I just had a great weekend at the Southern Economic Association's annual meeting in New Orleans. We got in late Thursday night and one of the people with us wanted to eat at the Arby's across from the hotel. Unacceptable. I asked the check-in girl where we should go instead. We ended up about 2 blocks away at Daisy Dukes and I had alligator sausage for the first time. It was delicious. It was also filled with locals and devoid of tourists (except us).
Friday was a full day of sessions. I had to present on Sunday at 8am and I filled in for Rosie as discussant for a paper on Sunday at 1pm. I ended up revising my presentation (and my discussion) after sitting in on a few of the sessions. Some of the talks I saw were phenomenal and others abysmal. One terrible presentation was actually a keynote on Friday night. This guy droned on for over an hour in his monotone about how Obama sucks. I didn't expect it to be that partisan. A week ago, Mankiw railed on some policies but gave specific recommendations for making things better.
I went to dinner at the Palace Cafe on Friday night with the people from W. W. Norton Publishing. Dinner was delicious and the people were all fun and interesting and smart. I woke up on Saturday morning to go to their focus group for Dirk Mateer's new textbook. They wanted feedback on their online homework component. If they are able to incorporate all our suggestions, they'll have the best online homework solution on the market, hands down. I still haven't read the chapters from the book, but I plan on doing that before I get a job somewhere. The textbook should be out for the fall semester at a reasonable price.
I ran into a bunch of other people I know who don't live in Tallahassee. I got to see Glenn from my cohort who now lives across the pond in Innsbruck and Krista who is in Switzerland. I attended a couple sessions put together by Dr. Salmon and he even gave a talk at one of them. I saw some people who I'd met last year in DC and even a guy from UF who I met last week at the teaching conference. I also ran into the focus group people all day Saturday. Whitney came to my presentation and we went to lunch together on Friday. I think it's a great idea to get yourself on the agenda at conferences so that you can go and visit with colleagues from all over. The only downside is missing a bit of class.
I was lucky enough to have Marc cover my class for me on Friday. The class was about the crash of 2008 and Marc was working on Wall Street at the time, so I think he had a better perspective than I could ever have. I hope to incorporate more guest lecturers into my course design in the future. I don't want just to use them to free myself up but also to give my students some variety. Speaking of changes to my course, I got a lot of great ideas on how to improve classes and presentations. I've made note of the actionable items and I'll begin to incorporate them the next time I teach and maybe even make a few modifications for the rest of the semester (like leaving some extra text off my powerpoints when I present in class but making it available online for students to download).
I guess I didn't mention that we traveled in style. Mike's Limousine sent us a 50 passenger bus. It was supposed to be a 20 passenger bus for about 11 people. We only had 7 ride the bus. It's a bit of a waste, but better than everyone driving individually. Better than putting miles on my car. Nice to sleep on the bus (or write this blog post). It was cheaper for the department than reimbursing all of our travel expenses. All around great stuff.