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Monday, May 26, 2014

Crushers versus Rippers

[All the thoughts expressed in this blog are completely my own, and most likely are not backed by scientific discovery in any possible way.]

I find it very interesting to learn about the way that some animals are more asymmetric than you would imagine.

Take humans as a first example.  Most of us have a lot of body parts of two when we are born:  two arms; two legs; two eyes; etc.   We have a few parts of one, but I think they are outnumbered by all of the pairs.  We also have some organs which have a pair or are separated into two lobes.

When we use these pairs to work, we eventually develop a dominant side.  This side is the one which allows us to make physical motions in the most efficient manner.

Many of us have watched toddlers try and catch, throw or hit a ball.  When you throw the ball in the air, after considerable repetition, most toddlers will develop a dominant side.  They catch the ball with one hand, and they may even throw it back with the same one.  If you start tossing them a ball to hit with one of those huge plastic bats, the parents may position the child in their dominant batting stance so they can guide them from behind, showing them how to swing so they will be able to hit a few balls.  If that doesn't work, they may eventually switch to the other side in an attempt to increase the likelihood that the child has more consistency in hitting the ball.

I myself am right side dominant.  I can accomplish tasks more powerfully when I approach them from a right side perspective.  I throw right handed, I usually bat right handed, I golf right handed, and my dominant leg is the right one when I play soccer.  However, I am left eye dominant in several situations such as when I bat lefty, kick with my left foot (quite useful when playing any position), and I can throw with my left hand, but without very much power.  There is as much accuracy, but not very much UMPHOOF. 

I did not do any real shooting before I joined the military, but the instructors told me pretty quickly that my left eye was the one that needed to do all the aiming.

When using the pistol I tried to follow their guidance on shutting my left eye to align the target with the sights on the gun, but I could not hit center mass.   They gave me a cardboard cylinder from a paper towel roll and had me look through the cylinder towards the target with both eyes open.  The target was rather fuzzy, but I could see it.  First they told me to close my left eye, which is quite difficult for me to do without scrunching up my face into a Popeye-like squint.  The target had disappeared, and the facial muscles in my cheek were exhausted from the efforts.  Then I repeated the process with my right eye closed, and I could see the target clearly.  Shooting with my right eye closed increased my accuracy, and was less difficult for my right cheek muscles to accomplish.  The rifle was a whole different story, as I had to shoot with my left hand, but I did qualify.

Back to the connection to the sea you all have been waiting for.  My grandparents lived on an island, and my brother and I both inherited our grandpa's love of the sea.  He started fishing as a teenager, and continued this practice for 60 more years.

When they retired, my grand parents moved to the small summer home they built on an island. Grandpa got a non commercial lobster license that allowed him to put out ten lobster pots. 

We would help him to harvest the lobsters and rebait the pots before he threw them back in the water.  When we ate our luscious dinner later that night, I wondered why the crusher claw tasted so good while the other claw was chalky and distasteful. The claw with more powerful muscles was the crusher, while the chalky one was meant for more deliberate and delicate work. 

I am not a biologist, so I don't know the full story on why these critters have such a profoundly asymmetrical development, but I do know that it results in two large claws with very different jobs (unlike its caribbean cousin).  The lobsters in the tropical climes have much larger tails, less prominent claws and giant antennae, which you can see in the link above.

I would imagine that the left eye dominant critters have the crusher on the left side when viewed from above, while the right eye dominant mud bugs display their crusher on the right. 
This photo shows a live blue lobster on top of his other North American Lobster friends.

But our northern mud bugs have different claws designed for different purposes.  The beautiful blue baby pictured above is a left hander.  You can tell this by the shorter but more bulky left claw.  This appendage is the crusher.  It has more power because it has to hold on to its prey.  The right hand claw is the ripper.  It shreds the food into edible sized pieces.

In my personal and professional relationships, I am perpetually the crusher. When you need someone to bring the hammer down, bring in the crusher.  If you need a bulldog to fix something quickly, bring in the crusher.  If you need to have a detailed analysis completed very thoroughly, the crusher is the best choice.  
If you want something done which doesn't require the wrecking ball mentality, you need the ripper. Rippers are the more delicate and deliberate partners. They work slowly and methodically.