Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Lost...

...Found. Now clean up your SOS sign.
  (+56, -6)(+56, -6)(+56, -6)
(+56, -6)
  [vote for,
against]

Giant SOS signs constructed in stones on the beaches of remote islands are to international sea rescue operations as prank calls are to the 999 emergency services. Indeed, if a passing civilian or commercial ship spots one they are morally obliged to investigate, delaying their passengers/schedule and potentially endangering their own lives.

You see, in a state of delirious joy at spotting a boat upon the horizon, and later being rescued, these messy marooned louts never clean up after themselves.

A 5 man team sail round the world in search of these abandoned, redundant, and frankly dangerous SOS signs using global satellite imaging and information from local authorities. The signs are then removed. A bill will be sent to the rescued litter bugs and the operation subsidised by international rescue operations that no longer wish Samaritan vessels to be led astray.

I think I'm going to do this when I retire.

theleopard, Nov 23 2006

The Lovely Debbie McGee http://www.debbiemcgee.co.uk/
In case anyone was wondering. [zen_tom, Nov 24 2006]

(?) I would guess that Debbie McGee http://www.b3ta.cr3...data/jpg/debbee.jpg
could repel any boarders even without the aid of a ballistic bumhole. [calum, Nov 24 2006]

Or, just use Google Maps to find them. http://maps.google.com/maps?tab=wl
It is amazing what you can find on google maps. Cut and paste these coordinates into the search bar and zoom in.
-21.8053 -49.0898
(Be sure to be in Satellite mode) [Klaatu, Sep 11 2007]

Yellowbeard http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086618/
Captain Hughes: "This is Mr Crisp who is in charge of discipline. This is Mr Martin who is in charge of discipline and this is Mr Prostitute..." [DrBob, Sep 13 2007]

Pretty good link above, [klaatu]. Plenty of work for the team. http://image.shutte...e-beach-1958972.jpg
[normzone, Dec 22 2010]

[link]






       A cheaper approach would be to run an image recognition program on satellite images of the entire world's surface, looking for "SOS". Once all those found had been investigated they could be "crossed off the list", and a tag next to the grid coordinates put in the database. Then, passing ships would see the SOS, look up the coordinates in the database and know not to investigate. From then on, after rescuing someone you'd have to mark their castaway site on the database to keep the database up-to-date. Of course, this approach means that no rescue attempts will ever be made in the same place twice, and the world will gradually fill up with "SOS" messages made from small rocks and the number of places where it's possible to be shipwrecked and actually get rescued will gradually diminish to zero, bust that's a small price to pay.
hippo, Nov 23 2006
  

       Let's not go for cheaper. I'll sign up for this one.
jmvw, Nov 23 2006
  

       Excellent, I'm already amassing a crew!
theleopard, Nov 23 2006
  

       Now I can't get that bleedin ABBA song out of my head.
skinflaps, Nov 23 2006
  

       Waterloo?
theleopard, Nov 23 2006
  

       What about HELP! - we'd need a team for cleaning up those particular letters too. And I'm pretty good at E's.
zen_tom, Nov 23 2006
  

       And presumably all manner of other words in other languages... I'm quite good at the ¬'s in '¥¬&'
theleopard, Nov 23 2006
  

       You can't have a crew without a Chef! Bring me bring me!
Chefboyrbored, Nov 23 2006
  

       OK, so I've got economic logistics covered by [jmvw], I've got prepared cuisine from [chefboy], and [zen_tom]'s got the E's down to a... well, an E.   

       Now all I need is someone who can sail a boat.
theleopard, Nov 23 2006
  

       I can't sail worth a damn. But I can DANCE! Therefore I will the ship's dancer. When do we leave?
NotTheSharpestSpoon, Nov 23 2006
  

       I think it might be more practical to distribute special pre-packaged emergency rocks to every island. They could be put in vending machines. Once these rocks are removed from the packaging, they decompose in a week or so in the Sun, since all desert islands have plenty of Sun - I saw it on the TV.
If you haven't been rescued in a week or so, it means another trip to the vending machine, but hey, there isn't anything else to do, anyway.
Ling, Nov 23 2006
  

       These desert islands are recurring hazards. Certainly, a newly marooned survivor might well discover an extant SOS made of boulders and decide to spiff it up and use it again, rather than building anew. Imagine his chagrin when he finds that this SOS has been crossed off a list of satellite SOS images, and that no-one will read his plea?   

       Certainly, the only way to address this is in person. Yet it seems wasteful to discard the labors of the shipwrecked from earlier generations. Perhaps only one letter could be rearranged. Then, the materials are readily at hand in case the sign must be reconstituted.
bungston, Nov 23 2006
  

       //Once all those found had been investigated they could be "crossed off the list", and a tag next to the grid coordinates put in the database.//   

       But what if someone were lost at a location that had already been crossed off the list. If they saw an SOS in stones already on the ground they'd be unlikely to construct another one...   

       And even if they did would the satellite data be granular enough to pick up the second instance if it were in close proximity to the first.   

       I'll signup for [theleopard]'s crew when I retire too!
kdmurray, Nov 23 2006
  

       //Perhaps only one letter could be rearranged.//   

       <far side> "...Actually, cancel that; I guess it says 'HELF'." </fs>
imaginality, Nov 23 2006
  

       Wow, I wonder what would happen if you set an OCR program loose on google earth looking for all letters? If you let the world download it as a distributed computing screen saver type program, you might find a big "42" somewhere.
Heathera, Nov 23 2006
  

       Why not just equip the original rescue crew with an SOS eraser? I mean really, they're there, the castaway's there...   

       "Oh, Thank God! I'm Saved!"   

       "Yessir. we're here to help. Have you eaten?"   

       "Yeah, I learned to spearfish."   

       "Well, you seem to be in good health, so before we go, there's just one thing to do..."
ye_river_xiv, Nov 23 2006
  

       I'll take the crows nest. I love heights...with your permission of course cap'n.   

       //"Well, you seem to be in good health, so before we go, there's just one thing to do..."//   

       We must DANCE! We shall dance like there's no tomorrow!   

       What? That's my job. A man's got to his job...
NotTheSharpestSpoon, Nov 24 2006
  

       any room for a computer nerd
dev45, Nov 24 2006
  

       Another problem with using OCR and satellite imaging is someone with an address of 505 could get crossed off the list.   

       <imaginary scenario - "We've just received a 911 call. Heart attack at 505 Broadway."
"Oh, wait. The GPS rescue databank says it was taken care of 2 years ago. False alarm." - end>
Canuck, Nov 24 2006
  

       Young, Jason- Young. I once lived on somethin', somethin' Broadway - New Orleans, LA, 77018 (or somethin' like that).
505 Broadway is not exactly right, but it struck a memory chord. The local ATO's want to kill me.
Rah Rah Reehgah! Ralpha Tau Omega! Hip Horray, Hip Horrah, 3 cheers, for Alpha Tau, A.. T.. Zero!
I wasn't really responsible for all the crimes commited against them, really.
Zimmy, Nov 24 2006
  

       That's quite a motley crew. The only problem is, once the bulk of the SOS sign backlog is cleared the job becomes a little more reactionary, and we'd be waiting for someone to be shipwrecked somewhere in the World. Otherwise I'd suggest a bigger fleet.   

       So, if I may, I'll quickly go over the crew so far:   

       [jmvw] logistics and accounts;
[zen_tom] Spelling and psycho-tropic pharmacist (he's //pretty good at E's// after all);
[chefboy] Chef;
[BluntSpoon] Ship's Knave;
[21 Quest] Mechanic;
[Ian] Analogue modular synthesizer programmer (like a Quartermaster perhaps?);
[kdmurray] Boatswain (because it sounds good);
[2FriesShy] Look out;
[dev45] Can help Ian;
[rcarty] Motivationalist;
[zimmy] You can stow away in the gally if you need to mate.
  

       I guess, we're gonna need a bigger boat...
theleopard, Nov 24 2006
  

       Not forgetting a ABBA cover band.
skinflaps, Nov 24 2006
  

       Every boat needs an on-board magician, right?
imaginality, Nov 24 2006
  

       And obviously a magician's assistant. Can I be your 'Lovely Debbie McGee'?
jtp, Nov 24 2006
  

       What tricks can you do?
theleopard, Nov 24 2006
  

       I can blow ping pong balls out of my arse. Any use?
jtp, Nov 24 2006
  

       I'd love to see Debbie McGee do that [jtp]. I guess that's one trick kept just for Paul.
theleopard, Nov 24 2006
  

       <I've just done the - spray monitor with coffee thing - with a banana>   

       <choke>
po, Nov 24 2006
  

       Yeah, repel 'em. Elitist bastards. Just because their parents were richer than mine and could afford independant edu......hang on.   

       Hey can I be the animateur for the ship's entertainment programme?
squeak, Nov 24 2006
  

       We're gonna need a bigger ship...
jtp, Nov 24 2006
  

       On a scale of one to 10, how ironic would it be if we were all shipwrecked halfway through the voyage?   

       (Where 1 is Alanis Morissette, and 10 is actually quite ironic)
zen_tom, Nov 24 2006
  

       [zen_tom]'s made a very good point. We should have a backup ship just in case. And maybe a 3rd just to cover all eventualities...
jtp, Nov 24 2006
  

       [tom], Alanis Morissette is one of *the* *most* ironically succesful artists of our time.
theleopard, Nov 24 2006
  

       [21] You'd also need a guy with a couple of ping pong bats to guide you on landing and take off. I think I could be of some use there.
jtp, Nov 24 2006
  

       So we dance now, capt'in, huh! We dance now? We dance the ironic interpretive dance I made up for just this kind of situation. I'll need a bannana and some pingpong balls and a dash of vanillin. Everyone stand back- I shall DANCE!
NotTheSharpestSpoon, Nov 24 2006
  

       Yes Spoon. You may dance. Dance your little spoons out!
theleopard, Nov 24 2006
  

       I can make tea - surely a vital skill for an ocean voyage.
hippo, Nov 24 2006
  

       I'll be radio op then, since i'm skilled in that. Might as well do general electronics assistance too 'cause it's always worth being able to fix your 'tronics in a pinch. ;-)   

       Can we name it the HBS (Half-Bakery Ship) Croisant?   

       Even better, can we make it out of pastry? We could coat it in a hard lacquer or gel-coat to make it rigid.   

       "Incoming breadknife, all bakers on deck! Man the dough-hooks."
webfishrune, Nov 24 2006
  

       That would go down as the worlds first post-ironic submarine.
zen_tom, Nov 24 2006
  

       //submarine//   

       Would that be a sub roll rather than a croisant?
webfishrune, Nov 24 2006
  

       A SOS-auge sub?   

       <shiver>
theleopard, Nov 24 2006
  

       Why waste all those stones on constructing SOS signs, when they could be used as stepping stones?   

       These chaps could save themselves if they just thought of that.
spiritualized, Nov 25 2006
  

       ///"Help Me !" sign and add "Me too!"//
The the tide comes in, washes away some of the stones and leaves "Helmet".
Ling, Nov 25 2006
  

       I've been told my arse is like a ten year old boys....will this help???
Heavy_Phat, Nov 25 2006
  

       It's not really that kind of boat man.
theleopard, Nov 25 2006
  

       ten year old boys what? ball of string, play station?
po, Nov 25 2006
  

       How does that old ditty go?   

       Ah yes.
Ahem! <dons best swashbuckling accent>
  

       The cabin boy,
the cabin boy
the dirty little nipper.
He filled his ass with broken glass,
and cicumsized the skipper...
  

       ...I'm sure it was from a different boat.   

       [2 fries] - I doubt your little ditty has done much to convince [theleopard] that [Heavy_Phat]'s presence on board is justified...
jtp, Nov 26 2006
  

       I'm sure five rusty sea dogs could find some use for my ten year old boy-like behind
Heavy_Phat, Nov 26 2006
  

       Er... we'll try and get on without, thanks.
theleopard, Nov 26 2006
  

       From now on [Heavy_Phat] shall be known as Roger.
stilgar, Nov 26 2006
  

       //find some use for my ten year old boy-like behind//
Yeah, it'll be somewhere to park the Jolly Rodger.
Ling, Nov 26 2006
  

       Surely it's "Roger the cabin boy"?
jtp, Nov 26 2006
  

       Give that man a cigar! :-)
stilgar, Nov 27 2006
  

       roger Roger over and out
dev45, Nov 27 2006
  

       that's disgusting.
po, Nov 27 2006
  

       "In the navy..."
RayfordSteele, Nov 30 2006
  

       I volunteer for the arduous, dangerous, and downright mellifluous position of "Maestor Ronero" of the HBS Croissant.   

       As such, it shall be my solemn duty to never allow occasion for the fatal and moral-sapping words: "But why is all the rum gone?" to pass the crew's lips - savvy?   

       If not then is there still an opening for Ship's Parrot? I saw an add in the Metro...
captain jack, Dec 01 2006
  

       ROFL. I am a work and this post is gonna get me in trouble....   

       Much much much could be said along the lines of sailing and whipping boys but I have a SOS related point.   

       Instead of removing the signs, strike them (horizontal line across the letters) so that they can be reused again by a weary shipwrecked waif. Then make it illegal to pick up a stranded person without re-striking the sign.
MoreCowbell, Dec 01 2006
  

       Someone created captain_jack just for this post!? Classic.
MoreCowbell, Dec 01 2006
  

       [Jack], quite right. Provide the booze, and remember, it's going to be a long trip.   

       [CowBell] and [Ian], both super ideas. As long as this distribution can be done by boat, so as not to miss out on some thoroughly enjoyable rum swigging sea faring galavanting around beautiful tropical islands in the South Pacific.   

       Further on that, I have to ensure that for the next 30-40 years no solution is implemented to solve this problem, otherwise I'm out of a retirement plan.
theleopard, Dec 01 2006
  

       "HEY! Who cleared up all my SOS stones?! I only went back to my hut for five minutes to get a mango and now some cad has ruined my message! Hey! You lot!"   

       "Who, us?"   

       "Oh, thank goodness you've found me! I was shipwrecked and I've been here for weeks!"   

       "No no no. Our database says you've already been rescued. Hey [theleopard] we found one of those prank callers!"   

       "Right you! 100 lines, I must not leave fake SOS signs"   

       "But I really am trapped here!"   

       "Not our problem. We just clear up. Come on, lads!"   

       "No! You have to take me with you! Please!"
snap'n'whipher, Dec 01 2006
  

       HAHAHA! awesome. best laugh of the day. the world needs you, [theleopard], retire soon, ok?
k_sra, Sep 11 2007
  

       Nice to see this bumped. One of my all time favourites!
jtp, Sep 11 2007
  

       Thanks! It got a bit weird when [Heavy_Phat] arrived though...   

       How's that ping-pong trick coming [jtp]?
theleopard, Sep 11 2007
  

       Ping-pong? Pah! I've since moved up to middleweight, and now tennis balls are my weapon of choice. The only down side is that I have to wear a custom built butt-plug at all times.
jtp, Sep 11 2007
  

       Don't forget to dance! For the love of whatever deity you follow- don't forget to shake that booty (but not around [Heavy_Phat]. I've got my suspicions about him... her... whatever...
NotTheSharpestSpoon, Sep 13 2007
  

       NOOO!! Where are you going? And why did you wreak my sign?
evilpenguin, Sep 13 2007
  

       * Removes cap, holds tentatively in hands*
"Mr [theleopard] sir, you would appear to be lacking a Ship's Surgeon. Might I join the crew?"
DocBrown, Sep 13 2007
  

       Can I be in charge of discipline then? (linky)
DrBob, Sep 13 2007
  

       I volunteer to man the heavy gauge artillery for fending off pirates and boarders. I'm totally unqualified for this position, but come on, it's a big freaking gun.
BunsenHoneydew, Sep 15 2007
  

       //Waterloo?//   

       Well, Napoleon *was* confined to an island.
bnip, Sep 18 2007
  

       Damn. I've not annoed on this idea, and now I see why. I can't think of a post I'd want to apply for.   

       Yet I don't want to be left out of this. I'll forward a resume of general interest and see if there's any response.
normzone, Oct 31 2008
  

       Wait a damn minute! Has no one applied for the position of cockswain? I would have expected better from the HB. [+]
MikeD, Oct 31 2008
  

       Does this really have to be 5 *men*? (I'd like to apply, also!)
xandram, Dec 21 2010
  

       Are you sure this is a problem? Does this ever happen? Are there really any leftover signs of "Help" that cause anyone to go off their track? I have a feeling that the answer is no to all the above.
pashute, Dec 22 2010
  

       Obviously, you don't understand the problems with desert islands. Difficult things to control, you know. Growing out of the sea all over the place and getting in the way. In fact they move just enough to get in the way of unsuspecting ships.
Ling, Dec 22 2010
  

       Instead of having the rocks/logs/whatever decompose/scattered, perhaps paint them to blend into the background. If someone else is marooned, they just need to rotate them to an unpainted section. Of course after a couple of castaway generations, you'll have some trouble with the whole rock/log being painted, but by then rising sea level might make that nice little island vanish.
SkyPuppy, Dec 24 2010
  

       //A bill will be sent to the rescued litter bugs//   

       I think that by message-in-a-bottle would be appropriate.   
      
[annotate]
  


 

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