19 November 2010

Is it really over?

It has been just 24 hours since the group dispersed. I'm sitting in a cafe eating delicious food, sipping a delicious iced coffee, and reading a delicious book. These are all things I was looking forward to the past few weeks but now that they have arrived, all I can think about is that night in Laos when we all slept on the hard floor with no blankets or pillows. Or that day when all 18 of us finished a massive 80km cycle in Cambodia. Or when Simon and Dani "sorted out" that chicken. Or Madonna yelling "Woohoo!" The list goes on and on.

No doubt every group - over time - becomes extremely close and extremely connected. The only difference this time is that it was my group; the one I was a part of.

We finished the adventure with a cyclo race through the streets of Hanoi and there are already about 11 reunions planned over the next few months. I can honestly say I have made some life-long friends. It's just a shame the trip had to end...

I guess it means we will need to get prepped for our next Inspired Adventure!!!

- Posted from my KyPhone

17 November 2010

I'm doing it for...

I'm doing it for...

Without question, this Race for a Cure has been life-changing for the entire group. We have cycled close to 200 kilometers, trekked nearly 100 kilometers, slept on two overnight trains, gotten up at 4am, sweated together, laughed together, and yes, even cried together. Every day has built on and grown from the day before.

Right from the start we dedicated different days to different aspects of our adventure. Our 80km cycling day was "doing it for Cure Cancer." The survival course and long hike in Thailand were "doing it for the team." Yesterday's intro trek through Sapa was "doing it for me" and our 20k, 6 hour trek today was "doing it for ______. I handed out a slip of paper in the morning and asked everyone to fill in the blank with whoever or whatever got them here, with the intention of really encouraging people to think about what this is all about.

We finished our trek at a small village deep in the never-ending terraced rice fields far away from anything even remotely familiar. After settling in for another night in this rustic but spectacular environment, we came together as a group and I asked everyone who felt comfortable to share who or what they were trekking for.

I started and fought back tears telling everyone about Laura, a close family friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer only recently. She had been on my mind this entire trip but today - sprained ankle, arthritic knees, cough, cold, and all - I was taking every step for her. I won't share everyones stories as they were really for us, but I will mention Ian, who asked me to include his photo and share that he was thinking about and dedicating his day to his brother. Emotions ran high and by the end, there wasn't a dry eye in the room.

I felt incredibly privileged to share in peoples stories and motivations and as Saxon pointed out, we have really become like a family. I guess that's the power of these Inspired Adventures - a life-changing experience that you are able to share with people as passionate and inspired as you while truly changing the world by supporting an amazing charity like Cure Cancer Australia.

Tomorrow we are doing it for the researcher who may very well find a cure to this awful disease. As a group we have raised $104,517! That's enough to fund a young, innovative person who very well may unlock the key to a cure; something everyone in our group deserves to be proud of.

As I always seem to say, GO TEAM!!!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

15 November 2010

Overnight trains and trekking pains

Overnight trains and trekking pains

After a much-needed half day off, we boarded our second Laos airlines flight to Hanoi. It was a bit of a mad dash once we arrived, as our flight was delayed ad we had to eat dinner downtown before heading to the train station.

I attempted to speed up the process by having everyone pay into a central pot so we could avoid individual bills. Naturally, they printed out individual bills, which meant this attempt actually further delayed our departure. Oh, and the power went out mid meal, which definitely added ambiance.

We reached the train station just in the knick of time, carrying our bags a good kilometer across train tracks, intersections, and little bridges. True to form, the train was brilliant. Air conditioning, duvets, and fluffy pillows meant I was asleep before we rolled away. The group - most of whom had never been on an overnight train before - were wildly surprised at the little luxuries (minus the underwater bathroom which smelled lovely). Regardless, not a single complaint.

We arrived in Sapa And transferred to the hotel. Since our rooms weren't ready, the whole group turned the lobby bathroom into our private changing facilities. Hans even brushed his teeth with orange juice!

It was straight out the door on a 3-hour trek through the terraced rice fields with lunch by a very flowing waterfall. Unfortunately, I somehow managed to really mess up my ankle. I skipped the morning hike and instead trawled the streets on the back of a motorbike in search of a doctor.

I found one, and a solid hour later of being poked, prodded, and flipped around, my ankle was feeling a bit better and I had made a lovely new friend who knew every octave I could wail while writhing in pain!

Off to karaoke now. It's an early night though. We have a very long ad very hard trek ahead of us tomorrow!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

13 November 2010



It's 3:32am right now. I'm sitting on a wooden bench inside a one-room hut on the top of a mountain in The Mong village of Poutao. All 17 of my now closest friends are asleep just meters from where I am perched - boys on one side and girls on the other.

We are in a village "guesthouse" and no doubt having a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I just used my head torch to slowly make my way to the toilet and back. Last night around 9 o'clock I slid myself in-between Ian And Peter using a rolled up sweater as a pillow with just a plastic sheet separating me from the raised wooden sleeping board.

I managed to sleep for 6 hours before the cold of the night (and the symphony of snoring) woke me. The rest of the group is still somehow out like a light, which is refreshing for this tour leader. I must say that the entire group really came together this evening. Not a single person stirred as our guide Tong outlined the sleeping arrangements: limited pillows and blankets, limited space, and limited room for discussion. After 30km of cycling and a solid 10km trek almost entirely uphill, they had earned a good night of sleep and have done brilliantly considering our circumstances.

The theme of our day was doing it for the team and I can easily say that's exactly what everyone did. The first people are beginning to stir. Time to get prepped for our 6-hour trek back down the mountain!

-- Posted from my KyPhone



That means hello in Laotian.

For me, arriving in Laos feels like Christmas morning when you are 8 years old. It's nothing but pure and utter bliss.

Everything about Laos is adorable. We arrived on our tiny plane to the tiny airport ere the tiny people at border control issued our tiny visas before we got into tiny vans to be taken to our tiny hotel, which was followed by a tiny dinner, tiny coffee, and email check using the tiny internet connection.

I had arranged for everyone to have their laundry washed - 50 kilos in a matter of 8 hours, all to be run through just one tiny washer and dryer. After a tiny sleep I shuffled across the road at 6am to pick up the entire lot's luggage to find roughly 30 of the 50 kilos unsorted, an army of socks waiting patiently to be matched. "oh sorry, we don't know whose is whose." the remainder of the morning was spent sorting this snafu (by literally sorting everyone's socks and underwear - a great team-building activity) before setting off to pick up our bikes.

The morning cycle was a solid 30km of seriously undulating terrain complete with washed out paths, red clay, and the occasional passing vehicle. The fact that we got through it with seemingly so much ease is a testament to the group's energy and ability. Special shout out to Connie, who went head first over the handle bars and completed what was hands down the best stack of the trip.

Our path ended at a small village, where we had lunch and changed before starting our ascent. I'm not going to lie - the path was steep and the sun was hot. It felt like we were literally walking directly up the side of the mountain (perhaps because we were). Fortunately there were no major tumbles, but there was one person who officially earned their "rock star" status. At 71 years old, Hans has quickly become the most beloved man in Asia. He has completed every single challenge and done it with a smile on his face. His motto: "I'll get there - just slowly slowly."

As he and I caught up with the group at the base of the village, everyone erupted in cheers. Go Hans! Go Hans! Go Hans! Now for dinner and stories around the fire with the newest addition to the team - about 50 kids who just love watching out every move. Cynthia has already made plans to bring about 10 of them home with her...

-- Posted from my KyPhone

11 November 2010

Over the handle bars

Over the handle bars

We awoke ready for the next leg of our cycling adventure to keep our "Race for a Cure" energy sky high. Our proposed itinerary:

"16 km on fairly flat, mostly paved roads through charming villages and countryside."

Our actual journey:

20 km on extremely hilly, mostly unpaved roads through the jungle and 6-foot tall uncleared grass.

Needless to say, it was an adventure! After carrying our cycles on our backs across a small stream and into a clearing, Simon somehow managed to dislodge his bike chain and get it jammed in the spokes of his back wheel, which meant three of us got to play mechanic and troubleshoot by banging wrenches and pulling on things.

It was quite fortunate that we got stuck because it meant we had front row seats for both Ian and Greg's over the handle bars face plant after their front wheels got lodged in a pot hole. I only joke because both of them were completely fine, which makes it alright to discuss the fantastic imagery of two 6-foot 2 men flying through the air like human cannonballs set against the backdrop of Thai rice paddies.

We finished with yet another divine meal at a gorgeous lodge also set against rice paddies that stretched for miles. What was really great about today is that everyone went with the flow. It's Asia, it's the jungle, and it's fluid. Part of the adventure is leaving your schedules, diaries, outlook notifications, and routines at home; genuinely letting go of control and doing something outside your comfort zone in support of charity. The sooner you embrace the excitement, the more you will get out of the entire experience.

As for us, we are about to board a near private Laos airlines flight to Luang Prabang, where will be start the third leg of the first ever Race for a Cure. As I say quite often, GO TEAM!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

I'm a survivor

I'm a survivor

Our arrival in Chiangmai Mai, Thailand took everyone by surprise. It had only been 3 days and we were already in country number two! New currency, new language, and new challenges!

We were whisked away to Pang Soon Lodge, which is nestled deep in the rainforest an hour north of the city and just 40 kilometers from the Burma border and wasted no time, diving right into our survival challenge.

The group was divided into two teams of 8. After a brief overview the bell was rung, giving each team 90 minutes to build a shelter, start a fire, make dining utensils, and prepare dinner. In our leader briefing it was explained that each team would also need to catch, kill, prepare, and cook a chicken. For some reason I thought he was kidding. False. We approached to find two penned chickens waiting to be turned into supper.

As one might imagine, this task - a real challenge for an all non-veg group to confront what they eat - proved to be rather overwhelming.

While one team zoomed right in while the other - facing major internal debate - decided to go vegetarian, placing their bird in a cage that it would later escape from and flee into the woods.

With 30 minutes remaining, the tension mounted. It was a perfect example of what happens when you get 16 high-functioning individuals together in a small space: 16 chiefs and no Indians. That almost became a metaphorical lesson in and of itself. That is, what happens when I can't be in absolute control - something people diagnosed with cancer must consider each and every day.

With just five minutes left both teams had fully united around a common cause: WINNING. After having our local guides grade all elements on a scale of 1 to 10, the teams miraculously TIED (which meant I had to come up with twice as many prizes!)

This camp survival challenge was coupled with an emergency procedures challenge this morning. Each team had to build a stretcher and then race their injured group member 200 meters down a jagged winding path. It was fast paced and exciting to say the least! We finished the day with a 10km trek through some extremely varied terrain, arriving at a zipline center called the Flight of the Gibbons where we proceeded to race along the canopy from platform to platform by zipline, suspension bridge and absaling. It was death defying and absolutely incredible! Very special shout out to Madonna and Jen, who faced their very real fear of heights and powered through every portion. You go ladies!

In terms of our leader board, Ian and Peter are in 1st, with both Renee and Madonna and Greg and Fiona rounding out the top three.

More to come!!!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Taphul Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

08 November 2010

Pass on the bracelet

Every evening we reward our bard work with an absolutely brilliant dinner. It is at dinner that we recount the day, with Saxon - the other social leader - and I handing out several honourable mentions for exceptional performance. They are given in 8 categories:

Speed, teamwork, courage, energy, strength, kindness, style, and grace

Afterward, one of us usually tells the story of the day that no doubt involves some fairly hilarious moments.

Then, to end the day on a genuine high note, two team members "pass on the bracelet." It is important in any group to empower everyone to notice and recognize hard work. The Inspired Bracelets do just that by asking each day's recipients to nominate the awarded for the following day.

This is a phenomenal group of people. We already feel like a posse and it's only day three...

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Taphul Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia


"I'm not stopping now." Fiona announced. We had a 6am start to beat the heat but a few snafus - bus connections, tickets, and folks getting lost - meant our cycling didn't get going until just after 9. The group was a bit disjointed and we decided a solid cheer - Go Team! - was just what we needed to change course and get back on track.

Somehow during our 20k warm up before the 10k sprint race we lost 2 participants. They had missed a turn and the safety crew at the back veered off with them. 10k later they realized they were on the wrong road, loaded up and rejoined us at the rest point.

After Sam and Madonna claimed the titles of queen and king of the bikes it was off the beaten path to continue our journey. This was post lunch and the heat was pounding down on us. The burn-off smoke left everything under a slight haze.

By now the team had split into a few different groups. I was hanging back with Fiona, Frank, and Jennifer. We stopped for water. I looked over at Jennifer and tears were streaming down her face. "I don't know if I can go on." A discussion pursued as to whether or not we should take a break. We were about 10 seconds away from hopping on the bus and emotions were running high.

"You know what I think," Fiona - a cancer survivor began. "I think this is nothing compared to chemotherapy. I reckon' we can do this," she exclaimed. "if Fiona is in I'm in, Jen said, now holding back a second round of tears. "Well then me too," added Frank. With that they saddled up and rode off.

75 kilometers later all three of them reached the end of the day's cycling, proud smiles in tow.

They did it for themselves. They did it for the team. They did it for Cure Cancer. Now that is one Inspired Adventure.

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Taphul Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

07 November 2010

A little bit of everything

5am felt pretty early for our group, as bed didn't happen until at least 11pm last night. But there was no whimpering and everyone was on time! The team mantra is: don't drink tap water and don't be late!

Today was just the right amount of everything. Can you imagine a better way to start than sunrise over Angkor Wat? Then it was the first challenge! Teams ripped open envelopes to find their first temple photo challenge and darted off to get started! Ian an Peter slammed the competition, winning by over 10 minutes!

A good 20km cycling later we were at our second temple and second photo challenge. This time it wasn't so easy for Ian and Peter, as Greg and Fiona managed to fin the relief at the same time! Unfortunately for Peter, Gregs long legs found him leaping past the finish line just 5 seconds ahead of Peter to claim first place!

From there it was onward to our boat connection for an afternoon tour of the floating villages and mangroves before lunch with Sasa and her family!

As these adventures are ALWAYS an adventure, our boat ground to a hault on the way back due to shrinking river levels, which meant we had to wade to shore and hitch a ride in the back of a truck. Woohoo!

80km cycling tomorrow! Finally, special shout out to Jennifer, who faced her fear and did brilliantly on the bike today. You rock!!!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Taphul Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

06 November 2010

Good Morning From Angkor!

Not a bad site to wake up to, is it?

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Taphul Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

The Gang Is All Here!

We started this morning just the two of us Saxon and Kyle. By 9pm we were 20! For the first time since everyone signed up to a part of this big adventure, all 16 team members plus two social leaders and two local guides have assembled for the adventure of a lifetime. We went to a beautiful dinner at Siem Reaps premier French/Khmer fusion restaurant, where we did a round robin intro and I introduced the BIG RACE!!! Needless to say, people were pumped!

Saxon and I gave away the first "person of the day" awards to Madonna and Renee for braving an extra day of travel to be here. Tomorrow they will have the honor of passing those on to who they decide is the person of the day! Frank already stole the team idol, so we will see who nabs it from him in the morning!

All in all, we are off to a great start and it's all for Cure Cancer! 5am meet-up for Angkor Wat at sunrise. Better get to bed!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Taphul Rd,Siem Reap,Cambodia

Just go with the SE Asia Flow!

It has been just 18 hours but we have breakfasted in Australia, lunched in the air, and dinnered in Saigon! True to form, we have already had a few go with the flow moments. Our connecting flights were mixed up, our hotel "couldn't find our booking," and there were no maps to be found anywhere, leaving us caught in a torrential downpour while hunting for an a and a sim card. Once again, my use of charades is going phenomenally well! But hey, if it was easy it wouldn't be an Inspired Adventure! Off tomorrow to Siem Reap to meet the rest of the group!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Lê Thánh Tôn,Ho Chi Minh City,Vietnam

04 November 2010


We are at the airport waiting to check our bags and the four of us assembled so far have that brilliant pre-departure dash of explosive excitement that inevitably comes with travel. What are we going to see? What are we going to eat? What will the weather be like? What what what!!! There is no feeling quite like it, and it's no wonder I'm a bit addicted to travel.

The added bonus this time is that it's all for good. This group has raised more than $100,000 for Cure Cancer Australia. I imagine this may be a very emotional few weeks. I'll be dedicating my trip to a close family friend - Laura - who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery a few days ago. Laura, I'll be thinking of you lots!!!


-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Departure Plaza,Sydney International Airport,Australia

03 November 2010

Testing posting from my phone

Just testing to see if I can blog from my phone while I am away. How cool would that be? Departing in 24 hours!!!

-- Posted from my KyPhone

Location:Goulburn St,Sydney,Australia

28 October 2010

One Week To My Next Adventure!

I've officially been at Inspired Adventures 2 months today and I am now just 7 days away from leading my first journey with them! I'll be taking 16 incredible individuals who have collectively raised just over $100,000 for Cure Cancer! They've raffled iphones, they've sold chocolate bars, they've hosted quiz bowls, and they've auctioned off some amazing experiences all to raise as much money as possible for Cure Cancer. I'm totally inspired and so pumped!

We'll be cycling close to 150 miles as well as climbing to the top of Southeast Asia's highest mountain as we bike, walk, run, float, and zip line our way through Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam over the course of 15 days. This is my first trip back to Asia in over a year, so I'm pretty pumped. Can you tell? I feel like I look in this photo!

Pre-departure, things are INSANE trying to get everything caught up so I can be as present as possible while I'm away. I'll be blogging on our Inspired Adventures blog as well as re-posting here, which means you're in store for heaps of great stories about these amazing 16 people and our big adventure.

If you want to read more about what we're doing, visit the Race for a Cure website now! If you want to find your very own adventure, just go to the Inspired Adventures website. More soon!


Kyle Taylor

21 October 2010

World Bank Forum Video Up!

Okay, so that interview I did for the World Bank Forum is up! Naturally, they managed to cut my 15-minute session down to 12 seconds and bury it into "clip 9" at "minute 6:20."

But hey, still cool! You can watch it on the World Bank Open Forum website. Indeed, it is clip 9 and I come on at 6 minutes 20 seconds. Hahaha. What's equally great is that the commentators don't refer to any of our statements afterward. It's as if they didn't actually watch, digest, or absorb anything we said, which is fairly representative of the broader dialogue. Lots and lots of talking AT young people rather than talking TO young people. Enoy!


Kyle Taylor

18 October 2010

I Have Amazing Friends: Be An Equality Ally

While the last few months have been a roller coaster for the GLBTA community headed in mostly a downward spiral, the entire onslaught of hate has really galvanized the same community to push harder for change. I can even feel it 6,000 miles away! One of my amazing friends - Jaclyn Pulice - is one of those community members. She has started an AWESOME blog where straight allies can submit their stories - both written and in video form - to show the World that not everyone believes in two-tiered citizenship. The site has exploded in popularity the past few days, and I encourage all those straight allies out there to submit their show of support as well.

If you consider yourself an ally, please submit your post (video or written) to weareallies@gmail.com or click "Declare Yourself An Ally" right here. You will be notified when your post is up on our site. Make sure to let them know if they can publish your name, age, and geographic location; just include that information if you want it to be published.

Real change - real equality - is going to take each and every one of us, so submit your story now!

P.S. Thank you Jaci P, you are a rock star.


Kyle Taylor

16 October 2010

Powerful Stuff: Joel Burns tells gay teens "it gets better"

In what seems to be the issue now dominating the news and my own personal life there comes another brave man who has told his story to speak to the fears of both LGBT teens and an entire nation. Watch all 12 minutes. It's incredibly moving.

11 October 2010

Enough Is Enough: Homophobia Needs To Go

Here we are again. Another day and another gay teen who has taken his own life because of hatred, fear, and homophobia. 19-year-old Ohio resident Zach Harrington committed suicide on October 10th after attending a City Coucil meeting where members of both the council and the public spent a majority of the meeting shouting anti-gay epitaphs for numerous "reasons." What did Zach do to deserve that hatred accept be himself? He was bullied and victimized most of his childhood for being gay and he took everything to heart, hearing every criticism of LGBT people as a personal attack on his character and his identity. It was.

Now, as a result of that hatred, he is dead. His sister has lost her brother. His father has lost his son. His mother has lost her baby boy. This has become a national epidemic and it's time we as a community - gay, bisexual, and straight - say enough is enough. Some say this has been happening for years and it is only just now getting "real attention," which means it's nothing new and therefore not a real event. To me, that just makes the whole situation worse. You're saying this has been going on for years at the same intensity and we're only now just paying attention to it? Where were we as community members? Where were we as fellow Americans? Where were we as human beings?

Regardless of how you feel about homosexuality, every person deserves to be protected from systematic hatred. Did you know that the GLBT community does not have legal protection under the law from hate crimes? It's not just marriage; it's employment, it's housing, and it's crimes driven by hatred based on nothing more than a person's sexual orientation. Now, this hate is killing our young people and it seems to be turning into a daily occurrence. Enough is enough.

I haven't lived in the USA full-time for several years now, and I've had the incredible opportunity to see my own nation and my own identity from the outside. There isn't a day that goes by when I'm not proud of my heritage in some way. In the last few years, however, I've felt almost lucky that I don't have to endure the day-to-day struggles of the GLBT community. Lately, I've been wondering why, in a nation built by a group of people who came over on a boat because they were being oppressed, in a nation that seems to repeat this cycle of oppression and equalization with women, African Americans, and a number other groups, in a nation that spends vast resources bringing freedom, democracy, and "our way of life" to the world, we continue to remain silent when the most vulnerable among us need us most. Enough is enough.

Imagine Zach was your brother, your son, or your grandson. Imagine you've spent your whole life watching him grow up, discover himself, and become an adult. Now imagine that your fellow citizens - neighbors, friends, and even sometimes relatives - are bullying him. Imagine they're shouting messages of hate and telling your flesh and blood that they're not okay and that they don't deserve the same rights you have. Now imagine that this hatred, anger, and unbearable pressure drive him to take his own life. What would you do?

There is a Zach in each and every one of our lives and it's now our responsibility to make sure he grows up to enjoy the same opportunities, beauties, and wonders this incredible world has to offer. We must take a stand before another Zach out there believes that their life isn't worth living. Make no mistake, this is urgent. Do something now:

1. Call your congressperson and tell him or her to support equal rights for EVERY American.
2. Support the Trevor Project and give resources to troubled gay teens.
3. Find a local advocacy campaign and ACT.

These last few weeks have made me think a lot about my closest friends and my own life. So many of us have struggled to be who we are for fear of "what might happen." I could have been Zach. Many of my friends could have been Zach. Today, for the first time in a long time, I do wish I was home. So that I could march. I could campaign. I could show other LGBT teens that they're not alone and America doesn't hate them.

The time for action is now.

Enough is enough.


Kyle Taylor

03 October 2010

Some Sort Of Holiday Weekend

Yeah! Three-day weekend! Why? I honestly have no idea. Apparently it's some sort of holiday here in Oz. A quick google search returned the result: "Today Is Labour Day." I couldn't find a single Australian who could tell me what we were specifically honoring as a nation, much less WHY we were honoring it.

I find this to be a very real trend all over the World. In the western world these random "off" days are schedule far in advance and we all look forward to them. Memorial Day BBQ in the USA and Labour Day back to school. Boxing Day and another two hundred public or bank holidays in the UK means you almost don't work more than you do work (Also, boxing day has NOTHING to do with the sport of boxing). We're "honoring" things but all we're really honoring is a chance to not go into the office. Why even name the holidays anymore? Do most people even take notice?

In the non-western world (my goodness, when you right it that way it sounds really judgmental) holidays just seem to pop up last minute, but everyone knows EXACTLY WHY they're celebrating. Every October and February they would call a week-long holiday in China 3 or 4 days before the week-long holiday would begin. Chaos would ensue, but they all knew they were honoring New Year on one week and communism on the other. In Thailand, following the death of a member of the Royal Family, the government called for 100 days of mourning where everyone - EVERYONE - had to wear all black all the time BY LAW. By day 72 it was hard to remember why everyone was still doing what they were doing.

So alas, here I am in a new land with new holidays and because they're fresh for me, I'm taking the time to figure out exactly what they're for and spreading the news like wildfire. It's amazing how we suddenly care/invest/engage with people, places, and ideas when they're either not our own or very new to us. Makes me want to sort out our American holidays too! At least it's a day off...

Pic from here: http://www.freewebs.com/fergieboy10/HappyCow[1].jpg

Kyle Taylor

01 October 2010

TGIF! Friday is FUNday

Monday is exciting because you just don't know what the week may bring. Tuesday is intriguing because you're becoming more aware of where the week is headed. Wednesday is happy because it's hump day. Thursday is exhausting because of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Friday is joyous because it's the weekend!

Having been studying then traveling then job hunting for the majority of the last two years, the Monday-Friday 9-5 thing just hasn't been the norm for me. Long-term, I can't imagine it really facilitating my middle-of-night creative bursts, weekend work fests, and need for a fairly regular 15-minute nap at 3pm. Still, for now it's what I've got and I'm glad to experience it so I can better appreciate whatever situation I end up in down the road.

To be honest, I couldn't imagine a better 9-5 gig. I work for an awesome small company that is growing by leaps and bounds. I get to travel all over the world on "business" and am surrounded by awesome, interesting, inspiring people all day long. It's utterly divine! Still, I am so freaking happy on Friday. It all starts with wearing any shoes except my black dress shoes. Why? Because it's Friday! Funday! This decision is followed by an inspired walk to work, grooving to some Kylie Minogue or Kelly Clarkson. I arrive at the office to find my similarly enthused coworkers. My iPod is always on everybody's must-play list for Friday. Why? Because Friday is Funday and if my iPod is anything, it's FUN.

The day is spent movin' and shakin' to the best of the 80's, 90's, and today. There is most definitely some toe-tapping involved. Lunch arrives before you know it and I treat myself to the most delicious sandwich I've ever had, courtesy of the Monkey Coffee shop below my office. By now the Friday afternoon inertia is pulling everyone into fun space. The music gets turned up a tad. Shirts are untucked. Clock strikes 4 and the gang are all finishing up whatever they're working on. We get to bounce at 4:30pm on Fridays. Why? Because Friday is Funday!

4:28pm. Time to start the computer shutdown process. Close programs. Log out. Sign off. Sleep my little iMac. Sleep. The office is bustling and people are pumped. What is everyone doing tonight? This weekend? Who is who seeing? Where is who eating? drinking? dancing? Windows locked, blinds drawn, coats on, bags slung over the shoulder and we're out the door. Smiles stretch from ear to ear. I throw in a little heel click for good measure. It's the freakin' weekend baby and I'm about to have me some fun. Why? Because Friday is Funday.

How these little pleasures become big moments I have yet to sort out. In the meantime, 4:28pm on a Friday may be my favorite minute of the week. Take that, normalcy!


Kyle Taylor

29 September 2010

World Bank Forum On Youth Unemployment

I had the opportunity this past week to be a part of an amazing forum being hosted by the World Bank on the issue of Global Youth Unemployment. It is a MAJOR issue facing us not just in the developing world, but in the developed world as well. From India to Germany, Sierra Leone to the USA, youth unemployment is ravaging our economic systems, facilitating environments of crime and chaos, and all but ensuring a future less bright, less successful, and less fulfilling than the present. How do we escape this fate? How do we move to build a future that empowers, enables, and energizes the human race?

While I could launch into a major discussion of what that process should look like, I'll instead leave it with a few short words and a link to mine and all of the other interviews: Rather than conceptualize the issue as youth unemployment, we need to begin to think of it as youth development. The problem isn't filling or creating jobs - it's having skilled and capable people to fill those jobs (or think up entirely new jobs in new sectors or new economies).

The webcast with my video will start at 2 PM EST, October 7. Video clips will be posted after the event and a moderated chat will continue for 24 hours. For more information and to watch the event, go to worldbank.org/openforum. I'll link to or repost my video after the conference as well!


Kyle Taylor

26 September 2010

Nice One! Sweet As! Positivity!

It's impossible to escape it. You no matter where you go people are mumbling under their breathe, shouting from the rooftops, or just speaking in a normal voice. There's nothing special or unique about the delivery. It's the content that's important. "Sweet as!" and "nice one!" are repeated on loop ALL. THE. TIME.

What do these charming phrases mean? After six months of analysis, I'm still not sure. What I've been able to work out so far is that people use them when they're describe an action, event, or person that has been deemed good. For example:

1. "Oh, my friend is visiting next week." Response: "Nice one!" Reaction: "Huh? Oh yeah, she is a nice...one...person. Wait, no, yeah, it's a nice...one...thing that she's coming. I'm sorry, what just happened?

2. "I learned the Kylie dance to "Get Outta My Way" and did it on stage at Stonewall." Response: "Sweet As!" Reaction: "Sweet as what? What's sweet? Wait, what is it sweet as? I am sweet as something or the dance is sweet as something or doing at the club is sweet as something? What's sweet and what is it sweet as?"

When delivered in the Aussie tongue with that down under twang, it's rather exciting when someone directs one of these two gems at you, even if the point, meaning, and/or intent are unclear. I've learned the best response is simply, "YEAH! Sweet as!" or "YEAH! Nice one is right!" I've included pictures of my friend Adam, who is easily the happiest human being on the face of the earth. He uses both of these statements on a regular basis.

The real kicker is this Kiwi New Zealand slang. For example, the all too common "Yeah, Nah" and "Nah, Yeah." The teaser is that these two stament mean ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THINGS. Stay tuned.


Kyle Taylor

21 September 2010

The Devastation Of Poverty In America.

This graph shows poverty rates of rich countries. Mind you, in absolute terms the USA is BY FAR the wealthiest nation on Earth.

I subscribe to a regular email news update that brings light to major issues facing the United States that don't seem to get covered anywhere else. The analysis is fantastic and the depth of research is unmatched. Their assessment of poverty in America was shocking, and I thought everyone should read it:

Intolerable Poverty In A Rich Nation

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released its Current Population Survey, documenting the American population's access to health insurance and family economic well-being. One stunning fact revealed by the new Census data was that "the ranks of the American poor soared to their highest level in a half a century" and that nearly "44 million Americans -- one in seven -- lived last year in homes in which the income was below the poverty level, which is about $22,000 for a family of four. While this is the largest number of people since the Census began tracking poverty 51 years ago," this figure would have been much larger without the economic policies pursued by Congress and the administration. The data is sobering to a national discourse that often omits the poor. Yet, it also points towards continued action to bring the unemployment rate down and boost demand. The country must continue successful policy initiatives that have kept millions out of poverty thus far, such as the Recovery Act, and pursue additional policies aimed at addressing the alarming fact that the world's richest country now has more people in poverty than ever before.

THE SHAME OF A NATION: The Census Bureau data finds that a shocking number of Americans are now officially classified as living in poverty. In 2009, roughly "4 million Americans fell into poverty," with a total of 43.6 million people meeting the income qualifications to be described as impoverished. The data also found that one in four African-Americans is in poverty, and that women are also particularly hurting. An analysis by the National Women's Law Center of the Census numbers found that the poverty rate for women rose to 13.9 percent last year, compared to 10.5 percent among men. Additionally, poverty rates "were substantially higher for women of color, approaching one in four among African-American women (24.6 percent compared to 23.3 percent in 2008); Hispanic women experienced a similar increase from 22.3 percent in 2008 to 23.8 percent last year." Geographically, southern and rural states tended to have the most poverty, with Mississippi faring the worst with 23.1 percent of people in poverty, with New Hampshire having only 7.8 percent.

GOOD POLICIES KEEPING PEOPLE AFLOAT: While the poverty numbers are shamefully high given the wealth of a rich nation like the United States, a number of progressive policies have served to keep millions more Americans from falling into poverty. After being passed in early 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) -- commonly referred to as the stimulus -- saved or created 1.4 million to 3.3 million jobs, according to analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. Additionally, the expansion of tax credits like the Child Tax Credit (CTC), Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and Making Work Pay tax credit, along with additional food stamp assistance and emergency unemployment compensation kept more than 6 million Americans out of poverty, according to data provided by the Census Bureau. Expanding and extending unemployment insurance -- which faced enormous opposition from conservative pundits and politicians -- alone kept 3.3 million Americans out of poverty.

MORE TO DO: As the Center for American Progress's Melissa Boteach writes, "We can't exactly pat ourselves on the back when more than one in five (20.7 percent) of America's children lived in poverty last year." Instead, we should expand and extend policies that have served to keep Americans out of poverty and reassert ourselves to combating rising income inequality. America's earlier efforts to tackle poverty, like President Lyndon Johnson's "War On Poverty" -- included job training, special aid to poor parts of the country, and the creation of the single payer health care system for the elderly, Medicare, that brought the poverty rate down from 19 percent to 11.1 percent within less than a decade. In just two weeks, "a job-creation engine known as the TANF Emergency Fund will expire, forcing states to begin shutting down successful partnerships with the private sector that have already created nearly a quarter million jobs for low-income families. Congress must act before September 30 to extend the TANF Emergency Fund for another year and allow this innovative jobs program to continue." Congress also must continue reforms it made to the EITC that allowed "families with three or more children to earn a larger credit to reflect the higher cost of raising an additional child" and to the CTC that allowed low-income working parents "to count most of their earnings toward calculating their credit instead of arbitrarily counting only earnings above $8,500." Doing so would of course cost the federal government money, but extending these tax credits would do much more to boost the economy than extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which would have little stimulative effect on the economy. Additionally, Congress should continue to extent unemployment benefits until the unemployment rate comes back down to normal levels. While the Census numbers show an alarming rise in poverty, "it's important to remember, however, that poverty was a problem even before the Great Recession. Between 2003 and 2007 we experienced the first-ever economic 'recovery' on record where productivity and profits grew but poverty went up and median incomes fell. The middle class and low-income families did not benefit form the gains accrued over the last decade, which was due to the failed economic policies of the Bush administration and the focus on tax cuts for the wealthy that did not lead to growth in investment." Only by rebuking failed right-wing policies and championing policies that expand the social safety net, strengthen labor rights, build a more humane and efficient health care system, reward hard work with living wages, and value society's most vulnerable members, children, can the U.S. rebuild the American Dream, the idea that this a country where all can prosper, not just a select few.


Graph from here: http://sitemaker.umich.edu/salas.356/files/poverty_rates_of_rich_countries.bmp
Text from here: http://thinkprogress.org/


Kyle Taylor

17 September 2010

Third-World America?

How you seen these stats? 1 in 7 Americans is living in poverty. A nation that controls $14 trillion in wealth has somehow allowed nearly 15 percent of its citizens to slide into complete and utter devastation. What's the solution, according to Republicans and Democrats? Lower taxes! Despite the fact that income tax is lower than it has ever been in the history of the United States and was lowered further for 95% of Americans under both Republicans and Democrats, things continue to get worse. The reality is that America's income gap has simply widened too far. In fact, the USA has an income gap on par with Cambodia and Senegal. WHAT? How is this okay? Stable societies, healthy societies, and developed societies take care of every citizen - something we most certainly are not doing. Read more about it here and please think about what's going on right now. We're all better off if every American has a decent life.

Picture from here: http://images.publicradio.org/content/2008/11/21/20081121_help_33.jpg

Kyle Taylor

15 September 2010

Please Don't Buy Koch!

Those who know me are fully aware of my belief system. It stems from basic principles like equality, sustainability, and a "fair go" for every person on the planet. Over the past two years a major way of bigotry, hatred, and evil has swept across the good old US of A. While there are many people and corporations to blame, it seems that few have played a more central role that the Koch brothers. Owners of Koch industries, David and Charles have been intricately involved in - and the primary financial supporters of - The Tea Party movement, the birther movement (claiming Barack Obama is not a US citizen), the relaxing of regulations on big oil (which led to the BP disaster), the climate change skeptics movement, and the homophobic, hateful, anti-American, anti-equality Prop 8 campaign in California.

The Koch brothers fund all of these initiatives (some estimates have been put at $1 billion) thanks to their privately held company that owns a number of brands that we all use every day. One way to say "no" to this evil and hatred is to stop buying their brands, which is what I'm asking of you right now. There is no room for this type of irrational, hopeless, one-sided, wealth-based dialogue that ignores the many in favor of the powerful few. Here are there most famous brands, and here is a link to the rest of them.

Quilted Northern
Angel Soft
Vanity Fair
Mardi Gras

There are alternatives, and through your purchasing power you can send a message that hatred, lies, and innuendo are not okay.

More on the Koch brothers:

A Huffington Post Article
A Current TV piece

Image from: http://usedbooksblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/dr-evil.JPG


Kyle Taylor

12 September 2010

Uncertain Certainty

I am slowly but surely settling in to the 5-days a week, 8 hours a day lifestyle. Having not done “this” for several years, I’m finding it to be oddly relaxing in that I know exactly where I’m going to be most of the time, how long I’m going to be there, and what I’m going to do while I’m there. It’s life more “ordinary,” whatever that word is supposed to mean.

At the same time, there’s this odd uncertainty with so much certainty. I’m not even quite sure how to describe it, but it’s there. The uncertainty lies in all the areas that were definite before full-time employment. Questions like when I will next be in London, or when I’ll next see my parents and grandparents. Whenever I want to be was the answer most of the time.

While it seems a routine offers several definites with time and place, when you’re this far away from so many family and friends, it’s seeing people that becomes uncertain. Even skyping - because of dramatic time zone shifts and the international date line - can’t be set in stone. When are you up? When am I sleeping? I can’t do then because I’m working and you can do this other time because you’ll be in dreamland.

I’m not saying it’s good or bad, it’s just a little observation from the other side of the lifestyle spectrum - an observation that may be obvious to many but new to me. One things certain: it's all a bit uncertain.


Kyle Taylor

10 September 2010

Interview Of Doom

Now that I’m hired, I feel okay with discussing the interview that led to my current employment. It. Was. Intense. It included a 10-minute presentation to a “prospective client,” me acting as the company to which I was applying for a job. Who was playing the prospective client? The founder of the company to which I was applying!

I walked in and had to go right into my presentation. Fully suited, the window was closed and I felt like I was gasping for air. I rarely get nervous but this...this felt like my final hope. So many applications. So many months. I need a job! I wipe my brow and continue, feeling like a frantic wreck.

The presentation ends and the questions start. I’m answering questions about the company I am applying to posed by people who work for that company but who are role playing like they’re part of a prospective client. I don’t have all the answers. Window still closed. Heart still racing.

We move into the more traditional portion of the interview and things settle down a bit. I sense a sort-of good cop, bad cop scenario. It feels like one of the two interviewers hates me. My answers feel more paced but I’m still feeling a bit all over the place.

Suddenly, it’s all over. It has been 93 minutes and my suit is now acting as nothing more than a sweat retention device. I shake their hands with my balmy palm and am escorted out of the office. They close the door behind me and I breathe a sigh of relief. Did that just happen?

All I can think is, “that went terribly. No one would hire that rambling train wreck.” Six days later I get a job offer. Who knew?

Kyle Taylor

09 September 2010

The Blue Mountains

Post-Dad's Departure and Pre-Sister's Departure, we took a little jaunt inland to the Blue Mountains. We ate good food, peered over gorgeous vistas, and slept A LOT. It was utterly divine.