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Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
10:10 pm
Dear Men of the Internet,

I have some suggestions.

If you are online dating to meet women like me (straight, 30ish, professionally successful, funny, kind), there are few simple things you can do to improve your odds.

First, put your clothes back on. I find pictures of strange men in their tighty-whities horrifying. I don't want to see you with your shirt off before I know your name. Period.

(Also, no guns in the pictures. Make me feel safe trusting your judgment, if you ever want to meet me in person).

Second, going to the gym is not a hobby. Listing "going to the gym" as a hobby and as "how [you] spend your Friday night" makes me think you need an actual hobby.

Third, I know dating is hard if you have kids. You have my sympathy, but it is still tacky to put pictures of your children on a semi-sleazy dating site on the internet. When I see those pictures, I assume you are not someone I want to parent with and I click away.

Fourth, just because the site allows you to specify you are looking for "long term dating," "short term dating," "new friends," and/or "casual sex" does not mean you have to check every box. Also, if your profile tells me you are looking for both the love of your life and for casual sex, I am going to assume you are looking more for one than the other.

Fifth, men who can make plans are incredibly attractive. If you say, "would you like to get together sometime?" and I say yes, your next email should be something like, "how about dinner on Saturday? 6ish? At So&Sos?" Even if I can't make that exact itinerary work, we can negotiate it from there and I will already want to kiss you out of sheer relief.

Sixth, I am smart and careful. I do not want you to pick me up for our first date. I do not want to give you my phone number, become your facebook friend, or tell you where I work until after I have met you and confirmed that gee, you don't look like a serial killer. Failing to understand that makes me think you are likely to be bad at boundaries and to be very, very grateful I didn't give you my real name email or my phone number.

Seventh, please read my profile before writing to me. I only respond to emails with actual content, and you get points for referencing something I put in my profile. You get even more points if you don't write a dead end email - questions are good. They make a conversation possible.

May you have great success and live happily ever after.

Red Zils (who is someone totally different on that dating site, since the last thing I want is for them to follow me home).

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Sunday, April 25th, 2010
10:08 pm
I write here. Some of you can see it, most of the world cannot.

I lock things because I get naked on the innernet. Not my physical body, silly, just my raw, tender thinking and feeling parts.  I need to write like that, to process, to prove I exist, and to record the revolutions.

I keep thinking about getting a Big Girl Blog and putting all these thoughts - some worked finely, most vomited on to the pixelated page - up for consumption. I read blogs and admire people who parse their lives in writing, Out Loud, where their experience and reflections can inform the world. Some days I feel that I owe it to the innernet to hold up my end of the ... not a conversation exactly, since it isn't dyadic or direct .... dialogue, maybe? by freely sharing mine.

But I keep coming back to the doughnut of self-protection that I learned about in a college self-defense class. Our instructors pointed out that you are safest beyond an attacker's reach. This makes sense, right? You can run away, they cannot hit or grab you, and you are safe. If you cannot achieve that, the next safest place is pressed against an attacker - it's not as safe, because they can reach you and you cannot flee - but they also lack leverage to really shake or hit you. At that distance, it's wrestling, sure, but you can fight back and you know what they are doing with their body. The most dangerous place to be is arm's reach - between, say, one and three feet away. At that range, you can be grabbed and pummeled, strangled and abused. 

I am comfortable sharing my tender spots with the doughnut hole: people who care about me and have earned a spot inside my journal filter. These people cradle me, metaphorically pressed to my side. Outside the doughnut, I feel safe with the world at large, since I am not doing anything immoral or illegal and my thoughts might aid someone looking for common experience or hope on the innerwebnets.  

But, it is scary to think about that doughnut.  I shudder to think that people who know me and have pinched my raw places, who may use what I share to hurt my feelings or as evidence to help them feel superior, who could turn what I share against me at work or in my relationships could access my inner truths. People I work with do not need that access. Nor do the few people from my non-torrid but somewhat complicated past need the leverage.

I do not want a blog I cannot provide content for, and, at the moment, too much truth is all I have.

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Saturday, April 4th, 2009
5:56 pm
For jeni , yesthatjill, and other people who like chocolate: my friend Moxie's gluten-free, Pesach safe, fabulous brownie recipe is online here.

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Thursday, February 5th, 2009
4:20 pm
Oh yeah, I think I forgot to tell you, innernet:  I passed my dissertation defense last Monday, and am now Dr. Red Zils, Ph.D. (The only person who calls me Dr. Anything is my mother, and she likes "Dr. Red" instead of "Dr. Zils").

Well, I didn't actually forget to tell you, but it felt so big that I didn't know how to box it into words that day. Then a day passed, and another, and I have been busy doing the Snoopy dance (accompanied by the mantra 'I did it! I did it! I did it!'), touring OurNation'sCapitol with my mother, eating great food with people I love, working on the minor revisions my committee asked for, jumping through paperwork hoops, interviewing for jobs via telephone, planning an on campus interview for a job in OrangeGrowingState, trying not to freeze to death in the garret, and generally living my same life.

Having a Ph.D. doesn't make me smarter, or faster, or richer (ha!). It doesn't make me a better person, or a more interesting one. And I am gleeful about it anyway - I wanted this so badly; I worked really hard to make it happen; and I accomplished my goal. That right there makes me happy and proud. I am glad I did it, even if this economy means I go home to work in the family business, instead of ever using my degree.

I'll be in Footballsburg one week out of every month from now until May, and probably wherever TDaC is the rest of the time (OurNation'sCapitol at the moment, OrangeGrowingState, probably, after that). I'm telecommuting for the job that pays me, working on three or four manuscripts with my advisor, and taking advantage of the flexibility to do so from places that make me happy. Please let me know if you are here or there or anywhere we might meet - I'd love to see you.

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Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
9:00 pm
Honestly, if you do not put ONE TABLE with means, standard deviations, and intercorrelations in ANY quantitative paper you deign to publish, I think the American Psychological Association ought to a) withdraw your membership OR b) (preferred) assign a hitman. Aargh.
 
This part - comparing my data to other people's, collected using the same instruments - should be easy. Instead its making me want to thump people (authors, reviewers, and JOURNAL EDITORS) with an umbrella. A hard, black, pointy umbrella.

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6:41 pm
I think I have solved the outstanding nagging question for my dissertation defense prep: one of the people on my committee looked at my results section before Christmas, and wanted to know if changing my mediation-religion, essentially (Baron and Kenney, 1984 to McKinnon and colleagues, 2002) would have had me doing different analyses. The answer is, well, maybe: my high holy mathemeticians spell out the conditions under which it is appropriate to test mediation (which were not met, so I found another analysis), while hers' does not. There is no defensible version where I say, "oh your guy totally supports my assumptions" - he Just Never Says, Either Way.

So, I've been wondering for the last, oh, six weeks, on and off how I could prepare to get through that gracefully, and without doing Structural Equation Modeling (which is very time consuming and wouldn't have given me much). Tonight I looked at her guy's website again and realized there was just no way out. But, instead of giving in and spending the next four days doing SEM, I tackled the three paths we are quarreling about one at a time, via Sobel test. None of them were signficant, so my decision to not test the complete model was supported, regardless of the assumptions you are prepared to make.

Essentially: I win.

I still need to figure out distribution data for the measures I used when administered in other samples and compare it to what I found inmy sample, but this is not hard, just annoying. And then I will be as prepared as I can be, until I meet with my advisor tomorrow morning. I expect her to ask for a few changes and new thoughts, but am still really, really hoping to pretty much wrap my prep up by close of business tomorrow, so I can spend my weekend merely reviewing the paper and my notes, not frantically flailing.

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Friday, January 9th, 2009
1:48 pm - Vegan Peanut Butter Balls
Peanut Butter Balls (Vegan Style)

v. 1 -
1 c. oatmeal (chopped in blender or food processor)
1 c. unsweetened coconut (finely chopped)
1/3 c. agave nectar
3/4 c. peanut butter

Combine, mix smooth. Roll into balls. Leave them bare, or roll them in flax seed / melted chocolate / coconut / the material of your choice.

If you managed to break your blender and cannot chop the oatmeal, try:

v. 2 -

1 c. unsweetened coconut (finely chopped)
3/4 c. wheat flour
1/3 c. agave nectar
3/4 c. peanut butter

Combine, mix smooth. Roll into balls. Leave them bare, or roll them in flax seed / melted chocolate / coconut / the material of your choice.

Both these versions are derivations of this.

I cannot remember if I have told you this, darling internet, but my parents are going 'seagen' - as in vegan + seafood. It's a health choice, inspired by the sudden wave of cancer diagnoses among the people they (we) love. The reading they have been doing has them ready to stop participating in the commercial meat and milk industry, to weed the chemicals that go into the animals out of their diet, and we are all making some changes. I don't know how much of this I will take with me, but it has been remarkably painless so far. I like eating low on the food chain, and knowing my food's story.

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Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
11:09 am
I voted a week or two ago, since I live (according to Google Maps) 4,200 miles from my polling place. That polling place is the gymnasium of the elementary school I 'graduated' from in 1992. I would love to go back and stand in line in a gym full of memories, before taking my turn in a catywampus, aluminum-pole-outlined, voting booth with raggedy red and blue curtains, but I have never had the chance. I turned 18 in 1999, in a dorm room in Eugene, Oregon, high on codeine cough syrup and wishing the fever would just kill me already. It wasn't a presidential year, but I was so proud to vote - absentee - for the first time, on the ballot I had applied for before leaving for college at 17.

In 2000, 2001, and 2002, I lived a six-ish hour drive over an icy mountain range from my polling place, so when I voted it was absentee. Since then I have been here, several (less terrifying, but still tall) mountain ranges and a whole 'nother country of driving from home. I continue to vote absentee, in the place I identify as home. I read something outrageous this morning which suggests that Alaska may go Democratic in the Presidential Election this year - possibly for the first time ever.  I doubt it - I am hoping we dont re-elect a recently convicted felon to the US Senate, but cant even bring myself to count on that, knowing the people I grew up with - but it is hopeful.

I have never actually voted for anyone in a state or federal election who then won. This is rotten and true, and yet I resist moving my vote to the swing state in which I currently live.  For me voting is tied up with residency, which jangles my heart strings in a way people who have ever gotten a driver's license in a new state may not understand. My Alaska residency is convenient, in that I get the dividend and impoverished graduate students like free money, but it is also defining. My dad's family drove up the Alcan in 1958, so us Zils have been in Alaska since before statehood (Alaska's statehood came late, in 1959). I was born there, and I am quite literally the only person in four generations of Zils to live outside the state right now. Everyone else is in Alaska, and mostly within easy reach of Anchorage (my school teacher sister, living in south-east, is the exception).

I've been eligible to keep my residency because I am a full time college student (and have been, an infinitum). That exception will expire soon, and along with figuring out my new life, I have to come to terms with either going home (where there just aren't the jobs I am looking for) or figuring out how to unhook my legal residency from my identity.  I am dripping tears as I type this, which is totally ridiculous and also utterly indicative of my feelings on the subject.
-
Setting my personal churning aside, I have candles lit as a way of recognizing that today matters and making my hope concrete. Please Vote. Please let us - the collective American us - vote from hope, and get the President who will help us towards a more reasoned, peaceful future.

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Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
6:20 pm
I voted today, via absentee ballot. The clerk at the post office witnessed and postmarked it, and its on its way.

I've come up with an amusing (to me) way to discuss politics with those who ask. When they inquire who I am voting for, I tell them I am a values voter. They usually ask for clarification, and I tell them I believe in the sanctity of marriage. From there its a short step to point out that one current presidential candidate started dating his current wife (age 24 at the time, to his forty-something) while still married to another woman, and the other did not. I'm voting for the one who did not.

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Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
7:49 pm
plantgirl  tagged me with the letter D, for a version of the alphabet meme.

Here are ten things I love that start with the letter D:

Dogs!

Diplomas!
(particularly the one that I will get in May)

Dry cold (also, dry heat)!
(I put a coat on at 50 degrees here, since the humidity changes the feel terribly).

Driftwood!

Dynamism!
(Change is our only constant, which is both terrifying and a comfort).

Dyadic interaction!
(See: all relationships. Also, it gives me something to research).

Dictionaries!

Driving at night!

Dark chocolate!

Denali!

Anybody else want a letter?

(And yes, you may have seen this earlier.
My formatting was mangled beyond repair, so I am starting again. Sorry).
 

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Saturday, September 20th, 2008
11:16 am
This was the very best sort of Footballsburg morning. It's cool enough to pull on my old favorite jeans (which lost their left knee in a parking lot fall, but remain in otherwise perfect condition) and a tank top, and walk the dog in sandals. We strolled downtown to check the mail, then went on to the Farmer's Market. It was busy there, but Kiska reigned as beauty queen supreme, with hordes of small children following parental prompting and asking if they could pet. She soaks up the attention, and is an excellent canine ambassador.

I spent $20 on peaches, tiny, perfect Asian pears, fresh apples, oatmeal bread, and sunflowers. We went to the coffeeshop, where the owner plucked me and my Dansko travel mug out of the line, confirming only that I wanted my regular (2 shot Americano, with room) before getting on with things.

And we walked home, me sipping good coffee and listening to a favorite music mix, Kiska stalking squirrels.  I have much to do this weekend, since I took my break during the week, but I also have plans with friends. This may not be home, but on a barely crisp day with a hint of fall, looking at the vase of brilliant sunflowers adorning my desk, I can glimpse why people love it here.

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Sunday, September 7th, 2008
11:25 pm
"They listened. They argued. They resorted to mathematics..." Terry Pratchet

Isn't this the outline for a dissertation? Literature review, setting up the model, [testing it], then analyzing the data to death and writing it up in numerical gibberish?

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2:27 pm
Easy Chicken PaprikishCollapse )

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2:19 pm

yesthatjill is soliciting ideas for slow-cooked and baked things to make when it gets cold. I love coming home to a warm, yummy-smelling house, so use the crock-pot a lot in the winter. My two suggestions for her are French Onion soup and Chicken Paprikish. It appears that people could use recipes for these, so I am sharing the ones I use here.  Please feel free to share your own best recipes - I love cooking things that have been recommended and vetted by friends.

Classic French Onion SoupCollapse )

 

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Friday, July 11th, 2008
8:17 pm
I am pleased: Robin McKinley's Sunshine is getting a little of the recognition it so surely deserves.

She writes on her blog (she graduated from LJ to A Real Blog) (sensibly located at RobinMcKinleysBlog.com) that she wants to write the sort of books "that people take to bed with them, read in the bath till the bubbles are all gone and the water’s cold.  Or choose to go with them on long gruesome plane flights."

For me, Sunshine is quintessentially that sort of book. It's a comfort and a delight, and - in this crazy life I lead - she can count on me to keep buying copies. Through the miracle of gift-giving holidays I have arranged for it to be shelved at my best friend's house and in my boyfriend's apartment (I made him read it once, and I've read his copy twice this year). I've got a copy at my parents' house, one in my apartment, and another that sort of "floats." That sounds like overkill until you realize I have five copies stashed in four houses (three of which make up my "residences," in various forms), in four different states splayed diagonally across North America (Alaska to Florida. Whee).

That floating copy exists largely so I have a spare for airplane reading. After a horrible flight a few years back where I spent hours on the tarmac strapped in, in front of an unsupervised four year old with shiny (pointy!) new cowgirl boots and an apparently deaf little sister who needed to be entertained, I don't travel with only  new books. If they fail to meet expectations and work isn't engrossing enough, then I am stuck with nowhere to go. I carry one staunch favorite (often Sunshine) to hide in, when those disasters strike.

What books meet that criteria for you?

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Monday, June 23rd, 2008
2:39 pm
Dissertation proposal meeting is concluded.

As always, they were totally unconcerned by the thing I figured we would focus on (the statistical analyses), and all het up about something I figured would be easy (sample, one of the measures).

So, I need to address those concerns and get a revised methods section in, submit two IRBs, and plan to spend July pilot testing (gag!).

All in all, it did not go as well as I might have hoped (no fairy godmother showed up and awarded me a Ph.D., for example), but it went well enough. Constructive feedback, a handful of "good job" comments, and lots more work.  So, very typical.

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Thursday, June 5th, 2008
9:17 pm
My H is coming to mouseville in July to see me. Hurray!

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Monday, May 5th, 2008
10:48 am
I just - unanimously - passed the second (oral) part of my preliminary exams.

This means I have finished all the course work and all the exams for my Ph.D. I still need to write a dissertation, but I am A.B.D. and so pleased.

Thanks for your support, duckies.

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Wednesday, April 16th, 2008
10:01 am
A year ago today, A Very Bad Thing happened at my school. I am aiming to stay less Google-able, but am sure CNN will tell you where I am if you don't know. I mean, The Anchorage Daily News online has an article on it up today, down in the "National" section.

Last night driving home from the barn I saw a sign at a local day spa touting their support for the 33 dead, and it made me a little less despondent. One person killed thirty two other people, and our community lost thirty three members. I see them all as victims, including Cho.

Not everyone shares this attitude, and I have been accused of everything up to condoning his actions for holding it. I hope you understand that that is not true - it was a terrible, terrible act with unforgettable and unforgivable consequences. And I believe the perpetrator was also a victim of his own mental illness and isolation. His family still lost a son and a brother, and I believe they mourn him, alongside their sadness and misplaced guilt over not knowing in time to help him before he hurt others.

Friends who went to the annual dance show last weekend tell me Reema's absence was both formally noted and apparent in their choreography. I know that all the victims' families mourn and hope that this year has been a time of healing for them.

I woke up this morning to open the shades and let the sun stream in, and then lit a brace of candles in recognition. The local public radio station is play a requiem, and I am going to spend the day working on a giant project. Later though I will walk to campus and join the candlelight vigil to demonstrate my solidarity with the community. Forget the stupid rhetoric of overcoming, I just need to be present and continue to grow, and hope others are also finding what they need.

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Sunday, April 6th, 2008
7:24 pm
My [real name] fairy is called Thorn Rainbowshimmer
She is a fortune bringer.
She lives in brambles and blackberry bushes.
She is only seen when the first flowers begin to blossom.
She wears purple and green like berries and leaves. She has multicoloured wings like a butterfly.


My {nom-de-blog] fairy is called Fire Elffly
She is a cheerful sprite.
She lives where fireflies mate and breed.
She is only seen at midday under a quiet, cloudless sky.
Her dresses glow with fiery colours. She has delicate green wings like a cicada.

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