I have begun to read Stephen Batchelor's book "Buddhism Without Beleifs". So far I have been impressed by his erudition. It is telling that he has attracted his share of criticism as well. In an article by John Horgan for Slate, he asks Batchelor why he should even bother calling himself Buddhist at all, since he doesn't go in for all the supernatural stuff anyway. Good question. But I think it is the pride of tradition combined with the relative difficulty of transplanting the Buddhist value system into another ethical framework. No sense in doing that without good reason.
I really like the look of shou-sugi-ban (焼杉板) or "burnt wood siding" ever since I saw it in an issue of Dwell magazine describing the work of Terunobu Fujimori. It would look nice on a garage (buildings which have become by default the modern equivalent of a shed or barn). With a shed roof to match my house it would look very nice. Maybe a small water heater, insulation, vapor barrier, and attached three season greenhouse?
Any independent scholars out there that would care to write a paper for the ISCSC? I know the receiving editor and they have a list of suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.