Friday, February 13, 2009

Dallas, INFORMS Lecture, and Making it Just-in-Time

The phone call from USAir came at 4AM yesterday morning -- my 9:30AM flight to DC was cancelled and I was rebooked on the 11:30AM flight to Dallas through Philly with a scheduled arrival time in Dallas at 5:09PM. This was cutting it unnervingly close for my talk which was scheduled for 7PM at Southern Methodist University (SMU), which, for those of you who may have noticed, would be 8PM, my body time. My talk at SMU was being hosted by the Dallas / Fort Worth INFORMS Chapter. The President of the Chapter is Dr. Tim Jacobs of American Airlines and the Vice President is Dr. Patricia Neri, who also handled the arrangements for me. With an audience of professionals from the Dallas area in banking, airlines, etc., and faculty and students from SMU and area colleges and universities I very much wanted to give my talk, "Synergies and Vulnerabilities of Supply Chain Networks in a Global Economy." The first leg of the journey went well and then we sat on the tarmac in Philly for a good 45 minutes and I had the feeling that I would not make it on time for my lecture. Luckily, I had a wonderful companion next to me, a female medical doctor, so some of the time could be spent in very enjoyable conversation.

Amazingly, we arrived in Dallas only 5 minutes late. I grabbed a Whopper from Burger King, something I had not eaten since my daughter was very young, and it was good! After a quick change into a professional suit in the ladies room I ran to catch a cab and had a delightful driver with an accent I could not identify who also had no idea as to where the Trigg Center, the venue for my talk, at SMU was located. Experiencing riding in the HOV lane was fun and the taxi moved smoothly past hundreds of cars, each with only a single driver. The infrastructure was quite good in Dallas and no potholes were experienced. We made it to the SMU campus at about 6:45 and after asking 4 students, found one who knew where the Trigg Center was. I got dropped off, and marched to my speaking venue with my talk on a pendrive. Luckily, two graduate students helped me to set up and the talk went on at about 7:10PM only to finish at about 8:40PM. The discussion afterwards was great and there was even a faculty member in the audience who had gone to Brown University, my alma mater, and had majored in Applied Math and had had my thesis advisor, Professor Stella Dafermos.

We made it back to the hotel at almost 11PM Dallas time. The flights this morning on USAir from Dallas to Bradley (Springfield/Hartford) through Charlotte were both early, which was great, although the shock of 30 degree temps versus almost 70 degrees in Dallas, was eye-opening. My seat-mate this time around was a financial advisor who was a fan of OSU basketball, and their coach is now Travis Ford, who left UMass last year.

I'd like to thank my hosts in Dallas for a very pleasant experience! The Radisson hotel there was also terrific and so quiet!