In The Bag: The Tom Bihn Medium Cafe

Welcome to a new series of mine I’m calling In The Bag. I am a long time lover of bags of all types. I’ve always been fascinated with the bags people carry and what they keep in them. Over the years, I have amassed a collection of backpacks, messenger style bags, slings, totes, & fanny packs. I also am constantly watching YouTube videos of bag reviews as well as browsing the onebag, manybaggers, & whatsinthebag subreddits. Suffice to say, I love bags & I have a lot to say about them. I’m starting this series to highlight some of my favorite bags and to tell you why I love them. I want to begin this series with a new bag in my collection, the Tom Bihn Medium Cafe.

The Tom Bihn Medium Cafe is a messenger style bag made by Tom Bihn. Several things drew me to choosing Tom Bihn to buy my next bag from. First, they are known for their quality. They make high quality bags and they stand behind their products. Second, the bags are made right here in the USA, Seattle to be exact. Lastly, they have a ton of accessories and customization options for their bags. They are available in various materials & colors and they have all kinds of different accessories both tailor made for specific bags, as well as accessories that you can use from one bag to another.

I ended up with the Medium Cafe bag due to its size and looks. The Medium Cafe is an 8 liter bag, so much smaller than my current backpack, but also larger than my sling bags. I also found a color that I really liked, Tom Bihn calls it logic blue with the cloud interior. As I said before, I typically alternate between my large backpack or one of my smaller slings when I leave the house. Often when I bring my backpack, I wish I had brought a smaller bag while when I bring a sling, I wish for a bigger bag so that certain items of mine could fit. This bag is a perfect middle ground for me. I can take all of the gear I typically need on a daily basis without any wasted space or bulk.

Interior look with everything packed inside

As far as the features of the bag, here is a brief overview. The bag has a seat belt like shoulder strap as well as a handle on the back for hanging on a hook. The strap is very comfortable and I appreciate the hook which I use to hang by my desk when not in use. The bag has three compartments: one large opened-top main compartment, a smaller zippered compartment in the front, and a slanted open-top pocket at the back of the bag. Starting at the front, the small zippered compartment is great for smaller items that you don’t want bouncing around in the main open-top compartment. The main compartment is very roomy, with four organization pockets on the inside front. Two of these pockets are perfect for pens or pencils. The other two are roomier, for reference I keep my MagSafe battery pack and external battery in one pocket & my sunglasses in the other one. Other than that, the main compartment is just an empty bucket to put your larger items. I keep my iPad Pro 12.9″ in it’s Magic Keyboard case, Nintendo Switch, Kindle Paperwhite, & a small pouch with my various charging cables, lip balm, microfiber cloth, & allergy meds inside. The main compartment also has three O-rings in it. Tom Bihn includes an 8″ key strap on one of them which I use to clip my AirPods Pro to. Tom Bihn also sells all sorts of different organizer pouches and accessories that you can attach to the other O-rings. I’m excited to eventually purchase some of these accessories at a later date when the bag fund is replenished. Lastly, the back compartment is not super useful, but works for holding documents or maybe a magazine in a pinch.

What I am carrying in my bag.

Overall, I am very happy with the Medium Cafe bag. It fits a gap I had with my other bags, I can tell it is a quality bag that will last me years and years, and I got it in a color I absolutely love. What’s more, I can now start researching all of the various accessories and other bags Tom Bihn sells and plot my next purchase!

Thanks for reading!

Rekindling My Love Of Reading

Over the last few months, I have rediscovered my love for reading, specifically with my Kindle Paperwhite. As a child I always loved to read. I have fond memories of reading Encyclopedia Brown, The Hardy Boys, & Archie Comics. As an adult I continued to read more & more but what I was reading really changed. With the internet coming into my life more & more, I spent less time reading books and more time reading web articles, forum posts, & social media posts. There is so much to read online that I unwittingly stopped reading books almost entirely. in 2022 I set out to change that. While I love reading things online, I don’t want that to be my sole category of things I read.

The first thing I realized, is that for me, trying to read books on my iPhone or iPad is not ideal. There are too many distractions with those devices that keep me from getting fully engrossed in my book. While I love reading magazines & comics on my iPad, I didn’t enjoy reading books on it. I also am not interested in owning all of my books physically. I know that to some people, this is the only way to read but I have enough collections of physical items as it is. I needed something digital. The answer of course, was in my desk drawer, covered in dust and in need of a charge. It was my old Kindle Paperwhite.

The Kindle Paperwhite was the perfect solution for me. It is cheap, compact, has great battery life, and has the perfect screen for reading. The e-ink technology used for the screen is unmatched for reading books, especially outdoors. So I charged it up, updated the software, downloaded a couple of books that seemed interesting, and away I went! I can’t overstate how great of an experience it is to read on this device. It is proof that there is still room in the market for a great single purpose device. I have been trying to make reading more of a habit this year and I must say, my life has been better off for it. While I have been reading a ton of short form content, it has been really nice to read more longform content this year. I would like to end this post by giving a brief summary of the last few books I have read.

NBA Jam by Reyan Ali: I loved this book covering the making of the classic arcade game NBA Jam. It was a fascinating look into how games were made in the early 90’s and I was enthralled the whole way through.

The History of the Future by Blake J. Harris: This was a fun read as well, It covers the origins of modern day VR, specifically Oculus, all the way through the Facebook acquisition.

This is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick: This was a great book about finding ways to love wherever it is that you call home. This book inspired me to get to know my town better and to find all of the good in it.

The Nineties by Chuck Klosterman: An awesome time capsule of a read for anyone who like me, grew up in the Nineties. I couldn’t put this one down. It was a great nostalgic trip.

Disrupting the Game by Reggie Fils-Aime: The most recent book I finished. As a huge Nintendo fan, I couldn’t help but read this book written by the Regginator himself! It was a short read but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Currently I am reading through Ready Player One again as I have been wanting to read the sequel. This book is pure fan service for nerds like myself and I won’t pretend it is anything else. However, I love it! I think it is perfectly fine to balance your more serious reading with something fun every now and then. What about you? Do you enjoy reading? Have any recommendations for me? Feel free to drop a comment down below. Thanks for reading!

My Favorite Things of 2021

It’s been another year & I am back with another favorite things list. I hope everyone who reads this had a great 2021! On to the list.

686 Everywhere Pant (Slim)

On last year’s list I posted about my love for the Denali Travel Pant. I still love and wear these pants to this day. However, for my birthday this year, my wife bought me 2 pairs of the 686 Everywhere pants. While considerably more expensive than the travel pants I had worn up until this point, the Everywhere pants are a massive upgrade in every way. These are the most comfortable pants I have ever worn. I have been wearing them very regularly since getting them and even purchased a 3rd pair later in the year. I cannot recommend these pants enough.

Nike SB Zoom Blazer Low Pro GT Skate

I picked up my first pair of Blazers this year and I couldn’t be more happy with them. I have never been into the Air Force 1s or Dunks but the Blazers has always been appealing to me. I love how these look and also how they feel on foot. I have some similar shoes in the Vans Old Skools as well as the Adidas Sambas that are not close to these in comfort. Very happy with this pair of shoes.

Blundstone #585 in Rustic Brown

I purchased my first pair of boots in over 10 years this year. I picked up some Blundstones on a trip to Austin this year and have been very happy with them. These boots are tough, comfortable, and I love the way they look. I plan on having these around for the next 10 years.

Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Hip Pack

I purchased this fanny pack back in April and it has proven to be a very handy bag to take with me on the go. First off, it packs into it’s own front pocket and becomes very small, so you can easily bring it anywhere. It’s also made of a very durable ripstop material and is extremely lightweight. I hate carrying a bunch of items in my pocket when I am walking around the city and this little bag is perfect to put all of my small items in. I can carry my iPhone, wallet, keys, chapstick, sunglasses, and a spare battery pack all in this little pack. You can wear it around your waist like it’s the 80s again or, you can wear it crossbody which is what I prefer.

iPad mini 6

I have already wrote an entire post about my love for this little tablet. I still love it and use it everyday. It is extremely portable and is a pleasure to use. Long live the mini!

Nintendo Switch OLED Model

I am a huge fan of the Nintendo Switch and was very happy to upgrade to the new OLED model when it was released this fall. It is a very nice upgrade over the regular switch in several key ways. Obviously the new OLED screen is the star of the show, being both larger in size as well as much more vibrant. Throw in a massively improved kickstand, better speakers, and those sweet, sweet white Joy-Cons and you have yourself a pretty solid upgrade.

Apple Fitness +

I love Apple Fitness + but of course I would right? It seems like it was made for people just like me. I am very fitness oriented and, as a huge Apple fan, I have all of the required gear already. While not for everybody, I love that I can do classes from my iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV wherever I am and the Apple Watch integration is so, so good. I love working out outside more than anything but when the weather is not cooperating, I am pumped to open up Apple Fitness and close my rings for the day!

Pikmin Bloom

I have been playing Pikmin Bloom for a little over a week and a half now and wanted to give my thoughts. Pikmin Bloom is a new game on both Google Play & iOS from Niantic, the creators of Pokémon GO.

For those unaware, I will do my best to explain what Pikmin Bloom essentially is. The goal of the game is to walk around outside and find seedlings scattered about. You grow the seedlings by walking a certain amount of steps until they are ready to be plucked. They will then follow you on the map and help you find other items and additional seedlings.

You can feed your Pikmin nectar found from fruit that the Pikmin gather to have them sprout flowers on their heads. You collect the petals from their flowers and plant them as you walk to grow flowers everywhere you walk. Along the way, you may encounter giant flowers that require you to plant smaller flowers all around them for them to bloom. Once the giant flowers bloom you can collect valuable items each time you walk past them. After you reach a certain level, you may also encounter mushrooms, which you can tackle alone or with up to four other people. Upon taking down the mushrooms you will gain various items as well.

This trailer gives a brief overview as to what the game is all about:

As someone who really enjoyed Pokémon GO for a time, I was curious to try out Pikmin Bloom. I don’t play very many phone games, (I much prefer playing the Nintendo Switch for portable games) so I figured I would try it out for a day or two and then be done with it. I did not expect at all to fall in love with it but that is exactly what happened! Below are some of my favorite things about Pikmin Bloom so far:

  • I love that like Pokémon Go before it, Pikmin Bloom encourages you to get out and walk. In fact, with less things to stop for in Pikmin Bloom versus Pokémon GO, I find myself walking more and stopping less to interact with the game. As someone who loves walking anyway, this game is perfect for me and I find that it pushes me to walk even further than I typically would.
  • Another thing that really incentivizes me to get out and walk is that the app lets you look at any players on your friend list’s total lifetime step count. This has been a huge motivator for me to get out and walk more!
  • I also love how simple the game is right now. You can get in and out in just a couple of minutes. It respects my time which is definitely what I am looking for in a phone game.
  • I like how there are special Pikmin, called Decor Pikmin, that wear special costumes tied to where you found their seedlings originally. This feature encourages you to walk around places you may not typically think of to try and get all of the various forms of Decor Pikmin.
  • I also like the social aspects of Pikmin Bloom. Not only can you send postcards that your Pikmin find to your friends, but if you are with your friends irl, you can walk and plant flowers together, as well as tackle some of the harder expeditions together. It’s a lot of fun to play with a friend or friends!
  • The last feature I wanted to highlight is the daily log feature. Every night, you will get a notification to go into the app and look at how you did for the day. It will show you how many steps you had that day as well as show on the map all of the flowers you planted for the day. It will then ask you how your day was and prompt you to post a picture or pictures from your phone that were taken that day as a memory. I initially did not think I would like this feature but it turns out to be a lot of fun! I am looking forward to looking back at my daily log in a few months and being reminded of all of the things I did on various days through the pictures that I uploaded.

If all of this sounds like something you want to check out, I highly encourage you to download it and try it out for yourself. Now is a great time to jump in as Niantic is holding the first Pikmin Bloom Community Day this Saturday on November 13th. You can download it on iOS here and on Google Play here.

The Hydro Flask Trail Series

I wanted to write about my experience with the Hydro Flask Trail Series water bottles. I have purchased two of these and have been using them for a few months now.

First off, you should know that I drink a lot of water. I was addicted to soda for most of my life and rarely drank water at all. A little over two years ago I stopped, completely. I now exclusively drink two drinks: water, & sparkling water. That’s it, that’s the whole list. I also should tell you, I hate drinking any drink that is not ice cold. I cannot stand hot drinks or even cool drinks. I need what I’m drinking to be as cold as possible. So I feel qualified to recommend the Hydro Flask Trail Series water bottles if you are similarly fussy about the temperature of your water.

I bought my first Hydro Flask several years ago at this point, a 20oz black bottle. I fell in love with this water bottle and used it all of the time. It was my entry point into the Hydro Flask world. I have tried water bottles from other companies: S’well, RTIC, Yeti, & Klean Kanteen to name a few, but I have always preferred the look & functionality of the Hydro Flask.

As time went on, the one Hydro Flask grew to many more of all shapes and sizes. I had an addiction and it could only be satisfied by more Hydro Flasks. At some point, it started to get a bit out of hand so I had to stop. I had every possible variation one could ever want, right? That is, until I heard about Hydro Flask’s new Trail Series of bottles.

As I previously said, I love the regular Hydro Flask bottles. They are tough, keep your drinks ice cold all day, & are available in so many different colors. If I had one complaint, it would be that they are a bit heavy, especially as you get into the bigger sized bottles like the 32oz & 40oz. This is where the Trail Series comes in.

The Trail Series bottles are available in 3 sizes (21oz, 24oz, & 32oz.) and in 3 colors (Obsidian, Slate, & Topaz). The finish on the bottles is different too, with a more brushed aluminum look that I am very into. The key features of these bottles are their weight. Each bottle is 25% lighter than the same size regular Hydro Flask. This makes for a very noticeable difference in the hand, especially for the 32oz. model, which is the one I originally picked up.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I have had my bottles for a few months now and they have held up extremely well and seem to keep my water just as cold and for just as long as my regular Hydro Flasks. They fixed the one gripe I had with the regular bottles without any compromises that I can tell. That is a win-win. I picked up the 32oz bottle in the obsidian color first, and then a few weeks later, I picked up the 24oz bottle in the slate color.

These two water bottles are without a doubt my favorite water bottles ever. If you are in the market for a water bottle and especially if you are looking at buying a Hydro Flask, I highly recommend you look at the Trail Series. They are well worth the extra premium in my opinion.

The Mighty Mini

I recently picked up the new iPad mini 6 and wanted to give some quick thoughts on it after about a week of using it.

I have always loved the iPad mini, going all the way back to the original one from 2012. I have owned each model, save for the 3rd generation. Most recently I got the iPad mini 5th generation when it was released in March 2019. I was so excited that Apple was updating the mini that I preordered it the moment it was announced. The iPad mini 5 was my constant companion up until back in January of this year when I unfortunately lost it. I have never lost an electronic like this in my life but after spending a few weeks trying to find it by retracing my steps as well as using Apple’s Find My app, it was indeed lost for good. 😢

I found myself craving another mini but by the time I had lost it, that model was about 2 years old and I hated to buy another one at full price. Apple complicates things for us mini lovers as they only sporadically update it. I decided to take a wait & see approach, and I’m glad I did as on September 14th this year, Apple unveiled the iPad mini 6th generation. Finally, I could have the mini back in my life!

Apple really went above and beyond on the new mini. I believe this is because they know that they only update it on occasion, so they make it count when they do. The iPad mini 6 introduces a lot of new features for the mini line. It has an all-new design mirroring the recent iPad Pros as well as the 4th generation iPad Air. This means saying goodbye to the home button as well as a introducing a squared off design and an edge to edge screen. The body of the iPad mini 6 is actually slightly smaller than the mini 5 it replaces but the screen has gotten slightly larger due to the reduced bezels, from 7.9″ to 8.3″. All of these are welcome changes in my opinion and make the iPad mini 6 truly feel modern again.

I picked up a Space Gray iPad mini with 256gb of storage and 5G cellular connectivity. As this is my favorite model of iPad, I don’t mind spending a bit more, although it does seem that Apple is reaching the upper limit for how much they can charge for the mini line. 💸💸💸 After using it for about a week, here are my thoughts so far:

  • One thing I love about the mini is it can just be an iPad. With Apple pushing the iPad Pros the last few years, with their keyboard cases, multitasking, and best in class performance, more and more people are now using their iPad’s as laptops and their main computers. This is fine of course, I use my iPad Pro in this same manner. However, there is something about the mini, with it’s compact size that is too small for a good keyboard case and a screen that is better suited for single-screen tasks than multitasking, that hearkens back to how we all used the original iPads, as just a fun device. I love using the mini full screen in portrait way more than in landscape. This is a big strength of the mini in my opinion.
  • As I mentioned before, the size of the mini is not conducive to a keyboard case. This means you are going to be doing a lot of typing using the mini’s on-screen keyboard, which is fantastic, particularly in portrait mode. I absolutely love thumb typing on the mini in portrait orientation, it is so so good.
  • I have been very impressed with the speed of the mini as well. Apple gave it their latest processor, the A15, the same chip they put in the also recently released iPhone 13 line, and it is fast. I have yet to find anything that can slow this iPad down. I would imagine that this chip will perform very well for years to come, which is great because it will most likely be years before Apple updates the mini again. Likewise, I appreciate that the iPad mini 6 has moved to 5G for its cellular data connection. This insures that it will get the best cellular speeds for years to come.
  • Another new feature for the mini 6 is support for the second generation Apple Pencil. While the 5th generation iPad mini did support the original Apple Pencil, I much prefer the gen 2 Pencil. It has a nicer matte finish, has a flat side, and most of all charges in a much more elegant way than the first gen did. Huge upgrade in my opinion.
  • Another feature the mini 6 added is support for Center Stage for the front facing camera. The was a feature first introduced with the M1 iPad Pros earlier in 2021. Basically, Center Stage utilizes the wide angle front facing camera by showing you a cropped view and then following you if you move to the left or the right. This allows you to actually move around a bit when on a long video call, knowing that the iPad will keep you in frame. It can also detect if someone joins you in the room and automatically zoom out to keep both subjects in the frame. It’s a great feature and it just works.
  • My favorite feature of the new mini is something it shares with all of the previous minis in the line and that is simply it’s portability. I love how easy the mini travels with you. It fits in my jacket pocket, my small sling bags, the back pocket of my jeans, & you barely even notice it in a larger bag. There is rarely a reason not to take it with you because of this. Having an iPad that is this powerful but also this small is a really useful thing.

These are my thoughts on the iPad mini 6. It really is a fantastic little device. The main way I am using it so far is for reading saved articles, going through my RSS feeds, playing Apple Arcade games, scrolling thru Twitter, and watching YouTube. I’m very glad to have the mini back in my life.

My Favorite Things of 2020

Its been another year and what a doozy huh? 2020 will hopefully not be topped for some time. Personally, 2020 has not been stellar for me & my family. Between crashing my bike and breaking my dominant arm, getting COVID 19, and the whole country being shut down for most of the year, I will not look back fondly at the year 2020.

However, I don’t want to dwell on the negative so let’s get into some of my favorite things I picked up this year.

Denali Travel Pants

I have been wanting to get some pants that are more comfortable than the jeans I typically wear and I finally found them this year. The Denali Travel Pants are great. First, they are super affordable with a Sam’s Club membership, about $12.99 a pair. They are also much lighter than jeans, have a great stretch to them, and dry out so much faster if they get wet. I now wear these pants about 70% of the time & I couldn’t be happier about them.

Bellroy Sling

Another year, another sling bag. This year I picked up the Bellroy Sling in the light gray color. A few standouts about this sling: The way the straps are designed make this bag self compressing. The lighter you pack the more compact it sits on your back. This is a very clever feature. The other feature I like is the way the buckle on the straps is magnetic which makes it super convenient to get on and off and also doubles as a fidget toy in a pinch. I love this category of bags because you can carry a lot more that what your pockets can hold but they are way more compact than wearing a backpack everywhere.

iPad Pro 12.9 3rd Generation

Early in 2020, I picked up my dream iPad, the 12.9″ 3rd generation iPad Pro 256gb w/ Cellular. I have had iPad’s all the way back to the very first one 10 years ago. This is my favorite so far. I love the new flat edge design Apple went with as well as the much improved Apple Pencil. For me, the 12.9″ iPad Pro is a laptop replacement. I know it’s not for everyone but it suits me perfectly. I love the giant screen size, incredible performance, cellular connectivity, and the 120hz display. I love this iPad so much that I picked up a secondhand one later on in 2020 to upgrade my wife’s current iPad.

PlayStation 5

I had to work to get it and it still involved a lot of luck, but I was able to get a PlayStation 5 a couple of days after it launched. I couldn’t be happier with it. The new DualSense controller it comes with is the biggest leap in controllers in a very long time, the SSD storage is so fast that games load almost instantly, and as someone who doesn’t have a gaming PC, the PlayStation 5 has been my introduction to 4K, 60FPS w/ Ray Tracing gaming. It is glorious.

Apple Watch Series 5

I found an Apple Watch Series 5 secondhand this year and upgraded from my Series 4. The big upgrade here is the always-on screen. Ever since I got the very first Apple Watch on day one, I have wanted an always-on screen. It has been just as handy as I thought it would be. I also got the cellular version this time. I love being able to go on a run without my phone and still be able to track my workout, listen to music, & know that someone can still reach me in case of an emergency. These two things have made me appreciate and enjoy the convenience of the Apple Watch even more.

Arcade1Up Ms. Pac Man Cocktail Machine

This barely made the cut as I got it in late December of 2020. As a kid I spent countless quarters and time on a Ms. Pac Man cocktail table at a local restaurant my family frequented. So when Arcade1Up announced they were making a version of this, I knew I had to have it! Sitting down at this machine and chasing high scores on Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Dig Dug, and more has brought back some great memories from my childhood. This is a childhood dream come true and I still can’t believe I have this in my house. As an added bonus, I have been able to introduce my toddler to these classic games, and much to my surprise he really likes them! Some things are just timeless.

My Favorite Things of 2019

Hello all, I know it has been some time since I last posted here but I’m going to try and post more frequently going forward. I thought a fun way to get back into writing would be a list of some of my favorite items that I picked up in 2019. These are all things that brought me a lot of joy over the past year. Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

  • Giant Escape 3 hybrid bicycle: I got on a fitness kick in the second half of this year and this is one of my favorite fitness related purchases I have made to date. I picked this bike up secondhand and I absolutely love it! I have put over 300 miles on it already and I see many more in my future. I even started commuting to work some on this bike, which has been a ton of fun!

  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 running shoes – My other favorite fitness related purchase, these shoes have been incredible for my running. I got these from a local running store where they do a gait test on you before they recommend what type of shoe you should go with. I was experiencing a lot of pain with my previous shoes and it turns out I had been wearing completely the wrong shoes. These have been a total game-changer for me!

  • Topo Chico – As part of my effort to lose some weight and become more fit this year, I gave up soda and caffeine completely. I quickly became bored of only drinking water so I started to try out various sparkling waters. It took some trial and error to figure out what I liked and didn’t. Topo Chico mineral water is by far my favorite drink now. I keep some stocked at both home and work now and I truly believe that discovering this wonderful drink has kept me from going back to soda.

AirPods Pro

 

  • AirPods Pro  – The newest item on this list. I picked these up just the other day. They are better in some ways and worse in some ways compared to the regular AirPods. The noise cancelling is absolutely fantastic and the sound quality is better to my ears. On the other hand, they are not as comfortable as the regular AirPods. Still, I’m very glad I picked these up.

  • North Face Field Bag sling – In an effort to get away from carrying a backpack every single day, I ordered this more compact sling bag after doing a lot of research online. I am absolutely in love with this bag! I can carry all of my daily essentials, save for my water bottle (more on that later), in a much smaller package than with a backpack. I carry my iPad mini, Switch Lite, sunglasses, battery pack, cables, keys, wallet, & AirPods and it all just fits perfectly. Embrace the man bag and live your best life!

  • Hydro Flask Tag Along Bottle Slings – I discovered these at a local outdoor gear store and fell in love with them! The Hydro Flask water bottles have been my favorite water bottles for years now and this is a great way to carry them around on walks with the family, at the farmer’s market, the zoo, or wherever you want to have a water bottle handy but don’t want to hold it.

  • Nintendo Switch Lite – The Nintendo Switch Lite is such a great little handheld! I am living the two Switch life now, with my original Switch pretty much always docked at home while the Switch Lite goes everywhere with me now. I love the compact size, how sturdy it feels in the hands, and the classic d-pad that they included on this model.

  • iPad Mini 5 – I thought we might never see the day but Apple decided to update my all-time favorite iPad this year! I have always loved the iPad Mini ever since Apple released the original one years ago. I had to give up my 4th generation iPad Mini a couple of years ago as it had gotten too slow for my liking but I happily picked up the iPad Mini 5 at launch and I am so glad I did. This thing is extremely fast, super thin and lightweight, and is much more than just a big iPhone, especially now that iPad OS is out. I take this guy everywhere with me!

  • Birkenstock Arizona EVAs – Full disclosure, I actually got a pair of these last year but really only started wearing them this year. The Birkenstock Arizona EVA’s have become my go-to summer shoe. I love how they look but more importantly, I love how they feel. They are incredibly comfortable! I wear them with or without socks and I picked up my second pair this summer. I also love how they are waterproof so if they get dirty, you can just wash them off and they look brand new. They are also relatively affordable compared to the leather and cork Birkenstocks.

Better Sweater

  • Patagonia Men’s Performance Better Sweater Hoody– I picked up this fleece sweater from Patagonia after doing a lot of research and it is very close to being the perfect sweater for me. I went with the performance hooded version of this jacket as it has some stretchy side panels which give you better movement compared to the regular version of the Better Sweater and I really wanted a hood. This, along with my Nano Puff jacket I got last year, are my go-to jackets and will be so for years to come.

Introducing: The Kuribo’s Shoe Podcast!

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Hello all! I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I have started a podcast! The Kuribo’s Shoe Podcast is a Nintendo centric podcast & I couldn’t be happier to share it with all who are interested. I have 2 episodes up right now:

  • Episode 0 is a brief introduction to the podcast and explains why I am doing the show and where the (to some) strange name for the podcast comes from.
  • Episode 1 went up this morning! It is all about Year One of the Nintendo Switch. I was thrilled to be joined on this episode by one of my best friends, Chad, and we talked all about the Nintendo Switch and each of our personal top 5 games released for it to date.

The plan going forward with the podcast is to release a new episode every two weeks on Friday. Hopefully, I can have a co-host for each episode if at all possible.

If a podcast about Nintendo is of interest to you, please do us a favor and subscribe. It would mean so much. Or, if you know of someone who might would enjoy it, please tell them about the show. Again, it would be much appreciated. Links for everything will be at the bottom of this post.

I have wanted to do something like this for several years now and I’m so glad that I finally took the plunge. We have lots of room to improve as we record more & more episodes but I was really happy with our first effort. Please bear with us as we continue to improve.

You can find our show page on Anchor here.

You can find us on iTunes or Apple Podcasts here.

You can find us on Pocket Casts here.

Our twitter page for the show can be found here.

We will be on Google Play Music very soon hopefully. We are in the process of getting approved.

Oh, one more thing. If you enjoy the podcast and wanted to give us a rating on iTunes or through the Apple Podcasts app, that would be like really really nice of you. 😉

The Nintendo Switch

I got a Nintendo Switch on launch day and now that I have had it for a little over a week, I wanted to give my impressions on the hardware as well as the software that I have played so far. Please note that these impressions are from a lifelong Nintendo fan who has owned every system since the NES.

I have been excited for the Switch ever since Nintendo released their first video for it last year. I read and watched everything that I could building up to the release. I preordered it the day that preorders opened up as well. I also went with a buddy of mine to PAX South in San Antonio early this year, where Nintendo was showing off the Switch to the public for one of the first times. We loved it so much that we waited in the line twice so we could play everything that we wanted! I even lined up with the same friend at Best Buy for the midnight launch to get our games and accessories. So you can imagine my excitement on Friday, March 3rd when I picked up my shiny new Switch from UPS! Below are my likes and dislikes with the Switch itself as well as the games that I have played over the last week.

Hardware

Likes

  • I really like the neon version of the Switch that I picked up, it just has more character than the gray version in my opinion. The colors of the neon red and neon blue Joy Con controllers just really pop.
  • I love the speed of the Switch software! Compared to the slowness of both the Wii U and 3DS’ operating systems, the Switch OS is super fast. Switching between the home menu and the game you are playing is super quick, as is putting the Switch to sleep and waking it back up. Also, the day one patch for the Switch downloaded and installed in less than a minute for me! I don’t believe I ever had an update for the Wii U that didn’t take at least 10-15 minutes to download and install.
  • I was also pleasantly surprised with how quick you can go from TV mode when the Switch is docked to handheld mode when you un-dock it. It happens within a second I would say!
  • I absolutely love the Pro Controller that I picked up along with the Switch. I fell in love with it the first time I used it at PAX South. In my opinion, it is the best controller Nintendo has made so far. It has the perfect weight, great battery life, perfect stick placement, and all of the Amiibo functionality, HD rumble, and motion controls of the other controllers built in. Yes, it is expensive, but to me it is worth the price.
  • Lastly, I just really like the premise of this system. It is great to be able to have a home console that you can also take with you wherever, whether that is on a trip, to the park, or just to the recliner in your living room. I love that with the two Joy Con controllers that it comes with, you are set up for co-op games right out of the box too. Battery life has been fine for me as well. I know people complain about it getting just around 3 hours playing Zelda but have these people ever played with a 3DS? I have had multiple 3DS’ for years and that’s about what I get with them as well. Would I like it to be more, absolutely. But with a full time job and a baby at home, I’m not really ever at the point where I am playing this thing un-docked for 3 hours straight. If you do, the Switch conveniently charges via USB-C, so you can always just get an external battery pack to prolong your play sessions.

Dislikes

  • The kickstand on the back of the Switch is just terrible. The sound it makes when you open it is terrible, the angle it puts the Switch at is terrible, the flimsiness of it is terrible, and the fact that it will only work on a hard, flat surface is terrible. What was Nintendo thinking with this thing? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • The Joy Con straps that Nintendo give you to slide onto the left and right Joy Cons are pretty badly designed. First off, you can easily put them on the wrong way if you are not really paying attention. When you do put them on wrong, the pressure you have to apply to them to remove them makes it feel like you are going to break the controller. Secondly, even when you get them on right, they still are not smooth or easy to remove at all. I really don’t like these things.
  • The dock itself is super flimsy and hollow feeling. Once you mess with one you wonder why Nintendo charges so much if you want another one. There is hardly anything to it.
  • The Switch operating system, while speedy, is not fully baked. You can add friends but not message with them & the online service Nintendo is building is not going to be ready until much later in the year either. Nintendo has never been known for having an awesome online service but this is extremely bare bones. Here’s hoping that they add more functionality sooner rather than later.
  • I very much disliked the taste of the Nintendo Switch cartridges when I tried one! They taste super gross! See this story for context haha.

Software

Likes

  • Let’s get this out of the way at the very first. The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild is an absolutely amazing game. It is unlike any Zelda game that has come before and allows a since of freedom and exploration that I have rarely seen before. The sheer size of the world and things to do and various ways that you can approach different problems is insane. The fact that after a very brief tutorial at the beginning of the game, that you can then just go anywhere and start exploring is such a cool concept. The only 3 games I can think of that have hooked me in this way in my entire life are Animal Crossing on the GameCube, Pokemon Blue on the Game Boy, and Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo 64. That’s really it for me, this game is that good. Sure, I have played the majority of the mainline Zelda games but I’m telling you this game is different. This game is special in a way that few are. I find myself thinking about it when I am not playing it and when I am playing it, I am playing it for far longer that I intend to. Throw in the fact that I can play this game at home on my big screen and then need to leave and can just un-dock it and take it with me wherever I go and it just feels magical to me! I know that the Nintendo Switch launch lineup of games is pretty limited but trust me, this game alone is worth buying a Switch for in my opinion.
  • Another game I bought and have really enjoyed is Snipperclips – Cut it out, together!. This is a equally parts cute and clever co-op puzzle game where you are trying to solve puzzles together with your partner. My wife and I have had a ton of fun playing this together, and it is easily worth the $20 price tag in my opinion.
  • I also have bought the Shovel Knight Treasure Trove bundle. I never did play Shovel Knight on any of the platforms it was on previously so this bundle that came with everything was perfect. This is a really fun game that is made in the style of an 8-bit platformer like the ones I grew up playing. It also has co-op play which is something that I can’t wait to try out!

Dislikes

  • I bought Super Bomberman R and so far, I’m not really enjoying it. Now, I have only been playing the single player campaign so far and I know multiplayer is where Bomberman shines, but I have not been super impressed as of now. Maybe playing the campaign in co-op and playing some 4 player multiplayer will redeem it, but I am skeptical. Right now, it would be hard for me to recommend it, at least at its current price. It has a terrible camera angle, mediocre music, and some pretty bad slowdown as well.

Miscellaneous

  • I purchased Nintendo’s other launch game: 1-2-Switch, but have not got the chance to play it yet. I mostly bought it to play with my wife and friends but just have not had the chance to play it so far.
  • Some of the games I am very much looking forward to are: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in April, Splatoon 2 this summer, and of course, Super Mario Odyssey this winter.
  • Sales numbers so far for the Switch have been promising and anecdotally, it seems like there is much more talk and interest in the Nintendo Switch than the poor Wii U ever had. I sure hope it is a success for Nintendo. They could really use another hit after the disappointing sales of the Wii U. I personally don’t want to ever live in a world where Nintendo stops making their own hardware. Nobody makes quality, fun filled, family friendly games as well as interesting hardware quite like Nintendo does.
  • These are my initial impressions of the Switch so far. I am looking forward to playing it much more over the coming weeks and meeting up with some buddies of mine that also bought Switches and playing some multiplayer games.

Thanks for reading!