Seasons, lifestyle: first day of spring 2018

Tutoring, you watch a year’s progress and notice season changes. The tutor gives his annual reflection about the start of spring.

In my post back on January 26, 2015, I define the first day of spring as the first day of the year that’s sunny with positive double-digit temperature. Here, for 2018, that was yesterday, February 5.

Over the years I’ve watched the season’s arrival and how it affects people. I’d argue that the coming of spring matters particularly to kids, for a few reasons:

  1. Kids have to get to and from school, and most can’t yet drive. While many get rides, not all do.
  2. Kids typically escape home by meeting their friends outside, weather permitting.
  3. At school, during breaks, time outside can be very important.
  4. Kids in PE often must do runs, etc, outside, regardless of weather, so they notice when the weather turns pleasant.

Last night, driving to judo, one of my sons pointed out the lingering daylight; a few weeks back we drove to the club in nighttime darkness. The road was dry, and people were out walking: spring is in the air.

I have yard work that’s backed up from winter, but won’t get to it just yet….

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.

Lifestyle: First day of spring, 2017

Tutoring, you notice how the seasons affect people.

Back in my Jan 26, 2015 post, I explained my personal definition of the first day of spring: the first sunny day with temperature 10°C or higher. It happened on January 25 in 2015; in 2016, on January 28. This year, it happened yesterday, March 14, 2017. The sky was sunny with a surprising high of 14.7°C! (It’s been a very cold winter.)

I have another occasion to mention today: this is Oracle Tutoring’s 1000th post. (The first was on August 22, 2012.)

While the blog began with its focus on academics, I added a lifestyle category in 2014. I’ve followed my interests, which of course aren’t just academic. I have high hopes that there is something for everyone among the posts already published, and that there will be in those yet to be written.

To all my readers, all over the world: I feel privileged to reach out to you in way I couldn’t have imagined when I left school:)


environment Canada

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.

Spreadsheets: When is Easter?

The tutor points out how a spreadsheet can show holiday awareness.

Most holidays, such as Valentine’s Day, Halloween, or Christmas, happen on a set date. However, Easter is different. As a child, I overheard it’s the Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring. Hence, its date varies by year.

If you’re using the spreadsheet LibreOffice Calc, however, you don’t need to wonder Easter Sunday’s date; in a cell, just type


then hit Enter. The date of the given year’s Easter Sunday will show in the cell.

For instance,


returns the date 2016-03-27.

Happy Easter:)

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

Seasons: when are the day and night equal in length?

The tutor shares a discovery about the seasons.

I always believed that equal night and day – twelve hours each – happens at the turn of spring and the turn of fall. Last year, however, I noticed on the environment Canada website that the first day of spring was longer than twelve hours, and wondered why.

Yesterday, March 17, I noticed the day to be exactly 12 hours long: sunrise: 7:29; sunset: 19:29. No wonder the first day of spring is longer than 12 hours, if a few days before, the day is already exactly twelve hours.

This morning I researched the reason that March 17 is exactly 12 hours. At I found out.

For the day and night to be symmetric (at the spring or fall equinox), sunrise would need to be defined as when the sun is half up – that is, when the middle line of it is on the horizon. Then, sunset would need to be the instant when half the sun has already passed over the horizon, while half remains visible.

In practice, sunrise is thought to be the instant the sun becomes visible; sunset, the instant it disappears. Therefore, the time for the sun to climb halfway above the horizon, and fall the rest of the way below it, is added to the day. Hence, the equinox – when the day and night should be exactly equal – is actually more than twelve hours.


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

Feb 2: Groundhog Day: early spring?

The tutor comments on a cross-quarter day.

In my post of Feb 6 last year, I defined and discussed cross-quarter days – those that mark mid-season, rather than start of season. The idea is that, to people serious about the seasons, the cross-quarter days may be just as meaningful as the junctions.

Today, of course, is a cross-quarter day – Groundhog Day. We are at mid-winter. According to, the groundhogs in both Canada and the US have predicted spring is soon to arrive.

From a more contemplative point of view, some important benefits of spring are apparent. The days are noticeably longer. When blue sky does emerge, you can suddenly have a really pleasant interlude of spring-like weather.

Someone who follows the cross-quarter days might focus more on the change during the season than the season itself. Winter’s evolution into spring is satisfying to observe.

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

Weather and Seasons: first day of spring, 2016, Campbell River

The tutor shares reflections about, from his point of view, the first day of spring, 2016, in Campbell River.

As many of my readers realize, I’m a Maritimer. The mild weather on Canada’s west coast continues to impress me, even after nearly 30 years living here.

As I mentioned in last year’s post about the first day of spring here, March 21 doesn’t aptly target it. The true change in warmth and sunshine is usually apparent much earlier. My definition for the first day of spring: It’s the first sunny day (in the new year) with high temp 10°C or above. By that definition, the first day of spring, 2016, in Campbell River, is today, January 28. Environment Canada reports the temp at 11°C, with sunny conditions. I’ve been outside; it’s true.

I’ve noticed a couple of signs of spring. Last week, downtown, daffodil shoots were a few inches up from the soil. This morning, as I opened the gate, a fly buzzed about in the sun. However, I wouldn’t have guessed that today would mark the change. Amid exams and other activities, this occasion is a very pleasant surprise.

I’ll be further discussing the evolving spring season in future posts:)

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

Winter ice: heat of fusion

As the ice melts away in the sun, the tutor entertains the heat involved.

The heat of fusion is the amount of energy, per gram, that is required to melt solid to liquid without increasing its temperature. For ice, it’s 334J/g.

The tutor wonders how quickly the ice on the pavement melts in the sunlight on a day like today.

We’ll start with some assumptions. Let’s imagine we have a layer of ice 0.1cm (aka 1mm or 0.001m) thick over the pavement. Then the volume of ice per square metre is 1mx1mx0.001m = 0.001m³. The density of ice is 917kg/m³, so the mass of ice per square metre of pavement would be 0.917kg = 917g. Furthermore, we’ll assume the temperature is hovering around 0°C.

To find the amount of heat required to melt 917g of ice, we multiply it by ice’s heat of fusion, earlier said to be 334J/g. 917gx334J/g=306278J.

The wattage of sunlight reaching the pavement, on a day like today, might be 341W/m².

The time for the ice to melt under the assumptions above is t=306278÷341=898s: 15 minutes.

All the best this holiday season:)


Hebden, James A. Chemistry: Theory and Problems, book two. Toronto: McGraw-Hill,

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

September 23: first day of fall

The tutor reflects on the beginning of what might be his favourite season.

I don’t recall the first day of fall being the 23rd. I would naively have imagined it to be the 21st, as it always seemed to be when I was a kid in school. Whether I just remember wrong or it’s actually changed, makes for delicious contemplation in quiet moments.

Sunday evening I had the fortune of watching the sun set through the kitchen window, which looks straight east. I’d say it finally sank beneath the horizon at about 7:10pm.

As I understand it, the first day of fall – and of spring – is the same length for everyone: twelve hours, theoretically. I’ve come to believe that equinox means night and day are equal: twelve hours each.

Without daylight-savings time, one might imagine a twelve-hour day running from 6am to 6pm – which is what I’m told happens in the tropics year-round (more or less). Those of us who live in the north – we’re about 50degN here – are used to long summer days and short winter ones. I’d say our summer days reach about 16 hours in late June, while in late December, the day can be as short as 8hrs 5min.

Of course, with daylight savings time, our twelve hour day runs roughly from 7am to 7pm. Sunday’s 7:10pm sunset seems to agree. I can’t watch the sun rise from the kitchen because houses and trees obscure it. However, environment canada claims that today’s sunrise was 7:08am. I’d say we’re pretty close to that twelve hour day.

Some people love the fall; others feel the opposite way, seeing it as the end of carefree days when you don’t need coat and boots to leave the house. Where I live, the climate is mild, but with fall commences our seven-month rainy season. This afternoon it’s 12C, rainy, and windy; it’s very difficult to walk from the car to the door without getting quite wet.

Let fall begin:)

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