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Staff Picks 2017: Nick Milanes, Deputy Copy Editor

Organic soda, a tostonera, a customized Nintendo Switch and more.

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Chase Pellerin

Editor’s Note: As a collective, the Gear Patrol staff is a wealth of knowledge about products — everyone is an expert in his or her own right. Of course, every story we publish is a testament to that. In our personal lives, we pursue our product passion too. This series is our way of showcasing and sharing our insights on products we inpidually endorse and love and own. Our hope is that you enjoy it all — and perhaps discover something new as you meet our staff over the next few weeks.

My adult life has largely consisted of figuring out what my essentials are. This applies, as you’d expect, to my ambitions and my principles — typical twentysomething stuff. But I’ve found that it’s equally important to consider the daily necessities that keep me functioning well enough to approach those questions with a calm, mindful headspace.

You could call them creature comforts. I think this diminishes things a bit. Consider, for example, that prolonged physical discomfort can lead to injury; the same is true of the mind. And I, a tremendously anxious introvert with a tendency to walk around completely in my head, am psychologically a Greg Oden. (My coworker said this would be an appropriate sports metaphor.) So, my physical (mental) therapy regimen: things that remind me of home, things that speak to my childhood self, things that prevent or assuage overstimulation, and lots of video games.

Antsy Labs Fidget Cube

This is the one that raised millions on Kickstarter, and it’s the one you want. (The knockoffs you can get at Barnes & Noble and elsewhere are, reportedly, busted.) I definitely favor one or two sides of it more than the others, but overall, it works; when I can remember to take this thing with me to work, I can actually stop nervously picking at my nails long enough to have to clip them.

Buy Now: $10

Sphere Gadget Technologies Lightphoria, 10,000 Lux Energy Light Lamp

As a born-and-raised Miami boy (305 till I die), I had a hard time getting used to New York winters. Direct sunlight is hard enough to come by when you’re surrounded by skyscrapers, and on top of that, you have sunsets at, like, 3:30 p.m. But I averted my seasonal depression pretty well this past winter, and it’s largely thanks to this lamp. Just 45 minutes every morning drinking tea next to this thing did the trick. (Plus a ton of yoga.)

Buy Now: $65

Lush Floating Island Bath Oil

I used to force myself to take cold-ish showers exclusively, because I thought it’d be good for energy; plus my habitual piping-hot showers were drying out my skin. Then I remembered that baths are fucking wonderful, and they don’t leave a layer of condensation on every imaginable surface like hot showers do. There’s a Lush right on my way home from work (s/o Turnstyle at Columbus Circle), so I’ve gotten into the habit of stopping in and stocking up for my weekly decompression session. This oil is a highlight; leaves me feeling nice and buttery.

Buy Now: $5

Maine Root Sarsaparilla

There’s a geeky story here. I started drinking sarsaparilla in college because my roommates and I were getting really into Fallout: New Vegas, in which Sunset Sarsaparilla is a healing item. I found Maine Root at a Duane Reade down the street and was hooked. It’s crisp, refreshing, and just a bit spicy, plus the ingredients are organic and Fair Trade. In moderation, it’s a great treat that’s worth a trip to a crowded Whole Foods near you.

Learn More: Here

Nintendo Switch

I had so, so missed owning a console before I decided to wait in line outside a Target in the cold for my Switch on launch day. Every now and then I need at least an hour to just get lost in another world, and the Switch lets me do that. Plus it’s been a blessing both on long train rides and when I have some time to kill after work before heading to dinner or a show. I’ve been a bit too busy to play very much lately, but I plan on setting aside a solid block of two days during the holidays for absolutely nothing but Super Mario Odyssey.

Buy Now: $355

Imusa Jumbo Wood Tostonera

I’m blessed to live in a neighborhood where I can get plantains literally anywhere, so I make it a point to stock up so I can remind myself of home at a moment’s notice. My family defaulted to freezer-section Goya tostones, so the tostonera — and the satisfying feeling of a platano collapsing under the lever — was new for me. (Before that, I was using a couple paper towels and my palm. Grease burns ain’t so satisfying.)

Buy Now: $8

Hearos Ear Plugs Xtreme Protection Series

I’m also blessed with an apartment that has a stunning view of the George Washington Bridge — and along with that comes constant highway noise. Not to mention my upstairs neighbor practices MMA at 2 a.m. every night. (That’s the fiction that gives me peace and I am sticking to it.) These earplugs have let me sleep soundly through all of it, and a single pack has lasted me about half a year so far.

Buy Now: $10

Vibes Acoustic Filter Ear Plugs

Apart from my sleep issues, I’m also just hypersensitive to sound, to the point where I’ve experienced symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder from the sheer overstimulation that comes with being in any loud space. On the subway, I pop these in to put up a barrier between my ears and the booming, screeching sound of the tracks, and I’ve even used them at loud bars and theater lobbies so I can better focus on the words of the people I’m speaking to.

Buy Now: $24

Rocketbook Everlast Notebook

I am an evangelist of limiting screen time. And in service of that dogma, I love writing in notebooks — but I don’t have the space or the money to accumulate a personal archive of scribbles. This reusable notebook, then, feels like some kinda miracle: the tactile, screenless pleasure of physical (albeit plasticky) pages; the convenience of cloud storage and easy syncing; the technological advancement of pages that can be wiped clean with water.

Learn More: Here

The Grail

Doyle Custom Game Consoles

“Hey you! Did you grow up with a Nintendo 64? Well, what if your Switch looked like a Nintendo 64?” Haaaa, omg omg omg, sign me the fuck up. This is maybe the one completely frivolous, unnecessary thing I’ve ever wanted to drop wads of money on. And I honestly I don’t know which one I want — that Yoshi-themed SNES? Kirby Joy-Cons? — but I know I want something. Which is why I scroll mindlessly through this guy’s Instagram feed whenever I feel bored, and several others like it.

Learn More: Here

All Our Staff Picks In One Place

All the gear we can’t live without. Read the Story

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