Categories
Life

My Theme for 2024: Energy

So, 2024 is now here and while most people come up with resolutions for the new year, I’m a big fan of CGP Grey. And I’m big on things like “themes” for a new year. So, my big theme for 2024 is going to be… energy.

I’m not getting sleepy, I am sleepy.

You see, one thing I struggle with is sleep apnea. I’ve been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea for years now and I think on balance, I tend to wake up tired more often than not. This problem also impacts a number of things in my life, including weight loss. Namely, I feel like I’m not able to exercise effectively because I’m too damn tired. Also, I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.

So, I’m going to get treatment for sleep apnea. I recently got off the waitlist for primary care doctors in Whitehorse, so I’ll bring this up to them. I know my GP back in Calgary recommended surgery to treat my sleep apnea and that seems to make sense. After all, C-PAP didn’t work for me and right now, given my situation in life,

I waste a lot of time, and energy, with idiots.

Whether it’s social media or focusing on harmful idiots like Kent Hovind or Kevin J. Johnston, I do tend to waste a lot of time with idiots. The way I justify this to myself is the desire to charge ahead and debunk their nonsense. Whether it’s Kent’s rejection of biology and one of its central cornerstones, evolution by natural selection, or Kevin’s refusal to understand what a vaccine even is, I have wasted quite a lot of time on idiots.

For a person with limited energy, this isn’t a great idea. Maybe I should abdicate this task to another person who has more energy. Instead, I should focus on improving myself. I should spend my energy wisely instead of squandering it on idiots.

So, why do I need this energy?

I’m back in the Yukon, after a few months away in Alberta. I need to make the most of my time here. To do this, I need to both increase the amount of energy I have to get things done and be selective on what things I’m getting done. To wit, I will delete my Quora account within the next month or two. Last year, I also deleted Twitter.

But what, pray tell, am I going to be using my energy on if not social media? To put it simply, I’m going back to school. I’ve enrolled in a Biological Sciences diploma at Yukon University. After I earn this, I will transfer to earn a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I’m hoping to earn both with honours. Afterwards, I’m going to go to medical school so I can provide transgender people with the care that we need.

Frankly, I find this to be a more useful and noble expenditure of energy than battling jackasses online.

I’m also hoping that I can use this energy to put the finishing touches on a novel or three that I have in the hopper. This way, I can finally launch my writing career while I’m in university.

Categories
Life Writing

Writing Romance During a Breakup

person holding red lipstick
Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

So, I’m working on a fairly big romance novel and honestly, it ebbs and flows. I’m currently just a bit over 30,000 words in. What’s been the most challenging thing for me is writing the sex scenes. And now, I have a new challenge: I just had to break up with my partner of 3 years.

Now, I can already hear the criticisms coming at me. Especially since, from the outside, the relationship looked good. I thought so too. His friends and my friends would see our pictures when we would see each other and talk about how happy we are together. I’m not entirely sure that’s altogether true, though. I was in love with someone else. I was in love with the man I thought he was. Not the man he actually was.

I choose hope, authenticity, and true love. I’m willing to wait for it. I’m willing to fight for it. If there’s one thing I learned through my divorce, it was that I don’t want to be stuck in a relationship where I’m not loved.

Categories
Life

How to Not Pay Outrageous UPS’ Brokerage Fees

So, I bought myself a Freewrite Hemmingway Special Edition Smart Typewriter a couple of weeks ago. And on Wednesday, the amount of the fees I had to pay were posted on UPS’ tracking site. In short, they wanted to charge me the GST due and owing, plus nearly $120 in brokerage fees. In no uncertain terms, this is highway robbery.

UP clearly showing me that they wanted to charge me nearly $120 in brokerage fees, which is nearly double the amount of GST they wanted to charge me. Oh, plus the GST, for a grand total of $180.

Needless to say, for something I paid $1,588 for (yes, I got the 2-year warranty too), I wasn’t thrilled about throwing down another $180. I recognize that I would have to pay GST and GST in Alberta is 5% with no PST. But, that doesn’t mean that I was okay with also adding an additional $120 on to that.

You don’t have to pay duties on purchases made in or from the US, but you do have to pay GST on those purchases. This is thanks to CUSMA (which replaced NAFTA).

How to avoid UPS’ Brokerage Fees

In order to do this, you’ll need to first call UPS to get a B-15 letter. UPS can e-mail this letter to you. It’s called that because you’ll need to go to the CBSA, pay the duties, and get one of these.

Form BSF715-1 from the Canada Border Services Agency

Basically, need to pay the taxes at a CBSA Inland office. An inland office is able to collect these duties and issue a receipt like the one above. This form used to be numbered B-15, but is now BSF715 or BSF715-1. In order to get it, you need a copy of the shipping bill that the person who sent you the stuff sent. It includes the price of the goods and is important to calculate taxes and duties.

At the Inland office, they’ll look at the invoice. They may ask you a couple of questions about the nature of the goods. I know that the officer had more than a couple questions about what a “Smart Keyboard” was. Once they make their assessment of how much duties are owing, you’ll go to the cashier. The office that I went to accepted credit and debit cards as payment, but I brought cash just in case. Once you pay, you’ll get that form I mentioned above.

Afterwards, you send this form to the addresses UPS told you. Keep the original copy to show the driver. A good app to take a picture of the

The Day Of

You’ll want to make sure you can receive your package. But thankfully, everything went smoothly. The UPS driver even commented that I knew exactly what I was doing. But now, I have my new gadget and I’m going to be spending my next couple weeks giving this thing a test drive.

So, in short, don’t pay UPS a shit load of money. Instead, go to the CBSA office (if you can), pay the taxes, and don’t pay UPS this insane cost. Honestly, I’m not looking forward to paying the shipping when I buy myself a new… writing chaise. But at least I know how to pay the duties myself the next time UPS has a delivery for me. And yes, sadly, Liberator uses UPS to ship orders. Needless to say, this is useful knowledge for me to handle a future order. And I hope this information is useful for you too.

Categories
Life

Learning French on Duolingo

I'm on Section 3 of the Duolingo French course, which corresponds to the A1 level.

So, I am currently learning French and while I’m not quite good yet, I feel like I’m making slight progress. However, I feel like I’m moving up the skill tree quite slowly. After all, I’m learning on Duolingo and I finally got around to finishing Section 2 of Duolingo’s French course. I also don’t feel like I’m getting a good sense of past tense/future tense, even though I am learning a few words (like pleuvoir) that describe something that’s going to happen.

Now, I feel that the way I started did help me to learn a bit more with learning on Duolingo. The first bit of work I did was a French course in community college with a native French speaker from Africa. This helped me with my pronunciation and I feel like I focused a lot on that. This was critical for helping me to speak French better.

Further, Section 3 (which I am currently on) is still the equivalent of CEFR level A1. However, I had an evaluation with someone from the local Alliance fran├žaise in my town. They placed me on level A2.1. They did mention that I don’t have the past and future tenses solid. However, they think I know enough to be able to flourish in the A2.1 classes.

So, what comes next, after Duolingo?

Honestly, I’m not quite sure. According to their course, they can get me up to level B2 on the CEFR. Even though I do have aspirations to learn a couple more languages, I do want to be just as fluent in French as I am in English.

So, what other languages am I planning to learn?

Spanish

The first result I got when I searched Pexels for "Mexico".

Well, it depends on when I get to level B2 of French. Pragmatically speaking, Spanish would be useful. After all, I’m planning to have three surgeries in two Spanish-speaking countries (Mexico and Spain, in case you were curious). And I feel it would be incredibly critical to be able to speak to people in those countries.

I also know that if I learned Spanish, I would be able to increase my reach. After all, I do want to be an educator on trans issues. To be able to do this effectively, I need to be able to communicate with more people. So, I would want to be able to communicate and relate to Spanish-speaking people. In other words, I have a mission-minded motivation to learn Spanish too.

Furthermore, I feel that Spanish would provide me a gateway to learning Hebrew. I know that statement would cause a few people to scratch their heads in wonder. However, it’s not that shocking. There is a Jewish language in the Diaspora called Ladino and it’s actually a language spoken by Sephardic Jews. Another name for it is Judaeo-Spanish. I also find it intellectually fascinating and a unique way to approach Hebrew.

German

The inside of a German train station.

However, my intellectual curiosity is pulling me towards German. I’m incredibly curious about learning German because English is a Germanic language. I feel that learning German would give me a greater appreciation for and understanding of my native tongue. I also distinctly remember wanting to learn German when I was a kid. However, I honestly don’t remember why.

Furthermore, I know that Yiddish has Germanic roots. I feel that increasing my knowledge in German would help me to learn Yiddish. And I feel that learning Yiddish, like learning Ladino, would help me to learn Hebrew.

Japanese

Akihabara

Then, there’s also the weeb in me and as a result, Japanese is a contender for my next language. I’d like to be able to watch anime and read manga without dubs or subtitles. I also feel that it would give me access to more manga and anime. After all, I wouldn’t have to wait until some fan group dubbed or subbed a particular series. I remember waiting anxiously while a fan group of subbers were slowly releasing episodes of Bleach. It was excruciating and I’d love to be a bit more independent in this regard.

So, what resources do I plan to use to perfect my French?

Honestly, not sure. I’ve heard good things from Evan Edinger about Clozemaster. I also plan to read more French and Qu├ębecois news and listen to French-language podcasts.

Categories
Life

Kent Hovind: A Song of Whales and Pine Trees

So, I’ve recently had two debates with pseudoscience charlatan grifter, Kent Hovind. And the second one was just so toxic, that I’ve decided never to debate Kent Hovind again. To give you an idea as to why, I’m posting a video compilation made by Atheist Jr. to explain the problems with debating Kent Hovind, particularly as a trans woman.

But I would like to make a statement about what happened in the debate when Kent decided to ask my boyfriend about my genitalia. This is so wrong for two separate reasons, first of all – I’ve never met Kent in person nor do we have that kind of relationship. He has no business knowing what genitalia I have. Secondly, he didn’t ask me – he asked my boyfriend. Which is very disrespectful on so many levels. First, we circle back to the first problem – Kent has no business to know this. Secondly, asking my boyfriend is just fucking weird. If my boyfriend answered that stupid, irrelevant question, I would not be thrilled with him. Also, it denies my agency. Which points to another part of the debate, Kent’s blatant transmisogyny.

You see, maybe I don’t act like how Kent thinks women should act. This might have something to do with the fact that he is on wife number four. But I’m a big believer in egalitarian relationships. I believe egalitarian relationships are much more healthy than the kind of hierarchical relationships that Kent has with his wife. As a result, I would never ask my boyfriend to ignore blatant criminality (as Kent asked of Mary Tocco and Cindi Lincoln). I would never encourage my boyfriend to commit crimes on my behalf (as Kent asked of Jo Hovind). This is unacceptable behaviour that degrades instead of edifies your partner and I would want no part of it.

For a man who has been married four times (theoretically), Kent Hovind knows about as much about love as he does about evolution. But, I think this relates to a deeper question: why did I do this? Why would I subject myself to this when I knew going in that Kent would not be honest?

Kent Hovind and the Call of the Void

Kent Hovind represents an intellectual black hole. He spouts any number of vacuous, irrelevant crap and just runs rough shod over any interlocutor with an almost impressively bad gish gallop that he’s been using for decades. Facts won’t get in the way, you won’t change him, so why would people choose to debate this carnival barking clown?

Put simply: it’s the call of the void. It’s that same instinct that might call someone to do something we know hurts us. It’s why bungee jumping and parachuting are so popular. And there is no person who resembles a void better than Kent Hovind. He is a vaccuum of ethics and knowledge by which, even the people surrounding him tend to lack either.

His Dinosaur Adventure Land is an equally interesting void. A place full of criminals and shoddy construction out in the middle of nowhere Alabama. That last part might not be entirely intentional, given the fact that he was forced off the original Dinosaur Adventure Land property by his son, Eric. Pensacola, by stark contrast, has a lot more people and a lot more ways to flee/run to the outside world. Repton, Alabama, by comparison, is much, much more isolated. It’s a veritable Jonestown.

So, needless to say, debating Kent Hovind is a stupid idea. Debating him on his own turf where he can break out the Flavor Aid and cyanide if shit doesn’t go his way is profoundly more stupid… which is probably why no one who doesn’t buy Kent’s crap has taken him up on his offer to visit DAL. But it is tempting. Even knowing the danger. Even knowing the risk. It’s the call of the void. And if nothing else, Kent Hovind represents a void.

So, why am I stopping?

Put simply, I’m just not as interesting a debate as I thought I’d be. The value of debating someone like Kent Hovind is not to get him to learn anything. That’s just not going to happen. Kent has the same bullshit script as he did before he went to prison almost two decades ago. The only value in debating Kent is to paint him in a corner, to throw him off his script and see how he reacts. Others have been more successful at this than I. As a result, I simply see no value in engaging Kent anymore.

A couple weeks ago, I had a video chat with Atheist Jr. on the topic of debating Kent Hovind. Even then, I knew that I would never get Kent to actually learn anything, that the things that can be gained from debating Kent would be to spark doubt in the minds of his followers or for purely entertainment value if you can get Kent off his script. I wanted to do both. The latter, I think I failed at. The former… I can’t say for certain. These things don’t exist in a vacuum and it could be possible that I could get someone to start thinking, but I’m not sure if it worked. Maybe one day, I might get an e-mail from someone who saw that debate and started their road to breaking free of Kent. I don’t know.

But, I made the attempt. And now, I’m going to focus on writing once again and publishing amazingly smutty fiction for you fine folks. Maybe a story about an elderly preacher in the middle of nowhere finding the young buck of his dreams?

See y’all on the trail,

Daria Bloodworth