Dr. Horrible and Earthquakes

Dear California, wtf? Don't you think you're a bit warm to be shivering in late July? Yesterday, I finally realized that I'm moving to one of the most seismically active regions in the world -- Southern California. I got a tweet yesterday from TheBoy saying "Felt the Quake. Ok at Paramount." (Paramount being his place of employment.. my metropolitan baby). Yikes! That little message really brought home the message: California just isn't as safe as Pennsylvania, at least in terms of still earth. Though it measured a 5.4 on the Richter scale, this quake didn't really do any damage, except maybe a few broken vases in Pasadena. Well, that's a relief, but, as this article seems adamant upon proving, the "Big One" is still out there.. lurking(?) in the shadows, just waiting to get it's rocky hands on our sprawling city. Now, I don't know about you, but I think it's pretty presumptuous of these scientists to just go about spreading fear among already tense Californians, telling them that they're going to get a bigger shock soon. As far as I understand, there are zero earthquake detection abilities and zero reason for scientists to try to frighten everyone, especially considering how well Los Angeles reacted to this quake, and how much they improved infrastructure since the last "Big One" in '94. 

Despite the quake and its faulty news coverage, some good news has come out of SoCal lately: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog. Let me set the scene for you: Neil Patrick Harris (famous for Doogie Howser, among other roles) plays Dr. Horrible, the sentimental but evil supervillain just trying to make his way into the Evil League of Evil and get the girl of his dreams. His archnemesis, Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion, of Firefly fame), has other plans, though, and woos the girl (Felicia Day, star of The Guild web series) while foiling evil plans. The best part of this combination (aside from Malcolm Reynolds, reborn)? It's a MUSICAL. By JOSS WHEDON (and his extended family). !! 

This brilliant, three-episode web series is the baby of the writers' strike and the internet: a perfect match as any. Their web distribution scheme was great; releasing a new episode every other day and leaving them up for only a few more days before making them exclusively available on iTunes (unfortunately with DRM, but what can you do about that for now?). Now, of course, Hulu, the interweb's favorite source for streaming video, has hooked us up and, Dr. Horrible's creators, in a really awesome move, posted the streaming video back up on their site. Way to go, internet! Way to go Whedon! Seriously, could I be more of a ridiculous fangirl right now? Probably not. Go watch it! 


Old News and Obama

Old news first: a few months ago, I attended a really interesting symposium. Hosted at the Penn Stater Conference Center, the symposium was about teaching and learning with technology. There, I really picked up my interest in Twitter and got a chance to hear TheManHimself, Lawrence Lessig, speak about Free Culture and how copyright is hurting academia. Aside from all the glitz and glamor of attending a whole conference based on hurling insults at current copyright regulation (among other things, of course), I made my way into a podcast. A symposium staff member was going around with an iPod with a mic attachment, asking people for their input on the symposium. Incidentally, I was the only undergrad in attendance, so, of course, he had to seek me out. 

Well, I did a google search today for my name (if you haven't tried it lately, I urge you to do so, if only because it's fascinating). The first result was something totally new to me, an "on the street" interview. But, what that revealed was the podcast from the symposium with my somewhat-less-than-eloquent remarks and geeking over Lessig. So, check out the recording here, if you're so inclined (just follow the link to "Klunk on new media as literature").

Now, for the second half of the title. Obama. 
I've never made my affection for Obama a secret. I think he's the best candidate for the job (because, while I agree with some Libertarian principles, I also appreciate free public education and think that the "social welfare" model trumps the "Ayn Rand for president" model). So, yeah, I reregistered in PA so that I could vote for him in the primary and, yeah, I support his campaign (and found many interesting views on him while in Ireland). What I really love about him, aside from his ideals and his considerable skill at evading questions, is his ability to really embody exactly what I think of as a president. Case in point, his recent trip to the Middle East. No one will argue that Obama is charismatic, but subtly evoking Kennedy, as this NY Times article suggests, trumps even my highest expectations. Obama is wonderfully restrained without seeming apathetic. He is more or less religion-neutral, but has the high moral standards that I value over religious piety. 
And, to be superficial about it, he looks awesome in front of a sand-colored background (though maybe that's a function of the fact that he, himself, is not sand-colored).


Community of Benevolence

This morning I took my future mother-in-law* out to brunch. We had a lovely time talking about my recent trip to Ireland and about her plans for the rest of the week, among other things. In between our pleasant non-conversation, she asked what I expected to pursue as a career in California.** I explained to her that I want to work for adult literacy through the means of a non-profit. Needless to say, she had never even considered that as a career choice and really didn't understand why I would bother to go into such a non-lucrative and unglamorous position.*** I pontificated on the subject: on my passion for solving problems of illiteracy out of a sense of fairness, but also out of simple economic need. Educated people make better decisions; they can protect the environment by knowing how to recycle, they can get better jobs by having desirable skills, they can improve their own lives and enrich the community. 

Well, as I was pontificating, the lady at the booth behind us was listening in because, as she was leaving, she excused herself into our conversation to comment on my ambition. She actually thanked me for my career choice. Her husband, she said, is a doctor who recently started his own little philanthropic notion to visit homebound patients. this woman was so excited that "young people actually care" to help others -- she was headed straight home to tell her husband that he can consider himself in good company.

One of the things that I love about tutoring, that I didn't even think of when I started the work, is the community that forms from the action of teaching another person in a language they understand. There is something so rewarding about finally communicating an idea to someone who couldn't grasp it before. I will never forget (or forgo) the wonderful group of friends that I made while tutoring at Penn State. Now I know there is yet another community -- that formed between people who, while engaging in different occupations, have the goal of helping others. 

*did I mention that I am engaged, as of May 11th?
**did I mention that I'm moving to Los Angeles in slightly less than one month?
***she's not as shallow as I make her out to be. she's a wonderful woman with practical concerns... like rent and groceries.