I just came back from a full week out of town - PV conference in Philly, stopover in NYC on the way back, party in Connecticut for Ammamma's 90th birthday, and a little shopping in Natick before arriving at home. Man, that is a nice mall - I wish I had the money to shop in some of the fancy stores! I walked around 5th Avenue in NY on Friday before meeting a friend for lunch, drooling over the gorgeous dresses and luxe purses in the window displays, sparkling jewelry and stacked heels. I could tell by the suit-bedecked salesmen waiting with smiles in the doorway that I could not afford any of their wares. But I definitely enjoyed looking! Even the people walking around Manhattan are beautiful and stylish, in polished businesswear or perfectly-draped dresses, big sunglasses, and gorgeous skin. I would be so inspired daily from just people-watching if I lived there. I made a mental note to visit more often. Wouldn't be hard to accomplish that since my current frequency is like once in two years.
The conference in Philly was pretty fun, and I'm glad I went. I learned a lot about why people make different kinds of solar cells, and how. It definitely helped me to understand the state of the industry, as far as achievable efficiencies and standard manufacturing processes. I also learned how secretive everyone is with the specific details of their processes, and how much I dislike that. I mean, I attend the conference in order to increase my understanding of solar cells and how they are made, but if nobody wants to share their gritty details and struggles to improve performance, then how are any of us supposed to learn? Maybe if we all just shared all our secrets, we could truly overtake the world energy scene with solar power. Just an idea.
Anyway, Philly seemed like a great city with lots of good food and interesting bars to check out. There's a cool area of South Street where many building sides and alleyways are covered with amazing mosaics of tile and mirror, including the "Magic Garden" with bike parts and colored bottles too. Unique and interesting. I did see the Liberty Bell, briefly, from outside its glass enclosure. Not that exciting I guess... it's a giant bell.
On Saturday I made it to Connecticut for Ammamma's birthday party, which was almost a full-day affair including three cakes, catered Thai food eaten under an outdoor tent, giant pink peonies in vases, cold margaritas, a bounce house for the little kids, and some groan-worthy karaoke to end the day. I loved hearing stories of the old days, about how Ammamma met Grandpapa, and how he followed her rickshaw on his bike before they were married. My cousin made a great slide show of old pictures with a dramatic soundtrack that brought tears to many people's eyes. Mine included. Aiyo!