THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- MAY 2, 2020
Everyone is looking for something to do in these trying times. If you're looking for something to fill your waking hours, how about a few things that will involve your mind and your body?
To begin, nothing is better for your mind than trying to solve a good riddle. Here's one that might appeal to the high school students in the house, but may also challenge older family members to get out their legal pads and Ticonderoga number two pencils. Popular Mechanics magazine offers this as the LOCKER PRANK RIDDLE.
It goes like this. “There are 100 lockers that line the main hallway of Cadillac High School. Every night, The school principal makes sure all the lockers are closed so that there will be an orderly start to the next day. One day, 100 mischievous students decide they will play a prank.
The students meet before school starts and line up. The first student then walks down the hallway and opens every locker. The next student follows by closing every other locker (starting at the second locker). Student three then goes to every third locker (starting with the third) and opens it if it's closed and closes it if it's open. Student four follows by opening every fourth locker if it's closed and closing it if it's open. This continues until student one hundred finally goes to the hundredth locker. When the principal arrives later in the morning, which lockers are open?”
To determine the solution to the riddle, the key is to consider which students will open or shut any particular locker. As you might guess, the solution is rather long, but here's a hint. At the end there are ten lockers open. For the solution click the button at the bottom of this column. The solution is also at: https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/math/a31155135/solution-riddle-locker-prank/.
After working on the Locker Prank Riddle, your mind may be numb and your body might crave something no-brainer physical. If you like to go outside to play some basketball, what would be better than making 100 percent of your shots (regardless of your age or athletic ability)? You can now do this because a guy has invented THE NEVER-MISS MISS BASKETBALL HOOP.
“Shane Wighton, an engineer from Raleigh, North Carolina, has designed and fabricated his own basketball backboard that guides the ball in the hoop every single time.” The backboard/hoop is optimized for your typical, average arced shot. “You won't fool your friends with Wighton's hoop because it's very obviously shaped like a satellite dish.” It works, though. You never miss!
The best part of this is that you can make one of these yourself using simple materials. “To bring his design to life, Wighton used a CNC router to carve the shape out of two 2x4s and a piece of plywood.” To make construction even easier, everything you need to know abut making one of these is on a 22-minute video at:
https://youtu.be/vtN4tkvcBMA. You can read about the Never-Miss Hoop and see it in action at: https://gizmodo.com/guy-uses-physics-and-computer-simulations-to-design-a-n-1842968293.
All this mental and physical effort will obviously require some sustenance, which brings us to the unofficial baked good of COVID-19. You guessed it – BANANA BREAD. “Everyone, it seems, it making it. But the question remains: Why did banana bread in particular become the baking status symbol du jour?”
As it turns out, when times get tough people make banana bread. Go figure. “Food historian Sarah Wassberg Johnson says that the first time anyone made banana bread was likely during the Great Depression—another time of extreme economic and social hardship for most Americans. Supposedly, a housewife had some bananas that were going bad and decided to try and make bread out of it.”
There may be a logical reason for this phenomenon. “The ingredients are cheap, bananas are easy to find regardless of season. Also, the texture of bananas is easy to work them into a mix because they’re already soft. It takes less work than some other ingredients.” There are many banana bread recipes, but a simple one is at the Food Network: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/banana-bread-recipe-1969572.
Banana bread also fills a psychological need. “There are specific qualities banana bread has that make it primed to be a food hero right now, especially when it’s straight from the oven. Food that’s warm, sweet, and carb-loaded is comforting—and who doesn’t want a thick slice of comfort when they’re in the middle of a pandemic? Foods high in carbs trigger a release of dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, so they’re definitely triggering chemicals in the brain that make us feel good.” (https://www.wellandgood.com/good-food/banana-bread-popularity/)
Interest in banana bread has been confirmed by Google Trends. “Searches for the word 'recipe' has reached an all-time high in the U.S. and worldwide. Google Trends shows the the top ten most searched recipes globally since March 1 are: 1) Banana bread, 2) Pancake, 3) Chicken recipes, 4) Pizza dough, 5) Brownie, 6) Crepe, 7) Meatloaf recipes, 8) French toast, 9) Lasagna, 10) Cheesecake. (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/26/top-google-recipes-amid-covid-19-banana-bread-whipped-coffee.html)
All this banana musing is well and good, but when it comes to bananas, not making the list for some unimaginable reason is the favorite banana dish of Elvis Presley. The King loved a piping hot peanut butter and banana sandwich (as noted on Epicurious at https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/elvis-presleys-hot-peanut-butter-and-banana-sandwich-232627).
Here's how to make one. “Spread peanut butter evenly on 1 slice of bread, then spread mashed banana on other slice, leaving a 1/4-inch border around edge. Close sandwich, gently pressing bread slices together. Heat butter in an 8- to 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then fry sandwich, turning over once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes total. Eat immediately with a knife and fork.”
To paraphrase the King, “Are you hungry tonight?” If so, enjoy off one of these delights. Don't forget forget to compliment the cook: “Thank you, thank you very much.”