Sunday, March 31, 2013

A month in the life of an economist

How does an economist at a liberal arts college/university spend his/her time?  Well, I can't speak for all economists, but here I'll provide a review of one month in my life.

March has been fun.  One note.  This month is a bit different than many, in that it contains our university's spring break.  That certainly made it a bit more lively than most months for me!

Thursday, February 28th  OK, this isn't March, but I'm including it as I taught two classes on this day, Principles of Microeconomics and Political Economic Thought.  It's the last class before spring break for the students.

Early in the evening on the 28th, I talk to a reporter from the Chicago Tribune about an economic impact study that's released showing misleading estimates.  It ends up getting published on Tuesday, March 5th.  (Story here.)

On Thursday nights, I play in a weekly trivia league.  Here's a picture of our team ...

Friday, March 1st.
This is a typical day for me when I don't teach. I spend time working on research projects.  (I have 3-4 new papers being written now, plus plenty of other projects in various stages.)  I also spend quite a bit of time preparing for my classes.  I don't teach again until Tuesday, March 12th, when spring break ends, but since my break will be busy both with work and leisure, I get going now.

Sunday, March 3rd and Monday, March 4th
This Sunday and Monday are both busy work days!  I am on the board of trustees at Susquehanna University.  There are two faculty member representatives, and I was honored to be elected as one of them last spring.  These two days were spent in board meetings.  Fun, instructive, and tiring.

Tuesday, March 5th and Wednesday, March 6th.  

Our family took a two day trip to NYC.  I talked about that here.  Very fun times.

Thursday, March 7th

I fly to Phoenix to spend time with my parents and my brother.  Joe Flacco was on my flight, and I felt very little shame asking him to pose in a picture with me.  He was very nice with the fans who were talking to him.

He didn't need to ask me for a loan.

Friday, March 8th

I golfed 9 holes before rain kicked us off the course, saw Zero Dark Thirty (good film!) and had fun relaxing with my family.  And, after years of being a Pulp Fiction fan, I finally tried a Big Kahuna Burger.  It was quite tasty!

Today wasn't all leisure, however.  In the morning, I presented some of my reserach at Arizona State University.

Saturday, March 9th

I played poker at Casino Arizona.

I hadn't played in over 6 months, but that didn't matter.  With 390 participants, I entered the final table of 10 as a massive chip leader.  We made a deal then where I accepted an amount between first- and second-place money and the rest of the table took much less.  I'd cashed in two World Series of Poker events before, but this was actually my biggest "live" (not online) poker win ever!  Here's a picture I took ...

It's fun to win poker tournaments!

Sunday, March 10th

It's 70 in AZ, and my dad is cooking on the grill.

A day of golf, and hanging out with family in 70 degree weather.  It was a great day.  Then I took a red-eye flight back home.

Tuesday, March 12th

Back in the classroom!  These are such fun classes to teach.  In Political Economic Thought, we began a book by Conard called "Unintended Consequences".  Great book, and quite controversial.  Made for great discussion in class.

Wednesday, March 13th

Grading, meeting with students, and preparing for classes on Thursday.  Busy.

Thursday, March 14th 

Teaching again!  Trivia again, as it's Thursday night

Friday, March 15th

I spend time grading, preparing for Tuesday's classes, and meeting students.  I also have a couple meetings on research and I spend to to prepare for a research presentation on Monday.

Monday, March 18th

I am in Buffalo, giving a presentation at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.  They have a number of good researchers doing work on issues related to cigarettes and  tobacco and I've been fortunate to collaborate with a number of them.

I met with several great researchers, talking about important research issues.  I also gave a talk ...

Tuesday, March 19th


Wednesday, March 20th

During the day, I did my usual ... work on teaching prep, meeting with students during office hours, work on research, etc.

At night, I saw a great lecture by Lyle Orwig.

Mr. Orwig talked about many issues related to food security and sustainability.  His question and answer period was one of the best I've ever seen.  He took hostile questions from the crowd and handled them with ease.  (And entertained the crowd while doing it!)  It was great!

Thursday, March 21st

Teaching again in the day.  Trivia at night.

Friday, March 22nd

In the morning and early afternoon, I spend time grading, working on class preparations, and a bit of research.

In the afternoon, I have a faculty meeting where we discuss how to structure the research requirements for the business school.  I am not a big fan of going to meetings, but this was productive and a useful meeting.

Sunday, March 24th

I attend a ceremony for our top students who have been chosen to be inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the top honors organization for business schools.  This year, I also get inducted, but I attend annually as it's fun to see our top students getting honored for their great work.

Monday, March 25th

Today is mostly devoted to meeting advisees.  It's pre-registration week, so I meet with advisees to give advice on courses to take, study abroad options, internship and career advice, and more.

Tuesday, March 26th

I teach again.  We're going through Milton Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom" in Political Economic Thought.  We cover authors from left-to-right in that class, and it's Friedman's turn.  I found some great videos that we watched in class.  Here are a couple:

Wednesday, March 27th

I spend time on the radio in the morning.  I've been blessed to be an educator, and I enjoy that I can share economic knowledge in settings other than the classroom.  I don't think this is my best performance on the radio, but it's not bad.  Link is here.  I come on after about 15 minutes.

I prepare for classes and meet with advisees for the rest of the day.

Thursday, March 28th

Teaching and advising!

Friday-Sunday, March 29th-31st

While I do a bit of work, I mostly spend time with my family.  With a business trip in early April, I try not to do too much work over the Easter weekend.

Overall Thoughts on March

This month was atypical.  I traveled more often than normal, and some super-fun and rare things occurred (meeting the Super Bowl MVP and winning a poker tournament).  It isn't that unusual, however.  As for April - I head off to Vienna and Munich early in the month to give three research presentations.

Being an economist is fun!

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