Roaming range of domestic cats

Self-tutoring about domestic cats: the tutor researches how far cats commonly roam.

We have no pets, but other people’s cats visit our yard daily. There is rotation: some are new arrivals, while others have come for years. Some only come at night. Doubtless we never see some.

I wondered: From how far away might these cats come?

Checking around, I found some numbers. Assuming a circular range, a typical house cat might wander around 80m from home. A feral cat, on the other hand, might range as far as 1.3km from its base.

Interesting, eh?


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

Are dandelions an invasive species?

Tutoring English, one is interested in definitions. The tutor examines the definition of invasive species in connection with the common dandelion.

The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is from Europe, rather than native to North America. Although it seems to be virtually everywhere, is it an invasive species? Perhaps not.

An invasive species is able to enter nature and displace native species. Yet, the dandelion grows in the human footprint. Some wonder if, truly, the dandelion lives in wild nature, outside of human influence. If not, it’s not invasive.


Pojar, Jim and Andy MacKinnon. Plants of Coastal British Columbia. Vancouver: BC Ministry of Forests and Lone Pine Publishing, 1994.

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

What is the point of gardening?

Self-tutoring: the tutor delves into the philosophy behind urban gardening.

In the late ’80s I talked to a farmer, and survivalist, who lived way up north. He didn’t have a garden. His wife did; he snickered at its mention.

“You’re a survivalist…why don’t you believe in gardening?” he was sometimes asked.

“It’s much cheaper to buy produce at the grocery store,” he would smile. “If you think of the money you could earn for the time spent tending a garden, you come out way behind, gardening.”

He didn’t talk much, that man, and he was almost always right when he did. Back then, he could make $20/hour for working…why would he garden?

My father had a garden in the 80s in a region where agriculture is favourable. Yet, our home sat on a sand hill; our soil wasn’t so good as that of our neighbours across the street, who lived on the flat.

I came to learn that my father loved gardening. Evenings from late spring to early fall, he’d spend out in the back yard. Sometimes he tended the garden, while other times he’d stand there, smoking a cigarette, surveying it. He was proud of the garden. No-one else could see it; our garden lay behind a bluff that backed onto woods. He took personal pride in it, regardless.

About a third of his time out there, he spent planning what he’d do next year. If I went out to talk to him, he’d discuss the crop, but soon begin about how the soil was better than last year, and what he’d yet do to improve it. We were surrounded by deciduous trees whose leaves he collected each autumn, then tilled into the garden. He loved talking about compost.

During our three years there, he improved the soil a great deal, from almost pure sand to darker stuff more like loam. However, he was a military man; we had to move. All that progress was lost to him when we moved away to live on a base.

My father had known, when we arrived there, that we were destined only to move away in a few years. Yet, his compass, first to last, was improving the soil. We ate delicious produce from the garden – I still remember the first tomato we picked from it and how good it tasted. However, he didn’t mainly talk about that. Rather, he talked about how good the soil would be next spring or how much it could improve after ten years of composting.

My only conclusion is that Dad’s point to gardening was to improve the soil. Whatever produce we ate from it – and we certainly did – was a bonus.

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

Lifestyle, technology: web search skills

Self-tutoring about web research: the tutor reflects about search skills.

Nowadays, information is so widely available on the internet, that searching for it has become an invaluable skill. One key to being a good internet researcher, however, is to “think like most people.” I believe that if you can ask the question the way most people would, you’ll likely find its answer on the internet, if available.

I recall hearing, for instance, about a video game that many say existed in the ’80s, but might be an urban legend. Today, I couldn’t remember its name. How to ask for a name you can’t type in?

In Google Search, I keyed “name of that video game that doesn’t exist” and pressed Enter. Amazingly, the name Polybius appeared in the suggestions. It’s definitely the name I was trying to recall.

I suspect the success of that search is because many others have already keyed in the exact same one.

When searching the ‘net, sometimes just asking the unfiltered question can get the best result.

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

English, philosophy: what a retrospective point of view might reveal

via Daily Prompt: Retrospective

retrospective (adj):

surveying past events or periods.

Oxford Canadian Dictionary of Current English, Oxford University Press, Don Mills, 2005.

Humans are occupied with time’s passage and the changes that transpire. Individuals, teams, businesses, and countries have periods brilliance, of decline, and of progress.

Perhaps the immediate question that might be asked in a retrospective light is why success was lost, or else gained. Sometimes the answer might seem obvious:

Our team used to win all the time; now they never do. What happened?

I know what you mean. They lost their star pitcher – don’t you remember?

The reasons, in a person’s own life, for periods of success, failure, and reconstruction, might seem just as straightforward, but are they ever, really?

I don’t follow baseball, but I recall, when I was a kid, how a team with an impressive roster would lose to a team of relatively obscure players. It seemed to happen often, even in championships. Does it still, and not just in baseball?

The key to success might not be talent, but rather, balance. Yet, balance is difficult to see – and maybe even harder to recall. Perhaps, from a retrospective view, you can point to successful times as evidence that it was achieved, and times of failure, when it was lost. However, balance is instantaneous; in retrospect, what facilitated it is likely elusive.

Perhaps, more importantly than great pitches, the star pitcher brought balance to the team. How did they do that? A retrospective answer might be difficult to piece together, since so many facts evaporate when a period ends. Yet, when the retrospective point of view is all we have, perhaps we need to look in the right places, for the right information, rather than just what was recorded as important.

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

English: spelling: is “disfunctional” dysfunctional?

Tutoring English, spelling can hold surprises. The tutor mentions one he got from spelling “disfunctional.”

This editor is unhappy with the spelling “disfunctional”, yet Merriam-Webster does allow for it. Given that Merriam-Webster is American, and so I’m sure is this editor, I’m playfully surprised.

Neither of my Canadian dictionaries allows for “disfunctional”; rather, they both insist on “dysfunctional.”


Mish, Frederick C (editor). Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 2004.

Gilmour, Lorna. Collins Essential Canadian English Dictionary and Thesaurus. Glasgow: HarperCollins, 2006.

Barber, Katherine et al. Oxford Canadian Dictionary of Current English. Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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

English, philosophy: what do you juxtapose?

via Daily Prompt: Juxtapose

Self-tutoring about the application behind a word: the tutor reflects about juxtapose.

juxtapose (verb):

to set side by side so as to compare.

Oxford Canadian Dictionary of Current English, Oxford University Press, Don Mills, 2005.

Typically I find that when I juxtapose two or more subjects, it’s a passive process: it happens before I even know I’m doing so. People juxtapose options as they prepare decisions.

Perhaps the more interesting juxtapositions are of scenarios, possibly one or both being largely unknown by the examiner. Do I make better cakes than my neighbour across the street, whom I don’t even know? What kind of cakes might they bake, compared with the ones I do?

Is there a way I could dress or behave, that would make me more popular? If I dressed like Person Y, for instance, would I have more friends? If I saw the world from Person Z’s point of view, would it make more sense to me? What is the difference in our viewpoints? Can I discover it, if I juxtapose them?

People wonder about countless scenarios. Yet, they often have an idea what might be going on, but just can’t be sure. Therefore, they juxtapose educated guesses, knowing neither may be right.

A couple months back, my wife, my two sons, and myself were sharing a breakfast table at a hotel. At the table next to us were two ladies possibly a little younger than I am. Circumstance itself juxtaposed us.

I’d say the two ladies were a couple. Juxtaposing them with us, I can’t resist wondering about the path that led them to such a different way of life from ours. We fell into some friendly conversation; even their small-talk revealed a point of view completely different from mine. I can’t help but wonder: What do they take for granted, that I have yet to learn?

I feel there is an invisible point of view more comprehensive than mine. I’m not sure whether it belongs to a person or it’s a collective consciousness, ubiquitous, waiting to be discovered. Until I can join it, I can only suppose what it knows – the ideas I juxtapose are limited by the confines of my imagination.

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

Yard work, exercise and fitness: the unintended work-out

Self-tutoring: the tutor shares about yard chores.

Yesterday, I thought perhaps I wouldn’t get enough exercise. I thought wrong.

For the seeds I found in our shelves, I decided to open up more garden space from a rectangle of the lawn. It was a spontaneous decision that meant using the shovel and pick-axe.

Turning over the sod took me about 45 minutes. A pick-axe is handy to have for such jobs.

When I was a kid, my Dad had a roto-tiller that would’ve done the job in under 10 minutes, no sweat. We lived in a farming place, then. Now we don’t, so I till by hand:)

I’ll keep you updated on what I plant; I hope to start today.


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

English: homonyms: leech vs leach

Tutoring English, homonyms are a curiosity. The tutor mentions another pair: leech and leach.

leech (n): a worm-like creature that sucks blood from its prey.

leach (v): to wash out, as nutrients from soil by over-watering.


Gilmour, Lorna (editor). Collins Essential Canadian English Dictionary and Thesaurus. Glasgow: HarperCollins, 2006.

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

English, philosophy: what does archaic mean to you?

via Daily Prompt: Archaic

Self-tutoring: the tutor reflects on an inexorable process.

Seeking a solid foundation, I look up archaic:


1) ancient; 2) out-of-date.

-Collins Essential Canadian English Dictionary and Thesaurus, HarperCollins, 2006.

For the purpose herein, archaic’s second meaning – out-of-date – is the one I’m exploring.

For me, as a tutor, and as a parent, the word archaic defines a challenging philosophical boundary. The reason is simple: to me, truth never goes out-of-date. Yet, to society, truth has a shelf-life. Past its shelf-life, any truth becomes archaic, so people don’t respect it.

A person can have an archaic point of view without realizing. Such happened to me with the kids’ piano lessons. They had recitals and exams to prepare for, so I spurred them to practice. One of them argued that it didn’t interest him, so he shouldn’t have to.

I was shocked at the notion that not wanting to practice can remove its requirement. After all, if people only do what they want in this moment, the world as we know it will cease to exist within an hour.

Over time, I have realized that my point of view is archaic. Today, in this society, people don’t generally believe a kid should have to practice the piano if they don’t want to. That philosophy extends well beyond practicing the piano – and well beyond just kids.

Mentioning the fact that, failing to practice, the student may fall short at the recital and the exam, only sinks me deeper, since I’m expressing archaic reasoning. People don’t typically think of consequences in that way nowadays – at least, not around here.

My kid did practice the piano: it was a battle, but I won. It’s probably my last victory.

Nowadays, the concept of preparing for exams is being challenged as archaic – “How will this help me in life? In the real world, people work in groups – don’t you know?”

I’m becoming a marginal character. Academic learning – seeking understanding for the purpose of self-improvement – is outmoded in the world that surrounds me. It is, so I am, archaic – at age 48, I’m out-of-date:)

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