You need to see a map of the area covered by the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) conference before I relate my adventures. Whereas the ASOR conference was limited to 2 floors of a single hotel, SBL invaded 2 hotels plus the San Diego Convention Center, which spans slightly more acreage than the 2 hotels combined! Here’s a photo from Google Earth:
I drew a straight white line along the right side of the photo showing the length of the main walkway from the northwestern hotel tower to the southeastern end of the CC–it’s 7/10ths of a mile (I pasted the “0.7” in the bottom-right corner of the photo from another screen-snap).
Knowing ahead of time that I’d be going to all 3 buildings at some point in the conference, & wanting to park in about the same place on each of the 3 days, I chose to park in about the middle–the northwest tower of the Marriott. As it turns out, most of the lectures I attended were in the Marriott.
I arrived at 1:30, & the first stop on my agenda was the Grand Hyatt’s “Gregory A” room for a session entitled simply, “Josephus Group”, with the sub-theme of “Josephus and the Essenes”. It ran from 1:00 to 3:30, & Dr. Magness was estimated to speak from 2:15-2:35. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of the convention site, I was satisfied that I could stroll at a casual pace to find it, which I did, & I was quite proud of arriving at about 1:45 after meandering like a rat (a happy one, mind you) in a labyrinth!
Signs announcing the session were posted outside of each room, & when I arrived at “Gregory A”, the sign said something entirely different! Thinking that maybe it was canceled or relocated, I spotted a person handing out abstract books & maps. I showed her the one I was interested in, & to my shock, it had been relocated … to the CC…
So now you know the meaning of that yellow zig-zag line in the photo connected by red dots, which is a total of 1.25 miles!!! Of course, when I began the journey, I thought to myself, “Surely the intelligent SBL planners would have positioned their lectures at the northernmost wing of the CC so as to be conveniently close to the hotels–the southern end is probably parsed out for some other event…”
So as soon as I reached the CC’s entrance, I asked an employee near a concession booth for detailed directions (it was in room “30E”). He had a completely confused look on his face, “E? What’s E? I don’t know any E…” I kid you not! It was the classic, “Don’t ask me; I just work here” attitude!
So I kept walking … & walking … & walking … You get the picture.
When I began the journey back at the Grand, I passed up Bruce Zuckerman & Marilyn Lundberg going the opposite direction, & looking just as dazed & bewildered as I was–glancing down at a map, looking around for a sign, to no avail, etc.
This actually turned out to be somewhat fun–these long walks, because every day I was there, no matter where I went, it seemed like there was a constant stream of people walking to & fro, just like ants, following a trail, going about their business, occasionally stopping to greet one another.
I spent more time looking at badges than faces, because frankly, I’m more familiar with names of the people I was interested in meeting than I was with their appearance. Some I had never seen any photos of.
While I was in the middle of the CC, I spotted one! Brad E. Kelle, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Point Loma Nazarene University. Earlier this year he published a nice little paperback, “Ancient Israel at War 853-586 BC”.
Page 52 contains a photo of Lachish Jar 5400, which contains 1 handle stamped with a Personal seal; & also a shot of an M2D handle (RAEL #273; BM #132072) with Circles.
He & I had never corresponded; the publisher, Osprey Publishing, had obtained all the photos. He told me how awesome they were in being able to accomplish this monumental task so efficiently & in such short time–the book is jam-packed with terrific photos of Ancient Near East sites & artifacts!
I introduced myself, showed him the book & the photos; he thanked me & signed it. I was totally thrilled because I had missed the session he had co-presided over earlier that morning, though were I a man of unlimited means, I would’ve loved to have attended it (for obvious reasons): “Warfare in Ancient Israel”. He did not lecture elsewhere, so it was nothing short of miraculous that our paths should cross, & that I would see his name (often the badges were obscured by crowds or clothing), & that I would be carrying his book with me (there were many I wanted to bring, but had to narrow it down a bit–it ain’t easy carrying a pile of books over a mile with dress-shoes on).
So I went from Frustrated to Fortuitous in only about three-quarters of a mile!