applied to all aspects of life, from marriage to inheritance, divorce, women’s rights etc.

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Today, between the various sectarian laws, the wasayet system and the fact that members of the judiciary are puppets in the hands of politicians, there is no such thing as a justice system in Lebanon and we’ve seen time and over again that the rule of law is inexistent. Criminals get away with murder, fraudsters with fraud and civil servants with corruption in broad daylight. And with all due respects, the clergy in every single sectarian group sits at the top of that scheme.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Lebanon Remains An Unattainable Dream

Beirut cityscape © younesdory

Every time I think I’ve made my peace with the dysfunctionaly of Lebanon, something new comes up that makes my blood boil. Most recently, it’s been the parliament’s approval of the new electoral law whereby people can only vote for candidates of their own sectarian faith in the general elections. As always, this law was passed because of petty calculations amongst political groups to help them garner more parliamentary seats, but what it actually does it take confessional segregation to a new level. Now Maronite Christians can only vote for Maronite Christian candidates, Sunnite Moslems for Sunnite Moslem candidates, Shiites for Shiites, Orthodox for Orthodox, Druze for Druze and so on. I don't know which of the political parties pushed for this law, nor do I care, but this means that no one will ever think beyond their little tribe and each of us will remain in our head a member of our sectarian community, not a citizen of the Republic of Lebanon. 

Saddest of all is that this seems to be acceptable to most of the population. Essentially, the people of Lebanon have learnt nothing. Decades of war and conflict haven’t done anything to teach us that this system DOES NOT WORK, that, to build a proper state that has a chance of ever making progress, where public services work, where there is a viable economy we need to demand a nation where everyone is equal under the same laws and where these laws are respected. Everyone repeats this slogan but when push comes to shove, they fall back behind their archaic boundaries.

We’ve proven time and again that no matter how many opportunities History puts on our path, we simply don’t want to build a nation. To those of us who truly want civil society and the rule of law, Lebanon remains an attainable dream. We are a minority, the majority of people living in Lebanon (I will not call them Lebanese because they don’t deserve to be called that) are happy with the way things are.