Geography: maple syrup production

Tutoring geography, agriculture is topical. The tutor brings up maple syrup production by region.

Of course my kids have this Friday off, so I made them (and myself) pancakes for breakfast. While they actually prefer plain syrup, I like maple syrup on mine.

Which provinces (or states) are notable producers of maple syrup?

  1. Quebec leads (perhaps no surprise): 7,989,000 gallons.
  2. Vermont is next, at about 11% of Quebec’s output.
  3. Ontario comes next, at about 5% of Quebec’s output.
  4. The states of New York and Maine come next, at about 4% each of Quebec.
  5. New Brunswick is next, at 3.8% of Quebec.
  6. Six US states come next.
  7. Nova Scotia follows, at about 0.3% of Quebec.

Interesting, eh?


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Canadian Geography: two Lawrencetowns in Nova Scotia?

Tutoring social studies, the Maritimes enter the conversation. The tutor mentions a discovery he made a couple of days ago about Nova Scotia.

Recently, looking at a map of Nova Scotia, I noticed a place called Lawrencetown, perhaps about 5 miles east of Dartmouth.

“Lawrencetown’s in the Annapolis Valley,” I thought to myself. “It’s northwest of Dartmouth, maybe 50 miles as the crow flies.”

I moved the map around on the web page, and behold! Both Lawrencetowns were apparent – the one in the Annapolis Valley I knew as a kid, as well as the one east of Dartmouth.

I hadn’t known there were two.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Geography: UTM coordinates

Tutoring math, number-oriented topics naturally arise. The tutor gives some simple points about the UTM coordinate system.

UTM stands for Universal Transverse Mercator: it produces a grid on Earth from which locations can be referenced.

UTM organizes the Earth, from the International Date Line towards east, into 60 zones, each six degrees wide. The zones are numbered 1 to 60; here, in Campbell River, we’re in zone 10.

From the South Pole to North Pole, there are reference lines lettered C to X that suggest latitude.

The numbers, going east, and the letters, going north, make a grid. Here in Campbell River, we are in square 10U.

The north (or south) coordinate of UTM is absolute, measured from the equator; the east coordinate, however, is measured relative to the zone the location is in.

Coordinates are measured in metres. Possibly confusing, the east reference point of a zone is located 500,000 metres (500km) west of its centre. Since the zones are less than 1000km (1,000,000m) wide, an east coordinate of zero will never happen. If a zone is 400km wide (they get narrower as you go north, since they converge at the equator), the east coordinate of a location within it could be from 300,000 to 700,000.

Since the north (or south) coordinates are absolute, the letter of the UTM grid square is not always used. Campbell River is in square 10U, but its coordinates might be given zone 10, E:337,196 N:5,544,789.

That’s UTM as I understand it.



Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle: start of summer, 2017

Tutoring, you observe how people’s lifestyle and attitudes change along with the weather. The tutor reflects on the coming of summer, 2017.

To a Canadian, seasons may not begin according to the designated times on the calendar. In my January 26, 2015 post, I define the first day of spring from a Canadian point of view.

What about summer? Supposedly it starts around June 21 each year. However, from my point of view, the real start of summer is when people start behaving like it’s summer – when they start wearing summer clothes and engaging in summer activities.

By Friday, May 19, spring had clearly been here for around two months. The high that day was 16°C. However, Saturday morning, May 20, the sun was bursting through the windows. By 10am, standing on the deck outside, the feeling was summer, not spring. The high turned out to be 23°C. Sunday reached 23°C as well, Monday, 24°C.

By Monday, people were dressing and behaving in summer fashion. Adapting to summer doesn’t take long; today, the kids are heading to school in T-shirts (no jackets or hoodies) without hesitation.

From Saturday to Monday, people decided summer is here. On that observation, I’m defining the start of summer from a Canadian point of view: the first three consecutive days to top 20°C constitute the beginning of summer.

Enjoy your summer, whenever it arrives:)


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Geography: what does Annapolis mean?

Tutoring Canadian geography, you might mention the Annapolis Valley. The tutor investigates the meaning of the name Annapolis.

As a kid I spent three years in the Annapolis Valley. Typical of the Maritimes, it had beautiful summer and fall but winter was long.

There is also an Annapolis in Maryland; noticing it, I decided to find the meaning of Annapolis.

It turns out that Anna (Hebrew: Hannah) was the name of the Virgin Mary’s mother. In Greek a polis is a small, unified community having unique identity and customs. In an agricultural society, the polis would include the land its inhabitants farm.

Therefore, Annapolis might mean Anna’s Village. The name ties the village to the Virgin Mary’s mother Anna. When I lived in the Annapolis Valley, religion was prominent there:)


Stanford, Quentin H. (editor). Canadian Oxford School Atlas, 6th ed. Toronto: Oxford University Press.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Geography: what is the Dahomey Gap (aka Togo Gap)?

Tutoring geography, you notice features on maps.

Apparently, the Dahomey Gap, possibly aka the Togo Gap, is a strip of dry woodland that runs north from the coast of Benin, Togo, and eastern Ghana.

The Gap divides the equatorial rainforest of west Africa into two distinct regions. While no tall mountains surround it, uplands do, which may explain its local dryness.



O’Shea, Mark. Venomous Snakes of the World. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Geography, Social Studies: ISIS or ISIL?

The tutor explains two names for the Islamic State, commonly called ISIS.

ISIS and ISIL are two names for the same group. Both are acronyms:

ISIS: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

ISIL: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

As I explain in my post from February 4, the Levant refers to the countries along the Mediterranean’s eastern shore: Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

ISIS, or ISIL, presently holds territory in Syria and Iraq.

Apparently, ISIS, or ISIL, is sometimes called simply IS, for Islamic State.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Geography: what (or where) is the Levant?

The tutor explains the term Levant.

The Levant refers to the eastern Mediterranean region: specifically, it includes present-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. Some include the area of Turkey on the eastern Mediterranean shore, as well as Cyprus.

In a future post I’ll mention how the Levant has surfaced in my reading.


Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Geography: CIA World Factbook

The tutor shares findings about world population and life expectancy from the CIA World Factbook.

Now and then I like to drop by the CIA World Factbook. Today I got some surprising intel:

World life expectancy: 69 years (much higher than I expected)

Population growth rate: 1.08% (about half what I expected)

Happily, Canada is one of the ten least densely populated countries:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Lifestyle and seasons: cross quarter days: August 5

The tutor discusses the meaning surrounding the cross quarter day August 5.

I’ve written a couple of posts about cross quarter days (see here and here): they’re days at mid-season, rather than season boundaries. Often, a celebration is at or near a cross quarter day, the most famous being Halloween.

In the British Isles, Lammas (England) or Lughnasadh (Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man) are harvest festivals that happen around August 1. They have pre-Christian origins.

Someone might approach a cross quarter day with a festival, or perhaps more subtly. Either way, awareness of the seasons allowed humans to become agriculturalists, so continues to be indispensable.

I’ll be talking more about seasonal holidays:)





Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.