Last day in England

Yesterday I had the opportunity to worship at Bristol Cathedral. It was established as an Augustinian Monastery c. 1140 CE, so it was quite the place. (If you're connected to me on Facebook, I shared some pictures of it.) Then those postgraduates who remain had a bbq. Today is library time, some administrative duties, and packing. Tomorrow morning it's back to London as I begin my return trip to Texas.

End of the conference + trip to London

The Trinity College Bristol postgraduate conference concluded yesterday with a couple papers, a faculty panel, and a dinner. Today we went to London. In the London Library we had a chance to view Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, the Golden Haggadah, the Magna Carta, and writings from people ranging from Jane Austen to Charles Dickens, to The Beatles! We viewed St. Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abby from the outside. Tomorrow morning we will worship at Bristol Cathedral, established c. 1140 CE.

If you're connected to me on Facebook, I shared some pictures there.

Growing Appellations

Another Napa Fun Fact: There are a variety of growing appellations (see picture) in the valley that produce different types of grapes. Much has to do with the soil. On the west side of the valley the mountains were formed by a earthquake. They receive the wind of the Pacific. This results in much growth and organic matter. On the east side of the valley the mountains were formed by volcanic activity. They are rocky and high in mineral content. Also, the further north you go the warmer the valley and the further south you go—toward the Bay—the cooler. This determines which grapes can thrive where. All this results in many high quality wines, yet different wines and grape combinations, giving us some of the best wine in the world.

Old Vines

 Vines at the Robert Mondavi Tokalon Vineyard

Vines at the Robert Mondavi Tokalon Vineyard

One of the more fascinating things that I learned while visiting the Robert Mondavi Tokalon Vineyard last week was that unlike many other wineries Mondavi retains its older vines as long as possible. Usually, older vines are discarded because they produce less fruit, but the catch is that they also produce far superior fruit to younger vines. Mondavi added new vines for bulk, but kept old ones for their unique quality, one that comes only with age. In our day and time where we are quick to discard wisdom and depth for newness, flash, and more production, there seems to be a lesson here. I'll leave it to you preacher/poet types to do what you'd like with this fun fact.

Home-ish!

My days mimicking Carmen Sandiego have come to an end! Yesterday I made it to Houston, TX. My wife has been here for the last month training rookie teachers for Teach for America. Since she's here, here is home! I won't get to see my own apartment, hence bed, hence shower, hence slow pour coffee vessel until this weekend, but that's ok!  This gives me a few days to do some research here at Rice University, which has a far superior library to anything in San Antonio. Hopefully the next ten days will be semi-restful before our two week long trip to California! 

Some Pictures of the Galilee Boat and from Lake Galilee

The Galilee Boat (a.k.a., "the Jesus Boat", in spite of no evidence that it is connected to Jesus directly) is a first-century boat discovered in the mud of Lake Galilee during a drought season. I recommend this lecture by Shelley Wachsmann on the subject:

I was able to visit the museum where the boat is available for viewing. Here are a couple of the pictures I took:

And this next picture gives a visual of how they preserved the boat to lift and float it to where it could be saved from decomposing (the linked article and video talk about this).

Later that day we rode a boat along the Lake toward the area associated traditionally with the Sermon on the Mount (click the right hand side to slide next picture):