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August 2007

July 2007

AT&T is listening to your calls.. or not


I want an iPhone as much as the next guy, but AT&T creeps me out a little. They issued this press release last year, from which I will quote the important part:

The news media have carried reports alleging that AT&T is participating in an unlawful NSA terrorist surveillance program. Unfortunately, the law does not permit AT&T to respond to those allegations.

AT&T could tell us if they were spying on us, but then they would have to kill us. Multitouch doesn't sound all that great now, does it?

[via Chris Messina's tweet]

I get the sweetest emails

Notfatscott Someone, who shall remain nameless, posted on their blog about the trials and tribulations of online dating. I'm somewhat familiar with the process myself, so I can feel her pain (though from the other side of the gender aisle). She said something about the pickings being slim, while the men on those sites weren't (aka lots of fat dudes are looking for love on the Internets). I, of course, rose to the occasion to defend my hefty brethren (though she was talking about fat, stupid, toothless hicks of which I am not one) and said that not all fat dudes were bad. She emailed me a response, of which I shall quote the best part:

You're not even really fat anymore, so you're excluded from the category of men I eschew.

That might be the sweetest email I have received in a long, long time. And yes, I am aware of how sad that is. :)

8 Random Things about me

The latest meme is making the rounds on the Internet and I haven't been tagged once, or twice, but thrice! By the laws governing silly blog memes, I must participate now, and so here we go:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged write their own blog post about their eight things and include these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged and that they should read your blog.

  1. I don't wear a watch, and I haven't for 3 years.
  2. People say I'm funny, but deep down I don't think I am.
  3. I am a little neurotic about being on time. I hate being late, and would much rather be an hour early (I am usually way, way too early for flights).
  4. If I need to think of a celebrity's name on the spur of the moment invariably the first one that pops to mind is 'Mary Tyler Moore.' Strange but true.
  5. I'm shy. Some might not believe that, but I am very shy by nature. I have gotten more outgoing as I have aged, but I'm still just a shy dude.
  6. I have always thought that I will die alone, just like Capt. Kirk (look! I can be depressing and geeky all at once!)
  7. I am starting to enjoy going to the gym (but don't tell anyone because that would ruin my whole,'I hate the gym' routine).
  8. I overthink everything: relationships, future plans, people's offhand remarks. You name it, I overthink it.

So there you have it! Now I need to pass this on to 8 (!) more people:

Comcast, you minx!

comcastI have been meaning to add HBO to my digital cable package for awhile now. If you live in downtown Philadelphia you get your cable from Comcast, which I don't have a problem with... for the most part. My cable modem is great, and the while I wouldn't mind spending less on my cable it is luxury. No one is making me subscribe to cable, so I really can't complain.

johncinnci8.jpgThe reason I wanted HBO? I managed to watch a few episodes of John from Cincinnati, on the recommendation from Joe, and I really enjoyed it. The writing is top notch and very stylized. The situations are odd, and Al Bundy is in it (Ed O'Neill is his real name, and he is really great in this series)! What's not to like?

This is how I found myself on the phone with a very nice employee of Comcast. Somehow I got it into my head that adding HBO to my cable package would cost $10 a month. I was willing to pay this because John from Cincinnati isn't available by any other legal means and it is a more enjoyable experience watching shows on my TV with its nice sound system. The dude on the phone told me that adding HBO was a snap, and he went ahead and did it. I was happy as a clam until he said, 'Okay, so that'll add $18.95 to your bill every month.'

What the heck?! That didn't make the entirely made up amount I had in my head. How dare Comcast!

I said that seemed like an awful lot of money just to add one channel to my package. I thought that since I had Silver Digital I could add a premium channel for less, but the dude on the phone explained that wasn't so. I asked about any specials Comcast might be running and he told me that there weren't any special offers that included HBO.

Okay, Comcast, I can play your game!

I asked him if there were any way for me to get HBO for a little cheaper. What would happen if I upgraded my entire package to the Gold level? He asked me to hold, and then came back to me and said, 'Well, if you upgrade to Gold you'll get HBO, Showtime (which means I can watch Big Brother: After Dark. Bonus!), and Starz for $5 a month more than you're paying now.'

That's more like it! Though, I do wonder why he didn't tell me about that option in the first place. I imagine Comcast doesn't really want people to save money if they are hot to get a premium channel.

The moral of the story is to ask lots of questions when adding something to your cable package, it might save you some serious dough!

Oscar the cat knows when you're going to die


Lots of people prefer Google over Yahoo, this I know. However, I like going to because they feature an offbeat story on their main page every day. It is how I stay in the know with crap that I really don't need to know. Take, for instance, the story of Oscar the death sensing cat. If I only used Google I wouldn't know about this little furry angel of Death, but thanks to those crazy kats (see what I did there?) at Yahoo I'm in the kitty death patrol know.

You can keep your Harry Potter, I have Thursday Next


The world is all a twitter about Harry Potter and the next Billion, or whatever it is called, and I must tell you... I don't give a crap. Why? Mostly because I read the first Potter book and thought it was pretty crappy so I thought, why should I read thousands of pages of this treacle? So I stopped at the first book, chalked it up as a learning experience, and moved on. It would seem I am the only person in the world who had this reaction.

People know I enjoy books, so whenever Harry Potter comes up in conversation it is assumed that I have read the entire saga and have some opinions about it. I tell folks that I only read the first book and invariably they say, "Oh, that's the worst of the lot! They don't really start to get good until the 3rd book." That's too much effort for too little return in my book (get it? Ha!).

So you can keep your damn Harry Potter books, because I have something even better: Thursday Next. That's right, Amazon just emailed me the shipping confirmation for First Among Sequels: A Thursday Next Novel, and I'm incredibly excited. The Thursday Next books are set in an alternative world where reading is as popular as sports are in our world. Plus it is written by a witty Englishman, and how can you not like a dude with a last name that begins with two f's?

I'll have First Among Sequels tomorrow, thanks to Amazon Prime, and I am sure I will devour it very quickly (though sadly I have an appointment after work tomorrow so I won't be able to read it as quickly as I would like).

BlogPhiladelphia rocked, and rocked HARD


The first time I heard about BlogPhiladelphia I was doubtful. This had nothing to do with the people behind it, rather I am just naturally a stick in the mud (which might explain why I am not an entrepreneur. I would have been the one friend of Henry Ford’s who would have said, ‘Eh. Who wants a mass assembled car?! The people want something hand man, sir!’). Luckily, despite my reservations and thanks to the charms of Alex and Annie I signed on to not only attend but to lead two sessions (give me a roomful of people and a microphone and I’m a happy man. I’m the most extroverted introvert you have ever met, I tells ya!).

As with most things in my life, it turned out to be a very good decision (I should always do the exact opposite of what I think I should do, but that’s another post entirely, and a Seinfeld episode to boot!).

Simply put: BlogPhiladelphia was a kick ass time, and I hope to do it again soon.

Annie, Alex, and the whole Uwishunu and the Philly Tourism Board did a fantastic job putting on this great unconference. The unconference format really highlights the best part of conferences: the conversations you have in the hallways. Instead of making people whisper during panels, the people in the audience are the real experts and they get fools (like me) to facilitate the conversation and try and keep it on point.

The thing that really surprised me was that people wanted to meet me. Me?! Why are these people interested in meeting me? Strikes me as a little odd, but hey I’m an egomaniac so I’ll take what I can get.

Rob Sandie, President of Viddler, has a great post up recapping all the reasons that BlogPhilly rocked (and I am not just saying that because he starts off with me and calls me the funniest person imaginable… though that doesn’t hurt. Thanks, Rob!). Check it out, and I’ll be posting another thing or two about BlogPhiladelphia in the coming days.

Yes, that's a picture of me leading a session. Thanks to Tony for taking it! Check out the BlogPhiladelphia Flickr pool for even more pictures from the event.

Cartoon Scott

Originally uploaded by toonerstan.
If you know me, you might think that I am, in fact, a cartoon. Sadly, this isn't the case (trust me, I know. Once when I was a small child I was hit in the head with an anvil. I ain't been quite right since).

Toonerstan, the man behind Toonamtion, took his cool filter to a bunch of Blog Philly pictures and one of them was of little old me. Not too shabby.

BlogPhiladelphia in the Philly Metro


I'm back at Blog Philadelphia for the day (yesterday was a hoot. Check out the pictures on Flickr, to which I'll be adding my own soon enough). While I was here Mark Maurer from the Philly Metro was wondering around talking to folks about negative comments. Since I was leading the 'Dealing with negative comments' session he chatted with me for a few minutes. I figured I wouldn't even get in the article, but lo and behold I'm the lede (that's the first sentence of an article, for those of you not in the journalism know). Check it out.

The lovely picture that accompanies the article features John and Bart. What more can you ask for?

Thanks to Fishbreakfast for letting me know about this article.

Scott McNulty: spandex wearer

New running shorts
Originally uploaded by blankbaby.

If you would have told me a year ago that I would be wearing Spandex to a gym I would have laughed in your face.

If you would have told me 2 weeks ago that I would be wearing Spandex to the gym I would have laughed in your face.

I am now wearing Spandex to the gym (and I don't think anyone is laughing at me... at least I hope not).

To the right are my new running shorts, which I love. They aren't all Spandex, clearly, but they do contain a little bit of that wondrous material (and how about my legs? So frickin' sexxy). Now I find myself looking at shirts like these (they wick away the sweat.. and I frickin' sweat like a... thing that sweats copious amounts whilst working out).

Can a Spandex unitard be far behind?


Even after eating a pint of ice cream, and going to a 4th of July BBQ, I am down another pound a bit.

I think my metabolism is gearing up or something.

You know what this means? Only 3.1 more pounds and I will have lost 100 pounds since I started this crazy adventure. It is hard to believe that not so long ago I was weighing in at 383 and looked like this. I look back at these pictures and I am shocked that I didn’t do anything about my weight sooner, however, that isn’t the point of this. No need to worry about what I didn’t do, but rather concentrate on what’s working for me:

  • working out regularly (with some great folks)

  • eating better (I am not doing the South Beach Diet anymore, but I am applying principles that I learned doing it, and I am eating some of the things that they suggest on a regular basis)

  • actively thinking about my health

All of those points are important, but the last one has had the most impact. It is really very easy to slide back into my old habits of eating too much and moving too little. Thanks to this blog (which is a manifestation of my thinking about these issues, even if I don’t write too much on here) I am able to keep myself on the straight and narrow.

Let’s be real though, I’m not starving myself. This whole losing weight thing would be a mess if I changed my life in an unsustainable way. I have thought about going vegetarian, but that would just set me up for failure (I love me some steak), but eating more vegetables is something I can, and am, doing.

Life is all about being honest with yourself and knowing your limits. I’m not particularly strong willed, but I am able to follow routines. I have used my routine following skills to my advantage (going to the gym 5 times a week and doing the same thing every time might strike some as boring, but it strikes me as the way to a thinner, happier, and handsomer Scott) and replaced my old ruts with healthier ones.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a body that weighs 97 pounds lighter than it did 11 months ago and that’s good enough for me.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Ice Cream

stickytoffee.jpgToday was spent on the couch watching TV (and dozing off from time to time). I was going to venture forth to the gym, but the lure of the television (and the prospect of going out in the heat) thwarted that plan. That’s why I found myself in Wawa a few hours ago scoping out the ice cream case. Let me explain.

Since I am a co-host of the fastest growing cooking podcast on the Internet (Fork You! Tell your friends, and have them tell their friends) I feel the need to keep up with the goings on in the food world, so I watch the Food Network. It is true that I watched lots of the Food Network’s offerings before Fork You, but now that I help produce a cooking show myself it is that much more interesting. Today the Food Network had a 2 hour special on called ‘Scoop,’ which chronicled last year’s Haagen-Daz competition to find a new flavor. I was hooked for two reasons:
  1. I love ice cream
  2. I have a weakness for reality television

I tuned in late, but I was able to watch as they narrowed the field from five finalists to the eventual winning flavor (there can be only one!). I was entertained enough to find out if the winning flavor, Sticky Toffee Pudding, was available at my local Wawa (getting fit be damned!). Off I went to Wawa to purchase dinner (a hoagie) and dessert (hopefully a pint of said ice cream). As I approached the ice cream case I saw my prey. It would seem that Sticky Toffee Pudding is selling pretty well because the good people at Haagen-Daz have not only given it a permanent place in their flavor lineup, but also made it a ‘Featured Flavor,’ whatever the hell that means.

At this point I should mention I have never actually had the British dessert that this ice cream is based on, but I was willing to try it out for you, dear reader.

What the hell is in Sticky Toffee Pudding ice cream? Its website describes it as:

rich vanilla ice cream swirled with sticky toffee sauce and morsels of moist brown sugar cake.

Which sounds darned good to me. One of my favorite food combinations of all time is vanilla ice cream and cake, so how could I go wrong?

Sticky Toffee Pudding Ice CreamI snatched up the only pint of the stuff Wawa had and ran home. I ate my dinner (you can’t have dessert until you eat your dinner, after all) and served myself 3 scoops of Sticky Toffee Pudding ice cream in a simple, white bowl. Sniffing the ice cream revealed a crisp vanilla aroma with a hint of spice (from the cake bits no doubt). I slide my spoon into a mound of the cold stuff, and slowly put it into my mouth.

That first spoonful was soon followed by many more, until I was licking the bowl clean. This crap is good. The cake has a slight spice to it, and the toffee isn’t overpowering at all (as I feared it might be). Haagen-Daz makes a good vanilla ice cream, and since that’s this flavor’s base it only helps the overall taste (if you don’t like vanilla ice cream then this isn’t for you. You also might be a Communist). Some could peg this ice cream as overly sweet (it is sugar cake in sugary ice cream with a ribbon of toffee, so it is going to be a little sweet) but I didn’t find the sweetness to be too much for me.

This ice cream strikes me as being the type best enjoyed by itself (much like myself). Putting it into a sundae or milkshake would be too much, since the added sweetness would push it over the edge. Enjoy this scooped into a bowl, and you won’t regret it.

Interestingly, this isn’t the only flavor in Haagen-Daz’s lineup featured in last year’s Scoop competition, though it is the only one that advertises that fact. Another finalist is also being sold by Haagen-Daz in their new Reserve line of ice creams. Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle was a judge favorite, but it would seem the public (which picked last year’s winner) liked the Sticky stuff more. Luckily, you can get yourself a pint of the judge’s favorite now too, if coconut is your thing (it isn’t mine, so I am glad that it didn’t win the competition).

Sadly, the third of the top three finalists in the Scoop competition doesn’t seem to be on sale anywhere. Canoli flavored ice cream, it would seem, will remain unavailable for most of America (unless you make your own, but it would probably be easier to just buy a regular canoli).

Now, if you'll excuse me I have the remainder of a pint of ice cream to devour.

Blankbaby Reader survey: To beard or not to beard?


I've asked this question before (twice, in fact) and each time the beard wins out, however, I haven't shaved off the beard since I lost 95 pounds (and counting). So, dear readers, should I grow back my beard, or let my skinny face be naked?

You're all smarter than I am (except for you, and you know who you are), so tell me what to do with my face (and keep it clean, people!).

Photos by stellargirl (I think she took both of them.. I know she took the one on the left, but Thad might be responsible for the one on the right).