Specifically, it was a phoenix mail about a PLDI06 paper. PLDI is in Ottawa. The sender was David Koes, from northern NY. The only other sender in the thread was myself. The only address not the phoenix mailinglist was Mihai Budiu, who is at MSR: Silicon Valley.
The ads were clustered around "Cheap Flights to Romania".
A member of the group, and Mihai (who used to be) are both Romanian. As far as I can tell, that's the only link between the message and the ad.
That's a little creepy. Do people who get messages from me on gmail get tips on vacations in Norwich, Vermont? Boston? From non-CMU addresses: Pittsburgh?