Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Aping the banana

I read recently that apes and monkeys peel bananas from the tip at the opposite end of the stem.

Like the author who described it, I agree that this is a better way to peel a banana. Basically, you pinch the tip, the peel breaks open more easily, and the little chewy strands peel away rather than sticking to the banana. Also, the stem -- now on the bottom -- can serve as a little "holder."

I have no idea why we humans invariably peel the banana from the stem, but the bigger point is that sometimes doing things in the opposite way turns out to be better. After years of shoveling snow, I tried "aping the banana" yesterday by shoveling in a direction away from the snowpile and throwing shovelfuls of snow over my shoulder and onto the pile.

Aside from trivial amounts of "redeposition" (stray powder falling back onto the ground where I'd already shoveled), I found that I could toss the snow onto the pile with sufficient accuracy from a distance at least equal to the width of my driveway. More importantly (perhaps due to the ergonomic "dog-leg" design of my shovel handle), I found it easier on my back to toss snow over my should than with the traditional forward scoop-toss.

I'm not saying this approach works for everything. I'm not saying we should all drive down the street in reverse. But for some things, it's worth considering.

I just tried it. Initially I said "aha!" but after I finished, I concluded I liked the usual way better.

The small seed-like nubbin was stuck at the beginning, and the strings stuck at the end.
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