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10 Things I Did During My August Break

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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!

ITEM! New Bulletin Article

In late July, right before the start of my August break, I ran that piece about about how to behave at the ballpark, which included a section about booing. That section prompted some interesting responses, which got me thinking a lot about my own booing behavior. I’ve written about that for this week’s Bulletin article — and for this one, I’ve removed the paywall, so it’s available to all. Enjoy!

A Few Quick Merch Updates

Happy to report that all colors of Uni Watch Seam Rippers are now back in stock. As usual, they’re available here.

Meanwhile, supplies of Uni Watch Pins continue to dwindle. (Among other things, we’re down to the very last January 2020 pin.) At this point, I’m practically giving them away — just $1/pin, plus get one free for every three you buy. Full details here.

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Today’s Ticker is available here.

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Comments (37)

    Wow, roller coaster post. I’m glad your health is improving. Thank you for sharing so much of your life – and month – with us!

    Welcome back Paul. Sorry that your annual sabbatical wasn’t great, and that you and the Captain have decided to split up. Am going to be very interested to see the UW+ possibilities.

    So are you going to get a hummingbird feeder? The bird will always come back if you feed it nectar…

    We had a feeder – first year, lots of hummingbirds. Second year – one confirmed sighting. Years 3 – 5 no sightings, but lots of ants.

    Looking forward to UW+

    Welcome back, Paul! What is life but changes that we roll with. The Bulletin Booing piece was spot on.

    So sorry to hear about the end of your relationship – but glad that the split is as amicable as possible. I’m sure that both of you are making the right decision even though it’s probably so very difficult, especially after such a long time together. Thanks for sharing all so much of your life with us!

    Thanks for the note regarding vitreous detachment. I was having noticeable “lightning” in my vision field even in the daytime about a year ago, and it went away in time.

    Get your eyes checked, people! And remember: an opthamologist is not the same as an optometrist!

    Welcome back, Paul. Thanks for the post, and glad your eyes are alright. Over the past few years, certain annual Uni Watch posts (Purp Walk, 4th of July, homemade Christmas Bailey’s) have helped me mark certain times of the year, and I feel like the September 1st post indicates the beginning of fall. Appropriate for the first day of college football!

    Very sorry to hear about your difficult month, Paul, but I admire your perspective on your relationship ending. It may or may not be an unusual way for two people to part ways, but it’s certainly not how those stories are usually told.

    I wish you nothing but health and happiness my friend … and as the Tugboat Captain was a part of the family for seven years, we wish her the same.

    You are a good egg Paul. Your readers are always here for you buddy.

    Glad you’re back, Paul…but sad to read about the challenges you faced while you were away.
    Looking forward to learning what Uni Watch + is all about.
    And thank you, Phil…the August content was awesome!

    Welcome back, Paul. Sorry to hear about the break up and the other unpleasantness in your month off.

    Welcome back, Paul. Really truly sorry to hear your month wasn’t the best it could be. I’m hopeful for a full recovery for your eye issues. And sorry to hear about your breakup. It’s never easy.

    Really enjoyed the Bulletin piece on booing. Got about 75% through it thinking, Hey, we’re going to make it to the end of a piece on booing without Philly taking some shrapnel. Then, bam! Right in the gut. Oh, well. Still enjoyed it, though. Also, so glad to have you back. Sorry your August wasn’t better.

    Thanks, Mitch. You deserve some indirect credit for that piece, because it was your piece on foul balls that inspired my own piece on the same topic, which led to my larger piece about ballpark etiquette, which then led to the booing article. See what you started? Glad you like the results!

    I’ll be sending you my bill in the mail. But seriously, I sort of came to the same conclusion with regard to booing when I was at the Spectrum at the end of Dr. J’s career and heard people booing him (I think it was a game against the Celtics, so people were ultra-animated). I could never get behind booing a guy like that and was really taken aback. And then I heard people boo Mike Schmidt and was similarly disturbed. Eventually I came to the conclusion that it was just wrong to boo these guys, period. If others want to boo them, okay, I’m not going to tell them not to, but I decided at that point that I wasn’t going to do it. I mean, I won’t boo a player. But I will do the group Boo during the introduction of the lineups because, as you wrote, that’s more performative and fun, at least the way I see it. The booing of an individual who made an error or who is struggling on the field just seems mean to me.

    Sorry about the break-up, Paul. It might help to know that even when you’re down, the work you do brings people together and makes a lot of us happy every day.

    Stay cool…

    Paul- What an August! Hoping you move forward well and I continue to wish you the best.

    Paul-
    So sorry about the rough August. Good to know the medical issues are being taken care of. And while breakups are never fun, I greatly admire how you and Mary have handled yours. Good luck to both of you.

    Sorry to hear about your August. It’s awesome how you and the Captain are handling the dissolution of your relationship. Many could learn from you both. Sending good vibes your way.

    I work with a lot of ophthalmologists, and I, too, love that word. I’m always waiting to see if I forget the first H when I type it out.

    On a personal note, I’m sorry for all you’ve gone through in August. Sounds like a lot! One of the things I love about Uni Watch is how you share so much of your normal life, and I feel like it really helps the readers get to know you. I’m sorry to hear about your split with Mary. It can’t be easy, but good luck in getting through that.

    When one door closes, another opens. Thankfully you are able to find a way to celebrate the good times. Welcome back!

    I am sorry to hear of your split from Mary. Hopefully you can remain friends and both find someone who is more fitting. Best wishes and God bless!

    I miss the front porch Covid-era pictures and seeing life in your neighborhood.

    But I understand that life goes on.

    What a month, more events than some people experience in a year or more. All the best for both your body and mind, Paul. Hope both will recover and heal speedily. Your UW spirit is still in good form, noticing from your writing.

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