Thursday, 29 May 2014


Of all the types of wind storms, microbursts are the most deceptive sort. The weather might look ordinary and harmless enough but a microburst could suddenly start without warning. I can recall many of these sudden wind storms hitting almost instantly while I watched.

The first one I can remember was when I was about four years old. As my sister Diane and I sat playing on the grass near the road, the wind began to increase in speed. Diane wanted to go into the house but I thought the wind posed no danger to us. Mom called for us to come in but I said I wanted to stay outside. When she ordered us in, I decided she meant business. About fifteen minutes later, the wind slowed back down to a breeze.

It might have been the same summer when another microburst struck. Diane and I were playing happily in the Lions Club wading pool when the wind suddenly picked up. The life guard ordered everybody into the utility building next to the pool. As we were crammed into that small space, some children started crying while others chattered excitedly. The life guard told us we couldn't go until the wind stopped and our parents came for us. I learned later from Diane that a park bench had been blown into the wading pool.

As an adult, I recall two summertime microbursts. As I weeded the lawn of my first house, the wind suddenly started howling. I thought of going indoors but the wind by the back door was too strong. Since the house was between me and the rushing air, I lay on the grass and waited out the storm. The sky even turned brown as dirt was whipped up into the sky above me. As suddenly as it started, the wind slowed to a breeze again.

One summer morning in 1999, I awoke to a rushing noise outside. I dashed to the bedroom window and opened it. The wind was blowing debris along the street, yet the sky wasn't filled with dark clouds. Like other microbursts that I experienced, the wind suddenly died down a few minutes later.

As I listened to the radio during breakfast, I heard an explanation of this weather phenomenon. There are times when pools of cold air aloft suddenly lose the support of the warmer air under them. The air rushes straight toward the ground, then fans out in all directions. Though this can happen during thunder storms, it isn't limited to that sort of weather.

The next time the wind suddenly speeds up, it could very well be a microburst. It's best to find shelter to keep yourself safe from flying debris. I certainly won't insist on staying outside if it happens to me again.

I can't think of a good segue from violent wind storms to my books so I'll say that my first two paperbacks are available at Bruce Atchison's books. How I Was Razed can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


Something is dreadfully wrong with mirrors these days. They all make me look old. Every time  I look at one, I see an elderly man staring back at me. How can this be? Is that grumpy old fart really me?

Whatever happened to the ambitious and idealistic young man I used to see each morning as I shaved? All that thick brown hair seems to have turned grey. The face seems to have wrinkles in it. Odd how that has happened. Are those worry lines I see?

That bathroom mirror also makes the top of my head look bald. How can that be since I still feel hair there. It must be a trick of the light. These cork-screw bulbs the hardware and big box stores sell these days don't have the comforting warm glow of incandescent lamps. Yeah, it must be those lights that are to blame for the optical illusion.

The clothing I see each day in my bathroom mirror has changed as well. Gone are the dress shirts and T shirts. Now I see hoodies and sweatshirts that the man in the mirror is wearing. Both look so frumpy to me.

And whatever happened to those nerdy horn-rimmed glasses with real glass lenses? Now the frames are wire and the plastic lenses are rectangular, not square-ish. How can anybody see out of silly-looking glasses like that.

I can't possibly be that bulgy either. What happened to my size-32 waistline. The one in the mirror seems to have gone to waste. I've also seen sacks of potatoes with fewer lumps poking out than that belly.

No doubt about it, mirrors aren't like they once were. I'd have my bathroom one replaced but all the others show the same thing. Maybe I can go to one of those building recycling stores and find a decent mirror, one that reflects my image the way it ought to look. Until then, I'll have to use my imagination to fill in the missing brown hair and thin waistline. I'll need to add the dress shirts and T shirts in my mind to that impossibly-old image I now see as well.

But seriously, I've written three memoirs. The one about my rabbits and childhood at a school for the blind are available through the Bruce Atchison's books link. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Thursday, 22 May 2014


At various times of the year, Earth's orbit takes it through bands of comet debris. This is what causes meteor showers. During intense periods, people with good vision can enjoy the sight of sand grains burning up as they travel through the atmosphere at high speed.

But what good are these spectacles for those of us with poor or no sight? While sighted folks "ooh!" and "Ahh" at the shooting stars, we have to content ourselves through their descriptions of what they see.

There is a way for those of us without good vision to observe meteor showers. All we need to do is turn on an FM radio and find a space on the dial with no stations on it.

When comet debris burns up in the atmosphere, the air around the fiery trails becomes ionized. This causes very high frequency signals to be reflected back to earth. Radio stations beyond our listening area can be heard when their signals bounce back to us rather than flying off into space.

The length of these signal reflections is brief, often lasting just a few seconds. During strong showers, they can last up to a minute. With a tape or digital recorder connected to the radio, people such as myself can catch the station's identification and learn how far the signal traveled.

This also works for other types of radio signals. Before the switch to digital television, I caught the transmission from a station on channel four in Auston, Texas. I left my VCR recording the channel during the night of a meteor shower. When I watched the tape the next day, I was able to make out the TV station's call letters and the city's name.

Some amateur radio operators transmit packets of data toward where the meteor shower is coming from. I've heard that they make contacts with other hams thousands of miles away on frequencies normally useful for local transmissions. I don't have the equipment to do that but it would be fun to try.

All the widely-varied aspects of the radio hobby have appealed to me throughout my life. I mentioned my love of this wonderful pastime in all three of my books. The first two can be purchased through the Bruce Atchison's books page. My latest, called How I Was Razed, is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


Have you heard of a BBC TV show called Porridge? Ronnie Barker stars in this comedy about a thief sentenced to five years at an isolated facility called Slade Prison. Airing between 1974 and 1977, this show deals with the changing beliefs of how prisoners should be treated. The deficiencies of discipline and leniency are humorously pointed out as well in this eighteen-part series.

I can identify well with Porridge. Being at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind had many similarities to being in prison. One of which was the terrible food.

We had a dietician named Mrs. Anderson who figured she knew what we would enjoy to eat. She was also rather stingy regarding the money spent on our food. Breakfast was often porridge with cocoa and toast. To break up the monotony, we sometimes had Kellogg's Corn Flakes. Any requests for tasty cereals such as Honey Comb or Alpha-Bits was summarily dismissed by Mrs. Anderson.

I hated the Spanish rice and omelets we were served at lunch. There also was some sort of melted cheese goop which the dining hall staff served. To make matters worse, we were given coleslaw. That was the worst I ever tasted. We used to call it "cold slop." Though we liked Jell-O, the staff often mixed celery and other vegetables in it. Rarely did we get anything tasty like corn fritters and vanilla ice cream.

Life was highly regimented as well. Our supervisors woke us up promptly at seven o'clock. After dressing,  brushing our teeth, and washing our faces, we marched down to the dining hall in a line by twos. Though we didn't have to line up for lunch, our supervisors ordered us to do that for supper. We were never allowed to wander far from the school building during recess and after school. Neither did we go anywhere unescorted after dinner or on the weekends. We had to stay on the grounds at all times like prisoners in a minimum security facility.

Our parcels were regularly opened and searched. Some supervisors confiscated any treats we received and doled them out to everybody, all in the name of fairness. One woman even ate our treats. I suspect she took our money as well for "safe keeping," meaning her keeping.

Little victories meant a lot in Jericho. When a mean supervisor was on holiday or was sick, we knew we could stay up later or eat our treats. This happened once on Halloween. When the greedy woman returned and found out what we did, she became furious.

Then there was the incident of the midnight tea party. The school arbitrarily banned coffee and tea so my friend Geoffrey bought and shared his tea with us. For no apparent reason, coffee and tea were served again in the dining hall.

Our letters home were read and commented upon by teachers, just as prisoner's letters are scanned for coded information. Most of us had families in distant places so even if we had access to a phone, it cost a lot to speak to our folks. Because we had only fifty cents a week for our allowance, we couldn't afford to call  our loved ones, even on the pay phone in the intermediate kids dorm.

I wrote much more about the "porridge" I did in Deliverance from Jericho: Six years in a Blind School. It, and my debut paperback, can be purchased through the Bruce Atchison's books page. My latest e-book and paperback is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Thursday, 15 May 2014


Wouldn't it be nice if the rich weren't so rich and the poor weren't so poor? In actuality, things would be worse if there were no rich people. Here's why we're better off with wealthy people.

First of all, rich folks invest their money. Unlike a dragon lying on a mountain of gold and jewels, wealthy business people create jobs through their industries. Money is useless unless it passes from one person to another. Business owners hire people to make products and perform services. Those workers then buy the products and services from others.

Wealth is greatly multiplied through capitalism, whereas hoarding wealth retards the growth of a country's economy. Socialist schemes also diminish a country's growth in that civil servants don't produce products and they often give poor service. When governments try to run businesses, the results are woefully pathetic. Furthermore, crown corporations such as Air Canada and Canada Post run deficits because they lack the competition present in situations where monopolies are non-existent.

Wealthy citizens buy luxury products and hire people to work for them. If everybody was equally poor, there would be no incentive to build homes and high-end cars. Nobody would be building and buying yachts and private jets either.

Neither would there be any incentive to achieve great things. When people are denied the opportunity to fulfil their dreams and reap the rewards of their work, they end up like workers in the former Soviet Union. Farmers who would work until the crop was gathered in would leave at quitting time. Craftspeople wouldn't work as hard because they have no reason to. Only when people have vested interest in their labour do they put their full energy into what they do.

Furthermore, entrepreneurs are much more likely to create innovative products than would be the case with government workers. The hope of profiting from their inventions drives talented individuals to accomplish feats of ingenuity, benefiting not only themselves but all of society.

Socialism, on the other hand, robs citizens of incentive. If they get the same pay for just doing their job as for coming up with a brilliant solution to a problem, folks are more likely not to bother doing more than they have to. This decreases tax revenues, giving governments incentive to raise taxes on fewer and fewer productive people. In the end, the economy craters.

Selling my books has taught me much about economics. By allowing failures, marketing has taught me about what sells and what doesn't. My first two paperbacks are available through the Bruce Atchison's books link. How I Was Razed is distributed by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014


I hope you all had a happy Mother's Day on Sunday. Most moms give a lot to children. Unfortunately, some mothers mistreat their kids or rarely show them affection.

If I try real hard, I can remember happy times with my mom. For instance, I remember those occasions when she read fairy tales to me and my sister Diane. She sometimes used to teach us nursery rhymes when we were very young. During my early childhood, the drudgery of looking after us hadn't worn her down to the point of apathy yet.

I remember when she used to bathe us when I was very young. When she pulled the towel between my legs to dry them, I pretended I was riding a wild horse. For a brief moment, both of us were happy.

Mom rarely laughed about things which were genuinely funny. One of those incidents was when she took the lid off of the ringer washer one afternoon. I came running down the basement stairs to find out what the joke was. Mom pointed to the ceiling where a perfect circle of suds had risen. I grew excited as I asked her to make another circle rise again so I could see it. When she said it wouldn't work a second time, I felt disappointed. Even so, the incident stayed with me.

If I flog my memory, I can recall Mom tucking me into bed with my sister. She also comforted me when I had nightmares on a few occasions.

Having an alcoholic husband and two handicapped boys was hard on Mom. My family was the one which the town folk often gossiped about. The fights and interventions by the RCMP fueled their gloating over our problems. My foul language and my brother's tantrums didn't help either.

Anybody could understand why affection was often lacking in our house, especially during my teenage years. Even so, I remember one day in May of 1974 when Mom actually hugged me for doing something right. A few weeks before, she foolishly used a wet wash rag to clean the top of a radio I had bought from a second hand shop. Something shorted out inside the cabinet and the receiver no longer worked. I took it to my electronics class and got it working again. I believe that was the last time Mom hugged me.

Mom now lives in a nursing home in a city about an hour's drive from Radway. If I can get a ride to the home this summer, I might be able to see her one last time. I hope nothing goes wrong during the visit and no bad feelings from the past arise.

I mentioned my mother in all three of my paperbacks. The first two are featured on the Bruce Atchison's Books page. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Thursday, 8 May 2014


Radio communication has always fascinated me. Since my first transistor radio, which I received as a ten-year-old,, I fell passionately in love with the hobby.

When my mom caved into my begging and bought me a pair of walkie-talkies, being able to transmit my voice to a receiver felt like walking on air. I loved it but I found that getting family members to talk with me on the radio was difficult.

When the CB craze hit in the seventies, I knew I had to have one. I went down to the nearest Radio Shack and purchased a Navaho TRC-30A twenty-three-channel transceiver. Then I applied for my licence with the Department of Transport.

As with any new hobby, the downside of it often becomes apparent after spending money on it. I got into hot water with my landlord for putting up an antenna on the roof without his permission. He did relent but only after giving me a lecture about how inconsiderate I was in not asking him first.

Within a few weeks of going on the air, I had made a few friends. They invited me to "coffee breaks," unofficial meetings of CBers at restaurants. I fondly remember meeting my new friends and putting faces to the voices I had formerly only heard.

Then I discovered the phenomena called by the slang term "skip." Radio signals in the CB band sometimes are reflected back to earth several thousand miles from the transmitter. Attracting the attention of other CBers was difficult because of the thousands of people all talking at once on each channel. Even so, I had a few successes through the years which I was an avid CBer.

When I passed my amateur radio exam and was awarded my licence, I gave up CB radio. Even so, I still have a few transceivers as mementos of those golden times in my radio hobby.

I wrote about my involvement with CB and amateur radio in all three of my memoirs. My CB years are featured in my latest book called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers for details of this wondrous testimony of God's providential care.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


Do you have albums in your record or CD collection which you associate with pivotal periods in your life? I have many such recordings. One album which brings back a cornucopia of memories is Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield.

I might never have heard of this masterpiece if it weren't for a radio announcer named Len Thuesen. He had a radio show on CHED, the local rock station in Edmonton, from nine o'clock to midnight where he featured new music and popular rock groups. At times, he even featured less-popular artists.

One night in May of 1974, Len played both sides of Tubular Bells. I felt amazed at the beauty of this largely instrumental recording which Mike Oldfield composed. He played all of the instruments as well.

Scraping together the few dollars that I had for groceries, I purchased the LP. Since I had no record player of my own, I took it to my mom's place during weekends and played it repeatedly.

When I left home for good, I took the LP with me. I bought my own stereo and enjoyed Mike's masterpiece whenever the mood struck me. When I bought a stereo cassette recorder, I made a copy of the record so I could hear it in my Sony Walkman. As I mowed my lawn or traveled, I filled in the boring hours with that classic album.

After forty years, I finally have the CD version of Tubular Bells. Now I can listen to it without surface noise and clicks. I can also have it on my MP3 player so I can hear it while doing chores outside this summer. I certainly will remember the times when I was a high school student in grade eleven and how I associated some parts of side one with the lessons in electronics class.

I also remember buying a few second hand radios and fixing them up at school. As I did, the catchy melodies of Tubular Bells often played in my mind.

Though I didn't mention this classic recording in my three memoirs, I did have many conflicts with church elders about the supposedly demonic music I listened to. The fact that the beginning of Tubular Bells was used in a movie called The Exorcist didn't make me fearful that I'd be possessed by a demon. Nevertheless, I did believe in  quite a few superstitions which I wrote about in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. It's available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Thursday, 1 May 2014


Each year on this date, various socialist and communist groups celebrate workers around the world. Though fewer people embrace communism these days, many still think socialism is a good political system. I respectfully disagree with them.

Having watched the news for about four decades, I can tell that socialist governments around the world aren't doing what they claimed. Britain is one excellent example. Back in the seventies, the Labour Party had made a mess of the country. Unions called strike after strike for more money and better conditions. I remember how citizens in the UK had to cut back on power consumption because of the coal strike. Ads were shown on television, advising viewers to "switch off something." To avert a disaster, the government turned against the strikers.

When the Conservative Party came to power under Margaret Thatcher, the economy boomed. I remember how Britain became an economically strong nation by the mid eighties. Then Labour got in and things went downhill.

Here in Canada, The Liberal Party racked up a monstrous debt. Their idea of taxing the rich and giving to the poor didn't work out so well. Prime Minister Trudeau implemented the National Energy Plan which siphoned Alberta's oil windfall, slowing down the economy.

As America benefited from Ronald Reagan's conservative policies, Canada stagnated. Our debt climbed, even when a supposedly conservative government, led by Brian Mulroney, ran the country from 1984 to 1993. Canadians voted the Liberal party back in but the debt kept rising. Only after the turn of the century did the government see the disaster Canada was heading for and implemented fiscal restraint.

A true conservative named Stephen Harper came to power in 2006 and Canada's economy slowly improved. When the housing bubble, caused initially by Jimmy Carter's Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, caused a massive downturn in the economy, Stephen Harper's sound financial practices kept Canada afloat.

I've noticed that socialists and communists use euphemistic names to hide the true intent of their policies. These "people's republics" end up oppressing the citizens while benefiting the ruling class. Policies with promising names often fail to deliver. The Obama administration's Affordable Care Act is a good case in point. What was supposed to save people money and give all citizens access to medical help has done the opposite. People can't always keep their doctor and their insurance plans if they like them unless they want to be fined.

Much the same thing happens in the spiritual realm. The "health and wealth"  gospel delivers neither thing except to the preachers who proclaim it. I fell for this bogus doctrine back in the eighties to the point where I needed professional help. I wrote about how I came out of those dark days in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers to learn more about this wonderful story of the Heavenly Father's providential work in my life.