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Help us find Paul Penguin!

Paul and Paula Penguin

In 2019, my parents volunteered to run our booth for penguin adoptions at the Salem Holiday Market in Oregon. We are grateful for their help, but unfortunately, we didn’t give them all the information they needed about our penguins.

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What Do We Need to Make Our Store a Reality?

Jenya and penguins at the Salem Holiday Market 2018

I was asked what we need to make our store a reality, and the list I came up with was long and filled with all the things you might expect. However, the first thing we need is to learn how to get people to the store. We’ve had a Facebook page, an Etsy shop, a Patreon, an Instagram account, a now-deleted YouTube channel, an Amazon author page, and a website long enough to know that we don’t know how to get people to any of those. We tried ads. We’ve cross promoted. I’ve used all of my SEO knowledge to rank us higher. I’ve taken classes in marketing, gone through five day challenges, and spent a month with a marketing guru; nothing has worked to bring sustained traffic that converts to buyers.

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Penguinate.com Partners with Melting Pot Candy in Independence, OR

Penguins partner with Melting Pot Candy

We are happy to announce that our penguins have a new adoption center available in Independence, Or. If you live in the Independence area and have ever thought about adopting a penguin, it’s time to visit the Melting Pot Candy on Main Street!

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Getting the Most out of Motivational Speakers

photo of assorted letter board quote hanged on wall; real motivation comes from within

Every motivational speaker has the same story, or at least, they all have a variation on a theme. Usually, it starts with a hardship – My dad and I lived in a bathroom, I lost my eyesight, I was poor. It doesn’t matter what the hardship is – We had to drink tap water, My dog ate my stuffed animal, My grandma got me a bunny suit for Christmas. What does matter is that it caused the motivational speaker to take action. He or she has overcome whatever issue it was, or maybe continues to face the horrors of the issue that comes with the emotions associated with it, but life is much better than it was before.

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Peace Corps and the Unabomber Insanity Plea

My Life in the Peace Corps Book cover

When I was in the Peace Corps, the FBI captured the Unabomber and he was facing a trial for his crimes. The Unabomber was responsible for killing three people with package bombs that he mailed or delivered himself over the course of 17 years. He could have faced the death penalty, so his attorneys argued that he was insane. Their specific reasoning for declaring him insane included that he lived alone in a cabin. Now, a cabin is not too far from a hut, and as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I was living away from “civilization.”

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Tuatara Returned to Tiritiri Matangi Island in 2003

Tirtiri Matangi Ferry docked at the island

Tuatara in New Zealand are the last surviving members of the order Sphenodontia that was around during the time of the dinosaurs. They like cool weather and have an average lifespan of 60 years though some may survive up to 100 years. In the wild, the tuatara can only be found on the islands around New Zealand. They are no longer on the mainland and went extinct when the Maori introduced the rat to New Zealand. In 2003, the tuatara was reintroduced to Tiritiri Matangi Island after an absence of 100 years.

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ICYMI: ‘My Life in the Peace Corps’ Available on Amazon

My Life in the Peace Corps Book cover

You can now get both the paperback and the eBook of “My Life in the Peace Corps” today at Amazon! I composed this from the letters I sent home while I was serving in Peace Corps Guinea, where I joined as a Public Health and Community Development Extensionist. I was assigned to the health center of a small town of about 5,000 people in the middle of the country. My nearest Peace Corp neighbor was 70 km away during my first year, and I could only get a car out of my village on Saturdays.

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How My Relationship with Grandpa Grew over Time

My life in the projects cover

Growing up, my grandfather helped our family a lot, in spite of the fact that he didn’t like the behavior of me or my sister. As children, my sister and I were not raised to be seen and not heard. Instead, we spoke back to adults and told people what we thought about anything. We also weren’t very good at sitting in a restaurant and being quiet while the adults conversed. At one point, he told my mom that he wouldn’t take us to a restaurant again unless we learned to behave.

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Time to get to the Wooden Pot; Get Your Books in ‘Mortal Choice’

The Monster in Blackwood Forest Cover

The snow floated down onto Christian’s overcoat as he walked through downtown Blackwood Forest. The large flakes were lazy as they wafted on the wind. Christian turned up his collar against the wind and quickened his steps. He looked up the street at the sign for the Wooden Pot. A warm cup of coffee would be great right now. This time of year, the Pot was making eggnog lattes with real eggnog. It was thick, rich, and a meal by itself. He might get a pastry, too. He reached the door of the café and reached for the handle. A howl rose up from somewhere in the woods around town.

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Bicycles for All Seasons: A story of freedom

man sitting beside bicycle; bicycles mean freedom

For a long time, bicycles were an integral part of my life. As a child living in the projects, I had the sweetest black bicycle that I had gotten during a mysterious Christmas. It was a hybrid mountain-road bike that I took everywhere in the HUD housing complex where we lived. When I was on that bike, the world was mine. I could make it do magic. I rode up and down stairs. I went to the neighborhood convenience store and searched the newspaper boxes for spare change. One day, I left my bike outside as I ran into my home to go to the bathroom. When I returned, the bike was gone. “My Life in the Projects” would never be the same.

Albany, Oregon

In high school, I used my ten-speed to get to and from school when the weather permitted. I mostly left it at home when the weather was rainy, but some days, it was nice to have a faster way to get to school. On the weekend, we would use our bikes to go to the park or get downtown. This bike was built for speed and the roads, so sometimes, I would crank up the gears and head out onto the nearest big roads just to race the cars. I’d hit the Arctic Circle up for a lime rickey or a kid’s meal if I had the cash.

Bicycle Safety

This was the time when I learned two good safety lessons. The first was that when riding a bicycle, the rider should always wear closed-toe shoes. We went to see my mom as she floated down the Willamette for some holiday. My sister’s foot slipped of the pedal while her flip-flop remained. Her foot flew back, and her big toe ended up in the spokes of the bike. There was plenty of blood, and my mom had to swim from the boat she was floating on to help my sister.

The second was when we were driving on the main road through town away from I-5. I saw a car hit a boy on a bicycle on a side road. He flipped up over the hood of the car and slammed his head on the windshield. He was then thrown forward and slammed his head on the roadway. Fortunately, he was wearing a helmet. The boy crawled to the curbside, and mom turned down the road to see if she could help while we waited for the ambulance to arrive.

The Peace Corps

Once I got my first car, bicycles went by the wayside. It wasn’t until I joined the Peace Corps that bicycles got a new lease in my life. The Peace Corps supplied the bicycle and trained us in how to fix them. This bike was freedom. It allowed me to travel hundreds of kilometers during my service. “My Life in the Peace Corps” was much better for the mobility that the bicycle provided.

While I couldn’t take the Peace Corps bike with me, when I returned to the U.S., I was able to purchase a bicycle. In Kalamazoo during the summer months, it was my only transportation. I would ride to the American Red Cross and use one of their vehicles to get to teaching gigs. When winter rolled around, I had a new job, a new apartment, and a new car. I kept that bike, but I stopped riding. Now, my niece uses it.

Get the Books

If you’d like to read more about “My Life in the Projects,” the book is available on Amazon and here. It’s the mostly true account of living in HUD housing during the 1980s. “My Life in the Peace Corps” will be available on Amazon on Dec. 28, 2020. Pre-order today. Or get the autographed book when it comes out in hard copy.