Thursday, 31 July 2014
What a foolishly confident city Edmonton was before 1987. "We never get tornados here," people often boasted. Small twisters had torn up farmers' fields and buildings from time to time but Edmonton had never had a tornado. All that changed on July 31, 1987.
Throughout July, we had thunder storms and muggy weather each evening. The temperature was unusually warm as well. To me, the gathering storm clouds on the last day of the month seemed like the herald of just another thunder storm.
The office staff and I began to realize this was no ordinary weather when the thunder kept rolling without a break. Usually, we would hear a thunder clap and than the rain for half a minute before the next lightning bolt hit. On that day, there were no breaks in the rumble of thunder. One lady, who emigrated from Hong Kong, said it reminded her of the typhoon weather she experienced as a child.
Somebody ran into our office at about three o'clock and announced that the industrial park had been struck by a tornado. We all thought it was just an overgrown dust devil until we heard reports of the damage.
Though we were allowed to go home early, I spent two hours trying to get home on the bus. The trip usually took ten minutes. I immediately turned on the radio when I arrived at my rented suite to get news of the tornado. It had torn up a trailer park by that time and an unspecified number of people had died.
The mood of Edmontonians the next morning was as grim as the overcast sky. The reality check of a category five tornado hitting the city had now sunk in. People suddenly realized that we weren't immune to tornados after all.
Pride makes us do all sorts of stupid things. I know because it kept me in a rogue house church for fifteen years. I wrote the compelling testimony of how God rescued me in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Read more about it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.
Tuesday, 29 July 2014
Q: What's the difference between a robber and a politician?
A: The robber takes your money and runs while the politician runs and then takes your money.
While I agree that it's true in most cases, there are exceptions. Danielle Smith is the leader of a conservative party in Alberta called the Wildrose Alliance. It was formed because conservatives in the provincial government became fed up at the wasteful spending and dictatorial way the Progressive Conservative government was being run.
When Danielle joined the party, it was little better than a splinter group with only Rob Anderson running for the position as a member of the Legislature of Alberta. Danielle's dynamic personality and honest answers to political questions won many Albertans to her side.
In the 2012 election, Wildrose had candidates in all 87 Alberta ridings. They almost won. At the last minute, the PCs misquoted one candidate's blog post and manipulated another into making a supposedly racist comment. This stampeded Albertans into re-electing the PCs.
Though Wildrose lost that election, they learned from the mistakes of the past. The party is focusing on alternative policies to those of the incumbents which would save money but still address the province's needs. Wasteful spending on pet projects and rewarding crony corporations is what is driving Canada's richest province into deep debt. Danielle and the Wildrose aim to change this entitlement mentality which the government presently has.
For more information on Danielle and the Wildrose Party, visit wildrose.cahttp://www.wildrose.ca.
Though I'm not overtly political, I did mention my beliefs in my three memoirs. The first two are for sale on my Bruce Atchison's Books page. The third, my testimony of coming out of a toxic church, is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.
Thursday, 24 July 2014
Randy, a friend at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind, told me about how wonderful FM was. Not only was the sound clearer but, according to him, I could pick up distant stations just like I could on the shortwave bands. That summer, I lobbied hard to get an AM/FM portable radio.
My dad objected when I picked out a beautiful pocket-sized receiver with a chrome speaker grill and blue tuning dial. "Why do you want such an expensive radio?" he whined. This one is much cheaper. He held out a black radio with a tiny window for viewing the dial frequency.
"But, Dad, it doesn't have FM and I can't see the numbers in that tiny window," I objected.
Dad reluctantly paid for the radio which I coveted so much. I cradled the box in my lap as he drove me home and admired the picture on the box. I imagined pulling in stations from all over the world with my new acquisition.
When I installed the battery at home and tuned the FM dial, not a single station came in. I couldn't understand why. Randy was a few years older than I so he should know more about radio. My heart sank as I realized how wrong I was to take his uninformed advice.
I learned later that FM was just for local stations. The signals weren't reflected back down by the ionosphere as short wave signals were but could only be received directly. Some weather systems occasionally bent the waves back down but those only occur rarely.
All wasn't lost, however. I was able to pick up radio signals from Edmonton's local FM stations while on a shopping trip with my mom to that city. When I was sent back to Jericho Hill School in Vancouver that September, the variety of stations I tuned in amazed me. Even more surprising was that I could receive the sound of TV channel 6 from Victoria on my radio.
Though that mistake worked out fine in the end, I've been the victim of erroneous advice many times in my life. The worst misinformation I received was from a minister at a house church. I wrote about how God marvelously led me back to the truth in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Find out more about this wonderful testimony at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Since the cost of human space travel is so expensive, I, and the rest of humanity, had to experience the exploration of our solar system vicariously. One of these interplanetary missions excited the world in July of 1976. The Viking 1 lander touched down on the Martian surface on the twentieth day and began sending back never-before-seen panoramas of the planet's rock-strewn landscape.
I remember the excitement I felt when the news came over the radio of the landing. At long last, humanity would learn if Mars had life and what minerals its surface was composed of. A few days later, magazines delivered to the CNIB smoke stand in which I worked showed a brick-red world. Though I should have been working, I spent considerable time gazing at this alien vista depicted on the magazine covers.
I learned later that the NASA scientists had adjusted the colours of the photos to suit the expectations of us earthlings. When they tested the cameras with a pure white light source and examined newly-received photos, they saw that the surface was ochre-coloured.
I also learned that the reddish colour of mars was due to its thin atmosphere which contained finely-ground dust particles. The blue end of the solar spectrum was reflected back into space, causing Mars to have its reddish appearance.
As for Martian life, the instruments on the Viking 1 lander indicated that there was no life forms present. I felt sad at the news. It would have been wonderful to find life on another planet. On the other hand, I felt that evolutionists would have claimed that Martian life proved Darwin's theory. So the news of Mars' lifeless condition held mixed emotions for me.
Thanks to the Internet, we can receive direct photos and reports from NASA regarding its interplanetary explorers and what they discovered. On August 6, 2012, I was able to see the control room as the techs awaited the landing of the Curiosity Rover. On hearing confirmation of its safe landing, the room broke out in jubilant pandemonium. I saw it happen in real time as I sat in front of my computer and watched the live video stream, something I couldn't imagine doing back in 1976.
In my latest book called How I Was Razed, I wrote about a minister of a house church who claimed that aliens watched our planet to see how the battle between God and Satan was going. I now know that his stories were utter humbug. You can read more about this wondrous testimony of God's providential guidance of me out of this errant church at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.
Thursday, 17 July 2014
Some of those people assume that since they live in a small town or hamlet, they can let their dogs run unsupervised. What they don't understand is that hamlets and villages have bylaws against loose canines and for very good reasons. Dogs defecate and urinate on people's lawns and in their flower beds. I've had the misfortune many times of not seeing a dog dropping on my lawn as I mowed and stepping right in it.
Loose dogs also form packs. They soon become belligerent toward other animals and even children. Additionally, feckless owners don't make the effort to have their pets spayed or neutered. The end result is unwanted mongrel puppies. These often end up in animal shelters and many end up being euthanized. Inconsiderate owners seem not to care that they've caused so much trouble for other people and brought unwanted puppies into the world.
Another frustration is that many blind people have had run-ins with stray dogs as they walked with their guides. Unlike a pampered house pet, service dogs are working animals. It costs thousands of dollars to train them to guide their blind handlers to their destinations. Several personal friends have recounted how they were walking with their guide when somebody's dog ran toward them, barking ferociously. This is very distressing for both the person and the guide. Worse yet, nobody enjoys complaining to the officials about dog attacks because of the fear of revenge by its owner. Bylaw officers end up confronting the errant dog owner who invariably claims their little pooch wouldn't hurt a fly.
Though I have a little vision, having somebody's dog barking at me and nipping at my heals is extremely distressing. I've called the bylaw officer but by the time he's arrived, the dog has moved on to annoy others in the neighbourhood. Thanks to modern technology, I can now photograph the miscreant mutt and e-mail its picture to the county office. This has resulted in quite a few visits to inconsiderate dog owners and a few confiscations.
Not as important but still aggravating, As I walk to get my mail, I often set off people's dogs. Like car alarms which folks become annoyed by, barking dogs ruin the pleasantness of my outdoor excursions. I'm glad people tie their animals up now but the chorus of barks as I mind my own business spoils any beauty I might have enjoyed in the day. Worse yet, some owners leave their dogs out to bark for hours. This was one reason why I moved out of my first house.
Rabbits are much less of a problem when properly cared for. If I hadn't told anybody about my Deborah, they'd never know I even had her in my home. I wrote about my love of bunnies in When a Man Loves a Rabbit. It and my second memoir are featured on the Bruce Atchison's books page.
My latest book is called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check out this wonderful testimony of God's providential care at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
Thanks to an e-mail from Ruth L. Snyder, a fellow Christian and writer, I have some startling statistics which show the decline in Bible reading in Canada. I'm sure the figures are similar in America and Australia.
In 2013, the Canadian Bible Forum, a group of nine Canadian Bible agencies – including the Canadian Bible Society (CBS) – together with The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, engaged world-class market research company, Angus Reid Strategies, to undertake the Canadian Bible Engagement Study (CEBS). More than 4,500 people across Canada were interviewed for the study, making CEBS the most recent comprehensive national study of its kind. The study revealed many details about Bible reading and engagement, with the overall finding being that most Canadians are not reading and are not interested in reading their Bible.
Specifically, study results revealed that About one in seven Canadian Christians, or 14%, read the Bible at least once a week. The majority of Canadians, including those who identify themselves as Christian, read the Bible either rarely or not at all. Only 18% of Canadians strongly agree the Bible is the Word of God, down from 35% in 1996. One in seven Canadians (13%) and about one in four Christians (23%) strongly agree that the Bible is relevant to modern life.
This indicates to me that there are two kinds of Christians. The majority profess to believe in God but don't possess salvation. They're nice folks but they haven't been fundamentally changed by surrendering the reins of their lives to Christ.
The second group of Christians have the Holy Spirit residing in their hearts and therefore have been radically changed. Like microwave cooking, transformation begins on the inside and works its way outward.
On the longest-running radio drama in history called Unshackled, I've heard true stories of how non Christians noticed a distinct change in the lives as well as the appearance of their born again friends. Moreover, it isn't feigned but a genuine change in a person's being. This shows me that real transformation does happen with a small number of those labeling themselves as Christians.
In How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity, I showed how I was misled by a pseudo-Christian church. God providentially led me to a proper understanding of himself and his Word. Check out my compelling testimony at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm Publishers.
Thursday, 10 July 2014
In an effort to get to know more local people, I joined Radway's New Horizon's Seniors Club. Surprisingly, they let me join even though I'm not technically at retirement age. During the two years that I've been a member, I made some great friends and went to some wonderful events.
The latest excursion we went on was to see a play called The British Invasion at the Jubilations Dinner Theatre, located in West Edmonton Mall. I was afraid that most of the members wouldn't enjoy it. I was pleasantly surprised when all the comments about the play were positive.
The British Invasion portrayed what would have happened if Ed Sullivan's daughter had booked not only The Beatles but Herman's Hermits, The Rolling Stones, and other British bands by flirting with their members before hand. The comedy showed how some of the band members discovered her trick.
Between back stage scenes, actors played the songs of the various acts live and in the outfits of the sixties groups. Many people asked as the dinner was served during the intermissions if the cast were lip-synching to a recorded backing track. They couldn't believe that the music was played live.
The food was wonderful as well, Everybody remarked how delicious it was. Moreover, the dinner menu printed in the brochures at each table had hilarious sixties-oriented titles. For example, there were entrees like "All You Need Is Beef," "Don't Let the Chicken Catch You Crying," ""It's Only Fish & Chips But I Like It," and Sgt. Pepper's Vegetarian Pasty."
The dessert items had similar humorous titles. For example, the menu displayed such treats as "You Say Good-bye, Black Forest Cake" and "I Say Hello, Sticky Toffee Cake." We all had a good laugh at these memory-evoking titles.
Near the end of the show, anybody with a birthday during the following two or three days was asked to come on stage. In character, Peter Noon and Ringo Starr interviewed the patrons. Then the actors playing The Beatles sang "Birthday" in honour of them. Each birthday person also received a five-inch by seven-inch post card of the cast.
The fun continued as our bus driver drove us home. As we chatted excitedly about how good the show was, Jeanette fired up her smart phone and played several Beatles songs. To my delight, most of the folks joined in. I knew most of the lyrics to "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" so I sang loudly.
Rock music played a large part in my childhood and adult years. I wrote about the sixties tunes in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School. It and my debut memoir can be found on my Bruce Atchison's Books page. How I Was Razed, available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers, shows how my love of rock music was criticized as wicked by the house church members. I now know that music is just a tool like anything else and can be used for righteous or wicked ends.
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
Debra isn't the only one whose offers of assistance have been waved away by able-bodied folks. I've heard of other blind people being denied the chance to help out in organizations. We're somehow viewed as the ones to be helped rather than the ones who can pitch in.
Blind folks have many talents which could be put to good use in churches and organizations. The obvious ones are singing and playing an instrument. But not every blind individual is a Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder. What can they do to help?
Volunteers for telephone reminders are one area where sight-impaired individuals can give assistance. It's no problem to dial a phone if a person can't see the buttons or dial. In fact, blind telephone operators have been around for decades. Not letting people do that easy task proves how short-sighted some sighted people can be.
Folding church bulletins or stuffing envelopes is another low-skill job which anybody can do. As long as the stationary pages are the right way up and the envelopes are placed properly in the printer, there should be no trouble for a sight-impaired volunteer to complete the task.
Blind people can also take minutes at board meetings. With the use of a digital recorder and the permission of the participants, that person can type the minutes up at home and have them printed out for the next meeting. As for reading them aloud, the secretary could either ask a sighted friend to read them aloud or they could read from a braille copy. I've volunteered as secretary for both the local Wildrose Party constituency association and for the Alberta Rural Crime Watch Association for the past year. Nobody has said I didn't do a good job or I shouldn't be in such a position.
Since many sight-impaired folks use computers with screen-reading programs, why not let them put together newsletters? Alternately, let the blind volunteer write the text so that a sighted member could work on the lay-out of the newsletter.
I could list many other examples but I'm sure you get the point. Generally speaking, visually-impaired folks are dedicated volunteers who take pride in their work. Not giving people such as myself the chance to pitch in is a subtle form of discrimination as well as just plain foolish.
I mentioned a few problems I had in offering help to churches in my book called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. It's available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's Books, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.
Thursday, 3 July 2014
In a way, my upbringing was a part of the reason for my objections to stupid situations. Mom often told us not to do foolish things like stand out in the rain, crawl under railroad cars, and accept rides from strangers. She likewise reminded us to dress warm for the winter weather. When I was sent to Jericho Hill School, I objected to supervisors making us wait in the rain. Likewise, the planners of that school didn't think of our comfort when we had to trek to the dining hall and back three times a day in all sorts of weather. The junior kids' dorms were connected to the classrooms by a hallway but the rickety old dining hall was about a block away.
As a child and an adult, I often encountered double standards. From my brother Roy getting away with bad behaviour because he was labeled as retarded to supervisors at work cutting their pets a break while watching me closely, I often came out the loser. If supervisors made any accommodations for me, I would be continually reminded of the magnanimous privilege they granted me.
Church was much the same way. There was only one incident when I was held up as a good example. When I knew more about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt than the sighted Sunday school students, the teacher praised me. Since I've blogged quite a few times about the chiding I received from a house church minister and his self-appointed sheep dog, I won't list those incidents here.
Though it might sound selfish, I love living on my own. Dwelling with others means that the bathroom might be busy when I need it desperately. The chair I like to sit on might be occupied by somebody living with me. I wouldn't be able to eat what I wanted and when I wanted to if I had to always consider another person's desires. Most importantly, I wouldn't have to hear that phrase that angers me like none other. "You can't have everything your way, you know."
I've written about my love of solitude and the problems living with others caused me in all three of my books. The first two are available through the Bruce Atchison's Books site. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is distributed by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.