Sunday, January 27, 2013

Resolutions Follow-Up

I've been doing a fairly poor job of following through on my previously posted resolutions, but I have made a little bit of progress, at least in the realm of my eating habits. I've been off processed foods for over twenty-four hours after gradually phasing them out since Wednesday. I had cold/flu symptoms on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, and I decided it was time to go back on the "Eat to Live" plan and try to eliminate my extra body weight, boost my energy, and bolster my immune system.

When I weighed myself on Wednesday I was at 161.4 pounds, 21.4 pounds above my ideal weight. This means I've gained at least 15 pounds since last spring, and I'm lucky I've only gained that much given my near complete lack of food discipline. The effects on my overall health have undoubtedly been greater than the pounds themselves, especially given the fact this is the fourth time I've had to take off work due to illness since November.

I've been off caffeine since Friday and I haven't had alcohol in at least a week. If I didn't feel like taking a nap, I might go into more detail about what I've been eating, but what I'll tell you for now is I ate two pounds of turnip greens yesterday, I'm eating at least a pound of fresh-fruit sorbet everyday, and my favorite restaurant in Austin right now is Casa De Luz, with the downtown Whole Foods' Greens, Beans, and Grains a close second.

I haven't been working out that much, though I have been to the gym three or four times this month, which is three or four more times than I went the previous two months. I'm putting off education until I'm more financially stable.

I have not read an entire book yet this year, but I'm a chapter away from finishing Joel Fuhrman's Eat to Live, and even though it's my third time reading it, I'm still going to count. I didn't stipulate that the fifty had to be new books. With respect to learning Spanish, I had started listening to Spanish-language radio and I bought a few old Spanish textbooks, but I've put any serious study on hold until I've settled into my new diet completely.

There was a Scrabble tournament in Dallas last weekend, but I am not in a position to be traveling for recreational purposes. I also haven't been playing much Scrabble, so I don't have much confidence in my game. I'll check the Scrabble calendar and pick a tournament for later in the year and hopefully get a lot more practice in before then.

Ugh, I just checked the calendar. There was actually a tournament in Austin yesterday. They seem to have them on the last Saturday of every month though, so I'll have my chances.

This post is exhausting me. I'll write updates on the other resolutions when I'm not feeling tired. I did not get enough sleep last night. Maybe I should add a minimum amount of rest to my resolutions list.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


This might be more appropriate for my "Stephen Can't Run Good" blog since both this post and that blog deal primarily with goal-setting, but I really prefer the title of this blog in general and I'm trying to stick with putting all my writing on one. So yes, I have some resolutions. I figured that publishing them would make them more likely to stick. As far as I know, I have never actually followed through on a single New Year's resolution in my life. Somehow this has inspired me to be even more unreasonably ambitious in my goals.

Because my resolution ideas are rough and multifarious, I decided I should categorize them. I think twelve is a nice number, as there are twelve months in a year.

  • Phase out all processed foods (especially flour, sugar, oil, salt, alcohol, caffeine)
  • Work out every day (at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity)
  • Strive to maintain a weight of 140 pounds (considered "ideal" by Dr. Fuhrman for my height, and it's the weight I hovered around after I cut out unprocessed foods for a few months early last year)
  • Enroll in ACC program to complete my CDA (Child Development Associate) certificate
  • Finish my teacher certification
  • Re-take the LSAT and consider applying again for law school
  • Read 50 books (I'll really have to find ways to make myself accountable on this one if I have any hope of completing it. I'm starting with Peter Singer's Animal Liberation since I just found it on a bookshelf and it's one I should have read by now.)
  • Learn Spanish (My hope would be to learn enough to pass an exam to be a translator.)
  • Enter an official Scrabble tournament and win at least one match
  • Write a novel of at least 50,000 words
  • Learn to play the guitar (I'm not sure how to define success with this. Maybe someone who plays could give me a more specific modest goal.)
  • Paint something I wouldn't be embarrassed to keep in my living room
  • Increase my bowling average to 200 by the end of the year and lead my team to the playoffs in my league
  • Play enough basketball that I wouldn't be afraid to participate in a pick-up game in my neighborhood (Riverside/Montopolis area)
  •  Place in a disc golf tournament (There's one every Saturday at Waterloo.)

So that was 15 resolutions. I made them specific and measurable. I was going to write in more detail about these goals, and maybe throw in some other unrelated musings, but I'm tired now.

I can take concrete steps on two of these before bed. I'm not going to eat anything else today (therefore nothing processed) and I'm going to read Animal Liberation as I fall asleep.

I, Stephen Bollich, hereby declare today, January 3, the first day of the year.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Federal Reserve and My Flirtation with the Political Left

I just read Ron Paul's End the Fed for the first time. Some of you may know that although I portray myself as an intellectual, I rarely read books. Well, I actually read one this week. Hooray for me!

Reading the book reignited my interest in the Federal Reserve (and really gave me a solid grounding in the subject matter for the first time). It's been nice not having internet for the past month and going without a television for the past several months. I've been more or less forced to read more, especially given my recent proclivity for hermitage.

I think I'm picking up from where I left off when I was last politically engaged, but I can't really recall when that was, so I can't be certain. Regardless, listening to political hip hop and reading Carter Woodson's The Mis-Education of the Negro has had the effect of pushing my politics to the left in the conventional American sense, to the point that I even feel some grudging support for Barack Obama, primarily because he is a black man.

I don't feel bad about this. I'm not engaged in a political community, and I feel no need to explain myself for the benefit of others, though I do want to explore this trend for my own ends. No longer do I feel so tied to any particular ideology. Like a friend of mine said last night, the way to formulate opinions is not to attach a label to yourself and then subscribe to the individual tenets of that doctrine. Instead, one should develop thoughtful opinions about the world through research and experience and then see where the preponderance of those viewpoints fit within the various factions in the battle of ideas. And even after accepting a label, one should never feel obligated to associate with a belief because of some unspoken requirement for "consistency," as defined by those both within and without one's adopted school of thought.

Living in our marginally free society, libertarianism is not so simple as supporting a blanket agenda of cutting taxes and government spending. I have begun to question the wisdom that cuts to entitlement spending that target the most disadvantaged segments of society are inherently a positive course of action. In the wake of the most recent financial crisis, the American people as a whole have borne the costs placed on us by the financial and political elites, through taxation, inflation, warfare, and eliminating the incentive to save for the future by enforcing obscenely low interest rates. Because of this, until corporate welfare is trimmed down to nothing and the tax burden on those below median income is cut drastically, I see no reason to provide any benefits or relief to those in the middle and upper classes. Class warfare is a reality, whether or not those on the political right want to acknowledge it. Specifically, the banking class and their allies have been at war with the rest of the American people for decades, and the poor have been the biggest losers.

Though I've tried, and I could have my opinion changed, I feel little to no sympathy for those who have lost their homes in the wake of the busted housing bubble. I empathize with everyone for the ravishes inflation has caused throughout the economy, but as someone who has never owned a home, I see the losers in the housing game as people who took on investment risk with the awareness that things would not necessarily work out. Granted, much of the blame should be placed on the Federal Reserve and lending regulations codified by the US Congress, but who should be responsible for footing the bill?

Currently, we are all paying for it, in the form of government intervention to keep bad mortgages on the books, bailouts of irresponsible companies, and all the other manipulation and theft that our government is using to perpetuate the appearance of wealth in a failing economic system.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stephen Hates Blogging (apparently)

Sorry gang. I haven't posted on here in a while. Maybe I should rephrase that. I've only posted on here twice. Ever. For all intents and purposes this isn't even a blog. This is a very brief collection of notes I compiled two months ago. I don't even remember why I started this anymore. Doesn't matter. That's water under the bridge. Monkey off the back. Salt over the shoulder. No skin off my person. Another shrimp on the Barbie. Et cetera. And/or. Ad infinitum.

The title of this blog post should be something about Ron Paul, because that's what I feel I need to write about. However, it would be disingenuous for me to jump in and start trying to post serious political commentary when I have not established any credibility, and I need to do a lot of convincing before anyone is going to believe that I am going to update this blog regularly. I'm probably the most skeptical.

I don't want to get people all excited about "Stephen the Intellectually Stimulating Blogger with a Penchant for Controversy, Honesty, and Ambivalence" and then disappear into the night. I should be dignified, and show you what it is to cry. I know and care what my heart is for. I want to change illusion into something real.

Regarding Ron Paul, I find myself unwittingly falling in line as a supporter again this time around, even though I have not been very involved in politics since 2008. I've started occasionally watching C-SPAN again, but I don't read the news, watch the news, and I've barely even been listening to NPR. A few years ago I would have been able to list off all the important topics of the day and tell you where I stand, and maybe even persuade your thinking. Now I'm vaguely aware that there's some underwear scandal, the Congress is probably in session, Obama is still the president, someone killed Osama Bin Laden a while back, and there are 10 to 15 Republicans running for president.

I discovered Ron Paul was one of those candidates from accidentally watching his announcement on C-SPAN in the break room at work. Up to that point, I thought Rand Paul was supposed to be the member of the Paul family that was running, or that maybe Ron Paul was endorsing Gary Johnson. Oh, look. I know the name Gary Johnson. He used to be Governor of New Mexico (I think). Libertarians like him. And he's running for president. So yeah. I know a couple of things.

Going into this, I see no way I could be as enthusiastic as I was in 2007. I'm old, jaded, work a 9-to-5 job, have a son, and I've become something of a realist. With that said, my problem with Ron Paul is still that he's generally too moderate, and I lean more anarchist than anything. If I've toned down my ideology at all, it should make me more inclined to like Ron Paul. But I don't know if that's the case yet. I hope he has grown in the past couple of years, with the birth of the "Tea Party" movement and with the changes that have taken place in the economy and across the political landscape. I will be more critical of him than I was way back in my naive early 20's.

That's all I have for now, since I still don't read the news. I'll let you know if and when I learn anything new. In general, not just on this topic.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Thank you all for being a threat."

I attended the Will Potter lecture at MonkeyWrench Books tonight, and am very glad I did. It had been a while since I had been to one of these sorts of events, and I always find them inspiring. The last thing I recall attending there was a discussion on the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act a while back, and I was not nearly as impressed. The discussion tonight, like the AETA discussion I went to over a year ago, was hosted by an animal rights activist, but in this case the speaker was also a well-spoken journalist.

To provide a little bit of background, Will Potter is a former Austinite who recently had a book published on the animal and earth liberation movements called Green is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement Under Siege. In it, Will follows various members of the movement who have been victims of government surveillance, prosecution, and imprisonment (somewhat analogous to the "red scare" in the early to mid-20th Century that targeted suspected communists) and also provides analysis of the situation and ideas for the future.

After opening by reading a couple of excerpts from the book, Will spoke about the "green scare" in more general terms. He began by defining terrorism as “non-state violence,” and showed examples of the collusion between the federal government and large corporations in targeting "eco-terrorism." He painted a convincing picture of why this so-called “terrorism” has been so fiercely maligned. Unlike most that I've read and seen in the past on this subject, Will argued that the fear of animal and environmental rights activists is so strong not because of irrational fears of the left, but because of very rational, well-reasoned fears of the economic impact these activists are having. In other words, they fear us because we are winning.

Although Will did not mention this specifically, it got me thinking about how the public has often been supportive of animal liberation actions in the past, even among those who do not otherwise support the animal rights agenda. Tying this in with Will's examples of anti-green marketing in the media, I think it helps explain all the money put into large-scale campaigns against the animal rights movement. There has been a concerted effort to convince persons sympathetic to attacks on corporate profits to realign their thinking and view these actions as on par with violent forms of terrorism.

As an aside, I found myself somewhat distracted by Will's belt and shoes, which looked convincingly like leather. However, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume they were faux, based on his otherwise consistent animal rights knowledge, although he did not speak specifically to his veganism.

Because I bought a copy of the book, I hope to write in more detail my thoughts on his writing and the movement in the near future. Ideally, I will also be inspired to take a more active role in fighting for animal rights, but we'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Stephen Hates America

Dear Person,

So, I was telling a friend today that there's not a credible, mainstream news blog with an American focus and a left-wing anarchist slant. I forget what chide she offered for my ignorant and mostly facetious declaration, but now that I think about it, it might have been more of a chortle than a chide...

Chortles and chides aside, "Hi, I'm Stephen. This is a blog." Why am I writing this, you ask. Well, vanity for one. I like myself a lot and want everyone to like me too. Two, I want to eventually make money as a writer, and I feel that this topic is one I can write on infinitely and effortlessly, in a way that is informative, engaging, and entertaining.

This is the part where I describe what I intend to write and why I chose an inflammatory title for these textual musings. As I have established, I am vain, so I wanted a title with my name in it. I have decided that I came up with the statement unwittingly as an homage to Mike Wilson's 2004 documentary Michael Moore Hates America and the Westboro Baptist Church's well-known "God Hates America" slogan. However, in my case, I am adhering the label to myself. It is also different in my case because the statement is not true.

So, Stephen doesn't hate America? What is "America" anyway? Is it the culture? The government? The people? The terrain, climate, habitat, or unique details of the physical landscape? I do not hate any of these things on the whole, not overtly anyway. I may hate some aspects of some of these things some of the time (if I can really be said to "hate" anything), but for the most part I'm a lovable, likable, friendly guy.

In the days, weeks, months, and/or years that follow, prepare to be treated to pieces of literature that will make you laugh, cry, and think. Prepare to see heroes vilified and villains defended. I will attack power on principle, not necessarily out of carefully contrived merit. I may occasionally say things primarily to garner attention or make a larger point. I may disguise my own opinions to various ends.

If these things bother you, please read everything I write and comment with as much vitriol as possible. If you like what I have to say and tend to agree, you probably aren't reading enough books.

Thank you for your time,