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Welcome to the Amazon: Watch Your Step!

Our second day in the Amazon Rainforest was our only "full" day there. It was also our busiest. While yesterday's highlights were all about getting to Iquitos and experiencing La Isla de Los Monos, today was about seeing the plethora of flora and fauna the Amazon has to offer.

The day started with a delicious breakfast cooked by the folks at The Dolphin Lodge. It was here that Allen and Luis of Amazon Wonder Expeditions told us what the plan was for the day. The previous day, they told us not to wear bug repellent or sunscreen as we would have to wash it off before spending time with the monkeys. This time, though, since we'll be venturing deep into the rainforest, we were told to apply plenty of both.

After breakfast, we headed back down the path to the water and got on our boat. About thirty minutes later, we docked and walked into a small fishing village.

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Welcome to the Amazon: Monkey Island

During my recent trip to Peru, I had the opportunity to spend three days in the Amazon Rainforest.

This was the first trip of the program so the majority of people decided to opt-out and stay back in Lima. I understand that, as Lima is a beautiful city and most of us had just flown into it less than a week ago, but I wasn't willing to miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime. Although granted, the entire month was an opportunity of a lifetime.

Because only a few of us were on this trip, I ended up being the only male. I mention this because there was a bit of a mixup with the rooms and I was supposed to share a room with a woman. She wasn't totally cool with that, so I was upgraded to a single room. If you plan to make this trip, I recommend the single room over a shared room since the rooms are pretty small. (More on that later.)

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How (And Why) I Spent A Month in Peru

A week ago I returned to Canada after spending a month in Lima, Peru. I realized I did a terrible job explaining to people what I was doing down there for so long. A lot of people have asked about my "holiday" or "vacation", but I wouldn't call it either of those because it wasn't all that relaxing. 

As you know, in recent years, for a variety of reasons, working remotely has become very popular. In fact, I haven't had an office since 2018. Back then I was freelancing, and then in 2019, I was picked up to work remotely for a web development company. Although I am fully employed, my nine-to-five grind is from my apartment, not from an office.

But, it doesn't have to be. As long as I have a stable internet connection and get my work done, I can do my work just about anywhere in the world. In fact, last autumn I had to work out of both Dawson City and Whitehorse, Yukon. The mentality is that as long as I hit my deadlines and I can support my team, I can work anywhere. 

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An Interview With YQR Affirmations

I didn't know her name, and I didn't ask.

She wore a pretty red dress. She had an iPhone, and an Apple smartwatch and ordered a Hibiscus Berry kombucha and a Coffee Glazed Donut. She was also about ten years my junior.

This woman is the mysterious mastermind behind YQR Affirmations, a meme Instagram account in Regina that takes the mundane and transforms it into the extraordinary. She will find a picture of something in Regina – usually a low resolution, retro picture – and add a pink or blue hue to it. She'll toss in sparkles, text, and some drop shadow on the letters. She'll then put it on Instagram and it will explode with popularity within minutes.

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Unboxing Canada – Nunavut

It's been 23 years since Nunavut became a new territory in Canada, but I'll admit, beyond that, I know very little about it. I know the capital is Iqaluit and it's on Baffin Island, the biggest island in Canada. I also know that they speak and write in Inuktitut. Also recently I learned about their traditional Inuit face tattoos (called "kakiniit"), as I see them frequently on the news or on social media.

I also know that, as of June 14, 2022, it shares a land border with Europe after years of aggressive confrontation with Greenland (Denmark) over the ownership of Hans Island.

But beyond that, I'm sorry to say, I know very little.

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What Does “YQR” Mean?

Regina is filled with a variety of fun and interesting locations, but each one of them has something in common: the letters YQR. It doesn't matter if you're eating (#yqrfood), shopping (#yqrsmallbuisness), taking photos (#yqrphotographer), looking for dogs (#yqrdogs), planning a wedding (#yqrwedding), buying plants (#yqrplantjunkie) or just hanging out around town (#yqrlocal).

Tourism Regina has #SeeYQR, Regina Downtown has #YQRDT, and Warehouse District has #YQRWD.

Outside of hashtags, there is:

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The Cathedral Village Arts Festival Is Back!

Many years ago, when I lived right on 13th Avenue, the Cathedral Village Arts Festival was right outside my door. I remember it because I volunteered at one of the booths during it, and when I got back home, I had to shoo people off the steps to get inside my apartment.

Fast-forward to 2020 and I moved back to the Cathedral Area in the fall. I had missed the CVAF that year, but was excited to experience it in 2021. Unfortunately, the festival was held virtual that year due to the pandemic. It was still interesting and I did do some online shopping, but it wasn't the same without the crowds, the noise, the music, and the food. Eating a hot dog in your kitchen listening to Spotify doesn't compare to eating one on 13th Avenue while listening to live music.

Being said, I was very excited to hear the CVAF was happening in person this year!

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Mystery Makeup Box From nomakenolife

I can probably count, begrudgingly, the number of times I've been forced to wear makeup, usually by my sister or my girlfriend. But I can honestly say this is one of the few times I was a willing participant and it actually wasn't that bad.

After doing many, many candy unboxing reviews over the years, I wanted to try something new. After all, diversity is the spice of life. So instead of the usual candy box I order from TokyoTreat, I ordered a makeup box from their sibling company nomakenolife. If I recall, the makeup box was slightly more expensive (about $2), and the box is smaller, but it should also last you longer than candy does.

Most of the time I wrote long, elaborate, detailed pieces about each item in a box... but this time I have nothing to compare it to. I tried on some blue eye shadow but I wasn't sure if it felt normal, nice or dusty. It felt fine to me, and apparently, it was very well pigmented. The same can be said for the blush or the lip colour (which, I did not know existed until I did this video). It all seemed nice and good quality, but I don't know otherwise.

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Ukrainian Handmade Sask Unboxing

Handmade Saskatchewan is a Regina-based handmade-only vendor located at the Southland Mall. I've shopped there a few times over the years, and I am currently working my way through a delicious bag of popcorn seasoning that I got from there for my birthday.

About a month ago, Handmade Saskatchewan put out a limited-time box of goodies in which all the proceeds went to help the people of Ukraine. Their online posts made it seem like the box would be filled with Ukrainian-related stuff, but in fact, it was mostly foodstuffs with only a few Ukrainian-related things. I was hoping to get more Ukrainian stuff out of the box, but that's the fun of an unboxing -- you never know what you're going to get!

Below is a brief breakdown of what was in the box, but I also did an unboxing on my YouTube channel too. Until May 1st, every "like" my YouTube video gets is one dollar I'll be donating to help Ukraine. You can see the video below, or keep reading for a breakdown of the box contents.

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Your COVID-19 Stories

Where were you when you first heard of COVID-19? It may have been the day the lockdowns were announced, or it may have been when Italy was overwhelmed with patients, or it may have been when the Princess Diamond was adrift at sea. It may have even been in 2019 with reports of a new illness being recorded in China.

Personally, I remember sitting on a bed at the Hotel Saskatchewan on New Year's Eve, as Jessica was watching outside for the fireworks. I was scrolling through Reddit and told her there was a strange virus going around in China. I may have known about it before that, but that's my first memory of actually talking about it with somebody else.

On the (unfortunate) anniversary of COVID-19s arrival, I decided to put together an online survey to hear other people's stories about what happened to them during the pandemic. About 20 people responded to my questions, and I really enjoyed reading them. I had them answer ten questions about the day the pandemic hit. Here is what they had to say:

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Why Did Putin Invade Ukraine?

On February 24, 2022, Russia began a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, attacking through the south from Crimea, the east via the contested areas of Donbas and Luhansk, and the north through Belarus.

Since then, a lot of propaganda has been put out – by both sides – about who is responsible for this crisis. The Russian government says Ukraine brought it upon themselves, while the West says the Russians are responsible. What is true?

As somebody with Ukrainian heritage, and who visited Ukraine in 2016, I know a bit about the country and the people there. When I was in Kyiv, I saw various military personnel, I had to go through several military checkpoints, and I saw memorials for the soldiers that died fighting in Donbas and Luhansk. I also got to experience Easter Sunday in Kyiv, which was an absolute pleasure. Ukraine and Kyiv are beautiful places with beautiful people.

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Unboxing Canada – Saskatchewan

Before I get started, I want to apologize to Tourism Saskatchewan for taking several months to write this article. I believe they sent me this box back in September and I finally unboxed it in late January. That is terrible, so I am so sorry about that.

But I am also super excited because this is the first time Tourism Saskatchewan and I have ever collaborated on anything! Woo-hoo! We were supposed to have a collaboration trip to the Limestone Crevices back in 2020, but due to the provincial recommendation to halt all non-essential travel, I went up there by myself. It was a disaster of a trip, so it's probably better that they had nothing to do with it.

With that said, after six years of doing this blog, I am super excited to have finally collaborated with Tourism Saskatchewan and for them to participate in my Unboxing Canada Series.

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Journey to the Heart of the Caribbean

Before I attended CUBA: Journey to the Heart of the Caribbean, I had some misconceptions in my mind about what to expect. Going into it, I expected the 40-minute IMAX documentary to discuss things like Communism, the American embargo, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and possibly their infamous Cuban cigars.

Instead, I was surprised instead to learn about farming and the effects on marine biology, architecture, classic cars and ballet.

My perception of Cuba is partly based on the media's portrayal of it, but also from my time working at a travel agency. While I worked there, I was told that although Cuba was nice, the food and drinks in Mexico were much better. For many of our travellers, that is reason enough to bypass it. But I never really wondered, why was the food better in Mexico? Or, to be exact, why was the food so poor in Cuba?

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My 2021 In Review

2021 was a year of ups and downs. To address the elephant in the room, the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us. This year we saw the creation of a vaccine and the hope that the pandemic would soon be behind us. In the summer it looked like the world had gone back to normal, with music concerts, parades, and fairs happening almost every weekend. Then the Delta Autumn happened, and now we're into the Omicron Winter – when places are locking down, restrictions are being put into place and there's a lot of uncertainty about what to come.

My blog has felt the same ebb and flow of the world. Some months I am putting out content, videos, and podcasts like a madman, while other times I am silent and recluse. I'm working on finding an even balance with that.

Like in 2020, this past year has had me embrace rural Saskatchewan more. I visited more small towns, I saw more local sights and I dug into more local history. I also got to get away once this past year and visit the incredible Yukon territory.

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A Shitty Christmas Tradition for the Ages

"This is so useless. This shouldn't even exist in the world. Let's burn it."

This was Eric Hill's explanation on how he and Jeff Meldrum pick objects of their annual "Shit Fireplace" video.

Originally filmed in early 2016, Hill and Meldrum had forgotten about their footage until that winter. It's hard to remember that far back, but 2016 was a challenging year for a lot of people, and because of that, they decided to release their first video of Shit Fireplace. Since then, their annual burning has become somewhat of a local phenomenon and has even received cross-Canada attention.

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What to See In Dawson City in 72 Hours

Seventy-two hours is a lot of time in a town of about 1,500 people, so why did I pick that number? Well, when I arrived in Dawson City, I arrived on Labour Day Monday, and many of the local amenities were closed. Because Dawson City is so small, there is no taxi service from the airport. Had I gone there another day, I would have been able to call Klondike Car Rental for a lift, but they were closed that day. Out of all the hotels in Dawson City, I believe the only one that offers an airport shuttle is The Downtown Hotel – and I didn't stay there because the rooms at The Bunkhouse were about $10 cheaper.

So, with no taxi, no shuttle, and no car rental, I decided to try my luck hitchhiking my way into Dawson City. Honestly, I'm surprised how quickly I got a ride. I think only three or four vehicles passed me until I was able to hop aboard a truck and get a ride into town.

It was on this drive into town that I was told two things: one, that going to the Yukon by myself without knowing a soul was a very brave thing to do, and two: that if I don't drink, I'll get tired of Dawson City after three days.

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How to Hike Tombstone Territorial Park

I remember when I first heard of Tombstone Territorial Park. I was working on my "Instagramming Canada" series a few years ago and was searching through piles of photos from around the territory to feature in it. Prior to that, I didn't know what to expect when I was scrolling through pictures of the Yukon, but what I saw took my breath away.

To this day, I remember the photo. It was a beautiful, onyx lake with towering black mountains around it, cutting across a silvery-white sky. On the shore of the lake were round, coloured rocks, that almost looked like spheres.

I immediately wanted to know where this place was and discovered it was Grizzly Lake, in Tombstone Territorial Park, one of the most northern parks in Canada.

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A Halloween Unboxing From Tokyo Treat

In celebration of Halloween, Jessica and I decided to continue last year's tradition and unbox a package from Tokyo Treat. For those unfamiliar, Tokyo Treat is a subscription box service that sends you Japanese candy every month to try at home. We have unboxed several of their packages in previous articles, including one from last Halloween, so we thought it would be fun to do it again.

This article, and companion video, is not sponsored by Tokyo Treat. We just like trying their handy and reviewing foreign food. They do have an affiliate program, but I chose not to join it as it isn't very lucrative – and I like being subjective and honest about my reviews.

This year they had another wide variety of Halloween-themed candy, from gum to chocolate to corn sticks. There were a few duplicates in the box this year when compared to the 2020s box, so while it was still good, I didn't like it as good as last year's box.

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Top 7 Things to see in Whitehorse

Whitehorse is the capital city of the Yukon and is home to approximately 70% of the territory's population or around 25,000 people. It's a small city, but it has all the modern amenities you need, such as Walmart, Canadian Tire, and Superstore. However, it is also the final vestibule of civilization before the desolate Klondike, so it can't help to also have things like bear-resistant garbage bins and the nickname "The Wilderness City".

I travelled to Whitehorse around Labour Day this past fall and was able to see a lot – but I also missed a lot too. Because winter comes so soon to the Yukon, their tourism season is only about 120 days long, ending in early September. The purpose for my trip to the Yukon was to see the fall colours, not necessarily to take in the local sights, but it was nevertheless disappointing to see many of them were closed.

One of the things I try to do on this blog is not review places I haven't been to. Because of this, I can't review places like Whitehorse's iconic MacBride Museum because I wasn't able to visit it. However, I will list other points of interest at the bottom of this article for people who visit the city during tourism season or who have better time management skills than me.

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What Remains of Canyon City?

There has never been a boom like the Klondike Gold Rush. Seemingly overnight, the wild, untamed Klondike was swarmed with tens of thousands of gold seekers. This hoard of people is referred to as "stampeders", and that name is accurate. Wherever this hoard went, towns, cities, and communities grew, trees were chopped down, the soil was dug up and infrastructure was built. Then, as quickly as they roared in, they left again, leaving a skeleton of what once was.

Chief Isaac of the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in near modern-day Dawson City saw the stampeders descending onto their Indigenous land and remarked that the mass of them was like a swarm of mosquitoes. He knew to get his people out of the area immediately and evacuated the entire area that would later be known as The Klondike – a bastardization of the word "Tr'ondëk".

Although Dawson City still exists (albeit a much smaller size than during the gold rush), the same cannot be said for Canyon City. Prior to the creation of the White Pass and Yukon Railway in 1900, one of the most common routes was to travel up the Yukon River, through what is now Whitehorse, and onto Dawson City. But, before they arrived at Whitehorse, there were two obstacles in their path: the Whitehorse Rapids and Miles Canyon.

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7 Reasons to Embrace Tech Free Travel

Article written by Matt Edwards from Outphoria.

Nowadays, we have become so dependent on technology for every part of life that it can feel scary to leave the house without some kind of device. Many of us have experienced that moment when you realize you have forgotten your phone and go the lengths to get it back because "you might need it at some point.”

There were millenia before this tech-driven era in which we lived free from technology. Therefore we know it is possible to do, right? It might be impossible with your job or during the daily grind anymore, but what about when you travel?

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Unboxing Canada – Manitoba

One of my favourite provinces in Canada is Manitoba. I love the dynamic mix of English and French language, as well as their fun and quirky traditions like the infamous "Manitoba social". I also really love how the province celebrates their Indigenous history (after all, Louis Reil was from there). I don't show Manitoba enough love on my blog, but thanks to the folks over at Tourism Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba, I put together a list of 100 Facts You Didn't Know About Winnipeg several years ago.

I also worked with those tourism boards, plus Parks Canada, when I visited Riding Mountain National Park in 2018.

With all that said, the folks over at Travel Manitoba were thrilled to hear about my Unboxing Canada series, and I was equally as thrilled to have them participate in it.

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Unboxing Canada – The Yukon

I love travelling the world and seeing far off places, but lately, I've been thinking about how little I've seen of my own country, and how little we celebrate the vast diversity that is Canada.

This isn't the first time I've felt this way either. In 2015 I did my "Instagramming Canada" series, where I showcased each province and territory with images taken by Instagrammers, and in 2017 I created a list of "Five Canadian Adventures to Take in 2017" since I felt G Adventures wasn't (and still isn't) showing Canada enough love.

This year I'm doing something similar, but it's my new "Unboxing Canada" series, where I unbox a package from each province and territory. I reached out to a handful of tourism agencies and the first one to send me something was Travel Yukon.

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Meet Your 2021 Saskatchewanderer

There has never been a Saskatchewanderer like Felipe Gomez.

Unlike the past ten Saskatchewanderers, Gomez isn't originally from Canada. He was born in Santiago, Chile during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. His early and teen life was challenging, but it was through those challenges that he developed a love for music and travel. His family couldn't afford music lessons when he was younger, so he became a self-taught musician. Because of this, he believes every child should learn how to play music, and he has spent the last decade of his life doing just that.

Gomez moved to Canada in 2011 but only received his citizenship in 2020. He created The Bass Invaders in the early 2010s and started the cross-country Bike and Bass Tour shortly afterward in 2013. This tour involved biking from one venue to the next, all the while carrying a bass guitar and amp with him. It was the Bike and Bass Tour that escalated him into the international spotlight. 

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Homer Simpson's Hometown

The Simpsons' goofball father, Homer Simpson, was born on May 12, 1956, to Mona Olson and Abraham Simpson II. He was raised on the family farm just off Rural Route 9 outside of Springfield, Oregon. They would live a happy life on the farm until 1963 when they were forced to foreclose the property as their cows began producing sour milk. The family would then move to Springfield, where Homer would stay and start a family of his own.

However canon as all that might be, none of the above is true. Homer Simpson, at least in context to the television show The Simpsons, is not real. There was no old family farm, there was no Mona and Abraham Simpson, and there was no Springfield.

But there was a Main Centre, Saskatchewan, and that's where the real story begins.

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Regina Resumes Normal Life at Six P.M. Today

On July 11th, 2021, all COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted in Saskatchewan. Some people feel this is the beginning of the end of the pandemic, while others are worried about things to come. Throughout the past year, I've been making comparisons between COVID-19 and the Spanish Influenza pandemic. This is another similarity, as, on November 28th, 1918, Regina also resumed "normal life".

But what happened then? And what is to expect going forward?

Here are four articles from around that time that discuss how the city was dealing with the reopening – from theatres, to schools, to libraries, and to churches. After these articles, I will give my thoughts about the future of COVID-19 and how I feel about July 11th, 2021

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An Occulty Unboxing from Jessup’s General Store

If you've been following my blog for some time, you'll know I have a bit of an obsession with the occult. My blog is brimming with content about skulls, bones, graves, ghosts, ghouls, and hauntings. It would make sense then that I would eventually feature an occult store on my blog.

Jessup's General Store is located at 1811 Quebec Street, in Regina, in the same building as The Broom Closet Witchcraft Supply Shop. I visited their old Dewdney Avenue location before, but I really like the cozy one on Quebec Street more. For those unsure what to expect when you go inside, think of it as a cross between a holistic ingredient store and a punk rock t-shirt store.

I first discovered Jessup's General Store on Instagram and immediately questioned if such a place existed in Regina. Funky stickers? Iron-on patches? Cookbooks? Spooky T-shirts? Regina isn't exactly known for its quirky local businesses, so I was absolutely thrilled to discover such a place even existed!

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Dollar Flight Club Review: Is it Worth It?

Do you remember travel? I'm not talking about the grocery store or a park. I mean hopping on a plane, shoulder to shoulder with strangers, hurtling across the globe to some foreign destination? Do you miss eating miscellaneous meat from a Dutch vending machine? How about laughing at some over-the-top play on Broadway? Or rowing a boat up to a haunted doll island in Mexico?

Okay, maybe the last one is just something I want to do…

But we can both agree that one of the biggest issues with travelling is the cost. It costs so much to get out of Canada. It costs so much to even fly from Regina to Saskatoon. Did you know in the UK they have penny flight sales? A penny! You can fly from London to Madrid for one-fifth the cost of a five-cent candy. Unbelievable.

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What Is it Like Inside a COVID-19 Quarantine Hotel?

When I walked into the lobby of the Kyiv International Airport, I was surrounded by bald men in leather jackets. Each of them was a taxi driver, and I was a Westerner – somebody with lots of money and no sense of direction. However, as I had read up on these men earlier, I chose to ignore them all.

"Those men aren't there anymore", my friend Kate told me. That isn't her real name, but her experience was real enough. These days the airport is empty, and visitors aren't allowed. However, those men are still waiting outside, and there's just a lot less of them.

"Also, please don't go with them. They aren't real taxi drivers. They're just trying to make money. It's better to just call an Uber."

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Exploring the Ruins of Bethlehem Lutheran Church

The old ruins emerged from the grass like a forgotten obelisk. The walls stood tall and proud, yet crooked from time, buckling in on themselves. The only sound was the wind whistling between the empty sepulchre's shattered stones.

"Don't get too close", Jessica gestured to a nearby sign. "It's private property".

Although I doubt the owners of Wheatwyn-Bethlehem Care Corporation would care if I went inside the old church, it was probably for my own safety to stay outside. The stone window arches had begun to buckle, and any unnecessary strain could lead to collapse, and possibly death.

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Can You Fly A Drone in Regina?

Without advanced permission from Nav Canada, you cannot fly a drone above Regina. If you choose to do so anyway, you open yourself up to a $1,000 fine for recreational users or a $5,000 fine for commercial users.

Additionally, if you fly an unregistered drone, you can be fined another $1,000, and if you don't have a licence to fly, you'll be fined an additional $1,000.

But before you rush out and take the $10 exam and register your drone for an additional $5 to prevent these fines, what if I told you there was another way?

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Sorry, But Vaccine Passports Already Exist

It is a race against time to vaccinate the world against COVID-19, especially as case numbers rise and many countries are forced into their third or fourth lockdown. The new virus variants are expected and are a reasonable cause for concern. Some vaccines can slow the spread of it, but others are not as effective. However, this shouldn't be surprising, as even a 100% effective influenza vaccine is impossible to make, and we've been working on that since 1933.

For the sake of this article, however, we aren't talking about the COVID-19 vaccine or the possible "vaccine passports" that might soon be a reality. Instead, we are talking about current vaccine requirements that restrict international travel.

There aren't a lot of vaccine travel requirements, or "vaccine passports", in North America, Europe, or Antarctica (which kind of goes without saying, but I know somebody would ask), but in developing countries, it is very common. It is recommended to get vaccinated for illnesses like Hepatitis A and B, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza, rabies, and others, but it is not required. Some countries have additional recommended vaccines too, like Japanese encephalitis, but these are only recommended and are also not required.

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How Radioactive Are Bananas?

Bananas are the second most popular fruit in North America, second only to apples. However, unlike apples, bananas in North American often only come in one flavour... or at least they do now. If you were eating bananas during the 1950s and 1960s, you were eating the Gros Michel banana, which is a sweeter, almost artificial tasting banana. However, because bananas were mass replicated and are so similar, they are also prone to disease. As a result, the highly destructive and deadly Panama disease attacked the bananas and wiped them out, causing a world-wide banana shortage.

The solution was to start selling a new type of banana. These are the Cavendish bananas and while they look similar, they don't taste as sweet. In fact, you can compare the difference between them by simply having a real banana and having candy bananas or banana-flavoured medicine or ice-cream. The banana flavour was extracted from the old bananas, which have a much stronger taste.

But banana flavours aside, what about the radiation? While I don't know if the Cavendish bananas are any more radioactive than the Gros Michel bananas, both are full of radioactive potassium. As bananas decay, they release K-40 atoms, which are slightly radioactive and can cause skin tissue damage. How severe is it? Bananas release 0.10 µSv / hour, which is equivalent to 1% of the daily amount of radiation you receive normally. This means if ate 100 bananas in a single hour, you double your daily amount of radiation. You'd also get a stomachache from all the fiber.

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Who Are The Prisoners Buried in Wascana Park?

"Life, I say, is short and the sword is always hanging over us, and we do not know how soon it will drop. It is not worthwhile to be sinful then. That is all I have to say. Good-bye, and God bless you all." ­

Those were the final words John Morrison spoke before a black cap was pulled over his face and the Lord's Prayer was said to him. He would then croak "Deliver us from evil" and with a dull thud, he was dead.

John Morrison was executed on January 24, 1901, at the North-West Territorial Jail and Lunatic Asylum in Regina for the murder of a family of eight. He was not a good man.

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How I Would Revive Regina's Tourism Industry

The year is 2022 and the COVID-19 pandemic was so last decade. Regina, like most cities, is trying to revive its incapacitated tourism industry. People want to go to festivals and concerts but are still leery about getting too close to strangers. After all, they might not have COVID, but they might have something else, you know?

But Regina is special. They will be hosting the first Grey Cup in three years (sorry Steve). People will be swarming into the city from across the country – and beyond – to celebrate the great game of football. Every sports camera in the country will be watching the city.

But just like before the pandemic, Tourism Regina is underfunded. It is staffed by passionate, determined, hard-working individuals, but they do not have the funding to prop-up a battered tourism industry alone. Instead, grassroots programs and small businesses must take the lead. So, with that in mind, here are some ways I would improve Regina's tourism industry in 2022 and beyond.

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Valentine's Day Gift Ideas in Regina

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching and if you forgot to get something for your significant other (or yourself), I don't blame you. With everything going on these days, it is tough to remember a holiday that was made to capitalize on something as priceless as love. But I think we can all agree that if you are going to spend money telling somebody you love them, you'll want to spend that money locally. From bakeries to candy stores to charcuterie boards, there is something in Regina for that special person in your life.

In December I bought a $50 chocolate box from Dessart Sweets with every intention of unboxing it and make a video about it. However, the chocolate temptation got the best of me and I ate the entire box in a single sitting. The box has a wide variety of chocolates in it, ranging from specialty-flavoured KitKat bars to European specialities to unique chocolate bars like the Charleston Chew.

If chocolate is not your thing, Dessart Sweets also has miscellaneous candy boxes for the same price. They also have imported chocolate and candy boxes for the broken-hearted globetrotter in your life.

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Birthday Freebies in Regina

As of last week, I am officially in the final year of my 20s. That has me a little worried because they say it is the 30s when you are forced to finally grow-up... and I really do not want to do that. So, with that sense of impending doom in mind, I decided to embrace my inner child and find some birthday "freebies" around Regina.

There was just a pesky little pandemic in the way.

Because of this, I didn't feel it was right (or safe) to visit a dozen stores around the city, many of them restaurants, asking for free things. A lot of small businesses are hurting right now and asking for free things "just because" doesn't help them at all.

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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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Taste-Testing Manchurian Scorpions

Have you ever been walking down the street and you spot a scorpion scamper out from behind a rock and think, "I wonder what that little critter tastes like?"

No, probably not. And that's probably for the best.

Scorpions are venous, but only while alive or immediately after death. If you're planning on eating scorpions, it is recommended to wait a few hours after they die before consuming them, especially if you plan to eat them uncooked. Once enough time passes, the venom dissolves, and the scorpions are no longer dangerous to eat – although a little prickly.

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7 Regina Cemetery Stories for Your Curriculum

For years I have been trying to find some way to bring the stories from the Regina Cemetery into the school curriculum. I've spent countless hours emailing principals and teachers around the city, trying to find some way to arrange a fieldtrip to the cemetery – or maybe even bring the stories into the classroom. In my opinion, cemeteries are not only a wealth of knowledge, history, and teaching opportunities but they also give students a sense of local identity.

I wanted to make 2020 the year of cemetery tours, but it is not going to happen – primarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic but also because of some municipal red-tape. But I think it is fair to say the way students are getting educated this year is different than past years, and that a fieldtrip to the cemetery would be a nice change.

So for all those parents out there that are now teachers, or teachers with online classes or smaller class sizes, or anybody who wants to bring local history alive, here are seven stories form the Regina Cemetery you an add to your school curriculum.

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Unboxing A Salem Souvenir Box

Salem, Massachusetts is one of the few places that need no introduction. It is world-famous for the iconic 1692-1693 witch trials and the nineteen executions.

In a perfect world, I would love to go to Salem in October, but so does everybody else. Salem is overflowing with tourists during the month of October, peaking on Halloween. The hotels, restaurants, shops, streets, and parks are overflowing with witches, warlocks, ghouls, and ghosts.

That is, except for this year.

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How Did Indian Head Get Its Name?

People, places and things often change names. Sometimes this is because of a war, like Kitchener (Berlin), Ontario or Leader (Prussia), Saskatchewan, but it can also happen during peacetime too.

When this happens, it is usually associated with a societal change. Today, it is usually to embrace multiculturalism and to dissolve racial barriers. At least, this is the reasoning behind the name change of the Edmonton Elks and the Washington Football Team (Washington Redskins).

(And, sometimes it's because things just didn't age well, like Tisdale's "Land of rape and honey".)

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