Author Archives: Mathew Bell

Making Big Life Decisions

I’m at the point in my life where having kids is expected soon, both from the standpoints of my family and from society. The problem with this, though, is that outside perspectives should never matter in making the choice to have kids. What’s unfortunate is that so many people out there succumb to societal or familial pressure and end up having children for the wrong reasons or at the wrong time. Ultimately, this impacts the way those children are raised and treated along the way.

So, my partner and I have discussed many times how much we’re excited at the prospect of having children, yet also how excited we would be to forego that process altogether and travel instead. I think more people need to have this conversation before having kids. If anything, they’ll respect their decision to have kids much more than they would have if they never questioned it. And even better, they would have much more confidence moving forward and have agency in their choice to have children.

Don’t let me get on a tangent, though. While I’m still at a crossroads with my partner on this decision (we almost always agree on the topic, whether we’ve been swayed one way or another), there are still times when I think about how much fun it would be to do little projects or play little games with our future child.

In fact, there would be no shortage of things to do with our kids since we always talk about the what ifs. I know we’ve mentioned on several occasions how we’d enjoy doing some arts and crafts with a rough bunch of shipping supplies, art tools, paint, and canvases. It wouldn’t take much, yet it would be something that our child would remember for a long time while also being educational and growth-oriented in developing their creativity and wonder of the world.

So, I guess you can say we get jealous of others who have toddlers that they get to play with. And even though the thought crosses our minds regarding how much we really would like to spend time building or painting things with things that save us money like shipping supplies, we’re reminded of all the money we’d be able to save to do other things in life if we chose to not have a child.

All in all, I’m just happy that we are choosing to make this a decision we dwell on for awhile, as there’s really no rush at all to deciding one way or another. If it feels right at a specific time, we’ll know. Whether that “right” feeling means we want children or not remains to be seen.

The Evolution of Game Copies

Like many things in life, the video game industry (and gaming as a hobby) is constantly adapting to new demands and competitors, which ultimately pushes gaming in a better direction than it was before. Without competition, cutting edge technology, and innovative ideas, it would become a stale hobby that wouldn’t last long. Luckily for gamers like me, that’s not the case and won’t ever need to be so long as developers are thinking outside the box and constantly pushing boundaries.

Within the last decade, there’s been a major shift in thinking when it comes to physical game copies versus digital game downloads.

I distinctly remember back in early college when games were beginning to be available for digital preorder and download, and a lot of my friends (as well as I) thought that physical copies were superior simply because you could own the copy itself as well as the box it came in and anything else accompanying the box art. There was something ritualistic about ripping open the shipping supplies and getting to play your brand new game that the digital experience just couldn’t provide.

Fast forward to today, however, and I’m pretty sure a lot of gamers have warmed up to the idea of digital downloads. Perhaps people no longer want to worry about getting their game at release since physical copies require going to a store and you have to worry about how many copies they’ve got available. Just as well, losing your disc or cartridge means you no longer own that game. But when you buy a game online with an online account, you’ll always “own” that game and it’ll never not work for you when you boot it up. Even better, there aren’t any shipping supplies to worry about throwing away or causing excess plastic to be used since everything is digital and stored on your hardware.

The cool thing about digital vs. physical is that neither one has to upend the other. Both can exist in perfect harmony, since some players like showing off their collection of games and prefer having everything they own in a physical format whereas others enjoy the idea of never worrying about the condition of their cartridge or game since it’s all digital. No matter which you prefer for your games, you can at least appreciate that you have an option on how you prefer your game to be stored and played.

Order Your Holiday Gifts Now Instead of Later

Now that we’re officially into the thick of holiday season, time starts to feel like it dilates a lot simply because there are so many holidays in such a short time span. Think about it: Halloween at the end of October; Thanksgiving at the end of November; Christmas at the end of December; and New Year’s also at the end of December. It’s quite the lineup of holidays in essentially 2 entire months (Oct 31st to Dec 31st).

But what makes it so entirely packed for me in particular, though, are birthdays. When my dad’s falls on at the end of October, mine falls mid November, my brother’s falls late November, and my mom falls in late December, well, you’ve suddenly just introduced 4 more important dates alongside the 4 I already named that are holidays.

Needless to say, around this time of year you can find quite a bit of shipping boxes sitting on our front porch thanks to online shopping. And while a lot of people mumble and grumble about how online shopping has ruined this era, I think they’re just resistant to any sort of change in the first place. In all reality, shopping online has helped unique stores sell their niche products to niche audiences, and retail companies have been forced to shift their thinking and practicality of selling products by also moving online. Without such a boom in Internet sales, malls would be overcrowded like they used to be and traffic would be worse around this time of year. At the very least, Black Friday may be less ridiculous than it used to be.

The thing is, procrastination still happens no matter what type of shopping you’re doing, so it’s important for us to stay on top of our holiday and birthday gifts early and often. In fact, we’re sitting down this weekend to order multiple items for our parents and family members to have it done here and now instead of waiting until December to have things shipped. As everyone knows, the longer you wait, the better chances that a few shipping boxes won’t arrive to your home on time for a certain holiday or birthday. And I’d rather not stress this year about holiday gifts like I did last year. It’s just not worth it and takes no time to do.

Overall, I’m stoked for the holidays this year simply because it seems like I’ve got everything planned out much farther in advance than I ever used to. It’s smooth sailing from here!

Essential Supplies for Decorating Your Home

When it comes to decorating your house for the fall and winter holidays, there are a lot of different accepted tricks of the trade that you’re likely quite familiar with. Most people don’t just decide to decorate their entire house out of the blue if they haven’t done it before. Rather, they’ve been doing it for years and have learned the do’s and don’ts of decorating for the holidays.

Today, we wanted to remind you of some lesser used items that can make all the difference in your festive endeavors to end the year right. A few are basic shipping supplies, items that almost everyone has lying around in their drawers. Others are simply materials that get overlooked in favor of other more expensive options.

Nonetheless, if you’re looking to try something new, save time and money while decorating, and have it all come out looking exactly as you envisioned, you’re in the right place. Read on!

Zip ties.

Honestly, this is my number one item year in and year out, no matter if it’s for Halloween, Christmas, Easter, or just summer seasonal decor. Zip ties get the job done without fail, and they’re incredibly easy to use and to remove, and they’re very affordable and abundant, at that.

Don’t forget to buy a pack of these whenever you’re low. Zip ties serve many more uses outside of putting up wreaths or garland or other materials. There’s a reason they’re everywhere.

Box cutter.

I’m not sure about you, but I like to use cardboard and other shipping supplies when I’m decorating my home for the holidays. First off, a boxcutter can get cardboard panels much more specified than ripping it, something you don’t ever want to do if you’re looking for uniformity. Just make sure to hold the box cutter away from your body and cut away as well. There are some safety mechanisms in most box cutters, but you don’t want to risk something if you don’t have to, right?

Command hooks.

Ahhh, the ease of use with command hooks is so welcomed. There’s no more guessing and stressing about how you’re going to get something to hang from your concrete wall. Instead, just slap on a few command hooks and hang whatever it is you’ve been trying to put up. (Make sure to check what hooks can hold how much weight.) You’ll be surprised at how handy these are, and there’s a lot to be said about their adhesive being quite strong.

It’s All Around

On a day to day basis, we all seem to ignore or gloss over commonplace things and items and concepts without truly recognizing their importance. It’s as if we have a filter over our brains that shuts us off to the items we know well enough, so that we’re always only looking for something new or interesting.

The first thing that comes to mind for this? Technology. It’s truly astounding how much of it is around us without actually being visible. Smart phones practically line every single pocket around the world, computers are in every building, and speakers and monitors riddle every room. This list doesn’t even include the numerous and random pieces of tech around kitchens, offices, and so forth.

But something that really sticks out to me on the daily is shipping boxes. For something so simple, cheap, and easily destructible, cardboard is quite honestly everywhere. I see it at work. I see it in my home. I see it in restaurants, outside along roads, and in stores wherever I shop.

One of the places I recently saw it was at a concert. The venue was quite small but the headlining band was actually a rather popular group. I was quite surprised that the venue was the size it was for the name of the band performing, but that wasn’t something I’d ever be upset about. The show lasted around 3 hours considering there was an opening act, too.

But the cardboard I saw around the place was just interesting to me. I saw a few boxes sitting up on the stage behind the bands’ gear, first off. This was something I don’t usually see at concerts, but it was interesting nonetheless.

Also, one place I saw other shipping boxes that wasn’t surprising was at the merch table. There were at least 20 different boxes containing shirts, stickers, albums, hats, and an assortment of other gear.

It’s just funny to me how often these sorts of things show up in your everyday life, yet half of the time or more you don’t actually pay attention to those everyday items. It’s not necessarily to say that you need to consider all sorts of commonplace things on the daily, but from time to time, it’s worth stopping and taking the time to appreciate the things that go unnoticed yet are used more than so many other things. Another one is plastic. Whether it’s containers, bottles, pens and other office supplies, or random things around your work office or home, plastic is absolutely everywhere.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Oftentimes, it’s nice to have heavier furniture or appliances simply so they don’t move around when they’re nudged, sat in, opened, and so forth. It can be bothersome to constantly fix where they’re sitting on your floor, and even then, you may worry about the safety of your hardwood flooring or nice tile. But you may come to dread such weight in appliances and furniture simply since moving it whenever you move in or out of somewhere can take forever while also put significant physical strain on you.


But typically you’ll almost always need someone else to come help you move something for your own safety. Our few solutions? They’re no different: be sure to have someone helping you, even if these methods only require one person to do the moving itself. Getting items underneath big items still requires someone else to tip a piece of furniture or an appliance on its side so that you can slide a shim or whatever beneath the object.

Check out these easy and cheap ways of moving your furniture when its just too heavy.

Lifting straps.

Furniture lifting straps are relatively uncommon, yet they’re some of the most genius things to assist lifting heavy items. Some straps hold onto your forearms inorder to quickly and easily get started on moving items, whereas others have a harness that goes around your midsection for even heavier items. We suggest that you start thinking about investing in these if you’re young enough to need them for the rest of your life or old enough to need them for the safety of your back.

Using basic packaging supplies.

Honestly, this is a pretty much free investment in moving heavy things. Excess cardboard boxes can be broken down into little buffer pads that allow you to drag heavy things across carpet, hardwood floor, and linoleum easily enough to not have to really lift the object off the ground. When the cardboard is flat and on the ground, it’s not hard to move things around by sliding them, and you don’t have to worry about the furniture damaging your floor.

And this is the reason why this method really shines. Protecting your floor means you won’t have to worry about the feet of the furniture or appliance dragging against whatever flooring you have down since the cardboard will be between the two. And a bonus? Such packaging supplies are absolutely cheap (or almost free) considering everyone has some laying around.

Moving blankets.

These are best for protecting furniture during the shifting caused by moving vehicles, but they can also double as a dragging blanket. Much like the use of cardboard, putting a furniture blanket beneath heavier items makes it easy to drag your furniture along flooring without damaging the flooring or the item. This method makes it much easier to actually drag heavy items in comparison to small shims that could accentally be thrown away.

Making Do with What You Have

I never would’ve understood how useful some old shipping boxes really were until taking in a rescue cat. Let me just put it this way: those boxes are coming in clutch right now while we figure out what supplies the cat needs from an actual pet store.

It’s funny how you learn to be resourceful when you’re forced to be resourceful. When my fiancee came home with a kitten this weekend, we didn’t have much outside of a litter box and some cat food in a dispenser. Luckily, placing an old blanket in a small cardboard box creates a perfect little area for a small animal to sleep, and she’s been making great use of it as a little “safe area” ever since we brought her home.

Of course, we’re only 24 hours into the adoption, but we hope that in time, she grows more confident in walking around, checking things out, interacting with us, and approaching the dog. (Though to be honest, I think we’re more worried about how the dog handles interactions with the cat rather than the reverse!)

Nonetheless, making do with what we have at the moment has been going quite smoothly. I know we’ll be making a trip to the pet store this week for a proper scratch tower, a few toys, and perhaps even some wet food to help her gain weight. It’s just that a last minute decision to bring a cat home on the weekend can put you in a small “do what you can with what you’ve got!” situation.

We’re quite fortunate to have a big basement with plenty of places for her to get comfortable, explore, and hide in. And it’s perfect for separating her from the dog during the day when we’re at work. Luckily, the dog never used to go down there in the first place, so she can claim it as her own.

I think while we make do with what we have, we may even use a few more shipping boxes as multiple little places for her to play in, almost as if it were multiple different rooms to lay in and hide in. At least, from what I know with cats and cardboard boxes, they quite enjoy squeezing through them, hiding, and jumping in an out.

As with anything in life that catches you off guard, you’ve got to learn to roll with the situation, handle as best you can with what you’ve got, and prepare better the next time. Thankfully, the cat is very easy going and we’ll have everything she needs in no time.

Unknown Camping Tips

With the onset of fall officially here, I reached out to a handful of my buddies and asked if they wanted to go on an impromptu camping trip at a site just an hour away from most of us. Luckily for me, most of my friends enjoy out of the blue plans like this, and those guys are always down for something fun like camping, hiking, and canoeing with each other. With the promise of beer and a good time around a campfire, everyone agreed on a date and time for next weekend quite readily.

I’m also quite lucky to have one of those buddies volunteer to drive me and another friend down there. That takes the gas/driving commitment out of the equation for me, which is less work on my end and more fun playing tunes in the car and navigating for my friend.

Just as well, he’s quite keen on camping and hiking and has some of the nicest gear you could hope for related to those hobbies. Since he’s a master of the outdoors, it’s no surprise that he has extra gear for people and offered me an extra hammock for the night. It’s safe to say I’ll enjoy the hell out of hammock camping for the first time. I really can’t wait to see how comfy I find the experience the following morning.

Most times we go camping, I always end up forgetting a thing or two that I would’ve rather had with me just in case. It’s not that I ever leave behind an essential item like a sleeping bag or anything like that. It’s just more along the lines of convenience items for camping, like an extra blanket or multiple pairs of shoes and sandals to adapt to the weather.

This time, though, I’ll be quite prepared for multiple things. For example, I’ll be taking a handful of extra shipping supplies, like cardboard and packing tape in order to have extra materials for kindling, sleeping pads to put under other people’s sleeping bags, and the tape is extremely useful for keeping food sealed quite well (to help ward off against thieving raccoons in the night). Who would’ve guessed that basic shipping supplies would be so useful on a camping trip? I never really knew they could be so versatile until I saw a buddy bring some scrap cardboard for a multitude of uses around our previous campsite.

A Glimpse into the Past

There’s something pretty magical about revisiting old things or getting your hands on someone else’s old belongings. It almost feels like you’re transported back to that point in time when those things were used a lot or popular.

I’ve always felt this way about obtaining old books, especially when you can tell that the pages are quite delicate and have been around a lot longer than most of the people I know. It’s fascinating to think about such a thing being printed back in the day, and it gets me to wondering who people were when reading such a book, or just wondering what the previous owners were like.

In fact, recently my fiancee and I were looking through some old shipping boxes full of cassettes and records that her dad used to listen to. Since he no longer had a record player and we recently got one, he figured we should give a look through of everything he owned in case we wanted anything in his collection.

As we flipped through everything, it was enchanting getting to glimpse into his life simply by the records he owned. Taste in music says a heck of a lot about someone, or that’s at least how I like to look things. I can get a read on how average someone is depending on what they listen to, and if they do happen to stray from the norm, it’s easier to get a read on who they are, what their life is like, and more all because of the albums they choose to own and listen to.

This is something I’m highly fascinated with, the whole “getting to know someone based on what they used to like or own.” I mean, if anyone somewhat close to me in my life who is a lot older offered for me to look through their old shipping boxes full of belongings, I’d hop on the opportunity right away to get an idea of what they used to be like (and possibly still are like). It’s not often people open up to others so willingly, so when these opportunities arise to truly know someone better, even if they’re unaware of how I view it, I definitely hop on the chance.

It makes me wonder what someone down the line will think of me when they go through my record collection or book collection. I like to think that what I own now gives a good indication as to who I am and what I think about life. It’s exciting to conjecture about what I’ll be like in ten years time, and what the me then will think of me now.

Unboxing Videos

It seems YouTube content creators have thought up just about everything when it comes to footage for people to watch. From tutorials (what most people probably have used YouTube for at one time or another) to video game “Let’s Play” videos, there’s everything out there you could hope for.

What’s really quite interesting is to watch new trends happen as time goes on and the platform develops. You start to see certain creators draw inspiration from others while forging a new path. And while watching people play video games in their set up rooms is something that isn’t new to the genre, watching people unbox limited edition games, accessories, and consoles has become quite an interesting and exciting experience as of late.

That’s right: people make videos for you to watch them unbox their gaming necessities. It’s exactly what it sounds like, too. From watching them carefully remove shipping supplies and packaging materials to finally removing the product from within, the experience watching these videos is pretty interesting to say the least.

I think what pulls people in so much is the believability of it all. You can tell that the content creators are actually removing this stuff from the packaging and all the shipping supplies for the first time, which generates a sense of excitement, wonder, and mystery for you, the viewer. This directly impacts your experience, taking you from a passive bystander to a firsthand participant (or so the perspective makes you feel).

Just like so many other fads and genres on YouTube, unboxing videos are a legitimate source of pleasure for so many viewers out there. Whether you watch one to gather a sense of the quality of a product or you just enjoy watching others take shiny new products out of a box, these videos are at the very least something different than the rest. And it will definitely allow you to get a sense of value on the product you may be considering buying, because a lot of these videos also review the products once they unbox them. They’ll honestly and accurately describe what flaws the product has and what they like about them (though it’s important to keep in mind that this is all subjective to the creator, despite some of them attempting to be as objective as possible). So, these videos double down as an experience in total as well as a means of reviewing a product.