Sunday, November 25, 2007

Impractical Ideas

Sometimes I get wild ideas. These ideas may well work, but are generally impractical or over-reaching. I'm a genius at impractical ideas. For example, 40 years ago, before I was even driving, I noticed that drivers looked through the rear windows of the car ahead of them to see the road ahead. My idea was to have the entire rear window flash red when the driver put on the brakes. I tried to envision ways to do this, but other than a red window shade and strong spotlights on a lucite core, I couldn't come up with a practical way to turn that window red. I continued to think about complex and novel designs for 20 years.

Then someone had a similar idea, and the now-ubiquitous center-mounted stop light was born. My idea was good, but impractical and over-reaching. Similarly, I have an idea to reduce the danger of the little island deer we get on our highways. These deer are a real problem here on the island. There is little hunting, and few natural predators, so the little black-tailed island deer are everywhere. We've seen them grazing behind Rockhoppers, for example -- right in downtown Clinton.

Why do the deer love highways? Our highways are cleared of trees and other obstacles, for safety, then we plant grass to make them pretty. We've essentially re-created the forest meadows where deer are supposed to graze, then put a highway down the middle. Not too bright on our part, if you ask me.

What to do about this four-legged menace to traffic? We clearly need to make the roadsides unattractive to deer. One way to do this is to do away with the grass. We should use landscaping that is both unattractive to deer and actively repels them. Poisonous plants, rocky footing, thorny hedges -- you get the idea. Make the highways someplace deer avoid.

Another way to do this, my way, the impractical way, is a more active way to make the deer avoid the highway. As I said, there isn't a lot of hunting pressure on the deer. They aren't too shy, and basically ignore cars. If you are in a car, you can stop and watch the deer without startling them. They'll barely look up. They aren't afraid of cars.

We need to make the deer afraid of cars. My idea is paintball guns. Paintball guns sting, but they won't actually harm the deer. If, when a car goes by, the deer are shot with a paintball, they'll soon start running away when they see a car. Obviously, we can't just arm everyone on the highway with paintball guns, and let them fire at will. We'll have to have roving bands of people specifically authorized to perform this public service. I don't think we'll have problems getting volunteers.

On top of this, since we'll be spraying the deer with paint anyway, why not use reflective paint in the paintballs? That way, the deer will be much more visible at night. Can you see the deer in the picture? If they had reflective paint on them, you could.

So, that's my idea for solving the deer on the highway problem. Roving bands of volunteer 'hunters' armed with reflective paintball guns. I told you I was a genius at impractical ideas.

No more deer on the highways of Whidbey Island?


Anonymous said...

Admit it Dan, you did have a little help and encouragement on with this one from your crazy friends!!

Dan said...

Mary, I think that's known as 'enabling'.


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