04-21-08 - 5

Checker and I were breaking the ends off of blue lake green beans a while ago, and we amusedly noted our different styles. Checker was breaking the end off each one by one whatever way he picked them up. I would take a bunch and turn them all the same way then break off all the ends at once. We figured it was an example of people taking different approaches to the same problem that appear very different but perform almost identically.

I now see it's an example of how people can take very different approaches to a problem, think that they have spanned the solution space, and yet still be ridiculously far off the optimum performance.

The right way to take the ends of blue lakes is similar to the right asparagus solution : just use a knife. Line up a bunch on a board and chop. Line up, chop. You're done. It's an order of magnitude faster than the hand breaking method, like seconds instead of minutes.

Presumably the very common practice of breaking off the ends of green beans by hand came from the historical practical of de-stringing string beans, but modern green beans don't have strings so this practice is vestigial.

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old rants