My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

9 Articles in February 2008

  1. Read American Gods online for free

    As previously mentioned, Neil Gaiman and Harper Collins have put the entire text of American Gods online. You can read it for free here. :drool:

    I own a copy of American Gods, of course, so it's redundant for me. Nevertheless, it's extremely cool because, hey, let's face it: it's free stuff. And it exposes more people to Neil Gaiman and one of his wonderful novels.

    So, as the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation says, Share and Enjoy!™

    Update (2011): People keep finding this post somehow. I suspect they are googling for "read American Gods for free" or something of that sort, to which I say: dude, local library. Book piracy is dumb. Anyway, I keep getting comments saying, "It's not the whole book! It's just an excerpt!" This blog post was written in 2008. The entire book was available, back in 2008, and then after a certain amount of time, they removed the entire book and replaced it with an excerpt. Deal with it.

  2. There must be magic

    Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!

    Mr. Gradgrind, Hard Times by Charles Dickens.

    Sorry Mr. Gradgrind, but I refuse to believe in a universe based entirely on fact. The universe can't be based only on fact and science. If it were, why would we have emotions? Why would we feel terrible half the time and ecstatic the other? Why put ourselves through so much pain and trauma? If the universe were based on fact, we wouldn't need this. We could be moist robots going about with logic and reason. But we aren't. And to me, that means that there's something out there logic and reason cannot explain. Our emotions are our ways of navigating that which we can't quantify. And that's magic.

    I had an awesome day today.…

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  3. Diamond Shreddies and Mini-Wheats

    Here's a cereal aside for you today regarding advertising.

    Lately I've been seeing a lot of commercials for "Diamond Shreddies", which are apparently just like regular Shreddies, only they're diamond-shaped. For those of you familiar with Shreddies but not this commercial, I'll give you a moment to visualize the difference.

    Got it? :D Yeah, they're exactly the same. This commercial is very clever, because it's one of those "it's so dumb it has to be a joke" jokes; the true joke is on the poor sod who does think there's a difference.

    This morning I absently looked up at the TV while a Mini-Wheats commercial was on. That jingle is just annoying. And really, whose idea was it to try to sell me cereal by having an anthropomorphic weaved wheat guy dance and sing about how tasty he is? I don't know about you, but I'm like Arthur Dent--I don't fancy eating something that talks back to me. Well, that's marketing for you.

  4. New camera: FujiFilm FinePix A900

    I got my first camera (first digital camera too) on Boxing Day of 2005. It was actually the first time I ever went to a store early to try and get a deal--it was on sale at CompuSmart. They were only letting a few people into the store at a time. I snagged my camera; I also got a free printer with mail-in rebate. (I almost forgot to send in the rebate, but that's another story. The printer is an Epson Stylus CX3810, and it works wonderfully. Best free electronic device I've ever gotten.)

    After two years, my Fujifilm FinePix A350 is old. It's 5.2 megapixels, which is respectable, and it still works. The only major problem is that the shutter doesn't fully open when you turn it on--you have to turn it off and on until it extends completely on the third or fifth or tenth try. :D This is only a minor inconvenience, but it's a good excuse to upgrade.

    I haven't been intentionally shopping for a digital camera, as I planned to take my time. However, I saw one for sale in a Future Shop flyer. Very tempting. A web search turned up a few more possibilities.…

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  5. Update on school

    This is mostly for my dad, who has been bugging me about how I'm doing in school but doesn't understand that I feel more comfortable writing about such matters in front of several million strangers instead of actually talking out loud about it to a parent. :r Curse you, modern society!

    I have one more day to go, and then we've got Reading Week. It's our version of "spring break" for universities. I don't have anything special planned. I just want to enjoy the time off. I'll read, work on my own stuff, try not to think about school ... :D And work, of course. Work has been very hectic this month. I've had a lot of extra shifts added to my calendar as the month progressed, special event type shifts which can be stressful because of their unusual times and the amount of preparation we have to do (like cleaning, moving tables, etc.). I hope March calms down.

    When it comes to school, this is midterm season. I only have three classes in which I have midterms, however. My sociology midterm is this week; it's online, so I can do it anytime from today until Saturday night. The catch…

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  6. Free stuff

    Got your attention, didn't I?

    Neil Gaiman, one of the greatest authors of our era, is going to offer one of his books online for free to celebrate the seventh birthday of his blog. But that's not the best part. We get to choose which book! Head on over to his blog and vote for the book you want to see online for free. Take his advice, though, and instead of voting necessarily for your favourite book, vote for the one you'd give to a friend. I just introduced a friend of mine to Neil Gaiman and lent her my copy of American Gods.

  7. Responsibility

    My dad was out of town on business for Monday and Tuesday night, which left me in charge of the household and my brother. :o In this situation, I had to do certain chores I've never done before--such as make supper from scratch!

    That's right. Although I've helped out in the kitchen before, I've never cooked dinner from scratch without supervision before. I made diced chicken with pasta. I didn't remember how to make a basil pesto sauce for the pasta, unfortunately; however, I added basil, curry, and soy sauce to the chicken, which spread to the pasta. But wait, there's more! I also did laundry.

    I guess since I'm 18 I should be learning this stuff--or I should already know it. I've been lucky to have parents who have let me sustain such a sheltered existence. :D It's not that I don't like cooking--I enjoyed the experience--but I just haven't had the time to cook often enough to get better at it. Hopefully that will change, although there's a certain laziness factor to overcome first. . . .

    In other news, I've got a super cool new chair. Now if only I could get up from it!

  8. How I got Twitter to work with TBayTel

    Last night I signed up for Twitter, an increasingly popular online service that allows users to send status messages from a variety of platforms--mobile, web, IM, etc. Big deal, you say. So what--who cares? The neat thing isn't so much what Twitter does as how you can use Twitter elsewhere on the Internet.

    For example, thanks to a Facebook application, I can update my Twitter status and have it show up on my Facebook profile page. Once I redesign my website (coming soon, I promise!) I'm going to add a status box to the front page, and it will draw the status from Twitter. So instead of updating Facebook and my site, all I have to do is update my Twitter status, and anything that draws my status from Twitter will change.

    But wait, there's more. Twitter is following the trend of moving the Web off the Web and onto phones. You can text Twitter from your phone. I'm online a lot, so of course it's quite convenient to use the web interface. However, the real power from Twitter, in my opinion, is the fact that I can update it without access to a computer. This way if I…

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  9. Have passport, will travel

    Canadians flying to the United States now require a passport. We don't need one to cross the border by land yet, but that is in the works. So earlier this month, after over a year of procrastination, I finally applied for a passport.

    The application process wasn't that hard as far as government applications go. Passport Canada offers an online form that you can fill out and save, so you don't have to complete it all in one go. Then you have to print off the form and send it in to them--the benefit of using the form, as opposed to simply getting an application and doing it by hand, is that the online form checks to make sure you have properly filled out all the required information.

    You must identify yourself, of course, and provide proof of Canadian citizenship--in my case, my birth certificate, driver's licence, and provincial health card sufficed. Then you need two references--someone who's known you for at least two years--and a guarantor. A guarantor is basically someone who will co-sign your passport to verify that yes, you are the person you've claimed to be. In my case I got one of my dad's colleagues to…

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About Me

I’m a 26-year-old math and English teacher back in Canada after two years teaching in England. In my free time, I read books! When I’m not reading, I’m writing, coding, or knitting.

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About this site

I started coding websites, in bad HTML on Geocities, in 2004 in a fit of whimsy. Since then I’ve learned PHP/MySQL, coded my own blog software, and rebuilt this site several times. With the exception of the blog, it’s currently running on the exquisite Symphony CMS. This website is hosted by HawkHost

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