Geography: Wolves in France

Self-tutoring about geography and animals: the tutor mentions wolves in France.

Perhaps a North American can be tempted to believe that Europe is no longer wild. However, Europe has its mountain ranges that still host wilderness.

France has two wolf populations: one in its Alps (arrived from Italy), and one in its Pyrenees (arrived from Spain). One estimate puts France’s wild wolves at 530.


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

Education: heuristic, part 0

Self-tutoring about thinking and learning: the tutor mentions the term heuristic, used as a noun.

One of the smartest people I’ve met was a head waiter. Once he showed me proper placement of cutlery on a table, and called it the “rule-of-thumb.”

Years later a comp-sci professor brought up the term “rule-of-thumb”, but in a different context. He said a heuristic is a rule-of-thumb, and gave this example: “If you wear a raincoat to work because you see the streets are wet, that’s a heuristic for deciding whether to wear your raincoat.”

Indeed, one meaning of heuristic is “a rule-of-thumb.” It’s not a perfect method for deciding, but (ideally) virtually effortless, and won’t give a catastrophic result, even when it doesn’t give the optimal one.


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

Math: a detail about order of operations

Tutoring math, so often a detail can pose danger. The tutor relates such a case.

Occasionally, regarding order of operations, I’ve heard people say you do addition before subtraction, since of course in BEDMAS, A comes before S. It’s a logical enough conclusion, though I’d argue not the safest way to proceed.

When only addition and subtraction remain, they are done in the order they appear from left to right. Consider, for instance


A scientific calculator will confirm the answer is 1.

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

Lifestyle: YouTube channels: That Chapter

Self-tutoring about true crime and mystery channels on YouTube: the tutor relates….

I believe I discovered Mike’s YouTube channel That Chapter a little over a year ago.

That Chapter covers unsolved crime and disappearance. Its subscription has exploded since I’ve been watching; I’d say there are a few reasons why.

Mike, the host of That Chapter, is Irish, to be sure. He’s matter-of-fact, but a few times each video he pops his own brand of ironic humor.

Mike posts often, which is a big advantage for two reasons:

  1. It’s easy to count on his having another video up very soon.
  2. The quality of his videos, from so much practice, improves steadily.

Mike shows true interest in the stories he covers – I can but imagine how much research he puts in to relate so many. Perhaps a handful I’ve heard of elsewhere, but most he’s covered I’ve heard from him first.

Likely a big reason for That Chapter’s popularity is Mike’s down-to-earth approach. He’s conversational, and explains a story from the known facts.

I typically listen to his videos, more than watch them, while I’m putting together a meal or washing dishes. I look forward to those times.

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

Handyman role: plumbing: quick connects

Self-tutoring about plumbing: the tutor relates….

I had to change out a plumbing connector the other day…it seems its liner was disintegrating.

I went to the hardware store and got helpful advice. (I also made a few impulse buys.) When I got home I made preparations, then, with my son Paul’s help, began the job.

The old connector, which I was replacing with one identical, had a quick connect on one end. I’d heard that proper insertion depth of those is important, and that you can look it up for a specific one, by size.

One general idea I’ve learned about home maintenance is that, when fixing something, it seems best to change exactly what’s broken, but hopefully nothing else. Naturally I wondered if the old fitting had been placed at recommended depth, or if the tradesperson had used their own judgement. Since the new fitting was identical, the question arose: “Do I insert the pipe at the same depth as before, or do I go by the published guide?” I marked the old fitting’s place on the pipe before removing it.

Once the fitting was off, I measured the depth it had been placed to on the pipe: it was 1/8″ less than the guide said. Yet, it had never leaked. I made a new mark at the recommended insertion point, 1/8″ further from the end. Now there were two marks.

I reasoned that anywhere between the last one’s position and the recommended one would be good; the fitting seemed happy to come to rest between them.

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

Writing: what are guillemets?

Self-tutoring about special characters: the tutor mentions a discovery.

«Guillemets» are angle brackets used around quotations; apparently they’re common in French, while English uses “quotation marks.”


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

Children: the playground

Self-tutoring about children and being a parent: the tutor recalls….

Before the kids entered middle school I took them outside for a couple of hours, rain or shine, each day they didn’t have school. I did so to give them exercise and because I didn’t want them growing up “in front of the TV.”

Sometimes, we would go to Nanaimo on a weekend. Some of those days, my wife would look for clothes while I took the kids outside, just around wherever we happened to be. Since typically this would be an area outside a mall, it wasn’t always a zone meant for kids. We could find ourselves in some surprising places.

One cold, dry Saturday afternoon in March 2009, I left the mall with the kids, then 4 and 6. We carefully walked along the outside of the mall, then crossed the parking lot. Eventually we reached a grassy area around some other buildings.

At the opposite edge of the grassy area we noticed, perhaps surprisingly, a playground. We followed an unnecessary path to it.

The playground was for very young kids; its highest structure might have been four feet. It had low monkey bars of some sort, I believe, and perhaps some vehicle replica, like a train wherein kids could climb amongst its cars. For some reason I recall the train sitting on a track but I can’t imagine it moved. There was also a slide, and possibly a see-saw.

The playground showed signs of age, but was free of litter. On two sides it bordered the field’s edge, where weeds and tall grass took over, perhaps 15 feet from the play elements.

I was struck by how difficult it was to imagine anyone else playing there. It was much easier to imagine no child ever went there, than that they often did. On this Saturday, the wind blew coldly, and the sky was white, rather than sunny. Yet, it was a dry Saturday afternoon; one might have imagined someone at the playground. We never saw anyone near it.

However infrequently others visited the spot, this was our time; I motivated the kids to try each of the play elements, and we spent time there connecting with the playground. How much fun the kids had I don’t know, but I wanted to make sure we all got exercise and made the most of our time there. At any playground far from home, I always wondered when next, if ever, we might return.

The cold wind eventually got the better of us. Past the tall grass at the edge, we noticed a gravel track and followed it away. I took a long look back at that playground, once again deserted.

When we returned to Nanaimo in months and years following, we often drove by that playground. It wasn’t prominent, but you could see it if you knew where to look. I wondered if the kids remembered that cold Saturday there, or if the event survived only in my mind.

Then, one Saturday, as we drove along the highway in Nanaimo, my younger son (in middle school by then) observed…”Hey, that playground…it’s gone.” I looked over; indeed, he was right. So observing, he’d confirmed that he, too recalled our time there.

“Did you like that time we went there?” I asked.

“Yes…it was fun.”

I’m glad we went there:)

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

BC schools: Heritage Woods

Self-tutoring about schools in BC: the tutor mentions Heritage Woods.

I attended a wrestling tournament yesterday – more to come about that:) Today I want to mention Heritage Woods, a school I learned of at yesterday’s tournament.

Heritage Woods is located in Port Moody. Its enrollment is 1400, grades 9 to 12. Its athletics teams are the Kodiaks.


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

Communication: diplomacy

Self-tutoring about a modern trend: the tutor visits a case of delicacy.

On Young & the Restless – yes, the famous soap opera – I heard Nick Newman say,

“Lately, there’s not much overlap between the plan and what actually happens.”
I wouldn’t have described sticking to a plan as “overlapping” with it, but the word choice is clever. “Not much overlap” is more soothing than “failure to follow through.”

What Nick’s words may truly indicate is that people are constantly searching for more diplomatic ways to describe the same old situations. I would say that trend – call it diplomacy, or political correctness – is a defining trend of today’s society.

Perhaps my communication skills need to overlap more with Nick Newman’s:)


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

Weather: how much snow did we get Jan 15-16?

Self-tutoring about the weather: the tutor comments….

I went to a level, undisturbed place today and gently dug to bottom, then extended a tape measure. It showed depth 11.25 inches, or 28.6cm. I admit that, by then, the melt was going on about 3 hours; the fresh total, when the snow was still powder, may have been greater.

I shoveled the driveway four times yesterday and once this morning. The last time, it took me about 1hr 45 min. Now, at 14:36h, it’s a beautiful day, sunny and +3C, although it seems warmer.


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