My head was throbbing, and if I didn't get out of bed soon, I was going to be late to the blogger breakfast meetup, so I didn't think much about these symbols. In the middle of the 10:00 session on Friday, as I began to feel a little better, understanding dawned on me. I immediately realized that this equation was an attempt to predict and quantify the most appropriate way to enjoy oneself at Kalamazoo, represented by x, where:
b = the total number of alcoholic beverages consumed,
p = the total number of papers attended (probably only valid for papers during which you do not fall asleep), and
d = the total number of days spent at the conference.
Ideally, x should fall somewhere between -1 and 1. A number higher than one reveals questionable moral fiber. If, for example, you attend six papers on day one but then consume eight beers that evening, x would be equal to 2.0, outside the acceptable range. A negative number suggests admirable restraint but questionable joie de vivre (it is also interesting that numbers less than -2 are exceedingly rare among medievalists).
When I went to bed Thursday evening, my x was floating (literally) right around 10. I had only been at the conference for half of one day, arriving too late to attend any sessions, but then I had about five drinks before finally getting to sleep sometime around 1:00am (i.e., (5-0)/0.5=10). At present, my x is slightly below zero, since, in an attempt at recovery, I did not really go out last night (though I did hit the wine hour--not sure how the watery stuff they serve there counts). Unfortunately, I have dinner plans tonight with a bunch of grad school colleagues. I fully expect, then, the value of b to soar by the end of the evening. To make matters worse, my flight out of Kalamazoo is at 5:45am on Sunday, so I can't really count Sunday as a day at the conference. All of this means, of course, that I need to get off my ass and go to the afternoon sessions. Hopefully Mary Kate Hurley's paper on time in the Old English Orosius will have an ameliorative effect.
I'll give a full account, complete with the final value of x (assuming I can...umm...recall all of the values accurately) once I'm back home.