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Location: Iraq, Sulaimaniya

joan1982, May 21, 09 6:28 AM.

It's been 29 days and 3 hours since I landed in Sulaimaniya. It's official. This is the longest time I have ever been away from the UK. A time during which I learnt to be an editor, a journalist, a communicator, in both Arabic and English (the Arabic part is debatable), mud puddles survivor, a taxi fare haggler and a Barclays bank plc hater. Home sweet home(s).

My favourite part of the day, and sometimes not, is getting in the taxi to go down town Sulaimaniya. It is my only chance to have a direct genuine conversation with people. 'I am Iraqi speak no Arabi,' mocked one of the drivers. 'I am Iraqi speak no Kurdi,' I replied. We both laughed.

I learnt that it is considered inappropriate to strike a conversation with people you do not know and that smiling would be an invitation to flirt. But the adorable way Kurds try to communicate in Arabic is irresistible, especially if they are old men who like to reminisce about Iraq's good days and Baghdad. Could they be talking about the early 70s? The only time Iraq has ever seen some kind of prosperity and not many had to suffer, although peace never prevailed. Not the Monarchy or the British occupation surely. Neither could it be Saddam's reign. Perhaps they are just ordinary people who just enjoyed being them and living their lives despite the hardships they were subjected to. What I heard and read in newspapers on Kurds and Arabs have almost been non-existent in Sulaimaniya during the past 4 weeks. True, there are more Kurds than Arabs here, but not one so far seemed to consider themselves anything but Iraqi, and sometimes the word Kurdish preceded the word Iraqi. Were they being nice to me because I am a customer? Or perhaps when they realize I had no hand in the gassing of Kurds, and instead talked to them in a civil manner, they react accordingly. Perhaps I am making progress already. Perhaps through me, they believe we are one. Perhaps they will regain their patriotism to Iraq as a whole. Perhaps it's the politician's game that makes things look ugly. Or perhaps I am being unrealistic and naive. Who knows!

Sulaimaniya is a modern, up and coming city that has a limited choice of entertainment but a vast history and a beautiful nature. The mountains surrounding it are breathtaking, while trekking the way up to the tips of them is surreal. What attracts me to it mainly is the endless long road it was built around. Salem Street is prefect for people like me who easily get lost. Modern cafes dotted along the street have become my home for the past 4 weeks. I eat, write, make phone calls, shop, edit the magazine and work till dawn while drinking tons of lemon and pomegranate juices. My day is made when Kathem Alsaher, my favourite Iraqi singer, comes on one of the plasma screen TVs in the cafe. Only then I feel I am in Iraq.

I often drift into thoughts about my life in the UK when I see the pen I received as a gift for graduating from university, now the pen I use during interviews. A key ring that became the one for my first home in Iraq. A notebook; my travels' official diary. My lucky charm necklaces that I alternate everyday. My business card holder that will be effective from tomorrow. My watch, of course, to keep track of time, and yet another one sitting on my desk amongst lots and lots of cards scattered on my messy desk; a reminder that I am loved.

It is quite common to be sitting with a client discussing the latest issues in Iraq, or be having dinner with a friend in the evening, when a power cut occurs. Everyone pauses their activities for a few minutes till power resumes, and they carry on going about their business as normal. Like someone has paused a movie for a few minutes, or seconds sometimes. This happens several times a day.

I noticed that I yawn much more often and my hair needs more regular washing. My chocolate Ugg boots have now become yellowy cream. It never stopped raining since I arrived and the days get much colder at night. Mud puddles became my worst enemy as the city is going under wide construction and development and workmen are everywhere. The only problem is that in Iraq, workmen take eternity to finish a job.

I moved into a block of apartments in a secluded village just outside of Sulaimaniya. Thankfully, Sulaimaniya isn't a large city so I am able to reach Salem Street in just under half an hour, if a taxi passes by that is. Leaving me stranded on top of the hill for the dust to settle right behind my contact lenses. Taxi drivers often think I am crying.

I will be in Baghdad soon to interview people regarding the magazine cover story as well as a few other stories. I will once again, after many years, visit places in Baghdad I had not been to for almost two decades. Once Zainab the quiet struggling school girl carrying her books to school while adjusting her glasses, now Zainab the editor, the writer, with her dictaphone, pen and notebook, and of course a laptop bag that doesn't fit my laptop in it properly which often makes me look clumsy.

So here I am, grumbling about mud, dust, rain and Uggs. Having just been scared the devil out of as all lights in my apartment went out whilst in the shower. To crawl my way out and hope someone would call me so my mobile would light the way. Nothing like a power cut during a shower in a secluded home in the mountains of Iraq.

I apologize for the long absence as settling in has not been easy. With no internet at home, I am truly lost.

I am here. I live here. I work here. I am pursuing my dreams here. This is where I want to be and these are only the beginnings of what I want to do.

Whooga Australia ugg Boot Website Launch

joan1982, May 21, 09 6:28 AM.

Whooga is proud to annouce the launch of it's Australian ugg boot website.

Hobart, TAS (PRWEB) May 5, 2009 -- Whooga a proudly Australian owned fashion label continues its phenomenal growth with the official launch of the Whooga Australia ugg boots website. Already a well regarded and rapidly expanding label throughout the US with its unique range of sheepskin boots and the UK with its premium range of merino fleece uggs the young company is now opening doors in its own backyard. The Australian website is offering all styles of their internationally regarded ugg boots in time for the beginning of what looks to be a colder than usual winter.

While news of business closures flood the media, the innovative young upstart continues to buck the economic trend. Business owners credit an emphasis on warmth, comfort and luxury with a customer driven focus as the primary drivers of growth. "Many businesses have focused on reducing production costs, reducing staff numbers and really preparing their businesses for harsh times. We couldn't see the sense of effectively reducing the quality of service and product during a time where the inefficient and uncompetitive business models will not likely see the end of the economic downturn. We're a luxury product first and foremost, as soon as we stop offering class leading comfort and service we're going to fall short of our customers' expectations"

Australian customers will be backed by the same outstanding customer service and guarantees which has helped the company gain an outstanding reputation in both the US and UK. Comprehensive sizing guides assist customers in choosing the right size and no cost exchanges remove any sizing doubts.

Whooga boots are hand stitched from Australian merino sheepskin with only A grade leathers. The quality of the leathers used in the boots results in unrivalled thermostatic qualities producing the warmth and comfort not found in any other footwear. The merino fleece will circulate your feet with warm air in temperatures as low as -30 while still actively cooling your feet during warmer days. A number of myths and rumors surrounding ugg boots are due to the large number of imitation and synthetic ugg boots now in circulation. Poorly constructed synthetic ugg boots cause feet to sweat, building moisture and harmful bacteria.

Footwear and Foot Problems

joan1982, May 21, 09 6:27 AM.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 43.1 million Americans (one in six people) have foot problems. Women are nine times more at risk than men because females are more likely to wear tight or poorly-fitted shoes.

During an average day of walking, the feet bear the equivalent weight of several tons. When combined with poorly-fitting shoes, those forces can lead to a number of painful conditions. Two common foot problems associated with shoe fit are bunions and hammertoes.

A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe (the metatarsophalangeal joint). It occurs when the big toe is misaligned, with the tip angling inward toward the other toes. This pushes the base of the joint outward. The skin over the protruding joint can become red, swollen and painful. The joint can become stiff and swollen, causing pain while wearing shoes or walking.

Hammertoe is a condition in which one or more of the toes is bent upward at the middle joint, causing the affected toe(s) to look like a hammer. A callus can also develop on top of the toe. It most commonly affects the second toe. Initially, the joint is still moveable and can be straightened. But if the condition isn’t treated, the joint can become stiff and rigid.

The Need for Support

Philadelphia Podiatrist Edward Chairman, D.P.M., says adult feet need support to bear the weight of standing and walking. Shoes without support increase the risk for foot problems, like bunions and hammertoes.

One popular line of footwear is UGG®. Chairman says some women are wearing UGG boots because they are soft, comfortable and wide enough to relieve pressure on the toes. So, even patients with bunions and hammertoes find them to be more comfortable than some shoes and boots. However, over time, women tend to develop more pain and discomfort. Chairman says that’s because boots like the UGGs have no support. The extra pressure on the feet eventually causes alignment problems in the toes to worsen. Although bunions and hammertoes are typically more common in middle-aged and older women, Chairman is seeing the early signs of the problems in teenagers who “live” in their UGGs.

Chairman recommends that women who want to use footwear that doesn’t have adequate support get custom-made orthotics, or shoe inserts. The orthotics are designed to minimize force on the feet and improve foot function. For UGGs and similar boots, he recommends sports orthotics, which are a little bulkier and longer than orthotics designed for dress shoes.cheap ugg boots

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A Brand Re-Booted

joan1982, May 21, 09 6:26 AM.

In July 2006 Michael Todd was reading the Guardian newspaper when in it he spotted a paparazzo photo of model Kate Moss. She was stomping through the mud at the Glastonbury music festival in a pair of black, clunky knee-high rubber boots, made by Hunter, a 150-year-old British footwearmaker. Shortly after, Todd called Hunter's chief executive, Peter Mullen, with some unsolicited advice. Moss' choice of the stuffy Wellington boot brand--it wasn't pushed on her by Hunter--meant it might be poised to shed its dumpy image. To build the company, said Todd, a veteran of faddish bootmaker Ugg boots, Mullen needed to start pushing Hunter toward a younger, more fashion-conscious crowd.

OK! Interview: Peter André & Katie Price

joan1982, May 19, 09 7:50 AM.

The former UK glamour model and her pop star hubby stopped by OK!’s Beverly Hills office, and opened up about their life in the US, the Beckhams, and Jade Goody .

Do you live a normal life here in the US?

Peter: In England, it is constant. Here you get some days when they are there, and some days when they are not. You can be normal.

Katie: You think it’s pretty normal to go and have a 13-mile run along Malibu beach and have twelve paparazzi following you around?

The Beckhams attempt to “conquer America,” was short-lived because it looks like they’re now going back to Europe. What are your thoughts?

KP: Well, we never said that we were trying to break America. I don’t know if they said that they were trying to. It’s sad they’re going to be leaving. I’m sure that she loves it here, and her boys love it here. Just — good luck to them!

PA: I think that they are so successful anyway –who cares. It doesn’t matter, and I think –you know, good luck to them! We love them.

What are your thoughts on Victoria Beckham’s style?

KP: Sometimes, I do think that she tries too hard. I would actually like to see her in a tracksuit, and UGG boots going to the shop buying newspaper – smiling.

What are your thoughts and feelings on fellow UK reality star Jade Goody's battle with cancer?

KP: Oh, it is awful. But I think that it is so brave and I am just gutted for her. We talk about her day and night. I would love to be by her side just the whole way, you know.

PA: It’s really put everything into perspective for us. We are living the American dream but what does it all mean when you think back to someone who can’t see their children after a certain period of time. She will never see them again.

Have the both of you reached out to her?

KP: I’m supporting her.

PA: We’ve sent her some messages, and we have sent her some flowers.

KP: I do say that they need to do a Jade charity, and I would love to be a part of that. I said that next year, I would run the marathon to raise money for that.

PA: Well, I was actually thinking of writing her name across my forehead when I do the London marathon. Buy cheap ugg boots .

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