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May 07, 2002: You've got oops

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While browsing around on the Usual Suspects forum, I chanced upon a link that displayed the Pillsbury Doughboy. When you poked the character with your mouse, he bent over and did the typical Pillsbury Doughboy moves, completely with that goofy little grin on his face. It was a cute site. Really it was.

The important thing to remember for this story is that the site had sound. But perhaps even more important to bear in mind is that, while there are headphones plugged into my computer at work for the purpose of actually hearing these sounds, when I initially went to view the site I did not have those headphones on. I poked the little doughboy and made the assumption that he was giggling, like any decent Pillsbury doughboy should when poked. How cute, I said to myself, and copied the link into an email, which I then fired off to my nearest and dearest - a list which included not only my husband, but also my mother and my mother-in-law.

It wasn't until I got home and heard a series of rude sounds emanating from Richard's side of the computer room as he finally got a chance to check out that link that I realized that the Pillsbury doughboy does *not* giggle when you poke him in the tummy at this site. No, this particular little doughboy farts. Loudly, and often. And I sent this charming little site off to my mother and my mother-in-law. Luckily, both sides of our family have warped senses of humor so would have found it funny either way, but still. Oops.


Monday I got a rather odd email addressed to my maiden name and directed to an old account that has not been used for much more than spam and the occasional newsletter for quite some time. It was from someone in New Zealand, directed to me and a group of other people, noting something about how he would be in Perth next week to discuss the PSDM contracts. I assumed it was some sort of really strange spam/virus/whatever and deleted it. I didn't give it much thought until I got home this evening, opened my email, and found a reply. This one included the address in Perth for what I can only assume is an office, and as I read through it, I realized that there was an entire email thread included in this thing, beyond the initial message I'd received the day before - discussions of contracts, all sorts of abbreviations that managers simply adore using, and other information that was obviously business-related. Somehow or other I had been dumped into the middle of what appeared to be a legitimate business discussion, but the problem was, I had absolutely no idea who any of these people were, or even how they would have found my email address in the first place.

Richard and I started to do a bit of investigating. The first step was to track down the main websites for the email addresses. As it turned out, they were from legitimate businesses that have to do with geographical surveying, and surveying equipment. In fact, I was even able to find the name of one of the people on the cc list online, listed as the manager for the Asia division of one particular company. All the other email addresses appeared to belong to legitimate people as well. If this was spam, it was the weirdest spam I?d ever seen in my life. I told Richard that even if this resulted in some kind of virus, I was okay with that because it was the most impressive bit of spam I've ever received.

I sent off a polite email to the entire group, noting that it while it was lovely that they would all be in Perth, since I had no idea who they were or what they were talking about, I had a feeling a mistake had been made. Over dinner, Richard and I bounced ideas back and forth, trying to figure how, exactly, this could have happened, and I have been racking my brain trying to put faces to any of the names on the list, especially the one who initially cc'd me in the first place. My name (maiden and married) is not uncommon by any stretch of the imagination. Occasional searches for myself have returned long lists of other me's, so I do not doubt that the messages were meant to go to another Jennifer somewhere out there. I can only assume that somewhere out there, another Jennifer is probably getting really miffed about the fact that she has no idea when these people intend to be in Perth, and what they intend to do with their PSDM contracts. But what still has me going nuts with curiosity is how I ended up in the thread in the first place. One of these people somehow had my email address in their address book, but why? And what stinks is that I may never know.

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