30 April 2007

Chair Advocates New York – “We’re All Just People”

My meeting with Linda and Maria of Chair Advocates took me to another distant corner of the fine borough of Brooklyn (have I mentioned how ENORMOUS New York City is?). I met them at Starbuck’s Coffee just minutes from the one of NYC’s most charming beaches. Both in wheelchairs, the ladies seemed hardly affected by their disability.

Just minutes into our conversation I learned that they felt the same way. “It’s part of you, so you shouldn’t be ashamed of it,” Linda said. “Just be yourself…and be proud.”

Through their Youth Venture – Chair Advocates – Linda and Maria are working to raise awareness about and access to supplies and equipment that ease the lives of those disabled. This includes anything from the more obvious wheelchairs to the lesser known “grabber” devices that allow wheelchair users to more-easily pick up items that may have fallen on the ground.

In less than three months they have already had multiple pieces of equipment donated that they plan to distribute to low-income families. As I learned from Linda and Maria, what usually happens when parents have a disabled child is that they feel a constant need to be at home with them at all times with the idea that they are “protecting” them. More often than not they have to quit their job to dedicate 100% of their time to caring for their disabled child. This leads to economic hardship and they lack the financial resources to supply their child with the necessary tools and equipment that help to ease their lives. Chair Advocates is about supporting those families.

Maria and Linda themselves are incredible young women. They both commute over an hour by public bus to college three and four days a week, respectively. Maria is studying Political Science and has every intention of pursuing advocacy work in local NYC politics. Linda lives alone on the eighth floor of her apartment building. “It makes it really complicated when the elevator doesn’t work,” she said.

Nothing gets these girls down. They’re driven and passionate. “We just want to encourage young disabled people to speak up about their needs and realize that they’re people just like anybody else. At the same time we want to educate people on what it really means to be disabled, because it gets really annoying when people stare at you all the time like you’re from outer space.”

For more information on Chair Advocates please visit their website at www.chairadvocates.org.

Also, in case you were wondering, I asked the question that is always on my mind: Is it rude to offer to push a person in a wheelchair? The answer, according to Linda and Maria, is no. It’s always nice of someone to offer. Just don’t be surprised if the person in the wheelchair says “no thanks.” They’ve usually got it under control. They both wanted me to note, however, that the people who were hired to push them around in high school got really annoying, especially when they wanted to have a private gossip session about friends, boys and teachers. So, all you volunteers out there – hang back every now and again! Give a girl some room to breathe!

26 April 2007

From Paris To Berlin & Every Disco I’ve Been In…Itinerary Finalized!

The exciting news of the day is that my travel itinerary has been finalized! Below is the complete list of countries I’ll be visiting. The day-to-day details are still in the works, but I think this at least offers a preview of what I’m in for. Still in need of some comfy shoes (any suggestions?), more RAM for my computer and the Macbook Pro airplane power cable. OH MY GOSH…I leave in 16 days…


Now to May 10 – USA
(DC & Boston)
May 11 to May 15 – Argentina
(All Over The Place)
May 16 to May 18 – Chile
May 19 to May 21 – Argentina
(All Over The Place)
May 22 to May 27 – Brazil
(Sao Paulo & Surrounding Areas)
May 28 to June 5 – France
(Paris, Nice, Cannes)
June 6 to June16 – Belgium
June 17 to June 21 – Germany
(Frankfurt, Hamburg, Dusseldorf & Cologne)
June 22 to July 8 – South Africa
(Johannesburg, Cape Town, Kruger Park, The Coast)
July 9 to July 18 – India
(Mumbai, New Delhi, Agra)
July 19 to August 1 – Thailand
(Bangkok, Koh Samui, Some Remote Island)
August 2 to September 1 – USA
(LA, Utah)
September 2 to September 8 – Mexico
(Mexico City & Surrounding Area)
September 9 to September 25 – USA
(LA, St. Paul, Boston, NYC, DC & More!)

This whole thing still doesn’t feel real…

25 April 2007

Webisode #1 - World Tour Launched, Prepping For Global Leg!

Here it is! The first of what will soon become a series of personal video blogs offering updates on the tour, insights into what I'm doing and maybe a few laughs. My goal is to never film this weekly update standing still. I want to be moving in some way - either in a car, on a bus, or on my own two feet! The launch went really well yesterday and we're all pumped here in the office. I'll be posting the whole schedule by the end of the week, so get excited! Woohoo!

22 April 2007

World Tour Launching Tuesday From American University!

Our World Tour is officially launching THIS TUESDAY from American University in Washington, DC! I can't believe we're actually here. Last July this was just a crazy idea I had and now it's a reality thanks to the incredible work of Youth Venture. I was actually in an open web forum when the moderator said "Youth Venture is about more than just supporting young people as they lead and launch their own lasting social ventures; it's about building a global movement of like-minded citizens." That really struck a cord with me. I have never thought of what I was doing and what other Youth Venturers were doing as part of something larger. It made me feel, however, that most young people who were creating change probably didn't see themselves as part of something bigger either. What better way to make that realization than to join someone as they uncovered what it was all about on a global level?

I'm leaving on May 7th to travel around the world in an effort to empower people to build a global movement of socially minded citizens. I'm going to tell the stories of incredible youth who are changing their world using their own ideas to solve problems. I'll be capturing their work on video, in photographs and through my blog, all in an effort to inspire others to do the same. This aint' no vacation. It's about changing the frame and making people feel like they can make a difference. Hundreds of thousands of people are already doing it! We're just not fully aware of it! That's my job - to raise awareness. Our world is in a troubling time, and it's up to each and every one of us to create positive change. Not only is it necessary, but it feels good doin' good!

Our official press release follows. Join me in DC if you can. If not, stay tuned here for the entire journey. It's going to be a good time! Also, I'll post the full itinerary soon. Get excited!


Youth Venture’s Five-Continent World Tour Aimed at Social Change to Launch From American University; April 24

Contact: Tia Johnston, Youth Venture, 703-527-8300 x321
Maralee Csellar, AU Media Relations, 202-885-5952

Washington, D.C. (April 24, 2007) – Globetrotter Kyle Taylor is making his way around the world to promote the Youth Venture movement by meeting with and profiling fellow Youth Venturers - civic-minded young changemakers who create, launch, and run their own youth-led, community-benefiting organizations. A prominent community leader in the changemaker movement, Kyle will depart in May on a four-month world tour that will take him to eleven countries on five continents to encourage thousands of young people worldwide to take action.

The launch event will be held at 3:30 p.m., April 24 at American University’s Kay Spiritual Life Center (4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW). Dr. Robert A. Pastor, AU vice president of international affairs, will open the event. Kyle, AU alum and youth spokesperson for Youth Venture, will officially announce the tour’s launch, followed by brief remarks about the movement. Q &A and a brief reception will follow.

“Young people the world over are uniting to battle systemic social problems in a way no generation has before,” Kyle said. “They have experiences to share, and I intend to be their voice.” Kyle will be meeting with Youth Venturers and leaders in each country he visits, documenting his journey on Youth Venture’s new global community action website, www.genv.net, a place for socially minded young people to connect with others to “dream it and do it.” The site will host video, pictures and an action-packed blog. “These young people are having an incredible impact on their community, and it is my hope that by telling their stories I will inspire others to action as well.”

American University – Kyle’s alma mater and an internationally known leader in this field – was an obvious choice to launch the world tour. AU has taken the lead role in Campus Engagement within the Building Bridges Coalition, a project of the Brookings Institution's Initiative on International Volunteering and Service-- a consortium of leading international volunteer organizations, universities & colleges, corporations and government agencies collaborating to double the number of international volunteers serving abroad by 2010. Taylor and Youth Venture will amplify the value of international volunteering and service throughout this tour.

About Youth Venture
By inspiring and investing in teams of young people to start their own social ventures, Youth Venture is work¬ing to build a powerful network of young changemakers around the world. Youth Venture provides coaching, resources and seed funding for young people ages 12-20 to create, launch, and lead sustainable community-benefiting ventures. Youth Venture believes this will catalyze a cultural change, transforming the youth years to a time of initiatve and positive social change, leading to a world of Everyone a Changemaker. [www.genv.net] YV was founded in 1996 by Ashoka. (www.ashoka.org)

20 April 2007

“Trixie & The Oklahomos” Take Over Times Square

What’s New York City without a good night of sober fun in Times Square dressed up as a country rock band from the great state of Oklahoma? It ended up that several friends were in The City for various reasons, allowing for one big night out full of fun, laughter and country singin’. It’s no secret that I’m knuts, as are most of my friends. What drove us to raid Tina’s closet in search of the world’s finest cowboy-inspired “threads” is beyond me, but I was definitely feeling my red hat and aviator glasses.

After a major photo shoot in her apartment we hit the town in search of excitement. Equipped with our finest Oklahoma accents, the looks and stares came before we even got to the end of the block. After a failed attempt at karaoke it was decided that the only place to really truly enjoy our temporarily created selves was to go directly to the epicenter of the universe – Times Square. It started off light and fuzzy – a few Puerto Rican girls asked to take their picture with us. We agreed and struck our “band pose,” as we called it.

Then Tina & Emily decided to chat up a police officer, who couldn’t of been nicer. Another photo shoot ensued.

From there is was off to Hard Rock CafĂ©, where Tina asked the mater dei if “this is where the singing competition is.” She explained that we had won the youth singing extravaganza in Oklahoma and that we were now here to compete in the national competition. This led to some confusion and discussion until Trixie herself asked point blank, “where is the stage? We need to rehearse.” Sadly, Hard Rock wasn’t familiar with said competition. Neither was Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Factory, Planet Hollywood (where Trixie became obsessed with photographing the large Batman toy suspended from the ceiling), The Marriot Marquis or TGI Friday’s, where we ended up stopping for dessert. Our lovely waitress Chental couldn’t of been nicer, teaching us the ins and outs of the scary and intimidating “Big Apple.”

After a good three hours of happiness and merriment we hopped into a cab and headed back home, pledging to seek out the competition venue on Saturday. While the whole evening was a rip-roaring good time, what struck me more than anything was how few people took notice of our ridiculous outfits and terrible accents! Post-China I had this idea in my head that people in the US were just constantly staring at everyone but it seems that – in New York at least – Americans, like the Chinese, could really care less. How refreshing…or is it?

17 April 2007

Simply Divine

New York City is one huge place. So large, in fact, that I could ride a subway car for nearly two hours and still be in the same city! Add freezing rain and 40mph wind gusts and you’ve got a pleasant little morning of meeting and greeting! It was, of course, totally worth it, as I had the chance to meet with Divine Bradley, an up and coming changemaker who is working to raise the image of doing good.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” That’s certainly what Divine is trying to do with Team Revolution. From there brand new store-front location on Flatlands Avenue in Brooklyn, Divine is working to change the way young people approach their future. His focus is on creating after-school programs that offer kids alternatives to other, lesser-productive activities. “That was me when I was young,” he told me. “I was out there getting into trouble, causing problems. So rather than become part of the problem I decided to work against it.”

It all began on the back porch of his Mom’s Brooklyn home, where he and his friends would get together after school and plan community projects. “Soon there were too many of us and we couldn’t fit on the porch.” Divine thought bigger, turning the entire home into a local community center. Things have only gotten better since then. Team Revolution now offers three core programs aimed at empowering young people.

The first is called L.E.A.D. (Leadership Etiquette & Development). It’s a leadership bootcamp, so to speak. Then there’s The BANK, a financial literacy course aimed at giving these young people a basic understanding of how finance works. The final, and most crucial program is The Fellowship Academy-Social Entrepreneur Network. It is this body that works to connect and unify these now inspired changemakers in a way that offers long-term support for their work.

Team Revolution’s footprint is only getting bigger. They recently worked with Tommy Hilfiger on a partnership program that gave kids the opportunity to actually experience the design world first-hand. Doritos is printing a series of bags that talks about Divine’s work in Brooklyn. He just won a “Brick” award from Do Something for all of his hard work. That came with an additional $25,000 of funding, which he says will be used to take Team Revolution to the next level. “We’re growing. We’re changing. We’re evolving,” he said. “It’s a process.” It certainly is, and a much more exciting process than the one of getting back to Manhattan during evening rush while eating a Philly cheese steak from a Brooklyn deli that you had to wait twenty minutes for because of the after-school rush of kids looking for cheese puffs and Mars bars, all while holding an umbrella that spent more time inside out thanks to the wonderful wind. You gotta love New York!

For more information on Team Revolution please visit their website at www.teamrevolution.org.

For more information on Youth Venture please visit our website at www.genv.net.

15 April 2007

My Grandparents Rock

I'm working hard to sort through all the incredible stuff I saw the last five days in New York but in the meantime, I just felt the need to give a quick shout-out to my grandparents, Ron and Joan (The Nana & The Papa). The picture above was sent to me by my Nana using photograph-email synergized software on their brand new Vista-equipped computer. The rest of the email was about setting up our next skype date. I mean, how cool is that to have grandparents so "wired in?" What almost-80-year-olds do you know that are so high-tech? If you do then by all means, share their stories. And they're so youthful as well! Nana has diabetes. Papa survived quadrupal bypass surgery just a few years ago. The picture above was taken about three days ago while they were TEACHING DANCE LESSONS to thirty and forty-somethings on a Mexican cruise ship. It just goes to show that if you stay on your toes and continue to grow and challenge yourself, age is of the essence. Keep rockin' Nana and Papa! (And check out my grandpa's tie. I mean, that is hot!)

12 April 2007

Dana, Dina and Veena Oh My! Saving The World From NYC

I arrived in New York City this morning after a rousing five hours on the “Chinatown” bus, which is owned and operated by a small – no medium-size – coalition of some of America’s most efficient and straightforward Chinese immigrants. At some level it felt oddly comfortable, what with the Mandarin being spoken, everyone yelling at each other and three or four people screaming into their cell phones throughout the entire ride, including the bus driver. The woman next to me kept gasping while whispering under her breath, “Oh my, that is so rude!” After a good two hours of this futile huffing I leaned over and said to her, “there’s no use. It’s cultural. Just deal. It’s the Chinatown bus.” She giggled, apparently under the impression that I was joking. I decided to let it go.

After a wonderful early afternoon catching up with friends and eating a delicious corned beef sandwich from Lenny’s (how Manhattan is that?), I boarded the subway on the Upper East Side for my first official event on the Dream It. Do It. World Tour (remember, America is part of the world too, so NYC counts). The venue – an old warehouse building set literally underneath the Brooklyn Bridge – was almost too NYC-shabby-chic-adorable-charming-perfect, if that makes any sense. Within minutes of arriving my face was buried in the donated Trader Joe’s cheese and crackers, chocolate chip muffins and donuts (I later complemented this meal with a jumbo slice of tomato and green things pizza and now my stomach is pissed).

Slowly but surely people started arriving. I put the enormous bowl of Oreo’s back on the table and started to mix and mingle, immediately blown away by the incredible young people present.

First it was Amanda and Krystal of Team HOPE. Both students at NYU, they started an organization that seeks out in-kind donations of, and raises money to, buy school supplies for the children of women living in the Urban Women’s Retreat in Brooklyn, a refuge for victims of domestic violence. “Of course we do the tutoring thing too, but how much can we teach them if they don’t have pens, paper and pencils? This is all about giving them a full opportunity to learn.”

From there I met Nadia, famous in these parts because her venture is now over twelve years old. “I started when I was twelve,” she told me. “I’m not planning to stay with it forever though. I just want to get it self-sustainable at a national level then I’ll move on to another project. I’ve got lots of hopes and dreams.” Apparently, yes. I introduced Nadia to Amanda and Colleen, who had come all the way down from Schenectady (you can bet I had to google that so I could spell it correctly) for the event and had been working on a project similar to Nadia’s; attempting to bridge the generational gap between young and old people in America. They spent quite a while sharing ideas, which is exactly what this event was all about. More than fifty young changemakers coming together, telling war stories and feeling like they’re a part of something bigger than just themselves; rather, they’re leading a global movement of young people who are changing the world.

This led me to what I can only refer to as my most enjoyable encounter of the evening. Meet Dana, Dina and Veena. No, seriously, those are their names. Granted, they weren’t all working on the same project (Dana and Dina are working to support social activist groups in their effort to create change while Veena is building a high-school curriculum model to educate young people on the benefits of fair trade, not free trade, duh!) but their outfits complemented each other, they all went to school together and by the end of the night they were finishing each other’s sentences. Naturally I found the whole sing-song name thing absolutely adorable.

The rest of the evening when incredibly well. We gave away some awards, I spoke about social change and nearly fainted from heat exhaustion and everyone left with some donut, muffin and cheese leftovers. Really, who can complain?
Off to some site visits tomorrow, so more talk of awesome people soon.

10 April 2007

I'll Have A Extra Extra Small Soda, Please...

My re-Americanization has become a particularly slow and rather tedious process that includes multiple jaw-dropping experiences which I feel will continue to boggle my mind until I leave the US again on May 11th. Last Friday I had one such encounter.

Some friends invited me to see “Blades of Glory” (which was hilarious, by the way). We met at the theater and within minutes my jaw was dragging on the floor. It was $11 to get in! That’s equivalent to 88 kuai, which would have bought me ELEVEN DVDS or TWENTY-TWO BOWLS OF LA MIEN!

Then it was off to the snack stand, where the three girls each bought a small soda at a cost of FOUR DOLLARS EACH. Again, that’s 32 kuai, or SIXTEEN SODAS in China.

Even all of this shock nothing could adequately prepare me for the moment the snack stand employee placed the beverage on the counter. It was absolutely enormous. In all honesty, it may have been the widest cup I have ever seen. Ever. The contents were easily the equivalent of a “Super Size,” “Macho,” “King Size” or “Go Big” beverage you’d get a socially reprehensible fast food joint.

Now seriously, who needs that much soda, not just for a small, but in general? In life does any human being need that much coke in one sitting? Even the girls were blown away by the size. Of course the reason is that the actual soda itself costs almost nothing to produce. Most of the expense is in the cup. So I’m sure the movie theater just figured they would make the actual drink bigger at little to no cost to them and simultaneously charge an outrageous price for said beverage, making people feel better about the low-interest loan they just took out to go to the movies.

This brings me to the larger question: Why is it alright for movie theaters, ball parks, airports and theme parks to charge five times more for the same item than any other venue on the planet? And why are we ok with that? Why do we continue to buy these items? They’re not any better. In fact, they’re usually worse. A small popcorn now costs $5. Read – that is POPPED CORN with DRIZZLED ARTIFICIAL BUTTER. For that price shouldn’t we at least get real butter…served in a gold-plated bowl?

09 April 2007

It’s April…No January…No October…No March…

I emerged from a venue on Friday evening to find this scene outside:

Mind you, it’s almost MID-APRIL. I mean, seriously? Last week it hit 70 degrees on Monday, then it snowed on Friday? To all those global warming naysayers I say, pay attention! This isn’t normal. Furthermore, I hope those same “skeptics” (which is hilarious because it is all but universally accepted in the scientific community that the earth is getting hotter and that human additions to carbon emissions are accelerating its rate) remember that ridiculously cold temperatures at odd times are also indicators of said phenomenon.

In the meantime, I’m just going to bundle up, throw my head back, and let the flakes land on my tongue. I grew up in California, so I still find this activity to be fun and exciting!

05 April 2007

Everything’s Better In…

So I’ve been back in the good old US of A for only a short time and there are several aspects of our society that I’m still not quite relating too.

1. Why is everyone so big? I mean, people are just enormous. I realize that I’m also large at 6 foot 1, but it’s also the huskiness of my fellow Americans.
2. Where is everyone? There are like, no people here, and that includes Southern California. After being packed like a sardine with 25 million other people in an area slightly larger than Manhattan, Los Angeles feels like a small town in Kansas.
3. I can breath! The air is so clear, even in supposedly disastrous LA! My lungs are in shock.
4. Everything is so clean! Roads, cars, bathrooms, people…it’s like someone took a big bucket of soap and water then gently cleansed most of the North American continent, even managing to reach airport restrooms. Note to westerners: be thankful for what we have (including toilet paper in public stalls).
5. Everything is so pretty! From the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean to the cement sidewalks, every bit of my surroundings is just so nice to loot at!
6. I arrived via Los Angeles so WOW, the weather is amazing in America! 75 degrees, no clouds, birds chirping (they killed all the birds in China), no humidity…Paradise!
7. We eat so many carbohydrates! Oh my gosh, I think I’ve eaten some sort of bread or potato product with every meal since I arrived home. What’s with that? They just leave you feeling bloated and unfulfilled…What I wouldn’t do for a dumpling right about now.
8. We eat so much cheese! Now this one really boggles my mind. We eat cheese omelets and toast for breakfast, a sandwich, salad or burrito with CHEESE for lunch, then a CHEESEburger with fries for dinner. Note that each of the above is also heavy in carbohydrates.
9. What’s a vegetable? I can’t remember what they look like. I haven’t seen one since I got back. Do we eat them…ever?
10. Where are the big buildings? Even in DC I’m not feelin’ it. I’ll be in NYC next week, so we’ll see how I feel then.
11. People are so nice everywhere! A woman held the elevator for me today. It brought tears to my eyes. The woman at In N’ Out asked me how I was doing. I didn’t no how to reply, blankly uttering a short “good?”
12. We watch A LOT of TV, and it’s central to some of our lives. In fact, certain immediate family members who shall remain nameless couldn’t go to dinner with me because “Heroes” was on and they “Always watch Heroes.” I watched talking heads spout propaganda for eight months. Let’s go outside!
13. The number 13 is unlucky. That means I get to replace 4. Thankfully, my cell phone number has no 13s in it. Oh, and do we really not have a 13th floor anywhere? Come on! Suck it up!

And last but not least…

14. Everyone can understand me when I talk! I was sitting in In N’ Out (I go there quite often when I’m in CA) eating a burger watching people wander in and out when a girl walked in wearing an awful short skirt with enormous tacky heels. Without realizing it I opened my mouth and said, at full volume, “look what that girl is wearing. I mean, honestly!” She, along with everyone else in the restaurant turned and stared right at me. I pointed to my friend across the table. I think I brought that skill back with me too.

03 April 2007

You’ve Been Randomly Selected For Incredibly Intrusive & Overwhelmingly Ridiculous Additional Screening

Twelve hours pass and it’s like I’ve landed in a completely different universe upon arriving at San Francisco Airport. I had fallen asleep in Shanghai only to wake up two hours later and find that we were still at the gate. Apparently one of the lavatories was acting as a vacuum into the outside world. Not good. Needless to say, that meant everything else was late, except for the flight attendant’s attitude. No, that was right on time. “Excuse me can I…” Odd woman wearing excessive eye make-up continues on past me. Cue safety video circa 1973 reminding us to stow our platform shoes. Awesome. This video was, of course, broadcast on the microscopic televisions suspended over the aisles. This TV would later play host to Casino Royale as we munched on our “meat” dish.

Now here I am, back in the good ol’ US of A looking forward to the more “civilized” life I left so many months before. Wrong. First it was the baggage claim, where people fought like cats and dogs to snatch their bags off a revolving platform that was indeed REVOLVING. That meant the bags were coming back around again and again and again. Then it was the customs line, where a man cut in front of me and the officer didn’t “welcome me home.” When did we lose that touch? It always felt so nice to return to the US and hear a guy say “welcome home Mr. Taylor.” Apparently it was a security issue?

This was followed by the third, and most disastrous turn of events. I had missed my original connecting flight because my first flight was two hours late, despite the fact that my connecting flight was actually on the same aircraft that I had taken from Shaghai, that ancient Boeing disaster (special thanks to Not Divided Airlines). Isn’t it odd how I was on the plane then had to get off of it, only to be unable to get back on it in time? This is, of course, a security consideration. After all, that’s how the bad people get you! They feign normalcy on their first flight then kick it into high gear on the connection.

This put me in the slow lane at the “Rebooking Center,” also known as the reason you missed the next three connecting flights. Luckily Lucy was able to squeeze me into a flight scheduled to depart in 20 minutes. I dumped my baggage, tightened my backpack, gave my rolly suitcase wheels a spin and I was off to catch this plane! I must have run for ten minutes solid before reaching the re-securing security line (that’s literally what it was called). I approached the tight-panted, quite fine TSA employ (who would now check my ticket and ID for the eleventh time) completely out of breath. “Why were you running,” she asked. “Because I have ten minutes to catch this connecting flight and I already missed the first one,” I told her, smiling at the fact that I was going to catch the plane. “Well that’s just great,” she said, proceeding to then dash the ticket with her hot pink highlighter. “You’ve been randomly selected for additional screening.” Game over.

I spent the next forty minutes being picked, prodded and questioned by who can only be described as a TSA intern, who rubbed his little bomb residue reader cloth over every single item in each of my two carry-on bags. That includes my poster tube, green tea and chopsticks, because clearly those three items are central to my greater plan of taking over the world via an aircraft. While I sat there a black woman wearing a “Hong Kong rocks” T-shirt was also pulled aside. She was using a walker and wheeling an oxygen tank behind her. Terrorist? I think yes! I’m pretty sure the blind man was her partner in crime (no, seriously. They randomly screened a blind man). Per usual the TSA intern was trying to strike up a conversation. “So, where ya comin’ from and where ya goin’?” I tell him I’ve been in China. “Wow, musta been tough since they speak that weird picture language.” Yes. Yes. That was tough.

I ended up missing the next two flights and was eventually placed in the exit row of a prop plane full of about 50 people or so, including the blind man and the black woman. It’s just so odd to have left a developing country where people work so hard to create a better life, only to find people in my home being treated like criminals for the sake of “safety.” How many rights and freedoms do we have to give up before people realize that we’re actually losing our way of life to protect it. In the end, will there be anything left to save? Meanwhile, I’m just wondering what they did with that guy’s seeing eye dog…