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Close Encounters Of The Google Kind


Staff member
Dec 14, 2023
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September 2011 … day unknown because I should have written this then, but didn’t because, well … read on….

We had some friends over last night. Good food, good wine, good company. Did I mention good wine? This morning, my synapses are not firing as quickly as usual. Colleen has headed off to work and I am now editing posts, answering e-mails and building a few websites for some clients. It’s tough sledding when your brain is not in gear, but I trudge on towards the completion of the tasks at hand.

Jazz Dog
Dog or Salmon?

Several hours later, around 11:00 AM, my very faithful companion Jazz Dog, a chocolate Labrador Retriever, is gently nudging me. It’s time for a walk! I save my work, get up and head downstairs to the basement where his leash awaits.

Walking Jazz is an interesting experience. He has two modes. One mode is like walking a salmon. Have you ever landed a salmon on a hand-held fishing rod (not a downrigger)? Salmon “run” – they go left, right, left, forward, full speed back under your boat, left, right … it’s dizzying. Jazz walks like this. His other mode is like walking an anchor. Jazz was born to sniff the world. Our previous Black Lab, Pharaoh, was a retriever in every sense of the word. He was a dog that would play fetch all day long. Jazz prefers games like find it, at which he excels. When he is in mode two, he walks like a hound dog: nose to the ground and lots of snorting sounds. When he finds something of interest, he lowers his center of gravity, digs in with his claws and there is no way you are going to move him. Those walks are much longer. Stop. Sniff sniff sniff. Go … STOP … etc.

Today, however, Jazz, is a Coho.

War Of The Worlds TripodWe walk down our street, turn right up the next one and then left on Moresby Park Terrace. As we walk, I adjust my step and fall into the rhythm of walking a salmon. My mind starts to wander and I find myself thinking about War Of The Worlds. We’ve seen the latest version with Tom Cruise and I have been thinking lately that I would like to watch it again. In my mind, I flip back and forth between the original and this latest version, thinking about various scenes and wondering how it would feel to see one of those giant tripods appearing before my eyes.

A sharp pull to the left brings me back to the moment. I am walking a salmon and he is intent on going in every which way. We get to the top of Moresby Park Terrace, round the cul-de-sac and start heading back down the street. Suddenly, Jazz flips into mode two, digs in and starts to investigate something with his super refined olfactory abilities. A reprieve! We have come to a full stop and I am glad for it. I relax and my eyes wander down the street. All of a sudden, on the horizon, a black ball … with eyes!

The black ball slowly rises, revealing a tripod of sorts beneath it. What the hell is that? I watch the scene unfold wondering if thinking my War Of The Worlds thoughts had perhaps been a bad idea. As it rises higher on the horizon I see something metallic under the tripod. It’s the roof of a car … it’s … the Google Street View Car!

Right at that moment I realize that the leash has gone totally slack. Did I lose my catch? I turn to look and Jazz is doing what dogs are suppose to do on walks. Relieving himself. A number two. Oh my God … this is being filmed!

Instinctively, I grab a bag and do what responsible dog owners do. Pick up the poo. WAIT! This is being filmed! I turn and the car is upon us, rounding the cul-de-sa. We’re doomed!

Google Street View Car - the one I saw had a black ball
The one I saw had a black ball

As the car heads down the road, my eyes never leave it despite the fact that Jazz is back in salmon mode. We finish our walk and head home.

Later that day, I am speaking on the phone with then Editor In Chief of Life As A Human, Kerry Slavens, and I tell her about the incident. She tells me I must write this down as it would make for a funny story. I decide that “Close Encounters Of The Google Kind” would make a great title, and Kerry heartily agrees. But … what about photos … what about street view … what will Google show?

May 2013

Shortly after this happened, I also mentioned the incident to another good friend, Lochinvar, our Software Development Manager at Life As A Human. He told me it can take 18 months or more for Google to refresh Street View data. That’s why I waited. Well, the data is now refreshed.

I have walked this street back and forth with Street View and much to my relief, other than the telling of it in this post, our integrity is intact.

Google Street View - Jazz Dog and Gil

Then … I remembered Bing’s Birds Eye View.

We’re doomed!

Photo Credits

Jazz Dog – by Gil Namur – All Rights Reserved

War Of The Worlds – Wikimedia Public Domain

Street View – Screen Cap From Google Street View

Google Street View Car – by Ian Muttoo on Flickr – Some Rights Reserved

First published on Fri, Jun 7, 2013. Updated on Aug 11, 2023​
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