The Java Jacket Giveaway Contest Winner Is...

I attended my first Java Jacket giveaway this morning during which folks volunteered to come on stage to demonstrate their “strange and unusual talents” to compete for a Java jacket. After years of hearing about this now ritual, it was fun to finally be there. If Tech Days is an embarrassment of technological riches, the Java Jacket competition is a richness of embarrassments. Have you ever noticed that when someone is embarrassed and admits it openly, you start to like them more? Why do we all laugh when embarrassed? Historically, the most "strange and unusual talent" to manifest at Tech Days was a contortionist in Sao Paulo, Brazil, who demonstrated a bodily flexibility rarely seen by most attendees. Brazil has a well-earned reputation for some of the most passionate Tech Days developers - one revealing a Java tattoo on his arm. Other past winners have included hip-hop routines, kick boxers, kung-fu demonstrations and Balinese dancing.

Australians have a reputation for high spirits and may we even say sometimes rowdiness. Today was no exception. The inimitable Reggie Hutcherson, MC extraordinaire and manager of the Sun Technology Evangelism group, was master of ceremonies for this unique talent show. Five guys came forward to compete.  

Jacob  Juggled some cute Duke dolls with disco music in the background, starting with two and moving up to three. (He tried. I certainly could do no better and a lot lot worse.)

Next, Jason claimed his talent of a strong throwing arm and displayed it by throwing (was it paper? I couldn't quite make it out?) into the top balcony of the fairly large auditorium. The crowd oohed and ahhed jokingly at his efforts, none of which quite made the upper deck.

Richard Morgan promised to say the alphabet backwards in approximately three seconds. Reggie suggested he first do it slowly so they would know what it sounds like – how would we know he was saying the alphabet backwards in three seconds if we’ve never heard it in 15? He then did it in about 10 – and then in about three. And each letter was clearly pronounced. It sounded impossible when I initially heard it, but it’s actually not that hard to say 26 letters in three seconds. A useful reminder here: our intuitions about what is possible may not rest on solid ground and have to be examined. I can now say the alphabet forward in three seconds, something I would never have done were it not for Richard.

Then a man - sorry, I couldn’t catch his name - juggled more Duke dolls with reasonable competence. Duke got quite a workout during this talent contest I must say.

Finally, Derrick came up and ominously pronounced that he had a “small variety of bodily tricks to perform” which put me in mind of stories I heard in college emanating from frat houses I didn’t care to set foot in. He encouraged the camera to “focus very closely because one of them is very subtle, but it’s very impressive”. When Reggie requested a menu, Derrick said he would demonstrate flexible fingers, would wiggle his eyebrows independently, and wiggle his ears while wiggling his entire scalp. He accomplished all with brio.

Reggie heard someone in the audience say, “I can do that,” and looked out to locate said person. It was Nichole, a Sun employee,unfortunately not eligible for the jacket. (At dinner the night before, I had witnessed Nichole's amazingly flexible digits and, wow, I bet she would have won hands down - pun intended - had she been eligible!)

Richard won the jacket, which was fair enough, while the others won dukes and tee-shirts. Reggie asked him to repeat his rapid backwards alphabet recital a couple of times, after which Richard said, “My mom taught me that many years ago. I don’t know why…” I don’t know either, sounds like the sort of thing you learn when recovering from an operation and the painkillers leave you floating in the haze… Oh well. Dear old Mom, ha ha.

Learn more about Sun Tech Days.

Janice J. Heiss
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