Why Ise is rebuilt every 20 years

Ise Shrine

The Shinto shrines of Ise in central Japan are famous because they have been re-built every 20 years for hundreds of years (2013 is a re-building year). In an example of long term thinking, there is a special grove of cedar trees that are grown specifically so that they may be harvested in time for the next rebuilding. The same family of carpenters have been taking care of the rebuilding, each generation being trained by the one before.

But there are some even more interesting details about Ise that I only learned today. The shrine is designed in the style of old rice warehouses. One might think that any design that needs to be rebuilt every 20 years must be flawed but there is, in fact, a reason for this design.

via The Long Now blog is this quote from Junko Edahiro on why the Ise shrines are designed this way.

A great deal of rain usually falls in Japan’s early-summer monsoon, and as the thatched roof absorbs rainwater it becomes heavier. The heavy roof presses down on the walls, and this closes gaps between the wall boards, keeping the inside dry. In summer, the roof dries out and becomes lighter, allowing air to pass through the building and this also keeps it dry. Thus, the roof and pillars function together like a living organism to securely protect the seed rice from moisture and pests.

It seems to me, this harmony between form and function is uniquely Japanese, uniquely Shinto.

So now you know.

Breaking Baddest

Breaking Bad is over. I watched the final episode a couple of nights ago. I only first got into the series because I saw from our Netflix queue that my son was watching it and figured I should watch a few episodes to see what was it was about. He got bored and moved on but I got sucked in.

As I made my way through the backlog and then finally started making my way to the final shows, I came to realize that this show about an Walter White’s transformation from a high school chemistry teacher to methamphetamine kingpin was also an allegory for humanity’s decent into addiction. As I binge viewed with the rest of the country and stayed up late to watch one more episode, I realized that I was addicted to the story. As Walt, the person we all cheered for in the beginning, became more twisted, I found myself loathing him for his selfishness. Yet I kept watching.

Today I listed to the final episode of the Breaking Bad Insider podcast that has Breaking Bad’s creator, Vince Gilligan, talk about some of the story arcs including several alternative endings he proposed. The entire podcast is fascinating and well worth a listen but the bit below is particularly interesting.

In this 4 minute segment, Vince describes an alternative ending which was so disturbing that the network producers spiked it. Have a listen.

Go Mie Go!

I am so proud of my sister who just worked her heart out to help her company put together two videos to describe how Evernote works with it’s partners.

Evernote started as a simple list and notes service to help you organize your digital notes. Starting with image recognition on digital photos it began to extend to the physical world and now, as you’ll see in the two videos below, it’s expanding it’s app ecosystem to include physical items such as Evernote-enabled Moleskins and scanners.

The cool behind the scenes story is that Evernote wanted the videos to be authentic and asked my sister to add some of her own items into the videos. Sprinkled across both videos are bits and pieces from her past. Family photos,  my dad’s old business card for Tokyo Q, and some artwork from her daughter.

I blog to remember. This site serves as my personal parking place for things I want to share and save. I want to remember these two videos.