What's in My Bag

What’s in my NOW? — Matt Nichols

Issue #150

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Matt Nichols is a transportation planner who has worked in shared mobility, equity, and climate planning in the San Francisco Bay Area to improve cities for people with disabilities, pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users. Matt spends the rest of his time volunteering for the Bay Area Childcare Collective and making drawings, songs, and jokes. Most conversations will include personalized graphic novel recommendations at no extra charge.


CLC Ultraflex Kneepads
A couple of us helped a friend with some grunt work at his coffee roastery. As thanks, he bought us all these CLC Ultraflex Kneepads. I’ve tried those foam and elastic “volleyball”-style pads, but they just don’t work well for gardening or carpentry. These, I can wear these all day. I really do kneel and crawl around the veggie patch in comfort now. Total game-changer.

Moment Lens
I love photography on my iPhone 12, but I love it even more with my Moment 58mm Telephoto Lens. It does require a special phone case, and it can be a little awkward to keep it at the ready on hikes. But the lens quality feels really good, and the extra zoom pays off repeatedly in my casual birdwatching and amateur photography.

Rock Against Racism T-Shirt
The amazing 2019 documentary “White Riot” sent me searching for this retro design – and the folks at the U.K.-based T-shirt store, Red Molotov, came through. They have a ton (tonne?) of British references that I don’t understand, but this one, in the original pink and green, is fun, powerful and (sadly) timeless.


Reddit’s r/Contagious Laughter
People busting up. Simple premise that reliably delivers high-quality joy bombs. Besides the obvious pleasure, I just love dropping in on such a wild diversity of people’s lives at their funniest. People play internet challenges I’ve never heard of, try (and fail) to keep a straight face, snort accidentally, or listen to their daft granny tell a naughty joke, etc. You just never know. Medical-grade mood booster stuff.

Robert Christgau’s Music Reviews
He’s old and white, he writes some really convoluted sentences. And no one reads music reviews or buys music anymore. But here’s the thing: this old guy’s one-paragraph reviews (with letter grades) are a laser-guided guide to great music. If algorithmic music is enough for you, that’s cool. But if you want dense writing that’ll lead you to the top shelf stuff, here’s your favorite professor. Rock, pop, African music, African-American music, rap, Americana/country and more. I subscribe to his Substack, but you can find recent reviews on his website.


  • Certainty is the opposite of thinking; I’m certain of it. — Sarah Manguso, 300 Arguments
  • I think I’ll just let the mystery be. — Iris Dement
  • Militant Agnostic: I Don’t Know, and You Don’t Either — bumper sticker

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