THE WONDERFUL WATER PARK.

Summer is a time of fun and relaxation for many of us. Families go on vacation to get away from the daily routine. Children frequent swimming pools and play grounds, making the most of their free time. Those folks who must work all summer often visit local attractions in their off hours.

Being a single man, I still needed a break from the usual grind from time to time. Though I’d visited West Edmonton Mall and saw the dolphins, I’d never tried the water park. On one of my Friday Afternoons off, I rode the busses, bathing suit and towel in hand, to find out what everybody raved about. It was more fun than I expected.

I first tried the wave pool, a swimming pool with an artificial wave generator. I liked that plus the pool was like a beach, gradually getting deeper.

Next, I rode a sort of wheelless go cart thing which slid down rollers and splashed into a pool. That was quite fun too.

Then I tried the water slides. I didn’t like them as much as the ones at Kelowna but they were still enjoyable.

Afternoons spent like that were good psychologically since I felt increasingly frustrated at work. The admission to the water park seemed inexpensive compared to the pleasure I had.

I related my frustrations with work and my spiritual life in my upcoming How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity memoir. I hope to have it in print and e-book form in a few months. Meanwhile, you can check out my books at the Bruce Atchison’s books link.

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NEVER PAY YOUR DEBTS WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY.

ImageIf more people practiced this principle, this world would be a much happier place. Of course it isn’t always so. Far too many trusting and sincere individuals have been bilked out of their money by unscrupulous con artists and dodgy business people. Many never receive their money back either.

In my case, I nearly lost a lot of money in the summer of 1988. A fellow amateur radio operator named Hart began his own radio dealership. I had recently received my tax refund and thought I should treat myself to a top-of-the-line station.

I chose the transceiver from an Icom catalogue and visited Hart’s store on my Friday afternoon off work. I handed him two thousand dollars in cash so that it would make the sale less of a problem for him. Hart said he didn’t have the model I wanted in stock but that he’d order it for me.

I felt elated as I walked along the sunlit street to the bus stop. I would soon own a decent transceiver instead of the pathetic model that the CNIB loaned to me.

Weeks passed as I grew steadily more impatient. Whenever I called Hart, he said, “I put your order in and I’m waiting for Icom to ship it. Just be patient. These things take time.”

By late September, a number of hams became suspicious. They too had received the same answer. We decided in the first week of October to file a case in Small Claims Court. The ombudsman discovered that Hart had been paying off his own debts with our money instead of ordering merchandise.

Hart promptly refunded our purchases but nobody spoke to him afterwards. He went out of business and I heard a rumour that he moved away to somewhere in British Columbia.

If Hart dealt honestly with his customers, he would have had enough repeat business to keep his store open. Had he been prudent, he never would have had debt problems in the first place. Because he sought a quick way out of his indebtedness, he lost the respect of the entire amateur radio community in Edmonton.

I’ve written more about my love of radio and electronics in my previous memoirs as well as one which I hope to publish soon. You can read about both of them on the Bruce Atchison’s books page.

HOW TO IMPRESS A LANDLORD

.Renting out apartments and houses can be a nightmare. As in other areas of life, a few nasty renters spoil it for everybody else.

Though I wasn’t a perfect tenant, I strove to be quiet and to look after the places that I rented. In fact, one future landlord felt impressed at my consideration of neighbouring tenants when he visited my apartment. This is how it happened.

“I found a place that you could rent,” Mom said to me on the phone one July afternoon. “It’s the main floor of a house.” I eagerly jotted down the phone number and address. Having prayed for fifteen months that I could find a quiet place to live, I hoped that God would finally grant me my request.

Marshall, the landlord, met me at the house one afternoon. “This place seems not too bad,” I said as we walked into the second bedroom, “but is the downstairs neighbour quiet?”

“Sure. He’s an older gentleman and he doesn’t play loud music.”

“What about the neighbours? Do they have dogs?”

“As far as I know, they’re quiet. Nobody’s complained to me.”

“Great. I’ll sign the contract then.” As I wrote my name, I silently prayed that I wasn’t making another mistake.

“Do you have a cheque to pay the damage deposit and first month’s rent?” he asked.

“I forgot to bring it. Could we meet again here and I can give you the money?”

“How about if I give you a ride to your place and you could cut me a cheque there?”

“Sure. Thanks a lot for the offer. I have to take the busses since I can’t see to drive a car.”

At my apartment, he and I sat at my kitchen table as I filled out the cheque. “What’s that speaker unit doing on the table?” he pointed into the living room.

“That’s so I can hear my music without disturbing the neighbours underneath me. After all, God put my ears on the sides of my head and not my ankles.”

“Good. I’m glad to know that. I think you’ll be a good tenant.”

Pleased with his complement, I silently thanked God for letting Mom find the new place in the paper. As with the previous moves, I eagerly counted the days as I packed.

I wrote about my long search for a quiet place to live in How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. I hope to have this memoir published by the end of the year. Please check out my previous paperbacks on the Bruce Atchison’s Books link.

HONESTY IS A COSTLY POLICY.

ImageOne temptation parents occasionally yield to is to claim that their children are under twelve years old. If the kids cooperate and the teller at the window isn’t observant, the deception works. But dishonesty is a skill that some children haven’t mastered. My mentally-challenged brother was one who couldn’t understand the ruse Mom planned.

Like many parents in the summer of 1971, my mom took us shopping for school supplies. Though Fort Saskatchewan was technically a city, it lacked the variety and affordability of Edmonton’s shops.

We toured the various department stores all afternoon. Shopping for school clothes wasn’t what we thought of as a good time but choosing the pencil crayons, rulers, oil pastels, and art gum erasers was actually interesting.

Mom made sure we arrived at the ticket counter early so we wouldn’t miss our bus home. She asked the man behind the counter for three adult fares (for herself, Diane, and me) and two children’s tickets for Linda and Roy.

When the clerk asked how old Roy was, Mom said, “Eleven.”

Roy, who’s birthday was in July, overheard and piped up, “I’m trelve! I’m trelve!” He still couldn’t pronounce words with “tw” in them. Mom tried to hush and elbow Roy but he let the entire bus depot know that he was “trelve.”

Mom blushed as she paid the fair.

“Why did you have to say you’re twelve?,” Mom scolded once we’d sat down to wait for our bus. “I could have gotten a half price ticket if you hadn’t opened your big mouth.”

“But I’m trelve,” Roy proudly proclaimed.

Though honesty is the best policy, it can cost. Many truthful people would rather pay the price, realizing that integrity is more valuable. Mom’s actions didn’t demonstrate that at the time. Roy, though he didn’t have the whit to keep silent or say he was eleven, showed the better example. Mom could have saved a few dollars but her dishonesty might have misled us.

More vignettes like this one are in my Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School) memoir. It and When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies) are available from my Bruce Atchison’s books page.

A GIFT OF A DRAWING

.ImageSome things in this world have changed radically in the past fifteen years. Facebook, Twitter, and similar social networks didn’t exist back then. People exchanged videos on VHS tapes since most used dial-up services. E-mail and newsgroups were in use but many folks still used the postal system for letters.

Via my electronic music hobby, I befriended a Japanese couple named Art and Tomoko. Through the medium of VHS tapes, they showed me their apartment in Tokyo and their Harlequin rabbit, Lap. They also taped various cultural events.

I returned the favour by sending them videos of Gideon and gave them a tour of my home. Likewise, I taped the Klondike Days bath tub race and scenes of downtown Edmonton. The couple enjoyed the music I sent them so much that Tomoko drew Gideon’s picture for my next album cover.

When her colourful drawing arrived from Japan in my mail box, I took it to a rubber stamp company and had them manufacture one for me. That made it easy to make my album covers at home, stamping each cassette and CD-R j card with Gideon’s image.

First I cut up old manilla file folders, which I scrounged while working at the Government of Canada’s Airports Branch, into four inch squares. Then I folded them so they would fit into the clear plastic cases. That red ink I used on the stamp made Gideon’s image stand out nicely against the beige paper.

Once I had decided the order of the tracks and the information I wanted to put on the j cards, I printed the texts from my computer on scrap paper. Gluing the texts to the card stock with rubber cement made the covers look less home made and amateurish since I could just rub away the excess.

All my efforts saved me printing costs plus I had plenty of stamp pads and ink which the government also tossed out. Because my former employer was so wasteful with supplies, and since they let me take unwanted used stock home, I had ample stationary to choose from.

Though I’ve lost contact with my Japanese “keyboard pals,” I still have the stamp and Tomoko’s drawing. It reminds me of her and her husband’s kindness to me. I hope they still have my CD-Rs and my videos to remember me by.

I’ve written about my adventures and misadventures with house rabbits in a book called When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living with Bunnies). Please visit my Bruce Atchison’s books page for more information about it as well as my other writing activities.

A TALE OF TWO KITS

.ImageDid you ever own one of those Science Fair multi-project kits that Radio Shack sold? I bought several of them. They gave me hours of pleasure over the years. I still have most of those kits today.

On one visit to Radio Shack during the summer of 1976, I noticed a solar power kit for sale. I bought it and had a lot of fun building the projects. I assembled several radios, one of which switched on when enough sunlight struck the solar cells. The kit included a transmitter circuit but it could only send morse code. I had no interest in that project but I had fun building the rest of the circuits included in the kit.

I also bought an optical projects kit. When I arrived home after work, I became so engrossed in building the telescope that I didn’t notice time passing. It was eleven before I stopped working on my project. After all that hard work, the telescope wasn’t of much use. I saw mostly halos and blurs which made seeing distant objects almost impossible.

Though Radio Shack is now The Source here in Canada and the chain sells only consumer products such as phones and MP3 players, I fondly remember the days when a person could buy a wide variety of kits. It was a paradise for those wishing to build circuits from scratch as well. Radio Shack still exists and they sell electronic kits.

I wrote about my love of electronics and radios in Deliverance from Jericho: Six Years in a Blind School). Please visit the Bruce Atchison’s books link to learn more about this memoir as well as my writing activities.

LISTENING CAN BE THE BEST MEDICINE

.ImageDuring more than fifty years of life on this planet, I’ve found that listening can be the most helpful thing one can do. This was aptly demonstrated recently when a certain friend poured out his troubles. The only contribution I made to the conversation, apart from comforting monosyllables, was that perhaps something in his wife’s childhood made her behave as she did.

This friend e-mailed me some days later and said that our talk did him a lot of good. By the way, I’m being deliberately vague here as this is a private matter between this friend and myself. I do my utmost not to betray confidences placed in me.

I can recall many times in my life when a listening ear was all I needed in order to sort out my troubles. In my upcoming memoir, How I Was Razed: And How I Found Authentic Christianity, I tell of the professionals who listened to me without an attitude of condemnation. Though the psychiatrist gave me no concrete answers, I realized that other people weren’t as superior as they appeared and I wasn’t such a bad person.

A psychologist gave me a few insights but no real answers that I could sink my metaphorical teeth into. Even so, just having a safe place to sort out my troubles was of great help. As I told her, it’s like having a clean table to dump out the contents of a bag on instead of just rummaging around in it. Everything is in plain sight but not in danger of becoming soiled.

Two pastors gave more help to me in just a few hours than all the therapists that I had seen. A talk show host named June Hunt suggested that I hand over my anger and my troubles to Jesus Christ in prayer. This, and writing my memoirs, has given me the most help in dealing with my past.

Either through ignorance or malice, people have given me trite advice that did more damage than good. Like the time my sister, Diane, rubbed my broken arm to make it better, these well-meaning critics caused me a lot of needless pain. For example, the elders at the house church that I attended, and that I’m writing about in my next memoir, admonished that my poor sight was due to ancestral sin, my lack of faith, or unconfessed sin in my heart. The legalistic attitude of these people eventually turned me against God for almost a decade. I came to realize I wasn’t angry at the Lord but at the bad council of people claiming to serve him.

Another piece of harmful advice came from teachers and principles at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind. “Ignore the bully and he’ll stop bothering you,” was their mantra. I suffered for years as a result of heeding them. Only after I tried to choke the bully to death did he stop harassing me. I wrote of this and other wrong-headed council in Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School).

I’ve heard folks joke that God gave us one mouth but two ears. There’s a lot of truth and wisdom in that. If people listened twice as much as they spoke, more help would be given to those who needed a friend to confide in. When people listen in order to understand, rather than to correct, it helps both parties come to a resolution or at least to a feeling of satisfaction.

Please check out the Bruce Atchison’s books link for more information about my memoirs. I also post excerpts from them there.