Blankbaby Zen

So many jeans

I was examining the crotch of my jeans and I got to wondering: how many pairs of jeans should a person own?

I probably have too many (which is ironic since there was a time in my life were I refused to wear jeans and now they are pretty much the only kind of pants that I wear).


It is good to be the Danish Queen

Bjørn Nørgaard Sarkofag

It would seem that the Prince Consort of Denmark isn't happy. For 50 years he wanted to be the King Consort, but the Danes said, "hard pass."

And so, the Prince Consort has decided he won't be buried with the Queen.

All of that is mildly interesting, but the most badass thing was only casually mentioned: the Queen is going to be buried in a crystal sarcophagus resting on three elephant head pillars in Roskilde Cathedral (the traditional resting place of Danish royalty).

That's a pretty strong Queen move.

You can see more pictures on the artist's website.

When I die I've always assumed I would be cremated but that was before I knew about the crystal sarcophagus option.


I have questions about "cybersport," Tommy Bahama

Cybersport
  1. What is "cybersport?"
  2. Why is it, and I can only assume here, slight chilly where ever the cybersport is happening, thereby requiring a light sweatshirt?
  3. Does the "comfortable, natural range of motion afforded" by the "articulated sleeves" mean this was designed specifically to allow for typing whilst wearing?
  4. Are most other sweatshirts not appropriate typing attire?
  5. Blue (well, "buccaneer blue") and gray (or "iced slate") are the only color choices for the big and tall variety but the regular sizes get an additional choice: rhumba (which I think is red). Do you believe your big and tall customers are all cybersport obsessed Civil War enthusiasts?
In conclusion, here's a Cyberman in a Cybersport Half-Zip sweatshirt: Cybermansport

50 pounds

I knew there was a problem when I had to limit myself to wearing 7 out of 71 of my Hawaiian shirts.

Ok, don't get hung up on the fact that I have 71 Hawaiian shirts. That's not what this post is about.

I'm blessed, or cursed, with a very good self image. The upside? When I look in the mirror I think to myself, “My, what a handsome young man!” That's great! Everyone should like the way they look, if you ask me.

The down side? The fact that I had gained back lots of the weight I had lost without noticing.

Sure, my pants were snug. But there's an easy solution to that: new pants! And during the winter I wear sweaters which are very forgiving to an expanding belly.

Of course, I knew something was up when several of my Hawaiian shirts didn't fit. Even some of the “fat” shirts I have on reserve (for you skinny people out there those are the shirts I know are a little big, so I can always be certain they'll fit even if other shirts seem to have… shrunk) didn't fit. No bueno.

I've been down this road before, and I've even lost over 100 pounds! When I finally hopped on the scale I found out that I had gained back 70 of those pounds (over the course of several years, but still!). I did find some solace in the fact that I hadn't gained it all back; cold comfort.

Clearly, I needed to do something. But what? Previously I cut carbs out of my diet completely and had seen some great results. The problem with this is that I would stop eating carbs for several weeks and then black out only to awaken surrounded by the crumby remains of several cakes, empty husks of bread, and chip bags drifting down our hallway like tumbleweeds.

What I'm saying is the carb free lifestyle isn't sustainable for me.

But then I cracked the weight lose secret, and I'm going to share it with you right now. Are you sitting down, people, because this is big! Roswell aliens big. Jimmy Hoffa's corpse big!

The best way to shed the extra pounds? Eating sensibly and moving more!

WHAT?!

Now, I know that doesn't work for everyone, and that truly sucks. Hell, it doesn't work for me!

I've known forever that I should eat sensible portions and exercise. But if I could do that I wouldn't NEED to do that, if you catch my drift.

At the tender age of 40 I've come to the conclusion that I have no idea how to eat like a normal person. When left to my own devices I make the worst food choices, though to my credit I also make those choices a lot resulting in consuming a staggering amount of calories.

That leaves me with a problem: I know the solution to my weight problem but I'm seemingly incapable of doing it. What is a fat guy to do?

I found the answer, as one does to so many of life's problems, in Oprah; praised be her name.

One night Marisa and I were watching The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Oprah was a guest. She was on to talk about being Oprah, of course, but also to chat up her new cookbook. Now, you can't just write a cookbook these days (says the guy who is married to a cookbook author), you need a hook. Even Oprah, praised be her name, needs a hook! And this cookbook featured recipes, as cookbooks so often do, but each of the recipes included their Weight Watchers Smart Point values.

Turns out, as the kids say, that Oprah recently-ish bought part of that venerable weight loss institution Weight Watchers. And her cookbook was like a Trojan Horse to seduce unsuspecting guys named Scott into signing up for Weight Watchers.

Reader, I bought the book. I signed up for Weight Watchers. I weighed my food. I tracked my points. I went to the gym. I've lost 50 pounds in 5 months.

Image

Let me repeat that: I've lost 50 pounds in 5 months!

Which means that I've managed to track my food every day for the last 5 months (I would say religiously but I'm an atheist). Warning, I'm about to sound like a Weight Watchers commercial but they haven't paid me a cent (Oprah? Feel free to send me some money. Or one of your favorite things.): it hasn't felt like I've been on a diet. But I've totally been on a diet.

IMG_6372

What does it feel like? It sort of feels like I'm learning how to eat like a responsible adult. This isn't fun, I'll grant you, but it hasn't been horrible either.

Now, if you're not familiar with Weight Watchers let me give you the basics. You're assigned a number of Smart Points each day based on your height, weight, and what your goal is (losing weight/maintaining). Various foodstuffs are assigned point values based on a formula that takes into account calories, protein, and the like. You are allowed to eat as much food as you have points for, but once you're out of points you stop eating.

Still hunger? Good news! Vegetables and fruits are 0 points. Eat all you want!

You can sign up for a membership that includes in person meetings, but I don't like people so I opted for the online only membership. This gives you access to the Weight Watchers app which features a barcode scanner. Here's how that works: Pick up a bag of Oreos, scan it to find out how many points are in a serving, figure that isn't too bad since a serving of Oreos is clearly “the whole package,” double check the serving size, question everything anyone has ever told you, put the Oreos package down, and eat a banana.

The app is great because not only does it include a huge database of scannable food, but you can also use a point calculator to find out how many points things that aren't listed have (I've calculated how many points my favorite Sweetgreen salad is [16] and how many points my formally favorite Wawa hoagie has [so, so many points, you guys.]). Plus you can input recipes and it spits out how many points are in each serving (based on the number of servings the recipe makes). This has made Marisa happy since my previous diets of no carbs, dairy, or legumes would make cooking for me more challenging than it usually is.

A Brief Review of the Weight Watchers iOS app

Overall, the app does what it says on the tin. It allows you to easily look up and track your points, enter your weight, and it'll even sync with a FitBit or Apple Health to give you Fit Points (you get points for activities that you can use to supplement your daily points. I have yet to use any! But I accrue them like a mofo).

There are, however, a few areas for improvement:

  • Without a network connection the app is pretty useless. It would be nice if there was even a limited database of foods on device (perhaps it could remember your frequently used foods?). Not a huge deal, but if you want to see a bunch of angry dieters just search for Weight Watchers outage on Twitter.
  • Keep me logged in for Christ's sake! I don't know why, but this app seems to have trouble remembering me, and I'm starting to take it personally. Maybe if I lose more weight then the app will love me. IS THAT IT, WEIGHT WATCHERS APP?!
  • While I love scanning food, for some reason you can't scan things to add them to a recipe that you're creating. This is dumb and should be fixed.

Thus ends the mini review of the Weight Watchers iOS app

That's the eating part, which lots of people tell me is the most important part, but what about the exercising (autocorrect, knowing me it would seem, kept changing exercising to “excess icing.” Thanks, iPad, you're a jerk.)?

For awhile I was running like a madman, but I've decided that I like my joints so I should probably do something else in the gym. I cast my mind back several years to when I lost these 100 pounds the first time around and recalled that most magical of exercise equipment: the elliptical. Have you ever wanted to kind of run while hovering a few inches off the ground and simultaneously staying in one place? The elliptical is for you!

I do an hour on the elliptical in two week cycles. The first week I go Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. The second week's sequence is Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Having a schedule is super important because I know I have to go to the gym. And I can watch a nice BBC show as I workout (tonight I'll be watching the last episode of Series 3 of The Doctor Blake Mysteries, but I'll write another post about all the shows I've watched at the gym covered in sweat and grunting).

All of this work is paying off, but the sad irony is that while I've lost 50 pounds and I feel good about it I still need to get rid of at least about 50 more. If I stop and think about that it makes me want to eat a chocolate chip muffin (31 points) in a dark room, so I don't think about it.

However, when I have those chocolate chip muffin thoughts I remember the deal I made with myself: I'm going to use Weight Watchers for a year and see how I feel/how I did. My weight along the way should be trending downward, but the goal is still 7 months away.

This leads to an obvious question: what's my goal? Well, it would be nice to lose 100 pounds total so why not make that my goal?

All 71 of my Hawaiian shirts fit now.


Hodor? Hodor!

Hodorscott

This morning I woke up early to go for a 20 minute run (on the treadmill). Afterwards I tweeted that I didn't even know who I was anymore along with a post workout picture.

Some folks on Twitter suggested that I might, in fact, be Hodor from the Game of Thrones on TV (Or the Song of Ice and Fire in the books).

I suppose there are worse characters from GoT one could look like.

Oh, and that's me in the picture above... on the left.


Old Man McNulty

OldmanmcnultyRecently I've had two experiences that make me question my boyish good looks:

  1. My mom was in a physical rehab place for a few weeks in October, and so I would visit her fairly often. They served dinner there at about 5:30, which is when I would arrive if I visited right after work.

    Now, keep in mind that most of the patients there (i.e. all of them) were over 60 years old.

    This particular evening visit I was seated with my mom, and a few of her friends, in the dining room. It was me, my mom, a lady, and an older gentleman patient. The gentleman got tired of waiting and sort of walked off. One of the worker who was handing out the food came over to the table with a tray for the man. She looked at me and said, "Henry?" (the patient's name, though not really. Respect HIPAA, people).

    I assured her I wasn't the elderly gentleman in a wheelchair she had mistaken me for.

  2. I was headed to catch a Long Island Railroad train in Penn Station the other day. The track for the train I was getting was at the bottom of a long flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs was a woman, in her 50's, with 4 suitcases. As I was approaching two guys ahead of me offered to help her with one piece each. That left her with two pieces, so I offered to help her with one. She agreed and I grabbed a bag and carried it down.

    She met up with a group of her friends at the bottom of the stairs and started chatting with them. I boarded the train, and started to read my book.

    The woman, with her friends, boarded the same train car as me and sat down several rows ahead of me. The woman I helped started to talk about how amazed she was that strangers had helped her out. "Those two guys just came up and offered to help me with my bags! And then that old guy took the last one!

    It took me a second to realize I was the old guy in that story.




on TUAW (or WTF, AOL?)

I never really thought I’d be a writer. In fact, for a long time, I thought I was going to end up being a physicist. Fast forward to freshman year in college when I realized that calculus wasn’t for me and I waved goodbye to my aspirations of a career in the hard sciences.

I didn’t immediately think, “Well then, I’ll just be a writer!” I had to pick a major, so I went with English. I graduated, started looking for careers and ended up in Higher Education (which is where I still work!). I never really thought of myself as a writer until I saw a post by Barb Dybwad on The Unofficial Apple Weblog. They were looking for bloggers (not writers) and since I had been blogging for awhile and I liked Apple stuff I figured why not apply.


I sent off an email and waited. I didn’t hear anything, so I figured that was that.


This was all 10 years ago, mind you, but I still remember seeing that email from Barb asking me to join up with TUAW. I did, and wrote this first post, and after a few years I ended up becoming the Lead Blogger at TUAW. I covered a couple of Macworlds for the site (that first Macworld I wrote something like 25 posts A DAY, which meant that I didn’t talk to anyone at the actual event), “starred” in a couple of videos, and wrote and wrote and wrote (my back of the envelope math shows that for the 3 years I was there I wrote 2.7 posts a day on average, or a little over 3000 posts).

More importantly TUAW gave me the opportunity to meet lots of people: fellow bloggers, writers,  developers, and fans. So many people, in fact, that as I started listing them it grew so long that I decided not to include it with this post.


I left TUAW 7 years ago mostly because of AOL’s incompetence, so it came as only a mild shock to hear that AOL is shuttering the site and waving goodbye to all the talented folks who worked there. There’s some corporate speak saying that TUAW would be “rolled into” Engadget which means, I assume, the content will be absorbed into Engadget’s archives so they can still put advertising around it (and sip on that sweet, sweet SEO juice). A sad end to a fine site. A site that is directly responsible for the fact that I now honestly think of myself as a writer (though I still find it hard to believe that I’ve written books that you can buy in a bookstore! Sure, no one actually buys them, but they could and that’s what counts!).


Since today is the last day of publication for TUAW I wanted to thank everyone who read the site, anyone who was involved with it, and everyone I’ve met because of it. Writing for TUAW gave me my first taste of limited highly specific notierity (there was a time when I was recognized whenever I walked into an Apple Store), and my first realization that somewhere on the Internet there is someone who has nothing better to do than to tell you how whatever you’ve shared sucks (now I just go to Twitter for that).


You can read some more about my thoughts about TUAW in my farewell post (which used to have lot of lovely comments from readers wishing me well, but they seem to have been axed whenever TUAW changed commenting sytems. You can see why I have my doubts about the TUAW posts being around for the longhaul).




Lost and found around Apartment 2024

Sometimes living in a big building with lots of other people (many of whom are elderly) is a drag. I know Marisa would like some outdoor space, and I would prefer never having to engage in small talk while in the elevator.

That being said, there are some up sides to our current living situation: your chances of having something very odd happen are much higher.

My evidence is as follows:

The other day I was going to pick up something at a near by retailer. I doffed my baseball cap and made my way to the elevator bank down the hall from our apartment. In between two of the elevator banks is a small table which usually has nothing of interest on it. That day it had this on it:

Tinytinycoat

A couple of days later the coat was gone and, I can only assume, a little person in Philadelphia was much warmer.

Data point two:

Our building has a bulletin board set up by the mail room where residents can post placards and announcements. I often read whatever is posted because I have an odd sense of humor... and people post some weird stuff.

How weird? Here's the most recent odd posting:

Seatcushion

It takes a special person to not only post about a miraculous seat cushion, but go the extra mile and include an artist's rendering to help identify said cushion.

If the cushion is yours let me know and I'll pass along the contact number.


Me in three (well, 60) of your words

Scottwithspatula.jpgA little while ago I asked folks to head on over to a wacky Web site and describe me in three words. Furthermore, I promised to post the results and here they are:

  • anti-fruit & vegetable, moderate, and sharp
  • aloof, witty, and introverted
  • funny, interesting, and scottalicious
  • clever, savvy, and erudite
  • friendly, house-trained, and well-groomed
  • zany, tall, and caring
  • witty, dapper, and techie
  • Gay, Large, and Stupid (I don't think this person is a Scott McNulty fan, but I could be wrong.)
  • fluffy, puff, and marshmallows
  • witty, smart, and conservative
  • funny, smart, and brutal
  • Unique, Hawaitastic, and prescient
  • literate, mancandy, and blankbaby
  • insightful, merry, and kind
  • Philly, Food, and Writing
  • smart, funny, and logical
  • Savvy, Whimsical, and Gentle giant
  • clever, friendly, and e-reader-addicted
  • kindle, nook, and another kindle (This one is probably my favorite.)
  • Knowledgeable, Enigmatic, and Shy

And that makes the top three words: smart, funny, witty. I'm blushing here!


Describe me in three words

I thought this blog was defunct, and I bet you did as well.

Actually, I've just been reading a lot as of late so I have been ignoring my blog readers (I think that the only people who read this blog now are my lovely wife Marisa and my friends Glenn and Julie... prove me wrong Internet!).

Anyway, over on Twitter I came across a Web site called ThreeWords. The idea is you setup an account and people can describe you using three words... so I thought why not ask my blog readers to explain me in three words. Click this link and list the three words that you think describe me best.

After awhile I'll write a blog post about the words that have been used! Won't that be fun?


The last 7 Augusts of my life

I remember a time when people thought I was odd for having a blog (I'm odd for many reason, but blogging isn't one of them). When I started blogging 10 years ago no one knew what a blog was.

Now everyone knows what a blog is, but nobody seems to care about personal blogs. Blog have moved on, become corporate (I should know, I run a corporate blog!), become magazines... have become part of the wallpaper of our lives.

One of the greatest benefits of keeping a personal blog, though, is being able to delve into the archives and recall what you were doing at moments in the past... in your own words.

I thought it would be fun to see what I was doing, and thinking about, in each of the Augusts for which I have a blog archive. For some reason I have archives from August 2000 and then it skips to August 2003 so we'll consider 2001 and 2002 my 'Lost Augusts,' which would make a great title of a book.

August 2000: I saw some nuns, went to the dentist (twice!), and attended an Alumni Relations conference (I still remember the deafening sound of small talk).

August 2003: I'd been living in Philadelphia for about five months, and I was discovering the blogging community here. I was also obsessed with Macromedia (now Adobe) products for some reason.

August 2004: I watched some bad movies, thought about going to Ireland (spoiler alert: I haven't been to Ireland yet, I was excited to get a Pocket PC (hey, this was YEARS before the iPhone, people), and had my boss point out that I had a lot of gray hair (and she thought I was several years older than I actually was at the time).

August 2005: A neologism ('blankbabied') was coined and briefly in Wikipedia before their editors rejected it, was told "You would never be Jesus" which still holds true, looked back at the start of my blogging life (odd that here it is August, and once again I'm looking back at my blogging life), and stated once more my desire to go to Ireland.

August 2006: I went to see a Jonathan Coulton concert (before he got modestly famous), bought some books about libraries, shaved off my beard, and found out I was fat (I was as shocked as you are to here the news).

August 2007: I found that Sour Cream and Onion Quakes are quite tasty, purchased my first iPhone (and posted way too many pictures from it), created a promo video for a Viddler content with Marisa, and called Thad a jackass.

August 2008: I left TUAW, saw Neal Diamond in concert (for the second time), joined up with the merry crew at Macworld/MacUser (and I'll be blogging more over there soon!), and bought a new fridge.

August 2009: I created a blog for the purpose of posting pictures I wanted to Tweet (that blog has been abandoned), read a book, and and received a very cute key chain from Marisa.