Paramedics, sports cheating, and good beer

Our son Colin graduated from paramedic school this past Thursday. As valedictorian (shameless plug from a proud parent), he was asked to give a speech to his class. He quoted part of another speech by attorney – and paramedic – David Givot. You can read the text here if you’re interested. I highly recommend it – excellent observations from one who’s been there and how being a paramedic is the most significant job there is. I’d like to share one part of the speech:

Unlike even other EMS providers, it is the paramedic who willingly puts himself or herself smack in the middle of tragedy. It is the paramedic who willingly seeks out life’s worst moments and brings hope and comfort. It is the paramedic who willingly faces the absolute worst that human kind has to offer and takes control with a level head, a firm voice, and gentle hands.

Think about that for a minute. “…willingly seeks out life’s worst moments…” It takes a special person to do that. It takes a special person to want to do that. And our Colin is one of those special people.

Sports and cheating

Lance Armstrong got a lot of attention this past week and I’m puzzled at the reactions. Not from those Lance sued for saying things that turned out true – those are understandable. But to make such a big deal about so called performance enhancing drugs…I’m still not convinced that they make much difference, nor that their use constitutes “cheating”. Particularly not in a sport that pretty much is completely overrun with them; where the “level playing field” is using them; where it seems that many of the officials ignored their use. Despite testing, Armstrong seemed to be one or two steps ahead of the watchful eyes. Unless there was a greater conspiracy to substitute samples or findings, he was the smarter adversary in the fight against doping.

Now, in a sport where there was deliberately no such oversight, why would we be surprised to find out that the big names in baseball such as Barry Bonds likely used some sort of PEDs? I mean, one look at the young, skinny Bonds compared to the record-setting Bonds, it’s clear to me that something made him bigger …and stronger… because the increase in muscle mass occurred well after a normal person’s growth peak. But strength alone plays a very minor part in home run hitting. PEDs don’t affect hand-eye coordination – not HGH or steroids…the skill to hit a curving ball coming at you at 90 plus miles per hour is something outside a strength to bench press 350 pounds. As one Baseball Writers Association voter said, the Hall of Fame is full of people who did not have good character. So why penalize people like Bonds out of self-righteous indignation?

But these performance enhancing drugs are just technological advances, aren’t they? And we don’t seem to have any problems with other technologies intruding on our sports. Take tennis… The Williams sisters are fantastically talented, but they play with composite, over-sized racquets that react better, control better and impart more speed to the ball than those used by Chris Evert and her contemporaries. But that’s not the same as technologies to aid in muscle growth, right?

What about swimming? Those high tech suits were the rage until officials became alarmed over too many records being broken. If everyone is wearing them, then what’s the difference from not wearing them? It comes down to the differences in human strength and skill again, but no, we must to allow technology to play a factor in performance.

Of course, today’s pole vault records could not have been set without technologically advanced poles made from composites. What about footwear and sprint records? No impact, right? And at the highest competitive levels, athletes use technology to analyze body motions to pinpoint micro improvements that shave fractions off of times by changing an arm or leg movement.

But that’s different, right? Tell that to the underfunded athletes without access to such technology.

Jimmy Johnson (the football Jimmy Johnson) said he tried taping his opponent teams’s signals but eventually didn’t see any advantage to doing so. Bill Belichik apparently did see an advantage and got labeled a cheater. In a game that moves so fast and “adjustments” are made so quickly, I don’t know how it could be an advantage, but then I also don’t know what kind of mind can watch six or more hours of football film every day.

Did Armstrong and Bonds “cheat”? Maybe. Or maybe they just took advantage of technologies that have since been deemed not as okay as tennis racquets or golf clubs.

Beer of the week…

I finished reading The Naked Brewer this week and learned about Imperial Stouts. I stopped by Central Market and asked the store beer expert on hand that day where I could find such stouts. He directed me to a few that I wasn’t willing to spend the money on ($12 for one bottle? get real) but I found a few I wanted to try. I settled on one that was an Imperial Milk Stout – the brewer uses lactose – call The Temptress from Lakewood Brewing Company. Imagine my surprise when I discovered my randomly selected Imperial Stout turned out to be made in Garland, Texas, not 10 miles from my house…and they have tours with samples!

Deep rich dark color, milky chocolate head that lingers as lace on the glass long after it disappear, strong coffee flavors…and a 9.1% ABV to boot! One to enjoy casually. and it pairs well with a tangy blue cheese.


As noted above, I finished The Naked Brewer: Fearless Homebrewing Tips, Tricks & Rule-breaking Recipes by Christina Perozzi & Hallie Beaune this past week. Good info on homebrewing and I think I’ll check out a couple of more books, but I also think I’ll not venture beyond the kit hobbyist – too much work.

I found The Thousand Coffins Affair (The Man from U.N.C.L.E. #1) by Michael Avallone and gave it a whirl. Light, 1960s spy pulp, it made me want to see if Netflix has any of the TV series (it does…first disc from season one added).

I finished Arthur Clarke’s Childhood’s End and was mildly disappointed in my 35 year old memory of when I last read it. I think I liked it then, but did not particularly like it this time. I’ll pick another Clarke book this week, but I’m also thinking of starting The Barsoom Project Larry Niven and Steven Barnes. I also just started Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. Andrea started reading it aloud to Brandon and Colin many years ago but it got a bit tedious – it’s a whopping 513 paperback pages. Part fiction, part nonfiction, Gaardner explains the history of philosophy to a 14 year old Norwegian girl. I started it about 10 years ago but didn’t get far; we’ll see if I finish it this time.


I’m slowly restoring music to my drive from Andrea’s USB drive and from my two iPods. Rush is nearly done (I have to pull Alex Lifeson’s and Geddy Lee’s solo albums back off my iPod) but it will take quite a while to restore my classical collection. I’m not even sure if I still have some of the CDs I ripped so many years ago. Still, it’s fun rediscovering music that I’d forgotten I had.


One response to “Paramedics, sports cheating, and good beer

  1. Pingback: Whispering sweet somethings | Random (and not) Musings

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