The Sociology of Dishes

Filed under: @ 4:09 pm

While emptying the dishwasher this morning I was struck by our collection of coffee mugs. Not struck as in: “Wow what a beautiful selection of artistic dishware!”, but rather: “Damn, that’s an extremely weird mix!”. I’m not sure whether I’m proud, or a little disturbed about the comments we have made about ourselves in choosing and keeping this motley collection.

In our mug cupboard we have the standard collection of hot beverage containers with decorations ranging from the extremely straightforward to the eclectic to the bizarre. In addition, so far as we can recall, we have actually purchased only one of the close to 30 mugs.
When future archeologists sift through the strata that will have once been our kitchen a fairly clear picture of Margaret and Andrew will come forth. And so I wonder….. in the personal spaces that we call our homes, is there some other collection of objects that can, all at once, so well define the personalities, preferences, senses of humor, and political leanings of us as individuals?

So I’m setting up a (very) informal poll of you, the dedicated readers of UADN, regarding your dishware.
What mugs are in your mug cupboard?
How many, and which ones, did you actually purchase?
Which one(s) do you use most often? Why?

In the interests of full disclosure, our cupboard contains:
–two KUOW/Morning Edition mugs that were premiums for donations to our local NPR station
–one Kona mug (gift)
–one Kalapawai Market mug (purchased)
–one U.S.S. Enterprise NCC 1701 mug (gift)
–one Dr. Science “I know more than you do” mug (gift)
–one Far Side mug (gift)
–one Stonehenge mug (gift)
–one molecular structure of caffeine mug (gift)
–one Valve Software mug (gift)
–one Oregon Shakespeare Festival mug (gift)
–one “I’m not deaf, I’m ignoring you” mug (gift)
–one “Teamwork, Attitude, Excellence” mug (a premium from my former employer)
–four blue glass mugs, two with snowflakes and two without (gifts)
–one two pint Mason Ball jar mug (adopted as a foundling when it was left in the kitchen of my unit room at Camp Sealth in 1987 I think)
–and, I believe, six insulated travel mugs of which three were NPR premiums and we’re not sure of the genesis of the other three.

But just looking at this list you can put together a pretty decent picture of us can’t you? Kind of a hard question to answer, actually, since the assumption is that the people that read this blog are ones that know us well.

I use the Mason Ball jar mug almost exclusively. I’m not sure why I use it outside of the fact that it fits my hand well (as do many others in the cupboard) and it holds a holy hell of a lot of tea. I’m not much of a dainty cup of tea drinker, I want my tea in good quantities. During the cold months of the year when my tea consumption doubles or more I tend to have one mug in the dining room, one in my study and if it’s very cold I’ll have a third in the bedroom. When I branch out I’ll use the blue glass mugs because they’re bigger than a standard mug.
Andrew tends to favor one or more of the insulated travel mugs, but will take fits of using the Kalapawai mug, the U.S.S. Enterprise mug and the Valve mug.

The world wants to know! (Okay, I want to know!)

4 Responses to “The Sociology of Dishes”

  1. Dalek Says:

    Ah, at last it is Sunday morning, and I can mull this question over as fisherbear and I sip coffee from some of our own mugs. I would say, looking at the list above, that your mug collection is somewhat representative of you two, except that I would have expected a few more political mugs, some terrible shroom pun mugs, and at least one mug from the Breast Cancer 3-Day. And for Roo, at least one complimentary coffee mug from his coffee vendor of choice, given the amount of the stuff I know he goes through. 😉 I’m also surprised you’re not drowning in mugs of puppies and kittens from grateful clientele, but maybe people really do have more common sense than that.

    I envy your Enterprise mug. Alas, mine bit the dust years ago.

    So, on to your questions:

    What mugs are in your mug cupboard?
    How many, and which ones, did you actually purchase?
    Which one(s) do you use most often? Why?

    In our cupboard:
    2 “Don’t Mess with Texas” mugs (gifts)
    2 ZBS Little Frieda “Wowie-Zowie!” mugs (1 purchased, 1 gift)
    1 Emergency Alert mug (gift)
    1 Jesus College, Cambridge mug (gift)
    1 Construction Electronics Incorporated mug (gift)
    1 violet mug (gift)
    1 octogonal iris mug (gift)
    1 botanical iris mug (gift)
    1 horse mug (gift)
    1 Vortex Data Systems mug (premium from a computer class I took way back in the day)
    1 Lost World mug (gift)
    1 Class of 1992 mug (gift or premium, depending on how you look at the “you paid a ton of tuition and managed to graduate, here’s a mug”)

    It is interesting to note that neither you nor I bought most of our mugs. I wonder what this says about us? ❓

    I tend to use the Little Frieda mugs most often, as they’re a little larger than normal, and have a handle that fits particularly well in either hand. I also get a giggle from remembering “The Fourth Tower of Inverness” every time I see the mug. When I don’t want a lot of tea/coffee whatever, I use the Cambridge one, as it too has fond memories of my studies abroad.

    Fisherbear says he mostly chooses his mugs by volume and what he wants to drink that day, but if he’s choosing aesthetically, he prefers the Texas ones (because they’re funny), the horse one (because he likes the graphic design), and the Cambridge one (because it’s smaller).

    So, would you say that our mug collection represents us about as well as yours does you?

  2. Uncle Andrew Says:

    That’s an interesting collection, all right. I especially like the “Emergency Alert” mug: you don’t give a detailed description, so my mind conjures up an image of a cup with an alarm built into it. When it detects dangerous levels of fatigue or ennui a klaxon starts to blare and an authoritative voice bellows, “Danger! Danger! Administer coffee and/or English Breakfast Tea immediately!” :mrgreen:

    As to what the relative paucity of purchased mugs has to say about us, I think it says that no one really needs more than about five or six mugs tops, and so the others we manage to accrue are invariably either gifts or gimmes. One only needs to buy the durned things if a) you really really want a matched set or b) there is something about a particular vessel’s form or function that draws you to it and compels you to shell out your own hard-won geld for it. With me it’s the endless pursuit of the perfect insulated travel mug: I am the genesis of at least four of the six travels mugs mentioned above. 😳

    And yes, I would say your collection is representative of at least some facet of your lifestyle. Artsy, whimsical, technical. Sounds rather like you two. 🙂

  3. fisherbear Says:

    Mmm… insulated travel mugs. We have a collection of those, too, almost entirely determined by the fact that mugs with the size and shape we like are almost impossible to find, so when we find one we buy it and use it until it dies. The one I’m using now is blue and white and says “rules” on it, twice, surrounded by an odd sort of curlicue. I’m pretty sure it had additional writing on it at some point, possibly including a list of suggestions of some sort, but time and detergent have long since set me free of any drinkware-related moral codes.

    The rest of the travel mugs are similarly random (and abused), and probably don’t tell anything about us except that we like travel mugs. I’ve gone so far as to track down the manufacturer and inquire about ordering my own, but they won’t sell in lots of less than 50. If we ever throw a holiday party offering free mugs to anyone willing to risk contact with pumpkin guts, you’ll know that desperation finally got the best of us. 🙂

  4. Uncle Andrew Says:

    Another travel mug devotee! You are of The Body! 😀

    If you haven’t seen it (or have forgotten about it), might I recommend my review of the Thermos Element 5; the penultimate travel mug.

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