Old Kuwait is Digitally Disappearing

Post by Mark

Yesterday I was trying to find an article I had posted about an event that took place in Kuwait back in 1974. A friend of mine works right next to Souk Al Kabeer in Kuwait City and I thought she would be interested to know that during the construction of the building back in 74, it collapsed during the night while the construction workers were asleep and killed I believe around 40 or 50 people (I think?). I couldn’t find the article but the video above is taken from the AP archive shot that morning showing the aftermath.

I was flipping page by page through my 50s to 90s category on the blog trying to find the article and I couldn’t for some reason. But, I did realize something important, a lot of the videos of old Kuwait I had linked to or a lot of links to photo galleries of old Kuwait on other websites or blogs were now dead and no longer available.

familybookshop

It’s rare and difficult enough finding these treasures and so its pretty sad that many of them are no longer available to view. I was pissed off at myself and disappointed that I didn’t think of downloading or saving backups or hosting the images myself. I always considered it bad etiquette to find images on another blog and then host them all myself, I thought the proper thing to do would be to link back to the blog instead and send people there. Now I regret doing that, I shouldn’t trust other people with the responsibility of archiving history.

Thinking out loud I tweeted that I should probably set up a GoFundMe account where all the money collected would be used to purchase old footage and photos of Kuwait from the likes of Huntley Film Archives, Periscope Film, AP Archive, various Flickr accounts and the likes and then store them somewhere in the cloud for everyone to access and where it could remain permanently.

But then we’re back in the same situation, where you’re trusting a person (in this case me) to maintain and keep this archive, but what if something happens to me? Say for example one day while driving down the Gulf Road and my Datsun bursts into flames and I die, that means I won’t be able to continue to pay for hosting and maintaining that archive. Actually thats whats going to happen with my blog as well, probably stay up a month or two after I die, and then it would disappear forever along with the 10,000+ posts and over 200,000 of your comments.

This is why I think there needs to be a non profit organization that is responsible for archiving these important items. And I’m not talking about historically important films and artifacts, I’m talking about general random everyday stuff that people wouldn’t think of archiving from old Hardees ads to some guys family photos from the 60s (they’re wonderful). They don’t sound like very important items to archive but I personally think they are. They’re everyday life from a different era.

There actually might be a local organization that is doing this and I’m just not aware of it but I doubt it. KOC have a great in-house archive department which is extremely organized and one I’ve visited and written about [Here], but they are archiving their own content and not other peoples.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is an organization needs to be established and if anyone ever decides to do it then please invite me to be part of it. For now I’m going to spend this weekend skimming through my old 50s to 90s posts and make sure everything I’ve linked to I’ve also mirrored on my blog so if the source is dead the information is still here.


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Mishary the Giraffe

Post by Mark

Last week a giraffe at the Kuwait Zoo gave birth, but the sex of the giraffe was still unknown when I posted about it since the giraffe had just given birth and the zoo keepers couldn’t get close and touch the giraffe until it had started nursing. Well now that a week has passed I figured I’d post a small update, the giraffe turned out to be male and the zoo has decided to name him Mishary.

Thanks Tammy!


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Avenues is Kuwait’s Top Tourist Attraction

Post by Mark

Trip Advisor released a world map highlighting every country’s top tourist attraction and according to the map Avenues is Kuwait’s top tourist attraction. The map uses data from their ‘Thing to Do’ list and Avenues is rated the highest on the Kuwait list. Check out the full map in high resolution [Here]

Thanks Mohmed


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Page Turner Books

Post by Mark

Page Turner is a local online based store that specializes in selling must reads books and bestsellers. Their collection isn’t huge by any means with their “Fiction” section being the largest, but you could look at it as quality over quantity. They also buy used books although I have no idea where they’re listed on their website. In any case if you’re looking to buy real books and don’t have a Kindle, this could be a good source. Check them out [Here]


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Coffee Corner: A Beginners Guide to Third Wave Coffee (Part 1)

Post by Grant Mouton

Third wave coffee shops are the meeting place of a diverse group of people. The early morning office goers, moms after the school drop off and lets not forget – hipsters! They all have one thing in common (apart from their love of coffee), that is they are unaware of many intricacies of the mysterious third wave coffee shop. Sometimes it can be difficult navigating these establishments – It’s early morning and as you walk in your attention is taken to the sound of coffee beans popping in the cooling pan, they have just reached first crack. The humidity increases as you near the POS, condensation is collecting on a snapchatters iPhone – the steam wands are certainly working. More than that, the aroma is unmistakable. It’s the smell of early mornings and late nights. It’s the smell of a pending deadlines and relaxed Saturday mornings. You mutter “one latte please” only because you heard the person before you say it.

3rd Wave Coffee
3rd wave (or specialty) coffee is treating coffee as an artisan foodstuff. It is when meticulous attention to detail is applied in the farming, processing, roasting and brewing aspects. Each single origin batch is treated uniquely and prepared differently to enhance its inherent characteristics. It is always fresh, always prepared according to the highest standards. In 3rd wave coffee shops, your barista is trained to vary pressure, water flow and temperature for each drink to make it truly unique and exceptional.

Roast Levels
Third wave coffee shops pioneered the art of lightly roasted coffee. This does a couple of things, it burns off less caffeine so you have a stronger cup. It also maintains many of the inherent, delicate flavors of the coffee to give you a much more rounded experience. Next thing is to talk about the names of these roast levels, because gone are the days when everything was “dark, medium or light” roast – we have become a lot more specific now.

Cinnamon: The lightest roast is called cinnamon roast. No, there is no cinnamon in it and it won’t necessarily taste of cinnamon, the name comes from the color of the ground coffee when roasted at this level.

City: City is the next roast level. Here the bean has achieved something called “first crack”. This first crack happens as a result of moisture vapors expanding with heat and eventually forcing their way out of the bean – This crack happens at around 205C and this is likely the most common roast level you consume at third wave coffee stores. Shortly after this level we achieve City+ which is a slightly darker version of City. (The name “City” comes from the fact that this roast was most commonly used in the eastern cities of the USA)

Full City: This is the stage where the beans start undergoing the cracking process for a second time, and again there is a slightly darker version called Full City+. These roasts will have lower acidity than the aforementioned (because the darker you roast, the lower the acidity) and also higher solubility, meaning you will have more coffee in the water after extraction. As a result, one tends to achieve more robust flavor and creamier body from these roasts.

Continental: Here we have old school coffee. This is coffee that has been roasted to such a point that the essential oils begin to reach the surface of the coffee bean. This can also lead to excessive smoke creation inside the roasting drum with negative effect on the flavour. The names of continental roasts include: Vienna, Italian, French and Spanish.

Single Origins vs Blends
By now you have been offered a single origin as opposed to the standard blend, so what exactly is this? Single origins are coffee beans from a single farm or lot in a specific region/province in a certain country that has been processed in a uniform method and consists of one variety of coffee plant. To try put this simply, the beans are all the same as one another. Blends on the other hand can be a mixture of two or more single origins.

Jargon
Ever heard of someone ask for an extra dry cappuccino? How about a ristretto or lungo? Some coffee aficionados will even ask for a high yield espresso. What exactly are these:

Dry: This is when extra air is purposefully added to the milk when steaming. It creates a large layer of foam atop the coffee.

Ristretto: This is a shorter stronger version of an espresso. This “espresso” will be sweeter and more acidic than its regular counterpart.

Lungo: A longer, often nuttier tasting version of an espresso – overdo the extraction and it will start to taste of wood.

Portafilter: The “portable filter” that locks into the espresso machine

Dose: The amount of coffee that one puts into the portafilter

Yield: The net weight of the espresso once extracted

Pour Over: Fresh filter coffee made by hand. Filter coffee has received a bad rep because of the poor quality coffee used to make it, as well as the fact that it would often be left to stand for hours before being served. Truth is, freshly filtered coffee is one of the best experiences you can have.

Keep sipping!

Post by Grant Mouton
Self–proclaimed coffee guru, coffee education addict, SCAA/SCAE accredited.
Brand manager at % Arabica.


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HABRA Beef Canteen

Post by Mark

Last night I finally got to pass by and have dinner at HABRA, the new restaurant by the well known chef Ahmed AlBader. He’s the chef behind some popular places like Burger Hub, Prime & Toast, Pizzetta, Butchers Den and eight6 Bistro that used to be located in the Avenues back in 2009. He also used to host The Chef’s Table on YouTube which I think he should actually bring back. Anyway, I’m personally not a fan of Burger Hub, Prime & Toast, Pizzetta and Butchers Den so I really wasn’t planning on trying HABRA, but I’m glad I did because I think HABRA is by far his best creation yet.

I dropped by last night and ended up waiting an hour and forty five minutes to get a table for three. It was a Sunday so I can’t imagine how long the wait might be on a weekend. Luckily HABRA is walking distance to like 200 speciality coffee shops and a Pick Yo so killing time wasn’t an issue. We walked around, had frozen yogurt and coffee until we got the call that our table was ready.

The place is pretty small and very cozy. We sat down on a corner table and just started ordering a ton of stuff since everything on the menu sounded so good.

Kale and nori slaw KD1.750
Crispy brussel sprouts KD2.000
Bone marrow, chimichuri, sour dough KD3.750
Grilled avocado KD2.250
Grilled rapanini, jaggery, tamarind butter KD2.250
Rib and manchengo fries KD4.500
Baked sweet potato, cinnamon sugar butter KD 1.950
Chef’s burger KD6.500
Four and a half hour braised rib, Korean sweet chili KD6.950
Pulled lamb, dates, prunes KD3.500
Three-way Kalbi KD8.500
Charred cantaloup, ice cream, meringue, honey KD2.500
Pomegranate and pecan brownie KD2.750

Everything we had was delicious. My least favorite item was probably the burger while my favorite was the braised rib (pictured above). The bone marrow and Kalbi both came a close second (note: don’t share the bone marrow with a friend, be selfish and let them order their own). And don’t bother ordering the cantaloup dessert, it was impossible to eat. Our total came out to KD19 per person including tips and drinks which is reasonable considering the amount of food we had.

Was it worth the nearly 2 hour wait? I think so, I mean it wasn’t like I was standing in line for 2 hours, theres a lot to do in the area so just make sure you pass by and put your name on the list and then go do your thing. If you’re just gonna wait until the restaurant becomes less popular I don’t think thats gonna happen anytime soon. Every place in that area is busy all the time and HABRA doesn’t have that many tables inside. Speaking of the location, HABRA is located right next to Gia in Kuwait City, close to SOMU. Here is their location on [Google Maps]. They’re also located on instagram @habrakw and they’re currently open daily from 6PM to 10PM.


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Heavy Fog Engulfs Kuwait City

Post by Mark

A friend just shared these photos she took earlier this morning from her office. Can’t believe I’m home missing this!

Thanks Dima!


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MacBook Pro Touch Bar vs MacBook Air – My Review

Post by Mark

I don’t think any notebook has ever gotten as much hate as the new MacBook Pro’s have and I can’t understand why. Last week I replaced my 13″ MacBook Air with the new 13″ MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar and I just love it.

Before I go ahead and explain why I love the new MacBook Pro so much and why I think its so much better than my already amazing MacBook Air, I’m going to first quickly explain why the biggest issues people have with the MacBook Pro don’t really affect me. This review is also fairly long compared to my regular posts so I’ve titled all the main paragraphs that way you can skip down to the area you care more about if you don’t feel like reading.

No USB Ports
This is probably the biggest issue people have with the new MacBook Pros, they don’t have the regular USB Type-A ports and instead Apple replaced them with the newer, slimmer, faster, better but also less popular USB-C ports. In my case I rarely used the USB ports on my MacBook Air, the only time I ever used them was when I traveled I’d charge my iPhone from my Air’s USB port and when I wanted to copy stuff onto or off memory sticks. I barely used USB so for me if the ports are USB-C or Type-A… I don’t really care. I bought the USB-C to Type-A Apple adapter so IF I ever need a regular Type-A port, I’ll just use the adapter. I’d rather have a slimmer notebook without any USB ports than a thicker one with. But again thats because I rarely used the ports to begin with and I can always move things around wirelessly.

No SD Card Slot
This I was more upset with than the lack of USB ports. I take a lot of photos with my camera for the blog and when I travel so it was very practical having an SD card slot in my MacBook Air. But it’s not that big a deal really having no SD card slot. My current camera’s SD card has WiFi anyway so I’ll just wirelessly transfer the photos onto my Mac. Actually, most of the time I copy the photos over to my phone first, edit them in VSCO and then AirDrop them onto my Mac. That’s what I did with these pictures in this post for example.

Battery Life
This wasn’t an issue until Consumer Reports tested the new MacBook Pro’s late last month and got battery life that ranged anywhere from 4 to 18 hours. They cited major inconsistencies which I have yet to encounter with my short time with the notebook. So far my MacBook Pro is lasting me as much as my MacBook Air would which is to say all day of on and off use.

Max 16GB of RAM
A lot of people have made a fuss that the maximum amount of RAM the new MacBook Pro’s support is 16GB. I had 8GB of RAM on my MacBook Air and I was doing design work and editing large files on it without any issues. I have 8GB of RAM on my new MacBook Pro and I expect it to perform even better than my MacBook Air so I’m fine with the 16GB limit since I don’t need more than 8.

The Review
Now with the controversial items out of the way let me start my review. I’ve never owned a MacBook Pro (or PowerBook). My first notebook ever was a white 12″ iBook G3 Dual USB back in 2001 (considered the most unreliable Apple notebook ever). Since then I’ve had a bunch of other low end Apple notebooks until I moved up to the MacBook Air. I got my first one in 2011 and then replaced it in 2015 with the updated model. Anyone who owns a MacBook Air will tell you they’re incredible notebooks and I really didn’t need to replace mine, it was more than enough for my needs, but something about the new MacBook Pro’s attracted me, I think it was the Touch Bar but once I saw them I knew I needed one. In the week I’ve owned the MacBook Pro, a few things have really impressed me compared to the MacBook Air:

The Size
Somehow Apple has managed to make the MacBook Pro smaller than the MacBook Air and also weigh the same. Side by side when compared to the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro is clearly smaller and more compact.

The Screen
My biggest issue with the MacBook Air was the screen, not because it didn’t have a retina display which I could care less about, but because the viewing angle was terrible. I used to constantly adjust the screen tilt to make sure I was getting the best viewing angle. With the new MacBook Pro I don’t have that issue, no matter how much I move the screen looks great. The color difference and brightness is another thing I instantly noticed, side by side the MacBook Air looks dimmer and the colors duller when compared to the Pro. I’d find it really difficult to move back to the MacBook Air now.

The Sound
The speakers on the new MacBook Pro are much better than the MacBook Air. Like the difference in sound quality is pretty dramatic, other than the fact the sound is much more louder on the MacBook Pro, it also has more bass and much more clarity to it. And because the speakers are pointing towards you (with the Air the sound is indirect), the left and right channels are also a lot more clearly defined. I’ve started listening to music on my notebook which I never used to do before.

The Keyboard
Based on the reviews I read online about the keyboard, I was worried I was going to hate it. I don’t, it’s now one of my favorite things in the new MacBook Pro. I type better with it, I type faster and it just feels so much more solid when compared to the MacBook Air keyboard which now feels too squishy to me.

What About the Touch Bar?
This is one area I have yet to make up my mind on. There are two parts to the Touch Bar, the main touch display area and the TouchID (fingerprint sensor) which is located on the far right. I love the TouchID since it allows me to sign into my MacBook instantly. I’m also hoping that soon I could use TouchID to unlock 1Password like I do on my iPhone, that option alone would make this MacBook Pro worth it over the Air.

Now the touch display area of the Touch Bar is what I’m still trying to get a hang of. Right now it really isn’t that useful. It looks cool for sure but it’s currently not that much more practical than keyboard short cuts. Also not all apps support it yet and the ones that do don’t allow that much customization to it. Because of the way I rest my hands on the keyboard while using the trackpad I also keep accidentally touching the Esc button which is annoying (I’ve done it 3 times while writing this article) but I’m getting used to it. While I’m typing this post up I have Spotify showing on my Touch Bar but for I wish instead of the audio scrubber showing (pictured above), I could choose to show the name of the song and artist in that space instead. The Touch Bar is still new though so I’m hoping we’ll get more customization options over the next year as companies start understanding what people want from the Touch Bar.

MacBook Air vs MacBook Pro
This is a really easy recommendation to make, the MacBook Pro is a much better machine over the Air in every way. The MacBook Pro weighs the same as the Air but is also smaller in size so the biggest advantage the Air had over the Pro series doesn’t exist anymore. The MacBook Pro screen is better, the keyboard is better and if you’re used to listening to music on the Air’s speakers, then you’re gonna love the MacBook Pro. The only thing I have difficulty recommending is the MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar over the version without the Touch Bar. Is the Touch Bar worth an extra $300? I think I’m leaning towards a yes, but only if you’ve got the money to spend. If you don’t thats fine, you aren’t really missing much.

I ordered my MacBook Pro from eBay and it cost me KD548 ($1,789) and another KD10.5 to ship to Kuwait using PostPlus. It was considerably cheaper to buy it on eBay since Apple charges tax and I would have ended up paying KD600 ($1,963) if I had purchased it from the Apple Store. It was also quicker since when I was ordering the MacBook Pro, the wait time on the Apple Store was 3-4 weeks before shipping. But, the advantage of ordering directly from the Apple Store is you could customize your Mac with more RAM or a faster CPU. I also purchased the “Space Gray” color which is what you see in the pictures in this post. Let me know if you have any questions.

Update: Turns out 1Password already works with TouchID, I just needed to enable it in the settings!


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Updated List of Speciality Coffee Shops

Post by Mark

I’ve been meaning to post this updated list of coffee shops for a few weeks now but I kept on finding out about more coffee shops so I kept postponing the post. We’ve got so many coffee shops now that we even have two different ones with the same name. I don’t think I’ve missed any places but in case I have, let me know in the comments.

Amo Cafe
Arabica
Awake Coffee
Black Coffee
Bon Coffee
Boost Cafe
BRW
But First Coffee
CAF
Caffeine
Caveman Coffee
Cova Specialty Coffee
Cropped Coffee
CRL Bar
Days*Cafe
Dose Cafe
Etsi Kafe Lab
Force Bar
Grace
His Majesty
Jumo
Keys Coffee Shop
Kôfē – Espresso Bar
Let’s Coffee
Majnoon Qahwa
Mood Coffee Bar
Muse Coffeesphere
Muse Espresso Bar
New Brew Coffee
Not Just Coffee
Pause Coffee
Perhaps Some Coffee
Pirate Cafe
Richard’s Coffee
Savage Coffees
Seven Grams Coffee Lab
Shots
Shuwaikh Coffee
SIP
Street Cafe
The Breeze Cafe
Three and Barista
Toby’s Estate
Vibes Coffee
Vol 1
Wish Cafe

Most of the places above opened up in the past 6 months or so. Insane.


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Enab Lebanese Restaurant

Post by Mark

One of my favorite Lebanese restaurants just opened up in Kuwait. ‘Enab’ is probably the Lebanese restaurant I frequent the most when I’m in Lebanon and so was pretty surprised when I found out they opened here. In Lebanon they’re located in the popular Mar Mikhael area near all the nightlife so was super convenient to start off with dinner there before walking down to all the bars. In Kuwait on the other hand they’re located in the Menus Restaurant Complex in Abu Halifa, which means they’re so out of the way for me that I won’t be able to pass by frequently.

In case you’re interested, their instagram account is @Enabkuwait


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