Tree identification: amur corktree (Phellodendron amurence)

Tree identification leads to more self-tutoring. The tutor mentions a find of an amur corktree in Victoria.

Nowhere seems better than Victoria to find particular trees. Down there last weekend, I had very little opportunity to tree-hunt. Yet, a few caught my eye.

The amur corktree features compound leaves with black berries; I know no other tree with that combination.

It’s my impression that, near Craigdarroch Castle, I saw at least one such tree.


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

Tree identification: ginkgo biloba

Tree identification leads to self-tutoring. The tutor shares a find from Victoria.

Down in Victoria the weekend, I noticed a tree with fan-shaped leaves. I believe I saw one or more right downtown, around the Government/Yates area.

I suppose the tree is the ginkgo biloba. Apparently it’s a common ornamental in North America. The ones in Vic are the first I’ve seen.


Eslkevin’s Blog

Brockman, Merrilees, and Zim. Trees of North America: A field guide to identification. New York: Golden Press, 1968.

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

Physics: definitions of stress and strain

Tutoring physics, you might encounter the concepts of stress and strain. The tutor defines them.

In physics, stress and strain are related, but have very different meanings. A helpful idea is that stress is imposed on an object, while strain measures its reaction.

stress noun:
the force per unit area applied to an object. In this context, the object is likely not mobile; therefore, the stress likely has the effect of changing its shape, possibly not permanently.

strain noun:
the change in length the object experiences (resulting from the stress), divided by its original length. An object compressed from to experiences a strain of -10./100., or -0.10 (aka -10.%).


Giancoli, Douglas C. Physics, 5th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1998.

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

Health: does zinc help with eczema?

Maintaining health can mean self-tutoring. The tutor shares his own experience with zinc.

About twenty years ago I read a great book about health. I think it was by a doctor from Seattle, but can’t recall the title or his name.

In that book the doctor stated that, from his point of view, Americans often have low zinc. He said much else as well, of course, but low zinc was a recurring theme. He often advised his patients to take a zinc supplement.

As a 47-year veteran of this body, I know I tend to develop eczema in the fall. However, taking zinc seems almost to nullify it. A few weeks back my eczema began in earnest. I bought some zinc and started taking it; within a week the eczema was just a hint.

I wash my hands many times per day, so eczema can hit me hard. However, it’s settled down to just a hint of roughness on the wrists, with no redness or itching. I credit the zinc.

Looking at the Mayo Clinic’s website today, they seem to report unclear scientific evidence that zinc can help eczema. Maybe it doesn’t work for everyone, but it seems to for me.


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

Physics: what does elastic mean?

Tutoring physics, the term elastic can surface. The tutor discusses it.

elastic adj:

able to recover its original shape; able to resist permanent deformation after a distorting force is withdrawn.

Referring to a rubber band, it’s not called elastic because it stretches, but rather, because it tends to regain its original shape after the stretching force is released.


Giancoli, Douglas C. Physics, 5th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1998.

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

Lifestyle: only two months ’til Christmas….

More lifestyle self-tutoring: the tutor reflects on the meaning of marking time according to Christmas.

Last July, I think it was, I happened to notice the date was the 25th. I said to someone, “Only five more months ’til Christmas!”

It’s an innocent joke until the fall. However, by October, when people really start to consider the stage-managing that’s required to bring about a successful Christmas, it’s perhaps more like a warning-bell.

Christmas is easy to love. The decorations are wonderful, and typically everyone is in an elevated mood during December – either because they’re imagining the gifts they’ll get, or because they’re imagining those they’ve yet to find. Either way, people have energy which is infectious.

Christmas cards sneak up on me – they are perhaps best in the mail by Dec. 1, which seems a long way before Christmas. We normally put up the outdoor decorations mid-November, the tree up the first week of December.

During the season, there are many special events to attend. I really like going to them, but each takes an evening, which further reduces time you might have expected. In a family, each person likely has one or two invitations, which can lead to eight nights of revelry, which then aren’t available for shopping, gift-wrapping, and other stage management duties.

I’m not complaining about Christmas; I love the concerts, the baking, the parties, as much as anyone. However, to fully enjoy them, it seems, a person might need to be prepared for Christmas by Dec. 1.

My wife mentioned starting the Christmas cards two weeks ago. It seemed early, but not now.


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

Lifestyle: cooking: why scald the milk?

For me, learning to cook means constant self-tutoring. The tutor shares his findings about why a recipe might ask you to scald the milk.

A gingerbread recipe I’m considering, asks me to scald the milk. Wondering why, I’ve researched possible reasons:

  1. To kill bacteria. Perhaps not so important here and now.
  2. To infuse the milk with the flavour of whatever you stir in after scalding.
  3. Important to this case: Apparently, the whey in milk can inhibit dough from rising properly. However, if the milk is scalded first, the whey won’t interfere.

Reason 3 makes sense to me; I’ve never used milk, making bread. So I guess if you do, scalding it might be necessary.


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

Lifestyle: comfort foods: stove-top rice pudding

Lifestyle can mean constant self-tutoring. The tutor shares a recipe he loves.

I’ve been a house-husband since September, so have begun cooking in earnest. Although I’m no match for my wife – yet – I’ve found some great recipes she doesn’t make. One is stove-top rice pudding.

To me, rice pudding might be the ultimate comfort food. My wife argues you can’t serve it for dinner, but I would. Anyway, it’s popular as a between-meals snack when I make it.

The recipe I use is here, from It’s really easy, even for me, and can conveniently be made while you’re cooking something else. CAUTION: Potentially, there are a couple of tricky timing issues with it. However, if I can pull it off, virtually anyone can.

My young son’s complaint about this rice pudding is that it has “too many raisins…too much flavour.” I love kids:)

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

Biology: what is the most contagious disease among humans?

Tutoring biology, diseases are mentioned. The tutor names perhaps the most contagious one.

Measles is potentially the most contagious disease among humans. In particular, all children in a natural, unvaccinated population will catch it.1

When I was a kid, I heard about measles, but didn’t catch it. I believe I was immunized against it at some point. I never hear about it now, likely because children are typically vaccinated.

Measles can be fatal, by complication to pneumonia or swelling of the brain.


1Mader, Sylvia S. Inquiry into Life, 11th ed. Toronto: McGraw Hill, 2006.

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

Psychology: human preference of driving to walking

Tutoring psychology, you deal with concepts of motivation. The tutor discusses the human preference to drive rather than walk.

I’ve had a driver’s licence almost 30 years. Yet, I didn’t drive much as a kid, preferring to take the bus, walk, or bicycle.

Driving requires attention, with potentially serious consequences for not being sharp. Walking requires much less concentration, since it carries much less responsibility. In addition, walking offers more control and freedom than driving – you can walk across a field, for instance, rather than being bound to the road.

Driving seems natural to people who do it, but I doubt you could train an animal to drive. The decision-making that driving demands, is uniquely easy for a human.

Perhaps driving precisely mirrors the difference between humans and other animals. Humans have mental machinery that enables them to drive virtually effortlessly. Walking – which almost any land-based animal can do – is much more effort for a human than driving. The reason humans prefer driving to walking is that the human brain is constructed towards thinking, to the point that a human would rather think than put in physical effort.

An eccentric, I still prefer walking to driving, but less than before. With a twelve and fifteen-year-old, I have to drive so often, it gets more natural all the time.

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