Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lance and the cheating scandal...

Ok, so this post is the first one I've written in a long time. It probably isn't the best one to come back on, but, hey, I think this needs to be spoken of...

It's been a busy few months for me. I got published as a first author on manuscripts two times. My experiments have been up and down. I've brewed two more batches of beer - neither of them turned out well. One was a Scotch Ale, and the other was an Irish Red that I was brewing in honor of some friends, called TSBrew. Unfortunately, the TSBrew is bad. Bad bad. I'm going to have to remake it. To the TSBers out there - I'm really sorry. I'll send you a couple of bottle when the new batch comes in and tastes good. I know it's been a while, so I apologize, but I really don't want you to taste beer that tastes like shit. As far as why the beer is bad, there is a really funky after flavor to the beer, and I believe it to be DMSO, which can build up if the wort isn't chilled quickly enough or if a lid is kept on the wort as it's boiled and chilling. This is my problem. I have had no way of cooling the wort down after it boils because the apartment I was in until now was too small. We had no way of getting ice on the boil kettle. I also don't have a wort chiller, but that's on my list of things I want.

I got married! That was pretty awesome. Best decision of my life so far. Kelsey and I had a great wedding. We're getting wedding pictures in soon so I'll probably post some here eventually. Things have to slow down first, though!

Ok - so, on to the actual post. As a cyclist, I've been following the news surrounding Lance Armstrong and the doping scandal, as the media is calling it. The USADA apparently has him this time. Oh goodie!!! What a crock of shit. Yep, I said it. The whole thing is a load of bullshit. It's not that I think he's innocent. Oh no, the amount of evidence against him is HUGE. The testimonies of his former teammates, I think, is kind of bullshit. They've all either been convicted of doping themselves, admitted to doping themselves, or have reaped the benefits of other team members doping. During that time period, I'd venture to say that doping in the peloton was rampant. That's why the whole thing is bullshit. Did Lance dope? Yep. Did other people? Yep. Did he still beat them? Yep.

Here's the thing. I'm not saying it's ok to cheat. I hate cheating. Everyone does. Even cheaters hate other cheaters. But in reality, Lance Armstrong cheated in a sea of cheaters and he's the one taking the fall. They are going to strip him of his titles, probably, and make him pay back his winnings. People are screaming because "he made all this money outside of the sport off of his winning, blah blah blah" How many of those people are screaming about all the endorsements of the players in the NFL or NBA ? I'd be willing to bet a number of them cheat in some fashion or another. What about politicians who lie about everything? They get all KINDS of money while they do dirty things. They have banned Armstrong from the sport. They can strip him of his titles and make him give back the money - but who are they going to give them to? A number of the second place finishers in those races have been caught doping and banned as well... Third place? In a time when it seems most of the racers were doping, these titles may go to no one...

But, this all makes sense, right? He broke the rules and he should be punished. I'd agree with that. I'm not angry that they caught him. Sure, he's given a lot back to the world with Livestrong, but there are even controversies about where the money is going with that organization, as well. He's sort of this good bad-guy right now. People are unsure where to stand on this issue. We love him and hate him.

My concern is the USADA... They tested him for years a while back and then retested this samples a number of times years ago and his tests were negative. He beat the system. And yet, they "knew" he was doing something wrong. So, even in the case of all the evidence on his side, they decided to spend YEARS and who knows how much of the tax payers' money to prove that this guy cheated in a bicycling race... Am I the only one who sees how stupid that is? They only caught him because new science allows them to more accurately figure out what was going on with his old samples... So. Let me get this straight. We are trillions of dollars in the hole, and yet, we're going to pay some people to try and go back through the years and years of evidence already on his side, to disprove that because some other cheaters say that he cheated? Really? REALLY??? This is a HUGE issue for me. We don't want people to cheat, but my god. He won a bunch of races in France, for shit's sake. If he owes money back, it's tot he sponsors and to the people who paid for the prize money. And yet we spend our own money here in the US to prove he did something wrong in a race so he'll pay back the money and be punished, yet we'll see NONE of that money. None of it. I dont think France or the sponsors or the Tour de France is footing the bill for these last few years of investigation. If he hadn't made a comeback in 09-10 we'd never have been having this issue. So that means it's been at LEAST 3 years of investigation. How much money did it cost us to prove that a cyclist cheated in a number of races?

And here we are. Research grant funding is at 5-8%. Let me restate that. Science research in the US right now has enough money to fund 5-8% of researchers. Five to 8 percent of research is being funded. So all the cancer research, disease research, medical research, vaccine research, etc. is on the line. We don't have the money to fund our own science research programs... Yet there is money to spend who-knows-how-much on a handful of people to prove that some dude who rides a bike really fast cheated in a bunch of bike races... We can't pay for planned parenthood or PBS or education or bolstering our military and helping provide for their families. Oh, but we can pay for a bunch of lawyers and snitches to prove that a lycra-wearing dude on a bike cheated and beat a bunch of other cheating cyclists. Science is not cheap - I should know. These tests are probably not cheap - especially using new technology. The technology had to be developed, and then people needed to be paid to run and analyze the data. Then people had to put reports together. Then it all had to go to court, so lawyers and legal personnel were paid extremely high amounts of money to talk about it. This isn't the olympics where national pride from major competing countries could turn into something bigger and more dangerous. This is a bunch of privately sponsored teams racing bikes in France.

To finish up, do I think Lance cheated? I do. Do I think it's ok? Nope, I don't like that he cheated. I don't like that he got famous because he cheated. But saying he cheated isn't going to change anything, really. So people will see him and say "Oh, he cheated in a bike race. Cheaters never win." Except, why does it matter in this case? Our country, as most countries are, is in the hole monetarily. We are trillions of dollars in debt. We can't fund education, science, defense, health programs, welfare, etc., but we can squeeze enough out of the budget to spends years trying to prove Lance Armstrong cheated. I think it's ridiculous.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My First Beer Review

In my last post, I mentioned that I had tried some really great beer over the Holiday break. I said I would review them when I had a chance. Well, I finally had that chance. Here we go, my first beer review. A beer review normally consists of the appearance (the size of the head/foam, the color), the smell, the taste, and the mouthfeel. For the appearance, I can't really remember them that well other than color. I'll do my best. 

Here, have a portrait of a dog with a monocle.

Sweetwater Dank Tank Fresh Sticky Nugs
Dry Hopped Double Red Ale
8.00% ABV
This beer was pretty good. It's made by Sweetwater, a brewery based out of Atlanta, GA ( It's a bit gimmicky for me, a little too much of something some die-hard Jerry Garcia fan would make up. Fresh Sticky Nugs? Dank Tank? It makes it off-putting to order in a public setting. I'm just here for the beer, man. The flavor, however silly the joke is, was fantastic. I would have not known it was a double red. It tasted a LOT like a double IPA. The appearance is sort of dark, a red-brown. The smell is delightful - very citrusy and fresh. There is a very slight hint of pine to the smell as well. The flavor - oh the flavor. What a treat. Similar to the smell, the taste had lots of hop and some pine/citrus. There were also hints on caramel. I found it to have a slight bitterness at the end, but not anything too bad. Give it a try if you ever find it. 

Sweetwater Seasonal Festive Ale
8.60% ABV
Winter Warmer
Another one from Sweetwater (I was in Atlanta, afterall). This one is a seasonal beer. A winter warmer.  I really like WWs. They are pretty popular. They typically have sweet, malty flavors with a LOT of malt to both the smell and the taste. They are always dark, but range from red-pitch black. They tend to be spicy and balanced, very little (if any) hop flavor. This one is no different. It is very dark, almost a dark chocolate brown. The smell is of raisins, malt and a hint of chocolate and cinnamon. The flavor is fairly smokey with chocolate, raisin and molasses undertones. It's a medium bodied beer. Very drinkable. Not my favorite winter warmer, but definitely not bad.

Wild Heaven Ode to Mercy
8.2% ABV
American Brown Ale
I think this one was the best of the bunch. Oh man. OH MAN! Newly based moved from Asheville, NC to Decatur, GA, I am a big fan. Granted I only had this one, but if all of their brews are like this one? Damn. First off it has a good, deep amber brown appearance. It smells of coffee, malt, slight hop, as well as a bit nutty and there is tiny hint of oak.  It tastes the same as the smell, only in levels. Seriously, it's incredible. I wish I could put into words how great it tasted. First your mouth is hit with a rich coffee flavor, followed by a smooth, deep, nutty taste. Then comes this bite of a warm, oaky flavor - a "hot" alcohol flavor. Not spicy, but truly warm. Almost like a good whiskey or scotch. Medium body. Great, great beer.

5 Seasons brewery ( ) was the local microbrewery and taphouse we went to for lunch one day. They make a large selection of beer. Every one that I tried, I liked. Some weren't great, but I liked them anyways. First up was their winter warmer. This one was good, almost identical to the Festive Ale, maybe a tad less spicy. The smell and taste are alike with low cinnamon flavors but high on chocolate and malt. Nice and creamy mouthfeel.

Their Echo St IPA was amazing. A wonderfully bright, IPA. Beautiful hop flavors and smells, with a brisk citrus tone. Some earthy, deep, herbal hops as well. Sort of a walk through a forest. Clear malt as you enter the beer, fading into a medium herbal taste as you get deeper from the edge, then a kick of pine and earthy hops at the end. Smooth and freshly carbonated mouthfeel. I highly recommend it if you're ever in the area.

The 5 Seasons Pumpkin ale is one of the better pumpkin ales I’ve had. A very nice body and color - deeper than I expected, but not off-putting or anything bad. Just different. Smells and tastes like a pumpkin pie without the sweetness. Lots of spice - nutmeg and cinnamon with some brown sugar. Finishes with a flavor reminiscent of pumpkin, but not too "vegetabley." This one has a good mouthfeel – full and smooth.

Dark Star Stout is up next. This is a nice, heavy Irish dry stout. A nice chocolate, malty smell. Dark chocolate flavor with malt dominates the taste here, but with some coffee flavors buried in there somewhere. The body is full. Similar to a Guinness, it's a dark color and heavy, but smooth and lightly carbonated. The better of the two stouts, in my opinion. 

The final beer I tried at 5 Seasons was their Mayan Coffee Stout. A really HEAVY stout. Extremely dark, almost black. This stout smells like coffee, to be honest I don't remember much of any other smell. The taste was similar, with a dark roast coffee taste overriding everything else. There was a hint of chocolate and malt, like any stout, but the coffee really shines through in this one. Even the chocolate flavor has no sweetness to it. Not my particular favorite, which was disappointing as I REALLY like stouts. I recommend a 50:50 blend of this one with the winter warmer. Our server suggested it and I think it was better than the coffee stout alone.

Welp, that's all for now, methinks. Until next time, keep calm and have a beer :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Just a shout out.

Folks, civil rights are a big thing for me. Anyone who knows me knows that this is true. I am 100% for women's equality and for gay marriage and gay rights. I wanted to throw a shout out to some friends real quick. I know I promised that I wouldn't get all political and stuff, and I am not going to. But I urge you to check out these sites, as these ladies WILL get political. Very intelligent stuff.

First up is a blog by a friend named Grace (recently married, hells to the yeah!) and she writes very well, in my opinion. Top notch. is her blog. I highly recommend it.

Second is actually another site by Grace, as well as some other friends Jen, Ashlee and Jon (hit them up on twitter @_gtz_, @likeOMGitsFEDAY, @jaspirella, and @inklesspen, respectively). They started a site called Fat, Ugly, or Slutty ( The site is basically a way to call attention to the crap male gamers give to female gamers, simply because they are ladies. The concept is that the only reason ladies play video games is because A) they are fat, B) they are ugly or C) they are slutty and looking for attention. Prepare for some laughs, because some of it is crazy. But, really, it's pretty sad. Check it out, though. It really shows how sad som people are and how they choose the attack and belittle a gender because they can hide behind the internet.

So Far A Happy Brew Year

Back to the ol' grindstone. It's been a crazy few weeks. Between editing my 2 manuscripts, preparing an abstract for the ASM 2012 general meeting, travel and the holidays, it's been a hell of a time. It's been great, don't get me wrong, but whew boy I've been running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

So my brown ale turned out nicely. I still haven't thought of a name for it, though this one is a clone kit of Moose Drool. The kit was called Caribou Slobber, so I think I'm going to leave it at that. I did add a bit of honey to the initial wort boil, but not enough to add any real flavor to the beer's profile. I took 3 bottles back to Atlanta with me for Christmas. I gave one to my future Father-in-law, I split one with my dad and Granddad, and I gave one to my good ol' friend Clarence. I've gotten a bunch of compliments on it. I think it's ok. It's not my favorite beer. To be honest, I haven't been able to figure out the flavors yet. It's got a good mouthy feel to it, and it's very smooth. I've had 3 bottles and 1 was great, 1 was bad and 1 was so-so. I think I may not be getting a good mixture when I bottle. I'm getting variations so I think I'm going to have to plan around that. I may just have to stir it better when I'm mixing in the priming sugar. I'll keep the blog updated as I go.

As for the break, what a great time I had. It was the first year in 7 years that Kelsey and I have been together that we actually got to spend Christmas morning together. I spent the night with her family and we got up Christmas morning and had a blast. Then I got to see my family on the 27th for our other Christmas, when my parents drove up to Atlanta to see my Dad's parents. I got a ton of great stuff.

I got a t-shirt that has a guy chasing a hop that says "Pursuit of Hoppiness," I got $75 in gift cards to, I got a stein with A engraved on it, 4 nice pint glasses, the book How to Brew by John Palmer (the brewer's bible... seriously), and a 1 year subscription to All About Beer. Currently, most of these things are in a box en route to Iowa City from Atlanta. I'll post pictures later when I get the stuff here. I'm going to order the Winter Warmer ale this week and start brewing ASAP.

I did try a lot of great, great beer over the holiday. I'm going to write a review for each one over the next few days, so be on the lookout for those. My favorites were all local Atlanta brews. They were unbelievable. I wish I could get them here.

One of the best nights, though, was the date night Kelsey and I went on. We went to Decatur and spent the night out and about. We went to a place called the Iberian Pig  (, where we split some cured Iberico ham. It's some of the best cured meat in the world. Comes out of Spain. Wow. It was like butter. Holy shit. Along with that we had bacon-wrapped-manchego-filled dates. Oh man. OH MAN. They were un-frickin'-believable. I also got a bacon-infused Rye whiskey Old Fashioned. I'm a bit fan of whiskey and scotch. Damn that was a great meal. Then we went to Leon's ( where we had bacon and peanut butter, brussels sprouts hash, a warm garbanzo bean salad, and a Nutella candy bar for dessert (yes it was delectable).

I've set some pretty lofty New years resolutions, as well. I'm going to cut out soda, I'm going to workout at least 3 days a week. I'm going to cook meals every night I can, eat a breakfast every day, and just be healthier in general. A couple of days ago some friends and I were joking around, and I mentioned that I wear an apron when I cook. I also wear a lot of winter clothing in the winter (I dislike cold). There is a video game out right now called Skyrim and it's very popular. I took a joking picture of me in an apron and I titled it Chefrim, a nod to Skyrim, and I tagged the picture with the made up word "Foodrodah." Nerds will get it, and I am a nerd, but it's a reference to a shout in the game in which the character says Fusrodah (foos-roh-dah). I don't have the game, but I don't care. It made me laugh. It made them laugh too.


From this, and in order to help keep myself vigilant over my resolutions, I'm now going to strike up a second blog. I'm going to call it Chefrim, and I'm going to put up my workouts and recipes, with videos of me cooking as the viking chef. Look for it soon.

That's all for now. Keep calm and have a beer.