Sunday, November 30, 2014

NEAS 2014: The Video

Without further ado...

I do not expect to have time to process & summarize the rest of NEAS & ASOR (including the videos of Vaughn & Lipschits) until the last week of December.

G.M. Grena

Saturday, November 22, 2014

NEAS Weight-Loss Results

Today I produced the first video from this year's conferences in San Diego (for those of you anxious to see my lecture, it's included in its entirety). Here's the scientific evidence to back-up my claim that research & scholarship do not necessarily produce overweight academicians. For my YouTube audience, I chose the title of "How to Lose 6 Pounds in 3 Days":

G.M. Grena

Thursday, November 20, 2014

ASOR 2014

If you can read this, it means I'm in the hotel lobby where the conference is being held! A short time ago, Dr. Ortiz (whom I met yesterday at NEAS) introduced me to Dr. Sam Wolff of the Israel Antiquities Authority! It was wonderful to be able to thank him for all that he & his organization does archeologically! But the BIG news is that shortly later, I FINALLY met one of my long-time LMLK heroes & ASOR Executive Director: DR. ANDREW G. VAUGHN! Wow! After the big disappoint of not being able to get together with him 7 years ago, what a relief! He not only graciously autographed his dissertation & RAELv4 chapter for me, but ... even allowed me to camcord it while paying me some not-necessarily-deserved flattering remarks. I'm ecstatic! Even if nothing else exciting happens today, I feel this was a very rewarding & successful day! Will post updates as possible, but my Internet access won't work upstairs in the conference rooms, & the hotel might only allow 30 minutes total, so we'll see how that works out.

Just welcomed Dr. Yosef Garfinkel back to San Diego!

Just chatted with A.D. Riddle & another LMLK friend, Dr. Jeff Hudon. Dr. William Dever just walked by. Gotta close laptop & get to the room. Later!

Incredibly fun morning! Won't have time to share all the details now, but ... (sorry, Hershel Shanks just walked past w/ Jim Eisenbraun) ... the highlights were getting to meet/chat w/ Hoo-Goo Kang about the Depressions, Jeff Zorn about stuff remaining for future excavations at Nasbeh, Aren Maeir about a misleading statement he made during his lecture mentioning the ivory dish, Liora Freud about the "continuation" of Rosettes into Yehuds (first time I ever asked an official audience question). Also said hello to Mr. Shanks, Bill Dever, Oded Borowski (who ... [sorry, just chatted for a few minutes again with Brian Janeway passing by] ... reminded me about 2 LMLKs from Halif published in 2009, & also Avraham Faust. Let's see ... what else ... oh yeah, I also met some guys ... what were their names again ... oh yeah, now I remember! Dr. Oded Lipschits, Omer Sergi, & Ido Koch!!! Dr. Lipschits graciously autographed his Yehud Stamps tome, & even allowed me to camcord it, & explained to my YouTube audience some publication plans for his Ramat Rahel material. WOO HOO!!! I sat next to Omer Sergi while listening to Ido Koch lecture on Azekah scarabs, & afterwards asked Prof. (?) Koch about the colors on one of his slideshow maps. Although I'd really, really like to spend the rest of the afternoon here, unfortunately I really need to head back to Redondo so I can take care of home-work & get a decent night's rest before going back to "my day job" tomorrow. This weekend I'll begin sharing as many details as possible from this fantastic occasion, but might not be able to get much of it online till the long Thanksgiving weekend coming up, which will include the annual Heritage Singers concert. Oh, & ... (just waved to Prof. Koch as he walked by) ... Yosef Garfinkel said the other TWO ostraca were submitted for publication to BASOR back in May, should appear in print very soon, & he won't say another word about them till then! Oh ... my slow brain kicking into gear again ... chatted cordially & humorously with "another enemy of mine" (quote from my lecture yesterday), Dr. Robert Cargill, about his Sergi video. I've really gotta go now.

G.M. Grena

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NEAS 2014, Finally!

If you can read this, it means I'm awake, & ready to slay some dragons.

Just got back from a casual walk to the lecture room. Incredibly, met Bryant Wood in the parking lot as he was leaving the gym. He gave me permission to announce that IRON I ROYAL JAR-HANDLE IMPRESSIONS HAVE BEEN EXCAVATED AT MAQATIR. Yes, you heard me right: Iron I, not II. Details later. And 9 more chairs were added overnight to my room for a total of 50. Going back now on foot carrying all my stuff instead of driving due to logistics. Thanks to my friends for your prayers!

Dragons officially slain! Only about 30 people in attendance, about the same for Roden & Janeway; Conyers was AWOL. After I concluded, Douglas Petrovich entered with a posse of at least 40 fans, for a total of 70 in the room (seated, standing, & literally on the floor, lining the walls), undoubtedly with more outside the room who couldn't get in. To say that he's popular & captivating would be a gross understatement. Edwin Yamauchi was the only person express a comment to the audience following my lecture. He said he doubts that scarabs were of patriarchal origin. That's a paraphrase; I'll have to review the recordings for his exact words, which he later gave me permission to include in my YouTube video. Speaking of which, I had an extensive personal chat with Brian Janeway afterwards, & he recorded a 7.5-minute answer to a question by "Pithom" (Enapoletus Harding), which will also go to YouTube for all. It appeared that both camcorders worked okay, as well as my voice-recorder, but I'll now transfer the files & head back for Dr. Wood's lecture at 2pm. Here are the stats from my heart-rate monitor I had strapped to my chest: 6:51:27 duration, 2894 calories, 107 bpm average, 151 bpm max, 2:22:57 in-zone. I thirst. It is finished. Thank you, Jesus!

Quick notes while the files transfer: 1) I was so happy to see Dr. Steven Collins arrive & attend my lecture! 2) Dr. Janeway & I bonded, not just over our Biblical archeology interests, but he has also competed in a skyscraper staircase race! How cool is that?!?! 3) It was also nice to meet Dr. Charles Ailing & hear a 15-minute impromptu lecture he gave on late-date-Exodus proponents.

Had a fun time attending all the afternoon lectures, beginning with Dr. Wood, who noted that he recently learned the correct Arabic pronunciation of his excavation site is "MAH-kuh-teer" (similar to Disney mouseketeers) rather than "muh-KAH-ter" (like the 70s TV show, Welcome Back Kotter). Much of what he shared was similar to what he had informed me about during our private meetings, including his plans to research parallels to the 1st scarab his team found in 2013, namely those with breasted/collared falcon-headed, stick-legged (footless) sphinxes, leading to a technically detailed, peer-reviewed journal publication. I had a pleasant surprise when Dr. Steven Sanchez of Emmaus Bible College recognized me & introduced himself. Back in 2008 one of his students, Sarah Lepisto, found an S2U at Ramat Rahel, & provided photos for LRW. By the way, I just finished safely transferring the last of the files captured by my devices last night & today, totaling 13.6Gb! I really can't thank God enough for enabling all those electrons to cooperate for this event! Anyway, Dr. Sanchez then introduced me to Dr. Steven Ortiz of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, who graciously complimented me on LRW & Lv1! (And yes, at one time there were 3 Steven-friends of mine in the same room!) I've been anxiously awaiting news about his renewed excavations at Gezer, & he (again) graciously recorded a short video for me, which (again) I'll get up to YouTube with the others. The big news, however, is that he was able to say that the LMLKs they've excavated will probably not solve the questions caused by Macalister's work. But I'm going to remain optimistic until I can examine the photos when they're formally published. After Dr. Wood, Andrew Blatchley delivered an interesting lecture about "The Iron Chariots of the Canaanites", which he believes were probably figurative rather than literal, which in turn he believes doesn't compromise the integrity of the Bible; & he presented those reasons. Then Ralph Hawkins talked about "The Archaeology of Shiloh and Its Bearing on Joshua 18:1". Then Seth Rodriquez, a church planter, gave a really nice lesson & example on how to use (& why Christian leaders should use) visual media for teaching the Bible, since that's how parishioners are taught most effectively elsewhere (e.g., via entertainment & schools). His lecture title & methodological demonstration were "Spending the Night at the Threshing Floor: Archaeological Insights into the Book of Ruth". In particular, I enjoyed seeing his usage of images from His last slide credited that site as well as Finally, S. Cameron Coyle presented an update on the aforementioned Gezer excavations, with the most interesting find being that of a "4-12-4" game-board, which features 5 geometrically-spaced rosettes. In terms of attendance, there were over 50 people in the room at each one (because some were standing), but only about 40 during the last one. During one of the breaks, Douglas Petrovich returned, & I was thrilled to be able to compliment him. He'll actually be filling in for another absentee lecturer on Friday (11-21-2014) from 2:20-2:50 PM, lecturing on Joseph's chronology. Great day, much more to say, but gotta get ready for another important day at ASOR tomorrow.

P.S. For comparison to this morning, the results from my heart-rate monitor for this afternoon were 3:46:34 duration, (only) 786 calories, 85 bpm average, 137 bpm maximum, 0:13:05 in-zone.

G.M. Grena

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NEAS 2014 Eve

If you can read this, it means I safely checked into my San Diego hotel, & my room has a decent Internet connection. Woo hoo! Now to see if I can extend it for an additional night, & then off to explore the conference area, hoping to get into the actual room of my lecture. I'll be updating this blog post as I'm able (assuming the conference hotel has decent WiFi too.

Just got back from the convention center. First I successfully extended my room here for another night, & unloaded all my junk. At the convention center, I entered the exhibition area, & the first booth I saw was AiG's, & was able to greet the workers, one of which was Dr. Terry Mortenson. That was fun! Then I picked up the printed program, thrilled over seeing my name in print as I always do, & my badge-holder, & found "my" room. I was expecting the 40-seat "theatre" arrangement, & that's what was there ... actually 41 chairs but with plenty of standing-room. The podium is in a corner of the room, so I set camcorder #2 in the opposite corner on the floor in front of the chairs, & began recording. I recited 2Ch31, & practiced walking around the chairs ... 3 rows with an opening in the center where the overhead projector resides. Then I moved it to the floor in front of the projector stand, & finally to the back corner of the room in a flyer-distribution stand/thing. I'm disappointed that the podium is only big enough for a laptop, & not for my paper-binder. Not sure how that's going to work out tomorrow. I haven't watched any of it yet, but will after posting this. I then began practicing my presentation, albeit without my paper/script (reading from the original PPT file. About a third of the way into it, the door opened, a head peaked inside, & I was ECSTATIC to see ... Dr. Bryant Wood!!! Ten years after the fact, I was able to express to him how grateful I was for the feedback he gave me on Lv1. It's funny, we were initially chatting for about a minute about what I was doing in the room, & he then said, "Oh, you're George..." I was so happy to see him, that I had forgotten to introduce myself! But after chatting a while, I told him about my atheist-friend Pithom, who was curious about whether the recent Maqatir excavations were going to be peer-reviewed. Dr. Wood said that aside from the lectures he's already done & the articles he's written for Bible & Spade, he still hasn't published anything formally for peers to review; however, he told me about the plans he has for his own in-depth research next year pertaining to the finds, & then he's going to submit a formal academic paper, which will be peer-reviewed. He also told me about an EXTREMELY exciting find from Maqatir that hasn't been announced anywhere yet, & I was so excited to hear about it, that I forgot to ask him if I could mention here in my blog. Sorry guys! I'll do my best to ask him tomorrow, & will post it after lunch with a wrap-up/aftermath-report of my lecture. The reason I can't do it live in the conference center is that there's NO Internet access for the public (only staff). Even conference attendees who are staying in that hotel will only have access in their hotel rooms. So I'm glad I wasn't relying on that for my presentation. Anyway, my 2 videos just finished transferring to my laptop, so I'm going to watch them now. It's very dark in the room & outside the room, so I'll have to crank up the brightness, but I'm anxious to see how they turned out, & if any of my conversation with Dr. Wood can be heard. By the way, after he left, I finished my rehearsal, & concluded with a prayer that all goes well for God's glory tomorrow. I'm so incredibly grateful that God has enabled me to get here & do this.

The rehearsal videos actually turned out great, & I'll probably make a separate YouTube video of them, or possibly just attach bloopers (there were many) to the end of the official video. It's funny to see myself deliver the lecture to a bunch of empty seats! And I was able to hear all of my conversation with Dr. Wood. Here's a photo of us:

G.M. Grena

Saturday, November 15, 2014

4 Days to NEAS 2014

7:21pm My tooth/jaw problem has persisted for the past few days, so I visited my dentist this morning, & learned that it's a mild form of temporomandibular disorder (a.k.a., temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD/TMJ for short). That was a HUGE relief to learn, because it means that I should be able speak normal on Wednesday. It hurts, but doesn't bother me now that I know it's not some sort of infection that could worsen or interfere with my schedule. It's like stubbing a toe during a stair-climb race. Not life threatening? Ignore it & keep going!

This afternoon, while preparing the 22-page handout for printing, I noticed a minor typo in one of my slides, which happens to be one of two that's repeated. I decided to leave it in since I don't want to bother the conference moderator over such a trivial detail. I doubt anyone will notice it during the presentation, & I'm omitting it from the handout. When I produce the video, I'll use a corrected version.

I was hoping to be able to get 40 copies of the handout printed in color for under $100, but was shocked to learn that it was more like $400. $10 each seemed a bit steep, considering that most of them will be ignored &/or trashed immediately afterwards. So I went with black-&-white for 20 of the pages, & color for 2 I want to emphasize, for $85. Had I known in advance that they were going to be that expensive, I would've printed 40 single-page flyers, & maybe offered $100 for anyone who could meet the challenge I'm making in slide #63. They should be ready for pick up tomorrow afternoon. I thought it was helpful at the 2007 meetings when presenters distributed handouts, so I'm hoping this will help attendees remember some of the key points.

Last night I skimmed over the 300-something-page draft copy of my "Volume 2" book (that I stopped editing in 2012), & didn't notice anything that I overlooked for the lecture. That was also comforting. I'm not going to go to bed tomorrow night until I finish reading the final chapter of Lv1, just to make sure I haven't overlooked anything. Then it'll be all-systems-go.

Time for another rehearsal...


G.M. Grena

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

1 Week to NEAS 2014

8:18pm I'm really looking forward to this occasion, but boy, I sure will be relieved when it's finally over. I'm happy to report that my heart-attack symptoms seem to be under control, & my knees have been gradually returning to normal; but last night a new ailment ... what seems to be some sort of tooth infection, an unusual soreness where my jaws connect.

Don't recall feeling anything like this since my teen years when my wisdom teeth were removed. So I decided to start making audio recordings of each of my remaining rehearsals, beginning with tonight. In a worst-case scenario, if I have to have some sort of emergency oral surgery & lose my ability to speak, I can at least play the recording while clicking through the slides & holding up the props, etc. Made several ordinary speech-impediment mistakes, but the biggest mistake of all was pressing the wrong button at the end so that the recording was lost. Ugh. That will NOT happen tomorrow night!

I decided that I'll only be attending the first day of ASOR (based on my engineering work), so it'll probably make sense to stay in the same hotel on Wednesday night; however, I'll wait to see what it's like; in a worst-case scenario, I'll simply drive home, & hope for the best traffic-wise Thursday morning. Garfinkel & Lipschits each begin their sessions around 8am, & the last lectures of interest end after 6pm. It's a real bummer that so many interesting lectures will be held at the same time on Thursday, so I'll just have to "wing" it.

Today I received a 25% discount coupon for making copies at Office Depot/Max, so this weekend I'm planning to make color copies of certain slides for the convenience of attendees (expecting about 40, but will make 50). I want to reduce the possibility of people complaining that I'm going too fast, & also lessen the likelihood of time-waster questions at the end of the presentation.

In other news, I received ASOR's 7-page "Policy/Guidelines on Professional Conduct":

"ASOR's Mission ... maintaining the highest ethical standards of scholarship..."

III.D.2: "ASOR members endeavor to ... acknowledge others’ material contributions and intellectual products with citation of the source or other appropriate courtesy;" & III.D.4: "obtain permission from project, archive, collection or museum directors prior to the publication or presentation of material from a project, archive, collection or museum."

II.2: "Stewardship of archaeological heritage, which is the limited, irreplaceable record of the human past. Stewards of archaeological heritage act as both caretakers and advocates."

Now compare that with III.B.10: "ASOR members endeavor to ... refrain from activities that contribute directly or indirectly to the illicit markets for antiquities and to the value of artifacts in such markets through their publication, authentication, or exhibition."

This policy is, these guidelines are, best summed up as follows: "Anyone accused of plagiarism is innocent until proven guilty (& don't bother us with evidence, we're not interested); all antiquities collectors are guilty (& don't bother us with tripe about stewardship), case closed."

Call me skeptical.


G.M. Grena

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Mazar's Mountain Mistake

This week I added the 162nd entry to my LMLK VIP autograph collection. It's the 3rd signature from Benjamin Mazar, but the 4th if you include his original name, Maisler. This one's in his 304-page 1975 tome, "The Mountain of the Lord" (published by Doubleday & Company, Inc.; Garden City, NY), signed "with best wishes" on June 18th, 1979.

The LMLK content is meager, just a photo caption on p. 55:

"Jar handle bearing seal impression with four-winged scarab; above it appears the word lmlkh ('belonging to the king'), and below, the place-name Socoh. Such an impression, as well as others bearing the place-name of an administrative centre, were stamps by royal officials guaranteeing the capacity of the jar or standard-sized container of oil and wine taxes."

Of course this final phrase is erroneous, as he undoubtedly drafted this book prior to Ussishkin's landmark Lachish excavation, where the capacity of this jar type was shown to be highly variable. However, the bigger problem is in the accompanying photo of a personal-seal handle of EUSOM HGY ("Hosheam Haggai"; Sass/Avigad 668, rotated about 120 degrees counter-clockwise here):

Ouch! Page 304 credits the pictures to Prof. Mazar; "to the Dept. of Antiquities & to the Archeological Museum, Jerusalem; to G. Cornfeld's photographic collection; to photographers Garo Studio, Jerusalem, & B. Carmasin, Tel-Aviv."

G.M. Grena

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

2 Weeks to NEAS 2014


Thanks to Todd & Mike & anyone else who might've said a prayer for my knees last week. They're still not back to normal (sharp pains only in certain positions), but I can walk okay, & more importantly, still climb skyscraper staircases ... when needed ... or when bored while on jury-duty breaks.

Monday night I found out I had to report to the 20-story "O.J. Trial Building" in downtown L.A. on Tuesday morning. So I walked a mile to rent a car, & got there a little early ... with enough time for my first climb of this (now infamous) building, which is officially titled, Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center. O.J. was acquitted of murdering 2 people on the 9th floor, which aside from the main entrance, has its own redundant security screening, so tourists are not welcome there. The 8th & 10th floors are also off-limits since that's (presumably) where the murderers (or possibly journalists) are confined (as well they should be!).

I was selected for a case on the 15th floor, & while on breaks, I climbed the entire 19-story Stairwell #1 eight times ... relatively slowly ... while monitoring my heart-rate. It increased the most when I lost control & began showing off for a beautiful lady near the end of the lunch break, who noticed what I was doing, & commented on it being excellent exercise. She then introduced herself as a judge! Of course, I thought of a bunch of clever things to say after she disappeared through the door to her floor. Story of my life... But it was a real shot-in-the-arm to engage a lady of her caliber in conversation for a few moments.

I was assigned #30 for our panel of about 5-dozen prospective jurors, so I wasn't questioned at all on Tuesday, but comedian/actor Orny Adams was. I had never heard of him before, but it was entertaining to hear a couple of his remarks while being questioned. God definitely gifted him with quick wit & impeccable timing/delivery. Some of his Twitter tweets were even funnier, & I'm still laughing aloud over the first one since I was thinking the same thing at the time:

"The Q and A at jury duty about getting excused is hysterical. A guy just got into a debate whether he understands basic English in English!

I thought I was hanging out with some of the defendants. Turns out these are all jurors in this room.

I'm the only one that applauded when they said we are getting paid $15 a day for jury duty.

Finally someone asks a relevant question-- is there a Starbucks nearby.

They just told us we'll be here all day so make friends with other jurors and I barfed on my right leg.

FYI I wanna go to the gym is not an acceptable excuse to get out of jury duty. Now I know."

This morning, the judge & 2 attorneys began dismissing jurors they didn't want (for whatever reason), & after Orny & several others were dismissed, I was called ... & promptly dismissed. (No big surprise since I told them I'd be biased, but I was initially concerned that if I were to get on the case, & it got delayed, that it could jeopardize my ability to be in San Diego on the 19th.) On the way out, I asked Orny if he had a website, & he wrote it down for me because I had difficulty understanding "Orny". (And no, he doesn't have a British accent.)

Unfortunately I can't share with you how coincidental his hilarious remark about the English debate is with a point I'm making in my slideshow. You'll have to wait for the video!

Another benefit from jury service was getting to finish re-reading most of my Lv1 book. Othmar Keel is the prominent scholar I couldn't remember last month when Pithom mentioned that not all scholars believe the icons were religiously neutral.

Anyway, because I was dismissed, I only ended up climbing Stairwell #1 twice today, but also inspected Stairwell #2, which contains 2 flights beyond floor #19, leading up to #20 & the roof. I'm hoping that someday I'll be able to return & do a formal sprint ... & maybe see the pretty judge again!

Before heading home, I thought it would be fun to rehearse 2Ch31 in one of the busiest places downtown at the busiest time of day, so here's a video of me at the Grand Central Market (for the record, this is Take #2 of 5; all of which were recited flawlessly, but this one had the best background imagery):


G.M. Grena