by Beary McBearface
Beary McBearface, treasured Oriel mascot and JCR staple, is here to help you with your troubles. In this column, Beary will attempt to find solutions to your little college worries; trust him, he’s seen it all. To contact him, all you have to do is send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Dear Beary’.
Of course, if you’d like to remain anonymous – and Beary encourages naming no names; we don’t want any beef here – just drop a note with your Beary concern to one of the editors’ pidges in the Lodge. And please do: Beary needs a hobby in his twilight years.
[If you’re really struggling, or if your problem contains sensitive information, please be aware that Beary has received no formal welfare training. For more information and help, you can reach out to our beloved JCR Welfare Officers (Aidan and Harriet) and MCR Welfare Secretaries (Luke and Ada), or get in touch with the peer supporters, the Welfare Deans (Marta and Dan), the Chaplain (Rob), or the College Nurse.]
1. Dear Beary, when does summer really begin?
Like so many questions, it all depends on who you ask. A meteorologist would say that summer (here in the Northern Hemisphere) simply begins on 1 June (and ends on 31 August). But that’s a really unsatisfying answer – calendar months, which are basically arbitrary divvyings-up of the year, surely shouldn’t correspond to the seasons so nicely!
Now, if you ask an astronomer, you get a much more fascinating answer. Summer begins at the summer solstice, the point at which the declination of the Sun from the celestial equator (as traced by the ecliptic) reaches its maximum of 23.44°.
Confused? Let me explain another way.
The reason why we have seasons is because the Earth’s axis is tilted relative to the plane of its orbit. So at some parts of the orbit the tilt points in the direction of the Sun, and at other parts it points away. The solstice is simply the point at which the tilt points directly towards the Sun. This means we get the most hours of daylight (about 16 hours 41 minutes in Oxford) then. In other words, summer is the season when daytime gets shorter and night-time gets longer, until they equalise in late September.
And when is the summer solstice? Well, if you want to be precise, it falls on 21 June at 10:13am BST this year. Now, who else is up for a pedantic solstice party at that exact time on Tuesday of 9th week in Third Quad?
2. Dear Beary, I’m going to McDonald’s. Would you like anything?
I’ve heard the McPlant is pretty good. Could you get me one of that? Cheers!
3. Dear Beary, would you choose between being able to speak every language or play every instrument?
Whilst playing every instrument would undoubtedly be a phenomenal skill, I feel that the talent of omni-lingualism outdoes it. Imagine being able to travel anywhere and immediately understanding everybody. You could order a McPlant in any country you like.
4. Dear Beary, what’s the best flavour of yoghurt?
This is neither a very deep question nor a very specific one. I don’t mind a plain Greek yoghurt. I would put granola and honey in it and dried cranberries for taste.
5. Dear Beary, which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Beary came before everything.