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

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29

Mar

2017

Look into my eyes…

Author: Jim Taylor

In our social culture, we tend to use our eyes differently, depending on whether we’re speaking or listening. (Other cultures have different, and therefore often disquieting, customs.)

            I tend to watch someone else most closely while they’re speaking. That’s how I show I’m paying attention. I watch your eyes, your mouth, the crinkles on your forehead, to confirm visually what I think my ears are hearing. If I start looking somewhere else – at the TV set, for instance, at the dog, or, umm, at your cleavage – you can reasonably assume that I’m no longer paying as much attention as I should.

            But when I’m speaking, I’m more likely to glance away occasionally. 


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4

Jan

2017

How do ideas spread?

Author: Jim Taylor

          You remember those jokes, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” The jokes assumed that a chicken actually had a reason for crossing a road. California quail don’t. When a car comes, they scuttle across, then decide they preferred other side, and reverse direction just as the car reaches them.

            In the muted light of dawn or dusk, they sometimes move in such numbers that it feels as if the earth itself is moving.

             They land on my bird feeder the same way they travel on the ground -- en masse. They shoulder each other off the platform. They climb over each other. They can empty the feeder in a day. Last winter, I put out an estimated 300 pounds of sunflower seeds. Quail got most of it.

            This year, I decided to outsmart them. I made a wire cage to cover the feeder. Its mesh had holes big enough for chickadees and finches, but too small -- I thought -- for bulkier quail.

            I was wrong.


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2

Oct

2016

The second half of communication

Author: Jim Taylor
The newspaper for which I write these columns tells me that it sometimes run short of letters to the editor. I can’t personally remedy that shortage. But because I was partly responsible for them starting a “Letters to the Editor” page, many years ago, I feel some obligation at least to consider the matter. Letters to the editor are, I contend, the essential second half of communication. The first half is the message sent out, by whatever means. Including blogs, FaceBook, and, yes, handwritten letters. It’s one person talking. The second half is the other person responding. If no response is possible, communication might as well fall on deaf ears. I don’t know about you, but I lose interest very quickly whenever I encounter speakers who are interested only in hearing their own opinions.
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