Friday's After Work
On Friday afternoon's a lot of people stay around in work for beer o'clock. I do too, but not really for the beer.
Free beer, fresh bread and lots of chips and dips is great in anyone's book but I enjoy sticking round in work on Fridays for a whole lot of different reasons.
Instead of going to the cramped and loud room where everyone is gathering and chatting, I usually just wander the office, find someone to talk to and say "So, teach me something you learned this week." It reminds me of the mathematician Paul Erdős who used to turn up at colleagues houses and say "my brain is open." There's something I like about that, it's kinda cool and very geeky.
So for the past 2 months or so I've wandered past people's desks, sat down and just started talking. A few times, I've just stayed at my desk and one or two people would come and sit and talk. I find it a good situation to be in since then you can chat for real and get to know people a lot more than you do during the normal (hectic) work week.
Tonight was really, really good. Beer O'Clock was on my level today so I just sat at my desk. Firstly I had a good chat with Finlay about projects, technologies and management. Then, there were a number of us geektalking (and we even had Nathan Torkington there who is visiting Wellington for Bar Camp tomorrow). Sorry, but geektalk is always interesting.
Finally, Brenda, Caroline, Aaron and Joh were all teaching me sign language. I knew Brenda knew it but hadn't realised how many others did too. It's something I've been interested in for a while but never really did anything. Back in 2000 I printed off the signs for the alphabet and some other beginner's stuff, but there's nothing like having a group of people to learn from and ask questions of.
My first impressions of sign-language is that it's a really creative language. I laughed at a number of signs, such as the ones for various countries (like France, Italy, Russia and Germany) since they actually seem a little outdated. But better than that, signs for people themselves are really cool. It's about taking something to do with sign, a letter, or maybe two, an altogether different sign, mixing them together or with either the personality or the physical appearance of the person and creating something new. So, a letter, a pre-existing sign, a name, a personality and producing something (almost) unique for that person.
Caroline's sign, suggesting long shoulder length hair is very cool. Brenda's (Shiny) suggests something shiny or glittering by throwing your fingers apart (sorry, hard to describe in words, sign is so much easier) and Aaron's, using two thumbs (because pointing to one thumb is for the letter 'a') to point to his dimples on his cheeks is the best of the lot.
What it comes down to is, that people's sign-names are basically mash-ups of sign itself and the person they are for :-)
Wellington's sign is also kinda cool and I'll tell you how to do it. Take your main hand and put your 2nd, 3rd and 4th fingers up with your palm away. Then, move you hand from side-to-side as you also lower it from eye-level to chest level. Yep, that's the wind and rain you're hinting at and that means Wellington. It's brilliant and I love it.
A task I shall be setting myself for this week is to find an evening class somewhere so I can take sign language and learn a bit more. Also, like learning any other type of language (linguistics or programming) it's much easier to learn if you have people to practice with. So Brenda, Caroline, Aaron and Joh, I shall be looking for you guys so I can practice some more. It's lots of fun.
This post originated on http://chilts.org/.
Email me on andychilton -at- gmail -dot- com.