Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Already I am dealing with

what I think of as my "count down" nerves.  To distract myself I keep pushing away from my computer screen and making myself go outside.

Once out of doors it becomes easy to momentarily forget anything weighing in any balance other than the bounty that is expressed in a back yard in November in Austin, Texas.  

I thought I would share photos here as randomly inspired.  As a something-or-other, I don't know, gesture perhaps?  Serving as punctuation for the slow fraying of my nerves.

First up?  This is a shot of what is called a hummingbird moth.  When I saw photos of these on other people's blogs I wondered at how uniformly the reported response to seeing one of these was "I thought I had some new or different kind of small hummingbird working in my garden".  

Because when you look at a static photo of a hummingbird moth, especially up close, it really looks like a moth that only kind of looks like a hummingbird.
It is only when you first see it working the blossoms that you come to appreciate how hummingbird-like the motions of this nectar feeding moth really are.  

It became obvious to me that anybody accustomed to seeing a certain nectar loving tiny bird work a patch of blossoms, upon seeing that characteristic darting about followed by diving in and then darting about again?  Any such person used to seeing hummingbirds feeding will see that activity and automatically register "hummingbird".  

It is only once you get closer that you realize two things.  

1)  That hummingbird sure is working the flowers a lot more consistently than you are used to seeing.  Most hummingbird sightings are fairly brief, especially when camera wielding humans are closing in.  

2) Then you also realize: oh, it's got antennae.  Ta da!  Moth.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nearly all over (but the shouting)

and it seems the shouting never ends.

The only variable when it comes to the shouting (and by the "shouting" I mean whatever is passing for the daily hullabaloo in the MSM) is the amount of attention I feel obligated to pay.

Recently, that amount of attention has been high, very very high, mostly because (I am admitting it here first) I am obsessively checking the political polls.  Specifically the polls predicting the presidential election outcome.

I can't help it.  Win lose or draw, I simply want, no, NEED to know.  NOW!

I suck at waiting.  I have no skill sets to bring to bear.  I am not patient.  I am not willing to sit by and watch idly as something plays out.  Sitting by is not a strength for me.  Meddling is more my milieu.  I do have some idly watching chops to be sure, but those only kick in as I am viewing the results AFTER I have meddled.  Because have I mentioned this before?  I suck at waiting and doing nothing.

Unless the waiting and doing nothing is my idea first.  Theoretically.  I've never had that idea first, much less ever yet in my life, frankly, and now I've gotten this far along in the game I am not holding out hopes for those prospects.  But, back to polls and the election prediction biz.

Polls are only as good as their methodology, in every case the source of the data must be considered, the size of the poll, the framing of the question, the ways data are interpreted, and the leanings of the polling service must all be clearly taken into account.  Then after each poll has been analyzed, a gaggle of polls must be taken into account and their results averaged, and exceptions posited.

That is a lot of work and me being generally intellectually lazy means I naturally rely upon somebody to do all that sorting and sussing out on my behalf.  That somebody this election go round has been Nate Silver, statistician and poll watcher extraordinaire of The FiveThirtyEight Blog on the NYTimes website.  (538, in case it was not immediately apparent to you, being the total number of electoral votes available).

Apparently I'm not the only one out there obsessively checking in for updates.  Today from the xkcd blog site comes this image that pretty much sums it up:

The xkcd hover text for this?  "The choices we make Tuesday could have MASSIVE and PERMANENT effects on the charts on Nate Silver's blog!"

Fingers crossed the polling I am choosing to heed proves to be rock solid.  I want to take a long long nap, wake up with Tuesday on the books, and then?  Let the shouting begin.  I'll be yelling either way.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lessons everywhere...

There are two types of people in this world.

Some, who believe that nearly everything can be reduced to the trope of there being two types of people in the world, and some, who do not.  Want some examples?

For the two-types school of thought, everybody can be broken down into groups as to preferences, such as Coke or Pepsi, City or Country, Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip, Paper or Plastic, White or Wheat, Dog or Cat, Christmas Eve or Christmas, Stuffing or Dressing.

Then there are the people who have already clicked off to read a more interesting page, elsewhere.

I fall into the first category, the two-types buy-in group, believing I can simplify my world view by sorting folks out according to their behaviors as expressed in a preference for this versus that.  

A prime example: recently I was sampling posts on The Happiness Project site where I came across an article that asked if I was an abstainer or a moderator?

One group contains all the folks who are good at moderating their behaviors (the not-me group), and the other group contains the rest of us - the types who have more success abstaining entirely from temptation rather than trying to moderate behaviors. 

There are days I run across a sorting question and I slightly dither.  Not this time.  No sir, when it comes to this I immediately knew my answer.  I am absolutely, positively, an abstainer.

That is, I run on one of two speeds.  One hundred percent, or zero.

If I am in for a penny, I'm in for a pound.  I am either all the way SOLD on an activity or it leaves me cold.  I am either exercising every single day, or going through a phase (like currently) when I am not exercising at all.  None.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  Bupkis.  Not even a little bitty teeny tiny bit.

I am either eating quite healthily, or variously indulging every one of my bingeing impulses (again, like right now.   Halloween candy, thy name is anathema to me, thine effects are evil and thou art to be banished, forever!  And/or thou art eaten all up so we are clear until next year.  Onward.)  

The brief HP article does not attempt to examine the whys or wherefores, but rather simply postulates that we all tend to sort out into one of these particular groups of expressed behaviors.  Once we understand this about ourselves (so the thinking goes) we will be much more successful at doing what we want to do, and thusly, we will be happier.

I'm not sure about that happier part, but I'll readily admit that working with rather than fighting my own nature makes for a better day.  

I knew about this particular tendency of mine well before I read the article.  If I had to pinpoint it,  I'd say I spotted my abstinent patterning about the same time I recognized my perfectionism.

It might surprise you to think a relatively insightful adult could go about her daily routines for years without recognizing the role perfectionism was playing in every waking moment but I assure you - it can happen.

Once I did recognize my perfectionism it was a short hop to sussing out the ways it might work to advantage or disadvantage and trying to moderate those behaviors.  Which it turns out I stink at, so, in order not to be a perfectionist?  Apparently I must abstain from perfectionism (or in other words, keep completely away from being expressing my perfectionist behaviors........ perfectly).

Yeah I know.  Years (and years) of therapy.........

How about your-own-self?  Are you an abstainer or are you a moderator?

Do you have success following some sort of 85/15 rule when it comes to indulging in otherwise verboten behaviors?

Or are you somebody who functions best when completely avoiding opportunities to indulge?

If you aren't sure, then feel free to weigh in on which side you land in for any of the other dichotomies listed or simply add your own.   Because there are two types of blog post readers.  Those who will comment, and.....