Greetings & Farewells

To everyone that just wandered over this way courtesy of Penny Arcade, welcome aboard the S.S. Funranium Labs! Some kindly Browncoat decided that dosing Tycho at SDCC with a vial of Sumatra was a good idea and, lo, here you are. I’m also to understand that vials ended up backstage at w00tstock and everyone survived. You will find that poop jokes often outnumber the tales of adventure, radiation, coffee, beer, and science but I try to keep a happy balance, hopefully all in the same tale.

Of course, all you new folks also mean that BBotE for this run are getting rather depleted. Rest assured, fresh pre-order slots for the next production run will go up this weekend.

In sadder news, my old boss that I mentioned two weeks ago, passed away last Friday night at 11:15pm. He leaves behind a legacy of dozens of people that he trained to be sarcastic, suspicious bastards for the Forces of Good. If you will, please imagine him as  Old Man Deadpool sending us all forth in his image. I’m gonna miss him.

BBotE Lineup Changes & A Wounded Soldier

As time marches on, the supplies of single origin coffees start to dwindle on our way to the next harvest. It is with heavy heart that I must tell you that the Guatemalan Mundo Nuvo will be leaving the BBotE lineup. After the next run, the supplies will be depleted for the foreseeable future. I hope it will return soon, but this also means the hunt for a new occupant for the Central American slot is on! I am ever so fond of Guatemalans.

Gravity Victim 665ml FMJ Stein of Science

Gravity Victim 665ml FMJ Stein of Science

In other news, while building a giant mess of steins to equip one lucky couple’s wedding, I discovered at the bottom the box a wounded dewar. Not shattered, but a badly dented base. I was able to bend it back out and the stein rests flat, but the cosmetic damage is done. So, if you want a stein on the cheap and don’t mind a dent in the base, here’s your chance. [EDIT: it‘s already been grabbed. Within 20min.]

To those who sent me fine tales of Navy adventure, thank you. I have high hopes to be seeing Mr. Shea next week and look forward to entertaining him for a bit. Never know, he might give me another story to rival the Tale of the Dolphins.

Last, but not least, the next round of pre-order slots are now up. Go and get ’em!

The Tale of the Dolphins

My old wonderful curmudgeon of a boss from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the man who gave me a not so gentle kick and made it possible to be a health physicist, has just moved into hospice care. He said, and I quote, “You’re too damn smart to spend the rest of your life swinging a meter. Get your degree and start telling guys like me what to do.” As if I’d dare tell him what to do without asking his opinion first; it’s a damn fool of an officer that doesn’t listen to the sergeant. Bill is similarly too damn smart to have spent his life swinging a meter but found his joy in being a cantankerous smartass, which is part of why he was made my boss (quote: “He’s an ass who drives people crazy, but he’s a smart ass. You two should get along perfectly.”)

We spent an awful lot of his smoke breaks listening to his stories of the Navy and decades gone by at LLNL. I did my best to absorb them all and I became a font of institutional knowledge that convinced people that I’d been working there longer than I’d been alive. It is time to share my favorite of his stories, “The Tale of the Dolphins”, to honor Mr. Shea. This is a story of Navy traditions, drinking, and attempted drowning in Hawaii. Admittedly, saying “Navy traditions”, “drinking”, and “attempted drowning” in the same sentence is thrice redundant.

Bill was a submariner in the 70s, at the height of the prison inmate enlisted men/frat house officer Navy at the same time that Admiral Rickover’s Nuclear Navy was really coming into its own. He arrived in Pearl Harbor, fresh from Nuclear Power School to be assigned to his boat. As he approached his boat there was a large group of men punching one solitary seaman in the chest, right up until the moment one man picked him up and threw him overboard into the harbor. When Bill saw this he not-quite-quietly said, “Aww man, why did you go and do that?”

The EXTREMEMLY LARGE Chief of the Boat, the man that did the tossing, says “And why shouldn’t I?” in an EXTREMELY LARGE manner to Bill.

Bill shook his head in disappointment, “You tossed him in the harbor. He’s gonna leave a fucking ring around the boat we’ll have to clean off before we leave.” It is important to remember that the Navy area of Pearl Harbor was a goddamn toxic cesspit with untreated sewage at this time. If you’ve been to Pearl recently and think it’s still a goddamn toxic cesspit, just know that it’s much better now. To suggest that the seaman was filthier than Pearl Habor itself…

The COB squints at Bill’s nametag. “Shea. I’m gonna remember you, Shea.”

Old Style Enlisted Submariner Badge (courtesy of the US Navy)

Old Style Enlisted Submariner Badge (courtesy of the US Navy)

Bill had walked aboard in the middle of a “dolphin” ceremony where a newly minted submariner is granted their pin with the dolphins on it that denotes that they have successfully completed their training on all the major functional areas of the submarine and, therefore, more useful than mere ballast. When Bill got his dolphins several months later, they threw him overboard twice. Oh yes, the Chief remembered him.

Oh, I forgot. The punching? That was the lucky new submariner’s team punching his pin into his chest without postbacks. For Bill, when the pin was first presented, it was at a bar. It was shown to the recipient, but then quickly taken away. A water pitcher was found. Everyone in the bar poured what was left of their drinks into it. The barmat was wrung out to fill the pitcher. The dolphin pin was then dropped in and Bill was told to chug and come up with the dolphins in his teeth. Immediate vomiting would have been considered unlucky, so Bill had to make it at least through the next game of darts before a strategic chunder was approved.

There you go, The Tale of the Dolphins. If you have a tale of your time in the nuclear Navy you’d like me share with him when I go visit in the next couple weeks, I’m always happy to learn a new story. And I know he enjoys when I spin him a fine yarn.