The Decembering 2013 & A Worrisome Cigar Box

Alright, the December 14th pre-order slots are now up. There’s a slightly longer window this time than normal because of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US. I’ll be out of town for a bit engaging in conspicuous consumption of turkey and fine drink, so there’ll be a while when the coffee engines are wound down before the December BBotE begins flowing out in quantity.

As far as steins go, I have a rather large shipment of dewars slated to show up right before Thanksgiving. The number of “steins on hand” should dramatically increase, so keep any eye out there.

Your full holiday purchasing advice for this year can be found in the previous postI do regret to inform you that one of of the BBotE varieties will soon disappear from the selections. Caffe Vita’s Guatemala Nueva Vinas is now done for the season and hopefully will return sometime around next May 2014. I have a still small supply on hand, but as soon as it’s gone, it’s gone.

Now, on to the wonderful worlds of radiation and history.

Two weeks ago, I got to go take a tour of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s “Old Town”, AKA the few remaining buildings that still date back to WWII, as they are preparing to demolish them. Space is at a premium up in the mostly vertical space of LBL, these buildings have seen better days and science needs those scant square feet back to do research again.

Lovely boxeses, but what does it keeps in them, Precious?

Alhambra Casino Cigar Box – Lovely boxeses, but what does it keeps in them, Precious?

The day before we showed up, they had found an Alhambra Casinos cigar box in one of the Old Town buildings. To most people, a cigar box is a curio box, filled with your odd great aunt’s odds and ends from decades back when her first husband smoked a cigar a day after work. To people in my line of work, specifically those of us that have had any time in the nuclear weapons complex or former Manhattan Project sites, a cigar box is a moment for sphincter clenching, reach for the gloves, respirator, radiation meter, and everything needed to secure and dispose of this box as the likely radioactive hazardous waste that it is.

WHY do we react this way? Because Alhambra Casinos were Glenn T. Seaborg’s favorite brand of cigar. In addition to collecting titles as the head of

Box Interior. Note reads "VERY VALUABLE SAMPLE. Do Not Disturb in any way! Sample-J G. T. Seaborg"

Box Interior. Note reads “VERY VALUABLE SAMPLE. Do Not Disturb in any way! Sample-J G. T. Seaborg”

commissions, agencies, departments, and universities like they were Pokemon, Glenn also collected souvenirs of all the places he’d gone, the projects he participated on, and the discoveries made. When you keep in mind that this is the man who rode on a train with the sole sample of plutonium in the world in his possession, his souvenirs get a bit interesting. And what did he always stick them into? One of the ubiquitous cigar boxes lying around his office, home, or hotel room as he never traveled without them and smoked like a chimney.

Smithsonian Modern Physics Exhibit - That's a familiar looking box.

Smithsonian Modern Physics Exhibit – That’s a familiar looking box.

He was a remarkable man that presided over the dawn of the Nuclear Age, but damn if he didn’t leave quite a mess to clean up. In the course of decommissioning his many labs & offices, we’ve found these with plutonium, americium, curium, neptunium, beryllium alloys, reactor graphite, shaped explosives, playing cards signed by nuclear test teams, and much more. At some point we’ll find them all, but he’s been gone for 14 years and they’re still popping up. Sometimes it feels like the Manhattan Project never quite ended.

 

Impending Holidays, Site Changes, and Extensions

As you may have noticed, It is November. This means it’s the time that strikes dread into creative and retail hearts alike as we look around franticly and say “IS IT HIDDEN?! IS IT SAFE!?” Actually, most of us don’t go Full Gandalf but we do start getting worried about disappointing people who wait until the last minute, because we don’t like making people sad. Also, we like money and your desires going unfulfilled means less presents we can buy with our own last minute shopping.

[Several artist friends would like to completely disavow my completely accurate description of their lives. Not because I'm wrong, but because they try not to think about it.]

Because people have requested it (and I would like to try to work on another chunk of my mom’s debt), I will keep doing special runs of the Atomic Robo, Tesladyne “REMAIN CALM, TRUST IN SCIENCE”, and Ineffable Mustachio’d Goat of Science labeled bottles through the end of the year so people can give them as gifts. After I clear the decks on the current orders, I will extend the pre-order slot time horizon on the those listings to mid-December. As always, orders to tend to ship fairly quickly, so you won’t have to wait until then unless you want to.

I’m also going to remove all the individual limited run 750ml bottle listings (i.e. Ipsento Panama, Guatemala Nueva Vinas, Death Wish, Colombia, Peru Salkanty) on the store as they are all now selectable in the drop downs in the normal listings. Of course, those listings included special information relating to flavor characteristics, so I’ve had to add this handy tasting guide for each of the varieties to link to the posts that described them as they first went into production. The tasting guide is something people have been poking me to do for quite a while, so that’s an improvement as well. This cleans up the store page and hopefully makes things a bit less confusing. It does, however, make a lot of broken links in posts. I’ll be cleaning those up for months I’m sure.

Now, a few things you should probably think about if you decide to place an order for a gift from Funranium Labs:

  1. BBotE Is Perishable: When refrigerated, it has a shelf-life of about three months (possibly longer, but I’m only going to quote three).  If you’re going to wrap it up and put it under the tree, this a present to put out on Christmas Eve and the promptly put back in the fridge after unwrapping. Alternatively, embrace the idea of the holiday season and decide that give it to the recipient immediately, for all days are special.
  2. Let People Know BBotE Is Coming: I know part of the joy in presents is the surprise of what you get. However, joy is not the emotion people feel when a bottle of mysterious black liquid shows up on their doorstep, especially if it’s been sitting there for a week outside because they were out of town. Give them a heads up, that something’s coming they’ll want to stick in the fridge. I will also tuck handling instructions in the box and a note stating who sent it if you ask me to.
  3. The pre-order slot dates date are “Ship By”, not “Ships On”. I get your orders out as soon as I can, but even in the furthest flung corner of the US with the slowest mail carrier, this means you should have your order in hand by December 21st for that last set of late order slots. If you want to order something NOW to ship later, in effect reserving a spot in a later order queue, you can do so but please leave a note with your order telling me when you want it to ship by.
  4. Yes, I will probably add a extra more slots as I get a handle on how much I can make at the last minute but shipping gets dicey in those last days before Christmas.
  5. International Shipments Of BBotE Go Out Express Mail: Because I don’t want BBotE to get stuck in postal facilities or customs, express is the only way to ship to minimize their time in bureaucratic hell. Expect it to take 3-5 business days to get to you, so time your orders accordingly to make sure things get to you in time.
  6. APO/FPO: If you wish to send something out to someone with an Armed Forces address, there’s good news and bad news. Good news – it’s no more expensive than priority mail. Bad news – I can’t guarantee any date as to when things will arrive. Outside of active war zones, things move somewhat normally; inside war zones and ships at sea, things get iffy. Also, depending on routing, some nations (I’m looking at you, Turkey) have bounced BBotE on the basis that it is, and I quote, “Morally Questionable Material” because, obviously, any liquid from the West must be alcoholic in nature. In short, I’ll do my best but you’ve been warned.
  7. Local Pick Up: Resupply shipments will go out to all the BBotE Ambassadors as fast as I can crank them out, so be sure to drop them a line if grabbing a bottle that way is convenient for you. I’m sure they’d like clean and empty refrigerators as their Christmas present.
  8. Italy & Brazil: It breaks my heart to say this, I can’t ship to these countries. Italy, I absolutely do not trust your postal system. The level of theft shipping things anywhere south of Rome is, frankly, appalling. If you ask me to ship to Naples, I make absolutely zero guarantee of it arriving. Brazil, your customs causes shipment to languish for so long that the BBotE goes off before it arrives, even if shipped express; steins seem to be fine though.
  9. Steins of Science Have Lead Time Too: The steins are built to order and it sometimes takes a while to get parts in.  Generally, things move much faster and ship within a week but you have now been warned of the possibility of delays.  For some insight into which stein is the best fit for you, I rambled on that a while back. Dewars that are on hand for me to build steins with RIGHT NOW can be found here.
  10. BBotE Production Is First Come, First Served: My maximum daily production output is 12L per day. Thus, people who request 12pk cases will lock up production for an entire day.
  11. There’s No Kosher Or Halal Certification: While Robert Anton Wilson did confer the papacy upon me, and all the other people in the Porter College Dining Hall, this does not permit me to sanctify food.  Sorry.
  12. The 4300mL Stein of Science Is Ridiculously Large: Seriously, BIG.  It will should take an entire pre-game, Super Bowl, and wrap up to go through this much beer.  Or one cricket match. You may think you are a super drankin’ badass, but consider that you may want to drink more often than once a year, so think about a smaller size. I’m just sayin’…

Awesome Product Endorsements

In my previous post, I mentioned that I’d used the Goat labeled 1000ml bottles for fundraising to help make neat projects happen. Well, Laurie Penny decided to write me some rather kind words as an endorsement which I’d like to share here:

“I do not generally endorse products. This time, I’m more than happy to do so. Black Blood of the earth is made by my good friend Phillip Broughton, who got me addicted by giving it to me for free until books happened. It is ultra-distilled yummy supercaffeine. It tastes like espresso. It is not espresso. It is smoother and stronger and deadlier. Coffee beans all over the world are sad because they will never get to be part of it.
Black Blood of the Earth funds have been raised to support various good causes. They were used to get me to Egypt to report on the women’s revolution there, and to get me and Molly Crabapple to Greece to write our book, Discordia. (The substance itself was used to enable me to actually write the damn thing.)
This time, though, the cause is much closer to home. Two weeks ago, Phil’s lovely dad passed away suddenly, and his mother needs help to clear the debts that have suddenly accrued to her as a result of her husband’s passing. I cannot think of a better excuse to encourage the internet to purchase unwise amounts of supercoffee.
Black Blood of the Earth is a) delicious and b) dangerous in the wrong hands. It is what happens when a nuclear physicist decides to run a sideline in supercoffee distribution. It is powerful writerjuice. It can be enjoyed hot, cold and in pintglasses. When you add it to vodka it magically becomes sweet without the need for extra Baileys, but, you know, you can put that in too, thus making a cocktail I like to call the Deadline. 
So, go on, buy a bottle or five. I’d say be careful with the stuff, but fuck it, you’re an adult, and it’s legal, although it probably shouldn’t be.”

never cease to be amused by the interesting names that people give cocktails made with BBotE. I should compile them someday. Thank you, Laurie.

Not long after, Brian Clevinger chimed in with his own remarks. He receives two points for managing to make a RIFTS® reference while doing it:

“Help us help a friend help his mom!

Long time friend of Robo, Dr. Phillip “Phil Me Up” Broughton, has a long and storied career in action science. He is the Officially Unofficial Science Advisor to Team Robo and he stars as “Phil” the guy who is in charge of keeping Robo alive in Vol 6 and Vol 8.

In real life he is an actual radiation safety guy. Which, yes, that’s technically what Homer Simpson did. Or should have been doing but never did. Whichever.

Phil also makes a Super Coffee that he calls Black Blood of the Earth because he is a nerd. He foists it on us at every opportunity. Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, It’s Tuesday, whatever. And this stuff has gotten us through some dark nights and looming deadlines. It’s like coffee in the sense that nitrous is like gasoline. Like it is bad for you to drink more than one shot glass of it in 24 hours.

This is the coffee RIFTS(r) Juicers would drink.

And if can be yours. And if you buy some with a special label –the “REMAIN CALM/TRUST IN SCIENCE” Tesladyne gear label or the ROBO BOMB SMASH label — then the proceeds will go toward the very nice cause of helping out his mom.

Special Runs Of BBotE & New Merch

In the wake of my father’s death, we did a lot of paperwork and sleuthing to find where everything was hiding,  If you ever needed someone’s advice about the importance of making a master list of logins, passwords, associated sites, and security, I’m your man because guess what my family just spent the last week or so creating after the fact. *INSERT GRUMBLING NOISES HERE*

Then comes the accounting, perhaps reckoning if you are feeling more poetic. The unfortunate discovery was that this has all left my mother in the hole, debt-wise. A net negative cash flow on a fixed income is no way to start widowhood. Luckily, she has a son with a supplementary source of income and he has friends that have happily contributed to help make something wonderful happen.

Ineffable Mustacio'd Goat of SCIENCE!

The 1000ml Ineffable Mustachio’d Goat of SCIENCE! bottle

We start with inveterate caffeine fiend and artist Molly Crabapple. In January 2012, in a moment of BBotE inspiration she asked if it would be okay to draw a new label for me. The amount of arm twisting required to get me to agree to wouldn’t have even registered on this. The result was the Ineffable Mustachio’d Goat of Science which has previously appeared on other special fundraiser BBotE bottle runs. I just went back to the printer and got a fresh set of vinyl labels to put on the bottles that will make Molly’s art more durable and you can happily put the bottle up on the mantle when you finish it. You can grab one of the 1000ml Goat bottles here.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

In my Enumeration of Good Things, I mentioned that

REMAIN CALM TRUST IN SCIENCE

Atomic Robo Tesladyne 750ml Bottle

some special labels had been created for the Atomic Robo Kickstarter that we’d changed our mind on using as a stretch goal for the project. I still had the labels kicking around and after brief chat with the Atomic Robo creative duo Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener that I can sum up as, “Why are you even asking us, dummy? Help your mom.” the listings were created. What you didn’t know from the previous post is that there are TWO different Atomic Robo labels because I couldn’t pick which one I like more from what Scott created. So, why choose? Have both. You can have the Tesladyne Industries “REMAIN CALM AND TRUST IN SCIENCE”

Atomic Robo Bomb Droppin' 750ml Bottle

Atomic Robo Bomb Droppin’ 750ml Bottle

750ml bottleOR you could have Old Glowing Blue Eyes dropping da bomb on a 750ml bottle. Really, the choice is up to you.

This special run of bottles is slated to be completed and shipped by November 16th, but they’re likely to ship much sooner than that.

Lastly, I have been asked many times over the last couple of years if I’d be willing to make other kinds of merch with the BBotE logos on them, because people like the art and would like to represent for their method of caffeine delivery. I can understand that but I jealously guard the art I’ve been given because, frankly, it’s something I flat out don’t have the skills to do. However, with the consent of original BBotE coffee eruption volcano artist, Erin Hall, and Molly Crabapple, both of whom told me I’m silly for even asking, I have made up a whole bunch of 4×4.5″ stickers of the BBotE art you’ve come to know and love, both the Volcano and the Ineffable Mustachio’s Goat of SCIENCE! If you want Atomic Robo stickers, however, you’ll have to get those from them.

Lastly, thank you everybody for once again giving me the opportunity to be a good son. Last year, I was able to make sure my parents were able to complete their last big vacation. Now I have a chance to give my mom a clean start.

An Enumeration Of Good Things

So, in the wake of Tuesday’s rather sad announcement, I’m taking a piece of my bereavement leave to try to write down all the nifty things I haven’t actually gotten a chance to sit down and share. The store is back up and running again as the only thing more expensive that dying is living, and I needed to fire the coffee engines up sooner than I might’ve liked to help my mom out. Such is life and death.

First off, I inaugurated a new BBotE Ambassador for Perth, Australia. Karl made a convincing case for why the fine but odd folk of Australia’s far western shore deserved to have BBotE regularly arrive, and lo it has been done. He is furnished with 1000ml bottles and you can reach him by email, karl [at] fishoutoforder [dot] net. Sometime in the near future Indianapolis will be added as the next city with Ambassadorial representation, but I still have to hammer out exactly who will assume this mantle.

My compiled thoughts regarding alcohol and Antarctica back in June seems to have struck a chord with a few folks out there. I’ve been interviewed by the BBC World Serivce, The Atlantic, The Guardian, a decent substance abuse site The Fix, and Smith Quarterly (hasn’t come out yet) despite the fact that my Antarctic experience was a decade ago. Apparently, I’m still sufficiently entertaining and the tales odd enough to be worth talking to. Go figure.

Remain CalmThen there’s this comic book called Atomic Robo I might’ve mentioned it once or twice over the years. They had a kickstarter project to put together a store and get some merchandise together. Not only did they succeed, they broke their goal by almost 2000%. I had offered to do some special Atomic Robo themed label bottles but it was determined, logistically speaking, that this was a pain in the butt considering the need for refrigeration, limited shelf life, and bundling all the rewards together. These labels do exist and may appear on special bottles by and by, probably after all the Kickstarter rewards go out. However, they weren’t going to let me off that easy. One of the reasons I’ve been somewhat radio silent, other than being ridiculously busy, is that I got tapped to make a contribution to the Tesladyne Field Manual. From their stretch goal statement:

“$70,000 Actual Scientists - Here’s where things get a little crazy. Our buddy PHIL BROUGHTON, of Funranium Labs (also of Vol 6 and Vol 8 fame) will write a whole bunch of SAFETY TIPS covering a wide range of catastrophic sci-fi problems as well as a special chapter/entry/whatever pertaining, we think, to the problems and pitfalls of time travel and why you shouldn’t ever do it if the chance arises. I mean, obviously everything in the Field Guide is real, right? Like, you follow our advice and I promise you’ll never be killed by a dinosaur. But Phil’s stuff is extra true because he’s been there, man. Possibly including time travel, I dunno, the side effects of his super coffee are not fully documented.”

I handed them several thousand words of Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory culled from my physics degrees, Fortean Times, countless night driving dark roads listening to Art Bell with my dad, and helldiving expeditions on abovetopsecret.com (NOTE: do not go to that website without a healthy sense of humor and at least one adult beverage at the ready). I’ve lost count of the number of times Brian has said “Oh lord why” in the course of writing my contribution for them. It was also just a *titch* longer than they expected, perhaps by an order of magnitude, but I believe in giving value for money.

A good friend and talented spookypants musician Meredith Yayanos, AKA Theremina, has returned to the Bay Area after a long stint in Wellington, NZ. Kiwiland’s loss is our gain. Her latest musical endeavor, The Parlour Trick, is pretty much exactly what you need for Halloween. And Purim. And Christmas. Also Flag Day. I do strongly recommend getting rid of any creepy dolls you have in the house that might be staring at you before hitting play though; there’s a couple songs that might get to you if they’re on the shelf. If you happen to have creepy dolls and need them dealt with by Full Ecclesiastical Decon & Disposal before listening to your musics, well…

I have acquired a Dominican friar! It’s not okay to call him my Pokémonk. Br. Gabriel Mosher is here in Berkeley as a student at the Graduate Theological Union and is an exemplar of the Dominican precept of “Faith Through Reason” (which is why the Dominicans founded so many universities). I think I’ve made him happy by being an atheist who thinks religion is intensely interesting on the grounds that none of human history EVER makes sense without studying religion. Well, that and I’m fond of good beer, happy to discuss pretty much anything that doesn’t violate clearance, and not in the least bit embarrassed by his white robes. I mean, c’mon, I used to hang with Vampire LARPers long ago; the full Dominican regalia is quite mild by comparison. You may find his ecclesiastical musing here.

In August, I visited Portland as part of effort to take a long weekend out of town at least once a month to get myself out of the Lovely Assistant’s hair so she can write thesis. There is nothing in this house, not me, not kitties, not the internet, not even herself, that is more distracting than me. I simply have no off switch, therefor I gotta to go. In addition to attending the fifth a final season of Trek In The Park, I got to visit the magnificent citadel of nerdery for Guardian Games right after they moved to their new location, and I got to consume a bit of the Mackinlay & Co. “Antarctic” single malt whisky recreation from Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition. I also got to participate in this short music video about depression for my friend Jessica, who is also the Caffeinatrix of PDX.  It was a pleasure.

The coming weekend of October 25th is going to be crazy-go-nuts.

First, I will be working the door and being generally interesting for BarBot with the Lovely Assistant. I love booze, I love robots…of course I’m going to be there. I don’t have a bot to present but I definitely support and appreicate the work and talent on display. I would love to see you there. I will be the strange man with long red hair and a funny looking stein.

After I finish my BarBot-ly duties on Saturday, I will then wander down the the street a little way to join the tested.com Octoberkast in the wee hours to be entertaining and generally try to keep people awake and pledging. The Octoberkast is always a treat and are now raising money for a variety of charities beyond Child’s Play. As I did for the last three years, BBotE will be on hand I will be putting a 665ml FMJ stein up for auction. More news for this as it develops.

I’m going to leave it there for the moment as I should go get back to more serious business, but it’s important to remember the good things.