Tuesday, 28 February 2012


I feel sad whenever I hear about today's teenagers having to either share an apartment or stay at home with their parents. Property speculation has raised rents to where they are totally unaffordable for almost all young adults starting out on their own. Forty years ago, rooms were inexpensive and plentiful.

When I was sixteen, I attended a high school in Edmonton, Alberta, twenty miles from my home in Fort Saskatchewan. Special counsellors were tasked to help us blind and visually-impaired students with long reading assignments and filling in test papers.

One disadvantage of this arrangement for out-of-town students was having to rent a room. Normally, this would be of little consequence. In my particular case, I discovered that the landlady had some sort of fixation regarding me and my poor sight. Relations between us became strained to the point where I begged my mom to find me a new room to live in.

"There's a housekeeping room only a block from your school," she informed me as we ate supper one Friday evening. "It's only thirty-five dollars a month too. I'll come to the city and show you where it is."

"I'm glad to hear that," I said. "I'm getting so fed up with that stupid landlady coming in my room while I'm gone and even barging in when I'm there. She complains I'm too noisy, but her and her boyfriend shout and argue past eleven o'clock."

"Well, you won't have to worry about that, or her watching you through the window either."

"Yeah, she even listens at my door. I opened it once and found her standing there."

"That reminds me, where did that large carving knife I gave you go, huh? You didn't go and give it away, did you?"

"No, of course I didn't."

"Well, who took it then?"

"I don't know. The landlady was the only one who came into my place."

"Did you lock the door, huh? You didn't leave it open all the time so people could come in and steal stuff, did you?"

"Of course I locked it. The only person who came in there was the landlady."

"Oh, I just bet she stole that knife. It was such a nice one too."

"I think she might have taken that knife too," I thought as I ate. "She did con Mom out of the twenty-five dollar damage deposit because she cleaned the place for me."

The new furnished room that Mom found for me was cosy but what gave me the most happiness was that my new landlord and landlady never barged in or spied on me. If I muttered to myself or listened to music at a decent volume, nobody knocked on my door demanding answers.

In my upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir, I wrote about other authority figures who didn't respect my personal boundaries. To a lesser extent, I mentioned similar incidents in my two previous books. You're welcome to contact me directly for more information about them.

Friday, 24 February 2012


Imagine staying on an isolated island off the west coast of America for five days. Imagine some authority figure ordering you not to use any sort of cologne, makeup, or similar cosmetic product. Imagine not being allowed to smoke, drink, or eat your fill of whatever you liked. Imagine not being permitted to talk to the other camp inmates except during supervised meetings. Imagine having to jog a mile along a gravel road first thing each morning before eating a meagre breakfast of oatmeal. Imagine having no coffee to drink either.

It certainly sounds like some sort of mind control cult or religious commune. In actual fact, it was a self-improvement retreat that my Amway sponsor and I went on in February of 1984. Having previously attended the week-long introductory seminar, we felt eager to learn more about human psychology and how it would improve our businesses.

The Pursuit of Excellence organization, sponsor of the seminars, rented a campground on Orcas Island in the state of Washington during February of 1984. Our isolation from the haste and pressure of society was meant to help us focus on the lessons.

As I wrote in my upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir, both of us had qualms about this strange place once we arrived there. My Christian convictions immediately posed a problem. How could I pray aloud without breaking the "no talking" ground rule? I decided to petition the Lord during the periods when we were sent into the forest to meditate. I whispered my prayers, all the while glancing around for any spies who would report me to the facilitator of the retreat.

After working on their lessons, performing their relaxation exercises, and obeying their restrictions that week, all twenty-plus of us participants cheered the arrival of the school bus that would soon take us back to the ferry. Though Orcas Island was lovely and I enjoyed the solitude, returning home to my routine felt wonderful.

I've expressed my love of solitude in my previous memoirs, both of which are displayed on the left hand side of this page. Details about them are available by clicking my books link. You're also welcome to contact me directly for more information.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


Twenty-five years ago, I passed a test that opened up a whole new world of communication for me. I earned my amateur radio licence.

Radio and TV have fascinated me since childhood. When my mom changed the batteries in her portable table radio, I felt astonished. "Where are all the little people that make the music?" I asked as I peered into the receiver's innards. Mom chuckled, then she explained that radio signals came from far away and the radio converted them into sounds.

My obsession with long distance wireless communication grew throughout my teen years. When my mom bought me a pair of walkie-talkies, I had so much fun with them that I wore out the batteries in a week. After a while, my family tired of my requests for them to go some distance from the house and talk to me with the other set.

In 1977, I became a CB fanatic. That hobby was enjoyable but I soon became bored with only 40 channels on which to talk. I had heard of amateur radio but the prospect of learning morse code and electronics intimidated me.

By 1985, I felt ready to brave the gruelling courses required to earn a licence. I studied hard until I felt ready to take that all-important exam.

On a hazy February friday afternoon in 1987, my mentor and I met at the office of the Department of Communications (now called Industry Canada). I felt nervous as the instructor handed me the test papers and asked if I could read them. "It would go faster if you read the questions to me," I suggested. "I can't see too well."

The aural part of the course was tough but I managed to answer most of the questions. On the other hand, the Morse code section gave me pause. My hand felt like rubber as I squinted at the paper and pounded out the message with the Morse code key. I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I finished.

Two agonizing weeks passed as I waited for the results of the exam. Day by day, I checked my mail box for that all-important letter.

I not only passed the test but the call sign I requested was available. A week later, my licence came. I proudly displayed it in my radio room.

I've had the call sign, VE6XTC, for the last twenty-five years. Though I'm not active on the radio due to equipment and antenna problems, I still feel proud of achieving such a milestone in my life.

I've written about my amateur radio activities in When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) and in my upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoirs. You're welcome to click on my books link or contact me directly for more information.

Friday, 17 February 2012


Rabbits love to play. This fact, not commonly known by the general public, was adequately demonstrated to me time and time again by a succession of house bunnies during the past two decades. The antics of my furry friends provided me with hours of entertainment and amusement as they lived out their lives in my home.

I made an interesting discovery quite by accident eleven years ago. It taught me that old rabbit toys need not be replaced in order to keep the minds of my long-eared companions stimulated. It also kept them from chewing things they shouldn't, such as my furniture and rugs.

From When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies), here is how I made this discovery.


By February, Harry had become bored with his cardboard house. On a whim, I flipped it over. To Harry, it suddenly became a new toy and he looked so comical with such long, black floppy ears bouncing around. He acted as if he'd never seen the box before and joyfully played with it.

Had I known what his reaction would have been, I would have turned it upside down months ago.


When a Man Loves a Rabbit contains many more fascinating stories of life with house bunnies. These vignettes range from the tragic to the hilarious. You're welcome to click the link to my books or contact me directly for more information.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


Valentine's Day was one occasion which my parents didn't celebrate. It wasn't for religious reasons; we just didn't bother with it. I knew nothing about the custom of giving loved ones paper hearts and candy until my grade one teacher, Mrs. Mael, introduced us to it.

After asking one student to hand out sheets of red construction paper and scissors, she showed us how to fold the page in half and cut out the shape of a heart.

"All right, everybody," Mrs Mael instructed over our excited chatter, "I want you to print the name of somebody you love on the heart. You may write your brother's name or your sisters if you want. Or maybe you could write 'Mom' or 'Dad.'""

I stared at the red paper heart I cut out and pondered whose name I should scrawl on it. Since "Mom" was only three letters long, I snatched up my Primer Print pencil and scribbled that on my heart.

"Bruce," our teacher called, "give every one a paper doily. You'll find them on my desk."

"What's a doily?" I asked as I stared at the clutter of things on her desk.

"Those frilly things are doilies," she explained as she walked over and handed me a stack of them. "Go to every pupil's desk and give them one each.

As I complied with her request, I ran out of doilies after only giving them out to half the class. "Can I have some more doilies?" I asked as I looked for more on the desk.

"You couldn't have run out," she said as she walked over to me.

"He's given me three," a helpful girl called out from across the room. Other students echoed similar observations.

I stood there, staring at my shoes and blushing with shame. Instead of scolding me, Mrs Mael came to my rescue. She walked down each isle and collected the extra doilies from my classmates. Then she handed them to me. I carefully separated each disk of fancy, white paper as I completed my task.

After we glued the doilies to the backs of our paper hearts, our teacher brought out a wonderful treat, She handed each of us a little red, plastic heart-shaped box filled with heart-shaped candies. "Happy Valentine's Day," she exclaimed as we munched happily on our cinnamon-flavoured sweets.

This day of love and warmth, overcast and cold though it was that afternoon, remains vivid in my mind fifty years later.

In Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), I wrote about being taken out of that local school and sent to an institution for blind and deaf students.

Please click on my books link for details or feel free to contact me directly.

Friday, 10 February 2012


In previous posts, I've mentioned my credulity and how certain individuals took advantage of me. Though they sometimes believed they were doing me a favour, the end results were often disheartening.

One of these well-meaning acquaintances was Patrick, a fellow Amway distributor. After one motivational meeting at a local product distribution warehouse, he handed me a green pamphlet as he remarked, "I don't really have time for this course but it might be of help for building your business." As he explained briefly about what this Pursuit of Excellence course taught, I skimmed over the pamphlet. All in all, the seminar appeared to be a worthwhile investment.

My sponsor, the woman who enrolled me in the Amway "opportunity," also became interested when I showed her the brochure. With little hesitation, we both signed up for the week-long course in February of 1984.

Much of what the instructor taught was familiar to us, having already read self-help books. Additionally, the course covered the four types of individuals (controllers, promoters, analyzers, and supporters), as well as the reasons why they do what they do. Much of the material dealt with visualization, the unscientific notion that people can obtain what they vividly pictured in their minds.

As the days passed, I took copious notes in order to retain what I had learned. Contrary to my expectations, all that information had no effect on product sales. It didn't help me sponsor more people into Amway's multi-level marketing scheme either.

Adding to my disappointment was the realization that the course, and another two that I took afterward, didn't deal with the root of my chronic depression. I had wasted several hundred dollars on what turned out to be smoke and mirrors.

I now realize that it was my pride that kept me struggling to succeed in Amway. Even when the Canadian government sued founder, Rich DeVos, for tax evasion in 1983, I clung doggedly to my belief that I might become rich through that business.

Likewise, I remained a member of a cultic house church for more than fifteen years because I believed they were advanced in God's truth. Now I know that they were mislead and that many of the leader's assertions were blasphemous.

I wrote How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity in the hope that my story would help and comfort others in similar circumstances. My goal is to have my memoir in print and e-book form this year.

I already have two paperbacks published. You're welcome to click on my books link or contact me directly for more information.

Monday, 6 February 2012


Why do some individuals fall for Ponzi schemes and multi-level-marketing hype? From my own experience of money-making rackets, I realize that my pride blinded me to the truth. These schemes are set up to generate substantial wealth for the folks at the top of the pyramid while the bottom level partners lose money.

My introduction to this supposed opportunity to earn an unlimited income came in 1982 when a member of my church introduced me to Amway. From my upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir, here is the account of my first experience as a multi-level marketer.


"Now that you're in Amway, Bruce, you're going to have to hold meetings," Sister Eileen informed me as she drove me home from church the following Sunday. "Invite everybody you know but don't tell them it's about Amway. Say that you've got a business plan or a way to supplement income, depending on who you're talking to. Some people get nervous if you call it a business."

"Why can't I just tell them it's Amway?"

"People have heard some nasty things about the company, but they're all untrue. It isn't a pyramid scheme because products are involved. In a pyramid scheme, people send money to the person higher up in the chain and so on and so forth. The Amway opportunity lets people sell products and build their business as big as they want to."

That made sense but I still felt qualms about withholding information from people who had legitimate concerns.

Sister Eileen taught me how to present the plan that afternoon. Filled with excitement, I sat by the phone after supper with my address book. I opened it and dialled each of my friends from A to Z. Instead of being eager to visit me and find out about the opportunity, each one became suspicious when I evaded their direct questions. Some friends remained cordial afterward but I lost most of them, including my CB buddies, that night.


How I Was Razed is the testimony of how God showed me his true nature after charismatic house church elders misled me for more than fifteen years. You're welcome to contact me directly for more information about this upcoming paperback.

Friday, 3 February 2012


The saying, "easier said than done" is true of practically every endeavour. Work is no exception to that aphorism. High school and post-secondary students are frequently presented with rosy images of employment in glamorous careers by recruiters from various industries, all touting their company's virtues.

In December of 1975, a CNIB representative extolled the benefits of Caterplan, an employment scheme designed to place blind individuals in cafeterias and kiosks, to a group of us teenage patrons visiting the headquarters in Toronto. Being in need of a job, I applied to Caterplan for work the next month.

In my How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir, I described my dismay when the promise of a rewarding career didn't immediately materialize. Here's an excerpt from my manuscript that describes what happened.


The phone rang one morning in late January. A CNIB counsellor named Bob gave me the good news that I would be employed as a dish washer in the cafeteria at the Alberta Legislature. That afternoon, I had my long hair cut short and beard shaved off.

My joy turned to shock on the morning that I reported for work. Except for two coffee breaks and a short lunch, I continually loaded the large dish washing machine's conveyer belt with dirty dishes and dried them when they tumbled out the other end. Additionally, I scrubbed pots and checked the racks by the kitchen for more dirty dishes. The pressure never let up.

By the end of the day, I called Bob at the CNIB from the nearest pay phone. "I can't do this job. It goes too fast," I complained.

"Don't worry, Bruce, it takes time to get into the swing of things. You'll get better at it as the days pass."

"I hope you're right. I didn't realize dish washing would be this hard."

"Just keep working at it. We don't have any spare stands for you to work at now so you'll have to stay where you are."

I did my best to keep up with the demands of the job. Even so, a constant backlog of dirty dishes and angry co-workers badgered me.

"If you think this is busy, wait until the Legislature is in session," one woman admonished. "This will seem like a picnic."

The manager dismissed me at the end of the month. Though I beamed with pride as I held my first pay cheque, and knew that I had earned every penny of it, I lost much of my starry-eyed optimism for the wonderful world of work.


How I Was Razed is the testimony of how God revealed his true character to me after charismatic house church elders misled me for more than fifteen years. You're welcome to contact me directly for more information about this upcoming paperback.