Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reflections on ASOR Meeting in Boston

I attended the 2008 Annual Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Boston, and overall I had a great time. This was the first year in which the meeting was arranged by Morag Kersel and myself as co-Vice Presidents for Programs, with much help from Jennie Ebeling and Yorke Rowan as Program Committee Chairs. I used to think that ASOR officers were snobs and only came to the most popular sessions. Instead, it turns out they were in meetings all day long. And I do mean all day, from 7AM until 11 PM in some cases. Some personal highlights of the meeting include:
  • The opening night included the plenary address by Martha Joukowsky, who gave a paper entitled "From Censure to Acceptance: Women Archaeologists in Near Eastern Archaeology." This was preceded by Sarah Kansa from the Alexandria Archive Institute, who spoke about Open Context, of which I'm a big fan.
  • I love hearing about inscriptions, and Yossi Garfinkel's 10th century inscription from the Elah Fortress is amazing. I was also amazed by the 8th century BCE inscription found at Zincirli in which the deceased's soul inhabits the stele. Also Garth Gilmour presented an incised potshard he claims is Yahweh and Asherah. I sort of agree with him, though the Yahweh figure looks like the Hey Koolaid guy. Oh Yeah!
  • The reception at the Semitic Museum in honor of Larry Stager was nice though crowded. Luckily we got there early, and Kalypso and Gilgamesh got to check out the four room house and some cool artifacts. Also the reception in honor of CAARI turning 30 and ACOR 40 were very nice.
  • I was able to be at the announcement where Carol Meyers found out she was receiving a Festschrift, and also to be at the presentation of Dick Friedman's Festschrift. It was great seeing all of my old friends from UCSD.
  • I ran over to SBL for a short time Saturday to present in a session on Service Learning and Biblical Studies. Thanks to Bobby Duke for launching this.
  • The best part was seeing everyone. These are people I lived with at oversea schools, and friends I excavated with, so I know them pretty well. I was especially happy to work on the program with Morag. 
The meeting overall went great. Thanks to everyone who was involved, especially the program committee and the ASOR staff. Next year in New Orleans ya'll.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Off to Boston for ASOR/SBL Annual Meeting

Early tomorrow morning, as in archaeological dig waking up early, I'm off to the American Schools of Oriental Research annual meeting in Boston, which is followed by the Society of Biblical Literature. What's especially nice about this year is that my family will be going with me. I prefer the ASOR meeting, where I get to see people I excavated with and also lived with at research centers such as the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman. This year will be the first meeting after Morag and I got elected co-VPs of program. I hope it goes well. At SBL I'm giving a paper in a session about Service Learning and Biblical Studies. Also at SBL, there will be a reception for my teacher Dick Friedman where he will be presented with a well deserved festschrift. It will be nice to get away from New Orleans and some painful struggles at Xavier regarding Freshman Studies. People will freak out, no doubt, about how big Kalypso and Gilgamesh are getting. Many of the friends we'll see have never met Gilgamesh, or knew him as an infant.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bible's Buried Secrets

NOVA will be premiering the Bible's Buried Secrets this Tuesday evening.
It's about archaeology and the origins of the Bible, and looks pretty interesting. My friend Tristan Barako was involved in the production. The Zayit inscription, with which Kalypso and I were involved, is also featured. You can see the dig director, Ron Tappy, in the image above, looking at the inscription through a magnifying glass. I've been told if you watch carefully you can see me looking intently into a theodolite. You might want to watch all two hours just for that.

Friday, November 14, 2008

House Blessing Reflections

We had a great time last Saturday at our house blessing party. I've had several days to reflect on it, and it's really such a nice memory. Our architect Peter Waring came early with a case of Boomerang wine and several wine glasses. After most of our friends had gathered, Fr. Linden and I went to the backyard to get a twig from our fig tree that survived Katrina's flood. Gilgamesh held a bowl of water which Fr. Linden blessed, and following a group prayer, we went around the house to every room and Fr. Linden sprinkled water throughout. Gilgamesh kept asking when he could dump out the water. We got some great housewarming gifts, such as truffles, a Mishkan piece of needlepoint (Mishkan in the name of our house), an oyster spoon, and a fleur du lis tile. My friend Howie and his family even gave us a football autographed by the 2007 Saints. Kalypso's piano teacher Ashley came for a few hours and played the piano as background music. It was nice seeing everyone's reaction to our remodeling, and more so, to mark the occasion with our friends. Too bad our families are so far away. It's sure nice to be home.
Fr. Linden followed by Gilgamesh, Kalypso, and friends, during house blessing party.
More pics by Adrastos and Dr. A here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

October 22nd in Perpetuity

Overall it was a pretty good day for me, October 22nd. Jarvis DeBerry spoke to Xavier students as part of our Freshman Seminar, we were getting ready for our first Voodoo Fest the following weekend. I was hoping Obama would win but was skeptical at the same time. But the thing is I am reliving that day everyday since, in a sort of Groundhog Day moment, as emails from Xavier are continuously being recycled. People who know me often get my October 22nd emails sent to them again, and I receive there emails as well. Sure does make me look incompetent, which is not something that needed this extra help.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

House Blessing

Tonight at 5PM we're having our house blessed by our friend Fr. Phillip Linden and then we're having a party. If you didn't get an invitation it's because my email is screwed up, so feel free to stop by at 5PM or anytime after that. We live at 215 S. Alexander Street in the neighborhood behind Jesuit. This drawing by Gilgamesh will help you locate it:

Friday, November 07, 2008

Stealing Signs

We had two Obama signs in front of our house when I left for school this morning. When I returned home just now, they were gone and the frames remained. Someone in my neighborhood apparently is in a bad mood about an Obama administration. Tuesday night when Obama in his victory speech said "And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too." I'm not sure the guy who removed our signs listened to that speech. I remember being very depressed four years ago, and being sad removing the Kerry sticker from my car. That car flooded after Katrina, and never in my life have I removed someone else's sticker or sign.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Jury from Hell

I learned on Twitter today that my arch nemesis Adrastos will be appearing for jury duty on November 14th, the same day listed on my jury summons.

By coincidence I recently ran into Adrastos at WetBankGuy's Halloween party. I believe that right now WetBankGuy is on a jury. But that evening at the party there were two Adrastoi, which is why I had to leave early and there were nutria teeth in the brain jello. Can you tell from this picture which is the real Adrastos? Hint: look for the cat tile for sale, the Lee Zurick eyebrows, the receding hairline, and the pulp fiction covers for discussion.
So criminals, you better shape up, as you might just be facing a jury of bloggers. Hmmm. Jury of Bloggers, that sounds like a pulp title for the 21st century.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hope & History

Obama Child
This morning Therese and I woke up early and got in line at 5:30 AM in order to vote in this incredible election. Our precinct primarily consists of African Americans, and I was fascinated to overhear some of the conversations. The man behind me was talking to his sister in Ohio and they joked about how her vote counted more than his. After hanging up with his sister, he told me that after he voted he was going to Obama headquarters to drive a bus to get people to the polls. An elderly lady in front of me spoke about how she was voting with her great grandmother in her heart, as her grandmother had been a slave. But beyond the words, there was a feeling of substantive cultural change. When the polling place opened at 6AM, there was loud applause and shouts of jubilation. One man towards the front of the line shouted "How does it feel to be making history, baby!"

I know the power and the reality of the presidential office can compromise the best intentions. And there is a great deal of damage to overcome. Yet I have hope today, hope for New Orleans, hope for the United States of America, and hope for the world. I have a great deal of faith in the man pictured above. Well done Obama campaign, and well done America!