Monday, July 13, 2009

Sun, Sea, Sand and Chicklit

Getting ready for the beach? Hold on a second. Before you leave, check all your stuff in your duffel bag first. If you think that you got all your beach paraphernalia-sun cream SPF 30, bikini, tanning oil, shampoo, conditioner, aloe after sun gel packed in and you figured that something is still missing, and then take a one more look. You may be missing the most important stuff that will keep you company during your sun worshipping moment - a book.

For those ladies who bask clutching a romance comedy novel ( or for those of you who consider romance novel as an item that you will not be caught without aside from your iPod), here are some good beach read that I highly recommend. Amusing, charming, sparkling with wit and humor all in one is all what you need to keep you entertained you while getting your sun kissed bronze.

Here's the list:

Chasing Harry Winston- Lauren Weisberger
Everyone Worth Knowing – Lauren Weisberger
Certain Girls – Jennifer Weiner
Shopaholic Series – Sophie Kinsella
Something Borrowed- Emily Griffin
Baby Proof – Emily Griffin
Eat, Love and Pray – Elizabeth Gilbert
The Art of French Kissing –Kristin Harmel
Rise and Shine – Anna Quindlen
Belong to Me – Marissa De Los Santos
Beyond the Blonde – Kathleen Flynn Hui
The Diplomatic Corpse – Anne Marshall Zwack
Dot.Homme – Jane Moore

There are heaps of titles of other Chick lit books that are out there in your local bookstore. But the ones I've mentioned above are the ones that I can give my thumbs up. Whether you're going on an island hopping or simply plunked down on a hammock under a coconut tree, take one of these books on your summer jaunt.

Oh and don't forget your IPod too.

Have a great summer!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Croatia's Smoking Ban Takes Off and Takes Ashtrays Away

Stop Smoking- the staunch slogan of the Croatian Government slammed against "Stop Smoking Ban" clamor of coffee shop owners after the Croatian government implemented its strict law against smoking on indoor public places on May 6, 2009.

The government is bent to execute strict "No Smoking" law to safeguard the physical health and well being of Croatian nationals from the hazards of smoking. Prior to the new law, the government's media propaganda against smoking apparently, did not create much of an impact- thus, had fallen into deaf ears.Restaurants, coffee shops, ice-cream parlors and malls from run-of-the- mill to high end food service joints were filled with employees taking a break from work, friends engaging in a tête-à-tête, football aficionados, coffee drinkers including mothers with tag- along -babies in strollers.

These coffee shops habitués either active or passive smokers, oblivious to the dangers of smoking frequent to the coffee shops at any time of the day as part of their daily routine schedule.However, on the 6th of May 2009, the Croatian government blew its whistle and put a big stop sign to smoking. As the law stipulates -those who are caught smoking in an indoor public place shall be slapped with 1000 Kuna fine for smoker and 15,000 Kuna for business owner to ensure that Croatian public knows that the government means business this time (no pun intended.)

Since the Croatian government guards public places keenly watching for smokers who consist of more than half of the coffee shops' costumers started to wane their regular visits to coffee shops for their daily fresh espresso and cigarette ritual. Thereby, sudden drops of profit sales have recently been the cause of ire of food service entrepreneurs that consequently precipitated a protest among coffee shops owners and restaurateurs requesting the government to relax the smoking ban law.

During the first month after the law was strictly enforced, the once smoke filled coffee shops are not only devoid of smoke but with customers as well. It's an awful scenario to see coffee shops with empty seats throughout the day.To cope up with the sudden drop of sales, coffee shop owners opened the backdoor terrace or provided an open air make shift terrace or pitched small umbrella tables along the street curbs just so as not to lose old coffee shop patrons. The temporary resolution of setting up an open air smoking venue to regular coffee shop habitués is akin to putting on a band-aid to a big economic wound to stop the momentary financial bleeding.

The coffee shops' nightmare has started to be felt during this early summer days when occasional rain showers and cold breeze prevent customers to sit in the terrace.
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Recently, it was reported that a significant number of coffee shops and restaurants have already closed down due to the unexpected plummeting profit sales. Subsequently, the whirlwind effect of unemployment of wait-staff whose salaries could not be sustained by their employers is becoming a serious problem.It is a known fact that smoking causes 95% mortality rate due to lung cancer as verified by Dr. Desmond Carney, Oncologist and Secretary General of the International Association of Lung Cancer in Dublin.

The European Union Commission has made a giant step to create a conscious effort to promote a strong general awareness among EU member states by imposing tighter rules about smoking.Hence, the complete makeover of Europe's image as an erstwhile smoking haven now is heading towards a smoke free zone. Ireland initially banned smoking in 2004 followed by Italy, Sweden, Malta, Estonia, Finland, Germany, France and Hungary (not necessarily in this order.)

Clearly, the effect of the banning of smoking is helping the prevention of the spread of lung cancer among Croatians. However, alongside with that, it is now building up symptoms of economic cancer especially during the rainy months of autumn and cold winter months where people would prefer to stay indoors drinking hot coffee rather than stay in terraces.The idea whether the government would give in to the food service entrepreneurs' lament of relaxing the smoking ban is still hazy at the moment.

It's still too early to say at this point. Who knows? This could be an advent of embracing new coffee drinking habit of taking "coffee to go" clutching coffee mugs to work giving Starbucks,Costa Coffee, Peets Coffee and Tea and Caribou a fair chance to compete in the Croatian coffee market.The owners' petition to establish categories among coffee shops whether smoking or non-smoking has already reached the government. Whether the government considers it seriously or flexes its muscles or plays arm wrestling, the response to their plea is well much anticipated. In the meantime, coffee buffs continue to sip their hot espresso and puffs their cigarettes on warm sunny days in open air terraces and enjoying the feeling while it lasts.