If a Blogger Doesn’t Blog, Does He Exist?

I’ve been on quite the blogging hiatus. My only excuse is that work has been busy but in reality, I’ve been busier and managed to write. I worry sometimes that I’m losing my passion for this blog. I’ll write reviews and articles and then let them site for weeks, even months.

Stunning San Francisco Sunset

I think when we last left off I was visiting New York City and Washington DC. There I had just an incredible time. I should thank so many people, Luis, Steven, Chemda, Lauren Hennessy, Ian, Scott, David, Joseph, Whitney, Rosa, Benjamin, Brandon, Landon, Dipal, Thomas, Anthony, Josh and Shannon, Bethany, Kramer, Justin, Lauren Reid, Andres and others. That will have to be a post all its own.

After that I went to Houston and Austin a few times. I even did a Houston Twitter Meetup (Tweetup). We had around twenty people show up and even earned ourselves a prank call from someone who called the restaurant where we were hosting the shindig. Huge thanks to Kristen for setting up the whole thing.

I hit up Florida again and had a wonderful time hanging out with Justin and Mike out there. Frank even let me crash in his room while he was out of town. Still haven’t met him! I even scored some time with Joey, who is visiting San Francisco soon along with Alexandra and Corey.

This weekend Ryan and I hosted around thirty friends over for hors d’oeuvre, wine and fondue. We had a blast and I think everyone else did as well. We love having friends over, sharing our home and chitchatting over drinks and fun food. Host Adjustable Wine Aerator and Esoterica Petite Syrah

We played around with a new wine gadget of mine. It’s the Host Adjustable Wine Aerator. It promises to age your wine through aeration simulating anywhere from less than 1 hour of aeration all the way to six hours of aeration. I am not one to trust wine gadgets but this one peeked my interest enough that I bought one from Kenneth Wingard.

But for what it’s worth, that is what has been going on. I hope to get out some reviews pretty soon. Here is a list of items on the list:

  • Bose QuiteComfort 15 noise canceling headphones
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50 studio headphones
  • Fiio E6 Headphone Amplifier
  • Das Keyboard Model S Pro
  • Enqueue
  • MEElectronics M6P headphones
  • ZAGGkeys PRO+ iPad keyboard case
  • ZAGG iPhone 5 bumper case
  • ZAGG ZR-Six in-ear headphones
  • ZAGG ZR-LE headphones
  • iFrogs Aura headphones
  • Host Adjustable Wine Aerator
  • Graze Healthy Snacks
  • NatureBox Healthy Snacks

So many things I have to review. I should do my best to try and do a review or two a week. In reality that should be totally doable. Let’s just hope I can commit myself to it.

I also have a post to write about Instagram. It’s actually a two-parter and it’s actually already done, I just need to re-work it. The first post is about Instagram and my thoughts on it. Most people understand me to hate the service and anyone who uses it. I mean to correct people. The second post is a belated in-depth piece about Instagram’s, and other web services’, use and user rights policies.

Eventually I’d like to get back to writing here daily, as I did for years. But let’s start with baby steps. I’m also working to be better at posting photos on my photo site, Justin Moore Scott. Photography is perhaps my greatest inanimate love. I have even recently purchased a handful of fantastic fine-art photography books.New Photography Books

I have a tendency of buying or receiving great photography books like this and then never taking them out of their cellophane wrapping. Maybe I’ll actually open a few of these up and find some inspiration to bring back the passion in my photography.

I suppose the only other thing that is notable enough for writing is that I started again the 4-Hour Body diet, aka slow-carb diet. This time I’m doing it with my friend Kevin. Since starting I’ve dropped over 5 pounds but this time around I’m not as worried about the weight as much as my muscle to fat ratio. So I’ll allow my weight to go up as long as I’m building muscle. Hopefully that will come as I’ve started personal training again. Sadly with a new trainer, my old one was amazing. I picked up a new one that didn’t work out but I have another new one that seems to be pretty awesome.

So there you go. You’re mostly caught up to date. Now I head to bed so I can wake up and be ready to have my body abused at the gym until I’m so weak, walking up the stairs is not unlike summiting Everest.

My Photography Site, Reborn

Photography is something that I am absolutely passionate about. I’m can’t think of a legitimate reason for why I don’t write about photography and art here on my site but perhaps that is something I need to look into. Meanwhile, I did want to let you guys know that my photography site is finally back online.

Back in 2008 I started my photoblog/gallery Piczar Photo. It was a pun on the obvious, Pixar, and the idea of being a “Photography Czar”. I think the joke was mostly lost on visitors to the site but that didn’t stop them from visiting. Between 2008 and 2011 my photography site found around 5,000 hits a month. Not a huge amount of traffic but enough to keep me posting regularly. Being in an active photography program at the University of Missouri certainly helped as well.

Sometime in 2010 my site was hit with a massive amount of traffic. I’m not sure if it was StumbleUpon or Reddit or a bot net but the traffic managed to corrupt my site’s PixelPost database and spell the end of Piczar Photo. I tried to relaunch it as part of It’s Just Justin but ultimately felt it was important to keep my photography posts distinct from the posts you find on this blog.

Well after years of dormancy, my site is back up and with a new motto, “Photography without filter.” Take that Instagram hehe. It is no longer Piczar Photo (that URL will forward eventually) but it’s back and it’s sort of better than ever. I’m now on a WordPress installation instead of PixelPost and my site has a responsive design (go ahead, resize the window). It isn’t perfect but I’m always working to make it better. If you haven’t already checked it out, here’s some of my latest work:

I am doing my best to upload a new photo at least once a week and sometimes I get on a crazy kick and get a photo up each day. I hope you find the time to visit the site at either PicsJust.in or JustinMooreScott.com. I would be remiss if I didn’t say thanks to David for helping me record a basic template to make the site fit my needs. David had a more hands-off approach this time around which is why it isn’t perfect but it would have been a mess had he not been so kind as to look at and help modify some code.

Right now I’m uploading photos from my trip to the Middle East and sprinkling in a few photos from other adventures. If you want to keep up with my photography, subscribe to my photo RSS feed and remember you can always click the Photography link at the top of It’s Just Justin.

As I have done with every site I run, this site features Livefyre for comments. Comments on my photography are incredibly important to me and how I grow my art. Back in college I had critiques with a professor and fellow students. Their insight and guidance helped direct me into the style of photography I shoot these days. It was truly invaluable. I hope you find the time and are able to share your thoughts on my work.

Senators Call to End Driving Ban for Saudi Women

As someone who has spent a decent amount of time in Saudi Arabia and has met many people that this would affect, I’m totally behind it. That being said, I’m not sure we will see anything like this happen within the next decade.

The argument for women not having the right to drive stem from theories like:

  • If they start driving, they’ll start cheating on their husbands
  • After they cheat on their husbands, they will get divorces
  • Driving is too hard for women’s mental capacities to handle
  • Women don’t need to drive

Saudi Arabia is a beautiful, mostly really friendly and misunderstood country. But as with most countries, minority rights always seem to fall to the back burner.

Check out the article from Autoblog:

14 female U.S. senators call on Saudi Arabia to lift female driving ban.

According to Bloomberg, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been gently pushing the Saudi government to lift the ban, and has now been joined by a group of fourteen female American senators in supporting Saudi Women for Driving and their cause. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) is leading the charge from her position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, calling for women’s rights to be honored in a U.S. ally that has proven nothing if not resistant to change.

Panoramic Views of Saudi Arabia Dunes

Panorama from Dune's CrestThis is one of those photos that you need to take advantage of the lightbox to really enjoy. As with almost any photo on my blog, all you have to do is click the photo and it will blow up to something much more fun to look at. See the black dot on the middle/left side of the photo? That’s a huge SUV. That’s how giant these things are.

I took this photo on my brother’s last day in Saudi Arabia. We went out with our dad and a friend to race around the dunes. My dad has some great video of Toyota Land Cruisers climbing and sliding through the dunes. It’s a sight to be seen for sure.

Sand Dune PanoramaIf you do it right, walking up these things is about as easy as walking up a flight of stairs. However, if you don’t, it’s like walking up a waterfall. These dunes, unlike traditional hills or mountains, are constantly moving. This means there are some areas of the dunes that are incredibly delicate. One wrong step and you start slowly sliding down the dune. It’s almost like surfing but in super-slow motion.

Running/Floating down the duneIt is also the fastest way down the dune, as made evident by my brother in the picture above. While I decided to walk around the dune, following its natural slope downwards, Patrick opted for the path less traveled. Straight down.

Come to think of it, it’s only a matter of time before some LA fitness guru turns this into an extreme bootcamp workout. I can see it now; UpDunes, the ultimate full-body workout.

Revisiting Saudi Arabia

Decided I should probably actually start posting about my trip to Saudi Arabia last month. My Twitter friends seemed to really want me to do this and I feel like I’ve fallen behind on posting and sharing stuff that is going on in my life lately. Things just get so busy!

I’ve decided that I’m going to do this in series of short posts. I have so many photos to share and so many stories to tell. This photo came from our trip shark tooth hunting with some friends from our compound. Continue reading

Bahrain and the Day of Rage

I’m back in America. Had an awesome time in Saudi Arabia and despite all the turmoil that is going on in the region right now, I felt safe the entire time and can’t wait to go back.

I went to Saudi Arabia to celebrate my dad’s 50th birthday which was the same day as the Bahraini revolution. As a gift to my parents I did not join my friend James in his trip over the causeway to Bahrain for the “Day of Wrath” “Day of Rage” “Revolution” etc etc. Part of me was devastated that I was passing up such an incredible opportunity but the other part of me wanted to do the right and safe thing.  In the end I’m still not sure whether or not I made the right decision but I have a feeling I did…

If you have ever been to Bahrain, you know it’s this really fun, friendly country. Amazing shopping, fabulous restaurants, they serve alcohol, are BIG into family stuff with water parks and all that jazz. As a person of comparative privilege (which is probably everyone reading this), you probably would have no idea there was an issue there.

One of my last photos from Bahrain was from the upscale Monsoon restaurant. This is the Bahrain I know.

Something like half of the people living in Bahrain are ex-Pats. The disparity between classes is so extreme that you almost don’t even see it. It’s like at night time, you don’t notice the black of the sky but instead the white of the moon and stars. Continue reading