Scheduling travel from New York City to - well, anywhere - can be a bit chancy during the winter months. I learned this once again last week in connection with my trip to USC Law School to present my paper, The Forgotten Henry Simons, at a conference there, organized by Nancy Staudt, commemorating (whether or not celebrating) 100 years of the U.S. federal income tax.
(As per my previous post, you can find the article here, and a pdf version of the pptx slides for my talk here.)
The conference took place last Thursday and Friday (February 7-8), validating once again (at least from a selfish point of view) my decision a couple of years ago to shift the NYU Tax Policy Colloquium from Thursdays to Tuesdays. This way, I have at least a sporting chance of attending conferences that meet at the end of the week without running into direct conflicts unless the weather gets really bad.
The last time I went to USC to give a talk - at a budget conference organized by Beth Garrett and Howell Jackson some years back - I ran into the same problem of a gigantic East Coast snowfall impeding my return. That time around, I ended up getting home 2 days late, after various flight booking adventures that took me through Chicago and Washington on my way back to New York City.
This time, at least the process was a little smoother. I found out last Thursday, right after I finished my Simons presentation, that my flight home on Friday had already been canceled. Rebooking was delayed, and I correctly guessed that United would be getting me back to NYU no earlier than today (Monday). So I jumped on Expedia and bought a flight home on Sunday via San Francisco, which worked pretty well although I didn't get home until after midnight.
Comical tension right at the end, as I struggled to complete the purchase on my laptop immediately prior to the start of a talk at the USC conference by Larry Summers. I had visions of Summers getting annoyed if he saw me pounding away on a laptop during his talk, instead of listening to him. And I didn't want to wait the 2-plus hours until the talk plus follow-up festivities were done, as I suspected that the best remaining tickets were going fast. Indeed, even by the time I started the Expedia process some of the better tickets had already been sold. But it all worked out.
Fortunately, my extra time in L.A. was not wasted, given friends there. Indeed, I got to visit both the Norton Simon Museum, for the first time ever, and Disneyland, for the first time since 1989 or so.
The reason I hope the weather gods are satisfied now is that I have several trips in the offing. On Monday, February 18, I am scheduled to give a lunch talk at Tulane Law School, in New Orleans, regarding my paper, Should Social Security and Medicare Be More Market-Based? On Friday, March 1, I am presenting my Simons paper at an FSU Law School conference commemorating 100 years of the income tax. On Monday, March 4, I am presenting my Social Security / Medicare paper as the annual Baum Lecture on Elder Law at the University of Illinois Law School. Both of the latter two trips (to Tallahassee, FL, and Champaign, IL) require changing planes, and I'll be returning to NYC in between them as it would take two changes of plane to get from Tallahassee to Champaign. Thus, there is plenty of scope here for further travel disruption if the weather continues to be bad. Perhaps I should sacrifice a placatory goat to Qimasch, or Ahshqi, or whomever else is the operative unruly spirit?