Annual Halloween Parade Rant

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So I was at the Halloween Parade this morning at my daughter’s school and thought I might treat you to my annual rant about the costumes.  Why does every little girl want to be Elsa?  I understand the dress is cool, the song is catchy and that ice superpower thing is awesome, but seriously?  Anna is way cooler than Elsa.  Frozen was one of Disney’s movies that had great female role models, two strong girls, sisterly love, and perseverance.  Anna, had no superpower, no gift, yet she was the one who insisted on saving her sister and her kingdom, sacrificing herself to do so.  She understood responsibility and tenacity, and did it with grace that is truly inspiring, yet I saw at least 4 Elsas in every class this morning.  One class even had 7. And these classes usually have 20 – 25 students in them.  There was one class that had two Annas, but that was the only one.  The rest didn’t have so many.  There were still the usual costumes, tons of fairies, princesses and generic witches.  One little girl was dressed as a bride which I found disturbing.  The boys were the same as last year; superheroes, pirates and vampires. There was a Harry Potter, but sadly no Hermione.

There were some really notable ones, like the little girl in the super cool wolf costume and the one in a Japanese kimono.  One little boy was wearing a flamenco dancer dress which I thought was awesome.  I also saw a Wonder Woman, a little girl dressed as Jack Sparrow (totally kickin), a girl Ironman, a Robin Hood or Peter Pan (not totally sure but either way cool) and a girl Thor.  The teachers were a little more creative and empowered;  a couple of superheroes, a FridaKahlo, an Amelia Earhart and my personal favorite Cruella DeVille.

It is not that I want girls to be superheroes or pirates, although they can if they want to.  They can even be princesses if they want to, but I sometimes feel that it is what they are led to believe they want, instead of given the space to explore who they are.  I just worry that they pick the princess with the pretty dress instead of the princess who saved her Kingdom, or her mother and could shoot arrows like Merida in Brave.  I don’t want my daughter growing up thinking that she has to be a damsel in distress to be a princess.  She can be a powerful and empowered princess.  She can save her kingdom and rule it too.

I wish there were more diversity.  I wish kids had a wider range of interests instead of the usual.  There were two storm troopers and a Darth Vader, if I were that kid, I would have taken over the school.   More creativity.  More imagination. More flair.  The world needs imaginative, fearless and creative kids.

 

 

Cultural Gender Segregation

This keeps happening to me and I am not sure if it is just my luck or if this is something common.  We go out someplace with a group of people as families and the men sit in one end of the place and the women and children sit in another.  I am not talking about Islamic style gender separation, because that I totally understand, even if I might not practice or like it.  It is done for religious beliefs and the people who do it are clear about.

If I go out with my family then I don’t want my family divided like that.  I also don’t like it when the men enjoy themselves for the entire duration of the outing and the women end up feeding the kids, running after them, making a million bathroom dashes and getting ketchup all over their nice shirts while helping the kid clean his hands.  It is not fair that even the family outing becomes another chore for the woman while the man is as free as a bird.  In fact I am so sick of it that I almost completely stopped going out in groups.  Instead of a nice fun relaxing evening it becomes a nightmare.

This is completely new to me ever since I came to Kuwait. My family in Egypt and family friends and the people I worked with never did that. We have always been a huge mishmash of people, loud voices and heated discussions.

Oh and that is just half of the story.  One of my lovely twitter friends Louya_ said this: “Because the ladies won’t / can’t be interested in serious man talk, get with the backward times.”

I had never really thought of it that way.  Two hours later I was still thinking about it.  How on earth can a man feel comfortable with his wife raising his child if he does not think she is smart/intellectual/worldly enough or whatever it is?  Because if she is not interested in serious talk, she is not going to raise a child who is either?  And then sometimes they will overtly make fun of women’s discussions because they are silly.  It is not fair, many women don’t talk about silly stuff, granted many women do talk about shopping, diapers and make up, but we can also talk about other stuff, just like they talk about football and cars.

Did you hear my blood pressure hitting the roof?

 

Because it seriously just did.

 

Women, Ads and Stereotypes

When will advertising people get that not all women fall the same segment.  I get annoyed when I see advertising which targets the woman who only cooks, shops or gets her hair done.  Like these two ads for example.

StereotypicalAds
StereotypicalAds2

The first one was for a Kuwaiti Women forum, it just talks to the Kuwaiti woman who just wants to change her look, loose weight, find a recipe or shop.  It there are so many successful, intelligent and amazing Kuwaiti women out there.  Politicians, artists, scientists and so much more.  I didn’t click because I was so annoyed and they might have other topics that might be interesting but they marketed themselves a little on the shallow side.  Even the picture they chose was not very expressive of your average Kuwaiti woman, unless she’s shopping crazy.  The second one is for mobile internet connection.  There’s a billboard by my house that has this ad and every time I pass by it it aggravates me.  Yes, i do look for recipes online and yes I window shop online.  But there is so much more that I do on the internet.  Why isn’t there an ad that targets professional working women, who use their internet connections to do research or business. University students use the internet to study, that too might be a healthier more positive image.  Even friends connecting would be a better image even though it might touch another stereotype of women being too talkative.  How about a mother and her children looking at educating websites or looking for childcare articles.  I sometimes wonder about the effectiveness of these ads.  Has anyone every studied ads, women and the middle east.  Do women even care or is it just me?  Is anyone else offended from this kind of sexist/stereotypical advertising?

CIB Egypt Your Customer Service Sucks

I’ve had a CIB account for 10 years minus a couple of days.  I can remember because I was waiting to turn 18.  I went alone and I had the thousand Egyptian Pounds that were the minimum needed to open a minors’ account.  I had been saving at the Post Office (yes I like to try and  save).  I was so proud of myself.  At my first job they asked me to open an account at Al Ahli Bank and I said no, I want to use my CIB account, they told me my salary would always be a couple of days late, I said I didn’t mind, I was a loyal customer.  At my second job, they transfered to CIB again so I didn’t change accounts.  At my last job they forced me into opening an account at the HSBC and even though their customer service was great I still preferred the CIB account because there were more branches and more ATM machines and the ATM card doubled as a Debit Card using the Visa Electron system.  I’d transfer my account to the CIB and use that card most of the month.  Anyone who asked me about my favorite bank I’d tell the the CIB.

So when last week I called them to confirm my account number for  a bank transfer I was doing and the call center representative neglected to inform me that my account had been closed because there were not transactions being made for a long time.  I was very clear and told her that I would be transferring money and that I was out of the country and she didn’t warn me.  I called yesterday because I wasn’t able to log into my internet banking account and the representative told me that the account had been closed.

It was so simple for them, one account, closed.  It is not simple for me.  First of all they wasted my time.  I was lucky that the transaction had failed otherwise my money would have been left in banking hell limbo.

To make a long story short, CIB you suck big time, you lost a loyal customer because your call center representative did not go the extra mile, your system is not smart enough or you just don’t care enough.  If she had told me the first time that the account was closed she would have saved me time but apparently no one cares about my time except me.  If the person who answered me the second time told me that he could see what he could do and tried to activate my account I would have been annoyed but still loyal.  Now I am angry and feeling betrayed.  I trust my bank.  I have to, they keep my money.  Once that trust is gone, the relationship is doomed.

In the middle of the conversation I asked to talk to a supervisor or manager so he told me that I would have to give him an Egyptian number.  How can I do that if I am not in Egypt?  Last month an HSBC rep called me telling me that they had noticed a strange transaction on my internet credit card, they had blocked it and were calling to confirm.  They called my home number in Egypt first and my mom gave them my number in Kuwait and they called long distance,  now that is what I call dedication.  To make that long story short, my email had been hacked and someone tried to make a transaction for 600$.  HSBC saved me those 600$ and a lot of hassle.  I was impressed by how they handled the whole situation and felt very happy.  CIB on the other hand did nothing for me and did themselves a disservice.  I might not have a lot of money at their bank but a bad reputation is bad for business.

What’s in a name?

There is a famous Arabic saying that everyone gets something from their name (كل واحد له نصيب من اسمه). I’ve always been curious about names that don’t have a direct meaning. Lots of Arabic names are meaningful and are an adjective in themselves, like Huda, Kareem, Hanaa or Amirah. I am guessing that these names are easily deciphered but what about my name, Yasmin? Am I like a flower? Pretty? Do I get to smell nice? Am I delicate? Do people want to pick me and put me in a vase? Or maybe I am seasonal and only get to bloom one season a year. I love my name and wouldn’t change it for any other name, but what am I getting out of it? What is in your name?

I love my FitFlops

fitflopsI bought a pair of FitFlops last week and I am sooo happy.  Truth is, I’ve been looking for comfortable pair of shoes for so many months (read: ever since I got pregnant).  Everything ends up either blistering my feet or giving me cramps.  Running errands with a very active baby on my shoulder or hip is not very easy on your feet.  I had read about them before and wanted to order them, but I am really picky about buying shoes without trying them.  So when last week I found them in a store I went for it.  They’re pricey compared to a regular pair of flip flops but so worth it.  I got the brown color.  It’s like a mini workout really.  It’s not hype.  My feet would kill me after a few hours running around.  But not anymore :-).  Now I am just thinking about buying them in another color.  They look good too.

Seven Reasons Why Everyone is Wearing FitFlops (from Amazon)

  • FitFlop midsoles incorporate patent-pending micro-wobbleboard™ technology, to give you a workout while you walk.
    Developed by Darren James and Dr David Cook at LSBU, the FitFlop’s unique safely-tapered midsole places varying densities of EVA under your feet each time you step, to challenge the support and balance muscles of the foot and leg.
  • They challenge hard to reach muscles more.
    FitFlops are engineered with a multi-density midsole that stimulates your muscles more while you’re wearing them. In independent University testing, FitFlops have been shown to trigger increase gluteal muscle response, increased hamstring response, increase rectus femoris (thigh) response and increased calf muscle response.
  • Every step you take in your FitFlops helps tone and trim your legs.
    Studies at Salford University by Dr. Philip Graham-Smith and Richard Jones have shown that the FitFlop midsole extends the amount of time that the slow twitch* muscles are engaged during each step (by approximately 10-12%). So just by wearing a pair of FitFlops you’ll get more exercise while doing just exactly what you’re normally doing.
    *slow twitch muscles produce energy by converting fats into energy aerobically
  • FitFlops work your bum muscles more.
    FitFlops have been proven to increase the amount of time that the gluteus maximus muscle is ‘activated’ during every single step.
  • FitFlops have been shown to have a significant effect on the toning muscles of your thighs.
    The rectus femoris muscle (one of the large muscles in the group of muscles in your thigh) is activated for a longer period of time while walking in FitFlops than while normally shod or barefoot.
  • Walking in FitFlops is like walking barefoot, but a little bit better.
    According to a study done at the University of Salford in Manchester, UK, the FitFlop wearer’s gait is very similar to that of a barefoot walker, but the added cushion provided by the EVA midsole helps reduce joint strain and absorb shock. In fact, several FitFlop wearers have already reported relief from back pain after a few days of wearing them.
  • FitFlops make it easier to stay in shape. Just throw them on while you’re running errands, walking to work, or working around your house. Most first-time FitFlop wearers report feeling their muscles working more, while ‘fitter’ wearers feedback has been more toward great comfort and cushion. One woman reported feeling like she’d had a ‘bum-blasting’ workout after a half an hour of FitFlop-shod walking.

Disclaimer: They’re not paying me to right this, I am in love with them on my own, but if you do decide to buy them from Amazon I get a referrers cut :-)

He’s Just Not That Into You

He's Just Not That Into You

He's Just Not That Into You

So unless you were living in a cave or under a big shiny blue rock you must have heard about this movie or the book titled He’s Just Not That Into You.  The book was inspired by an episode of Sex and the City titled “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little,” in which Miranda asks Carrie‘s boyfriend, Jack Berger, to analyze the post-date behavior of a potential love interest. Because the man declined Miranda’s invitation to come up to her apartment after the date, stating that he has an early meeting, Berger concludes, “He’s just not that into you,” adding, “When a guy’s really into you, he’s coming upstairs, meeting or no meeting.”  [Wikipedia].

The movie follows the lives of people who are totally misreading signs and interpreting the other person’s actions incorrectly.  I am not going to spoil the movie for you and I am not really going to do a movie review.  I did like the movie and it is an interesting and slightly thought provoking movie which is worth seeing for a girls night out.

After watching my brain sort of did a quick dissection of the movie and came up with these random or maybe not so random thoughts.

Signs.  I’ve always had a problem with signs, I believe they don’t really exist and that they are a waste of time especially in relationships.  When a girl is in love she will twist every single detail and analyze it over and over a million times over just to see things the way she wants to see it.  My rule is, if someone wants something they have to ask for it clearly, unless that happens whatever might be in their mind just does not exist in my world.  This is not just applicable to guys and girls this is applicable to everything in life.  For example, your boss is being nice to you does not mean he wants to fire or promote you (unless he really says either).  I know people who will analyze every single detail to death and end up wasting so much time thinking instead of living.  If you over analyze you are just stressing your self out for nothing

Dump the girl too. You might have a gal pal who’s just not that into you either.  I mean that sometimes our girl friends can be just as toxic to our lives.  The girl who doesn’t call, doesn’t care and is never really there should be dumped.  The girl who uses you and abuses you should get the boot.  Even if you’ve known her for a kazillion years, that is no excuse.  Dump her and move on.  Friends should make you feel good and be good to you.  They are honest, open and real.

Real advice.  How many times has someone asked you for advice and instead of being honest you were nice?  Personally I am a mean biatch sometimes, my sister can testify that I am a believer in tough love and usually tell people what they don’t really want to hear and it’s not because I have a mean sadistic streak but because I’d rather  give the cure than kiss the boo boo when someone is hurting.  Sometimes you have to be really honest with yourself and give yourself real and true advice to help yourself move on or forward.

You can’t force a guy into marrying you. Actually you can.  You can trap him but eventually he will leave.  This is valid for anything in life, if you force anyone to do anything, somewhere along the line they will snap and try to get out.  On the other hand if you help someone do what they truly want everyone will be much happier.

Lying is never good.  Yes, lying is never good, but you know that already, don’t you?  You will get caught or ruin your life or whatever.  Don’t lie.  Don’t lie to someone you care about.

Happiness is a ride not a destination. Really, who is happy all the time?  No one.  The married couple had problems, the single girls were looking for love, the girl who was in love and living with her boyfriend wanted to get married, the girl who loves a man who doesn’t love her back is loved by another man whom she doesn’t want.  There’s always something.  There is no “state” or “status” for happiness.  It’s an outlook and a choice to be happy.  There is no happy ending because as long as you are alive there is no end and you have to keep working on it and doing your best to be happy.

Update: RJay had an interesting angle on the movie too.

Sense of Direction

I have always had a good sense for directions.  I love taking a random turn and getting to where I was originally going by exploring the world.  I have found lots of shortcuts and detours this way and have been to areas I definitely would not like to see again in this lifetime.  Anyways, I had some errands to run today and I asked my husband to draw me a map, which he did.  But, like any self respecting geek, I had to check out the location using Google Maps,  found my destination, printed it to pdf and uploaded it to my phone.  In a perfect world I would be using GPS, which my phone supports but for some reason I can’t get to work and didn’t have enough time to figure out how to use it without a data plan.  As usual I had to take a wrong turn somewhere and ended up almost where I should be but not spot on and had to walk for 10 minutes to get to the building but all’s well that ends well I guess. Discovering the world is an interesting hobby.

Beautiful Batiks by Kraf Online

Batik (pronunciation: [ˈba.teʔ], but often, in English, is [ˈbæ.tɪk] or [bəˈtiːk]) is a wax-resist dyeing technique used on textile. Due to modern advances in the textile industry the term has also been used for fabrics which incorporates the traditional batik patterns although not necessarily produced using the batik technique, silk batik is especially popular.

Javanese traditional batik, especially from Jogjakarta, has special meanings which is rooted to the Javanese idea of the universe. Traditional colours include indigo, dark brown ,white and violet, which represents the four major Hindu Gods, and certain patterns can only be worn by royals. Other regions of Indonesia have their own unique patterns. Patterns similar to Indonesian batik are also found in several countries of West Africa, such as Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Uganda and Mali, and in Asia, such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Iran, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Burma, which displays the influence of the Indonesian batik internationally.  From Wikipedia.

Batik Scarf

Batik Scarf

Batik Notepads from Kraf Online

Batik Notepads from Kraf Online

I have a soft spot for batik in my heart, I think it started many years ago when we would draw on paper with colored crayons and then paint over them with watercolors at school and then when my mom stated silk painting.  I would look at her books for hours and dream of pretty silk, wax designs and vibrant colors.  Unfortunately she doesn’t do silk any more.  All of us hijabees out there know that the best fabrics for scarves are silk and cotton, they don’t make you feel hot and don’t make the woosh woosh sound all day when you wear something synthetic.  Kraf Online have a beautiful collection of handcrafted scarves, stationary, bags and other items.  I like the scarves but I like the idea of the notepads because they look so sweet, authentic and personal.  Their prices are very fair, I mean the notepads cost around 10$, which is nice for a hand made item that would make a great gift for anyone.

Use coupon code “crafty” for a 10% discount on all items.

Now excuse me while I go find some wax and some colors to make some batik eggs.

Decisions

Decisions by Richard Scott 33

Decisions by Richard Scott 33

How do you make decisions? Tough ones, small ones or silly ones? How do you decide to go left or go right? Are all decisions equally difficult to make or do you find some easier than others? Do you call friends, ask family or check your horoscope? Do you pray and ask for divine intervention? Which is worse; making the wrong decision or not making a decision at all? You always want to make the right choice every time, but can we? Sometimes we know we are doing the wrong thing but know that it is also the only feasible option, does that still make it a decision or is it then no longer a choice but a fact of life? Is everything in life fate? Do we even get to make these decisions or is everything already predetermined?

Just some questions that I don’t have the answers to, do you?