Kyoto, Early Fall

Posted Dec 26, 2023

These are some favorite pho­tos from a recent trip to Kyoto. We arrived at the tail end of Octo­ber and stayed until mid-Novem­ber. View this gallery on Flickr to see more from the trip, includ­ing Tokyo, Nara, and Miyajima.

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)

Posted Nov 02, 2023

The Kinkaku-ji, a Zen Bud­dhist tem­ple com­mon­ly called the Gold­en Pavil­ion, stands serene­ly against Kyoto’s lush land­scape. The top two floors are cov­ered in bril­liant gold leaf that glowed warm­ly in the after­noon sun on my vis­it. In spite of the crowds, it’s a place of tran­scen­dent beau­ty, and it’s easy to see why it’s one of Japan’s most icon­ic and his­toric sites.

Kyoto bell tower

Posted Oct 31, 2023

Small tower at the entrance to Otani Sobyo
October 31, 2023
Royal Palace of Madrid
January, 2023

Madrid boasts many his­tor­i­cal and cul­tur­al land­marks, but per­haps none are quite as grand and majes­tic as the Palace of Madrid. The palace, also known as the Pala­cio Real, is a beau­ti­ful exam­ple of Span­ish archi­tec­ture, with its ornate facades and beau­ti­ful gardens.

The tem­ple of Debod, an ancient Egypt­ian tem­ple gift­ed to Spain in the 1960s, is sit­u­at­ed a lit­tle over a mile to the north and offers a per­fect view of the palace, mak­ing it a ter­rif­ic spot to cap­ture this pho­to just before sunset. 

This scene was one of the most beau­ti­ful moments in our quick, three-day stopover in Madrid.

There’s a cock­tail I had sev­er­al years ago that I’ve nev­er for­got­ten. It was per­fect­ly bal­anced — smokey, yet refresh­ing; com­plex, yet dan­ger­ous­ly easy to go down. I encoun­tered it dur­ing a pleas­ant lunch at a Miche­lin-award­ed gas­trop­ub (do we still use that word?) in Edin­burgh, Scotland.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I live 5,000 miles from Edin­burgh, and I’ve nev­er come across anoth­er place that serves the same thing since.

The drink was called the Gin­ger Scot, but although I well remem­bered the fla­vors of lemon, scotch, and gin­ger, that was basi­cal­ly all I knew until at some point I found an old PDF of the restau­ran­t’s menu online list­ing the exact ingre­di­ents. With­out know­ing the pro­por­tions, though, this was like half a trea­sure map. I saved it in my notes and most­ly for­got about it.

Fast for­ward six years to Decem­ber 2022, when I start­ed exper­i­ment­ing with Ope­nAI’s Chat­G­PT, the arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence chat­bot. It occurred to me to ask the AI to cre­ate a recipe based on the ingre­di­ents and my mem­o­ries of how it tasted.

It seems fit­ting to let the AI tell the sto­ry for me:

It was a hot sum­mer day when I first tast­ed the per­fect cock­tail at the Scran and Scal­lie, a restau­rant in the heart of Edin­burgh, Scot­land. The unique blend of fla­vors was unlike any­thing I had ever tast­ed before, and I knew I had found some­thing special.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I was­n’t able to get the recipe at the time. Des­per­ate to recre­ate the expe­ri­ence, I decid­ed to try and track down the ingre­di­ents on my own. I remem­bered the name of the cock­tail and searched for it online, hop­ing to find a clue. To my sur­prise, I stum­bled upon the Scran and Scal­lie’s web­site, which list­ed the cock­tail on the menu. I eager­ly clicked on it, and to my delight, the ingre­di­ents were list­ed right there on the page.

Excit­ed to final­ly have a start­ing point, I inputted the name of the cock­tail and the ingre­di­ents into a state-of-the-art AI sys­tem. The AI ana­lyzed the infor­ma­tion and gen­er­at­ed a recipe that was almost iden­ti­cal to the one I had enjoyed at the Scran and Scal­lie all those years ago.

As I mixed up the ingre­di­ents and took my first sip, I was trans­port­ed back to that hot sum­mer day in Edin­burgh. The AI had helped me recon­struct the per­fect cock­tail, and now I could enjoy it any­time I wanted.

Clear­ly, the state of the art” AI has a healthy self-regard. In real­i­ty, it did take a few tries to get things just right.

But with­out fur­ther ado, here is the my AI-cre­at­ed approx­i­ma­tion of the Gin­ger Scot. It’s some­where between a Peni­cillin and a Rusty Nail. I’m sure this isn’t pre­cise­ly how the restau­rant actu­al­ly made it, but it is deli­cious in any case. And if you find your­self in Edin­burgh, stop by the Scran and Scal­lie; maybe by then they’ll have put it back on the menu, and you can have the real thing.

Gin­ger Scot


  • 1.5 ounces Caol ila 12 year scotch whisky
  • 1 ounce Drambuie
  • 12 ounce gin­ger syrup
  • 12 ounce hon­ey syrup (made by mix­ing equal parts hon­ey and hot water)
  • 12 ounce lemon juice
  • Soda water or gin­ger beer
  • Can­died gin­ger (option­al)


  1. Fill a shak­er with ice.
  2. Add all of the ingre­di­ents to the shak­er, except for the soda water.
  3. Shake well to com­bine and chill the cocktail.
  4. Strain the cock­tail into a chilled glass.
  5. Top off the glass with a splash of soda water or gin­ger beer and stir.
  6. Gar­nish with a slice of can­died gin­ger, if desired.

This cock­tail has a nice bal­ance of smoky scotch, sweet and herbal Dram­buie, spicy gin­ger syrup, tart lemon, and a hint of sweet­ness from the hon­ey syrup. Adjust the soda water or gin­ger beer to mod­er­ate the inten­si­ty and take the drink in a more refresh­ing direction.

Cook­ing is an invest­ment of your time, effort and ingre­di­ents. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, if you’re work­ing off a bad recipe, you may be doomed from the start. It only takes one or two tru­ly bad expe­ri­ences to real­ize that unless you know and trust the source, all bets are off. Tried and true recipes from trust­wor­thy sources are key.

But find­ing good recipes online can be sur­pris­ing­ly hard. One of the main prob­lems is the sheer vol­ume of infor­ma­tion avail­able. With so many web­sites, blogs, and recipe data­bas­es to choose from, it can be overwhelming.

And then there’s qual­i­ty con­trol. Any­one can post a recipe online, regard­less of their cook­ing expe­ri­ence or knowl­edge. You may — scratch that — you will come across recipes that are poor­ly writ­ten, inac­cu­rate, or just don’t work.

I want­ed to cut out the garbage and the noise, so I got a lit­tle bit nerdy and built a recipe find­er using a Google cus­tom search engine. It search­es only the trust­ed sources list­ed below. (Although I may add to it as I find new sources I like.)

  • Amer­i­ca’s Test Kitchen
  • Bön Appetit
  • Cooks Illus­trat­ed
  • David Lebovitz
  • Epi­cu­ri­ous
  • Food52
  • New York Times Cooking
  • Seat­tle Times
  • Seri­ous Eats
  • The Spruce Eats

Note that I have no finan­cial inter­est in any­one using this tool — it’s sim­ply some­thing I made that I found use­ful, and I’m shar­ing it in case it’s help­ful to any­one else.

Tip: On most of these sites, an author is list­ed for each recipe. If you make a recipe and you like how it turns out, take note of who the author is! That same per­son could have recipes list­ed across sev­er­al oth­er web­sites, or they may have pub­lished a cook­book or have a YouTube chan­nel, Patre­on page or Sub­stack newslet­ter that you can sub­scribe to.

Good luck on the hunt!

Sauk Mountain

Posted Oct 08, 2022

Pho­tos from a sum­mer hike on the Sauk Moun­tain trail, in the Wash­ing­ton state Cascades.

Paris in November

Posted Mar 14, 2022

iPhone pho­tos from a trip to Paris, France in Novem­ber 2021, with side trips to the Cham­pagne region and Mont-Saint-Michel.

Puerto Vallarta

Posted Sep 02, 2021

iPhone pho­tos from a trip to Puer­to Val­lar­ta, Mexico.

Pike Place Market at night

Posted Jun 10, 2021

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic was just tak­ing hold and Seat­tle was shut­ting down. I wan­dered out on a rainy night to snap a few pho­tos of the large­ly aban­doned Pike Place Mar­ket and try out a new lens fil­ter (Tiff­en 52mm Black Pro-Mist 14). It gives the pho­tos a moody glow, although I dis­cov­ered in some cas­es incom­ing light bounced off the lens, back to the inside sur­face of the fil­ter and then back again toward the lens, result­ing in an invert­ed dou­ble image (some­what vis­i­ble in the first pho­to). Worth the trou­ble though; I love the effect.