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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.

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Why I Still Believe in Santa

Santa Claus in the Christmas Fantasy Parade at Disneyland

When I was a child living in the projects in California, mom made sure that we had on vacation every year. She wanted to show her children that there was more to life than abject poverty, pee-yellow housing complexes, and government cheese. Almost all of those vacations consisted of a trip to Disneyland. Sometimes, we would leave at three in the morning, so we could be there when the park opened. We would stay one day. When the park closed, she would drive home stopping at a rest area to get some sleep when she got too tired to drive. She would then go to work the day we got back.

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The Creative Process of Writing ‘My Life in the Projects’

My life in the projects cover

Someone once said that being creative isn’t just about having ideas. There are billions of ideas out there. The creative person has to choose one of the ideas and bring it into the world. As a writer, I have tens of ideas for books and series, and hundreds of ideas for articles. (This year alone, I’ve written over 275 articles on my website and more at my day job.) So, how did I come to choose to publish “My Life in the Projects” as my first book? Here’s a peek at the creative process of writing that book.

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Second Chance Books in Independence, OR, Hosts Local Author

Professor Penguin studies for greater knowledge.

On Saturday, June 22, 2019 from 10 am to 2 pm, Shad Engkilterra will be signing copies of his books in front of Second Chance Books on Main Street in Independence from 10 am to 2 pm. Shad has written nine books for all ages; come by and check out the books that are right for you.

For children of all ages, “There Are No Penguins in Alaska” offers the opportunity to color while learning about the animals that people find in Alaska. The humor at the end will keep you smiling.

For those from 8 to 11 and for fans of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, the Adventures on the Amur series is two great adventure stories that take place in Far East Russia. Explore a little history and enjoy Steve and Irina’s adventures as they search for the Lost Treasure of Nikolai Nikolaevich or learn firsthand about the Curse of the Golden Kopeck.

For those in high school or older, “The Pirate Union” finds out what would happen if bureaucracy regulated pirate activities. This comedy with a 1990’s sensibility promises magic, puns, and fun as the crew of the Jolly Rogue tries to find out what the nefarious P.U. is up to.

Want to know what it was like growing up poor in the 1980s? “My Life in the Projects” is the mostly true story of how I survived living in government housing as a child.

For nonfiction fans, “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “the Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” offer looks at Disneyland and the Haunted Mansion with an eye toward creativity principles. Take a tour of the Happiest place on Earth and let Walt’s dream bring you greater joy and inspiration through greater creativity, or go through the Haunted Mansion as your Ghost Host leads you on a tour of the beloved attraction while materializing habits to become more creative.

If you need a bathroom reader or are looking for activities to improve your creativity and life, “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories” and “Penguinate! The Disney Company” are the books for you. These collections of short stories and essays provide suggestions for activities to do after each section. Penguinating is the power of positive creativity.