Close Encounters Of The Google Kind

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


Recent Gil Namur Articles:


  1. avatarMarcela De Vivo says

    Great story Gil! I can only imagine what google has captured with my two Great Danes running around my yard! I guess I’ll have to check my street’s view every 18 months!

  2. avataremma coles says

    Haha Gil, too funny!
    Have you read about this – there’s a group of people (actors?) in Europe going around deliberately staging events for Google Street View – giving birth on the side walk……or standing around with signs……or pretending to be Waldo from Where’s Waldo……..
    the possibilities are endless, next time you see the car let me know and we’ll stand on the front lawn, maybe dress Jazz up in costume!!!!!

    • avatar says

      WOW Emma!

      I did not know this. That’s hilarious! We should put Life As A Human signs EVERYWHERE LOL … ok … that reminds me! I need to clear my conscience.
      Whenever I go into a super store that has lots of computers, I go down the isles, open a browser on each PC and then type in
      Did this once on 3 rows of computers at Future Shop. Then I hung out and watched as people started to browse around the site! Guerrilla marketing at it’s best! LOL
      P.S. I think I will post this confession in Facebook now!

  3. avatar says

    Love it! Now you’re caught in the act with Jazz Dog… Do you remember if it was one of those drive themselves cars? I’ve seen one of those here and it’s a bit unnerving…

  4. avatar says

    LOL! Way too funny, Gil. Just got home from a “walk” with Lola and the thought of Google filming the sill stuff I do with her in the playground and immortalizing it on the internet is just hilarious.


  5. avatar says

    That was a story that needed to be told for sure!!! I’d be interested to find out what other kinds of “in the moment” pics Google Earth may have taken.

    • avatar says

      Thanks Glenn,

      There are sites out there that have ‘interesting’ images taken by the Street View. Will see if I can find a few links to share!


  6. avatar says

    Hi Gil,

    Love this! I remember you telling me about this tale a few months back. So glad it has finally come to light…to save us all.


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