The Year In Review

There are many ways to measure a year: beers consumed, opponents bested, friends made, extra-dimensional incursions repelled with swamp gas, etc.  The list is seemingly endless.  But let’s try some compare and contrast.

This time in 2009, I had made a total of six Steins of Science.  Now, the next stein I build will be #169.  There are a lot of people around the world who now know the joy of beer that stays properly cold.  So far the reach of global domination has spread from the USA to Australia, New Zealand, China (both mainland & Hong Kong), UK, Canada, and Brazil.  I have reports that they have traveled more widely than that, confusing the TSA every time they see it in carry-on luggage.  I also have the sad news that three have perished from intimate, high speed impact with hard objects (asphalt, concrete, and a Royal Navy pewter stein during an inadvisably vigorous toast, respectively).

The Black Blood of the Earth has not globe trotted in the same respect as the Steins of Science, but has gone out in far greater volume.  This time last year, I could only hope to crank out about 6L a week with the Iteration II processing and it was an arthritis-inducing endurance battle.  Now, with the Iteration IV process I can do 6L a day and have been maintaining that level production for the better part of three months.  By my estimate, I have brought the better side of a 800L of BBotE into the world, though I must admit most of that was for my personal consumption, to keep the gears turning at St. George Spirits, and helping produce excellent science from the UC Berkeley Chemistry Department.

A good chunk of that 800L has gone out via the BBotE Pimps & Pimpstresses that stepped up to the plate so they could spread the love more readily to their local denizens.  This time last year, I was still trying to figure out if I was going to kill myself playing with this stuff, reticent to share it with others I couldn’t look in the eye.  Today, you’ve got locals in  Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Portland, and Detroit willing to hook you up.  Seattle and Champaign-Urbana maybe coming soon, so look out.

The questionably applied science of Funranium Labs has crept into strange corners of the internet that has introduced me to some interesting people.  Between Warren Ellis threatening to develop POWERS, a shout from Mr. Ed Zitron in the Huffington Post, Ryan Flinn at Bloomberg, the UC Berkeley Alumni Association, and the people that kicked it all off, Thrillist SF, tens of thousands of people have come to read my blather and see the wares.  Admittedly, most folks bounce after looking at the price of a stein but hey, you’re still reading this, so thank you.  Let me not forget the highest honor I think I can achieve, which is to be listed as a real-life example of Sir Terry Pratchett’s “Klatchian coffee” on tvtropes.com.

And then there’s every tweet, every “HOLY CRAP, he wasn’t kidding about the 100ml/day”, all the denunciations of the steins as witchcraft (tasty, tasty witchcraft) that the Test Subjects and Steinwielders have made.  You’ve all provided me the excellent addiction of trying to figure out just how people discover my dark corner of the internet.

Of course, the fact you can read this at all is a testament to the work of two people who were depressed by my lackluster web development skills and offered to drag this site out of the mid-1990s: Jason Pulliam and Brad Hubbard.  Thank you guys for making this something real that people can enjoy, rather than endure.

And really, the true thanks goes to you that have read this far.  It comes with the reward of a coupon code.  “YEARONE” on checkout will knock 10% off your purchase through the Ides of January in thanks for all of you being, well, awesome.  The guiding ethos of Funranium Labs is improving lives with More Awesome and you’ve definitely added some to mine.

Thank you.

Merry Christmas

Alrighty, commencing radio silence until Boxing Day. All the BBotE and Steins of Science are on their merry way. Thank you all for making this a fantastically fun year if drinkable science. Other than the not-question “I demand you tell me how to make my own BBotE” and penis enlargement spam, every question has been a hoot. I look forward to a new year of delicious coffee and cold beer.

As Gabe & Max say, Have Holidays!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKDSW8ocD6E&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Got a couple scientific brands in the Bunsen burner fire. May have some interesting things to report before long. In the meantime, have a grand time all and production will resume on the 27th for those of you in need of New Years Eve BBotE or Steins.

The Steins That Are On Hand

In the Gift Buying Thoughts I stated that I normally quote a three week lead time on the Steins of Science, though things tend to go quicker than that.  However, what is on hand right now is all that has any hope of shipping out in time for Christmas.  For the instant gratification crowd, I do have a few already built that have passed vacuum test and are sitting on the bench Right Now.   As of January 16th at 1:06pm PST, they are:

Obviously, they can be reconfigured to opposite handedness with a bit of effort on my part.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go hide under my desk with a cocktail to escape the holiday madness.

Thinking of Australia

Now that winter has finally struck the northern hemisphere, my thoughts drift to the friends in Australia, New Zealand, South America, Brazil, and Antarctica that are now entering the height of the beer consumption under the Southern Cross.

Steinwielder Mark of Oz, upon receipt and taking his stein for test drive back in July, declared “How many thousand of these have you sold to Queensland?  This thing is brilliant.”  When I told him that he was holding one of four, he shook his head in dismay and said, “I think that in the depth of winter, Australians have forgotten what summer is like and what it does to beer.  We need this.”  This echoes the sentiment of a gentleman in Arizona that has built a shrine to his 1900ml stein as it has allowed him to have a consistently frosty margarita by the pool in the inferno of Flagstaff summer.

I am reliably informed Darwin is now running at 30C.  Well, Queensland, what’s your plan for your beer?

Oh, and if any of the crew down at McMurdo and Pole are reading this, have a hoot at the Midsummer/New Years party.  May the US team not take many injuries as they lose yet again to the Kiwis for the annual rugby game.

Well Played Arts & Crafts

As a reminder the domestic US “BBotE by Xmas” order cut-off is today, 12/18.  After today it becomes iffy whether things will show up in time.

Test Subject Wakey has performed a fantastic act of bribery in her return of a BBotE bottle for refill.  In addition to the bottle, she also included this handmade trivet and a matching Bag of Holding (a Minor Wondrous Item, minimum 2500gp from your local reputable & licensed magical items merchant, per the D&D 3rd Edition DM Guide).  She has exercised the Barter Option to excellent effect (similar to Test Subject Brody’s “alchemy“).  It was also rather timely as I had just that day fired one of my trivets for becoming unusable.

So, thank you Wakey and a shout out to you at Chibi Stitches.  Enjoy your Panama refill and the increased honor on your bottle.

Coffee-Electron Orbital Substitution Is Being Explored At CERN

Coffee-Electron Orbital Substitution Is Being Explored At CERN

Holiday Order Cut-Off Dates REDUX

***At this point, the only way you’re getting things in time for Christmas is by direct hand off.  Of course, if you don’t care about that, then these cut-off dates don’t apply to you anyway.  New Years is approaching…***

While I made the earlier Gift Buying Thoughts, I got poked to declare some drop dead cut-off dates for prezzies arriving by Christmas.  For Black Blood of the Earth:

BBotE (domestic United States): December 18th

BBotE (international): December 15th (TOO LATE FOR XMAS)

Domestically, BBotE ships priority.  This date can be fudged a bit if you want to go express but you’ll have to talk to me about that as the shipping will get much more expensive.  International BBotE already goes express, so no help for folks abroad.

Steins of Science are a little trickier.  I have some of them built and on hand already; they’ll go out the day after ordered.  The cut-off date for the ones on my bench, domestic and international, shipping priority mail is December 19th.  Going express would only let me push the deadline out to the 20th, so it’s not really worth it.

When I run out of those, it then becomes luck of the draw how quickly more show up.  I generally build to order, but I’m trying to maintain at least a couple of each on hand for the holidays.  I normally quote a three week lead time on the steins, but it typically runs faster than that and.  Having said that, waiting to the last minute is a sure way to not get your stein in time.  I’ve made some calls and confirmed that if you want either of the big boys, the 1900ml or 4300ml, which I don’t currently have built on bench, I can get a few in a timely manner.  For these steins, your cut-off is before 12pm PST on the 16th. (TOO LATE FOR XMAS)

If you read this far, here’s your reward.  There’s a new stein in the Prototypes & Clearance section.  The 665ml Hybrid may become a standard stein; this one probably won’t.

Rising To The Challenge – Using the 4.3L Stein of Science

As I stated on Thursday, I was issued a challenge as someone asked what fool would actually drink 4.3L of beer in one go to make full use of a 4.3L Stein of Science. To paraphrase Gomez Addams: “They say that a scientist who experiments on himself has a fool for a subject. And with God as my witness, I am that fool!”

STEP 1: Build the 4.3L stein.  Done, and took it for a test drive last night at the bowling alley.  Behold the birthday boy and his girlfriend cradling the bundle of joy.

The stein is almost as big as Sam is.

Mr. Jordan and Ms. Balan with the 4.3L Bundle of Joy, #167

STEP 2: Procure 4.3L of beer.  Done.  In honor of the holiday and to maintain local pride, I have chosen to go with Anchor Steam’s 2010 Christmas Ale.  The fact that it’s tasty doesn’t hurt.  Here is the pre-experiment set up:

Yes, those are magnums on either side of the stein

4.3L Full Metal Jacket Stein of Science with Experimental Beer

As a matter of fact, yes, those are magnums on either side of the 4.3L FMJ Stein of Sceince, which aren’t quite as tall as the stein.  All of that will be going in the stein once the beer chills down.

STEP 3: CONSUME. Beer was successfully loaded at 6:50pm PST.  Medically necessary all meat marvel pizza was also procured.

Pizza is mandatory for gaming events.  With beer, doubly so.

And So It Begins

By 9:45pm, I had the horrible realization that I had only consumed a quarter of this stein worth of beer.  Not so silent cursing was made as I resolved, in the future, to do foolish self-experimentation earlier in the day.

Around 10:40m I had stopped worrying and come to love the stein.  And beer.  And most everything…except gravity.  I had a real positive feeling about all this.  I was no longer concerned by the fact that midnight was approaching and I still had over 2L of ice cold beer left to go.

Sometime around 1am, the pith helmet came out as ADVENTURE SCIENCE was in progress.  Also, there was a viewing of Professor Elemental’s “Fighting Trousers” which probably entered into the calculation too.

Herr Direktor Funranium On "Beer Safari", circa 1am and 3L of beer in

By 2am, with compatriots dropping off due to the cocktails I’d prepared during all this, I stared into the heart of the stein and had to confront the despondent reality that fatigue might claim me before I finished this beer.  A quick temp check told me that despite my drinking and no use of lid, there’d only been a .9 degree Celsius temperature gain from when I started 7 hours earlier.  My arm however was burning from the effort of drinking all this.  I am not in good enough shape to do eight hours worth of 30lb arm curls and I was drunk/stupid enough to do most of that with one arm.

That is still about 1L of beer left in there. I wanted to cry.

Staring Into The Depths Of Horror At 2am

Around 2:45am, I declared victory and then succumbed to the warm embrace of my bed on a rainy night.  I’d gone a bit numb in the face and was not coherent enough to take a picture.

SIDE CHALLENGE: On my sharing the details of the challenge and the pictures of the experimental setup, one rogue declared, “You’re gonna be pissing for a week with that much beer.”  Cheeky monkey he is, but in terms of liquid volume consumed this is a totally reasonable declaration.  When I shared this statement, Test Subject Not-A-Whale-Biologist declared this to be secondary challenge which he intended to win.  He proudly holds the record of urinating eleven times while drunkenly rambling through the ruins of Fort Ord and had to maintain his honor.  I am proud to report that he did not disappoint, making twelve trips to the bathroom to my paltry five.

CONCLUSION: I wasn’t kidding when I said that this stein should be held by the handle with the “backstrapping” method, not like a coffee mug.  Today my knuckles where the handle rested, my wrist, shoulder and upper back hurt a bit.  It felt like I’d been foolish enough to participate in a stein holding contest at Oktoberfest again.  That said, over the course of eight hours of drinking, my beer was deliciously cold to the last drop and I drank it slowly enough (courtesy of it staying cold) that I didn’t deeply regret the volume I consumed.

Back in March someone declared that they were going to “buy a sofa’s worth” of 4.3L Steins of Science for the Superbowl.  At the time, I was kind of confused as to what that meant.  Now, I realize that the 4.3L stein gives you all the beer you need for the pre-, during, and post-game hilarity kept cold for the duration.

Your Holiday Order Cut-Off Dates

While I made the earlier Gift Buying Thoughts, I got poked to declare some drop dead cut-off dates for prezzies arriving by Christmas.  For Black Blood of the Earth:

BBotE (domestic United States): December 18th

BBotE (international): December 15th

Domestically, BBotE ships priority.  This date can be fudged a bit if you want to go express but you’ll have to talk to me about that as the shipping will get much more expensive.  International BBotE already goes express, so no help for folks abroad.

Steins of Science are a little trickier.  I have some of them built and on hand already; they’ll go out the day after ordered.  The cut-off date for the ones on my bench, domestic and international, shipping priority mail is December 19th.  Going express would only let me push the deadline out to the 20th, so it’s not really worth it.

When I run out of those, it then becomes luck of the draw how quickly more show up.  I generally build to order, but I’m trying to maintain at least a couple of each on hand for the holidays.  I normally quote a three week lead time on the steins, but it typically runs faster than that.  Having said that, waiting to the last minute is a sure way to not get your stein in time.  If I had to guess, any build to order after December 13th is really pushing it.

If you read this far, here’s your reward.  There’s a new stein in the Prototypes & Clearance section.  The 665ml Hybrid may become a standard stein; this one probably won’t.

I Have Been Issued A Challenge

Someone asked, “Seriously, really, is anyone fool enough to try to drink a 4.3L Stein of Science worth beer?  There is no way that they will stay conscious long enough to see if it’s cold all they way to the bottom.”

With a gauntlet thrown down like that, I must pick it up and declare “I AM THAT FOOL!”

First,  I must build it.  I have the dewar on hand it is just a matter of overcoming procrastination.  By publicly declaring my intentions, this lessens the slack factor.

Second,  I must buy the beer.  That will be a pleasure.

Lastly, I must survive.  Friends will be on hand with helpful boardgames to point, laugh and dial Poison Control if necessary.

So it begins.  Onward…TO ADVENTURE!