It's the other people at these meetings that I learn from.That focus on preparation for rare problems has to be a form of status display, something like a taxation specialist asking about the role of taxes at every workshop, and straining at gnats appears to be learned behavior for academicians and administrators alike.
I learn from their questions that their departments are a whole lot of dysfunctional messiness compared to mine.
I learn that some people are much more focused on preparing for really rare problems than I am.
I learned that I can like and enjoy a colleague away from work, but would be driven nuts by that person if I had to be in department meetings with them.
WORK IS WHAT WE DO BETWEEN MEETINGS.