Hi there. Remember me?
It’s good to be back! I have a lot of news to share with you and a lot of good Uni Watch content in the hopper. But before we go any further, let’s have a big standing O for the great Phil Hecken, who not only provided his usual month’s worth of awesome August content but did so while navigating the site’s new format. You’re the best, buddy!
So what did I do while Phil was slaving away for the past month? I wish I could tell you that I went on a nice vacation and relaxed, but the reality is more complicated. There was some fun stuff and also some not-so-fun stuff. Here’s a rundown:
1. I had Covid. Mary and I both tested positive (my first time, her second) on July 29, just as I was getting set to transition into August mode. Fortunately, our symptoms were extremely mild and short-lived, and we were both back to normal and testing negative within a week. No rebound case for either of us. All in all, we were very fortunate.
2. I spent a lot of time at the eye doctor’s office. At about 4am on Aug. 9, I woke up with searing pain in my left eye. Turned out it was infected, for reasons that remain unclear. Saw the ophthalmologist (such a good word) that morning and got antibiotic drops, which I have to keep taking for a few more days. Seems much better now.
Meanwhile, on Aug. 17, when I turned out the bedroom lights to go to bed, I noticed some flashing lights, like little bolts of lightning or a camera flash, in the far-right periphery of my vision. I ignored it and went to sleep. Next night, same thing. Did some googling and learned that this is a classic sign of vitreous detachment, a retina issue that’s common for people over 50 (I’m 58). It’s treatable but can lead to serious vision problems if it isn’t dealt with quickly. Went back to the ophthalmologist (still a pretty good word), who couldn’t find anything wrong with my retina, so she sent me to a colleague who’s a retina specialist. Saw the retina ophthalmologist (okay, that’s enough of that word) a few days ago, and he confirmed that there’s no damage to my retina. He said the flashes may go away on their own; if not, he wants to see me again in two months. If/when he detects any retina damage, he can seal it with a laser, which sounds very sci-fi but is apparently pretty routine.
The doctors say there’s no connection between the infection and the retina situation. August just turned out to be my month for ophthalmological issues.
3. I worked my ass off on the NFL Preview (and other Bulletin articles). This year’s Uni Watch NFL Season Preview, which I’ll publish next Tuesday morning on Bulletin, is the biggest, best, most epic NFL Preview I’ve ever put together. As of this writing, it’s closing in on a whopping 7,000 words, and I keep finding new things to add to it. Naturally, it includes all the obvious stuff (new Giants throwbacks, new Panthers alternate helmet, etc.), but it’s also jam-packed with loads of more esoteric info that I’m fairly certain you won’t find anywhere else. I’m proud of it, and I hope you’ll subscribe so you can check it out.
(In a related item, this was also the first August in memory in which I did not work on a college football preview, because I decided back in January that I just can’t swing that anymore. Made a huge difference in keeping me sane this past month.)
4. I worked on Uni Watch Plus. Our new Uni Watch Plus program entailed a lot of work between me and web developer John Ekdahl. Most of this involved things I have zero experience in (setting up a payment system, setting up a message forum, etc.), so it was challenging. I’m still worried that we forgot something(s), but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough. I’ll have lots of additional details about UW+ in a post that will be published later today, and then we plan to have it go live tomorrow.
5. I played hooky a few times. Bulletin, UW+, the various medical issues, and some other stuff all kept me pretty occupied for most of my August weekdays. But I did spend a Thursday on Governor’s Island with my friend Michael, a day at the beach with my friend Virginia, and another day at the beach with Mary. Wish there’d been more of that.
6. I witnessed a little miracle. On Aug. 17, Mary and I glanced up and spotted a hummingbird flitting about in the shrubbery just outside our dining room window. This is the first time either of us has ever seen a hummingbird in Brooklyn (much less at our house!). I managed to get some video:
7. I made a really good sandwich. My favorite summer food is soft-shell crabs. Mary doesn’t like them, but one night she was out with friends, so I got two crabs, sautéed them in butter, and put them on a toasted Portuguese roll, with the crabs sitting on a bed of corn niblets and topped with capers and lemon. Mmmmmm.
8. I had another sandwich experience that was much less satisfying. Last Saturday Mary and I hosted a picnic party in Prospect Park. We ordered a six-foot hero from a local bagel/sandwich shop, figuring it would be suitably festive for the occasion. But when we went to pick up the six-footer on our way to the party, this is what they gave us:
Are you fucking kidding me?! When you order a six-foot hero, you’re not just buying a sandwich — you’re buying a spectacle. Or at least that’s the idea. I mean, if you order a foot-long hot dog, do they give you a dozen pigs-in-blankets? No! Super-disappointing. It was delicious, so there’s that, but the “Wow!” factor was seriously lacking. Pfeh.
9. I had a fun Sunday in the Bronx. There’s this guy in the Bronx who’s sort of locally famous for serving Puerto Rican-style pork, octopus salad, and more out of a roadside trailer on weekends. Mary and I, accompanied by our friends Matt and Charlotte, went to check it out a few Sundays ago. Honestly, I thought the food was just average, but the scene was really fun, highlighted by the sidewalk oven/roaster thingie that the guy uses to cook the pork (which can’t possibly be legal for a commercial operation, but I assume the Board of Health looks the other way in return for the juiciest bits of pork):
10. I marked a bittersweet anniversary. Yesterday was exactly seven years since Mary and I had our first date. We celebrated by lighting sparklers and having a bit of bubbly on the porch (photo by our neighbor Jason):
So that’s the good part. The bittersweet part — and I apologize for having buried the lede like this — is that this will be our last anniversary together, because we’ve decided to split up. It’s amicable, and we expect to remain friends, but we agree that this is the right move for both of us. The short version is that there are some areas where we aren’t a great fit, and as a result we haven’t been bringing out the best in each other, at least not often enough. After spending a lot of time and effort trying to work on those issues, we decided earlier in the summer that it’s time to let go. So Mary’s getting ready to move to another part of NYC, probably in early October. Uni Watch girl mascot Caitlin and I will remain at our current place in Brooklyn.
We’ve been doing our best to adhere to the Dr. Seuss quote (the picnic with the disappointing hero was a “breakup party” we had with a bunch of our friends last weekend, which was our way of creating one last set of fun memories together), but it’s hard. A lot of our August was spent just being sad. That’s the real story of my past month.
I don’t want to veer any further into TMI territory than I already have, so I’ll leave it at that. Thanks for listening, and I hope your August had less emotional drama and ophthalmology than mine!