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September 26, 2011 4:29 AM   Subscribe

Over the last two decades, Harold Hackett has sent out over 4,800 messages in a bottle from Prince Edward Island, Canada's smallest province along the Atlantic coastline. Every message asks for the finder to send a response back to Hackett, and since 1996 he has received over 3,100 responses from all over the world.
posted by flapjax at midnite (46 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
A year has passed since he wrote his note.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 4:32 AM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, he should have known this right from the start.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:42 AM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, Harold has polluted nearly 2,000 bottles into the Atlantic Ocean
posted by Flood at 4:43 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, Harold has polluted nearly 2,000 bottles into the Atlantic Ocean

14 minutes.
posted by IvoShandor at 4:44 AM on September 26, 2011 [27 favorites]


So, Harold has polluted nearly 2,000 bottles into the Atlantic Ocean.

I dunno... could be just that around 2000 recipients simply couldn't be bothered to send back a reply.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:47 AM on September 26, 2011


I tl;dr'd the FPP, saw flapjax at midnite underneath, and immediately thought "OH NO! Stings's "Message in a Bottle. After that last lapse of judgement, now he''s really lost his mind."

Needless to say, I was relieved to instead find an article about primitive applications for IP/UDP in low QoS environments.
posted by three blind mice at 4:49 AM on September 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


Since 1996 he has received over 3,100 responses from a Mrs. Trellis of North Wales.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:55 AM on September 26, 2011 [17 favorites]


Maybe the other 1700 bottles were heard from between 1991 to 1996.
posted by DU at 4:57 AM on September 26, 2011


now he''s really lost his mind.

Actually, three blind mice, I was gonna add a "more inside" note with something like: "And kudos to the BBC for NOT using the Sting song". But then I wound up quoting the song as the post title, so I figured that woulda been hypocritical!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:57 AM on September 26, 2011


And kudos to the BBC for NOT using the Sting song

Personally I would have gone with a Paddle to the Sea reference.
posted by orange swan at 5:04 AM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Harold's mum, while quietly impressed, also wishes Harold would meet a nice girl the way other young men do. He's not getting any younger, you know.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:23 AM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was relieved to instead find an article about primitive applications for IP/UDP in low QoS environments.

You forgot to mention the very high latency.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:26 AM on September 26, 2011


WOW. I found one of them, a couple of months ago at Chebucto Head just south of Halifax (sent in 2007). I guess it's about time I wrote back to him!
I figured (by the writing!) it was some little kid and maybe by this time he'd be into BMX and video games and be too cool to care about it anymore, especially considering PEI to HFX is not a very impressive distance for 4 years.
posted by Flashman at 5:51 AM on September 26, 2011 [18 favorites]


Message and bottle, found here.
posted by Flashman at 6:03 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"This bottle missing for 13 years and found in Lorient, France."

That's a long TTL, but the Atlantic is a rather harsh physical layer for transport.

I like how he describes them as "missing" (instead of lost) and I wonder if he reassembles the bottles in chronological order of when they were sent.

4800 messages / 3100 replies. Depending on his error coding scheme, the block error rate might actually be tolerable.
posted by three blind mice at 6:05 AM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


4800 messages / 3100 replies. Depending on his error coding scheme, the block error rate might actually be tolerable.

Verizon could learn from this
posted by victors at 6:09 AM on September 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sad, this.
posted by mizrachi at 6:13 AM on September 26, 2011


HM ER II APPLAUDS THIS GLORIOUS ACHIEVEMENT OF HER MOST CANADIAN ISLAND STOP TO CELEBRATE HER SON PRINCE EDWARD HAS BEEN LURED INTO A METHUSELAH AND WILL BE CAST INTO THE SEA AT NOON TOMORROW STOP SHOULD HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS WASH UP ON YOUR SHORELINE PLEASE DO NOT RELEASE HIM FROM HIS GLASSY PRISON STOP GOD SAVE THE QUEEN STOP
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:37 AM on September 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


The number of responses he has received from a community below Innsmouth, MA is vaguely unsettling and their contents not at all convenient to relate.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:47 AM on September 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Were any of his 3100 replies from someone named Harold Hackett, though?
posted by TedW at 7:00 AM on September 26, 2011


Tignish? I understood that not even the cops could go to Tignish, but I guess the postman can.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:00 AM on September 26, 2011


THE POLICE. IT'S THE POLICE, NOT STING.

Thank you.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:22 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


OH FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST THE BOTTLES ARE PLASTIC?!?!?!
posted by Mike Mongo at 7:27 AM on September 26, 2011


sorry about that...but he's thrown over 4000 PLASTIC (did it again) bottles into the ocean???! And he's getting news coverage and not jail time or community service or mental help? Jesus...
posted by Mike Mongo at 7:29 AM on September 26, 2011


THE POLICE. IT'S THE POLICE, NOT STING.

Well, Sting wrote the tune, so in fact it's not inaccurate to call it "a Sting song", after all.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:37 AM on September 26, 2011


Is there an RFC for this? If not, there should be.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:42 AM on September 26, 2011


That's as good a use for 4,000 plastic bottles as any.

Excellent and interesting post, thanks.
posted by caddis at 7:48 AM on September 26, 2011


4,000 plastic bottles is pretty much nothing. Have you seen that gyre thing on the ocean? The once made of trash that is the size of texas? This guy would have to throw a shitload more to make a dent.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:49 AM on September 26, 2011


He sends out a form letter? I think he would get better responses if he somehow made them seem more personal and individual.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:57 AM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


cjorgensen-- I disagree, when I go for a walk down the beach and am lucky enough to only find a single plastic bottle washed up on shore, I still think that's one too many.
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:59 AM on September 26, 2011


And, just to not let it go-- if I set fire to a tire in my backyard once a month, a good justification wouldn't be, "hey, comeon! this is only a dent compared to power-stations, I'd have to burn tens of thousands to make a dent!".
posted by Static Vagabond at 8:02 AM on September 26, 2011


What, you think glass bottles are more biodegradable?
posted by demiurge at 8:03 AM on September 26, 2011


Of course, glass is much less biodegradeable; that's why it would be preferable.
posted by Jpfed at 8:10 AM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would imagine plastic would be far better suited for this application than glass -- buoyancy, durability, etc. If I'm marooned on a deserted island (Prince Edward for example), I have one piece of paper, a pen, a glass bottle and a plastic one, I know what I'd choose.

The thing I don't get here -- why didn't the camera crew offer to rescue him?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:17 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


a single plastic bottle washed up on shore, I still think that's one too many...And, just to not let it go...

Yes, my farts smell like roses too.

Meanwhile, considering Americans alone bought 32 billion plastic bottles in one year (pdf) can we let this guy have 4,000 in the name of romance. Please?
posted by victors at 8:32 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Help. I'm trapped in a tiny tourist destination and can't get out. PLEASE SEND HELP."
posted by clvrmnky at 8:35 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Police song is at least way way way better a mental reference than the fucking godawful Nicholas Sparks based Kevin Costner movie I saw on an airplane once. Just bloody terrible.
posted by kmz at 8:42 AM on September 26, 2011


On a related note, if you're in the bay area, check out the Washed Ashore art exhibit at the Marine Mammal Center, featuring giant sea creatures constructed out of recovered ocean garbage.
posted by benzenedream at 8:46 AM on September 26, 2011


The Police song is at least way way way better a mental reference than the fucking godawful Nicholas Sparks based Kevin Costner movie I saw on an airplane once.

Well, if the Police song is gonna be the mental reference for the bottle messages that got answered, maybe this should be the song for the ones that don't?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:50 AM on September 26, 2011


Unless you're actually doing trash cleanup or happen to notice the note inside, why on Earth have all these people picked up gross, dirty plastic bottles on the beach? I doubt I'd ever find one of these since I don't want to get Hepatitis.
posted by gregoryg at 8:53 AM on September 26, 2011


AAAARRRRR I found me true love upon the sea! A plastic wench she were, 6 inches high, with a hard transparent exterior but an interior full of carbonated liquid love. I still recall how I saw her bobbing upon the waves, as if calling to me, and how I unscrewed her tight little cap and emptied her delicious wet contents all down my chest and thighs, and then slowly rubbed the viscous fluid into my skin. Ay, 'tis said that when a man be at sea for 6 months or more, many a strange fancy may take him! - but as Captain of the good ship Bum Nugget I resolved there and then to marry that plastic bottle, and we have three children now, all of them tupperware containers. ARRRR.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:10 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would imagine plastic would be far better suited for this application than glass -- buoyancy, durability, etc. If I'm marooned on a deserted island (Prince Edward for example), I have one piece of paper, a pen, a glass bottle and a plastic one, I know what I'd choose.

To rip the paper in half?
posted by zvs at 9:30 AM on September 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


This means he'll be on the cover of the Guardian one of these Saturdays...
posted by ghost dance beat at 10:42 AM on September 26, 2011


Lest we forget: RFC 1149, "A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers" and the follow-up RFC 2549 "IP over Avian Carriers with Quality of Service."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:17 PM on September 26, 2011


PS PLEASE STOP RESPONDING WITH THE SEVERED FEET KTHXBAI
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:00 PM on September 26, 2011


And, just to not let it go-- if I set fire to a tire in my backyard once a month, a good justification wouldn't be, "hey, comeon! this is only a dent compared to power-stations, I'd have to burn tens of thousands to make a dent!".

It's an interesting train of thought: when is it ok to pollute. Obviously (unless you want to advocate the voluntary human extinction POV) with CO2 being classified as pollution it's OK or at least acceptable in a lesser of evil sort of way at least some of the time. You rarely for example hear anyone getting het up about the rubber waste that is put into the enviroment from tire wear even though that is obviously a monsterous pile of pollution. Ditto all the excreted drug residues or light pollution. Small special interests care but most people don't worry about it. So there is a defacto utility trade off. Seems like ~2000 bottles over a couple decades in the name of research is a resonable amount of utility from the pollution.

Unless you're actually doing trash cleanup or happen to notice the note inside, why on Earth have all these people picked up gross, dirty plastic bottles on the beach? I doubt I'd ever find one of these since I don't want to get Hepatitis.

Assuming you aren't openning random bottles on the beach and taking a swig of the contents the risk of hepatitas from handling the bottle isn't any greater than just touching the beach in the first place.
posted by Mitheral at 3:30 PM on September 26, 2011


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