2007.04.25 Tracking them down

Written by David Green.


Junk mail seems so blasé, so yesterday, so 1998. Nowadays, it’s junk telephone calls and it’s threatening the well-being of our phones.

I just can’t hang up the phone the same way when it’s one of the robo-calls offering cut-rate health insurance or a trip to the Bahamas.

Kim in the front office said one day last week that it seemed most every call she was answering was a junk call.

I occasionally get the interesting sales call, such as the company from India that wants to print the Observer every week (But do I have to go pick it up?).

And though junk mail is somewhat of the past, I have to admit, I still get some interesting stuff now and then.

A few weeks ago a card came in the mail offering the Millennium Plus GPS system used to track down an employee named Bob.

See Bob (Bob says he’s stuck in traffic and can’t make his appointment). See Bob slack (with a map of his location). Fire Bob.

The graphic shows Bob wearing a diving mask. The map shows the location of Bob’s car, parked near the beach. Bob missed his appointment and cost the company $1,100.

For only 600 bucks, I could attach a stealth tracking device to Bob’s vehicle. But since I don’t know Bob, I could hide it on Jeff Pickell’s Saturn and when that bum says he’s off to Fayette to chase down some news, I can sit at my computer and watch his every move.

He’s parked on Main Street in Fayette, probably to drop off a few newspapers at  Beaverson’s realty office. Maybe he’ll pop into the village office to say hello.

And now the car is moving again. He’s heading south and west. He’s at Harrison Lake State Park. I’ll bet he’s wearing a diving mask. Not that you can actually see through the water, but I’m on to Pickell. He probably just lost this company $1,100 like the advertisement says.

And now it really gets fun. I can program his car so the doors will automatically stay locked. And then I can wait a while and unlock them, but then disable his starter.

Look at the net result here. I can waste the morning by watching him waste the morning.

I wonder how small this device is. It reminds me of the old computer-chip-in-the-buttock story. Some people claim to have a chip implanted and the government is watching their every move. Or aliens are watching. Or maybe it’s just their boss.

The Millennium Plus—about as thick as a D  size battery—looks like it might be a little uncomfortable to sit on, but if you want to work for me, you gotta put up with a little discomfort now and then.

This reminds me of the junk e-mail I received last week about the StealthSwitch for employees to use at work. This is where Jeff gets his revenge. Install this device on your computer and a simple shifting of feet will cover up the game you were playing or the instant message window and bring the story you were supposed to be writing back into view on your computer screen.

Now I’m not saying that anyone in my office seems to make quick keyboard commands when I walk nearby, as the StealthSwitch people write about, but why risk looking a little jumpy when this thing can be controlled by a foot, out of sight.

I thought this device was surely a joke, but I found enough references to convince me otherwise. The Desktop Cloaking Device is available for less than 30 bucks.

The company’s ad shows how to switch from card game to spreadsheet with a simple click of the foot.

I’m going to be watching your feet, Mr. Pickell.

The strangest junk mail in a long time arrived just last week. I received an offer to buy the Wireless Moose Fence, a patented moose training system.

Strange because of the likelihood that someone in southern Michigan might have the need for a moose fence. Stranger yet because the company is based in Indiana, where Hoosiers, not moose, roam free.

I should buy a set, replace the moose scent with Diet Vernors and place them out at Harrison Lake. Jeff Pickell will come around, sniff it out, get shocked on his snout and head back home to Morenci—tail tucked behind him, down around the Millennium Plus he now has implanted.

    – April 25, 2007 
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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