Thursday, November 20, 2014

INVASION OF THE MICE

I made a huge mistake this year. Instead of hiring a contractor to fill the crack in the side of my foundation and replace part of the driveway, I waited for the president of the Radway New Horizons seniors club to hire one for their cement work. It seemed like a good idea to hire the same company so they wouldn't have to make two separate trips.

As summer flew by, I kept asking the president about the contractor. He couldn't give me a concrete answer since there was a legal problem with the land which the centre acquired. By September, the weather was too cold to pour concrete.

Meanwhile, some mice discovered the crack in my home and decided it would make a good place to spend the winter. I was unaware of the damage they were doing until I grabbed a bag of powdered milk and it spilled out all over me. The mice had chewed holes in many food packages without me being aware of it. As I cleaned up the mess, I discovered just how much damage those rodents did.

How glad I am that I bought some traps earlier in the year. Though I didn't expect a mouse invasion, I thought the traps would be useful to have for someday. I set up a trap in the kitchen cupboard where the powdered milk bag sat. The next morning, I found that it had caught an adult mouse. I felt glad but I had a suspicion that it wasn't the only one in the house.

While washing my face before bed one night, I heard a series of pathetic whimpers. Following the sound, I discovered that two juvenile mice were stranded in my bath tub. I dispatched them and set out a few traps around the house.

As hair-triggered as they were, the traps failed to catch the young mice. Worse yet, they nibbled off the bate without triggering the release bar. Since trapping didn't work, I resorted to poisoning them.

The problem with poison is that the mice die and then rot. As I worked at my computer one afternoon, I smelled a disgusting smell. I eventually found the dead mouse next to the fridge. Another mouse died in my storage room where I keep extra food. As far as I know, there are no other mice lurking in my house. Just to be safe, I put a dish of poison pellets in the basement.

Ruined food wasn't the only problem those mice caused me. They urinated and defecated everywhere. One mouse also used one of my oven mitts as a nest. To be safe, I washed out the cupboards with bleach. Even so, I still worry about diseases which the rodents might have left behind.

I now store my dry food, such as powdered milk and macaroni, in plastic containers. Next March, I plan on lining up a contractor to fill that crack as well as fix my driveway. I learned my lesson well. Just because nothing happened in the past, it doesn't mean it can't happen in the future.

The biggest lesson I learned in my life is contained in my How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir. Read more about it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

SENIORS HAVE THEIR OWN GENERATION GAP.

Though I'm not officially a senior citizen, I'm seeing a definite split in the ranks of people at social clubs. The New Horizons club here in Radway is a good example of what I see as a split between the Depression kids and the boomers.

We have quite a few people at the club who are in their eighties. When they were children, there were no transistor radios and rock music. Most of the older members lived on farms and quite a few of them still do.

Us "junior seniors" grew up in homes with TV, our own transistor radios, and rock music. Many of us were raised in towns and cities. Even our education was different, in certain ways, from that of the Depression generation. They learned practical subjects while my generation were taught what elite educators thought was a break from stodgy old traditions. What the educators called "New Math" never did make sense to me.

The split in opinions of what makes for good entertainment also shows up during our outings. The older folks can relate to the old standards while we younger members go for the rock 'n' roll we grew up with. Outings to exhibits and similar amusements also need to be to places where tired seniors can rest often. Many of us boomers can go much further and stay up longer.

The matter of leadership is also a thorny issue. A fair number of the elected officials are in their eighties. I've heard grumblings among the membership that younger talent isn't allowed to take over positions which older folks are soon to relinquish. Sooner or later, we younger members will have to take over. We'll need mentors to help us do things properly. Unfortunately for the smooth running of the club, certain older folks cling to their coveted positions.

I can't help wondering what things will be like when I'm in my eighties. Will I be forced to listen to groups performing songs by Duran Duran or Culture Club? Will I be dreading outings to performances by rappers and bands playing stuff from the nineties or later? Whatever happens, I hope the New Horizons leadership thirty years from now will choose entertainment which we all can relate to.

Music played a huge role in my life. My first two books at the Bruce Atchison's books page attest to my love of rock and electronic compositions. I also relate how the older generation rebuked me for my love of rock music in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. My first two paperbacks are featured at the Bruce Atchison's books page while the latest is at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's books.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

ALWAYS AN OUTSIDER

Does anybody remember a song called "I'm In With The Out Crowd" by Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs? It was one forty-five RPM record I really identified with when I was a kid. No matter where I went, I never fit in.

Because I was raised in a broken home during my formative years, I didn't receive the support I should have whenever I complained to my parents about kids throwing rocks at me. I couldn't play sports with the other boys at school either so I ended up hanging around with the girls and telling them funny stories.

Without much warning, I was sent 500 miles away from my home to a blind school. I found myself living with 15 strange boys and I couldn't go home at the end of the school day like I used to do. Worse yet, I had to live with the school bully and nobody listened to my complaints either.

I was allowed to go back to public school for grades 8 to 12 but it was hard for me to adjust. Sighted kids mainly avoided me or taunted me for having thick glasses. I couldn't relate to them because I'd been in that blind school for 6 agonizing years. That meant I had to learn the hard way about social conventions such as holding doors open for ladies and not to stare at the ceiling  or into my lap. I didn't even know how to cross a busy street on my own or catch a city bus since all that was done for us by staff at the blind school.

I never bothered dating since I was so poor and girls didn't want to be around me due to my ugly glasses. Consequently, I never did marry.

I still feel at odds with the rest of the public. Being neither blind or sighted, people don't trust that what I'm saying I can or can't see is true. People have even said to me that I don't look or sound blind.

Church is also a painful place for me. I can't read the hymn books or overhead projector lyrics. It takes me a lot longer to find and read scripture passages with my magnifying glass too. After church, the confusion and noise gets to me. Children dash in front of me and I can't see them coming until it's too late. When I stopped going to church, the congregation couldn't understand why. I kept explaining but they just wouldn't accept what I said. A church elder even came to my home and cross-examined me about why I wanted to stop being picked up for church.

So here I am, a social misfit who can't drive and who ends up being more of a burden than a help. I've learned how to live alone and not to need the company of other humans. My rabbit, Deborah, and I find satisfaction in each other's company.

Writing about my experiences as an outsider has helped me deal with the pain of rejection. Even so, all three of my memoirs make good reading as I tried not to make them sound like pity parties for myself. Please visit my Bruce Atchison's Book page to read about the first two paperbacks. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books distribute my latest book called How I Was Razed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A NEW KIND OF WAR

I'm so glad that we have a day where we remember the sacrifices made by military personnel in years gone by. These brave people secured our freedom at great personal cost. Anybody who doesn't respect what these guardians of our freedoms achieved for future generations ought to hang their heads in shame.

Even so, there is a new war declared on us which we must understand. It isn't from a particular nation but a religion. While I'm allowed to, I want to warn as many people as possible about this insidious belief system.

I've heard many folks claim that Islam is a "religion of peace." If this is so, it creates many awkward questions for people who are able to examine facts dispassionately. If Islam is a peaceful religion, why are so many people, mostly young men, involved in horrendous murders such as what happened in Canada on October 20 and 22? Look at other acts of jihad, such as the Boston Marathon bombing. Every perpetrator of these vicious acts believed devoutly in Islam. I've never heard of moderate Muslims doing such crimes.

I've also heard the argument that those thugs aren't real Muslims. What is a "real Muslim" anyway? The answer is obvious. Such a person follows the teachings of Mohammed. I'm no Qu'ranic scholar but I know that the serious devotees of any religion go by their book or traditions. Since there are passages in the Qu' ran which command killing and subjugation of infidels, it's only logical to assume that true believers would take the injunctions seriously.

From my sketchy acquaintance with other religions, I can tell the serious practitioners from the phonies by how closely they live out the tenets of their faiths. I also know that in Christianity, those who really follow Christ love their enemies and pray for those who despitefully use them. It only makes sense therefore to realize that the serious Islamic devotees believe they have to fight for Allah and conquer the world for him. Christ, on the other hand, taught his disciples to preach the good news around the world. That's much different than murdering and coercing unwilling masses to convert.

In addition to this war of world views we now are fighting, there has been a spiritual war going on for almost seven-thousand years. For more than twenty-four of those years, I had been misled and actually believed lies about God. Find out how he lovingly liberated me from bondage to cultic ideas in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. This inspiring story of the Lord's providential guidance is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's books.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

THE WORST ACCOMMODATION

What was the worst place you ever lived in? For me, it was a home at which I boarded from November of 1971 to June of 1972. Though the family were kind to me, the way in which I lived for those months still amazes me.

Because of my poor vision, I attended a school with counselors tasked to help with recording long reading assignments onto tape and help sight-impaired students to write our answers on test papers. This meant that I needed to stay in the city of Edmonton during the week. Being only fourteen then, I had no idea of how to find a different place and no money to pay for a new place either.

I wasn't pleased about sleeping on the couch at my new home away from home. Changing clothes meant I had to go to the bathroom with my bundle of clothing whenever I needed to dress for school or bed. I often awoke when somebody came home late as well.

The next sleeping accommodation was even worse in some ways. The husband, Jay, took two saw horses down to the basement and placed an old door on top of them. Then he put the couch cushions on top with some sheets and a pillow. That was my bed for three months.

Though I had more privacy, I still had problems. The couch cushions often parted during the night, leaving me with my behind against the door. The furnace was only a few feet away from me and it kept me awake some nights. A light fixture had been  rigged next to my bed but it was rather flimsy. It's a miracle the whole place didn't catch fire from an electrical short.

When Jay and his wife moved to a new rental house, I had a basement room to myself. Unfortunately, they used the couch cushions on the floor for my bed again. It felt weird being so close to the carpet but I eventually grew used to it.

Of course the bed bugs didn't care what I slept on. When fuchsia spots the size of dimes showed up on my legs, My gym teacher sent me home and called Jay. I can't remember if the room was fumigated but the bed bug problem was somehow solved.

This couple also invited me to their house church. I didn't realize that it was a cult and not a proper place of Christian worship. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity tells the marvelous story of how God led me to the truth after such a long time being deceived. Check it out at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Powell's Books.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

BEWARE OF FAME

Wishing to be famous is something many people do. They fantasize about writing that great novel or singing that song that would guarantee them life-long popularity. The truth is that fame doesn't guarantee an easy life.

The suicide of Robin Williams this year is a graphic example of the price of fame. He had everything to live for, or so an outsider would think. His name was well known because of his comedy TV and movie appearances. From the outside, he seemed like a zany and loveable character. The fact that he murdered himself shows that something was dreadfully wrong inside him and he thought death would ease the pain.

Another thing fame doesn't guarantee is true friendships. Many people follow famous folks for what they can get from them. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the sixth chapter of Saint John's gospel. Christ had thousands of followers. He could have easily started a revolution and kicked the Romans out of Israel. But that wasn't his mission. He came to live a perfect life to fulfill the law, die on a cross to pay for the sins of people who truly follow him, and rise again on the third day. When Jesus taught doctrines too hard for the masses to accept, all but his close disciples left him.

Fame seems like the rock that the mythical character Sysyphus had to push up the side of the hill. If that boulder gets over the top, it rolls easily down the other side. I've noticed that there's a tipping point for this rock of fame but we can't see it until it happens. The Beatles played in bars and clubs for eight years before they became internationally famous. Most artists work all their lives and never break through the wall of anonymity. Saddest of all, many people quit long before they could have become famous.

I often feel frustrated about my lack of book sales. Worse yet, I'm guilty of envying the platforms of health-and-wealth preachers who sell millions of blasphemous paperbacks. Then I remind myself that we all must give an account of our actions during this life on the day of judgement. I'd rather have a few sales of my memoirs which tell the truth than millions of books propagating false information about the heavenly Father.

I wrote about how badly I was led astray buy a false teacher and how I learned the truth in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. You can find it on Amazon, Powell's Books, and Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

PIRATES OF THE IONOSPHERE

Pirates: the name evokes images of peg-legged men in strange clothing and wearing eye patches. To computer aficionados, it means the people who illegally copy software and sell it. To radio listeners, pirates are altogether different.

To one extent or another, there have been radio pirates for more than a hundred years. In the beginning, there were no regulations. You could just build a transmitter and find a free frequency to broadcast on.

Then the government decided to step in and end the confusion. It wasn't long before frequency bands were set up for specific types of broadcasts or point-to-point transmissions.

As with any rule, there are those individuals willing to break it. The most famous of the pirates set up stations on ships in international waters off the coasts of Britain during the 1960s. Because the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) refused to broadcast rock music, enterprising disk jockeys filled the void. Most of these pirates ended their transmissions when the BBC relented and started playing what teens wanted to hear in 1967.

Even so, people still liked to buck the system in the UK as well as the rest of the world. Even in supposedly regulated countries such as China, pirate stations pop up on the FM dial. It appears to be the most popular band for these illegal stations due to the quality of the FM signal and the ease of hiding antennas.

The only problem with FM is that its coverage is limited. That's why some pirates broadcast on shortwave. The sound quality is not as good but a single station can blanket a continent with its signal. Since they seek to evade the government radio spectrum enforcers, they never turn up on the same frequency or have regular broadcasts. Peak times for these broadcasters are during holiday evenings and Saturday night.

Last Halloween, I spent the evening finding and taping pirates with my shortwave radio. I was able to identify half a dozen of these pirates, plus there were many more which I never found out their names. If all goes well, I hope to tape even more of these broadcasters. After all, I find it exciting to hear these pirates of the Ionosphere.

Radio has played a large part in my life. It was my lifeline to the outside world when I was at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind. I wrote about how special it was to me in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. I also mentioned my citizens band and amateur radio hobby in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Read more about this compelling testimony of God's providential care at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.