What I Did During My August Break

As you all know, I take a break from the blog each August. It’s not all sleeping late and sipping lemonade, as I still spend a lot of time working on my annual college and pro football season previews (plus this year I had my weekly Bulletin column), but freeing myself from the uni-verse’s daily news cycle does allow me a bit more free time and schedule flexibility. Here’s how I spent of some it this year:

1. I took some trips (but not the big trip I had planned). The Tugboat Captain and I had planned to take a nine-day vacation in August — our first real vacation in two years. Unfortunately, a variety of factors conspired to scuttle those plans, but we did go away for three three-day weekend trips to visit friends and family. Not quite as good as a real vacation, but it will have to do for now.

2. I saw something very cool: During one of those long-weekend trips, we stopped in to see our friend David. While we were there, I was drawn to this beautiful grid of jewel-toned glass on his coffee table (for this and all subsequent photos, in this section, you can click to enlarge):

Can you figure out what it is? I’ll provide the answer at the end of this list.

3. I went fishing: The Tugboat Captain and I do this at least once every summer. No keepers, but still a very nice day:

4. I met a very special reader: Uni Watch readers will sometimes email me to say, “I’m going to be in New York in a few weeks. It would be great to meet you! Can we meet up for a beer? It’s on me!” I appreciate these friendly overtures, of course, but I usually politely decline, because I need to maintain some boundaries and all that.

A much rarer circumstance is when I’m the one contacting a reader and saying, “I’ll be in your town in a few weeks. Want to meet up?” That was how I ended up having lunch with reader Timmy Donahue, a wonderful and fascinating guy whose name you may recognize from the Ticker, and who you may also recall from the time when he shared his considerable expertise regarding military uniforms. It was a treat to meet up with him at one of Connecticut’s finest pizzerias. Thanks for coming out, Timmy!

5. I got a third Covid shot: I take a drug that suppresses my immune system, which means I became eligible for a third vaccination under the recently announced CDC guidelines, even though it hadn’t yet been eight months since my previous shot. Felt good to take care of that — and for the third straight time, I had zero side effects.

6. I learned about the perfect Uni Watch band: I’m not sure how I was unaware of this until now, but it turns out that there’s an L.A. rock band called the Uni Boys. Okay, so they’re using “Uni” as the UK slang for college/university, not as a reference to uniforms, but it’s still pretty cool. Not only that, but they don’t suck! Dig:

Might have to get them to play at a Uni Watch party. (Big thanks to reader Ebin Sandler for the tip!)

7. I discovered the most beautifully packaged ice cream sandwich ever: The latest curiosity to show up at the Uzbek butcher/grocery around the corner from Uni Watch HQ is a cooler full of ice cream sandwiches from Russia, featuring a spectacular wrapper design (that’s the production date printed across the front, not the expiration date):

The ice cream was quite good (not so surprising, because Russian ice cream is highly regarded), although the wafer was crap. But more to the point: that wrapper design!

8. I saw a really good movie: Actually, I saw several good movies in August, but I especially liked Lily Topples the World, a documentary about a 20-year-old professional domino artist. It’s available on Discovery+, and here’s the trailer:

9. I bought a really cool vintage jersey: Check out this great Chicago Saints softball jersey I picked up on eBay:

I love that mascot character — a stick-figure ballplayer with a halo! Reminiscent of the 1960s TV series The Saint. Also, dig the vertically arched lettering on the back:

10. I made a really difficult decision: You may have noticed that Chris Creamer and I didn’t do a new episode of the Unified podcast in August. That’s because we’ve reluctantly decided to shut it down. It was a really good project for the darkest days of the pandemic (in fact, in many ways it was just what I needed during that period), but it turned out to be a surprisingly large amount of work that demanded more personal bandwidth than we could comfortably devote to it, especially once we got vaccinated and started to reclaim some parts of our lives. When we switched the schedule from weekly to monthly back in May, we both had to admit to ourselves — and to each other — that we were much happier and less stressed-out during the weeks when we weren’t doing the show. So instead of ramping the schedule back up in the fall, as we had originally planned, we decided to listen to what our bodies and psyches were telling us and call it a wrap, even though we felt bad about doing that.

Unified was a really fun project and a great learning experience, plus it deepened my friendship with Chris, so it was a big success even though it wasn’t sustainable. We’re both super-grateful for all the support and enthusiasm that you folks showed for it — thanks for that.

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Now then, did you figure out the secret behind the colored squares of glass at my friend David’s house? Here’s the answer:

David made lots of models when he was a kid and accumulated tons and tons of those little Testors paint bottles. He turned them upside-down and got a friend to make a frame for them — a genius bit of creative repurposing!

All in all, not a bad month. Hope yours was good, too!

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Bulletin reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, my latest Bulletin article is an interview with the guy who makes those logo- and number-imprinted football thigh pads that more and more players have been wearing in recent years. It’s available on my Bulletin page. Enjoy!

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ITEM! Teespring sale: Teespring is running one of their site-wide sales. From now through the end of Tuesday, you can get 10% off of anything in the Uni Watch, Naming Wrongs, or Uni Rock shops by using the checkout code SUNSET.

By using that code, you’ll save a bit of coin and Uni Watch will still make its full profit — a win-win!

My thanks, as always, for your consideration of our products.

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Click to enlarge

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Culinary Corner: I love scallops, but I’ve always been puzzled by one thing: Other mollusks are sold live in the shell (clams, oysters, mussels, etc.), but scallops are sold pre-shucked. I never knew why until last week, when I read a faaaaascinating article about the nascent scallop-farming industry. It said (among lots of other very interesting things), “With few exceptions, wild scallops in the United States are shucked before they are sold, to avoid possible bacterial contamination found in the viscera and the roe. But farmed scallops, whose habitat can be tested for biotoxins, are permitted to be sold live in the shell, with the roe still attached.” Huh!

The article included links to a few places in Maine that ship live scallops overnight. I was so intrigued that I decided to spring for a batch — two dozen for $100 (free shipping). That’s a lot, obviously, but I figure these will be the freshest scallops I’ve ever tasted, so it seemed like a fun experiment worth trying.

The scallops arrived yesterday (see photo above), and I’m all giddy-excited about them. We have friends coming over tonight to sample them with us — looking forward to shucking them and trying a few different preparations (crudo, ceviche, seared, baked, grilled). I’ll report on the results next week!

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The Ticker
By Anthony Emerson

Baseball News: Also posted in the hockey section: The Frisco RoughRiders, Double-A affiliates of the Rangers, will celebrate Dallas Stars Night on Sept. 10 with these jerseys (from Timmy Donahue). … The Dodgers created a uni-centric tribute to the 13 American service members killed in last week’s terrorist attack in Afghanistan (from Josh Claywell).

NFL News: The NFL’s social justice messaging on helmets and in end zones is returning this season. In addition, a new “Say Their Stories” program will debut during the final two weeks of the regular season and continue into the playoffs, featuring helmet decals, on-field logos, banners, and so on. No word yet on what those visuals will look like (thanks, Brinke). … The Falcons have revealed their uniform schedule (from Todd Willis).

College Football News: USF was penalized on the opening kickoff of the second half of last night’s game for having two No. 4s on the field. As you may recall, the same thing happened a year ago — almost to the day — to USC (thanks to all who shared). … Can someone please tell me what the hell these mouthpieces with fans are and why OSU players were wearing them? … Pitt is the latest school to sell the naming rights to the head coach’s job title (from multiple readers). … Samford has added a helmet decal in honor of Bobby Bowden (from Lucas Read). … North Dakota State has unveiled some really nice throwbacks (from multiple readers). … UVA is going white-orange-white (thanks, Jamie). … Texas Tech is going black-white-black (from Ignacio Salazar). … Troy is going red-red-black this weekend (from Ben Whitehead). … NIU is going with red jerseys and black helmets on the road to Georgia Tech (from @chriswunn23). … For that same game, GT is going gold-white-gold (thanks, Phil). … The following are all from Phil: Mississippi State will go maroon-maroon-white on Saturday. … Ole Miss is going blue-blue-white. … Arizona State went with gold helmets and maroon jerseys last night. That captain’s patch seem a little big to anyone else? … TCU is going black-purple-purple. … Yellow-green-yellow for Oregon. … West Virginia is going blue-blue-white. … Army is going gold-white-gold. … Green throwback helmets and white jerseys for North Texas, no word on the pants yet. … New end zones for Florida. … Who woulda thunk that famous NFL flameout Ryan Leaf and our own Paul Lukas were kindred spirits — at least about the color purple. Makes sense when you remember that Leaf is a WSU alum and UW’s primary color is purple (from Steve Crouser).

Hockey News: Here’s another look at the Kraken’s inaugural season patch (from Jase Greenberg). … The defending KHL champion, Avangard Omsk, has given out championship rings for the first time (from Wade Heidt). … Cross-posted from the baseball section: The Frisco RoughRiders, Double-A affiliates of the Rangers, will celebrate Dallas Stars Night on Sept. 10 with these jerseys (from Timmy Donahue). … The WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings will wear a helmet decal in honor of 16-year-old Caleb Reimer, who died in a car accident in Surrey, B.C., two weeks ago and whom the Oil Kings drafted in 2019 (from Wade Heidt). … The University of Nebraska-Omaha has placed a 25th-anniversary logo at center ice (from @artofscorebug).

College/High School Hoops News: Several players on the Wichita State men’s team have new uni numbers (from @PhillyPartTwo).

Soccer News: Cristiano Ronaldo will wear the No. 7 with Manchester United, ending a days-long drama that led to speculation as to whether CR7 would actually be CR7 in Manchester. To accommodate Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani has switched to No. 21, the number he wears for the Uruguayan national team, which was available due to the departure of Daniel James to Leeds United on Tuesday.

Grab Bag: This weekend’s NASCAR race in Darlington will feature a couple of fauxback car liveries, with Matt DiBenedetto driving this, inspired by Elliott Sadler’s ride from 2001, and Josh Bilicki driving this car, inspired by early-’90s Rusty Wallace (from Christopher Hickey). … Golfers competing in the Solheim Cup have their home state flags embroidered on their bags (from Jonathon Binet). … Georgia Tech’s interlocking GT logo has become the university’s official logo, not just for the athletics department (from Mike Nessen). … New kits for French rugby union team Racing 92 (from Sy Hart). … New brand makeover for cable network TCM (thanks to all who shared).

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Phil has the holiday weekend off, and so does the rest of the Uni Watch team, so we’ll be closed for the next few days. Stay safe, enjoy your long weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Tuesday. — Paul

40 comments to What I Did During My August Break

  • Chip Powell | September 3, 2021 at 8:48 am |

    I guess it’s a testament to the sheer number of models I built as a kid (and NASCAR die-casts I repainted every year with the new paint scheme since mom wouldn’t buy me more) that I immediately recognized the bottoms of Testor’s paint bottles. Lol.

    • RS Rogers | September 3, 2021 at 11:35 am |

      It seemed obviously to be paint samples somehow, but I was stumped as to what exactly they were. Upside-down Testors bottles didn’t occur to me at all! A timely reminder of the couple of model sets I have gathering dust in a closet. I really need to make it a winter project to finally build USS Reliant and the Grumman Skyrocket.

      • Chip Powell | September 3, 2021 at 11:54 am |

        I’ve got a couple ready to work on when I can find time/space around work and two kids. USS Arizona and a space shuttle.

      • walter | September 3, 2021 at 7:52 pm |

        My unbuilt kits are a 1960 Ford Starliner and a 1949 Mercury lead sled. My dodgy eyesight is the culprit.

    • Ed | September 3, 2021 at 1:46 pm |

      Yeah – I’d recognize those bottles anywhere!

    • Dumb Guy | September 3, 2021 at 9:20 pm |

      Yep. Me too.

    • Joel Petty | September 4, 2021 at 9:12 am |

      First thing I thought when I saw the picture was “Model paint” Built way too many model cars when I was a kid.

  • Wade Heidt | September 3, 2021 at 9:25 am |

    I will miss the podcast but work/life balance is important.

    A correction is needed in the Hockey Ticker. There have been KHL championship rings before. It is just the first time Avangard Omsk is getting championship rings in the story.

    • Paul Lukas | September 3, 2021 at 9:36 am |

      Fixed.

  • Adam Ingle | September 3, 2021 at 9:35 am |

    I read the article about the custom thigh pads yesterday and low and behold I noticed about least 4 University of Tennessee players last night with Power T and # versions. Couldn’t see them in action but caught them while they were on the sideline. Even had a buddy immediately text me to ask if I had seen them. So I sent him a link to the article.

    • Adam Ingle | September 3, 2021 at 9:42 am |

      *at least

  • Rick | September 3, 2021 at 9:44 am |

    In my best Canadian… “Sorry” to see Unified go away. Good times. Good times.

  • Tom | September 3, 2021 at 9:50 am |

    Our son likes to customize his diecast cars and model trains, so we also have quite the Testor’s collection. Those things are hard to open if the paint dries in the lid.

  • RICKAZ | September 3, 2021 at 9:50 am |

    “ Arizona State is going with gold helmets and maroon jerseys this weekend.”
    ASU played last night.

    • Paul Lukas | September 3, 2021 at 9:57 am |

      Fixed.

  • George P. Burdell | September 3, 2021 at 10:05 am |

    Paul – The “spinner” mouthguards being worn by Ohio State players can be found here, but be prepare for marketing speak!

    https://battlesports.com/spinner-oxygen-football-mouthguard/

    TLDR: It is supposed to allow better airflow while providing the same protection as normal mouthguards.

  • Ethan K. | September 3, 2021 at 10:30 am |

    Paul, not sure if you were aware, but the general consensus appears to be that it’s not a good idea to post a photo of your vaccine card online: https://letmegooglethat.com/?q=posting+vaccine+cards+online

    • Paul Lukas | September 3, 2021 at 10:39 am |

      I was not aware. Thanks.

      • RS Rogers | September 3, 2021 at 11:32 am |

        The supposed risks are mostly hypothetical and unlikely. Would-be criminals don’t need an actual vaccinated person’s vaccine card info to forge a fake one. The only legitimate security risk is the full name and birthdate, both of which are public records that are readily available, but a photo of them together on the same form makes it even easier for criminals to gather them. Obscure the name & DOB, or even just the DOB, and there’s no appreciable danger involved in sharing a vaccination card photo. It doesn’t do a would-be criminal any good to know that Paul was at CVS store number 2699 on 8/21, and that information is likely already available for legal purchase anyway.

    • Phil Hecken | September 3, 2021 at 11:33 am |

      Oh c’mon. It’s just a coincidence I got three shots of the Pfizer vax on the same days and the same locations ;)

  • Kek | September 3, 2021 at 10:45 am |

    I guessed upside nail polish with the sticker removed.. close i guess hahaha

    • mike 2 | September 3, 2021 at 11:39 am |

      LOL same. It looks like my wife’s makeup drawer.

  • Wafflebored | September 3, 2021 at 11:40 am |

    I had a tray of upside model paint when I was young, We were told to store them like this to seal the lid and make the paint last longer. I used a brand with a round bottle so it didn’t look as nice as the square bottles.

  • mike 2 | September 3, 2021 at 11:43 am |

    Sorry to hear about the Podcast. I’ll miss it, but your explanation for shutting it down is so completely understandable.

    I’ve shut a couple of “side gigs” down lately. It takes courage to say “this isn’t working” and to back out of something you’ve publicly committed to. Good for you guys.

  • Joe P | September 3, 2021 at 11:52 am |

    Really sad to hear that the Unified podcast has ended but also completely understand why you guys made that decision.

    Paul – You would ever be interested in doing another regular podcast if you were only responsible as “on-air” talent? You have mentioned just how much unexpected behind-the-scenes work came along with running a podcast and how much that impacted your lives. I have no idea how realistic this is… but it would be amazing if a larger podcasting producing outfit was interested in picking up the Unified concept!

    • Paul Lukas | September 3, 2021 at 12:04 pm |

      Hi, Joe. I appreciate the thought, but even if someone else handled all the off-air stuff I was doing (creating the show notes for the podcast’s website, photo research for video drop-ins, soliciting ads and then coordinating scripts with the advertisers, promoting the episodes on social media, etc.), it turns out that just *planning* the on-air segments takes a lot of time and energy — more than I feel I can handle.

      One thing I’ve learned from all this is that I now have a *lot* more respect for anyone who does a weekly podcast, especially if they already have a separate full-time job!

      • Joe P | September 3, 2021 at 12:31 pm |

        Completely understand that as well! Hopefully we’ll still hear your voice here and there as a guest.

        Fully agree with you on the amount respect for podcasting. I do some work for a podcast at my job and it is incredible just how much work it takes to put together even just 20 minutes of content.

      • Joel Keller | September 3, 2021 at 1:20 pm |

        Also, as I’ve been finding out, paying someone to produce and/or engineer a podcast to take it off your plate is pretty pricey, especially if the podcast is an unsponsored labor of love at first, which most independently-created podcasts are.

  • Jason T. | September 3, 2021 at 12:07 pm |

    Great work to you and Chris on the podcast. You guys did a fantastic job, but I can totally understand how much of a bear it must have been to produce weekly. We all need sanity, and if stopping it was the right move for you, I totally support it!

  • Tony C. | September 3, 2021 at 1:30 pm |

    thank you for dedicating the time and energy you did to the podcast. it always a good listen. maybe if you ever feel the itch again you could just do it quarterly or yearly as a special edition YouTube Video

  • markB | September 3, 2021 at 5:20 pm |

    re: mystery colored glas –

    looks to me like the bottoms of model paint jars, Testors maybe.
    seems that was one of the big ones back in the day.

  • Duncan | September 3, 2021 at 7:04 pm |

    I really thought those were upside down nail polish bottles, close!

  • Wk | September 3, 2021 at 8:04 pm |

    Welcome back and thanks for coming back, Paul!

  • Ricko | September 3, 2021 at 11:53 pm |

    WHAT is Northwestern wearing?
    And why?
    Asked same questions last night about Minnesota, who evidently decided that for a national TV audience it was a really good idea to look like South Carolina.

  • Kevin | September 4, 2021 at 1:10 am |

    I totally thought that was a model of the crystal control panel in the pylons on the original Land of the Lost.

  • Ebin Sandler | September 4, 2021 at 4:01 pm |

    Welcome back, Paul! Fun reading the recap and a thrill to see you mention Uni Boys!

  • Jeff Stark | September 5, 2021 at 11:29 am |

    The Florida endzones reminded me too much of the Bobby Bowden era Florida State endzones…… Don’t know who hated them more. Myself or my wife. LOL She complained the whole game. And, the fact Florida wore all white at home. Not sure the last time that has happened. I do remember Spurrier had the team wear white jerseys/blue pants to “make” LSU wear their Purple jerseys in Gainesville years ago.