An Outdoor View: Hope for the future

Earlier this week, billionaire Bill Gates announced on his Internet blog that a new kind of sewage-treatment plant, an “Omniprocessor,” had been built that can turn feces into pure water and provide enough electricity to run the plant, with some to spare. On a YouTube video, Gates can be seen drinking water from the output of the plant. “The water tasted as good as any I’ve had out of a bottle,” he said.

That got me to thinking about improvements Gates might make in other areas. After all, if engineering and over-the-edge technology can turn pure poop into pure water, anything is possible.

I foresee great changes for those of us who hunt and fish. Imagine being on a 10-day float trip down a remote Alaskan stream. Now imagine having a Life Savers mint-sized electronic device that would establish a 50-foot no-fly zone around you for mosquitos and white socks. For only $19.95 more (plus shipping and handling), the unit would be programmed to emit a repellent that would keep bears and other anglers at least 50 feet away.

Traveling light is important on any trip into the wild, so most meals out there tend to be the freeze-dried or instant noodle kind. Imagine how wonderful it would be if you could pull a compact device out of your pack, insert a package of Top Ramen into one end, and have a cheeseburger with fries come out the other. On the high-end model, the output would be a grilled steak with mushrooms and baked potato, and chocolate ice cream for dessert.

I envision that eye glasses of the future will automatically add a hint of red to the tint of the glass, making things appear rosier to the wearer. When you’re in the middle of Cook Inlet and your outboard won’t start, or when you’ve spent a week in a rainstorm, huddling in a leaky tent with a surly guide, those glasses would be nice to have along.

The fishing and hunting market is ripe with promise for pharmaceutical companies. You know how bad your buddy smells after a few days afield without a shower? I can hear the commercials now. “When your buddy says you stink, take Funk-Away for instant relief from his whining. Some users have experienced projectile vomiting, Bleeding from the anus is known to occur. So ask your doctor if Funk-Away is right for you. Available in Saucy Sage, Sexy Citrus and Lovable Lavender. Call now, and we’ll send you not one, but two bottles for the price of one (plus shipping and handling).”

If you’ve done much flying out to remote fishing or hunting camps, you’ve no doubt had a few doubts about the abilities of your pilot. Manufacturers should be working on a model of unmanned aircraft for such flights. A life-size, experienced-looking pilot doll could be strapped in at mock controls. He or she would be programmed to provide comforting, educational and entertaining information during the trip. A huge advantage I can see to this idea is that pilots would no longer be involved in any crashes.

Successful fishing is largely a state of mind, so it would be nice to be able to pop a pill that would make you feel successful, whether or not you actually were. Drug companies have been warping minds for years, so it’s high time they developed a drug that specifically targets the brains of anglers. It wouldn’t take much.

In the future, when all these wondrous things come to pass, remember: You don’t have to be Bill Gates to have good ideas.

Les Palmer can be reached at

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