Saturday, 28 April 2012

My carnivorous door.

Tea cup with a time piece on it
I'm a bit fuzzy on the particulars... but I do believe it's tea time.
I don't know about you, but I have had one of those weeks that merits a large cup of tea, a good book, and a spell under the covers.  For a start it's been raining all week and rain always makes me want to curl up with a book.  As much as I love reading with the rain against my window and puddle jumping with giant rain boots on, I do not like going to work in the rain. This may sound silly, but they are not at all the same.

Don't get me wrong, puddle jumping and singing in the rain are fantastic pastimes.  They allow you to be five again and watch the way the puddles swish about around your boots.  There really is something magical about water.  The key here is that the getting wet part is deliberate.  You don't go puddle jumping if you don't want to get wet.  After a good puddle jumping, rain-drenching, singing-in-the-rain experience you go home and change into your warmest clothes and sip hot chocolate or tea with a big smile on your face. Or at least I do.

Walking in the rain, on the other hand, is not the same as a singing-in-the-rain type stroll.  If you are walking, and it happens to be raining, chances are you need to get somewhere and getting wet is not ideal.  Working for hours at a computer is not an experience augmented by soggy clothes.  It would have been a trifling matter if the week's troubles had ended there.  Such was not my luck.

By Tuesday I must have done something to anger all the gods.  It didn't take them long to enlist the fates to come to their aid.  And so it was on Tuesday morning that I awoke blissfully unaware of the things in store for me.  I wandered into the kitchen and found I was out of milk.  Small matter I thought, I will make toast.  Small matter?  More like warning.  A taste of how my day was to progress.

All too soon it was time for me to get ready for work.  I returned to the kitchen and got out food to bring along.  Then with my hands a bit too full I tried to leave the kitchen.  I say tried because of what follows.  I had to put down a glass to open the door.  So, I swung the door open and then shoved my foot in to hold it while I picked up the extra glass again.  Then I attempted my usual maneuver.  I pushed the door open wide with my foot while I scooted through the doorway hands full.  Usually this ends with me safely on the other side of the door and on my way to do whatever it was I was too busy doing to use my hands to open the door with in the first place.  Today was not my day.  The door slammed shut ever so much faster than usual.  I believe it was helped by the fates.  Suddenly I was standing halfway between the kitchen and hallway in ever so much pain.  The door bit me!  It bit me with it's pointy-ish hard unforgiving handle.  You don't think a door can bite a person?  I refer you to my name.  The door had slammed shut burying the handle into my hip with such force that I had to stand there awhile to recover.  It was the sort of pain that forces you to turn nearly statuesque for a bit, first in shock, then in realization and lastly in pain as you grimace through that first fierce and biting wave before it subsides into that dull ache you knew was coming.  That is to say, it REALLY hurt.  But I still had things to do.

Evil door handle
The Culprit
I finished getting ready for work in a bit of a haze trying not to bend in particular ways.  You see, the door handle was at just the height where all my pants and belts hit.  Convenient.  I finally left my house and it was, of course, raining.  By the time I arrived at work I was dripping wet and probably looked as though I'd run behind the bus all the way to work.  I sat down and discovered that sitting really hurts with a bruise in just the right place on your hip.  Then I was handed my client for the day, a law firm specializing in personal injury claims.  Ha.  Funny.  Good one fates.     

Work was work, nothing dramatic or damaging happened there.  I was finally done with the trouble, or so I thought.  While I waited for my bus after work I had a growing sense of dread.  It turned out to be a bit justified as my bus never came.  I had to catch another one home after waiting in the really cold, very un-spring like rain for an hour and a half.  Though at this point I was just glad to be on a bus heading to town.  I do not know what I did to anger the gods so, but it must have been pretty terrible.

The rest of the week was largely uneventful.  Any lingering wrath was spent in sending down soaking rain that made sure I was thoroughly wet at work.  And of course there is my large, unpleasant, inconveniently placed bruise.  I don't think you will blame me if I declare that I am not leaving my bed for anything this weekend.  Now, if you'll excuse me I have a book that needs reading.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A blog by any other name... would be as bloggy?

I really don't like the word blog.  I never have, but my aversion seems to be growing for some reason.  Maybe it's because I have to accept the fact that the term blogger now applies to me because I have a blog.  It's just such a dumb word.  Wait, you may think, there is a method to its madness.  Yes, yes, I know.  Blog comes from web log.  Which sounds like blog if you say it together.  But really.  Who keeps logs?

Ships have logs.  And tress turn into logs.  But when people sit down and write it isn't really in a log.  If you asked someone if they kept a log they would probably stare at you with that look.  You know the one I'm talking about.  The look that says I haven't decided yet whether you are drunk, stupid, or simply an alien.  If you were to ask someone if they kept a journal or a diary on the other hand they would know what you were talking about and probably reply civilly, without any trace of that look.  You may sit down to journal but you would never sit down to log.  You aren't logging down the events of your life in some sort of formal scientific process.  Maybe it's just me, but the average web log is hardly scientific.

Let's say for argument that you woke up one day and decided not to keep a journal, but rather the things you intended to scribble down, and the manner in which you intended to keep them, were really best classified as a log.  Ok, fine, you have a log.  Are you now a logger?  No, those are the people who cut down trees thus turning them into logs.  By scribbling things down you are either a writer of some sort (and for the sake of this argument we'll include lyricists and poets etc.), some sort of scientist, if you decide to be so formal about it, or a businessman required to keep precise but short notes about your dealings.  Although you can't really claim that your "log" is scientific simply because it involves a precise process, as a hypothesis and conclusion would really be required, I won't argue the point with you.  I'll allow that you are a scientist before I allow that you are a logger.  However, unless it is a professional record you're keeping you really ought to simply call yourself a writer.  But I digress.  Let's go back to the word blog.

I think what really bothers me is the fact that the word blog sounds like so many mucky things.  Blog sounds a lot like bog, a marshy, muddy, potentially alligator infested place that smells of decay.  Or maybe blog sounds more like blob and I don't even want to contemplate the substances this could be or the foul places you might find it.  Now, you don't need to agree with me.  Maybe you have a strange nostalgic soft spot in your heart for marshy peat bogs.  Or a love of clogs, those charming wooden shoes, which the word blog always reminds you of.  Or the word blob is funny to you and conjures up images of cute pudgy animals.  Who am I to judge?  Just so long as you know that not everyone shares your views of these words.  In fact, there was even a horror movie about a blob, complete with the blob song.  You think I jest?  Go ahead and look it up.  It's on IMDb.

"Beware of the blob, it creeps, and leaps, and slides, and glides, across the floor, the door, and over round the house, a splotch, a blotch, and then the blob so beware!" - My Dad's version of the Blob song

I remember my Dad singing it to my brother and I while we were camping.  He used to dance gleefully around the campfire chanting the blob song to us while the firelight made his eyes glint crazily as he crept ever closer to tickle us.  Don't think this allows you to dismiss the inherent ickiness of the word blob.  This is not simply the rant of someone traumatized in childhood.  If anything this memory makes me think of the word blob more fondly and I still think it is a strange word evocative of disgusting things.

And blog... well, it is evocative of all of those marshy, mucky, horrible things.  Plus it opens the world up to more terrible words like plog, which nobody even seems capable of defining properly or consistently, or vlog.  Both stupid words. 

I'm not saying we shouldn't use the word blog.  It is a well accepted term and it is much too late to change it now.  I'm just saying that it's a dumb word and that it should have been called something different from the very start.  Something less primordial sounding.  Just a thought.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Welcome to the Madder Hatter blog

Hello, I am the Madder Hatter.  If you have stumbled across this blog perhaps you are thinking I must be mad to have chosen such a silly name.  Perhaps you suspect that I plan to celebrate my very merry un-birthday 364 days of the year.  Perhaps you are simply wondering what the purpose of this blog is altogether.  Well, in the words of the Mad Hatter himself, "I shall elucidate".

Let me start with the name.  I find the Mad Hatter to be a lovable character.  He is crazy and funny in his own unique way from his top hat to his absurd tea parties attended by his silly animal companions.  I suppose the real question is whether I am mad enough to take a form of his name.  

By all conventional ways of reckoning I am indeed mad.  Probably more so than most people.  First of all I am a Medievalist.  That is, I study the Middle Ages.  My love and knowledge of the Middle Ages colors the way I see the world and is the source of many of my strange ideas about it, including my views on technology, which is magic of course.  I have had the fleeting moment of doubt about my sanity.  Some days I think to myself that the world is a truly mad place and it really isn't me that is mad after all.  Truth is, the world is mad and so am I.

Now, most people who find themselves burdened by a love of the Middle Ages would take up its study as a hobby.  I am not most people.  I studied it in undergrad and decided that this was not enough.  So I went and completed an MA degree in Medieval Studies.  Upon it's completion I found myself largely, and unsurprisingly, unemployable.  So I did the most ridiculous thing imaginable and went to work for a technological company as an online researcher.  Yes, I, the girl who believes that the internet is magic, I now work for an internet company.  If this string of oddities and blatant incongruity is not enough to convince you that I am mad, then I can provide a handful of my close friends who will vouch for all the quirks in character that are requisite for such a title. 

As to Madder in particular, it is not meant to be the comparative form of mad.  It is meant to specifically refer to the color madder, a type of red, though it could, of course, work on both levels of meaning.  The color red has its own fascinating history that dates back to antiquity.  Although it is not my favorite color I chose to be associated with red because I am a proud member of a group of Scarlet Women.  The Scarlet Women are some of the most amazing people in existence, but they are part of another story.

So that is where the Madder Hatter came from.  Now all that remains is to explain the purpose of this blog.  Wait, you expect me to actually know that?  Well, I imagine it will end up being a reflection of my life, a random collection of incongruous ideas and events.  But who knows really.  This is just the start of the adventure and there is no telling where it will lead.     

Perhaps I should end with a quote.
The Mad Hatter: "Have I gone mad?"
Alice: "I'm afraid so.  You're entirely bonkers.  But I'll tell you a secret.  All the best people are."

So, I'm in good company.  And now that I have come to the end, I'll stop.