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My 2020 In Review

To say 2020 was a different kind of year is an understatement. On one hand, I want to celebrate my accomplishments and the success of my blog this past year, but on the other hand, I want to mourn those who passed, the businesses that closed, and the livelihoods that were ruined. We all saw some very new and very terrifying things this year. We saw a once in a century pandemic, global lockdowns, silent streets, empty skies, and still oceans. We saw dolphins in canals, elephants sleeping in fields, goats trotting around streets, and monkeys jumping on empty highways. We witnessed the comet Neowise, the Great Conjunction, the evolution of Starlink and some even saw a lunar eclipse.

This past year we saw the best, and the worst, and it changed us. With nearly two million people dead in less than a year, this global pandemic made us question a lot. It made us question why pandemics happen, how we can prevent them, how we handled them in the past, and how we can move forward with them. COVID-19 was a wake-up call. Previous pandemics like SARS, MERS, and Swine Flu all showed us we had flaws, but COVID-19 blew those flaws wide open. We are fortunate that COVID-19s main threat is mass hospitalization, not mass fatalities. We are overdue for the next deadly pandemic, and this showed us that we are not at all ready.  

Because of the pandemic, my travels this year were limited. Instead, I did more local articles, did some unboxings on my YouTube channel, became a licensed drone operator, and focused more on my brand than on my travels. I also worked on building my YouTube channel. I had hoped at the end of 2020 I could launch a new website with a new logo, but it didn't work out that way. I think we can all say that about 2020: "It didn't work out that way".

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Unboxing a Prairie Goddess Gift Box

There are not many positives that have come out of 2020, but one thing that has is the urge to support local businesses. Although many people were shopping locally before the pandemic, the past few months have shown just how fragile many of these businesses are. Local businesses are what make cities flourish. They are the flavour that makes each city different than the next.

From the Prairies acknowledges this and decided to use the current crisis to showcase some of Saskatchewan's homegrown talent. They offer a wide variety of different boxes, each that showcase different products all either made in Saskatchewan or supplied by a Saskatchewan producer. The products are thoughtfully curated by Brandi to engage all five of your senses -- touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste.

The box I got from From the Prairies was their "Prairie Goddess" box. This box is full of things for the goddess in you or the goddess in your life. Although many of the items in this box are items I would not use, there are people in my life who would use them.

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Unboxing Saskatchewan-Made Baechu Kimchi

If you're reading this, you probably already know what kimchi is. However, prior to my trying it, I did not know what it was.

For those unfamiliar like me, "kimchi" is a Korean dish made of fermented vegetables. Although you can buy kimchi at any grocery store, they are often packed full of preservatives and other little nasties. The kimchi I tried was made in Saskatoon by Baechu Kimchi. It was jarred, packed, and hand-delivered right to my door.

So, now that we know what "kimchi" is, what is "baechu"? Because kimchi has been around for centuries, it has a lot of variations. However, the most common and most popular is made out of Napa cabbage, which is simply "beachu" in Korean.

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What Happened When Regina Got the Spanish Flu Vaccine?

To start with, there was no Spanish Influenza vaccine.

Or at least, not one that was of any use.

In 1918, scientists didn't have the capability to see viruses, similar to how we don't have the capability to see dark matter today. They knew something was there but it was an enigma. In fact, they thought it was a poisonous chemical, which is why they coined it a "virus", which means a "slimy liquid or poison" in Latin.

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Wilcox's Nuremberg Chronicles and Other Reliquaries

In 1935, the National Socialist German Workers' Party – better known as the Nazi Party – forbid Jewish physicians from practicing medicine. Could this be the reason why Dr. Hermann Ernst Hinderks moved to South Africa from Germany that same year? Many believe so, especially after finding Dr. Hinderks' name in Adolf Hitler's infamous "Black Book".

Although the events of 1935 are not exactly where our story of Wilcox's Nuremberg Chronicles begins, it is as good a place as any to start.

Why Dr. Hinderks had a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicles isn't known. The last owner of it, Robert Barclay, died over a century prior. It also isn't known when, or why Dr. Hinderks sold the book to Kenneth Gardner either. The transaction occurred after 1936 but before 1940. One idea was that Dr. Hinderks needed the money, and the book was his sole possession after fleeing Germany. But if that was the case, why did it take him over a year to sell it? We may never know. Nevertheless, Dr. Hinderks sold the book to Kenneth Gardner for $600 – or about $7,500 in today's money.

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Lancaster Review: A Welcome Sense of Normalcy

For a moment it seemed like how it used to be.

I was invited to The Lancaster Taphouse's new downtown location for a pre-opening last weekend. The restaurant is in the old Capitol restaurant, one of my favourite places to eat in Regina. I liked the Capitol not only for the food and atmosphere but for the décor. I especially liked the mural on the back wall of the restaurant that showed how the old Capitol theatre used to look.

I was a little worried that when The Lancaster opened, they would replace this mural, but thankfully they kept it. They also added much more too.

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Unboxing TokyoTreat's Hungry, Hungry Halloween

I've talked about TokyoTreat before, but for those unfamiliar, TokyoTreat is a monthly subscription box that brings Japan's bizarre array of food to your doorstep. I purchased a box from TokyoTreat earlier this year, and it was "Spring" themed. However, due to the mail backlog from the COVID-19 pandemic, it took several months to get here. Since then, TokyoTreat has added shipment tracking, priority shipping and sends off the packages at lightning-fast speed. Although my first experience with them was a bit off-putting, follow-up experiences have been fantastic.

In honour of Halloween, TokyoTreat put together a box full of various Halloween treats. From ghosts and ghouls to pumpkins and apple-pies, their Halloween box was filled with a variety of tasty treats. Please check out my video or read below to see my thoughts on each of the different candy that came in their Halloween box:

I like Crème Brûlée and I like milk tea, but I did not really care for this drink. This is one of the few items in the box I got that I did not finish. I am a fan of other Lipton products, so I was surprised this one wasn't very good. Perhaps it would be better if it were served cold instead of room temperature, or perhaps even served warm. However, I'll never know because I poured it down the drain immediately afterward.

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Does Regina Really Have a Dead Baby Museum?

"The answer to this question will be given to the best of my ability." – How to Prevent Cancer, John Champaux, 1971.

Assistant pathologist John Champaux worked at the Regina General Hospital for over three decades. During his time there, he performed thousands of autopsies and collected hundreds of specimens. Champaux's primary job involved determining the cause of death, but he was also trying to prevent additional carnage too. While he was working, he was searching for the answer to a mysterious illness that was suddenly exploding across the country.

This illness was cancer, and he was looking for a cure.

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The Scariest Places I Have Ever Been

When you are looking to book a vacation, you probably have your go-to websites to find the best places to eat, shop or sightsee. You might even look to see if any shows or performances are going on while you are in the area. But I often look for something else. Instead of fun, exciting, and entertaining locations, I love visiting the odd, obscure, and scary places. I love "dark tourism" and if you are reading this, you probably do too. Nothing thrills me more than going to a spot of a murder, an execution, a natural disaster, or the site of a dark, arcane ritual. So, in the spirit of Halloween, I decided to put together a list of some of the scariest places I have ever been. Hopefully, as the years go by, I can add even more places to this list.

Xochimilco is a suburb on the edge of Mexico City, floating on the remains of the canals that once fed into the metropolis.

If you were to visit these canals, you will find them filled with colourful boats, cheerful mariachi bands, shopkeepers, food, liquor, and plenty of tourists. But if you go beyond the music, noise, and excitement, the waters turn black like oil. The music fades away, the laugher vanishes, and you find yourself deep within one of the most haunted spots in Mexico City. These canals have seen centuries of violence, with their waters running red with blood more than once. Yes, these are the same canals where La Llorona is said to haunt and kidnap unsuspecting children. But we aren't here for her.

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Is Jack Keaton’s Closed?

It feels like February is the month where a lot of my blog's plotlines are tying themselves up. First, there was confirmation from the City of Regina that the glockenspiel I was vying for will finally begin construction, then there was a major update on the cemetery walking tours (coming soon) and now there's something going on with Jack Keaton's. As interesting as this all is, I will be excited when my travel blog can go back to being about, well, travel. I'm sure you will be too. Thankfully we have some adventures at the end of the month that will be a nice change of pace.

For those who don't recall my episode with Jack Keaton's BBQ and Bar, about a year and a half ago (October 2018) I had an online disagreement with the owner of the restaurant. I was attempting to collaborate with them, but they decided to shut down all communications and essentially "ghost" me. After months of ignored emails, I wrote a negative review on their Facebook page, stating that the management was hard to work with. The owner replied and angrily responded, after a brief exchange of words, that I should "get off my ass" and come to his restaurant.

So I did, and I did a review on it and it was not a positive one.

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How to Spend 24 Hours in Medicine Hat

If you've ever passed through Medicine Hat, or you're spending a few days in the area, you've probably wondered what to do there. To most people outside the city, Medicine Hat might seem like a sleepy little prairie town in the Canadian Badlands; but for those who live in Hell's Basement, they'll tell you that this city is one of the most exciting places you can explore in all of Alberta.

I've gone to Medicine Hat three times in the past two years, and while I'm no expert on this thriving city, I know where the hidden gems are. If someone I know is passing through the area, I tell them they need to visit Medicine Hat. To help explain why, I put an article together for anyone else interested in visiting the Hat.

If you're spending 24 hours in Medicine Hat, you'll need somewhere to sleep. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a little under an hour away and a great place to camp. Camping in Cypress gives you the choice to explore the park, the city, and everywhere in between.

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Exploring Canada's Most Haunted City

As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.

As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.

"What brings you to Kingston?" he asked.

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