About me

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Professional training

I’ve been trained in several fields: first, as a computer scientist (BMath, University of Waterloo, 1984),  then as a pastor for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (MDiv, Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, 1992), and finally, as an assyriologist (PhD, University of Toronto, 2004).

Assyriology

If you’re curious (and even if you’re not!), assyriology is the study of ancient Mesopotamia and surrounding areas—not just Assyria, as you might think! My dissertation focussed on a cuneiform merchant archive from Larsa, an ancient city of Sumer. You can find Larsa in the map below; it’s very nearly 300 kilometres northwest of the Kuwait City (on the Persian Gulf, the tip of which you see in the bottom right area).

The Ancient Near East with reference to modern political boundaries
The Ancient Near East with reference to modern political boundaries

Employment

Since 2003, I’ve been employed as a professor at Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Ontario), and am currently a member of the department of History, for whom I teach ancient studies and digital humanities. Ancient studies is concerned with the earliest human cultures from the palaeolithic through the 14th century (depending on the part of the world). Digital humanities is a kind of cross-over field designed to help people from other academic disciplines learn to use and apply digital tools in their work.

I was fortunate to be involved with the encoding of Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform (the writing system of ancient Mesopotamia from ca. 3400 BCE for some three and a half millennia) under Unicode, and was one of the authors of the final proposal which made standardized access to this important system possible on modern computers.

Sample characters from Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform
Sample characters from Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform

Personal

Musical interests

I enjoy playing various musical instruments: guitar (I have an Inspired by John Lennon Epiphone Casino, a Vox Mark III bass, and a Fender Stratocaster, backed up by a Vox AC30 Handwired amp and an Ampeg PF-50T with PF-115HE cabinet), bombarde and biniou kozh (traditional instruments from Brittany), and I have a Leicester Smallpipe and Northumbrian Smallpipe on order (both being bagpipes from the UK).

As I don’t know many people in my area who play guitar, I enjoy the company of Rocksmith 2014 on my Mac or PS4….

Submarines

For some curious reason, I became infatuated with submarines in my teen years; I’m now part of a model submarine club which meets regularly during the spring and summer in Guelph, Ontario. I’m working on a radio controlled Type VIIC submarine at present.

Other pursuits

I love to garden (planting and eating garlic is a favourite pastime), fish, and boat.

I also have a first degree black belt in Shorin-ji Ryu karate as well. I ran a dojo at the university for several years.

 

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