A different kind of balance
After I was done laughing (and laughing.....and laughing some more) at him in his sorry state, I started thinking about the balance involved in conference drinking behavior. Obviously, this balance is different for everyone. Not everyone drinks or hangs out socially at conferences, and that is fine. It just happens that a lot of folks in our fields do both and so do we. So the balance for us is in finding how to go out and have fun while networking, without feeling the need to 'keep up' (V's downfall) and be hungover for the next mornings activities.
My first conference was much like V's, I tried to keep up and was intellectually non-existent for the morning sessions. Not so smart on my part. At my second conference (where I was giving first talk) one host-friend was determined to get me drunk. I was a good grad student and went back to the hotel early to get a good nights sleep. The problem was that I missed all the late night fun. This was a very, very small conference so anyone who did go out (including big wigs) all went out together. With more experience and having covered both extremes, I'm starting to understand my balance. That is, how hard it is to be awake, aware and involved with early morning (and long days of) talks, and what my body and mind need to be able to do it. Personally, I can handle little sleep by mainlining coffee and feel fine. But I can't function hungover so can't drink too much. Closing down the bar has served me well in terms of networking but I just have to remember to opt for water instead of another beer.
We will have to see if I remember this in August at the Major International Conference....