# BOFH: The true gravity of the Boss and the 3-coffee problem

## 2 bodies of arbitrary positive mass, one of which is the PFY, don't seem very influenced by the chief

Episode 15 It's earlyish in the morning and the Boss has a problem. His solution to the problem is the same as it normally is – to pass this problem onto the PFY and myself...

"Hmmm," I say, reading through the email he has forwarded to me.  "This could be a three-coffee problem."

"What's a three-coffee problem?"

"A three-coffee problem is one which requires the correct amount of caffeine, imbibed over a suitable time period."

"I'm not sure I'm with you," he states.

"Okay, I'll explain. My brain is like a giant flywheel, requiring vast amounts of energy to get spinning.  In my case this energy is supplied by coffee."

"I don't reall..."

"Like any flywheel, energy demand reduces the speed of the flywheel as energy is withdrawn."

"Yes, bu..."

"And that energy needs to be replenished."

"WHAT'S THAT GOT TO DO WITH THREE COFFEES?"

"It takes three coffees for my brain to spin up to complex problem level. At 1 coffee my problem solving toolbox is unlocked but closed, and at two coffees the tool box is open, but only to the first tier."

"What's the first tier?"

"That's where I keep the hammer and the axe."

"Ah. Right. And at three coffees?"

"At three coffees, the second tier of my mental toolbox is cracked open, inside of which are the antimagnetic jewellers' screwdrivers, the magnifying spectacles and the precision multimeter. It's where the real work can happen."

"What would happen at four coffees?" the Boss asks.

"To return to the flywheel analogy, at four coffees the flywheel is spinning at about 110 percent of its maximum recommended speed."

"And the toolbox?"

"The toolbox is still on the second tier, only the multimeter's now a digital storage oscilloscope (DSO) with a 200 million samples per second and comes with a 20-page manual with a rough translation from the original Chinese."

"And if you had five coffees?"

"At five coffees the flywheel is 130 percent of its maximum recommended speed and the DSO does a 500 million samples per second and comes with a 100-page comprehensive manual perfectly translated from the original German."

"200 percent speed, tier 3, a billion samples per second and the manual is 1400 pages long."

"So we probably want to avoid six coffees," the Boss surmises. "So, back to the problem..."

"It's a three-coffee problem," I restate.

"And?"

"Can you... get another coffee?" the Boss suggests, nodding at the Mission Control coffee machine.

"It's broken," I say.

"It looks OK," the Boss says.

"Yes, but if you press the button nothing happens."

"Really?" the Boss says, walking over and pressing the Start button.

>GRIND< >GRIND<  >GURGLE< >HISS<

"It looks like it's working," the Boss says, as coffee pours out into my cup.

I grab the cup and drink the contents as fast as the hot fluid will permit.

"How did you fix it?" I ask, handing the cup back to the Boss.

"I just... put the cup under here and pressed the button."

>GRIND< >GRIND<  >GURGLE< >HISS<

"Would you look at that," I say, grabbing the cup and once more chugging the scalding liquid and handing the cup back to the Boss. "Show me again."

"Do you think you should?" he asks.

"Think how quickly a three-coffee problem could be solved with a four-coffee brain," I point out.

"True," the Boss says, pressing the Start button.

I grab the coffee and head back to my desk, just as the PFY walks in.

"Where did he get that?" the PFY asks, pointing at my cup.

"From the coffee machine," the Boss replies.

"No, I modified the machine to cut him off when he's had five coffees."

"He hasn't had five coffees," the Boss says. "He's only had one."

"He's had FIVE coffees this morning." the PFY replies.  "The coffee machine won't let him get any more after that."

"No, he said he's only had one. Because he needed.. uh.. three coffees.  And the 2nd tier toolbox... And the German manual..." the Boss whimpers.

"How many did you give him?"

"I... three."

"So he's had... eight coffees?!" the PFY gasps.

"He said he'd had one," the Boss says.

"He lied to you. Imagine that."

"What does that mean for the... toolbox... and the manual..."

"If you're talking about the analogy I think you're talking about, he's on tier 4 with a DSO that has an infinite sample rate, a 5,000-page manual which was translated from its original esperanto into Klingon – which no one has ever read."

"That's where he keeps the chainsaw."

"And the chainsaw's a metaphor for what?" the Boss asks.

"The chainsaw's a chainsaw," the PFY says. "He keeps it under his desk."

"Surely he doesn't reall..."

>ROOOOOAAAAARRRRRR!<