Lifestyle: garter snake in the garden

Self-tutoring about garter snakes and gardening: the tutor shares about garter snakes.

Until 2012, I used to see snakes fairly often in the yard. Since, I’ve wondered where they’ve gone. After all, reptiles are sensitive creatures whose presence usually suggests environmental health. Furthermore, to my knowledge, we have no poisonous snakes on Vancouver Island. Therefore, a snake here is never a worry:)

A couple weeks back, I finally encountered a garter snake in the garden, to my relief. Maybe they’ve been here all along, but hiding? Perhaps we’ve just been missing each other. Anyway, there it was, alarmed at first, but soon much less timid.

The snake might have been 45cm, brown with red stripes down its sides; I suspect it to be northwestern garter snake.

I decided to research what benefits, etc, accompany snake presence in the garden. Apparently they eat anything they can – rodents (which would have to be very small for the snake I saw), grasshoppers, slugs, etc. Early last evening I observed slugs emerging: I hope that snake is taking notice:)


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

Composting: putting rhubarb leaves in the compost

Self-tutoring about composting: the tutor shares a find about composting rhubarb leaves.

Rhubarb leaves are poisonous. Yet, can they be composted? The other day I noticed someone advising not to.

I had assumed rhubarb leaves are compostable, and I’ve found several sources that agree.


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

Barbecue: How many BTUs do I need?

Self-tutoring about barbecues: the tutor looks into the BTUs one should hope for.

Apparently, 80 to 100 BTU per square inch is best.

I measured our old one outside, which is very good, but wasted away by the weather. Its grill is 15×26 square inches, or 390 square inches. On the side, a stamp says 40000 BTU – exactly what’s recommended.


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

Rest calorie burn rate

Self-tutoring about health: the tutor pursues the idea of how many calories a person might burn per minute, at rest.

The rest calorie burn rate is approximately 1.2 per minute for a person of mass 70kg.

Back in my post from August 16, 2017, I reported 80 to 100 Watts as the power needed to stay alive. Taking 90W as the average, it leads to 1.3cal/minute.

When discussing fitness, the calories mentioned are nutritionist calories. In physics, 1 nutritionist’s calorie=1kcal.


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

Sticky dough: possible cause and solution, part II

Self-tutoring about baking: the tutor follows up on the idea of sticky dough.

Back in my post on July 21, I mention dough being to sticky to work: it stuck to my hands so I couldn’t knead it. The same happened again yesterday.

My wife agrees with other sources that the solution is to add more flour, which solved the problem easily. She further observed that the higher temperature in the house during summer might cause the dough to be more active, hence stickier.

The recipe I was using calls for three cups flour – see it here. Now, when making it during hotter conditions (the temp in the house last time was 26°C), I’d be ready with 3 1/2 cups flour, or even more. (Back before I had the problem with sticky dough, the house temperature was 23°C).

With the extra flour added, the scones turned out fine:)



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

Dough too sticky – what to do?

Self-tutoring about baking: the tutor mentions a problem he sometimes encounters, with possible workarounds.

This morning, making scones, the dough was too sticky to work with – it wouldn’t let go my hands. I wondered what to do, and added about a half cup of milk. It made the dough workable, though not like normal. However, I did get it cut and into the oven. The scones were a little fluffier than usual, but fine.

Everyone else says I should have added more flour instead of milk. I’m not 100% convinced, but maybe I’ll try that next time. The “sticky dough” happens to me about one in ten times – I don’t know why.


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

Can you substitute lard for butter?

Cooking self-tutoring: the tutor experiments substituting lard for butter.

A scones recipe calls for butter…what to do if you haven’t any? Normally I use margarine instead.

Today, hoping for scones that would be a little more crumbly, I used lard instead of margarine. It worked.


Here’s the scones recipe in which I made the substitution:

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

Do you use your agenda?

Self-tutoring in psychology: the tutor reflects about organizational habits.

My wife and I use a common agenda to coordinate schedules, including the kids’ activities. It’s used not only to remind us, but just as much to prevent double-bookings.

When my thirteen-year-old brought his school supplies home last week, he left them on the dining-room table. In solitude, I examined his 2017-2018 agenda.

His name is written on the front, by my wife. Inside he makes one entry: “Lecture”, printed for Tuesday, September 12.

My son’s year was successful…he obviously didn’t need to use his agenda beyond that single entry. All those empty pages, those empty boxes that represent days he spent at school, offer mysteries of what actually happened.

I don’t use organizers nearly to the extent of some people, yet in some contexts they can suddenly be very important. Hence, I will be happy to provide him with an agenda for the coming year, whether he needs it or not. I need to provide it to him, because it will represent another year with so many days which may, individually, need organization.

As for his agenda from this year, empty but for one word, and dated 2017-2018…I’ll keep it:)

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

Crunchy peanut butter vs smooth: which is more popular, and by how much?

Self-tutoring about peanut butter preference: the tutor inquires about the popularity of crunchy vs smooth.

We eat a lot of peanut butter, but have gone years without buying crunchy. I’d say 95% of the peanut butter we’ve ever bought has been smooth.

Yet, I notice crunchy peanut butter every time, and want to get it. I’ve always liked it, but of course, I like both. The question that finally crystallized in my mind: who does buy crunchy peanut butter, if we so rarely do?

It turns out about 60% of people prefer smooth peanut butter. I thought the difference would be much higher.

Recently we’ve been buying some chunky, some smooth:)


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

What is clarified butter, and what is ghee?

Self-tutoring about cooking: the tutor arrives at the definitions of clarified butter and ghee.

Clarified butter and ghee are not the same but can be explained as follows:

  1. Clarified butter is begun by heating butter at low heat so that it melts.
  2. As the butter melts, solids will sink to the bottom and a foam will form on top.
  3. The clarified butter is just the liquid without the foam or solids.
  4. If the butter is heated for longer, the liquid will deepen in color and the foam will solidify and sink. Then, the liquid is ghee.


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