Friday, 30 August 2013


Though I haven't had to go to school since 1975, I still feel blue at the end of summer. Those back-to-school advertisements also bring me down. Why? They remind me of those six depressing years of being exiled from home for months at a stretch.

Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind began their fall semester a week later than public schools did. Even so, facing three months in an uncaring institution filled me with anguish. As August came to a close from 1965 to 1969, I felt the need to pack in as many experiences of my home town of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta as I could. I didn't know how bad the school would be in 1964 so I didn't savour the last days of summer.

I remember walking to various places that I considered special to me, one of which was the neighbourhood playground. Memories of all the good times my sisters and I had there filled my mind as I looked at the playground equipment.

I also visited the downtown section and thought about the candy stores I loved. On the way back, I gazed at the public school I used to attend before a government case worker convinced my parents to send me to a blind school. How nice it was back them to go home for lunch and sleep in my own bed each night.

In 1970, my parents enrolled me in a school in Edmonton and found a place for me to board during the week. I liked this arrangement much better since I lived with a family in their home and went to my parent's place on weekends. The school I attended had counselors who helped me with reading assignments and taking tests. Being mainstreamed into the public school helped me overcome deficiencies caused by being isolated at Jericho.

I wrote about these deficiencies in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. More information on that memoir and my debut book are at the Bruce Atchison's books page.

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

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


I learned a hard lesson thirty years ago. God's angels  aren't my personal security guards. Had I taken charge of the situation by securing the windows myself, I wouldn't have lost almost three hundred dollars.

As I opened the door to the taxi parked outside my basement suite, I saw somebody sitting on the steps to the main floor of the house.  I assumed it was one of the tenants' friends since people often came and went from their place. After telling the driver to take me to the Edmonton Convention Centre, my thoughts were only about the good time I'd have at the Amway convention.

My sponsor, her mother, and I did enjoy the conference, particularly the a cappella group. The Nylons were an up-and-coming vocal harmony group during the early eighties. They performed their songs between Amway speakers.

After having a lovely supper at a restaurant, the three of us parted company. I arrived home and noticed that something didn't look right. When I walked up to a red object and examined it, I saw that it was the bowl I placed under a potted plant. Not only were both things tossed carelessly on the grass but the outside window had been removed and left leaning against the house. Then it sunk in that my suite had been broken into.

The police officer who came to my place dusted for fingerprints and photographed the window which had been removed. He also told me it was unwise to leave so much cash under my waterbed's mattress. I had that cash ready so I could buy the washing machine from the landlord.

My sponsor wasn't sympathetic either. When I asked why God hadn't protected my place, she said, "Because he expects you to use your brain. Remember what the sign said in that Amway film? 'This machine has no brain. Use yours.'"

From that day onward, I've taken the security of my home seriously. I've done what I could to install security systems over the years and I make sure that windows are secured. Like we used to say on the CB, "I send out my signal twenty-six miles and the Lord does the rest." It's impossible to have a completely safe home but people can do as much as they can to deter casual criminals.

I wrote in greater detail about my involvement in Amway as well as a blasphemous house church in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Friday, 23 August 2013


Is the most efficient furnace the best one to buy? During my research in August of 2009, I discovered it isn't always so. Consequently, I bought a mid efficiency furnace instead of a high efficiency model.

When I Googled high efficiency furnaces complaints, I found a number of disturbing stories. Several people wrote that these much-touted machines actually stopped working in extreme cold conditions. Since I live in Alberta where temperatures of minus thirty are sometimes the norm in winter, I realized that an iced-up furnace would be a huge liability.

The Province of Alberta, in whatever they use for brains, decided unilaterally to ban mid efficiency furnaces in 2010. Though I hate being stampeded into purchases, I realized that I'd better get a mid efficiency furnace before the January first ban.

After a local company installed my new furnace and took the old model away, I hoped the purchase I made was a good one.

I almost panicked when the weather was cold enough to run the furnace. Instead of the usual hot air coming out of the vents, a lukewarm breeze flowed out. I called the company to ask why my new furnace was working so poorly. The installer said it takes in outside air and combines that with indoor air. The heat exchanger also removes heat from the air before blowing it outside.

Though I miss having hot air warm up the house quickly, the mid efficiency furnace has worked without a hitch for the three winters I used it. August is a good time to have the furnace checked and change the filter. Waiting until it breaks down during a cold snap is foolish. As I've learned, repair people seem busiest during the times when furnaces choose to quit. The money spent on getting a check-up in the summer is worth the peace of mind later.

Though the summer reading season is almost over, perhaps you might like something to read during the autumn. Visit Bruce Atchison's books and read about my first two memoirs. I published a third one recently called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


In my books and blogs, I've often mentioned my adoration for science and electronics. As a child, I loved taking old radios and TVs apart. Whenever I could, I'd ask adults for any old radio or TV they didn't want anymore. While at home during summer vacation, I found a few TV chasses behind a repair company and took them home.

I had hours of fun dismantling those junkers. While doing so, I discovered many electronic parts that I hadn't seen before. Being inquisitive, I took some of those apart to find out what they contained.

One of the parts I dismantled was a capacitor. It consisted of a coil of metal foil with paper in between. I learned later that these capacitors store and discharge electricity quickly. Back in 1971, I didn't know that.

Along with that subject, I've also written about my love of fire. The furnace fascinated me since I could light materials in it and watch them burn. While examining the paper from the capacitor, I decided to see what would happen if I burned it. To my astonishment, the fire was a beautiful lime green colour. Whatever chemicals the manufacturer used to coat the paper obviously made the flame turn green.

When I received a chemistry set for my birthday the following year, I learned that some substances burn with different coloured flames. Using my mom's gas stove, I tested quite a few chemicals to see what colour they made in the flame.

Such shenanigans wouldn't be allowed today. Our society has become so litigious that any accidental injury would fuel a lawsuit. Children, as far as I know, aren't allowed to do such dangerous things as burn chemically-treated paper in the furnace or take apart electronic devices which have sharp edges inside. Much of the excitement my generation of experimenters is lost as a result.

Speaking of my childhood, I wrote a book called Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. It and my debut memoir are at the Bruce Atchison's books page. I also recently published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Friday, 16 August 2013


Would you believe we got our Siamese cat from the local post office? It really did happen. A girl was giving away kittens and my sister Diane brought one home. Mom wasn't at all pleased but she decided to let us keep our new feline friend.

Cocoa, as Diane named her, was quite a character. Apart from the usual cat characteristics, she had a dignity about her that made us nickname her The Queen. She also had the odd habit of hiding under the phone table when somebody called us. I suppose she figured that we ran there to stop that frightening thing from ringing.

Our cat had a unique voice too. Instead of meowing, she'd say, "Nam." Consequently, we often spoke of her "namming" for something or other. She could make it sound like an imperious command too. That often made us laugh, though she wasn't amused.

Cocoa was also an excellent fly hunter. Whenever one landed, she'd stalk it and pounce. Sometimes her hunting expeditions weren't successful. Cocoa once caught a fly between her paws in the bathroom. When she parted them to eat her prey, the fly walked under the door and flew away. Cocoa stood in the doorway when I opened it, scanning this way and that for that pesky insect.

One sunny evening, she spotted a black dot on the rug. She crept up to it and pounced. Much to her surprise, it was only a watermelon seed. She ran under the couch, doubtless feeling embarrassed and frustrated. Our boisterous laughter didn't help her mood at all either.

Our cat was a graceful animal when she wanted to be. Diane and I were playing a game of Risk on the living room floor one morning. Cocoa walked across the game board without disturbing a single piece. That really impressed us since the board was covered with small plastic cubes representing troops on a world map.

Some pleasures were too hard for our feline friend to resist. Cocoa adored going outside. When she wasn't allowed to, she often jumped and clung to the screen of the door. We had quite a hard time keeping her from escaping whenever somebody opened the door.

Cocoa's penchant for escaping became her downfall. In the autumn of 1980, a dog attacked her. She crawled under a bush and expired there.

Though I like cats, rabbits are my favourite pet. Visit Bruce Atchison's Books page. Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School is also featured there.

My newly-published memoir is called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


Don't you just hate that when somebody manipulates you into doing something you don't feel good about doing? I've had that happen many times in my life. This doubtless happens because I'm too nice for my own good, especially when I was young.

Back in August of 1971, a new clothing store opened in my home town of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. To celebrate their opening, a local radio station did a remote broadcast. As part of the promotion, the store gave away free merchandise.

While this was going on, I sat in the basement bedroom that I shared with my sisters. Diane suddenly burst into the room. "Bruce, get on your bike and go to that store," she urged. "They're giving away a pair of size thirty pants."

"Why don't you go if you want them so much?" I said, annoyed at her importunity.

"Because they're guy pants," she said as if that was obvious to everybody. "I don't see why you can't go," she continued. "I bought you that Yellow Submarine album, remember? Why can't you do me a favour and get those pants for me?"

My mind filled with worries as I peddled as fast as I could to the shop. "What if they see the pants don't fit?" I fretted. "What if Diane doesn't like them or the legs are too short?" By the time I leaned my bike against the wall of the store, I felt as if I wouldn't be able to speak.

"Can I help you?" A man in a white shirt and black tie asked when I entered the shop. I screwed up what little courage I had left and asked if anybody had claimed the size thirty pants yet. When he said nobody had and gave me a pair to try on, I changed into them in the dressing room. They were tight on me but I sucked in my gut to make them look as if they fit.

Instead of changing back into my jeans, I wore the slacks home. All the while, I worried about them splitting. I worried that Diane would give me a tongue-lashing if that happened.

I also felt bad for implying that the pants were for me. I had given my life to Christ a few years earlier and felt as if I sinned. "Please forgive me for lying about the pants," I prayed as I peddled.

Fortunately for me, Diane liked the slacks and they fit her. The garment didn't split either. I also believe the Lord did forgive me. Even so, I felt bad about the whole situation.

I wrote extensively about my faith and how I became involved with a toxic house church in my newly-published memoir, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm.

Friday, 9 August 2013


Have you ever had to report a crime in progress at a place with no street address? Many cities have green spaces but if there are no roads, how do you tell the cops where to go? I faced that dilemma on this date in 1985.

As I took my usual Friday afternoon walk in Mill Creek Ravine Park, I heard a loud crack. Two ten-year-old boys came into view, one holding a 22 gauge shotgun. Both chattered excitedly about the squirrel they just wounded. With another bullet, they finished off the poor creature.

Armchair quarterbacks told me later that I should have confronted the boys and politely told them that discharging firearms was against the law in public parks. I felt that there was reason enough to get the police first and not risk being threatened or shot myself. Consequently, I raced home to use my phone and call the complaint line.

I had difficulty telling the officer who took my call exactly where the crime took place. No signs were posted along the walking path and I had no idea of which street or avenue was nearest to the place. I did my best to give an approximate address. Then I waited in case the police would phone back. Not only did nobody call but I wasn't able to meet my brother Roy downtown as we had planned.

Even though we now have cell phones with GPS apps, it's still hard to call the police and give exact coordinates in a park. Mill Creek is especially difficult since most of it is left in a natural state. If you know of a better way to inform the authorities of a crime in progress in an undeveloped area, please comment.

I've written about other times when I tried to report to the police some sort of illegal activity in my three memoirs. Two of them are on the Bruce Atchison's books page. I recently published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


What would you think of somebody who plugged a power bar into itself and wondered why it wouldn't run anything? That person would be even more foolish to demand a refund from the store where the power bar was purchased from.

The sad truth is that thousands of Christians are taught to have faith in their faith by unscrupulous preachers. When these people aren't healed or don't receive what they fervently prayed for, they become angry with God. Many never return to Christianity.

I happened upon one of these wicked teachers while surfing the shortwave dial a while ago. He raved on and on about how faith is a substance and that we could grow it. According to this man, Christians lacked health and wealth because they didn't exercise faith in their faith.

What the teachers of this nonsense fail to realize is that faith means trust and that trust in itself is redundant. It must be placed in something or somebody capable of fulfilling it. After all, we trust that the money in our pockets is always worth what the inscriptions on each denomination says. Likewise, we trust that our police force will come and arrest criminals. Faith in God is the same. We place our trust in him and he gives us what we need.

As for those naive followers who place their faith in their faith, they should be pittied. They don't know any better but the preachers often do. The Bible says that teachers have the stricter judgement. That radio preacher and hundreds like him will have to face God's wrath on Judgement  Day  for the people they misled. Likewise, they'll have to suffer the consequences of using Christ's name as a pretext to fleece the flock.

The house church leader who conned me into believing his abberant doctrines will have his own strict judgement to bear on that final day. So will his devoted elder who chided me regularly regarding my supposed lack of faith. I'm glad I now know that the power bar of belief has to be plugged into a power source, not into itself.

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

Friday, 2 August 2013


The following post is an entry in a writing contest held by the Positive Writers blog. hosted by Bryan Hutchinson. It's about the moment when people first knew for sure that they were writers. Prizes are Amazon gift cards worth $75.00, $50.00, and $25.00. Contest ends on August 30, 2013. Click on "Positive Writers" to read the contest rules.

When does a writer become a writer? With some people, this is an easy question to answer. Others drift into the craft. For me, it was a free verse poem in the Victoria Com posit High School's Redman newspaper that showed me that what I wrote was worth publishing.

I'm not sure where or when I heard the announcement but the school's journalism program wanted students to submit their work for possible publication. After thinking it over, I decided to write something and submit it. But what could I write? I spent considerable time thinking about that question. Then inspiration struck.

I wrote a free verse poem which likened the year to the timeless battle between the forces of cold and heat. Being legally blind, scribbling out my words on paper was tedious. In fact, my nose was almost touching the page as I wrote. Even so, I persisted until I had all the verses for the twelve months written. Then I nervously handed my poem in to the editor and waited.

To my delight, the Redman published my poem in February, 1973. Of all the people I showed it to, my dad was the most amazed. "I've learned more about you in the past five minutes than I did during your whole life," He remarked as he handed me back the paper.

I wish I still had that poem. Bad though it might have been compared to the works of famous poets, it was special to me. That was the first time my work appeared in print.

Two decades later, I bought my first computer. It had a synthetic voice attachment which converted the text on the screen into synthetic speech. The world of writing opened up for me as I learned how to use WordPerfect 5.1 and submitted my electronic music album reviews on floppy disks to the Voyager fan magazine in England. Two years later, I bought a modem and went online. After being put on disability from my government job, an employment counselor read my tear sheets and suggested I become a professional writer.

Finding paying work was difficult but I sold a filler article about a blind choir to New Age Journal the next year. I beamed with pride as I deposited that $15.00 cheque in my bank account. It was the first time anybody had paid me for my writing work.

I've also written three memoirs and self published them. Read about When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and living With Bunnies and Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School at Bruce Atchison's books. My new memoir called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers