You have to check out George Meyer's New Yorker May 28 column, My Undoing. Now here's a guy who really, really loves conferences! From the column:
Our existence is but an eyeblink. Why, then, should a man not chase down his passions, wrestle them to the dirt, and ride them like ostriches? He should, and I have.
Speedboats have been a lifelong diversion. Scotch, a serious problem. Yet no vice bedevils me like my one desperate fixation, my shameful ravening itch: I simply must attend conferences.
The sheer number is embarrassingâ€”more than eight thousand. Did I make a pig of myself? Of course. What have I learned from all this conference-going? Everything, and nothing. Tout, et rien. It is the conferences themselves that I crave, in all their bewitching varieties.
He goes on to rapturously discourse about seminars, roundtables, etc., in a way that is, well, just go read it.