Columns

2012.06.13 Those folks at Google give me a reality check

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

Sometimes I get tired of hearing people talk about “Googling” themselves or another person. Whenever I try to spy on myself, I usually end up with a bunch of references to previous columns. Other people with my name, however, seem to be rather interesting.

Once I got past all the mentions of my namesake in Pennsylvania with the photography business, others with better stories began popping up. Like, for instance, Captain Rich Foley of the Nashville police.

Captain Foley was trying to track down an interesting thief. The suspect had stolen a tour bus owned by country singer Crystal Gayle, then drove it to a Florida racetrack, where he told track personnel he was supposed to pick up NASCAR star Tony Stewart.

 When his scruffy appearance caused suspicions, “He stated he was leaving the racetrack to go to McDonald’s to get a hamburger, and he has yet to be seen,” Captain Foley said. 

The suspect, who had a history of truck and heavy equipment thefts, was being moved from Texas to Georgia when he escaped from a prisoner transport van in South Carolina. He stole a pickup, then a Wal-Mart tractor-trailer filled with merchandise, then Ms. Gayle’s tour bus.

Captain Foley was still hot on the trail of the bus at the time the article was written. At least Tony Stewart was safe.

My next namesake turned out to be on the other side of the law, maybe in more ways than one. I found this article under the title, “Rich Foley’s DeSoto.”

After American troops began searching Sadaam Hussein’s properties in Baghdad during the Iraq war, an odd discovery was made in one of his garages. A dusty old Oregon license plate turned up, thousands of miles from home.

An extensive search through ancient written records revealed the plate had been attached to a 1960 DeSoto owned by Mr. Foley, but the registration expired in December of 1983.

 Foley had informed the Oregon DMV in 1987 that he had sold the car prior to 1985. Other research showed Foley’s driver’s license expired in 1997.

A Portland radio personality found Rick Foley, Rich’s son, who said his father was serving time in a Minnesota prison. If anyone really wanted to know how his old DeSoto’s license plate made it to Iraq, long after the registration expired, a road trip to Duluth was probably the next step. I’ll leave that to someone else.

I found another weird reference to Rich Foley that actually was about me, but was worded in such a way I almost didn’t recognize myself. A website named sportallworld.com rewrote an article from a nearby daily regarding the Michigan Press Association’s 2011 Better Newspaper Contest. It used English words, but arranged to seem like a foreign language.

For instance, it said that “Rich Foley won initial place in sports mainstay essay.” Back here on Earth, that means I won first place in sports column writing.

It also said, in plain English, that I won third place in the local columnist category. Others in the story won third-place “endowments.” That’s not fair. Where’s my endowment?

One lucky writer won a “third-place endowment in headlines craving stating.” Bet you’d never guess they really meant “news enterprise reporting.” It’s a good thing I had the original article to refer to, otherwise I’d still be scratching my head.

And if I needed a reminder to keep me humble, there was the appraisal of my Twitter account. I didn’t realize that there were companies out there putting prices on the worth of individual accounts, but my Google search helped reduce the size of what little ego I had left.

I admit that I don’t do much on Twitter. I basically signed up for an account just to reserve my name before someone else grabbed it. I don’t have many “followers”, and none are personal friends. But one of the few is a bit of a celebrity, or at least related to one.

Chrissy Pistone is the daughter of old-time race driver “Tiger Tom” Pistone, who won two NASCAR Cup races and finished sixth in season points way back in 1959. At age 83, Tom still owns a race car and parts business. How Chrissy ever discovered my “tweets” is a mystery to me.

Even with the Pistone connection, the appraisal firm has established the retail market value of my Twitter account at a whopping $11.33. No matter how you look at it, that’s not much of an endowment. I’d better get back to work.

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