Re-announcing The BBotE Pimpstresses & Brand New Pimp

Sometime in the darkest depths of August, a migration happened and Funranium Labs molted from it’s spring plumage to the new Iteration 4.0 feathers.  Unfortunately, some things didn’t quite survive the transfer and a couple posts were lost.  One of those posts was the announcement of the local availability of Black Blood of the Earth in a few select cities other than the Greater San Francisco Bay Area.  At the time it was just BBotE Pimpstresses Greta and Natara, in Portland (PDX) and Los Angeles respectively, but now I can happily share that we have our very first BBotE Pimp of Greater Detroit, Ben!

The BBotE Pimpstresses & Pimp are self-nominated devotees to the cause of caffeination that have taken it upon themselves to make BBotE more readily available to their locales.  By shipping bottles to them in large quantity, they can then pass BBotE along to you with minimal pain due to packaging & postage costs.  750ml bottles are available in Portland and Los Angeles for $45.  I also have reliable reporting that in Los Angeles the bottles have been subdivided into one-shot 40ml test tubes tasters for $5 a piece.  Starting next Friday, Detroit will be in possession of a case of 375ml bottles that will be available fo $30 a piece.

How do you get these local bottles?  Well, you contact your local BBotE Pimp/Pimpstress.  Here’s how:

For Greater Portland, please contact Greta [at] pdxyar [dot] org.  She is happy to bring the piratical fighting art of twin axe and coffee wielding to PDX.  Oh, she also fights cancer…though not necessarily with an axe.

You may reach the BBotE Pimpstress of Greater Los Angeles, Natara, funranium [dot] la [at] usefulmonkey [dot] net.  When not keeping the Dream Factory humming with caffeine, she spends much of her time herding the Burning Man community of LA and seeking the spiritual enlightenment that will let her cope with the the aforementioned herding.

And now, the BBotE Pimp of Greater Detroit, or Delta City if you are an OCP shareholder, Ben.  Ben is a tattoo artisan who’s heart is as dark as his metal and his coffee.  I welcome him to my shadowy cabal for world domination.  If you are in the Greater Detroit area and in need of a BBotE fix, you may drop him an email at via benjamineliasz [at] gmail [dot] com.

Well, *MY* Table Is Ready For Oktoberfest

After a fair bit of work, the steins for Funranium Labs’ table at Oktoberfest (Tyrolean Inn in Ben Lomond, CA) are ready.  Odds are on favor they will be seeing good hoisting each weekend from now until mid-October as delicious pork products, beer, and sauerkraut are to be had everywhere I turn! Speisekammer in Alameda, CA and Bavarian World in Reno, NV come to mind.  Oh, to be in the Fest Tent proper…


Funranium Labs Is Ready For Oktoberfest...the little stein is for schnapps

A Field Trip To NASA Ames/Moffett Field

Let me start with this, zeppelin hangars are very large.

Hangars 2 and 3

Hangar One, East from the RunwayThey may look big from the freeway but you need to enter the cavernous space to get the full enormity; only the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center has been comparable. They were also built around the same time as the last proper zeppelins, which is to say prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act and OSHA.  Plummeting to one’s death from the arch while working on an airship was definitely considered bad form, but hardly a thing one would call a stop work order for.  It was a different time.  Americans are now a soft people and I, as a personal representative of Americaness, am hardly fit enough to climb the concerning ladder/staircases of Moffett Field’s Hangar 2.

This trip all began back in May when John, a machinist at Ames, asked if I’d be interested in a tour of the hangars if he could wrangle one.  I said hell yes and asked if my friend Erik could join us.  I got told to hold my horses and to wait and see if he could make the excursion even happen first.  Sadly, Erik died the week after John made the tentative offer and it took four months to wrangle a trip outsiders could go on.  This most definitely was a trip Erik would have enjoyed.  It was dirty, it was normally inaccessible, and it was full of Science and History.

First off, Hangar 2:

Hangar 2 Interior, Facing North

Hangar 2 interior, Facing North

The smallest of the three hangars and occasional former home of the ZR-3 Los Angeles. It is where Airship Ventures, AKA the ad blimps you see cruising the Bay Area, are based. Additionally, this is where the experimental helium turbine that went up over Haiti for emergency generation and comms after the earthquake lives. And that all is in just the rearmost tenth of the hangar in this shot (PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: NASA would be quite happy to lease space for joint ventures). The rest is mostly littered with the detritus of 30 years of projects that seem to come to a resting place here. For example, this was a mirror mount for a telescope, not a Stargate prototype:

Not The Stargate

With no small amount of effort, I scaled the hairy with dry rot wooden structure of the hangar with John and our representative from flight ops. My Lovely Assistant declared the ground to be quite good for her and no way was she going up. I did not die, though a heart attack seemed possible, even likely, from time to time while making the long ascent. It was more comfortable than the gangsta lean ascent I experience scaling the staircase of the dome on St. Peter’s in Rome however. Sadly, by the time I got to the top I was too tired and it was too dark up there to take any pictures competently and the blurry shot below was the best I managed. My legs were wobbling for the rest of the day after getting back down.

Half-way up, looking southHangar 3 is a fair bit wider than Hangar 2, possibly intended as a home for ZRS-4 Akron if it ever showed up at the same time as ZRS-5 Macon. Currently, it’s floor is split about 50/50 between Space Systems Loral satellite projects and NASA/Navy airframe restoration, mainly for museum pieces. I’d had enough climbing, so we contented ourselves with exploring the antiquities. These two, a piece of the Los Angeles‘ airframe and the gas envelope sleeve removal man’s extension ladder were of particular interest:

Piece of Zeppelin Airframe

Piece of Zeppelin Airframe

Zeppelin Servicing Extension Ladder

Hangar 1 was built to house the Macon but barely saw use before the airship crashed off of Big Sur in 1935. Sadly, this building will be gone soon as it gets reduced to a whalebone skeleton for decontamination and hazardous materials disposal. The skin of the building is lead painted asbestos tiles that are cemented together with PCBs. If only we could find a way to make it radioactive too so that it would be a maximally difficult to dispose of as toxic waste. It’s sad because the building is quite beautiful with corrugated glass windows (!), but environmental concerns trump historical site registry for this one. The Navy claims they will treat the skeleton to preserve it so that a new skin could be built if anyone were interested, but good luck to that I say. A new skin needs to be installed as the old is removed if things are to be properly preserved.

Hangar One - South Door

Hangar One, South Door Up Close & Personal

Moving on. Here’s me with my head in the breach of the Supergun:

Lock and Load!

This is a 16″ gun that’s been reamed out to 17″ and then sleeved in a larger barrel is part of the High Pressure Test Facility.   Here they fire small scale models from what are, seriously, modified WWII battleship deck guns re-tasked for SCIENCE! down a Schlieren photography rig at a very, very thick target at Mach Lots.  I got taken for the tour of all the armor plate patches and cement repairs from where models went off axis and went spang.  The thumb sized Apollo capsule went through 2″ of steel and 2′ of reinforced concrete when there was a little bit of a whoopsie.  How do I know this is a WWII battleship deck gun you ask?  Well, how about this:

Once upon a time you might have gotten one of these at the surplus store too...

16″ Mark 6 Model 1, 1942

This means I have now seen two out of the three of the Superguns. I’m going to need a Q clearance again if I want to see JASPER, however.

I also got to go wandering around inside of the Unitary Wind Tunnel but none of those pictures came out.

In summation, it is sad to see many Big Science facilities barely used due to lack of funding and interest.  Of everywhere I went, the Supergun sees the most business.  All the other facilities I visited seem to be largely used as storage for files and equipment from “When We Did Stuff”.  Oh, I’m told the computational areas see a great deal of action but eventually you have to make a model into reality and we don’t seem to be doing that much anymore.

As Warren Ellis says, DO SOMETHING.

Malabar Experimention II

As stated back in June, I declared Malabar a light roast worth exploring again some point in the future.  The future was yesterday.

I found the “green” and cool flavor of the Malabar to be an interesting mouth feel and good flavor.  The question I had whether the flavor was replicable with BBotE processing.  Light roasts are problematic at the best of times because there is just so much there to extract.  Dark roasts have the advantage of driving of light oils and caramelizing what remains.  The challenge is not only getting something good, but to do it more than once; Panama is the only success so far.

Enough blather.  The results, courtesy of my favorite guinea pigs at the tasting room of St. George Spirits.

Straight: pipe tobacco, creamy, bittersweet chocolate, green, not quite menthol

Vodka addition test: honey again

In summation, it is replicable and it is good.  Unfortunately, the Santa Cruz Roasting Company is roughly 80mi away.  This means potential production of Malabar is will be by special request only.  However, I do have 2L left over from this test run.  If you are a brave soul, I have put two bottles in the Prototypes & Clearance that I will take back down on October 4th, the end of the Oktoberfest 10% off coupon.  Grab them…and ride as a leader of men.  Or hamsters.  Whatever.  We don’t judge here at Funranium Labs.

Labor Day BBotE Cocktail Experiments

Several days ago, Test Subject & Steinwielder Langford declared that he had created, and I quote, “the new most besterist drink ever with BBotE”.  I suspect he may have been hep’d up on goofballs at the time with that use/abuse of grammar.  His recipe:

  • 1/3 Cup BBotE (yes, slightly unhealthy amount), 1 Cup moo of choice (we made two batches, one with Fat Free and one with Low Fat – Both goodness), 1/4 block of Mexican Hot Chocolate, finely grated (available in your local Mexican market)
    …Bit o’ Mint (fresh or otherwise)
    Ice (small cubes work better)

    Melt Mexican Chocolate into Moo until dissolved. [You can modify this set and use a Mexican Hot Chocolate mix package if you prefer]

    After mixed, pour Choco-moo into blender. Add BBotE and Ice (aprox 1 cup).

    Blend until desired thickness is reached – we preferred a “thick shake” level, but the longer you blend it the thinner the mixture will become.

While this recipe is delicious, I couldn’t help but look at it and note that there is a distinct lack of alcohol.  The idea of a BBotE Mexican hot chocolate was tempting and the brain said that this flavor might be achieved with amaretto and tequila (in this case St. George Spirit’s Agua Azul Cristal “agave spirit”).  I was skeptical of my brain because it has thought things like this before and my tongue has strenuously disagreed.  Also, as long as I was breaking out the labware and going to be mixing anyway, my beloved Filthy Assistant suggested that I try to whip her up something with Drambuie, The Drink That Satisfies (says so on the label and everything).

NOTE: my girlfriend is part hummingbird with a sweet tooth that puts my pre-diagnosis preference for sweets to shame.  Seriously.  I’m off by orders of magnitude with respect to her.

Drink 1: Hummingbird Coffee Honey

Hummingbird Coffee Honey

Labor Day Drink 1: Hummingbird Coffee Honey

Initial mix – 10ml Drambuie to 10ml BBotE (Kona)

Result – honey front with a very long sweet chocolate/coffee aftertaste.  Quote: “Don’t screw with it.  It’s fine like that.  You got it in one.”

Ha.  Not likely.

Second mix – 17.5ml Drambuie to 20ml BBotE (Kona)

Result – stronger coffee flavor with spearmint overtones for me.  Filthy Assistant girlfriend hands the glass back asks me to put it back the way it was in the initial mix.

Drink 2 –  Jalisco Hot Chocolate

Jalisco Hot Chocolate

Labor Day Drink 2 - Jalisco Hot Chocolate

Initial mix – 5ml amaretto, 10ml “agave spirit”, 20ml BBotE (Kona)

Result – deliciously bittersweet chocolate flavor with the hint of almonds I associate with Mexican hot chocolate.  The Agua Azul added a nice salt bite.  I declared success and tripled the batch size and added an ice cube.

We at Funranium Labs are now buzzing nicely and ready for holiday hilarity.  Happy three day weekend, my sweet America.  To the rest of the world…a three day weekend is only a call-in sick away.