Nerd Guru

Because technical people need good soft skills to get ahead.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Concussion grenade fishing = Creativity

My maternal grandfather told me this story a long time ago and its aways struck me as a good example of being creative with what you have at your disposal. Previously I've covered this topic of creativity in relation to Disneyland's Haunted Mansion but you'll see in this post and a later one involving my daughter that this sort of thing runs in my family (I haven't figured out how to get my Mom's cross stitch skills into this blog, but maybe I will some day).

Like a lot of men of his era, my grandfather married his high school sweetheart (that would be my grandmother, who says "Hello" from Oklahoma City to all y'all, and was married to him for 59 years) before getting shipped off to Europe to fight Nazis.

My grandparents right before Grandpa went off to Europe in 1944

He was among the last waves of troops to enter the war, fought in the Battle of the Bulge in an infantry division that supported tanks, and stayed for the occupation of Germany where he honed his fishing skills using concussion grenades.

As you might imagine, Army food got pretty old after awhile and it wasn’t like there were a lot of bait shops in rural Germany in the mid 1940s, so he used what he had at his disposal. He’d throw a grenade into a lake, it would explode, he and his buddies would pick up the pieces of fish that flew out of the water. It was pretty simple.

Unfortunately, early attempts at this technique resulted in fish bits too small to eat. Through trial and error, though, he soon discovered that the trick to it was to first unscrew the grenade and pour out enough of the explosive material so that this process would create smaller explosions and yield fish pieces big enough to eat. This went on for some time until their commanding officer got complaints from local farmers whose cows, which ate the grass in the field where they poured out the explosive, started producing sour milk.

Creative but environmentally damaging, so they agreed to stop. It was this legacy that I inherited and it made the whole room laugh when I retold this story during his eulogy in 2002. The moral is simple: Use what the parts you have been given, no matter now limiting, in different ways to maximize your results. That's creativity, in a nutshell.

Me and my grandparents in 2000


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posted by Pete Johnson @ 1:37 AM   2 comments


At 5:31 PM, Blogger Mixa said...

Fish doesn't get blown to pieces, may be some but for the most part it comes up belly up - that's why it's illegal in most countries, also not a good idea to do it when ice-fishing.

At 10:03 PM, Blogger Pete Johnson said...

Hi mixa,

Thanks for your thoughts. I can certainly see why this would be illegal now and agree it would be a bad idea in general, but especially with ice around. I'd imagine pieces of ice would become projectiles.



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