Not at JavaOne.

Well, it's Tuesday May 8 and I am NOT at JavaOne. No pass. Gotta share. Husbands gone to J1, but someone has to pick up the kids and find a spare badge to bum. Watched the keynote on the web though... As good as being there - better really as my seat was more comfortable and I could fold laundry at the same time. That's what Web 2.0 and Java et al give us -the ability to multi-task. Watch streaming webcasts and clean house at the same time while checking email. Someone tell me thats too pathetic.

 Interesting things found on the web over the last week:

Ekranoplanes! http://thrillingwonder.blogspot.com/2007/05/ekranoplans-showcase.html 
Giant airplanes that hovered and skimmed above the water surface at speeds of up to 250 miles an hour. Capable of carrying heavier loads of cargo and troops than any other  airplane. Also called "Wing in Ground" (WIG) .
Developed mostly by the Russians during the Cold War.  Some  were over 500 feet in length and had an estimated weight of over 500 tons! Despite the size and weight, they  skimmed over the waves  at high speeds, were able to negotiate stormy conditions, and flew "under the radar".  Based on "ground effect" -  where the compressed air between the wing and the ground becomes a "cushion" that gives the plane smooth gliding ability.
 

Includes a video - 10 minutes long - in Russian - but the guy says "Ekranoplans!" many many times so you can pretend you understand. Kind of cool even if they repeat a lot of the footage over and over again.  

 

Books: I am currently reading "The Dresden Files". Series of sorta sci-fi/fantasy books. Although I love sci-fi - I tend to avoid fantasy, I get tired of dungeons, dragons, vamps, swords, etc.  However,  this is about a wizard who lives in present day Chicago who deals with demons, vampires, missing persons cases, etc - so it's a bit different. . They made a TV show out of it on SciFi channel. I think I like the show better than the books to be honest. In my opinion, the books go too far in the "fantasy" realm whereas the TV show is a bit more interesting and "realistic" with a twist (the wizard bit).  The books are pitched as "Harry Potter for Adults". I guess. I actually don't know why Harry Potter is as popular as it is. There are lots of other books that are actually much better in that genre.

However, no matter what I think, JKRowling is the first person to become a billionaire based on writing.


I have also been reading "The Amulet of Samarkand" (Jonathan Stroud)  with my son. Considered "junior" sci-fi/fantasy, but  very well done. Bartimaeus the demon/djinni narrates the trilogy.

When I am not reading those, I am also reading "Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind" because, well,  I have a teen and I was in fact losing my mind. Now I realize that she is just crazy and to not try and reason with her. I also realize that she is not as bad as she could be.

Finally, I am listening (on my iPod courtesy of Audible.com) to "Special Topics in Calamity Physics". Great title, good story. Modeled after the syllabus of a college literature course - which is somewhat lost on me as I am listening to it vs reading it.  Haven't finished yet, but good so far.  The tale of a teen girl who travels around the country with her itinerant professor father. She has a "impressive vocabulary and a knack for esoteric citation". They finally settle in one town for her senior year where our heroine becomes emmeshed with a group of "eccentric geniuses" and their ringleader Hannah Schneider. Turns into a murder mystery at that point. Still waiting to see how it all plays out. Recommended!


 

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