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November 15, 2004

Well, PCGG-II is over.  Many thanks to Dinesh and Joy for hosting the event and giving me a place to stay while there.  It was a great weekend and I'm looking forward to the next gathering.

My experience began with meeting Tom at the bottom of the escalator at the San Diego airport. He was kind enough to stop by the airport on his way to the Padiyar's and pick me up. We spent the trip talking about holography, glass making and art in general. Once at the Padiyar's I was quickly pounced on by Danny who thrust an unexpected half-wave plate into my hands and the real gathering began as there was a constant sharing throughout the weekend. Almost everyone was present when I arrived, with the exception of Colin who arrived not much later. It was great to greet old friends and meet additional new ones in Bruce, Larry and Eric. Discussions on Friday night ran the gamut of holography, science, politics, religion and general gossip with of course a heavy emphasis on holography while Dinesh was preparing a fine dinner of chicken byrani and kabobs. The discussions on the first night ended about 2:30 or 3:00am if I remember correctly and only ended because the plan was to get back together at the lab at 9:00am.
After breakfast we all met at the lab where another new friend, Bob, showed up and the gathering was complete.
We began the day with semi-formal talks starting with the LCD panel work done by Larry, hexcel table construction by myself and Andres (who unfortunately could not be present at this gathering), the single-beam methods used by Colin in his classes and the hexcan development that John has been engaged in.
The talks were informative and enjoyable with everyone contributing what they could in the way of questions, comments on the subject and suggestions which kept the day going strong.
Lunch at the pub continued the more casual discussions threaded through with the ever-present topic of holography.
After lunch we continued with one more talk/discussion from Tom on obtaining surplus equipment and then started working on the group holograms. While one core group was working on debugging (or is that debunking) the liti material, another was working on the group hologram. Throughout, people were filtering through the lab, helping at times with both efforts or deep in general discussions. That continued for several hours through several (eight?) liti plates and four DCG copies of the group arrangement until we conceded that it was time for dinner and headed back to the Padiyar's house for pizza and more discussions on holography and anything else we felt like talking about. Movies, current events, gossip about people in the industry. If you weren't there, we probably talked about you <grin>.
Sunday started with an English style breakfast of sausage, eggs, bacon and beans cooked by Dinesh and quick drive back to the lab.
Once back at the lab we started out with a talk from Joy on modelling/molding techniques followed by a round-table discussion on where the PCG should go from here. Several people expressed a desire to hold the next gathering and everyone had good suggestions on how we we can grow the gatherings in the future. Look for more information in the coming months. Following this we had the last talk with Danny giving an in-lab presentation of his work on applying photographic lighting techniques to holographic setups.
We then proceeded to an ad-hoc people-flow about the lab, talking about how the Padiyar's do their work, continuing debunking of the liti material (even going so far as to attempt a few exposures on the newport table to show that the problems with the material have nothing to do with stability) as well as sealing of the group holograms.
The evening ended for me by saying goodbyes to everyone still remaining (Colin had had to leave a little earlier and unfortunately Bruce wasn't able to make it on Sunday) and talking to Joy as she drove me to the airport.
Much of this was written while sitting in a airport Starbucks listening to good Ray Charles music, drinking a decaf mocha (heretical but I wanted to try to sleep on the plane) and watching people go by as I think to recall the blur that is the weekend.
It was a pleasure to get back together with what I now consider "old friends" and meet some new ones during a weekend devoted to holography and the eclectic subjects that interest the kind of people that really like to get their hands dirty making everything from art to kitsch to whatever it is we feel like making.
This was the second PCG Gathering and from my standpoint it was clearly a success. We're two for two so far and I can't see it getting anything but better in the future. We have no lack of ideas and are an inclusive group who want to bring both newbies and oldbies in and continue to encourage information and technique sharing.
Two of the ideas put forth this round that I think we should make a concerted attempt to make happen next time are the ideas of a swap of equipment/holograms and a gallery. I think the swap of holograms would go over well and if anyone can carry surplus to swap people would enjoy that. For the kind of people that many of us are, it's quite a lot of fun to play in someone else's toybox. For example, on Sunday Tom brought in a huge short-focus collimating mirror and it was a hit with people playing with it and I believe he ending up with finding buyers for all the ones he had. Most holographers like to show their work but some need some prodding to bring their creations out and "show them off". Strongly encouraging people to bring one or more items to hang on a wall would be a good way to interest the general public in a gallery gallery environment or otherwise public area and could also be used as a friendly critique wall. We should also try to have a session of "bring out your dead" (not literally) where people, in a very friendly and constructive atmosphere can provide feedback on each piece.
Thoughts on the group hologram. The hologram itself is a collection of “cats” representing each attendee and is a perfect hologram for the group. It's as many of "us" as we could fit into a single-beam hologram, gathered any which a way and all participating in whatever way we could by providing an object for the collage and/or helping out with the creation.
This is what these weekends have been about, participation and sharing, and I hope we can carry on that spirit and reality forward. Participate any way you can, no matter how much or how little. We had a good collection of people, some who were brand new to holography all the way to the pro level and every discussion was informative to each person on some level (or so it seemed to me).
It's possible that the next gathering will be held either in Visalia or Georgia although I'm fairly keen to have it in Texas again if it turns out at nobody else is available to pick up the baton. If not the next time, I'm quite happy to wait until my turn comes around again.
It will be very interesting to see how the future meetings grow. Will we be able to move the "lab" sessions into a college or some other sizable (relative to home labs) area where we can have more than two tables of one kind or another going at the same time? Will more "oldbies" be willing to attend and share information as we have been doing? Will we be able to attract non-holographers who are interested in how their medium can inform holography or holography can inform their medium? Time will tell.
The only thing I regret not doing this time was a group photo (and staying Sunday night). Colin had already left before I thought of it and while Joy thought of it earlier in the day, she forgot about it in the steady activity of the day. Still, we have photos and video galore and the memories to carry us through to the next gathering.

To see some of the pictures and video I took at the gathering, take a look at the PCGG-II link on the left navigation pane.

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