Friday, January 6, 2006

My Kingdom for a Mug

I received this mug as a Christmas gift. It is the perfect mug, one worthy of a thorough examination. First of all, it holds 16oz when full. This is not precisely to the rim -- no! The measurement is accurate given a standard gap of space between the top of the liquid and the rim. The color is quite nice as well. It's not one of those smack-you-in-the-face bright sunshiny yellows. This is, for lack of a better phrase, a "mellow yellow."

The shape is probably the most compelling quality of my new mug. Perhaps "compelling" seems like a strong word considering that I'm talking about a small piece of very utilitarian pottery but I've come to really appreciate this mug and I'm certain others would feel the same if only they would simply EMBRACE THE MUG.

Back to the shape. The egg shape creates a sense of stately elegance while imparting an important practical value. This somewhat mutated spherical shape takes advantage of the well-known concept of maximum volume to surface area ratio which is a quality of spheres. Heat transfer from the contents to the air is enhanced by greater surface area. A square mug would make the coffee cool faster. But not this mug. Even the rim, which is narrower than the widest portion of the mug, contributes to this slower heat loss.

The rim is quite an interesting feature in and of itself. The rounded surface inside the mug, created by the narrow rim, means that gravity is working in the coffee's favor, keeping it in the mug and allowing a slower release of it as it is tipped or simply knocked around. Because of this, coffee is less likely to spill should I walk around and slosh my coffee or tea. I can bow to my clutsy nature and know that I'm protected. I can even be a little over enthusiastic about drinking my morning coffee (and who wouldn't be) because the rim protects me from simply dumping coffee all over me.

Alas, there is one characteristic which renders this object slightly less than perfect. Nothing is totally perfect, truly, and this mug is no exception. It's the handle. I have very small hands -- even my 9 year-old's hands rival mine for size. I can only slide three fingers through it, leaving the runty pinky finger to fend for itself. A mug handle that extends from the bottom to the top would accommodate larger hands. Most mugs have very small handles, like mine. I don't blame the mug though, I blame society. By looking the other way as mugs with inferior sized handles are manufactured, society has all but given its stamp of approval to small-handled mugs. It could simply be a matter of tradition overriding modern thinking. I still prefer my mug to any other, however, come coffee, come tea, come hot buttered rum!

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