Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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17

Jul

2019

Encounter with a crashing boar

Author: Jim Taylor

The trail that leads down to the shores of Okanagan Lake clings to a steep hillside. One side of it goes up like a cliff, held together a network of  juniper roots. The other side of the trail is a tangle of thorny wild blackberry bushes that not even Peter Rabbit would welcome being thrown into.

            I was going down the trail when I saw something with its head in among the blackberry canes.

            Then the animal pulled its head back to glare at me. It was a boar. A wild boar. A very big wild boar. With vicious tusks.

            It came charging up the hill on its spindly legs.

            I tried to back away. My feet slipped. I landed on my back. The boar was almost on top of me. I started kicking frantically to keep the beast away.

            That’s when Joan shook me awake.

 


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13

Jul

2019

Unconditional love on four legs

Author: Jim Taylor

I lost my closest friend a week ago. Although we don’t normally describe a dog as a friend. 

            But over the last 12 years, I probably spent more time with her than with any human being. She was always happy to take part in whatever I might be doing. Always ready for a walk or a hike, a swim or a car ride. To anywhere. She listened to my 


musings without contradicting me or correcting me. She seemed to prefer my company to anyone else on earth. 

            “Friend” almost seems too weak a word for her. 

            Her name was Phoebe. A Chesapeake Bay Retriever. She adopted my wife and me when she was two. And from then on gave us total devotion. 

            But age caught up with her. Joints that once could run and swim all day developed painful arthritis. By the end of her life, she couldn’t put any weight on her left front paw. Her right hind leg tended to collapse without warning, leaving her sprawled awkwardly on the road, or tumbling down the stairs on her back. 

            We knew her time had run out. We made an appointment with the vet. 


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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: dog, death, Phoebe

10

Jul

2019

Too few, enough, and too many

Author: Jim Taylor

A few weekends ago, I spent a morning disentangling barbed wire.

            Cleaning up the old rusted wire was not easy. Long grass hid it. Bushes had grown around the fallen wire. Fence posts had fallen, sometimes backwards, sometimes forwards. The multiple stands were twisted together. Where previous workers had dragged sections of fence away from the trail, the wires were literally tied in knots.

            So we set to work. And I was reminded again of how well humans can work together in small groups, when we know clearly what our task is.

            Someone, somewhere, must have done a study on the ideal size of working groups. In our small groups of three or four, we solved problems without supervision. We didn’t need a management hierarchy. Or a policy manual.

            But as groups get larger, factions develop. Different people have different ideas on how the job should be done. Or shouldn’t be done. Some members try to dominate others.


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7

Jul

2019

When we run out of ‘away’…

Author: Jim Taylor

Canada just got 1,500 tonnes of garbage back. From the Philippines, a nation that – judging by news photos of emaciated children in Manila scrabbling through mountains of trash looking for things they can salvage and sell – seems quite capable of generating its own garbage. 

            The garbage arrived in 69 containers, part of a shipment of 103 containers sent to the Philippines six years ago. The company that shipped it falsely labelled it as plastics for recycling. It did contain plastics. Also household trash. Electronics. Dirty diapers. Rotting food. 

            That company that sent it has gone out of business. Like Harry Belafonte’s Matilda, it took its money and ran. 

            The transaction raises questions about corporate ethics and bankruptcy loopholes. 

            But the question we should be asking is, why are we shipping our garbage anywhere? 


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3

Jul

2019

Does God control natural disasters?

Author: Jim Taylor

Every time there’s an earthquake, a tsunami, a landslide, a flood, a volcanic eruption -- any natural disaster that kills hundreds or thousands of people -- someone asks, “Why would God do this?”

            Or, more personally, “Why would God do this to us?”

            It’s easy to find someone to blame when a truck runs amok down a sidewalk. When a shooter fires into a crowd. Or when an industry poisons a river. It’s harder when a child dies, when cancer strikes.

            But who can you blame for natural disasters?

            The question, of course, presupposes an answer. It presumes that someone, or something, must be responsible, somehow, for everything that happens -- whether it’s the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago; the origin of life 3 billion years ago; the apple that fell in Newton’s garden in 1666; or the mosquito that bit me yesterday. 

 


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