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Dirty Cup CSI

 
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There's a section in the book: Building a Better World in your Backyard, where Paul and Shawn talk about the Dirty Cup CSI.  People have a habit of leaving dirty cups just laying around, even though the rule is that if they use a cup they must wash it as soon as they are done.

Now, this is a good rule.  I can see how, if this rule was followed, then everyone living together would be much happier.

Then again... I am human.  My personality flaw is to gather mugs and cups and stuff.  It's not intentional.  I'm just a really slow drinker.  A cuppa tea lasts two to three hours, and in that time I've made two or five more cups of tea because I forgot I was drinking the first one (or first four).  Then I don't know if it's my mug or not and I don't want to clean it up because someone might be enjoying that cold mug of tea.

My solution: I have one mug that is mine and no one else's.  If I want a cuppa tea, and there is tea in my mug, then I don't have to go make a new cuppa tea.  If I want a cuppa tea and there is no tea in my mug, then I have to wash the mug and make a new cuppa tea.  That way, no one else is responsible for my mug and I'm no longer responsible for emptying the kitchen of mugs.  This has worked extremely well at my workplace.  So well, that we now each have our own distinctly different mug and the generic mugs are for guests.

I don't know if this would work in a house full of strangers since the personal mug thing isn't obvious to most people.  If someone else was using my mug, it would really bug me because I get very territorial about stuff like that - that territorial-ness is the same drive that would give me the energy to keep my mug safe and clean and not laying around the place.

 
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R Ranson: I am the same way with cups so I found an easy answer. I have a Cup that says TRAVIS and Katie has one that says KATIE. Our daughters, who drink cocoa a lot, have individually named cups as well. Even strangers in your home would be cautious to use a cup that is so individualized, at least in my experience.

I know I have heard your first name before, but it escapes me now...but regardless...because this might apply to other reading this reply...if you have a name that is rather uncommon, perhaps a local pottery shop could custom make one with your name upon it. I would not think the cost would be too expensive. Or, you could work with online photo printing places to have a custom mug made wit your unique name.
 
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These are great posts.

I pretty much just drink water and I reuse my jar until it's dirty and then wash it. When I drink tea, I wash my mug the same day. But I live alone and hate clutter and I know if I don't clean it up, no one will.

Cleaning up after other people who don't mind or even see clutter is definitely one of the most painful parts of living with others. On the other hand, when people clear away my water cup it's frustrating because I like to reuse it until it needs washing and I see what they did as wasteful since I drink a fair bit of water. So I tend to hide it up on things. Top of the fridge, a high shelf, etc. People don't notice it usually.

At family gatherings, we use paper cups with permanent marker for people to write their name on. Cups usually make it several days until we need the full table for some large meal prep and then we clear them and start over. It works so well. Obviously not as earth friendly though.

I appreciated that chapter because although I LOVE having my own space, I'm finding an increased desire for community. It inspired me to start thinking about ways to make it work.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:R Ranson: I am the same way with cups so I found an easy answer. I have a Cup that says TRAVIS and Katie has one that says KATIE. Our daughters, who drink cocoa a lot, have individually named cups as well. Even strangers in your home would be cautious to use a cup that is so individualized, at least in my experience.

I know I have heard your first name before, but it escapes me now...but regardless...because this might apply to other reading this reply...if you have a name that is rather uncommon, perhaps a local pottery shop could custom make one with your name upon it. I would not think the cost would be too expensive. Or, you could work with online photo printing places to have a custom mug made wit your unique name.



Or, depending on the material your cup is made of, if you have one that you're already too fond of, to switch (change is my hub's arch nemesis!), you can do the Sharpie & bake trick, to personalize it, too.
 
r ranson
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Having a mug that is mine at home and work is a geat thing.

I'm wondering if I was visiting at a place like Paul's where there are a lot of people coming and going.  I think this would trigger my mug collection habit. It's not an intentional habit, it's just I would forget and gather more mugs.  

So how about in that situation.  Maybe we are staying in a house with a lot of people for a week or more.  Maybe these people are coming and going.  How could we adapt the environment to help someone like me follow the wash your own cup rule?  

Do we insist that everyone brings their own mugs?  I have been in places like that, but it's stressful and not everyone feels the need to be restricted to the one mug (aka, they use mine!).  

 
Carla Burke
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There are actually soap&water-erase, food-safe markers, found in many culinary equipment stores, designed for this. Each person gets a glass &/or a mug. Their name is then written on it, and they are responsible for their mug, until said event is over, or the item is washed. After it is dried, the name goes back on, and away you go, again.

Edited to add: I picked mine up at the Le Creuset outlet store, in Aurora, IL. I bought them in Christmas colors, during the after Christmas clearance sale, for just a few dollars.
 
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I loved that section of the book!  There are just so many little things that you don't consider going optimistically into community living, yet you can easily see once someone who's been there points it out.  
 
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Colored hair scrunchies or rubber bands could work as individualized cup markers.
 
Carla Burke
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Those little wine glass rings can be great, too. I once made a gift of a dozen unique ones, as a hostess gift, to my aunt, who entertains often. She uses them every time she entertains, now. Someone with a mind to, could permanently attach them to the handles of mugs, and use beads, with people's initials, shorter names, or nicknames, too.
 
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r ranson wrote:

Do we insist that everyone brings their own mugs?  I have been in places like that, but it's stressful and not everyone feels the need to be restricted to the one mug (aka, they use mine!).

May I re-word what you said to, "how do we keep things flexible in guest situations to meet the needs of all types of people?"
I like the suggestion of having a tag you can add to your mug to identify it. For the people who really want to be the only user of a mug and those bring their own (and it's becoming *much* more common for people to have their own travel mug and water bottle than even 5 years ago - yippee - less single use plasticized garbage!), that label could include not only the owner's name, but her request to not disrupt the mug unless necessary. That said, I think it's also important to have a clear area marked, "mugs for anyone to use". I've visited work places before, and it looked as if the mugs were personal, but I needed water so I felt I had to just choose one and wash it after, but felt as if I was invading some poor person's space.

I do think that some people are better at being "helpful guests" than others. I don't know if that's a skill that can be taught. I *do* know that the "sit there and expect to be waited on guests" tend not to get invited back to my house, as I'm just not that good at perceiving other's needs and don't have the energy to try and remember to ask people about their needs. I figure if they're adults, they should be able to ask politely if they need something, and if it's coffee, they're almost SOL - I've got some ancient instant coffee somewhere in the fridge??? Tea I can help you with - if you don't like the flavors in the house, there's fresh lemon balm, raspberry leaves and many more options outside for the picking. I guess what I'm saying is that people with special needs, be it personal space, allergies, food they can't live without, etc. facilitation needs to happen from both sides in polite, unapologetic ways.
 
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