Monday, 28 May 2007

The Laws of Mugs...

... the house rules governing the distribution of receptacles from which the tea is drunk.

The result of correctly applying the Laws of Mugs

I’d often wondered why Badger and Stray fail to drink tea when I make it. I don’t think it’s necessarily because I lack skill in assembling a reasonable mug of tea from its constituent ingredients. I have in fact been a practitioner of the noble art of “making the tea” in almost every organisation I have ever been a member of. I find it's great for increasing social cohesion, at least until you give someone the wrong mug. Fortunately, this is easy at work - we have around ten people in the office on any given day, and about fifty identical mugs. Making the tea is a doddle. There are no mug politics or complicated (verging on obsessive) laws to contend with. Home is a different matter...

There are three people in the house and, at the last muster, 11 mugs noted to be present in common circulation. Thus, without applying any rules or criteria, there are 990 combinations in which I could distribute mugs of tea between the three of us. 982 of those combinations would be wrong. Very, Very Wrong.

The characteristics of the eleven commonly-occuring mugs are provided in Table 1.

MugThicknessLip ?ShapeOwnerAssignment
KitKatThickNoStraightBadgerBadger 1
PinkThickYesNarrow BaseStrayBadger 2
FiftiesThickNoStraightStrayStray 1
Tea and ToastThinYesStraightStrayStray 2
DenbyUber-ThickYesBulbousWhy?Why? 1
SwirlyThickNoNarrow BaseWhy?Why? 2
SnowmanThinYesStraightWhy?Why? 3
100% (gold)ThickYesStraightStrayUnassigned
100% (yellow)ThickYesStraightStrayUnassigned
Great WhiteThickNoStraightStrayUnassigned
Small WhiteThinNoNarrow BaseStrayUnassigned

Table 1: The House Mugs

Disregarding myself and my mugs (the laws of which I know), from the remaining set of commonly-circulated mugs, there are 56 acceptable combinations of mugs for Badger and Stray, of which only 4 are acceptable, giving a new housemate only a 7% chance of stumbling across a correct outcome. It therefore seems a tad overdue that the Laws of Mugs were only explained to me today:

1) Stray drinks only from her own mugs;
2) Why? drinks only from her own mugs;
3) Badger drinks from a small set of thick mugs, which she may or may not own;
4) Stray values the stability of a mug - note that Pink mug has been given up to Badger as the base is of insufficient radius to provide Ruby-proofing;
5) White mugs and 100% mugs are not highly prized.

Thus: Badger drinks from the KitKat mug, or, if unavailable, the Pink mug. At a pinch, either white mugs would be OK. The 100% mugs might be OK, but would cause a feeling of unease. To add to the confusion, Stray doesn't care if someone else is drinking out of one of her mugs, provided she gets tea in one of her own preferred receptacles. However, she is fiecely protective of others' mugs and will, for example, berate the Badger for drinking from Swirly mug. I prefer the Denby mug but will drink tea from any mug (though now I understand the Laws, the KitKat mug is most certainly Out Of Bounds). I try to drink from the Swirly mug now and again - I received it as a present when I passed my viva and drinking from it makes me feel rather content, but if someone else want to drink from it (or the Denby mug for that matter), that is OK.

It may be worth noting that an outsider who is unfamilar with the Laws of Mugs and attempts to make tea has only a 0.8% chance of getting it right. Anyone visiting the house should therefore either bring with them a copy of this post, or leave the tea-making to the experts.


Badger said...

I am little uneasy that my KitKat mug is in the middle of the picture. It appears to have a certain lack of personal space around it. I am worried it will be anxious.

Badger x

But Why? said...

[Remembers to breathe...]

I do apologise. Just when I thought I'd understood, and all the Laws of Mugs had been explained, I'd forgotten about the over-arching Requirement for Personal Space. Of course. How silly of me...

But (I'm trying. I'll get it right one day. Be patient with me...) x

Jean said...

My office mug has gone walkabout and I was feeling a bit small-minded for minding... I feel a lot better now!

But Why? said...


[not sure whether to feel insulted...?]

I'm happy to be of service and make you feel better! Next time you feel outwitted by every-day objects with no moving parts, small-minded or even a bit of a geek, do drop by - I'm sure I'll have gabbled about something suitable to remind you that things could, perhaps, be worse.

But (I'll admit to being outwitted by doors on a regular basis...) x

Pixie said...

I have just read your blog down as far as here, and I've just had to stop for a little lie down.....

I may have missed the point here, but don't you get often?

Working out all this stuff must have taken hours..... No please don't tell me.

I enjoyed it in a, it's a quiet day for doing some educational reading.


But Why? said...


I hope you're enjoying your lie down and your Sunday is treating you well.

Given my lack of awareness of popular culture, I wouldn't be suprized to learn that "Often" is/are the latest, greatest music phenomenon, or some cult TV show. If not, I'll fill in the blanks to the best of my abilities:

Don't you get out often? Not nearly often enough. Or, more accurately, I frequently get out to places which I can't blog about.

Or perhaps, Don't you get someone else to make the tea often?
Yes. As often as possible.

or, Don't you get more exciting things happening often?
Yes, but they don't quite fit the theme of all those bits of life I'd otherwise forget about.

Meanwhile I'm seeking professional help for life-long, undiagnosed geekery.

But xx

Pixie said...

I really love your humour, it is so silly in a wonderful geeky way. Fantastic.

But Why? said...

Awww, thanks, p!

After reading your comment I found I had a warm, glowing feeling inside. I don't think it can be completely accounted for by my morning (Denby) mug of tea.

But x

Pearl said...

Good post.