We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, November 30. 2011
How about a coffee mug that keeps your coffee warm up to ten times longer than a normal coffee mug?
Sounds pretty amazing — and sellable — doesn't it? I mean, lots of people prefer their coffee hot, and probably subconsciously drink it faster than they normally would, just to get it while it's still warm. Me, I use a coffee mug warmer plate which keeps it hot and allows me to drink it at a leisurely pace.
And think what an ad would look like for The Magic Coffee Mug. You'd have a bar graph showing how long various popular mugs keep the coffee warm, and while the other bars on the graph would be a quarter-inch high, The Magic Coffee Mug's would be four inches high. Very impressive, and sure to ignite a million sales.
Alas, I can't market this amazing product, even though I could probably get them for dirt cheap.
But let's start at the beginning.
I guess you could say the story began and ended with heartbreak.
To being with, I heartbrokenly broke the handle off my precious 'San Francisco 49s' mug while washing the dishes one day. An hour later, after the tears had finally stopped flowing, I jotted down 'coffee mug' on my grocery list.
I'm in the grocery store looking over the mugs. I just want a regular, standard mug, nothin' fancy. They have some black ones which go perfectly with my computer motif. That is, a black tower, mouse, mouse pad, keyboard, speakers and monitor on a pure white table. Quite smashing, old chap.
So, I buy two of the mugs, bring them home, wash them, let them dry, then put them in the cabinet.
A day or two later, it's time for a fresh mug. I grab one of the new ones, fill it with water, put it in the microwave like I have a million times before and let it stew.
The bell goes off, I reach inside the microwave, grab the mug...
...and almost burned my goddamn hand!
Man, that sucker was hot. As it is, I can hold it for about three seconds, just long enough to get it from the microwave to the counter, then, after the coffee's made, it's cooled down to the point where I can hold it for about five seconds as I rush it to the computer table.
I recognized the monetary potential immediately, of course. If the mug's so much hotter than the average mug when it comes out of the microwave, it's obviously going to keep the coffee hot much longer than a normal mug.
I had discovered The Magic Coffee Mug. My fortune was assured!
Except that I hadn't asked the important question yet:
Why did it get so hot?
It looks absolutely identical to every normal coffee mug you've ever seen, just like the one in the above picture.
So, what material gets so hot in a microwave that it actually creates sparks?
In other words, the local buyer for the grocery store had latched onto some great deal for coffee mugs coming out of Mexico.
Coffee mugs painted with lead paint.
And there went my dream of instant riches. I just don't think "Now Lead-Fortified!" is going to be a strong selling point, and one of those pesky government agencies might object.
I could, however, legally argue in court that I should be allowed to sell them to people 65 or older, since by the time the heavy metal started to melt their brains 20 years later, who'd be able to tell the difference? But my lawyer estimated it would take somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.5 mil to pursue it, and I just don't have that kind of cash lying around to fritter away on a mere project when there are important Maggie's articles to write, like this one.
And that's the story. I just thought in what future historians will undoubtedly refer to as 'The Age of Regulation', it was amusing that this one little item slipped through the cracks. For all I know, it was purely a local deal and the grocery store I bought them from was the only one to carry them, and maybe it was the only shipment where the clerk in the Mexican warehouse accidentally grabbed a box from the 'Toxic Waste Products Designated For Third-World Sales Only' section and tossed it on the truck.
Either way, I'm a pretty happy guy to own two Magic Coffee Mugs!
And I've still got 20 years before my bain megins to relt!
Posted by Dr. Mercury in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 09:00 | Comments (41) | Trackbacks (0)
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Back in the early decades of the 20th century, companies advertised cosmetics made with radium, for that "healthy glow."
A cautionary re Mexican eating/drinking utensils has been around since I was last visiting Mexico (in my youth). Let me see...that was...I still had hair...oh well...a long time ago.
I hear lead painted products have now been outsourced to China due to FDA import restrictions.
BTW first snow falling outstide my kitchen window. Bah Humbug !!
Yeah. Yaknow - paint chips just don't taste the same in the last 20 or 30 years....
I think the taste started going downhill after they removed the arsenic from the paint. It added a certain zesty 'body' to the drink, much the same way an aged wine has its own delicate bouquet. Curse you, government regulators!
You have an excellent palate, sir. Perhaps you could suggest a dip to go with my chips?
Absolutely, old friend. Do you have a toxic waste disposal site nearby? Simply grab your geiger counter and head for the hottest spot. Scrape about 2 ounces of the richest, thickest sludge you can find into a sterile container so as not to contaminate it with germs. Saute lightly over a low flame for 45 minutes, adding your seasoning of choice. I prefer powdered strychnine and a dash of paprika. Let cool, then grab that bag of your favorite potato chips.
I have in my possession ten gallons of Red Devil lead bottom paint. I have been offered mucho dollars for this paint, but I will not part with it. Someday I will own another wooden sail boat and I fully intend to use those ten gallons on it.
Speaking of blow-boats, someone was telling me the other day about a marina he used to live in when suddenly an aluminum sailboat showed up. Within a few months, every zinc in the marina had melted. So, yeah, I'd stick with wood, too. Irate neighbors can be just so pesky!
As for the paint, what did I spend for my last hull painting? $100/gallon for Micron-X? Next paint job, maybe I'll consider a trip to Mexico first.
I've spent he day scraping paint getting my boat ready
for new bottom paint and I'm in Califorina where copper bottom paint is on the outs. Right this very moment, I am on my boat in the middle of a boatyard taking a break and drinking out of a black coffee mug exactly like the one pictured. I got mine at the 99 cent store. It really gets hot in the microwave. Ouch! I don't care about the lead. I figure that after all my childhood exposure to lead, like melting it on top of the kitchen stove to make balls for my brother's muzzel loaded flintlock pistol, I can still sort of remember things, mostly. Otherwise I'd be a genius.
Sounds like the buyer for the 99 cent store has the same Mexican contacts as my guy!
If you ever put some pics and text online about your boat, let me know and we'll feature it. We like boats here and, indeed, there are three captains commenting in just this post.
Yikes! I better keep working on it so it will look presentable!
It's an Erickson 32 we bought from a Catalina Island youth camp that finances its programs by selling donated boats. We are fixing it up so that next October we can go to Mexico on the "Baha Ha Ha" rally with around 180 other boats.
Next week, when the boat gets back in the water, I will send a picture or two.
Why in God's name are you making coffee in the microwave? That ought to be a hangin' offense.
Instant coffee. Which, as I understand it, is also a hanging offense. My last girlfriend was a real coffee nut -- no pun intended. She's go into the high-falutin' coffee store and get some kind of 'blend', 40% this, 60% that. I won't say my drinking Taster's Choice was the actual cause of our breakup, but I'm sure it play a contributing role.
instant coffee? shudders at least make it with properly boiled water.
Well, it boils in the microwave, and the water comes from a dual-filter system, so what I'm saying is, my crappy instant coffee is the best it can be!
Right! I mean, uh, no!
Mrs. Mudbug showed me how to make "almost instant" coffee with regular coffee grounds.
Put the correct amount of grounds in a french press, add hot water (we have a hot water dispenser - very handy). Let sit for a couple of minutes. "Squeeze the coffee" by operating the press and pour. It's not really instant, but I bet it doesn't take that much longer to make than real instant and it isn't real instant! :-)
Muds - Very interesting!
Oxymoron Alert. :)
An excellent suggestion (they don't call you "Ol' Crayfish Brain" for nothin') but "fake instant" would be a redundancy. Of course, we're on thin ice here, anyway, since along with "real instant" being an oxymoron, many here would also consider "instant coffee" to be an oxymoron.
Well, I'd like to chat more, but my #OCCUPYTASTERSCHOICE bus is here and I've got to run!
There is a sort of "one cup" French press style thing called (I'm working from memory here so please forgive) an "Aeropress" or something similar. It may be an option preferable to instant but I have no personal experience therewith.
I've also heard good things about Starbucks "Via" instant. But again, no personal expereince.
Cptn (Dr) Merc,
Pardon me for askin'...but...
I won't say my drinking Taster's Choice was the actual cause of our breakup, ...
'ere in the Hinterland...breakup only occurs in Spring.
Just askin'...ya know...
Gar - No, I just meant that my drinking instant coffee wasn't entirely the reason we split up. My trying to poison her with lead-filled cupcakes might have also played a part, and it's possible she resented the Mexican zinc-fortified toothpaste that I pasted a 'Crest' label over.
Women are just so touchy!
Captain Merc (my good friend),
U've restored my faith in yous seafarin' buddies. I always knew yous types wood rather resort ta hav'em wenches "walk-the-plank" as opposed to a mere lead poisonin'.
I'll sleep contented 2nite.
P.s. I'll let U know when our "Guest Igloo" is open for visitors. As always, U're at the 'head' of the line !!
Beast sorry...Best regards...
I heat the water in a 2-cup measuring cup, brew whatever, then pour the coffee/tea into a stainless, thermal mug. Learned that lesson the hard way when we bought our first microwave umpteen years ago. An entire set of mugs had the wrong glaze. My secretary blistered her fingers to a crisp.
I also had a wake-up call on my Mexican clay casserole, favored for making enchiladas and other oven-baked/roasted entrees. Never use these items with an acid such as tomatoes (kinda a given with most enchilada recipes) or wine (as in my favorite Cuban rib roast recipe). Acid leaches the lead out of the glaze. I'll use them for serving since the food is outta there in minutes, but not for the cooking process.
Did you confirm it was lead paint?
Most paints today contain titanium, so there is still metal there.
The metal in the microwave oven reflects the microwaves back into the klystron source, which can destroy the klystron, it isn't that it gets particularly hot.
Dr T - If "most paints today" means the average coffee mug, then it couldn't have been titanium. Given the proclivity for Mexico to use lead paints, that seems like the most likely culprit.
"it isn't that it gets particularly hot."
Tell that to my burnt fingers. :)
A few thoughts. Dishes don't necessarily heat up because there is any metal, let alone lead in the glaze. In most cases the energy (at around 2.4 GHz) bounces off. The most probable cause is moisture in the mug itself. The moisture content would vary greatly depending on materials, environment, process, storage etc. Is the bottom of the mug unglazed? If so then when you washed them the mugs would have picked up more moisture. The lead deal is highly overblown If properly fired the lead will not leach under normal use. Now here's one for you oenophiles, consider that lead crystal is up to 30% lead oxide ha ha! Tell me you are now going to sip your Château Lafite Rothschild 42 from your stainless mug from now on.
Next: I have never heard of lead bottom paint. The most common anti-fouling in the old days was copper sheathing then along came TBT (tributyltin) which was banned in the US and elsewhere in the 80's. Copper loaded paints are now the favoured but are already starting to be banned too. I haven't touched on the slicks or the bios, that's another kettle of fish not germane to our discussion. I still have a few gallons of very valuable TBT hidden in the paint locker.
The story of the aluminium sailboat and the zincs (melting?) is for the marina myth memo file.
Instant coffee, bleghhhhhh, Keurig is the only way to go and it's just as fast as instant, maybe faster.
Cap'n C -
- As noted in the article, the mugs were in the cabinet when first used. Very dry.
- The glaze at the bottoms of the mugs look the same as the rest.
- Cap'n Tom may be a lot of bad things (sour curmudgeon, cantankerous bastard, drunken reprobate, social misfit), but I've never known him to lie.
- I've heard of aluminum boats wiping out the nearby zincs more than a few times. And the stories of aluminum boats eating themselves are legion.
- Sorry about the "melting". I like being euphemistic. How about "dissolving"?
"Instant coffee, bleghhhhhh"
Everybody's a critic. :)
Just for the record, I don't drink 'coffee', I have a mocha.
Wind Horse is an all aluminium boat.
I think that answers the question. I suppose there must be a legion of folks out there who are ignorant about galvanic corrosion.
Re stories, yes, I met a fellow who told me straight to my face with un-dilating pupils that he stuck his head in the hatch of an alien spaceship, he was sober.
I didn't call Tom a liar but he should go read the label on those paint cans:) I will buy him dinner if it says lead. I'll bet it's TBT.
Danged if I know. I've just heard a few stories here and there, including from a marina owner. And the story I heard the other day seemed pretty straightforward. Bunch of boats do fine for years, an aluminum boat cruises in and suddenly everybody's zincs are toast. But it could have been a coincidence. Maybe a day later a 240v line from a power pole fell into the water and no one noticed. Lord knows, stranger things have happened.
And I didn't mean to imply you called Tom a liar, I just meant he's not one to make things up.
Yep. Forgot to mention all those crystal decanters leaching lead into expensive booze. Outside of the teens hanging around, there's another good reason to keep the liquor under lock and key in original bottles and let decanters sit empty until partytime.
"I put instant coffee in a microwave and almost went back in time". Stephen Wright
Just out of curiosity, was the cup marked as "microwave safe"? If not, you probably shouldn't use there. The most likely cause of the hot cup is moisture retained in the material used to make it. I have some cups many years old (and not made in China or Mexico) which do the same thing. Microwave cooking at home was much less common when they were made.
Jack - Steven Wright, King of the one-liners. I have a bunch of them here.
DocC - Interesting theory. Although I bought them a year ago, that doesn't mean they haven't been in some warehouse for 30 years. Either way, they're pretty amazing (and damn unsellable).
I believe Capt. Craig and DocCarter are right -- it wasn't metal in the mug that made it hot. I have mugs that do the same thing when they're microwaved and I'm pretty certain there's no metal in them.
But - most importantly - you're overlooking Newton's Law of Cooling:
Newton's Law of Cooling states that the rate of change of the temperature of an object is proportional to the difference between its own temperature and the ambient temperature (i.e. the temperature of its surroundings).
IOW, the hotter something is, the faster it cools. Your 'magic coffee mug' is going to need some pretty heavy duty magic to overcome that.
On the flip side, I've been nuking dishes since microwave ovens first hit the stores, using a wide variety of dishware ranging from homemade stuff to imported stuff to whatever my current landlady was using, and I've never seen anything close to this. I have a homemade ceramic plate that gets pretty toasty, but these babies are in a white-hot class of their own.
IOW, the hotter something is, the faster it cools.
Agreed. I know that hot water freezes faster than cold water (when making ice cubes, for example). I don't know if the same reality would apply to Merc's cup but it should.
(back to) Doctor Merc,
Talk abt changing topics...
Plse research the history behind this beautiful ballad's history. Why was it written? Cud a "Merc's Lexicon" series become a 'Main Event' here? (jmho).
What does Cptn Tom tink?
Gar - Nice, but too 'country' for my tastes. I'm much more of a 'rock' guy. But thanks!
I realize that Merc but great harmonies, none the less. Vince wrote it after his brother passed away, after a troubled life.
It was definitely a quality piece, and the harmonies were superb. And I don't outright dislike country music. I thought 'Austin' by Blake Shelton was outstanding and I do it on the 12-string. I also do "Paint Me a Birmingham" by Tracy Lawrence. The next song I might add to the repertoire is 'I Hate Everything" by George Strait.
On the other hand, I watched two "Deep Purple" DVDs the other night, which I suppose says something.