Vegas, Again, Tomorrow

Denizens of Clark County, I am headed your way again at stupid o’clock in the morning. If there are things you’d like me to be bringing your way and thus deftly evade shipping fees, lemme know. There’s only so much room in my luggage and first come, first served.

Before you ask, Kona, Sumatra, and Panama BBotE are on hand. Kenya & Ethiopia will have to wait until next week. Of course, the steins on hand are listed here.

Cryogenic Cocktails – An Antarctic Tale

The Geographic South Pole (The Best Picture I've Ever Taken)

The Geographic South Pole, 2003 - The Best Picture I've Ever Taken

In addition to being South Pole Station’s bartender, my actual job (the reason I was sent to the bottom of the Earth) was as the science/cryogenics technician. It was my job to take care of all the liquid helium and liquid nitrogen and make sure all the cryogenic equipment on the telescopes stayed in good repair.

At the second major party of the summer, the disco party, I was the bartending as the construction worker from the Village People because I had flannel shirt and hard hat available to me, which is the only visual cue needed for construction work it seems. My boss’ boss, one of the people who originally interviewed me, was down for a few weeks during the summer and decided to attend the party. He’d already had a couple drinks before showing up and was surprised to see me there. He asked me to make something special. So, I mixed up a vodka with a little bit of dry vermouth and put it on the counter in a clear plastic cup.

As he reached for it, I batted his hand away. “You asked for something special”, I said.

I then reached under the bar for the 10L transport dewar of liquid nitrogen (LN2) and poured a little bit into his cup. He jumped back as the boiling fog came out of the cup’s top and covered the bar as the -170C LN2 hit the room temperature martini. After a couple minutes, and more batting away of his hand as he tried to grab it too early, it had calmed down and there was just thin layer of fog in the cup covering the drink. I picked the rather cold cup up, blew the fog off, and handed it to him.

He looked down into the cup at a strange crusty solid something floating in his drink. With some disgust he asked, “What the hell is that?”

I reached in the drink, pulled it out and threw it on the floor behind me. “That was all the useless water that used to be in your drink, diluting your martini”, I replied.

His eyes went a bit wide at that and he took a sip. He pounded the bar for a few seconds as his martini was now about 150 proof rather than the ~70 normal ones are. He then ran out the door abandoning his drink.

Ten minutes later, he returned with the eight visiting Swedish researchers in tow, almost like the schoolgirls from Madeline. He shoved them all up to the bar and exclaimed, “I want you to make for them what you made for me and don’t skimp on the LN2. Sven…I hired this guy.”

I made some very happy Swedes that night and gave my boss’ boss a hangover he shook his head in memory at for the rest of the summer.

Shameless Whorebaggery On Behalf Of Others

So, Kickstarter has brought many wonderful things my way, but some are near and dear to my heart. No, I am not here to request money for a project of my own; you already do that with your consumption BBotE & Steins of Science which only encourages me to go screw around with lab apparatus and coffee even more.

No, this is where I take a moment to share the collected projects of the Steinwielders, Test Subjects, and the Pimps/Pimpstresses that have taken the time to throw their needs my way and I am only too happy to help. I’ll punch through that wall again if that’s what it’ll take so you’ll support these projects, but please don’t make me shave my beard. Makes me look funny and it feels all itchy.

[EDIT: 750ml bottles of BBotE are now one of their rewards!] First, I give you the Pirates of Portland, the Corsairs of the I-5 Corridor, the Swasbucklers of Stumpton …(they can keep going with these for hours)…PDXYar. My very own BBotE Pimpstress of PDX (AKA Shantymistress Greta) is a member of the PDXYar crew and they are the saddest pirates in all the land, even more than the Pirates That Don’t Do Anything; they are pirates without a boat, but they’d like to fix that. As they like to say, GLORY can be had for as little as $1, which is a fair sight cheaper than freedom. They are all fine folks with a love of rum, fire, pointy things, rum, explosions, shiny bits, song and above all rum. If you are within 100mi Portland and have never heard of PDXYar, do yourself a favor and get to their next event wherever that may be for shenanigans.

[EDIT: This project is completed and they are on their way!] Next, I give you The Secretions and their need to get to Italy for their tour. Test Subject Mickie Rat was one of the earliest people to volunteer for caffeination duty after Warren Ellis got his test batch and shared with the world. He made the trek down from Sacramento to procure a bottle of Kona BBotE to keep him going on the road for the next several gigs and it did not disappoint. In return, I got a fresh fix of excellent music. Not only do I recommend that you help support their tour and keep them swilling in Moretti, as gigging & hosteling in Italy demands, but check out their tunes. It is angry music that I can definitely do math to.

[EDIT: This project is completed but still nifty] Thirdly, Test Subject Andrew made a significant life change a while back. While he was a decent artist, he decided he could make a better impact for the world by selling his soul to the law for cash (which then can be exchanged for food and services, like housing). With his new found powers of solvency, he found that he had the ability to help other artists reach their dreams and his creation of the Kickstarter project for the comic “All Fall Down” by Casey Jones was one of them. As of yesterday, the project had reached it’s goal but I include it here because I rather like the concept Mr. Jones has here, think that you all might want a piece of this and heartily thank Test Subject Andrew for sharing it with me.

Fourthly (I think that’s a word), Test Subject Hunt of Hunt Press, a small publisher in Los Angeles, is looking to make the great leap forward from micropress to small press by means of a glorious new computer. I can’t help but note that one of the rewards is some Black Blood of the Earth…

And, last but certainly not least, are the kids of the Mahomet-Seymour Jr. High Drama Club. Steinwielder Benchilada and Test Subject Robot bring this to my attention as the kids’ art was originally slated to raise more funds for the drama club and their upcoming original performance. After the Sendai earthquake and tsunami, the kids decided they’d rather donate most of the proceeds of the auctions to Japan instead. Fairly bad ass I say and these are children without fear about their art. Considering the shame I have about my own artistic skills, it always blows me away to see people putting themselves out there and that pretty much applies to every project I’ve listed here.

Right. Back to playing with THE DEADLY RADIATIONS as soon as I finish this here mug of BBotE. One must be properly caffeinated before confronting THE DEADLY RADIATIONS.

To Your Health

When someone wants to justify to themselves (or, more likely, their significant other) why they should be allowed to spend money on BBotE or a Stein of Science, I get a give-me-a-reason email. In my quest for “More Awesome” I accidentally tripped into “Good For My Health”. Allow me to explain:

  1. The Steins of Science allow you to savor your beer. Beer that isn’t getting particularly warmer is beer that you aren’t drinking particularly faster. You get the time to enjoy it but, more importantly, you end up drinking less beer over the evening. Not so great if your goal is liver damage, but I suspect most of us are more after the epicurean delights. This also goes for coffee/tea; you don’t end up chugging the last half before it goes cold.
  2. Black Blood of the Earth has a impressive hit of caffeine but the goal was something delicious that this diabetic with a sweet tooth didn’t need to add sugar or cream to. No sugar & no cream means no calories (well, technically two calories as coffee has some nutritional value) and no fat.
  3. For my fourth straight dental cleaning, I was complimented by my hygienist for the lack staining on my teeth. No acid means no etching of the coffee stains into your teeth, or as it was in my case before BBotE, staining from Coca-Cola.
  4. Of course, no acid means BBotE is also quite friendly on the stomach. While my stomach appears to be made of cast iron, other people’s are like delicate butterflies destroyed by the flamethrowers of conventional coffee. I keep getting thank yous from people no longer popping antacid in order to maintain their caffeine habit.

So, there you go. Hope that gives you suitable fodder for discussion.

In other news, I have done some post sorting to make it easier to find Funranium Labs tales of Adventure & Radiation. This should save you some hunting if you didn’t want to go wading through a couple of pages to find stories of excess at the South Pole or fun with with plutonium.

Test Subjects On The Internets

A few things from parts of the internets that have not been wheelclamped (I’m sorry about sharing that video, it won’t leave my mind):

First, I have been sent this chat exchange from IRC regarding a new Test Subject’s first experience with BBotE. It is posted here with their permission though handles have been changed to protect the not at all innocent, particularly <A Cruel Trickster>. Never, ever, dose people with BBotE without their knowledge. That is dirty pool, old man!

09:24 <@Test Subject> straight and diluted are both great preparations but cold right from the bottle is best
09:25 <@Joe Q Public> awesome
09:25 <@Joe Q Public> just in moderation right
09:25 <@Joe Q Public> did you get superbuzzed
09:26 <@Test Subject> I am getting a solid buzz after finishing about 1/4oz
09:26 <@Joe Q Public> that’s pretty good
09:26 <@Test Subject> you barely need to sip any. it just coats your tongue
09:26 <@Joe Q Public> what’s the viscosity like
09:27 <@Test Subject> not as much as I expected
09:27 <@Test Subject> but really, I mixed with 3pts water and it’s still the same color
09:39 <@Test Subject> it’s super sweet
09:39 <@Joe Q Public> sweet?
09:39 <@Joe Q Public> interesting
09:39 <@Test Subject> you don’t taste it in most coffee cause of the bitterness
09:40 <@Joe Q Public> is it chocolatey then?
09:40 <@Test Subject> yeah
09:41 <@Test Subject> some amaretto flavors
09:46 <@Test Subject> starting to vibrate
09:48 <@Joe Q Public> are you gonna fall out of your chair
09:49 <@Test Subject> lol <A Cruel Trickster> said I should pour half a bottle into the decaff pot
09:49 <@Joe Q Public> hahah
09:49 <@Test Subject> people would die
10:10 <@Test Subject> I am currently in an Enhanced State.

Luke McKinney Wants You To Drink

Next, Test Subject McKinney, Alcohologist For Hire, provides this review of his experience:

Black Blood of the Earth is like a block of pure copper: something fantastically useful provided by nature, refined be ingenuity, and ready to upgrade humanity’s ability to do everything. Drinking it is like a robot enjoying solid metal, with an electro-tongue free from silly things like ‘sweet’ or ‘salty’ to report the taste of pure power. It pours into your stomach and through your body, re-laying all your nerve pathways with electrical wiring.

I found it incredibly useful for extended writing sessions. It simply overrode feeling of fatigue and let me keep going as long as I wanted, but didn’t stop me from sleeping afterwards. Slowed the process down a bit but I was still able to rest and recharge for the next day.

Alcohology: Shake equal parts of BBotE and Kahlua in a jar to create SuperKahlua. I now keep a jar of this in the fridge beside the syrup and sour mix at all times. Substitute into any Kahlua cocktail for an ass-kicking upgrade. My favorite is the Anti-Lebowski, the White Russian for people who really do need to get things done, but I’ve tested it in a wide range of mixes and find it adds pep without breaking the original recipe’s balance.

In summary: Thank you thank you thank you

Test Subject Talena, who is on vacation in Australia right now, reports that while she was wandering about Sydney she randomly overheard people discussing BBotE. I hand delivered several liters to the continent on my 2010 Scientific Drinking World Tour and glad to see they made a bit of an impression. I’m sure international media attention and Warren Ellis had nothing to do with it whatsoever.

Lastly, I’m told that Fort Drum, NY has a small supply of BBotE laid in for emergency use. If you would like to plead and beg for some to be shared with you, you will have to find the hiding place somehow best it’s inhuman guardian who claims that his standard comfortable dosing of Sumatra is ~170ml. This is not a challenge for you to up your consumption beyond my 100ml/day recommendation and best him. Even I don’t drink that much at a single go, FEAR THIS MANIMAL!

Culinary Delights

Test Subjects Mortician & Porn IT engaged in a very special adventure a while back called the Bacation. Rather than spend hard earned money traveling to exotic locales, they instead stayed at home, watched terrible movies, and ploughed that money into as much bacon related food as the possibly could. Their Bacation yielded two wonders that have since entered my pantry and my heart (not just through arterial plaques).

The first is Bacon Salt. I suspect you all have come across this amazing kosher product through some other route, but I have to say that the additions of Hickory Bacon Salt took my grits ‘n’ eggs to the next level. I still made bacon to go with my grits ‘n’ eggs, but that meant that at no time did I take a bite of food that lacked the delicious taste of bacon.

IMPORTANT COCKTAIL NOTE: A Bacon Salt rimmed margarita is goddamn amazing. I highly recommend the experience.

Coolhaus "Louis Ba-Kahn" Bacon Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich Extravaganza

Coolhaus "Louis Ba-Kahn" Bacon Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich Extravaganza

Their next discovery was the Coolhaus “Louis Ba-Kahn” candied bacon ice cream cookie sandwich. I was brought six of these direct from Los Angeles, stored on dry ice, as an apology for the Test Subjects being late on their arrival in Oakland. Judging by the flavor, I can only assume lard was properly used in the making of the ice cream and cookie, in addition to the candied bacon chunks allowing for MAXIMUM PORK CONTENT in a desert product. If that were an Academy Award category, they would have just won it.

When I ate the second one with a cup of Ethiopia BBotE cut with three parts hot water, I found bliss and contentment.

If you live in LA, NYC, or Austin you owe it to yourself to eat at least one of these.

Also, I have identified the next BBotE experiment: Peru. Now, to find the time to get across the damn bay to go get some from my roaster of choice.

More Bits For A Wet Friday

First off, the Stein #200 Surprise is nearly upon us. Current production count is #199. Won’t be long now.

Second, Pinguino from DeviantArt very kindly created this instructional graphic. I have taken the opportunity to consolidate several preparations and cocktails into one place. If you have a favorite mix/cocktail you’d like to me to put up to share with the world, by all means, drop me a line. As an aside, since I already got asked, putrescine (the smell/flavor of corpses) is a product of protein decomposition, a process accelerated by heat. Ever wonder why old, burnt coffee tastes so horrible…that’s why.

Third, if you have not yet given the boys and girls at Tesladyne your hard earned money you certainly should give Atomic Robo a look see. They’ve worked damn hard to create a comic that not only has some decently grounded science & history but consistently leaves me cracking up as I read and re-read it. I also have had the great honor to serve as their sounding board for “Okay, please help make our science not sound like this?” Sure, when playing with science fiction it is expected you’ll take your leaps of fancy, but I credit Brian Clevinger with doing his damnedest to know what he’s jumping off of before playing in the creative void. Not to mention there’s not many people I can have a Franco-Prussian through Cold War science/war geek out session with. My Lovely Assistant is very happy he takes that bullet for her.

Also, Scott Wegener‘s art. I’m exceptionally impressed with how expressive the featureless face of Robo is. For all the swearing he does about the things he has to draw, he has certainly sucks you in with the end product.

Bits, Bobs, and Links

I think it’s high time to for me to talk about something other than geology and damaged nuclear reactors, if for no reason than to get me off the depressing state of science literacy in world, particularly America.

In the land of coffee, I can only assume everyone has spent all their tax refunds because I have enough breathing room to experiment with some new BBotE again. Part of it will be the never ending exploration of regions I know and love best (i.e. East Africa highlands). Another part will be a more thorough examination of the Americas; my Panamanian of choice is the only successful light roast I’ve had so far and the Guatemalan Finca Yara from Caffe Vita made the most delicious BBotE I’ve ever made. Lastly, with Crom as my witness, I will make the Malabar work in a duplicable manner. Experiment two was good, but experiments three, seven, and eight were not. It’s just too tasty to not tinker with…when it works.

Steinwielder and Test Subject John continually impresses me with the satchel he uses to transport his drinking vessel and caffeinated delights. After minimal poking on my part, he told me where he got it: Saddleback Leather. As much as people tell me they love my laboratory chic of the Steins of Science, I have to admit that I am a sucker for beautiful well loved leather.

Speaking of Steins of Science, the current count is on #198. We are perilously close to someone claiming the Stein #200 Surprise. Stein #191, the experimental 665ml Shiny Brass, suffered a kitty related injury mid-photo shoot. Much to my delight, it survived it’s glass lip first fall, although the base was dented. I bent it back out as best as possible and it sits level again, but still…damn cats. The price has been reduced accordingly.

Hangar One Chipotle Vodka with Friends

Hangar One Chipotle Vodka with Friends

Lastly, the kids at St. George Spirits have released a new batch of the Hangar One chipotle vodka. In addition to being a happy consumer of their wares, I also do my best to keep the place humming with Black Blood of the Earth. The benefit to this is that the distillery crew are inveterate, compulsive bartenders and have a hard time not tinkering with any ingredients lying around. Now that the chipotle vodka is back, the world may once more drink “Andie’s Breakfast”:

Get a pint glass, filled half full with ice
1.5oz St. George absinthe (allow time for the absinthe to louche)
2oz BBotE, preferably Kona
A dash of chipotle vodka
Fill the remainder of the pint glass with chocolate soy milk
Stir or shake, THEN CONSUME

Personally, I find this quite tasty without the chocolate soy milk but then I’m a diabetic that is getting steadily more accustomed to reduced sugar flavors in my diet. It looks as ugly as a three day old bruise with a milky green-brown color but the tasty is fantastic, wandering from chocolate to mint to licorice with a creamy mouth feel and a that little hint of chipotle burn.

There you go. I now return you to your regularly scheduled 24hr news cycle of certain, seemingly welcomed, doom.

Post-Tsunami Japanese Reactor Problems

While I like to keep my discussions here coffee, beer, and historical science related some things just can’t be ignored especially when people keep poking me for answers. So, I have some thoughts that are quite lacking in insobriety.

First, I am not a nuclear engineer, contrary to how more than a few people have referred to me; I am a health physicist. It is the purpose of my field to keep radiation doses as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA, as the acronym goes) for radiation workers and the public. More often than not, this means protecting the radiation sources from people as humans are rather dangerous when we ignorantly play with fire. So, I cannot definitively speak to the quality of the reactor’s construction or it’s current post-earthquake condition, though I’m pretty sure no one builds reactors with a M9.0 quake in mind (certainly not the outbuildings that held the cooling & filtration systems that have been damaged, never mind the rest of the city infrastructure). The job of a health physicist is now to protect the public from an accident that has gone beyond the confines of the reactor. For that, I can say things:

  1. If you do not live in northern Honshu, you do not have cause for panic. The radiation release from the reactor has been localized to the immediate vicinity. A downwind plume exposure pathway emergency planning zone (~10mi radius) as already been evacuated. A wider 50 mile radius will be drawn for confiscation of foodstuffs to minimize any potential ingestion of radioactive iodine & cesium.
  2. Please be understanding of the fact that thousands are dead from a tsunami and earthquake with associated services badly disrupted. Terrifying as a nuclear reactor having trouble may seem to you via television/internet report, there are much more lethal and immediate problems than the reactor to the people who are still in the middle of this. Just getting there to help is a logistical nightmare. Contamination can be cleaned up, but people can’t be unkilled. Life saving takes precedence over property & environment.
  3. Normal operations of a nuclear reactor involves the operation of air and water monitoring stations in the facility itself and area environmental monitors for many miles around. A tsunami is likely to have broken more than few of those, but many more mobile units were rushed to the scene. This is how we are keeping track of what has been/is being released to the surrounding area from the reactor.
  4. Radioactive materials are being released to the air in the form of radioactive steam and water. Dissolved metals in the water and small particulates are particularly prone to becoming activated and thus radioactive, especially without a functional cooling and filtration loop to clean the water up. The radioactivity is very short lived, in general on the order of minutes to about a week, but rather nasty while it is present.
  5. Reports have indicated the presence of small quantities radioiodine and radiocesium in monitoring. This indicates that some of the nuclear fuel cladding has been damaged due to overheating.
  6. Unless ordered by a medical professional, DO NOT self-administer prophylactic iodine or Prussian blue treatments to protect against radioiodine & radiocesium uptake. These treatments carry some significant metabolic risks at the body saturating doses necessary to offer protection.
  7. Please don’t mob the health professionals. They are badly outnumbered and doing their best. People with burns and crush injuries take precedence over potential radioactive materials uptake every time. Your latency for cancer is 40 years; their latency for a crushed arm may only be minutes. Do not be upset when they press-gang you for assistance at the triage station rather than treat you like victim, because you are still ambulatory and capable.
  8. The symptoms of acute radiation sickness (ARS) begin with vomiting. There’s an awful lot of things that may cause vomiting in a disaster situation like this, not the least of which is stress and psychosomatic response. At this point we will segregate you and watch for further advancement of symptoms. At present, only one person who has presented with symptoms that has had an actual radioactive materials uptake; his dose was less the 1/10th the what is normally associated with associated with ARS.

If you want to help with all of this, please, instead of buying a Stein of Science or Black Blood of the Earth go donate to the Red Cross. You will do far more good than staring at the TV with growing panic. Several colleagues I rather respect are already on their way to Japan to help with the reactor problems and I wish them the best. As endless a supply of caffeine as I can make is going with them.

I also recommend watching for announcements to come through the International Atomic Energy Agency, American Nuclear Society, and World Nuclear News.

An Important “Shiny Brass” Style Stein Field Modification

I’ll start this off by saying you all owe Steinwielder Brad a great debt of thanks for finding this and tinkering. Before sharing the discovery however, you must first endure my rambling.

The exposed glass style of Stein of Science are my least favorite to build. They are the ones that pose the most personal danger to me in the course of construction. While the warning label states that the dewar can shatter unexpectedly, the only time it is likely to in it’s life as a vessel for human beverages rather than a piece of grad student tortured labware is when I am turning it into stein (good news: hasn’t happened yet). The same warning label advises you to wear safety glasses, long sleeves, and apron; not needed while drinking beer, but you better believe I’m wearing them when I’m building shiny style steins.

However, the shiny steins are quite beautiful. Beneath that full metal jacket is the elegant curve of of silvered glass. They are consistently the ones people tell me they admire the most but are frightened of because of the lack of protective shield. Honestly, if you can take care of a pint glass, you can take care of the shiny style. Heck, it even has a handle; you don’t get that with a pint glass.

But there is something even better to recommend the shiny stein now: at long last and much searching, there is a travel mug lid for it that actually fits. By far, one of the most common questions I get asked is “Why don’t you have a travel mug lid for this?” You better believe I’ve been looking for well over a year. On Tuesday, Steinwielder Brad sent me these photos for the DCI I Am Not A Plastic Lid on his 350ml shiny brass:

The Silicone "Not A Plastic Lid"

The Silicone "Not A Plastic Lid"

Now, the lid in action:

Steinwielder Brad's 350ml Shiny Brass w/ Silicon Lid & "Devil's Coffee" in the Background

Steinwielder Brad's 350ml Shiny Brass w/ Silicon Lid & "Devil's Coffee" in the Background

This morning, I stole my EH&S Director’s ceramic coffee mug and verified that the silicone lid fit my day-to-day drinking stein (a 665ml shiny brass). It was a thing of non-spilled fluid beauty that will fit a 350, 665 of 1000ml bare glass style stein, but not an FMJ because of the fold-over gap of the aluminum shield. I admit, it is not the locking top travel mug lid that I hoped for nor quite as insulating as the foam lid I normally provide, but this makes it finally possible to use the steins (at least one specific variety) as goddamn travel mug.

Go forth, check it out on Amazon and get one, shiny brass Steinwielders!