Friday, 28 June 2013


I wrote back in March about a unique CBC program called Neon Nights With JB Shayne, thinking that few readers had heard of it. To my delight, I received a message from a friend that he was interested in downloading what I had recorded during the sixteen months that I had faithfully listened to the show.

From what I've discovered, Neon seems to have had a cult following. If you Google "JB Shayne," quite a few links pop up regarding this enigmatic announcer. One excellent write-up on him is on Michael Klassen's page. As for other sites, I'll let you have the fun of discovering more fascinating comments on this unique Vancouver legend.

From what I can gather, JB Shayne was not one to be shoved into a bland mold. Perhaps that was why, on June 26th, 1982, Neon aired for the last time. His fans, including me, tuned in as he did his fair well show, feeling something special was ending. Many of us had tape recorders running in an attempt to capture as much of our favourite program as possible.

I tried listening to Nightlines and Brave New Waves, which replaced Neon, but it just wasn't the same. JB was Neon and nothing else would do. He had that something special that made the show what it was.

I wrote to the CBC and complained about the termination of JB and his show. Somebody wrote back but the blandly-phrased letter didn't answer the question regarding why the program went off the air. I suspect JB was just too wild for the genteel CBC management.

As I wrote in March, I saved my old open reels of that show to the PC. Though I only taped tunes I liked, it still is an excellent listening experience. If anybody is interested in these recordings, please e-mail me at batchison (at) Though I'm busy promoting my new book, I'll make my recordings available to people if there's enough interest.

Speaking of my new book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is now available in Kindle and Nook form for only $3.99. Check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm. For folks who like old-fashioned paperbacks, visit Virtual Bookworm's print books.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013


Have you ever had something good happen but you didn't realize it until later? That's what I experienced in 1970. It was a watershed event in my life, yet I didn't believe it was at the time. Adults had reneged on their promises often in the past so I dared not build up my hopes.

June 25th is a special date for me. That was the day I left Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind for the last time. As days went, it was like any final day at the institution. Our supervisor woke us at seven o'clock. We dressed and after our ablutions, hurried down the long hill to the dining hall for breakfast.

There were no classes that day so we trudged up the hill to the dorm. As we packed our suitcases, we chattered about the upcoming summer vacation. Everybody was in a celebratory mood.

When we heard our supervisor announce that the school bus had arrived, we lugged our luggage downstairs to the parking lot. Though it was lunch time, we felt eager to get away from that jail of a school. We knew we would get a meal on the plane that would taste much better than the dining hall's slop.

As we left the bus at the airport, some of my things fell out of my shopping bag. My suitcases were full so I carried those extra items onto the plain. Several boys complained about the delay as I scrambled to grab my things.

possessions went well for me after that. The stewardess showed us to our seats and the flight took off on schedule. We experienced no turbulence during the flight and landed without incident at Edmonton's international airport.

Dad met me at the airport and drove me home safely too. As far as I could tell, he hadn't been drinking too much. The weather had been sunny in Vancouver as well as in Edmonton so we had no weather hazards to worry about.

I felt the usual euphoria I had always felt on arriving at home in Fort Saskatchewan. I greeted Mom and my sisters as I had done for the past six years. Then Mom cooked supper as we watched TV.

I lived with the fear of being sent back to Jericho for two years. Various administrators and Mom made it clear that if I didn't do well, back I would go. When I registered for high school in 1972, I suddenly realized that the officials couldn't send me back. Jericho taught only grades one to ten, with special tutoring for exceptional students in grades eleven and twelve. I had done reasonably well the past two years, passing both times. The joy of that realization overwhelmed me as I capered around my rented room.

I wrote about my years at that soul-crushing institution in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. Click on the "Bruce Atchison's books' link on the left side of this page for details.

Meanwhile, I have a brand new book out called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Friday, 21 June 2013


It's a hard thing to tell a friend that he or she isn't welcome at one's home anymore. Yet this situation does happen from time to time in our lives.  Some friends understand the difficulty their presence causes but others take it hard. I was one person who felt rejected when Jay, the man in whose house I boarded, announced that I would no longer be staying at his place anymore.

One June evening in 1972, I stood listening to my radio in my basement room. "I need to talk to you about something," Jay announced as he paused at the doorway. "May I come in?" I felt the twinge of fear I always did when adults took that tone of voice with me.

Jay stepped into the room and came right to the point. He told me that he and his family were moving to an apartment and there wouldn't be room for me there. As we discussed the matter, Jay said that they wanted their privacy and they couldn't have that while I was around.

I felt devastated. Though Jay assured me that there were no hard feelings, he and his wife had tired of having a boarder.  I had done nothing seriously wrong but they felt they were no longer interested in me residing in their basement.

Like many situations that seem harsh, things worked out well in the end. My mom found a house-keeping room for me and I began cooking for myself. Though the landlady was nosy, I had more privacy than I did at Jay's place. Apart from visits to the homes of friends and relatives, I've been living on my own for forty-one years. Being evicted from Jay's home began my journey to the solitude I prize so highly today.

I wrote about Jay and the house church he introduced me to in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Read more about the way God led me out of legalism and error to the freedom of his grace at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Bruce Atchison, boarding houses, confronting friends

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


Decades ago, many public buildings had kiosks (called smoke stands) staffed by blind people who sold various snack foods, cigarettes, and other items. As far as I know, they've all been closed. What happened to cause this employment opportunity for sight-impaired adults to vanish? The answer might surprise you.

I worked for about nineteen months in various smoke stands in Edmonton during the late seventies. During those times, I witnessed sighted people walk in and brazenly steal merchandise. One afternoon at the University Hospital, I actually saw a man walk in, grab a carton of milk from the cooler, and walk out without paying. When I objected, the man who was training me said that I shouldn't make a fuss. "That man always does that," he explained. I felt so stunned that I couldn't speak. People actually had the nerve to rob the blind and feel all right about it.

I also was robbed of some merchandise. Two men wanted to look at the various watches we had for sale at the Corona Hotel smoke stand. I dutifully showed them the ones they were interested in. What i didn't see was that the crooks pocketed some of them. Only after they had left and I put the watches back did I discover the theft.

I did manage to catch one boy in the act of stealing when a chocolate bar fell out of his pocket. I hope he realized how despicable it was to rip off the blind.

On another occasion, a man walked in and took a plaque from a shelf and walked out. Fortunately, a hotel staff member confronted the thief and brought back the plaque.  Again I felt disgusted at the callousness of people.

All these thefts by sighted individuals added up. One by one, the stands were closed down and blind people ended up unemployed. As I wrote in my new book called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, the CNIB laid me off. When I asked for another job somewhere else, my former boss told me that there were none and nobody was willing to quit just so I could have a job. Because of that unhelpful answer and other let-downs, I lost all respect for the CNIB.

I mentioned other incidents of unhelpful advice from people I once trusted in my How I Was Razed memoir. Check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers. My previous paperbacks are featured on the left hand side of the left side of this page.

Friday, 14 June 2013


It seems as if every technical innovation leaves blind people in the dust. This is especially so with computers. In the early days, microcomputers often used TVs as monitors. A good example of this is the Vic-20. For totally blind folks, it was useless.

Then the IBM personal computers came along. They used dedicated monitors but were useless to those with no sight.

Inv enters, such as Ray Kurzweil devised screen reading software and voice synthesizers to read what was on the monitor and what the blind computer user typed. This worked well in MS DOS.

Twenty years ago, a man from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind visited my house and installed a voice synthesizer and its software on my second-hand IBM clone. For the first time in my life, I could type and know the results immediately. I could also backspace and  retype without having to mess around with liquid paper or correction ribbons. With my dot matrix printer, I was able to print documents easily.

Then along came Windows. My screen reader was unable to read in a graphical environment. Many other blind computer users were also left out in the cold by this new operating system.

A few companies developed Windows-based screen readers, once again allowing folks such as myself to access computers. But our problems weren't over. As web sites became more complex, Flash animation and Portable Document Format (PDF) files refused to work on our computers. Once again, we were left behind until programmers at screen reader software companies found a solution to the problem.

Likewise, all these smart phones and tablets were inaccessible by people such as myself. Then developers found work-around solutions to make these devices speak to us. At times, blind advocacy organizations had to pressure manufacturers to make their devices accessible.

I mentioned my frustrations with visually-oriented devices and activities in my new book called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Attending church was particularly embarrassing since I couldn't read the tiny print in the hymn books or read what was on the overhead projector screen. Please check out Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers to learn more about this testimony of God's faithfulness.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013


I wrote in April about the The House Rabbit Society and the wealth of information there. That post brought a few helpful comments about other excellent sites.

For a list of what rabbits can and can't eat, read the PDF file at MediRabbit. In fact, MediRabbit has all sorts of good information on bunny health.

Another good site to visit is Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers distribute Kindle, Nook, and paperback editions of my testimony of God's love.

By the way, I now have a RebelMouse page. It shows all of my online activities on one convenient page. That saves you from having to go to multiple sites to find out what I'm up to, or perhaps down to.

Friday, 7 June 2013


I sure am glad I stayed in high school and graduated back in 1975. Though a high school diploma isn't worth much these days, I feel a sense of accomplishment that I hung in there and passed grade twelve.

I nearly gave up because of the math course I took. Try as I did, I just couldn't get my mind around fractions. My poor teacher almost tore out his hair trying to get me to understand what he was getting at.

In my How I Was Razed memoir, I mentioned my high school years but not how I nearly quit. Sister Eileen drove me home from the Wednesday church meeting one June evening. As she pulled up to the sidewalk of the house in which I rented a basement room, I poured out my heart about the problems I had with math. She encouraged me to hang in for just two more weeks. Reluctantly, I agreed.

In 1991, I took a remedial mathematics class at a community college. All those equations that my high school teacher tried so hard to teach me suddenly made sense. Furthermore, the course teacher used real world problems to illustrate mathematical principles. One fact that astonished me was that it's cheaper to hire two employees working twelve-hour shifts than three working eight. Even with time-and-a-half for the last four hours of the shifts, it still works out cheaper. Discoveries such as that encouraged me to take a new look at numbers.

I also mentioned my chronic poverty in How I Was Razed memoir. I received social assistance at the time as my dad didn't give me much to live on. Even so, I couldn't afford to go to my graduation ceremony and rent a gown and cap. I did pick up my diploma from the school office afterward and handed it to my mom for safe keeping. I now have it in my safety deposit box with my other important documents.

Persistence really does pay off, as I found out. When things get tough, I've learned to take my problems to the Lord and leave the things I can't change in his hands. Like we used to say on the CB radio, we send our signals out twenty-six miles and the Lord does the rest.

The e-book version, Kindle and Nook, of How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity can now be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers. You can also get the paperback version from Virtual Bookworm.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


Eighty-one dollars was a lot of money back in 1971. Even so, I managed to convince my mom to buy me a Sony shortwave radio. It was a dream-come-true for me. Having discovered the joys of international broadcasts in 1966 through the classroom radio at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind, I finally had my own receiver. I felt overjoyed as Mom paid for it and we rode the Greyhound bus home to Fort Saskatchewan.

If my mother figured I wouldn't listen to it for long, she was sorely mistaken. I carried that portable everywhere and listened to it for hours that summer. I remember waking up at 5:00 A.M. one morning and tuning in Radio Australia. They played some of the local rock bands on the show that I tuned into. I didn't think much of the music but I felt proud that I heard songs which none of my peers had heard on 630 Ched, the local rock station in Edmonton.

With a long wire in the basement, I was able to improve shortwave reception. Stations from various European countries boomed in during the evenings while Asian stations came in well each morning. Though I did hear stations from South America, only HCJB in Quito, Ecuador had English programming.

There were plenty of jamming stations during those days too. Transmitters in the Soviet Union transmitted noise on the same frequencies as stations from America with programs in Russian so their people couldn't hear them. Even so,no western governments jammed English broadcasts from Radio Moscow and those of satellite countries behind the Iron Curtain.

As with any technology, new improvements often leave users of older technologies out. I discovered, to my annoyance, that amateur radio operators and utility stations transmitting voice signals from point to point used a mode called single sideband. It was energy-efficient and took up less room on the dial. Unfortunately for me, it sounded garbled on my AM receiver. Mom put her foot down regarding buying another radio so I contented myself with the one she bought me.

I don't have that receiver today but I have a similar model. When I listen to shortwave now, I find little in the way of interesting programming. Private Christian stations in America broadcast programs ranging from ranting preachers to conspiracy theory survivalist hucksters. Most of the European broadcasters can only be heard on the Internet and many Asian stations have moved their too. Some have gone off the air entirely. For most enthusiasts, the glory days of shortwave are over.

I wrote about HCJB in Quito, Ecuador in my new book called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check out the e-book version, now on sale for $3.99, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers. For those who like paperbacks, visit How I Was Razed.