Friday, 28 December 2012

ROY'S BROKEN TOYS.

Most big brothers tend to dislike their younger male siblings. In my case, I had more than the usual reasons to dread Roy's presence at Christmas.

Being hyper-active, as they once called restless children, Roy posed many problems for Diane and I. The first was that he was three years younger than I and two years Diane's junior. This meant that we became impatient when he couldn't understand our games. Roy was also mentally slow. He seemed little better than a monkey to us as we avoided him. No matter how Mom scolded and coaxed, we wanted nothing to do with our little brother.

Roy also had a violent temper. One winter night, he broke the aluminum gas line to the hot water tank. Mom ordered us to sit still on the living room couch while Dad went down to turn off the gas.

Every Christmas, something inevitably upset Roy. He'd break his toys and tear up cardboard boxes as we hid upstairs. Even when he was a teenager, he often flew into a rage. I'd find the truck or other gift, which I spent my own money on, torn in pieces later on. Many a Christmas was ruined by his rages.

Roy also ruined our toys too. As I wrote in Deliverance from Jericho, he scratched up a dart board that I received for Christmas in 1964. When I protested to Mom, she said I should let him do it because he was retarded. I loved that dart board, especially the side with the planets and asteroids painted on it. Mom's lack of disciplinary action added fuel to my hatred of Roy.

Even as an adult, I dreaded being home when Roy was there. I deliberately volunteered to work on Christmas and New Year's Day when I was a security guard. Not only did it give me a legitimate reason to be away from home but I got time and a half plus double time for working an extra four hours. I also felt glad to be away from home when I went on a missions trip to Saltillo, Mexico in 1977.

I wrote extensively about my adventure that Christmas in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. It's available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

ALONE AGAIN, THANKFULLY.

"You can't be alone for Christmas," a female coworker exclaimed once when I told her of my plans for the holidays. In her mind, it was akin to the unpardonable sin. Yet I felt no remorse for being "alone' for Christmas. In fact, I enjoyed myself each twenty-fifth of December since 1992.

I'm not truly alone because the Holy Spirit dwells in me. Being part of the Trinity, he connects me to God and Jesus Christ. During the day that we designate as the Lord's birthday, I ponder the wonder of God becoming a baby born to a poor couple.

I also feel out of place when I go to family gatherings. People become so emotional and nostalgic about memories that I don't share with them. At the gatherings I did make the mistake of attending, I felt like an intruder rather than a guest.

I particularly don't like noisy situations where children run around and everybody talks at once. I'd rather be with a few or just one close friend than in an over-crowded house.

My rabbits are also great company. They make no other demands upon me than to feed and pet them. They're quiet creatures who enjoy an orderly situation. Joy isn't a frantic display of happiness but a steady feeling of well being. Seeing Deborah or Mark resting and enjoying the moment gives me so much more pleasure than loud parties.

I need no other gifts than to be left alone. Though I appreciate the thought, my tastes are far different than those of others. Quite often, I receive presents that I have no use for. Some even disgust me, such as the Santa toilet seat cover Mom gave me once.

One of my favourite activities on Christmas Day is to watch old videos and listen to music that I haven't heard in ages. I've been blessed with so much stuff that it could entertain me for a year before coming to the end of it.

Other people also feel as I do about this day. My next door neighbour, a friend in Jamaica, and another in Texas all agree with me that the whole Christmas spirit thing is humbug. What used to be a holy day has become a greed fest. Stores encourage kids to beg for the latest and greatest electronic gadgets and some become angry when they don't get them. That's not the attitude people ought to inculcate into their children.

So have your merry Christmas if you want. My rabbits and I will relax and enjoy the quietude of our home.

Friday, 21 December 2012

HOW BUNNIES EXPLORE ROOMS.

One of the greatest pleasures missed by non-rabbit people is watching a bunny explore a new room. The way they sniff every object and hop around is highly entertaining. Fifteen years ago, Gideon amused me afresh with his curiosity and joy at discovering a new room.

One lesson I learned from house rabbit people was that bunnies should first be given a small space to live in. As they learn to use litter boxes, their territory should be gradually expanded. This teaches them to think of their litter boxes as home base.

With Gideon, I first let him out in the kitchen. He learned to use the litter box and to claim it as his special place. At first, I used 2 litters. Gideon soon used only one so I took the other away.

Since Gideon could be trusted in the kitchen, I let him explore the hallway. He loved it. One of his favourite activities was to run back and forth along its length at top speed. Gideon also flopped in the kitchen doorway as if he was guarding his new territory.

The bathroom was the next space that Gideon conquered. His interest was short-lived as the room didn't have a carpet.

My long-eared companion loved my bedroom much more. Not only did it have a carpet but he loved exploring my bed. Like the seekers of the Northwest Passage, he also longed to find a way under my bed. I had to block it off with boards so he wouldn't destroy my box spring.

I used the second room in the main floor of the house I rented as a studio. Gideon wanted in so desperately that I finally relented. The video at the Bruce Atchison's YouTube channel shows how my bunny buddy went about claiming the room as his.

Gideon's many adventures are chronicled in When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living with Bunnies). Learn more about this heart-warming memoir by clicking the link at the left hand side of this page. Meanwhile, check out the Virtual Bookworm and read about my newly publish book.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

UNEMPLOYED AT CHRISTMAS.

What a shame it is that expectations for a happy holiday season are so high. For those who lost their jobs, working up the "Christmas spirit" is an agonizing chore. Commercials just create more expectations in the minds of children. They have a hard time understanding why the gifts this year are so puny compared to last Christmas.

Though I'm single, I felt the pressure to buy the perfect Christmas gifts in 1980. I had just lost my security guard job and my employment insurance was tied up in red tape. Even so, I felt I ought to buy presents for the children at the house church I attended.

The task was harder than I expected. Even at the Army and Navy store, I couldn't find many toys that were fun yet cheap enough.

I boarded a couple of busses with my shopping bag filled with gifts late in the afternoon of Christmas Day and arrived at the house church for supper. While we waited for it to cook, I gave out my gifts. Sister Roberta's grandchildren thanked me politely but weren't too impressed with what I gave them.

I felt let down as we ate supper. I had sacrificed what little money I had to buy those presents. The wrapping paper alone seemed expensive, though it was the cheapest I could afford. The lack of bows and ribbon also detracted from the appearance of my gifts. Though inviting me to supper was kind, I still felt awkward when I presented my gifts.

I wrote extensively about that house church in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check them out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Friday, 14 December 2012

WHY CRYSTAL SETS ENTHRALLED ME.

I feel sad for today's children. With all the electronic gadgets they have, they miss the simplicity of the radio that needs no power source. A friend introduced me to these amazing receivers back in the autumn of 1969.

On certain weekends, the parents of a school friend would invite me over to their home for the weekend. I treasured the temporary escape from that uncaring institution called Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind and into a regular family dwelling.

One evening, David showed me something called a crystal radio. It needed no battery, something that amazed me. I thought every radio needed some sort of power. Crystal radios use only the signal they receive as their power.

We tried listening to both of his radios on one antenna that night. It didn't work out as we hoped as both radios took too much energy. Consequently, the sound in the earphones was very weak. We decided to take turns connecting each radio to the antenna for a while.

When I attended a house church, Sister Roberta gave me her son's electronic projects kit. One circuit included in it was for a crystal set. My joy was boundless when I assembled it and heard my favourite station loud and clear in the earphone. I often lay in bed at night and listened until sleep overtook me.

Having enrolled in electronics class, I decided to build a crystal set from scratch. Instead of a galena crystal, I bought a signal detector diode from Radio Shack. I scrounged the wire from an old transformer to make the tuning coil and a strip of aluminum from a TV dinner tray as the tuner. Borrowing the earphone from the electronic projects kit, I discovered that my simple home-made radio worked. It could tune in only the upper half of the AM band but it worked.

Through the years, I purchased several Science Fair kits from Radio Shack. Each one contained a crystal radio project. After constructing every project in each kit, I decided to build another receiver from scratch. I bought an old pair of earphones at a garage sale and made the rest of the radio from scraps and a signal detector diode. It too worked but, like the first radio, only tuned in the upper half of the AM band.

Though I live a fair distance from the nearest large city, I still feel the urge to connect my crystal set to an antenna. There's something magical, for lack of a better word, in hearing signals picked up by a home-made radio. The sound is surprisingly crisp when compared to ordinary radios too.

I've written extensively about my fascination for radio in my memoirs. Check both of them out at the left side of this page. My newest paperback, How I Was Razed, can also be purchased through Barnes & Noble as well as Amazon. Virtual Bookworm stocks the paperback version.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

THE FLOOD THAT WASN'T MY FAULT

What's worse than being falsely accused? Not knowing the accusation is false hurts even more. One landlady, who I had the misfortune to rent from,accused me of plugging up the kitchen sink drain with food. At the time, I foolishly believed her.

When I returned from my parent's home one Sunday evening, the last thing I expected was a huge puddle covering my one-room suite. I immediately put down my suitcases in the front hall and knocked on the landlady's door. "There's a big puddle of water in my room," I reported when she opened the door. She brushed past me and peered into my suite. She gasped, then stood speechless as she gawked at the puddle of water.

"Why didn't you tell me your sink was plugged?" she accused.

"I didn't know it was," I explained. "I was home all weekend and the sink was working last Friday."

The landlady marched into her part of the house and returned with mops, buckets, and a plunger.

"Well, just don't stand there," she ordered, "help me clean up this mess."

As we mopped up the water, she bawled me out. "Why didn't you tell me your sink was draining slowly?" she demanded. "All this mess could have been avoided if you told me before. Now look at all this."

"I did tell you before but you didn't do anything about it," I reminded her.

"Oh," she said as if she didn't want to admit that I was right.

Once the water was mopped up, she started plunging the sink. "From soup to nuts, everything goes down the drain," my landlady complained.

"I tried not to let any food go down the drain," I apologized. She continued plunging the sink but the clog was too tight.

Until the plumber came a few days later, I had to use the bathroom sink on the second floor of the house. Once he had finished, the landlady paid me a visit. To cut a long story short, she accused me of costing her a lot of money. Naturally, I felt humiliated.

A month later, I described my problems to my Social Studies teacher. When I drew a diagram of the sink pipes linking the one upstairs and mine, He made an important point. "If the water came out of your sink, it must be plugged below it." I hadn't thought of that before. The knowledge that the flood wasn't my fault gladdened my heart.

Due to space and theme constraints, I casually mentioned this contentious woman in my How I Was Razed memoir. Nook and Kindle versions of it are on Amazon and Barnes & Noble while the paperback version can be purchased from the Virtual Bookworm website.

Friday, 7 December 2012

THERE'S A DOG INHALING MY BEDROOM.

Thirty years ago, I lived in a basement suite while a young couple rented the main floor of the house. They had a large dog with a golden fur coat while I have a black bunny. I named her Focus, after one of my favourite Dutch jazz-rock bands.

My neighbours and I kept to ourselves for the most part. But their dog had different ideas, as I discovered one afternoon. As I closed the bathroom door and strolled across the laundry room, I saw that silly animal with his nose pressed to the gap under my bedroom door. I couldn't help but giggle when I heard him snort deeply. The dog was so interested in the enticing scent of rabbit that he didn't notice me until I was beside him. He gave me that look dogs usually give when they want something. "No," I said as he started wagging his tail, "you can't go in there."

The memory of that fascinating animal scent must have lingered in that dog's mind. A few weeks later, I heard a noise in my kitchen around supper time. When I walked in, I saw the dog sniffing at Focus through the wires. She sat as still as she could, doubtless hoping that scarry animal would go away. The dog looked up at me and wagged his tail. He let out a funny yowl as if to say, "I found it." Fearing for my rabbit's safety, I opened the kitchen door and led him into the laundry room.

I made sure to close the door firmly whenever I went to the bathroom after that. The neighbours moved out but I never forgot that silly dog and his obvious glee in finding the mystery animal.

As you can tell by past posts and my When a Man Loves a Rabbit book, I've written much about my long-eared friends. In fact, my family had a pet rabbit when I was twelve. I wrote about her in Deliverance from Jericho. I've recently published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. This memoir also mentions my bunnies. Use the search box at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm to learn more about this testimony of God's grace and providence.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

THE GOLDEN RULE OF Self-PROMOTION.

Nobody likes to be spammed. That much is obvious. Yet some individuals insist on leaving anonymous comments and adding links to their sites in the comment areas of blogs. I wonder how those folks would feel if I posted anonymously to their blogs and then left a link to my own site. Often these web pages are totally unrelated to the post that they've been added to. Worse yet, some sites contain malicious code. Nobody but a fool wants to click on an unknown link.

Like submitting queries to magazines, people with a service or product to sell should consider how it fits with the needs of the individuals they approach. For example, a blog about Christianity isn't the place to plug a porn site. Likewise, gun collectors would be much more interested in pages where rare firearms are featured than ones where gun control is advocated.

People also appreciate being asked to review or promote products. I've received several e-mails from people promoting software that's unrelated to the theme of my blogs. I politely refused their offers. On the other hand, I have reviewed a couple of books because they tied into the themes of past posts. Blog readers subscribe to blogs because they enjoy the content of them. If the blogger posts widely divergent topics, readers tend to lose interest.

Having written this, I want to make it clear to anonymous commenters that I don't post links to sites unless I know them well. I don't mind opposing views if the argument is framed politely but I won't publish hateful rants or blatant plugs for suspicious web pages.

The purpose of this blog is to feature my writing. I've recently published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Use the search box at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm to learn more about this testimony of God's grace and providence.

Friday, 30 November 2012

CHEWING ONE'S WAY TO FREEDOM.

Rabbits enjoy chewing. This fact was first demonstrated to me when I adopted a Himalayan bunny who I named Gideon. Since rabbits don't understand punishment, I tried distraction instead.

My friends on the rabbit lists helped me with the chewing problem when they told me about cardboard box houses and how much rabbits enjoyed chewing them. In my When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living with Bunnies) memoir, I wrote about how I invented a chewing game for Gideon. Here's how it happened.

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One November afternoon, while shopping at Dickensfield Mall, I found a cardboard box with hand holes and no lid. I took it home and decided to play another prank on Gideon.

I placed the box over him and waited to see what he’d do. Would my bunny bro try to chew his way out?

At first, he pawed at the holes. When that didn't work, he started nibbling at the bottom edge of one of them. My bunny buddy made steady progress and the hand hole grew larger. He tried several times to hop through it, but broke off the leap at the last minute.

His whiskers must have told him it was still too small.

Finally, he leapt through the new opening and took his bearings. That silly rabbit seemed to be having so much fun chewing the box and ripping it up that he almost forgot he was escaping it. He hopped in and out of his former prison, rejoicing in the novelty of his newfound freedom.

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When a Man Loves a Rabbit contains many more vignettes of my life with house bunnies. Please check it out by clicking on the Bruce Atchison's books link on this page.

Meanwhile, check out my newly-published How I Was Razed memoir on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Virtual Bookworm pages. Type "How I Was Razed" into the search box to find it.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

BUNNIES AND TUNNLES.

Which pet store toys did you buy for your fur or feathered friend but he or she ignored them? I've once purchased chew sticks for my rabbits but none of them bothered to give them more than an exploritory nibble.

I've found that home made toys work much better, plus they're free. Additionally, products completely unrelated to pets can work to entertain them. One of those was a cardboard tube used for making concrete pillars. Here's an example from my When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Rabbits) paperback that demonstrates this.

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Harry tried hopping through his, but the tube kept rolling from side to side. That ruined some of the fun, so I put the cardboard tunnel under the table and propped two water bottles against it. That worked great and Harry loved playing in that tube. It must have reminded him of being in a warren and it possibly gave him a sense of comfort.

Neutrino also loved his new toy. He even slept inside it. I moved the litter box, which he wasn’t using anymore, and placed the tube next to the fireplace.

I stashed Gideon’s tube under my bed and it took him a while to find it. When he did, he had just as much fun as the other two. I forget what I paid for the cardboard concrete tubes, but the joy I saw in my fur-clad lads repaid me a thousand times.

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When a Man Loves a Rabbit contains many helpful hints for rabbit care. Additionally, it is filled with many vignettes of life with these fascinating creatures. Please click the Bruce Atchison's books link at the top left of this page to learn more about this book and Deliverance from Jericho.

I've recently published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Use the search box at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm to learn more about this testamony of God's providence.

Friday, 23 November 2012

THE BUNNY BERRY THIEVES.

Have you noticed that some of your pets are afraid of cleaning equipment while others become inquisitive? I've had this happen with many of my rabbits. As I describe in the following excerpt from When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies), My long-eared friends had widely divergent reactions to me tidying up their areas.

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Though Gideon was fascinated with the carpet sweeper and Neutrino kept a respectful distance, Harry attacked it every time I tidied up his droppings in my studio. As the blue beast gobbled up his calling cards, he lunged at the intruder and growled as fiercely as he could.

I couldn’t help but laugh at Harry’s determination to vanquish that invader and drive it from his favourite spots. His attacks and my sidesplitting laughter made the chore take twice as long. Rabbits sure can get protective of their areas.

The bunnies also reacted comically to the vacuum. Gideon was fascinated with it and hoovered every inch of the machine, while Harry tackled it. On the other end of the reaction scale, Zacchaeus and Neutrino just took evasive action whenever the machine zoomed by. Esther never saw the vacuum, since I didn’t feel like lugging it downstairs, and though the carpet sweeper interested her, she never attacked it.

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When a Man Loves a Rabbit contains many vignettes such as this one. Please click on the Bruce Atchison's books link to learn more about it and my Deliverance from Jericho memoir.

I've recently published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Use the search box at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm to learn more about this testamony of God's providence.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

WHY BUNNIES HATE WIRE-BOTTOM CAGES.

One mistake that most owners of rabbits make is to use cages with wire-bottom floors. They don't realize that these are hard on the poor animals' feet. Bunnies also become uncomfortable with the noise and feel of the metal grid underfoot.

I should have remembered that lesson in 2004 when I reluctantly caged my house bunny. From my When a Man Loves a Rabbit memoir, here is an excerpt showing how rabbits despise wire flooring.

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While looking in his hutch one day, it suddenly occurred to me why Gideon stayed in his bedroom most of the time. The wire flooring in the main part of the hutch bothered his feet and made distressingly loud noises. And it probably felt strange because of its flexibility.

I had lots of cardboard pieces gathering dust, so I put one next to Gideon’s bedroom door. He sniffed it suspiciously at first. Perhaps my little prince had forgotten how nice it was to sit on cardboard.

When I checked him later, he was not only loafing on it, but also ripping shreds off one corner. I’d given him someplace to sit and something to do. That made me happy and I apologized to Gideon for not realizing what he was trying to tell me.

Sometimes we humans can be so obtuse.

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When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) is my debut memoir of my life living with rabbits. Please click on the Bruce Atchison's books link to learn more about it and my Deliverance from Jericho book.

I've recently published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Use the search box at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm to learn more about this testimony of God's providence.

Friday, 16 November 2012

SOMEBODY ALWAYS HAS TO RUIN THE FUN.

How sad that a small number of people inevitably spoil the enjoyment of the rest. In 1969, I learned how to ride a bicycle. I had fun until the bully spoiled my joy one afternoon.

From Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), here is what happened.

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The administrators delightfully surprised us again when they purchased bicycles that November. As I had never ridden one before, I felt skeptical that I could balance on only two wheels.

The entire intermediate dorm gathered in the parking lot one Saturday afternoon to take turns riding the bikes. For those who had never ridden before, Mr. Moiarty walked next to each rider as we coasted down the slope. I had trouble at first with my balance but eventually I found it became easier to remain upright once I gained speed.

We rode those bikes as often as we could after school and after supper, doubtless making pests of ourselves to drivers on Jericho's roads. In fact, several of us were reprimanded by our supervisors for riding down the hills at breakneck speed and worrying motorists.

Not all of my rides were enjoyable however. Mr. Thynne supervised one of our cycling activities after school. When I began peddling, the bike wobbled all over the place and was hard to steer. This baffled me but I stubbornly refused to surrender my turn. I doggedly circled the junior dorms and blind children's classrooms as our supervisor instructed.

Charlie was next and I, fearing I would be blamed for the problem, let him use it without saying anything. He turned around after a few yards and said to Mr. Thynne, "Bruce broke this bike. It won't steer right."

"It was that way when I got it," I protested. Charlie continued to insist it was my fault and that I should be punished.

Mr. Thynne squeezed the front tire and said, "Here's your problem. This tire is flat." After a few minutes with the tire pump, our supervisor had the bike's tire filled and we continued riding around the building.

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Deliverance from Jericho contains many vignettes of life in Canada's infamous institution. It was closed down in 1992 after 350 deaf students launched a sexual abuse class action suit.

I've recently published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Use the search box at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm to learn more about this testimony of God's providence.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

THE FALICY AND FAILURE OF TELEPORTATION

I'm ashamed to admit that I fell for the belief that a person could teleport anywhere if he or she had enough faith. Reality doesn't work that way. In fact, miracles rarely happen. That's why miracles are so miraculous. In my new book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, here is an excerpt that shows how gullible I was forty years ago.

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Soon after that meeting, I decided to put Brother Herald's teaching to the test. Sister Eileen failed to pick me up for Sunday school one evening. Since I couldn't afford a telephone and I knew of no pay phone nearby, I had no easy way to discover why she hadn't come to drive me to Terry's. Even if I knew which busses to take, I would arrive long after the lesson ended.

As I paced and fumed in my room, an idea struck me. "Hey," I said with a grin. "Why don't I teleport there?" I closed my eyes, raised my arms above my head, and commanded, "In Jesus' name, teleport me to Sunday school." Concentrating hard and silencing every doubt, I visualized the basement where the children waited.

When I opened my eyes a minute later, I still stood in my room. I tried to teleport again but I remained where I stood. "Jesus," I prayed, "why didn't it work? I need to help Sister Eileen at Sunday school. I tried hard to believe and I silenced all my doubts. Why didn't you help me?"

"It was a good thing you didn't teleport over last Sunday," Sister Eileen said the following Wednesday when I described what happened. "We canceled Sunday school because Terry's kids had the flu. You would have had to take the bus or walk home if Jesus let you travel there."

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I've recently published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Use the search box at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm to learn more about this testimony of God's providence.

Friday, 9 November 2012

THE FAIRYTALE OF TELEPORTATION.

Have you ever believed something could be done when it defied physics? I unfortunately believed many ridiculous notions when I was a new Christian in a cultic house church. One of their doctrines claimed that we could teleport to anywhere if we had enough faith. From my newly-published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir, here is an excerpt that shows how badly duped I was by that pseudo-teacher.

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Though our outreach failed, the fantastic doctrines Brother Herald taught continually excited me. On a Wednesday evening at the end of November, 1972, Brother Herald taught us about teleportation. "Open your Bibles to Acts, chapter eight, verses thirty-nine and forty," he began. Then he read, "And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea."

Brother Herald fixed each of us with his gaze and preached, "Most mainline Christians think Philip went into some sort of ecstasy. This is absolutely false! All members of Homochristus, those who are new creatures in Christ with sufficient faith, can teleport themselves to wherever they are needed by God."

"You mean I could go anywhere just by willing myself there?" I blurted.

Brother Herald gave me a withering look. "This is not for frivolous usage, Bruce. It is to be used only in the service of God. You may have seen envelopes with 'ON HER MAJESTY'S SERVICE' printed on them. Those are used only for communications from the government. What they contain is of prime importance to those who receive them and must be respected. The power of God is only to be used for his service and the furtherance of the gospel."

While he answered more questions, my mind filled with images of how I would teleport to far away places where I could demonstrate the power and reality of God to everybody.

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I've recently published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Use the search box at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm to learn more about this testimony of God's providence..

Please also click on the Bruce Atchison's books link and read about my previous paperbacks.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Understanding Your Rabbit’s Habits By Tamsin Stone.

Why is the third most popular pet in America and Canada so misunderstood by people? Perhaps it's because they never learned the proper way to look after them. Worse yet, many of the books about bunnies are filled with bad advice.

One book that isn't filled with mistaken ideas regarding the nature of rabbits is Tamsin Stone's concise compendium, Understanding Your Rabbit's Habits. Illustrated with helpful drawings, it explains many physical and psychological reasons for the behaviour of pet bunnies and their wild European cousins.

From extensive research and observations of her rabbit, Scamp, Stone has put together a guide that is sure to help novice bunny owners. Even long-time "rabbit people" will enjoy and appreciate this book.

Being unlike dogs and cats, these animals react to situations differently. For example, they hate being picked up since it's like being caught by a predator. They want to keep all four paws on the floor and receive petting on their terms. Bunnies also love loafing under couches and beds because they feel protected there. Such places are like the warrens or ground cover of their ancestors.

Being herbivores, these animals instinctively chew on things. Since the teeth of rabbits continue to grow, they must eat plenty of hay to wear them down. Without cardboard boxes to chew on and newspaper to shred, indoor bunnies tend to destroy carpets and electrical wires. By rabbit-proofing rooms and making, cardboard box houses with a doorway on opposite sides, these natural-but-problematic behaviours can be redirected from dangerous or valued household objects.

Rabbits have a high degree of intelligence, a fact unknown to many people. Their wild cousins also have complex social hierarchies. Pet rabbits retain the same instincts and emotions, something to keep in mind when keeping them indoors. Otherwise they might seem aggressive, skittish, or naughty to their human caretakers.

Stone runs a rabbit rescue organization called The Rabbit House in the UK and she also blogs at http://www.therabbithouse.com/blog/ about bunny-related topics. Her book can be ordered from the The Rabbit Hous/ page. A Kindle version can be purchased through the www.Amazon UK site. It would make a wonderful gift for any rabbit-loving friend or family member.

Friday, 2 November 2012

GETTING A BANG OUT OF FIRECRACKERS.

I suppose I should have written about this subject before Halloween but I didn't think of it in time. Firecrackers were one of the most memerable aspects of the holiday for me and my generation. We could easily find them for sale in corner grocery stores back then.

One of the incidents that I left out of my Deliverance from Jericho memoir was the evening one of the supervisors, who I referred to as Mr. Thynne, took us down to the school's playground to light the firecrackers we purchased. Since the totally blind kids couldn't see the end of the fuse, Mr. Thynne helped light it. Then he told the boy to throw it.

I asked Mr. Thynne if I could put mine inside of the pipe that the teatertotters rested on. When the firecracker exploded, it made a hollow sound. I expected that it would shoot out of the pipe but it didn't.

Another supervisor showed us how an exploding firecracker could make a can jump off the floor. He led us down the dorm's stairs and into the breezway. Then he lit a firecracker and placed the can over it. We all cheered when the can lept off the cement. Pleasing us even more, he let us each have a turn placing the can over our lit firecrackers.

We had fun with our firecrackers without the supervisor's help as well. The local store sold bundles of tiny firecrackers for a dime each. I felt that lighting the end of the fuse and having the whole bundle go off in rapid succession was a waste of my precious allowance money. We only received fifty cents a week. If we blew it, we couldn't beg or borrow any extra money until the next allowance payment. This taught us to be thrifty.

During one recess, I unwound the fusess from the main fuse. Lighting individual firecrackers made the experience last longer.

Since the can experiment worked so well, I put firecrackers inside bullet shells. A friend had given me a handful of them when we went to a rifle range one Saturday. The force of the explosions sent the shellsabout fifteen feet away. Not only was I pleased with the discovery but no teacher stopped me and confiscated my firecrackers.

Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) describes what life was like in Canada's infamous institution, closed down in 1992 due to rampant sexual abuse of deaf students.

I've recently published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Use the search box at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm to learn more about it.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

BADGES AND CONFLICT.

The saying, "Too late smart and too soon old," certainly is one that transcends time and human experience. My youthful desire to be a witness for Christ caused friction between me and non-believers. Some of it was justified since I didn't think through the consequences of my actions. From my soon-to-be-published memoir, How I Was Razed, here is one instance where criticism of my witnessing was justified. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- While working at the smoke stand that summer, I discovered a new way to evangelize the customers. The Christian bookstore sold a collection of badges with slogans printed on them. I bought as many as I could afford, then wore several of them at a time on my shirt when I reported each day for work. Some customers mocked me but as far as I know, none gave their lives to Christ. I assumed nobody would mind what I wore until Bob confronted me one afternoon at the shop several weeks later. "You're going to have to take those badges off, Bruce." "What for?" "Because religion offends some people. You'll have to stop wearing T-shirts too. It doesn't look neat." "These badges aren't offensive. Besides that, I'm a Christian and I need to tell others about Jesus." "Well, do that on your own time. You're paid to work, you know." Though I hated Bob's order, he made a valid point. CNIB employed me so I needed to dress in a way which wouldn't repel customers. I stopped wearing T-shirts and badges on the job after Bob's warning. Instead, I pinned the badges to my coat. What I did off the job wasn't his concern. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ How I Was Razed is the testimony of how God lead me from cultism to Christianity. I hope to have it published soon. Meanwhile, check out my previous books at the Bruce Atchison's books link on my Blogspot page.

Friday, 26 October 2012

WHY I BOUGHT A GAS STOVE.

When I moved to the country in 2000, I didn't realize how frail the electrical supply to my home would be. Though they were a nuisance, I put up with both power blinks and blackouts. After all, neither lasted that long. The wind storm of October 25, 2008 changed my mind completely. As I ate sandwiches at lunch, the kitchen light went out. I finished eating and tried to call Atco Electric to alert them about the blackout. A recorded announcement reported outages in many areas of the province. The company estimated restoration of power in four hours. Having no power for the computer, I spent the afternoon tidying up my basement. About half past three, my neighbour knocked on the door and asked if my power had gone out. When he heard that it had, he asked if I'd phoned the company. When I said I did, he told me his cell phone battery went dead after ninety minutes of being on hold. I promised I'd get on the blower and find out what was taking them so long to restore power. My wall phone was still working so I dialed the Atco Electric number again. The recording gave me the same old song and dance about power being restored in a few hours and that I was to wait on the line for the first available operator. I gave up after a half hour and went back downstairs. The electricity still hadn't been restored by five o'clock. I was about to call Atco again when an idea struck me. I unplugged the cordless phone's power adapter from it's socket and plugged it into the computer's uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Then I dialed the power company again. This set-up let me work in the basement and stay on hold at the same time. After a half hour, a live operator spoke to me. I told her that I still was without power. She noted it and said somebody would come out to take care of it. Since I had an electric stove, I couldn't cook supper. So I opened a tin of stew and ate that. Then I listened to a battery-powered radio while I waited. By ten-thirty, I became concerned. The house was getting cold from the furnace not being able to run. I phoned Atco again and got the same announcement as before. I hung up after a half hour and hoped somebody would deal with the power. After I had placed extra blankets on the bed and dressed in several layers of long underwear, I heard the furnace start up. After eleven and a half hours, the ordeal was over. I vowed then and there to buy gas appliances which wouldn't fail in a blackout.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

THE GREAT FAMINE OF 1975.

I'm ashamed to admit that I fell for the false prophecy that there would be a massive famine in 1975. So concerned were my mother and I that she began hoarding food. From my forthcoming How I Was Razed memoir, here's an excerpt showing how deceived we were. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As Mom stripped the sheets from our beds, I noticed that somebody pulled one of them away from the wall. A large cardboard box, half filled with canned goods, sat wedged behind its headboard. "What's all this for?" I asked her. "There's going to be a famine next year and I want to be ready for it." My jaw dropped. "Where did you find this out?" "It was in one of those Awake magazines." "Wow! So the Jehovah's Witnesses know about this too?" "Yes. They've been telling people about the coming famine for years." "Garner Ted Armstrong's been doing that too. It really must be serious then. Brother Herald warned us about the same thing." "I hope I can save enough to last. We've got to set aside enough money to buy extra food before the stores run out." After Mom carried the dirty bed clothes into the laundry room, I held my right hand over our stockpile. "Lord, please bless and multiply this food like you did the loaves and fishes," I prayed. "Thanks too that Mom understands at least one advanced truth." Though she didn't mention what we discussed after that day, I congratulated myself for doing well. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity will be in print and e-book form soon. Meanwhile, have a look at my two previous memoirs on the left hand side of this page.

Friday, 19 October 2012

DOOMSDAY? WHAT DOOMSDAY?

Every once and a while, Jehovah's Witnesses come around to people's houses with their message of a coming doomsday. They cite Bible verses that appear to predict dire consequences for the people of this planet. In fact, this theological cult has predicted worldwide disaster for more than a century. Each time their predictions fail, their leaders set a new date. But will this world end with apocalyptic plagues, falling meteors, and the deaths of millions in a global war? Up until this year, I believed that a time of tribulation would precede the return of Jesus Christ to this world. Hank Hanegraaff, the president of the Christian Research Institute, has convinced me that all these dire predictions are based on a misreading of The Revelation of John the Divine. According to The Apocalypse Code, the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the terrible persecution of Christians by Emperor Nero was the great tribulation. Hanegraaff further explained in his book that John's descriptions of the sun turning black, the moon turning blood red, and the stars falling from heaven are symbolic, not literal events. Similar language has been used by various Old Testament prophets to describe the fall of empires Similarly, the mark of the beast isn't some sort of RFID chip or tattoo, as many "end times" pundits claim. The mark of the beast and the mark of the lamb are metaphors for character. Those who had the mark of the beast were wicked and unbelieving people who refused the gospel message. They were easily recognized for their opposition to Christians proclaiming salvation through Christ. Believers were also recognized by their behaviour. The great red dragon in Revelation chapter twelve wasn't communism or Islam but a picture of Satan's attempt to kill the Christ child. The woman mentioned was Israel and the flood was the soldiers of Herod searching for Jesus. The key to Revelation is to understand that book by the other sixty-five in the Bible. It was written to the seven churches in Asia and the message was of what would soon take place. Nobody in the first century could possibly guess the identity of a twenty-first century antichrist. Therefore, Hanegraaff says that six-hundred, threescore, and six are the numbers indicating the name of Nero. I could write much more about the false and true interpretation of Revelation but I'll leave it for The Bible Answer Man to do. Check out www.equip.org for details about The Apocalypse Code and other resources.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

THE TV DICTATOR

Living with a bully is never easy but being in a residential school for deaf and blind children makes things much worse. As I wrote previously, the boy who I call Charlie dictated what entertainment we could enjoy. In Deliverance from Jericho, I wrote about the time I ran afoul of the bully's TV preferences. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Charlie also dictated what television programs we could watch. One gloomy Saturday morning, I tried to find an interesting show. When I turned the channel to one of the local stations, I realized that Batman was on. This was one show which he declared to be for "little kids" and none of us should watch it. Just as I was about to turn the channel, Geoffrey happened to open the door and peer in. Assuming that I had been secretly enjoying the show and I changed the channel because he caught me in the act, he raced to tell everybody the news. Soon all the boys were calling me "Batman" and saying what a "baby" I was. It mattered not that I told the truth regarding what happened. Charlie was especially harsh, not letting up on me for a minute. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of life in Canada's infamous school for the deaf and blind. Read more about it at the link on the left hand side of this page.

Friday, 12 October 2012

MISSING THE YELLOW SUBMARINE.

One of my many childhood regrets is that I missed the original showing of The Beatles' movie, Yellow Submarine. I could have seen it in October of 1968 but the school bully insisted we refuse the offer. In my Deliverance from Jericho memoir, I explained how this came about. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Charlie not only bullied me but he dominated the entire dorm. One cloudy October Saturday afternoon, I stood with a few boys in the parking lot. Suddenly Geoffrey ran up. "Tell Mr. Dunston when he comes that you don't want to see that Yellow Submarine movie. Charlie says it's stupid." We reluctantly complied, knowing he would make our lives miserable if we defied him. Having to refuse this offer depressed me. I particularly wanted to see this Beatles cartoon, being a devoted fan of theirs. Though the band members were involved in some peculiar activities of late, I still loved their music. When Mr. Dunston strolled out of the dorm and offered to take us to the movie, we all refused. "I don't understand. I thought you kids loved rock music." As he turned and walked back into the building, I wished I possessed the courage to buck the trend and go with him. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of life in Canada's infamous school for the deaf and blind. More information about this book is available on the links at the left hand side of this page.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

I THANK GOD IT'S GONE.

Though Canadian Thanksgiving Day is over, I thank God every day for the wondrous freedoms I enjoy. One precious freedom is the lack of pain I now feel about being sent to a residential school for deaf and blind students in Vancouver, British Columbia. At the tender age of seven, my parents sent me five-hundred miles from my home for months at a stretch I'm so glad that school no longer exists. How was this miracle accomplished? June Hunt, the host of Hope in the Night, gave me the answer back in 2003. It all stems from a proper understanding of forgiveness. The word originally meant to write off a debt. Since vengeance is the Lord's and he'll repay, we can hand over our assumed right to revenge to him. June told me to make a list of all the hurtful situations and list the names of those who wounded me emotionally. Then she said to go down the list and hand each hurt or person over to Christ to deal with. She cautioned that the pain would keep coming back but I would eventually be free of it. I did as she said and it worked. The memories and bad dreams don't trouble me anymore. Though I still think it was wrong for the Alberta government to convince Mom and Dad to send me so far from home for such long periods, the poignancy of the memories is greatly diminished. I've forgiven the people who exiled me to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind but that doesn't mean that I now approve of what they did. Had I been given a strong magnifying glass and monocular, to view the blackboard with, I could have gone all the way through public school. I'm thankful that today's disabled students are educated along with their sighted peers. Segregating them into distant institutions is rarely done these days. Sight-impaired students now have access to computers and visual aids barely dreamt of when I was in school. I wrote about the time I was sent to that institution in a book called Deliverance from Jericho. Check it out on the left side of this page.

Friday, 5 October 2012

THE LAST COFFEE BREAK.

Remember CB radio? Back in the late seventies, it was all the rage. I was caught up in it as well. Though some people were rude jerks on the air, I met many excellent CBers and formed strong friendships with them. I remember very clearly the last coffee break that The Channel Five Crowd, as we referred to ourselves, met for the last time. Auntie Diane, as we called her, organized it at a certain restaurant for an afternoon in October. Over burgers and many cups of coffee, the six of us talked for several hours. Afterward, we posed for pictures by the Edmonton Colosseum, as it was called then. We eventually parted, not realizing it was the last time we'd meet together. My friends and I continued to be active on the radio but something changed that day. One by one, my CB buddies disappeared. I eventually gave up the CB and studied for my amateur radio licence. Though my new ham operator friends and I met for coffee occasionally, the informal warmth of The Channel Five Crowd was missing. I wrote about my love of radio in Deliverance from Jericho and When a Man Loves a Rabbit. Both books are available from this page.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

CRAZY FOR CASSETTES.

Long after most folks have given up on cassettes, I still find them useful. Even better, a few companies continue to manufacture them. One of those is National Audio Company. I found this company a few years ago on the Internet. As cassettes and players grew scarce, I realized I'd better find some and buy them before they were gone. That's why I put in an order for 300 C-95s. Now I have plenty of tapes. I also bought some cassette recorders when they were on sale at a discount store. While not being top end machines, they still played tapes. Additionally, I bought several VersaCorders from C. Crane Company. These record at regular speed as well as quarter speed, making them handy for taping long talk shows. Now that the company has discontinued selling them, I'll have plenty of machines in store for the future. Some friends have mentioned to me that the sound quality of cassettes isn't as good as digital media and that the tape gets mangled easily. I've found that only the cheap tape recorders or old decks that have become misaligned will eat tapes. By carefully winding the tape back into the shell, I can keep on listening to it. CD-Rs also are prone to CD rot. One tiny scratch and the whole disk is ruined. I have tapes from decades ago which still work while some of my CD-Rs from six years ago are inaccessible. Many elderly folks also prefer cassettes. They're easy to play and stop. Additionally, the cassettes start at the exact spot that they were stopped. This is so handy when listening to long talks. CDs won't allow that. A user must scan back and fourth to find the spot where the recording was stopped. I'm also involved with providing programs on tape for a Christian cassette magazine called Vision Tape Ministry. Jack Kinley, the main force behind this free publication, doesn't know how to use computers or how to connect CD players to his cassette machine. I tape sermons from the Internet and send those to him through the post. Many of my tapes have been used as part of the bi-monthly publication.

Friday, 28 September 2012

THE "KODAK MOMENT" THAT GOT AWAY.

It always seems to happen. Something funny occurrs but it never gets captured on video. One moment that I would have loved to have captured happened in 1997 with my first house Rabbit. Gideon demonstrated his reasoning skills, as this excerpt from When a Man Loves a Rabbit shows.

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There was one funny incident which I wish I had taped.
The few times that Gideon was out all night, he thumped and put his paws on my bedroom door. The noise of his claws constantly woke me and I had to lock him up again. Every night before bed, I would bribe him to go into his cage.

It was comical to see him charge into the kitchen for his pellets and as soon as he was in his cage, I’d close the door. That rascal invariably grew angry and threw the rabbit equivalent of a tantrum when he discovered he’d been fooled yet again. My little prince tossed his toys around and rattled the cage doors in protest.

Watching him, I had a mental picture of little bunny swear words appearing in a cartoon bubble above his noggin and I could almost read his mind.

“Oh no! Not again! I forgot that he was going to lock me in.”

One night, the lure of alfalfa called to him and Gideon raced toward his cage. Suddenly, he screeched to a halt at the kitchen door.

“Wait a minute! If I go in there, I’ll get locked in again.”

As I called his name, Gideon struggled with the decision. Then he made up his mind. My fur-clad lad turned around and ran straight for the bedroom. Like a child who doesn’t want to go to bed, he hid under the desk.

Of course, there was no place where he could get away from me. So I scooped him up in the recommended way, which allowed him no wiggle room. Then I kissed his head several times and carried him to the cage. He threw his customary tantrum when I went to bed, but it didn’t help him any.

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When a Man Loves a Rabbit is filled with hilarious and poignent vignettes like this one. Please click on my books link at the top left of this page and check out this book.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

FOOD FOOLERY.

Have you ever given your loved ones and pets new types of food in order to see their reactions? I did that on many occasions to my rabbits. Some of their reactions were quite hilarious. Just seeing their upright ears and wide-open eyes made me giggle.

Here's an excerpt of my When a Man Loves a Rabbit memoir in which I experimented with different vegetables.

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When I fed Gideon new foods, he sometimes thought I was playing a trick on him. I gave him some weeds from the yard and he sniffed at them and didn’t know what to do. The same thing had happened with the carrot tops that I gave him after his operation.

I’d heard that some rabbits liked celery, so I handed Gideon a stick of it. He seemed puzzled at first. Once he took a bite though, he realized that it was a new kind of food.

Too late, I learned from the folks on PetBunny that rabbits shouldn’t be fed whole sticks all at once. The strings could catch in their teeth and cause them to choke.

Luckily, nothing bad happened to Gideon.

The next time, I cut up the celery into one-inch slices. Gideon didn’t mind. Greens were greens, as far as he was concerned. Fruit, on the other hand, was a different story.

I soon discovered that my little prince didn’t like banana. I had given him a small slice, but he turned his nose up at it. That surprised me because many list members claimed their bunnies loved banana so much that their butts occasionally twitched.

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If you enjoyed this story, I'm sure you'll like the rest of my book on house rabbits. Please click on my books link at the top left of this page to discover more about this memoir as well as my Deliverance from Jericho book.

Friday, 21 September 2012

TRICKING THE TRICKSTER.

Farley Mowatt certainly said it well. The best way to learn about animals is to live with them. Gideon, my first house bunny, proved all the long-held stereotypes wrong during his seven and a half years with me.

Much of my when a Man Loves a Rabbit memoir related the mischief Gideon caused and the things I learned about rabbits. On occasion, I played pranks on him. Here is one example of how I had fun fooling my little fur friend.

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I played a lot of pranks on poor Gideon in those early days―partly to get even with him, but mostly for fun. I’d noticed that strange noises tended to freak him out. There were many occasions where he thumped, then stood with his ears straight up and his eyes wide open. One time, he even emitted a skunk-like odor because something outside had frightened him.

Years earlier, I had purchased a stuffed toy seal with a microchip and tiny speaker in its body. When you squeezed the sides, it made the barking sound of a seal.

One day, Gideon hopped into my bedroom, suspecting nothing. As soon as I squeezed the seal that was hidden behind my back, he froze. In fact, he looked like he was going to lunge at me or attack whatever had made the noise.

I later learned that bunnies instinctively freeze to make it harder for predators to notice them. The poor guy remained as still as a statue for a couple of minutes before he hopped around in search of the source of the strange sound. I finally took pity on him and let him sniff the toy. He never fell for that joke again―proving that he could learn which sounds were normal and therefore to be ignored.

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When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living
with Bunnies)
contains many more charming vignettes of rabbit mischief. Please click on my books link at the top left of this page and check it out.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

WHY I NEVER GIVE CHANGE TO STREET PEOPLE.

It might sound mean-spirited to some readers but I never give my spare coins to panhandlers. I learned my lesson thirty-five years ago about the harm it does to these folks. Here is a story that tells the reason for my apparent stinginess.

In August of 1977 I was transferred by my CNIB supervisor to work at a smoke stand in the Beaver House liquor store. The Corona Hotel stand had been closed because of poor sales and people also stole merchandise from that shop. They seemed heedless of the fact that they were literally robbing the blind blind. This stand had everything behind the counter and I fetched whatever the customers wanted. The room was quite small, about the size of the average broom closet.

Once again, I struggled with my conscience. The pop and mixers we sold were used in people's drinks. Was I indirectly contributing to alcoholism and drunkenness? I prayed and pondered earnestly on this for a few days. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that people were ultimately responsible for their own actions.

I regret not thinking through a related moral matter that autumn. Shabbily-dressed men frequently came to the store counter and asked me for dollar bills for their change. I dutifully helped them until the manager of the liquor store came to the window. "Are you giving these bums paper money for their change?" When I replied that I had, he continued, "I Don't want you to do that anymore."

"Why not?"

"Because these men are alcoholics. When you give them bills, they just buy booze with them and it worsens their problems."

"I was only trying to be helpful."

"Well, don't do that anymore. You're just keeping these men addicted. "We don't sell alcohol to anyone with lots of change because we know that they just panhandled it. These people need food and a place to live, not booze."

I apologized and agreed not to make change for those street people anymore. This mature gentleman's criticism hurt but I also realized that he cared for these derelicts of society. Had he been greedy, he could have accepted their money without caring what they did with his product. I thought I was helping when I was actually hindering people. I accepted the liquor store manager's admonition since it came with a noble explanation.

I wrote about other moral dilemmas I faced in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. I hope to have this memoir in print and e-book form by the end of the year. As for my two previous memoirs, please click on my books link at the top left side of this page to learn more about them.

Friday, 14 September 2012

SHORTWAVE MEMORIES.

Ask any teenager about shortwave radio and they'll likely have no clue about it. Even among thirty-somethings, the topic of shortwave radio is barely understood by many of them. From my discussions with people, only seniors recall this wondrous part of the radio spectrum.

My first exposure to short wave radio occurred when my parents sent me to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind. Each classroom had a Pye AM and shortwave radio that the teachers sometimes let us listen to. By age ten, I became curious enough to fiddle with the receiver during recess. The strange noises of utility stations and the exotic sounds of broadcasters thrilled me. Stations from Japan, the Soviet Union, and other distant countries kept me spellbound with the wonder of hearing their distant signals.

When my mom bought me a shortwave radio in 1971, I discovered that Ecuador had a Christian radio station called HCJB. Radio Netherlands was another powerful broadcaster that I heard regularly. Each evening, stations from Europe filled the shortwave bands with music and features about their respective countries. Listening to them actually helped me in my Social Studies classes.

During the eighties, I bought several general coverage receivers. These helped me tune in weak stations from exotic Asian and African countries. One morning, while on a camping trip with my cousin, we ate breakfast while listening to a station from Papua New Guinea.

Adding to the excitement was the thrill of receiving clandestine signals from rebel stations such as Radio Venceremos. Pirate stations, illegal broadcasters not involved in insurrection, also excited me. Their programming was often harmless, though some espoused leftist beliefs. With such exciting signals, I couldn't help but spend hour upon hour tuning the dial.

The Internet has largely shut down the major international broadcasters. Governments of wealthy countries assumed that everybody has access to broadband servers so transmitting millions of watts seemed wasteful. Though streaming audio is crystal clear, it lacks the wonder and atmosphere of hearing a signal from half way around the world without satellite or broadband assistance.

Though countries such as New Zealand and Australia still broadcast on shortwave, the bands are often filled with Christian radio stations from America. These often play programs of dubious moral quality. They even air conspiracy programs and infomercials. I avoid those broadcasters and search instead for news or current affairs shows.

I mentioned my love of shortwave radio in my two published memoirs as well as my upcoming How I Was Razed book. God willing, I hope to have it in print before the year ends. Meanwhile, please click on the Bruce Atchison's books link for more information about my books.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

FUNERAL OF A FALSE PROPHET.

Devotion is laudable but not to a liar and blasphemer. As I related in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, Brother Herald's death hit me hard. Here's an excerpt from my upcoming memoir that shows just how I felt when I heard the news of his passing.

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As I lay on the couch after supper the next evening, listening to a New Testament cassette, the phone rang. I fought a stab of abdominal pain as I staggered to the phone in the kitchen.

"I have some bad news to tell you," Sister Eileen said without preamble. "Brother Herald passed away today."

I felt like somebody trapped in a plummeting elevator. "What are we going to do now that he's gone?"

"I don't know." She sounded as bewildered as I felt. "We'll carry on somehow."

"I feel kind of lost, you know?"

"I do too. I've known Brother Herald all my life and now he's gone."

"Who'll teach us now?"

"We still have all his teachings which Mother transcribed. God might also give one of us a prophetic ministry."

"I hope so."

Following a prolonged silence, I remembered to ask, "When's the funeral?"

"I'll let you know. I don't know at the moment."

During the service in the chapel of the funeral home three days later, Sister Roberta sang a hymn as she stood in front of the assembled mourners. During one verse, her voice shook with emotion.

I likewise struggled to keep my own tears back while she sang. The fact that our special teacher would no longer pass on revelations to us struck home.

Following the service, we gathered at the cemetery. As per Brother Herald's instructions, the funeral home covered his coffin with a regulation-sized Union Jack. Once we assembled, the chaplain said a final prayer. Then the attendants lowered our leader's remains into the hole as we filed out of the cemetery.

At Brother Herald's home, a considerable crowd of mourners gathered for a mid-afternoon backyard lunch. All of the church members attended, as did our deceased minister's two sons. Even Emmo and Bessie, who hadn't come to Thee Church for several years, made an appearance. I engaged some of the folks in small talk, but my mind remained occupied with the loss of our remarkable teacher.

During subsequent mid week meetings, Sister Roberta allowed no one to sit in Brother Herald's chair. "In case his spirit comes to the meetings, we must keep it ready for him," she warned us. Throughout my remaining years at Thee Church, this peculiar custom continued.

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God willing, I should have How I Was Razed in print in print and e-book form by the end of this year. As for my previous paperbacks, please click on the Bruce Atchison's books link for information about them

Friday, 7 September 2012

DEATH OF A FALSE TEACHER.

Previously, I wrote about the false teacher that misled me when I attended his church. I believed he was sent from God and had direct communication with him and his "holy spirits." In fact, he convinced me that the spirits of departed Christians would sometimes use his body to preach their messages to us.

When he had skin cancer and passed away on this date in 1981, I felt deeply devastated. From my upcoming How I Was Razed memoir, here is an excerpt that shows how devoted I was to this phony prophet.

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Following one Sunday service near the end of August, Sister Roberta informed her daughter, "Brother Herald is very ill and isn't expected to live for much longer. Would you like to come with me and visit him in hospital?"

When Sister Eileen agreed, I asked, "Could I come along with you?"

"He doesn't want a lot of people crowding around him," Sister Roberta warned. "You better not come along. You'll only upset him."

"Please let me come," I begged. "I don't think Brother Herald will be upset. I've been coming to this church for years so I have a right to visit him, don't I?"

"Well, all right but don't you dare do anything to upset him."

The three of us arrived at the hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

"Which room is he in?" Sister Eileen asked. "I forgot to ask the desk nurse."

As I was about to reply, I heard Brother Herald's distinctive cough. "He's over there," I pointed toward a doorway in a hall adjacent to the elevators.

When I caught sight of our teacher, his appearance startled me. An intern had shaved his head, exposing purple splotches all over his scalp.

"They had to cut off my hair to treat the cancer," Brother Herald explained as I stared.

I fidgeted and shuffled my feet as I stood by his bed. "I sure miss you at church," I mumbled after an awkward silence.

"I'm glad you came to visit," he croaked. "I miss being with you too. I've been through a lot of pain."

The two women took over, chatting with him until we left.

I sat lost in thought an hour later as Sister Eileen drove her mother and me home. Brother Herald often said, "I guess I won't be around much longer." All of a sudden, his impending death loomed.

"The hospital just phoned," Sister Roberta notified her daughter as we walked down the front porch steps after the next Sunday service. "He's very weak and they say he's not likely to last the night."

I halted and stared at Sister Roberta, the worried tone in her voice sending a chill of fear through me. "Can I see him too?" I blurted.

Sister Roberta glared. "No, you may not. You won't want to see him. He's very week and can hardly talk."

I stifled an angry retort as my mind filled with memories of previous slights. That woman always seemed to stand between Brother Herald and me whenever I wanted to see him.

As I lay on the couch after supper the next evening, listening to a New Testament cassette, the phone rang. I fought a stab of abdominal pain as I staggered to the phone in the kitchen.

"I have some bad news to tell you," Sister Eileen said without preamble. "Brother Herald passed away today."

I felt like somebody trapped in a plummeting elevator. "What are we going to do now that he's gone?"

"I don't know." She sounded as bewildered as I felt. "We'll carry on somehow."

"I feel kind of lost, you know?"

"I do too. I've known Brother Herald all my life and now he's gone."

"Who'll teach us now?"

"We still have all his teachings which Mother transcribed. God might also give one of us a prophetic ministry."

"I hope so."

Following a prolonged silence, I remembered to ask, "When's the funeral?"

"I'll let you know. I don't know at the moment."

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In my How I Was Razed memoir, I relate many more vignettes of my house church experience as well as how I eventually learned the truth. God willing, it will be in print by the end of the year.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

HOW TO SPOT A FALSE PROPHET.

With all the preachers claiming to have prophetic powers or some sort of special anointing, how can we tell who is real and who is faking it? Deuteronomy 18:21 and 22 states, " And if you say in your hearts, 'How are we to be certain that the word does not come from the Lord?' When a prophet makes a statement in the name of the Lord, if what he says does not take place and his words do not come true, then his word is not the word of the Lord: the words of the prophet were said in the pride of his heart, and you are to have no fear of him."

Oh, how I wish I had known this in the seventies. I would never fallen for a false prophet and teacher in a house church if I knew this test of a prophet. I wrote of my naivety in my upcoming memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. This excerpt shows how easily I was fooled by a man I call Brother Herald and his assistant, Sister Roberta.

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Once I returned to Edmonton after summer vacation ended, I resumed attending Thee Church. "That's a cool painting," I said to Sister Roberta as I strolled into the sanctuary. On the wall above the baptismal tank, someone had painted a crude landscape consisting of a river in the foreground and steep green hills rising behind it.

"Brother Herald had a vision," Sister Roberta crowed. "He saw the place in the Nahanni valley where the City of Refuge will be. The plaster swirls on the walls matched what he saw exactly so we painted in the colours."

I stared at the wall, amazed that the brush strokes of the plaster lined up perfectly with his vision. It must be from God for it to work out so well, I marveled. I'm glad I'm part of such a spiritually-advanced congregation.

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God willing, I'll have How I Was Razed published later this year. Please check my previous books at the Bruce Atchison's books link.

Friday, 31 August 2012

SOME WOUNDS RUN TOO DEEP.

Have you ever had a traumatic psychological wound that took decades to heal? I have had many in my lifetime. One of the deepest was being sent to an institution for blind children for six long years.

What made matters worse was when people, unfamiliar with institutional life, condemned me for hating it. Even my parents couldn't understand why I called the place a jail and complained bitterly about my lack of freedom there.

I related many of these misunderstandings in my Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School memoir. Even when I attended public school, sighted friends doubted what I said about the institution.

Below is an excerpt relating how a well-meaning acquaintance inadvertently struck a raw nerve during the summer of 1974.

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I had absolutely no wish to see the institution in which I had spent six long years. Regrettably, our bus driver parked on Eighth Avenue and said, "This is the Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind on your left."

I stared at my lap, refusing to gaze out the window. "Aren't you going to look at the school?" a woman next to me asked.

"I spent six years at that lousy place," I sourly replied. She sensed the bitterness in my voice and wisely changed the subject.

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Deliverance from Jericho abounds with vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Please feel free to click on the link to my books or contact me directly for more information about them.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

WHY I DON'T LIKE SCHOOL REUNIONS.

For most folks, meeting alumni from their school days is a thrill. This isn't true of me. In my Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School memoir, I wrote about the mixed results of meeting ex-students from that institution.

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When I left Jericho, I feared I would have to return and hoped I would never have to go back. Although I liked some of the boys who were my schoolmates, I was not the kind of person to enjoy reunions. However, in the summer of 1974, four years after I left Jericho, I participated in a two-week student exchange trip which took me back to Vancouver.

The Voyageur program, sponsored by the federal government, was designed to create dialogue between teens from different provinces. At first, I had mixed feelings about visiting the same city where Jericho was. Then I realized that I might never see the place as Vancouver was a large city. I agreed to participate in the exchange and packed my bags.

Since David Mielke and I were good friends, I asked one of the students to look up his phone number. After we talked, I visited him and we had an enjoyable time that afternoon. Even his parents were pleased to see me.

Other than David, I met only one ex-Jericho student on that trip. Franklin, who at times was my roommate sat in front of me on the tour bus one morning. Having heard passengers speak to him, I realized he was the same person whom I went tobogganing with a few years before.

"Hi, Franklin," I said. When he failed to reply, I spoke louder. "Remember me - I was at Jericho with you." He continued to sit still as a statue, ignoring my overtures. Fine then, don't talk to me, I thought. Since he appeared unwilling to speak to me, I quit trying to rekindle our friendship.

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Deliverance from Jericho abounds with vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Please feel free to click on the link to my books or contact me directly for more information about them.

Friday, 24 August 2012

MEDICATING A RABBIT THE BURKISS WAY.

Contrary to popular belief, rabbits aren't always docile fur balls. They can become angry and uncooperative when something we do displeases them. This is particularly true when it comes to administering medication.

During Gideon's gastro-intestinal stasis episode in 1997, I had quite a battle to get his medicine inside him. Just catching him was hard enough.

Once Gideon realized that the syringe was going to be poked in his face again, he did everything in his power to get away. Each evening, I chased that rebellious little rabbit into the bathroom, grabbed his shoulders, and held him down while I tried to carefully squirt the medicine into his mouth. Gideon struggled so much that I had to pin him between my chest and the linoleum to prevent him wriggling free. Fortunately I didn't spill any medicine in spite of his contortions.

Once the torture was over, that put upon bunny raced into the bedroom and sulked under my chair for hours. What a relief it was for both of us when the daily medication torment came to an end after a week. Seeing Gideon eating and playing normally was also rewarding.

I wrote about these battles of the will in When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies. This paperback also includes touching and hilarious vignettes of my life with house rabbits. Visit my book page to learn more about it.

Additionally, please visit The House Rabbit Society site for everything you need to know about bunny care.