Tuesday, 30 December 2014

SO MUCH FOR THAT YEAR

It's a cliche but I really have been reflecting on what happened this year and what didn't happen. , I had high hopes of getting things done but, Somewhere along the line, I let things slide.

for example, I've wanted to fix the driveway for many years. One quarter of it looks like a jigsaw puzzle. I also have a large crack in my foundation that has been there for more than a decade. My door step also needs to be fixed or replace due to ice eroding it.

Since the New Horizons seniors club were planning to have renovation work done to their cement walkway surrounding one corner of the meeting hall, I thought it would be a good idea to hire the same contractor. That way, the men would be able to do two jobs in one day. Time passed but whenever I enquired about the work, the club president said that legal issues with the property hadn't been resolved. So I waited and waited.

By September, the work on the parking lot sidewalk and foundations of the club's hall hadn't been scheduled. The land deal still hadn't been cleared up either. Not until late October did the real estate deal come through. By then it was too cold to pour cement.

That taught me a lesson regarding relying on others and their schedules. Next March, I'll line up contractors and choose the best one to fix my concrete problems.

I haven't finished all of my yard work either. My hope was to clear away tree branches from my clothes line and those which  whacked me in the face whenever I mowed the lawn. I managed to get some things done but there are still a number of branches which need cutting.

I also wanted to dig up the miserable excuse for a flower garden in the front yard. At first, the weather was too cold and wet. Then it was too hot and dry. When autumn came, I frittered the days away instead of picking up my shovel. I also was busy with tidying up the garage in September and I still haven't finished that job.

This computer seems like a black hole for my time. I mean only to do a little work and before I know it, I've wasted an hour or two on Twitter or Facebook. I plan on only checking my e-mail but I find that I've been messing around with Google Alert messages for hours.

One thing is for sure; I must start writing new stories. I've been so busy promoting How I Was Razed that I haven't had the time to create anything. My resolution for 2015 is to let my creativity lead the way and to enter the resulting short stories in contests.

By the way, my first two books are available from the Bruce Atchison's books page. How I Was Razed, my newest paperback, is for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

BEWARE OF FREE COMPUTER PROGRAMS

I'm sure we've all heard somebody rave about a free program they downloaded. They beg us to try it and when we do, our machines become infected with a virus. A year ago, I had such an experience that has made me reluctant to install software without first analyzing it with a trusted antivirus program.

I received an e-mail message one day from a friend in Jamaica who extolled the benefits of WinPatrol. He said it was finding all sorts of nasty code on his PC and I ought to try it too. So I googled the program and downloaded the .EXE file. Then I installed it. After all, I believed that my friend was a trustworthy man and computer-savvy as well.

WinPatrol certainly seemed to dig up a lot of viruses. I received announcements every few minutes about this or that threat needing to be removed. No matter how many times I hit ENTER, WinPatrol reported more and more infections.

Strange things began to happen with my PC after a day of this tedious process of deleting malicious files. My computer became increasingly  difficult to use without something going wrong. A google search showed me that the WinPatrol program I installed was a virus. Its purpose was to generate hundreds of fake virus warnings. I suspect it also erased good files in the process. After much fiddling, I gave up and re-installed Windows as well as the programs I normally used.

Now I run the paid version of AVG AntiVirus to check out any new freeware programs I've downloaded. Additionally, that program found some spyware and adware in a few of the legitimate programs I installed. This is why it's so important not to skimp on protective software. Their updates are comprehensive and their cleaning operations thorough.

I've also noticed that some programs ask for donations. SpyBot is one of those. I plan on donating to keep it going since its interface is mostly screen-reader friendly. It also does a good job of finding nasty stuff without just giving me a list and begging me to buy the paid version.

Believe it or not, there are spiritual viruses as well. I wrote about how I was taken in by a sick house church in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. This memoir also shows how God wondrously led me out of that toxic church and set me on a much happier path. Please check out this marvelous story at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART OF LIFE

One of the most maddening sights on a person's PC or smart device is the buffering image. Round and round it goes and when it stops, no one knows. We end up doing a lot of waiting in life too. Sometimes it's worth it and sometimes it isn't.

As a child, I hated shopping with Mom. She'd be looking at all sorts of adult stuff as my siblings and I fidgeted. All we wanted was to get out of the store and go home but Mom was too preoccupied with dishes and vases to care.

Dad made me wait a lot as well. Being an alcoholic, he left me in the Volkswagen behind the hotel while he sat in the bar with his friends. Time hung heavily since I had nothing to play with. It seemed like hours to me as Dad enjoyed himself while I felt so bored. I also knew what would happen if I left the car. I did that once when it was after curfew and the police drove me and my siblings home. My parents had to go to court as a result.

Then I had to wait three agonizing months before I could leave the school for the blind for the Christmas holidays. There was no mainstreaming of students back then so I had to go to that horrid institution. Worse yet, I was making progress in the first grade of public school before some bureaucrat coerced my parents into exiling me five-hundred miles from home.

When I was mainstreamed into the public school for grade eight, I had to board at various homes in Edmonton, about twenty miles from where my parents lived. I could go home on weekends but it still meant I had to wait to go home.

Once I became an adult, I found that I had to wait for all sorts of things. Waiting for a bus when the temperature was minus thirty was no fun at all, especially when that route was on hourly service only. Waiting to get my first pay cheque was equally painful as I was practically out of money. Then there were those dental and doctor appointments which I had to endure. I'd come on time or early, yet I'd have to wait.

I remember how long it used to take for radios and TVs with vacuum tubes to warm up. When transistor radios became popular, the big boast was that they would turn on instantly. Manufacturers also used to brag about their "instant on" TVs but they really just kept the tube filaments lit.

Now we have computers that take a few minutes to get their acts together. Though I've removed many programs from the start menu with the MSCONFIG tool, my PC still takes time to set everything up for my use.

I'm also doing my best to wait for a special event. All my life, people told me about how Christ would return. Some said he'd whisk us off to heaven while the world went to hell. When that kept not happening, I became frustrated with the delay. Now I know that the Bible teaches that Christ will appear again in the same way he left our world. He wants as many people as will repent to surrender to him. I now content myself with that knowledge. I no longer watch for signs and events as I once did.

I wrote about my struggle with what errant elders taught me in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check out my story of God's wondrous providence at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Look Mom, I'm on YouTube!

When I was a child, I thought it would be cool to be on TV.  In fact, I often fantasized about having my own television channel.  Though some people felt angry when I bought a black and white video camera more than two decades ago, being that I'm legally blind, I made good use of it to create videos for my electronic music compositions.  I also bought a PXL-2000 Fisher-Price camcorder and enjoyed using it.

Thanks to YouTube, anybody can have their videos viewed around the world.  I regret that I didn't sign up for it years ago.  Friends kept sending me YouTube links but I didn't know how I could also participate.

When Writers Guild of Alberta members, such as Simon Rose, used YouTube to promote their books, I gave serious thought to making my own promotional book ads.  It took me more than a year to actually sign up for the service.  I had a notion that it would be difficult to do.  The relief that it wasn't hard at all felt like coming to school for a test and finding out the teacher canceled it.  I had already signed up with Google so joining YouTube was easy.

I have many videos on YouTube at the moment but that number might grow as I search my drives and disks for more of them to upload.  Though longer ones take a lot of time to put on the site, I can always use my old DOS computer and write while the file is being uploaded.  You can see my music videos as well as "footage" of my bunnies, at the VE6XTC page.While you're at it, why not check out my Bruce Atchison's books page? Additionally, my latest book, called How I Was Razed, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

BEETHOVEN'S BIRTHDAY, EH?

Thanks to Charles M. Schultz and his Peanuts comic strip, I always remember today as Beethoven's birthday. Of course I don't care for classical music but the fact of this day being the birth date of a famous composer is stuck in my mind.

What turned me off of classical music was the insistence of the music teacher that we listen to it and like it. My classmates at the blind school all loved rock music but Mrs. McMaster was horrified. "How can you listen to that horrible racket?" she'd exclaim when we begged her for it. She promised us that we'd grow to love the music of Bach, Beethoven, and the rest if we just listened to it. That was no comfort at all to us.

Worse yet, the school forced us rock-loving boys and girls to attend operas. As the men on stage bellowed and the women shrieked on stage, we cringed in our seats, wishing it would end soon. We had to spend hours stuck in a boring concert hall listening to music which we despised.

As an adult, I've had people try to convince me to enjoy classical music and opera. Not to be rude, I went along a few times with them to concerts. Try as I might, I just couldn't get into that music. Opera was even worse. It still sounded like a lot of shrieking to me.

I wonder if I might have liked classical music if it hadn't been forced down my throat. It's been my experience that I've never grown to like any music that people insisted I listen to. I've found that I choose the music which moves my soul rather than whatever is popular. That's why I enjoy electronic music and a few jazz-rock bands but I don't care for jazz or classical music.

I had many acrimonious arguments with the elders of my church over my love of rock. To them, I was listening to the music of the Devil and I might even get a demon possessing me because of the beat. I wrote in detail about my struggles with such people in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Far from falling into Satanism or the drug culture, I was led by God's awesome providence to a much greater understanding of Christianity. You can read more about this glorious memoir at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books

Thursday, 11 December 2014

EXPLORE STATES AND PROVINCES WITHOUT LEAVING HOME

This time of year isn't the best for traveling in North America. Snow and freezing rain make highways treacherous. Inattentive or reckless drivers make the difficult journeys even more hazardous.

For people who just want to experience new regions of the country, there is an easier way to travel. An ordinary AM radio can tune in stations from thousands of miles away during the long, dark nights of winter. By merely tuning the dial between local stations, you can find all sorts of interesting programming.

Local news is particularly interesting. From what you hear, you can compare your local government with that of other municipalities. If there's a disaster in a certain part of the country, and that location has a powerful radio station, you can get details from their news cast which are missing from local stations. It also is helpful for those of us who came from other parts of the country to hear about what is going on in our former home town or city.

Sports fans have plenty of programs to enjoy. A casual cruising of the dial will bring up many sports commentary shows, as I found out recently. In fact, I was amazed at the number of different shows devoted to sports.

Talk shows are not as popular on the AM broadcast band as they were a few years ago. Even so, I've picked up many conservative programs and one liberal one while tuning the dial before bed.  These shows often feature popular topics but they also have some unique interviews or discussions of topics you might not have thought or known about.

At sunset and sunrise, an even more interesting phenomenon takes place. Stations along the line between daylight and night are easier to pick up at those times than they would be normally. This grey line propagation, as radio aficionados call it, often allows normally weak stations to be heard at great distances.

In my more than four decades of Am dial listening, I've been able to receive stations from remarkable distances. For example, I've heard WWL in New Orleans from here in Alberta. It's difficult to pick up these days due to a local station right next to the frequency it's on. KGO in San Fransisco is another distant station I hear quite often. There was one rare night in December of 1976 when I picked up WNYW in New York. A cold snap had hit the state and announcers were advising citizens on how to dress for the cold. Being from Alberta, that was old news to me but interesting to hear none the less.

Radio has been my lifeline to the outside world, especially when I attended a residential school for deaf and blind children. It was also responsible for teaching me about the Bible and the true character of the heavenly Father. Check out How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books to learn more.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

THE INTERNET OPENED THE WORLD TO ME

Remember what life was like before the Internet was opened up to the public? I certainly do. Though it has its bad aspects, such as child pornography and scams, society has benefited from easy access to information.

I certainly have benefited from my nineteen years of Internet use. When I took a business writing course in 1995, I was able to use the public library's bulletin board service for my research. I had taken distance-learning courses before but using my computer to glean information made the process so much easier for me.

The addition of e-mail in November of that year helped even more. Being on disability, the savings on stamps helped me buy food and other necessities. In fact, I became angry at magazine editors who refused to allow work to be sent in on magnetic media or via e-mail. Things are much different now. It's rare when editors expect writers to send in paper copies of their work to a magazine.

Newsgroups were a big help to me in my writing as well as for personal interests. Though trolls often made a nuisance of themselves, I still enjoyed the ease of posting to my friends regarding my favorite subjects. Additionally, I received some good leads from writers to magazines which I could query regarding my article ideas.

Accessing magazine web sites also helped me greatly. Instead of pouring over paper magazines to find out which sort of stories they liked to publish, I could download their guidelines at home. Though I used to spend afternoons at the public library, I saved some time by checking out publications on the web.

For my writing and personal endeavors, the Internet has been a boon. Through it, I've been able to research article ideas, query magazines, and even upload my books to the publishers. I would hate to go back to the days of having to visit a library to do research and sending out paper correspondence. Thanks to this wonderful technology, I can sit at home and have more time to work.

All three of my paperbacks were uploaded digitally to the publisher's web sites. The first two memoirs are available from the Bruce Atchison's book page. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.

Friday, 5 December 2014

MIND OVER MOOD, SOMETHING WE ALL MUST EXERCISE

While listening to a recent edition of the radio program Grace to You, John MacArthur mentioned that we need to practice mind over mood. By this, he meant that we mustn't let our emotions rule our lives but use our brains instead. Otherwise we'll end up blundering from one wrong decision to another.

This makes a lot of sense to me.  Much of the world's violence would be quelled if people would only think rather than react. The riots in Ferguson, Missouri are a case in point. The jury which acquitted officer Wilson of murder for shooting Michael Brown because they studied all the evidence available and concluded the police officer shot in self defense. Stories of Brown being shot in the back as he raised his hands in surrender were proven false by the autopsy. The coroner found that Brown had been shot with has arms down as he charged the cop.

Instead of people waiting for the verdict, they went on rioting and looting sprees. Instead of peacefully protesting and making their case to the public in a rational way, they rampaged through the city. While it's tragic that Brown's life was taken, the officer had no choice but to use lethal force.

I've also read stories of how activists from other states came to Ferguson to protest and stir up the people. Having heard statements from these protesters, I can well believe that somebody is organizing them.

There's also the matter of the National Guard not being called out on Monday night, November 24th, when the verdict was announced. According to a WND story, troops were deployed in other parts of the state but were absent when the rioting and looting began.

I don't doubt that there are a few rogue cops. What I dispute is the number of real police brutality cases. Officers have to deal with plenty of insults and threatening behaviour. Those citizens privileged to ride along with officers certainly understand the situation. But many feelings-oriented people react to the alleged incidents of abuse by police as if it was a proven fact. This leads to violence and all sorts of retaliation.

I've had many situations in my life where I could have flown off the handle at perceived slights and apparent discrimination against me. Having thought things over, I've saved myself trouble for not having made a fool of myself. If only more people would stop and think instead of exploding in rage.

I wrote of many unfair situations in my life. My Deliverance from Jericho memoir shows that some of those incidents were my own fault whereas others were proven to be true acts of unfairness. Check out my Bruce Atchison's book page for details.

Likewise, I found the same to be true of How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. While elders of a house church abused my trusting nature, I also caused some of my own trouble. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books distribute my story of God's marvelous, providential leading.

Monday, 1 December 2014

REFUTATION BY DENIGRATION

In October, the local library liquidated their collection of cassette books and gave them all to me. As I sifted through the stack, I found a book called Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays by Stephen Hawking. Being interested in science, I listened to the whole book. As I played one tape, I heard how Hawking had suffered what he called "refutation by denigration" as a result of his theory that black holes emitted particles and eventually vanished. Instead of basing their criticism on flaws they discovered in the theory, Hawkings' detractors used insults to discredit his work.

This happens far too often in the political world, particularly from socialists. Conservative leaders, for example  have been labeled as racists for wishing to get rid of affirmative action programs. Many of President Obama's opponents have also been accused of racism simply for finding fault with his policies.

Canada isn't immune to refutation by denigration  either. The Wildrose Alliance Party formed in 2008 to oppose the wasteful spending and high living of the Progressive Conservatives. The party was immediately  tarred with the epithet "upstart" and was often labeled as "right wing extremist" by many political commentators. Instead of examining Wildrose's fiscal and social policies at their face value, the media editors prejudged the intent of the policies and impugned the reputations of the Wildrose leadership.

Sadly, this happens to evangelical Christians as well. A small group of vocal atheists have written hateful books which make irrational claims about God and his followers.

Likewise, any professor doubting global warming, now called climate change, have been censured and discredited.

Additionally, those believers who oppose abortion are automatically tarred with the epithet "deniers of women's rights" simply for proposing that life begins at conception. No matter what scientific studies have found regarding fetal pain and the development of the baby in the womb, these vocal opponents continue to call Christians derogatory names. Detractors seem unwilling and unable to examine anti-abortion arguments dispassionately.

People who oppose homosexual and lesbian behaviour as being abnormal also come under fire by a small band of activists. Though Scripture makes it clear that the activities of these people is perversion, adherents of Christianity are charged by Jesus Christ to love sinners. Opponents often point to the Old Testament injunctions of the death penalty for breakers of God's commands without realizing those were for the time when Israel was a theocracy. The Lord gave the commandments because of the weakness of the Israelites toward copying the wicked deeds of other nations. Now that Christ has shown God's compassionate wish to save all who would believe in him, his followers are compelled to love sinners but oppose their sinful and self-destructive ways.

While it might be a human trait to call people names and attach negative attributes to others, it still is inexcusable. For many years, elders in a house church accused me of lacking faith to be healed of poor eyesight, harboring sin, lusting for sight, and having ancestral sins that blocked my healing. I found out later that my detractors were wrong. What a relief that was, and still is, to me. You can read the glorious journey God led me on in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

SN1987A AND THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE

How old is the universe? Scientists and Christians have debated about that question for the past two hundred years or so. Scientists estimate that the universe is approximately fifteen-billion years old while many Christians believe that the Bible indicates it to be almost seven-thousand years old. So, who's right?

As far as I can tell, empirical observations demonstrate that we live in an old universe. Since the laws of physics operate throughout  space in the same way, we can deduce through starlight how far away those light-emitting bodies are. If the Christians who hold to the young universe paradigm are right, there shouldn't be any stars further away than seven-thousand light years from us. The data gathered by astronomers demonstrates that there are stars which are billions of light years from our planet.

Does that mean then that the Bible is wrong about the age of the universe? Absolutely not. Scripture was written to instruct people on the character of God and his redemptive plan for humanity. It wasn't designed to tell us the methodology of  how God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis also must be read in a literary, not literalistic, fashion. The days of creation are a mnemonic device to show the increasing complexity and importance in the created order of things. The first three days were for the forming of the heavens and the earth and the last three days show the filling of both. This explains why, for example,  there is light on the first day but the sun, moon, and stars were created on the fourth.

Those who insist on holding to the young universe paradigm have to use some fancy footwork to get around the paradoxes of an apparently old creation. If everything just looks old, it makes God out to be playing a trick on us. After all, what about supernova 1987A? That star exploded  one-hundred-and-sixty-thousand years ago but we only saw its brilliant flash on February 23, 1987. If the universe was only seven-thousand years old, it would indicate that the laws of physics don't work way out there like they do here. Furthermore, God would be at best a prankster and at worst a liar for presenting to us a fake universe. Our observations actually show that light does indeed travel at a constant speed, though it's frequency can be changed by the emitter of the light moving toward or away from us. Light can also be bent by strong gravitational fields but it never slows its speed.

I believe that the reason Christians cling tenaciously to the young universe theory is because they assume that all science is evolutionary in nature and therefore tainted by it. This is most certainly not so. Pure data takes no sides but it just is what it is. Though evolutionary scientists struggle to fit facts into their theory, facts are still facts. When researchers follow where the data leads, rather than trying to mangle it, the truth of an old creation emerges stark and clear.

My thanks go out to Hank Hanegraaff, R. Albert Mohler Jr, John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, and others for teaching me how to read the Bible in its intended fashion. Because of my desire to help others do the same, I wrote How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. It's a tour of how badly unscrupulous people misled me and how God  rescued me from their wicked doctrines. Please visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books for more information.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

1984: THEN AND NOW

Thirty years ago, the subject of spy numbers stations fascinated me. With my Kenwood R-1000 general coverage receiver, I scanned the shortwave bands for traces of these Cold War broadcasters. Six years later, I composed an electronic music piece around the recording of a CIA spy numbers station. Listen to this eery piece called Passing Messages. According to rumors circulating at the time, these broadcasts were coded messages to spies in foreign lands. They would receive a decoder card and decipher the numbers to create the message from headquarters. I never knew what those messages were about but it was thrilling to listen to these secretive transmissions.

I also discovered a few clandestine broadcasters. Those are stations set up by revolutionary forces in countries experiencing civil war. Radio Venceremos was one of my favourite catches. To me, it sounded like a Spanish Goon Show. Even though I didn't understand the language, I felt elated that I was hearing what few in my neighbourhood or city even dreamt existed.

During the autumn of 1984, I went on a hunting trip with my cousin Wayne. He hunted deer while I hunted exotic radio stations. I stayed to guard the camp while he went out with his rifle. Wayne didn't shoot any large game but I certainly snagged some good radio signals. One of which was an emergency transmission from a ship with an injured sailor. The radio operator's English was so poor that the coast guard man barely understood him. Wayne and I waited expectantly as we listened to the drama playing out on the airwaves. We gave up after a while since the signal faded out and it was late. I never did hear how things turned out.

Thirty years later, I discovered that some spy transmissions still occur. As I tuned the shortwave dial one sunny afternoon while enjoying a warm September day in my front yard, I came across the familiar sound of a numbers station. The sampled voice of a woman read off numbers in Spanish, presumably to a spy in south or central America. What pleasant memories the sound of that woman's voice brought back of a time when the Cold War was at its coldest.

In addition to coded analogue messages, spies around the world use highly sophisticated methods of passing information. The news is periodically filled with stories about spies being discovered and hackers being found out. Even Canada's Department of National Defense has had their computers hacked. I've heard that the Chinese government were behind that one as well as other incidents of digital spying on our government.

It seems that George Orwell's 1984 book is coming to pass in our daily lives. We don't have Telescreens but we do have the Web. The American government wants to turn control of the Internet over to the United Nations. Many of those member countries are hostile to our free way of life. Governments are also seeking to gain increasing control over the lives of their citizens through regulations and confiscatory laws. If I told folks thirty years ago that we'd be told what sort of light bulbs to buy and toilets to install, they'd think I was crazy. Now people accept it as just another government regulation.

Fortunately for me and others, the dire predictions of a cultic teacher I once followed never came to pass. Find out how God liberated me from the aberrant nonsense that faker taught me by buying How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books to learn more.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

INVASION OF THE MICE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

SENIORS HAVE THEIR OWN GENERATION GAP.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 13 November 2014

ALWAYS AN OUTSIDER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A NEW KIND OF WAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 6 November 2014

THE WORST ACCOMMODATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

BEWARE OF FAME

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 30 October 2014

PIRATES OF THE IONOSPHERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

GETTING A BANG OUT OF CAPS

What a pity our society has become so jittery when it comes to guns. I understand about the horrific mass-shootings which have happened during the past few decades. Even so, almost all gun owners are responsible citizens who wouldn't even think of pointing a gun at anybody.

Boys like me had tremendous fun with cap guns and their ammunition. We never grew up to be assassins and mass-murdering sociopath's like many child psychologists suggested. We knew the difference between pretending and reality.

I fondly remember the fun my friends and I had with caps. One afternoon in Jericho Hill School's intermediate dorm, I let Michael fire my cap pistol. As he did so, it jammed. Then the paper tape protruding from the gun caught fire. I couldn't help laughing at Michael standing there with a flaming pistol in his hand. Talk about a heater, eh?

My friend Brian gave me a wonderful suggestion one afternoon when I was still in the junior dorm. "If you scratch those black dots, they'll fizzle," he confided. Then he showed me by scratching the tape with his thumb nail. Sure enough, a tiny pink flame flared up from it. To my delight, I was able to do the same thing as him.

Another time, Brian suggested we bang the paper tape with rocks to make them explode. We both rushed to the parking lot, picked up a pebble each, and proceeded to hit each dot on our cap rolls against the curb. The small explosions amused us greatly.

But banging and scratching caps didn't look as brilliant during the day. While having been volunteered by our supervisor to carry the dorm's laundry to the laundry room in another building, I noticed an empty, windowless room. It was nice and dark, just perfect for what I planned to do. Before heading back to our nasty supervisor, I knelt down and began scratching those spots of gunpowder. Right in the middle of my fun, a deaf boy noticed me. He ran to Sachi, the woman in charge of the laundry, and informed on me. In her best broken English, she ordered me out of the building. Though I liked her, I resented the fact that she thought I could set the building on fire with my caps.

Children can't have that kind of fun today, unless their parents, guardians, caregivers, or supervisors let them. I've heard so many ridiculous stories of school officials expelling little children for even pointing a finger like a gun. What they don't understand is that it isn't the weapon that's at fault. Overwhelming empirical evidence proves that mentally-disturbed people are the ones who go on shooting rampages. Those are the folks who should be dealt with appropriately, not little boys being little boys.

You can read more boyish mischief stories in my Deliverance from Jericho memoir. I'm astonished at all the harmless trouble I caused. Additionally, you'll enjoy the little victories we had against the system which held us captive in that residential facility.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

THE JOY OF FEEDING WILDLIFE

I well understand the concerns of certain folks regarding feeding wild animals. Bears and raccoons can become a problem if they learn that humans mean free food. Sadly, some of these animals are exterminated because of human foolishness. Even so, it can be pleasant to feed birds and small animals.

In the autumn of 1975, I lived at the CNIB headquarters in Toronto. While I was there, I took courses in independent living. While in the cafeteria one evening, a friend told me that there were squirrels living in the forest behind the institute. That news gave me incentive to explore the grounds.

While walking behind the buildings comprising the CNIB, I discovered a park bench. I had seen the occasional black squirrel foraging in the grass for food and wished to get a closer look at them. On a shopping trip, I purchased a large bag of unsalted peanuts. The next afternoon, I sat as still as I could on the bench after having scattered peanuts around it.

Sure enough, the squirrels quickly learned that a feast of delicious peanuts was to be had whenever I was there. It soon became part of my daily routine to feed them and enjoy their antics.

As with all good things, stupid people seek to  ruin the enjoyment of others. I ran afoul of a CNIB staff member who figured she was the boss. As I entered the building where the dorm rooms were located she stopped me. "You shouldn't be eating those peanuts, you know. They're ruining your complexion."

"I'm not eating all these," I objected. "I'm feeding them to the squirrels."

"You shouldn't be wasting your money like that. You should be going to movies or dances."

I felt so angry that I clammed up. After all, it seemed the safest thing to do when confronted by nosy and opinionated people. That woman's criticism also strengthened my resolve to feed my fluffy-tailed friends even more.

Before supper one day, I was about to go to the cafeteria when I saw a squirrel in the distance. When I dropped a peanut, he or she bounded right up to me and ate it fearlessly. The squirrel didn't even flee when I took out a camera I borrowed from a friend and snapped a picture. I felt so touched that this wild animal felt safe in my presence. No amount of movies and dances could ever give me the emotional boost I received from that rodent.

My love of small animals permeates all three of my memoirs. View the first two at Bruce Atchison's books. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powel's Books.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

FLYING HIGH BUT ONLY IN MY DREAMS

Isn't it just the way it goes? The folks who love flying don't get as many opportunities as those who dread boarding a plane. If I had good vision, I'd love to have my own aircraft.

This isn't a new desire of mine. As a child, I dreamt of piloting my own plane. In fact, there was a period in the autumn of 1968 when I kept dreaming night after night about soaring high above the land.

The plane I piloted was like the one in the above photo, though it had a yellow body. In each dream, I felt great affection for my aircraft. I also felt a sense of freedom which I lacked in my waking hours at Jericho Hill School.

I've heard that dreams of flight are a subconscious manifestation of a wish to be free. In view of the dreams I've had, I can well understand that theory. Jericho was oppressive to me. For the first seven years of my life, I was a free person. Mom let me and my sister play wherever we felt like. As long as we came home for lunch or dinner, she was happy. Even when I went to public school, I still felt free.

Then came that dreadful shock in 1964 when I found myself five-hundred miles from home and no possibility to return until Christmas. I also lived with a dozen blind boys in a sterile dorm ruled by a supervisor. We were marched down to a rickety dining hall three times a day like prisoners and the food there was terrible. I couldn't even play wherever I felt like since the supervisor made us stay in a group.

For that reason, and a few others, I treasure my independence. Only on God do I want to rely. Never again do I want to be in a highly structured environment like Jericho. The ability to eat what I want and go wherever I can is a precious treasure. So is eating whatever I feel like and going to bed when I want to. Even wearing whatever clothes catch my fancy in the closet is a thrill.

To better understand how suddenly being plunged into the alien world of an institution at a young age is like, purchase Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. Not only do I describe life there in a matter-of-fact way but I relate the mischief we got into. It was harmless foolery but the authorities didn't think so. Sometimes, we even got away with things when temporary supervisors were there.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

CHEEPER BY THE HUNDRED

I love audio cassette tapes. Though they've fallen out of favour with North American consumers, this venerable medium still has its plusses.

One of my pet peeves with digital media is that most CD players won't resume playing at the point when I stopped the track. Cassettes and their players have no such problem. They resume at the same place when you've stopped them.

CDs and DVDs are fragile. One little scratch at the beginning and the whole disk is ruined. My mom discovered that fact when she scratched her name into the metal coating of her disks. Cassettes, on the other hand,  can take moderate abuse. Even if the tape snags in the machine, it can be carefully extracted and wound by hand back into the shell. The sound at that point is garbled but the whole recording isn't ruined.

Many third world people still use cassette players and recorders. I'm in contact with a retired minister who puts out a cassette magazine for blind subscribers. As many seniors find digital media, especially accessing it on computers, to be confusing to them, cassettes are still ideal for providing their entertainment.

My minister friend also sends cassettes overseas to missionaries in Nigeria and Philippines. Since he doesn't know how to use a computer, I tape good Christian programming from web sites and send the cassettes to him. He then sends them to blind subscribers of his Vision Tape Ministry and to missionaries. Some episodes of UNSHACKLED!, which I send him, are translated into local languages by missionaries. I've heard that the people they work with are delighted to read the stories in their mother tongues.

Thanks to National Audio Company, I have an ample supply of brand new cassettes. They even have some on sale from time to time. I was able to buy two-hundred C-62 leaderless cassettes for only twenty cents each. Now I have plenty of tapes to record good teaching programs on from my computer.

I've also been able to buy used tapes from local folks and reuse them for spreading good Bible teaching. Two women even gave me some commercially-produced music cassettes of varying lengths to recycle. This is helpful when a sermon isn't long enough to put on a C-62 tape.

In my heart, there's a soft spot for the tape traders of the nineties. Independent musicians found that the cassette was a good medium to reach audiences with their music. People often traded those tapes or made compilations of underground bands' tracks. I treasure those home-made albums. The photocopied graphics give them a unique quality not found in slick commercial tape productions.

I wrote about my own music in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powel's Books.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

THE VERY CROSS OF CHRIST

I'm amazed how much we depend on coffee. People, including myself, become crabby and tired without a morning caffeine fix. Christians are no different.

I can remember a few times when somebody forgot to start the coffee pot at church and the Sunday school members grew mutinous. Some people even began pacing until the coffee was ready.


I find this doting on coffee to be rather amusing. Our morning cup of Joe is as necessary to us as water was to the Israelites. I also think it's wonder full how people perk up, pun intended, once the caffeine kicks in.

Back when I attended a house church, based in the home owned by two women, I learned of a humorous situation which happened each weekday morning. They owned a coffee pot that made a sighing noise as it brewed the coffee. Each woman assumed the other was sighing until they were in the same kitchen and the machine gave out its human-like expression of resignation. I couldn't help but laugh when I heard the machine for myself.

I often was chided for my sense of humor by humorless Christians. Many of those incidents are recorded in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Read more about this wondrous testimony of God's providence at Amazon (where you can order coffee) as well as Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

BUT I ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT I'D SEE HER AGAIN

My sister Diane was a huge part of my childhood. In fact, she was the only one who really liked me back then. Neighbourhood kids threw stones and called me names so I didn't have any boys as pals.

I remember how we were free to walk all over our neighbourhood and even to stores in Fort Saskatchewan. We had no worries about perverts snatching children off the street. Neither did Mom need to constantly supervise us. We explored the creek, the golf course, and we even played by the water tower.

Diane also liked to teas me but in a friendly way. One of our play-fight arguments was our birthdays. For a few weeks, she was the same numerical age as I was. It was a running joke with us because I used to deny she was exactly the same age but she'd refute that. It was all in fun and nobody's feelings were hurt.

Diane also used to brag that she shared her birthday with John Lennon. Nobody famous that I knew of back then had the same birthday as me. Even so, I took vicarious pride in my sister and her birthday.

That idyllic state of affairs came to a sudden end when I was sent 500 miles from my home and family to Jericho Hill School. I was only allowed to visit home at Christmas and summer holidays. I was also allowed to visit my home for Easter three times. Diane was still fond of me, and I of her, but she found new kids to play with.

I still find it odd that Diane has been dead for more than ten years. I assumed we'd live far into our retirement years. God apparently had other plans when my beloved sister died of a rare liver disease. Paraphrasing the line in James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" song, I always thought that I'd see her one more time again.

Diane also was mentioned in all three of my memoirs. The first two are featured on the Bruce Atchison's books page. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers until the end of October 2014.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

I REALLY PUT MY KNEE IN IT THAT TIME

I'm sure you've heard people say, "You really put your foot in it that time." That expression means that somebody committed a serious faux pas. I went one better and put my knee in it.

Back in September of 1973, I rented a tiny basement room in a large house. One afternoon after school, I somehow locked myself out when I went to the bathroom which I shared with my next door neighbour. Instead of going upstairs and asking the landlord to let me in, I decided to remove the window and crawl inside.

After much grunting and straining, I pried the window out of it's frame.  All the while,, my heart pounded. "God, please don't let anybody think I'm doing a break in," I prayed as I struggled through the narrow opening. After I was inside, I closed the inside window.

Then I made sure I had my key in my pocket as I climbed the basement staires. Once outside, I knelt and pushed the storm window back into the frame.

Before I knew it, my knee pushed forward and shattered the pane of glass. I now had two problems. What would I say to the landlord and how would I keep my room from getting cold.

An idea suddenly struck me. I could tape the shards of glass back together and hope the landlord wouldn't notice. I fetched a roll of masking tape from my room and set to work repairing the window as best as I could. Then I went indoors and taped the other side of the pane pieces. The tape held but the window was weak and wobbly.

The landlord didn't take long to notice my unorthodox handiwork. I apologized profusely and explained what happened. Fortunately for me, he forgave my clumsiness. Two days later, he replaced the pane.

I now make a point of having my keys with me when I go out. If the weather is warm enough, I don't shut the inside door. Never do I ever want to suffer the embarrassment of locking myself out like I did forty-one years ago.

I described my tiny room in greater detail in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. This memoir of God's astonishing providence is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Look Mom, I'm on YouTube!

When I was a child, I thought it would be cool to be on TV.  In fact, I dreamt of having my own television channel.  Though some people felt angry when I bought a black and white camera more than two decades ago, being that I'm legally blind, I made good use of it to create videos for my electronic music compositions.  I also bought a PXL-2000 Fisher-Price camcorder and enjoyed using it.

Thanks to YouTube, anybody can have their videos viewed around the world.  I regret that I didn't sign up for it years ago.  Friends kept sending me YouTube links but I didn't realize that I could also participate.

When Writers Guild of Alberta members, such as Simon Rose, used YouTube to promote their books, I gave serious thought to making my own promotional book ads.  It took me more than a year to actually sign up for the service.  I had a notion that it would be difficult to do.  The relief that it wasn't hard at all felt like coming to school for a test and finding out the teacher canceled it.  I was already signed up with Google so joining YouTube was easy.

I have many videos on YouTube at the moment but that number may change as I search my drives and disks for more of them to upload.  Though longer ones take a lot of time to put on the site, I can always use my old DOS computer and write while the file is being uploaded.  You can see my music videos as well as "footage" of my bunnies, at the VE6XTC page.

While you're at it, why not check out my Bruce Atchison's books page? My latest book, called How I Was Razed, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

THE BOWLING BALL CONVOY TRICK

One of Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind's proudest boasts was its two-lane bowling alley. The chief access ability feature of the facility was  a set of chrome hand railings to guide blind children as they bowled their balls. What the proud administrators failed to tell the public was that the alley lacked pin-setting machines. Two hapless students inevitably spent their entire recreational periods setting up pins and sending back balls.

Even so, the more inventive of us victims found ways to amuse ourselves. Here's an example of our mischief and how we had the last laugh on our dormitory supervisor, Mr. Moiarty.

I didn't mind going bowling and I understood that somebody needed to set up pins as well as send the balls back. Even so, I hated those tournaments which the intermediate and senior dorms held. Worse yet, Mr. Moiarty badgered me until I agreed to set up pins for the teams.

The first Saturday afternoon of the tournament was warm and sunny. Nevertheless, the weather clashed with my bleak mood as I shuffled into the bowling alley. While I was setting pins up, and before I signaled that I had moved out of the way, he decided to lob a ball down the alley.

"Get out of the way," he shouted, suddenly realizing what he had done.

"What!?" I called. The ball hit my right shin with a resounding crack. I doubled over, howling in agony. Mr. Moiarty raced down the lane to the pin-setting booth, picked me up in his arms, and carried me to the infirmary. All the way there, he apologized for not looking first. Fortunately, my shin was only bruised but it ached for a couple of weeks. However, that accident didn't excuse me from setting up pins for long. As a result, my loathing of organized sports grew rapidly that autumn.

Though working in the pin-setting booth was tedious, Geoffrey and I, who usually were sent back there, did find ways to amuse ourselves. The funniest of these was to hoard balls until the bowlers ran out of them. Then, the two of us placed almost all of the balls on the rails. Like a convoy of trucks, they rolled toward the rack. All but one traveled up the slope to where the bowlers waited. When that ball rolled slowly back toward the pin-setting booth, Geoffrey or I sent the final ball down the rails. It collided with the other ball, knocking it onto the alley and toward the door.

The game caught on with the other boys, much to Mr. Moiarty's annoyance. I happened to be at the other end of the alley one evening when he chased a rogue ball into the lobby. The ludicrous sight of our supervisor frantically grasping at and missing the ball had me doubled over in uncontrollable laughter. We considered ourselves fortunate that no punishments were meted out for showing such disrespect. However, we giggled behind Mr. Moiarty's back whenever someone mentioned our bowling ball convoy game.

You can read more of our pranks in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School, available at the Bruce Atchison's books page.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

A SANCTIFIED SENSE OF HUMOR

It's truly sad that many non-Christians think that the followers of Christ are humorless grouches. Such people never met folks such as myself. Not only do I enjoy puns, word plays, and the like but I love jokes which don't hurt anybody.

It was the highly esteemed, and pressed, Goon Show that helped me think up many good puns and clever jokes. Being a born-again Christian, I adapted my new-found skill to my Bible reading and prayer. For example, why did Jonah have a strange childhood? He was brought up by a great fish. Nobody was demeaned in that joke, yet it's funny.

Some stories in the Bible also are extremely hilarious to me. One of my favourites is when the apostle Peter was locked in jail for the night. An angel woke him up and opened the gates for him. Meanwhile, believers were praying late into the night for his release. When Peter knocked at the door, a woman named Rhoda didn't let him in but ran back to tell the good news to the prayer warriors. They didn't believe her at first. Peter kept knocking until somebody let him in. Hear those Christians were praying for Peter's freedom, and yet they didn't believe it when it happened. To me, that's side-splittingly funny.

I also use puns and quips in my daily prayers. When I misspeak, I blame the toothpaste. That's because after brushing with it, my tongue feels armed and hammered. God understands not only what I mean but that I got the idea from Bible teacher Steve Brown. In his case, he blamed the microphone for his verbal fumbles.

My mind tends to wander while I'm praying and shaving. When I forget what I was saying, I tell god that my train of thought left without me so I'll wait for the next one. I then ask him for a leash for my mind. After all, it's the leash he can do. Many Christians have a struggle with keeping their minds on prayer but I'm sure few use that excuse to justify it.

Additionally, I ask that the problems of my friends could be turned into a deck of cards. That way, they can deal with them. I know that there is nothing wrong with playing cards. They can be used or misused like any other object. By the way, my dad taught us to count by teaching us Blackjack. It didn't result in us gambling our lives away.

I sure am happy that whenever I don't know what I'm talking about, God does. He created us with emotions for his own good reasons. Imagine how dull this world would be without joy, elation, contentment and glee. If we didn't have sorrow, sadness, and even depression, we wouldn't be able to relate to others in their time of hardship. Even anger can be used for good when it spurs a person into action to correct injustices. Laughter is also a good emotional release. Even the writer of Proverbs understood that.

All of those emotions and more are mentioned in my latest book, How I Was Razed. Read more about God's wondrous providence at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.