04 February 2009

I'm back

It's been some time since I've maintained my lil' blog here. I'm still an occasional participant in the Google Earth Community Forum, but there hasn't been much to say about the Huangyangtan thing.

I do see that there has been a tremendous surge in the number of times the forum post has been read; it's way over 300,000 now. I'm not sure where it's coming from. It might be due to groups that have somehow added a UFO angle to the site.

One forum and Found in China reader has asked why the link here (and in the Wikipedia article on Aksai Chin) now leads to some unrelated post in the GE forum. That must have been caused by the recent revamp of the forum; all past posts now have a different reference number associated with them. It appears the forum managers haven't succeeded in redirecting outside references to the proper post. I'll fix it here as soon as I can, but I'm not an editor in Wikipedia, so somebody else will need to take care of that one. Thanks for the heads-up, Gazavat.

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19 August 2007

Like the last few posts, I'm just checking in to make sure my password still works; no developments on the Huangyangtan thing, other than the fact that it has moved into the 3rd-most read post in the Military forum.

For the thousands of people who read this post, I might mention that I landed a job a few months ago and am now working in the Czech Republic. Goodbye, Noisy Family!

19 March 2007

Huangyangtan - Nuthin happening

No, don't get up. There's nothing new to report about the Huangyangtan site. I merely need to log in to Blogger.com once in a while, make sure my blog is still here.

I suppose there's one update on things: the Google Earth forum has been reorganized and my HYT post is now in the "Earth Moderated" forum. I guess that's where some of the more discussable posts are to be found.


What else is new at the KenGrok household? I'm looking for a job in the Czech Republic. You might remember Wife comes from there. She's not real keen on Germany. Since we'll probably have to relocate for whatever job I take, it might as well be to her home country. Daughter is still nuts about horses. That's about all. Later!

13 December 2006

Huangyangtan in neutral

No, no, don't get up from your chair; there's nothing new to report on Huangyangtan. I simply felt I had a moral obligation to humanity to update this blog (and to make sure my password still works). Plus my mom said I would otherwise not get any allowance this week.

For the record, the Google Earth forum post has gone past 120,000 reads. And, since the last time I reported in, a couple of slow-poke blogs have reported on HYT. That's all, folks.


Before I ran across the Huangyangtan landscape replica I spotted a cemetery in western China that was somehow intriguing. I placemarked it with the idea of coming back to it later for a closer look. I recently completed a review of cemeteries in the whole region, comparing about 200 against this one outside of Karamay. Along with putting together a bit of background information about graves in that part of the world I collected some interesting pictures from Google Earth and have posted them at http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/716338 for your viewing picture.

15 November 2006

Huangyangtan update - OK, you can go back to sleep

Nothing to report, really. No new blog coverage or media reports on the HYT site. People continue to visit the Googe Earth forum post, now read about 111,500 times. But that's all that's going on. I felt I should update the Found in China blog just so that worried readers know the world is still in order.


Hamster update: no, Bumble turned out not to be pregnant but instead filled with walnut halves. She's OK now.

23 October 2006

Hamster attack

You might recall that immediately after we had arrived home from buying her at the pet store we found that Bumble, Daughter's hamster, was accompanied by a number of unwanted guests: blood-sucking mites. Now it appears that she brought along another set of unexpected guests. She's pregnant! Daughter and I looked up various hamster sites (like YouHamster, iHamster, MyHamsterSpace, etc.) to see what we'd need to know. First of all it appears that the number of hamsterettes per litter is going to run upward of 40 or so. So we're looking for a new apartment with a couple of additional bedrooms. And "a very young mother hamster, typically one that was born in a pet store and became pregnant there before being sold, has a tendency to destroy its young". Note that "destroy" is a less unpleasant way to say that the kids might get eaten. Daughter does not like this scenario at all.


Huangyangtan? Not much new. About 4,000 people have read the post over in the Google Earth forum since it hit the 100,000 mark a week ago. But there have been no actual developments in discovering what the facility is for.

16 October 2006

Huangyangtan hits 100,000

It's a slow day HYT-wise, but one noteable thing happened: the Google Earth forum post about the Huangyangtan site was read for the 100,000th time. At that rate [Editor's note: KenGrok just left to get his calculator] it will hit the 200.000 mark in March 2008, though it's hard to say whether the world will still be around at that time, what with all the possible dangers lurking about Huangyangtan.

14 October 2006

Huangyangtan - Bipolar disorder

A week ago 2,000 people a day were looking up the Google Earth forum post. Now it's more like 200. I never did determine the reason for the surge in interest. My mom wrote me an email and reported that, besides being busy processing apples from the neighbor's trees, she is still a faithful reader of this blog. Now clarifies the matter of who the person is that results in my blog not being read by zero readers per day.


Wife gave me some time the other day to look around in Google Earth. I'm browsing around Beijing at the moment. There are a number of things outside of the city that hadn't yet been commented on in the forums. That surprizes me, because I thought that Beijing would be one the most heavily explored areas. Perhaps a bunch of new high-res photos have been added and people are just now getting around to checking them out. In any case, if you want have a look at these things that are kind of interesting:

Giant (70 meters wide) crab in a frozen lake:

A colorful 125-meter wide map of China set in a park:

Some facility with 23 large dish antennae:

Giant hairs clogging the Moselle River (not near Beijing):

07 October 2006

Huangyangtan in our hearts and in our minds

Oh, yeah, the surge of activity at the Google Earth forum has continued. About 2,000 people a day are reading the Huangyangtan post. Let me check [KenGrok opens another browser window, goes to the forum]. Yup, it has been read 93,594 times. I think it's mostly people in the U.S. who are looking into this. You can figure that out by clicking on "Who's Online" at the top of the forum page. Right now, for example, only two anonymous readers are looking at the post. All through the week that number would increase to 20 or 30 during the afternoon and into the late evening (Germany time). That would be the morning and afternoon in the U.S., when people are getting into their office and hopping onto the internet for a few hours of "work".

A smaller set of those people ended up visiting Found in China; about 700 people have stopped by during the past 3 days. And, as indicated earlier, one of them actually donated to The Cause! Wow.

Beetles vs The Hamster vs the Loud Family

Faithful Found in China readers have asked me what's the latest on the animal life within the KenGrok family. So I asked Daughter and her friend. Seems they were so excited about The Hamster that they forgot to feed the beetles, which were in a container on the friend's balcony. They walked next door and looked in on Edelstein and Blümchen. If anybody can use two dried-out dung beetles, just post a comment here.

El Hamster is doing fine. It seems to have quickly become hand-tame and enjoys the attention of Daughter. I had to reengineer its excercise wheel so that it would be less noisy during the night. I searched the internet for an answer as to why hamsters like their wheel so much. Seems there's no certain explanation. One theory is that as a nocturnal animal, they are used to covering up to 8 km / 5 miles a night in search of food. Even with food right there in the cage, they still feel the need to take care of the running part. Or they think they're getting away from the Big Humans, totally suprized each time they stop running that the big guys are still there.

The Loud Family? No, haven't mentioned them for a while. They haven't been such a problem the past month or so. Partly because of poor weather preventing the two children from brawling outside. But it appears that they have simply spent less time in their backyard than last year. We and our neighbors think that the backyard has been handed over to the Doberman, with the children controlling the front yard. We still hear the same conversations going on, they're simply not coming directly into our apartments.

Gotta tighten up security around here

Oh, obviously I've wrested control of this blog back from the Chinese Army. Don't you just hate it when a foreign military organisation drops posts into your blog? Thus I'm announcing another immensely popular Found in China Reader Contest: send me your suggestion for a new password! It can't be too short, like "lame" nor too long like "Ken, this is Wife. I thought I told you to get a job". I will mail the winner a set of the advertising inserts that get thrown into our mailbox. Be the first on your block to know much sour cream costs in Germany or how much a womens fleece sweatshirt is going for.

Incredibly stupid Huangyangtan video lives again

That extremely low-quality, poorly-conceived, information-poor, smelling-of-mildew video that I threw together for fun at the beginning of the Huangyangtan Thing has been getting a lot of views during the past week. But I can't figure out why. For a long time about 25 - 30 people a day had been looking at it, so few that it wasn't worth tracking. Last I saw about 17,100 people had looked at it. Now that number is going up daily by around 500 (as of right now it stands at 20,674). Perhaps a bored world has finished watching YouTube's other 473,600,792 videos and this was the last one left. So again, I have to ask Found in China readers, in particular new ones, if you know of any reason for the increase.

Second hope for Found in China!

A big shout out to my homeyz in Culver City, CA, in particular to a certain M. Thompson who joined the incredibly long list of Found in China financial supporters. I hope he doesn't mind if I quote from the message in his PayPal contribution (made just for the heck of it, not as part of an order for drugs): "Buy Wife a long-stemmed rose. Yes, flowers are a frivolous waste of money. But wives love them. Go figure." Yes, I agree that we will probably sooner figure out the mystery of Huangyangtan before understanding wives fully. But thank you again, Mr. MC Thompson.

05 October 2006





03 October 2006

Interest back - Milk attack - Crack

In line with the fact that this blog is supposed to follow developments relating to the Huangyangtan mystery site, I'm reporting that the number of people reading the Google Earth forum entry has gone up quite a bit. In the past week about 7,000 people have read it, much higher than the normal level of interest over the past few weeks. I don't know, however, why this is so. Searching Technorati and Google for new news or reports on the matter has turned up nothing. Thus, if you're new to Found in China, please leave a comment and let me know how you got here.


Only indirectly related to the landscape in Huangyangtan is a recent attack on the keyboard of Wife's notebook, where I have a few minutes each day during breakfast to monitor things. Somebody, likely myself since I'm the only one up at this time, tipped a mug of müsli (granola), splashing a bit of milk onto the corner of the keyboard. Instantly the keyboard went crazy and became mostly unusable. I turned the laptop off, cleaned up a bit, but it didn't help. So I removed the keyboard completely, washed it off and blow-dried it. That helped, but it wasn't until the evening that the last drops of water had evaporated. Everything's back to normal now. To see what my options were I checked out replacement keyboards. On Ebay German ones were going for around 45 - 60 EUR. Ouch. I called the authorized service partner of Fujitsu-Siemens here in Germany and asked about a replacement, in particular whether it is possible to get a Czech keyboard (the German one in front of me has stickers on it to show the Czech layout). The friendly rep said she'd email me the availability; she couldn't find a Czech model in her price list. That was three days ago. I just got the answer now. If any of you readers are looking for a Czech keyboard for an Amilo V2010, I can tell you they're a relative bargain at around 35 EUR.


I can always rely on Found in China readers for helpful suggestions (if not for donations). I've been trying to come up with a business model for this blog that will bring in enough income to convince Wife to give me more time with Google Earth. Now I have it (thanks to an idea by "Anonymous"): sell drugs! I don't have a lot of experience with this, but I have always read about the high profit margins, so I should win no matter how I sell this stuff.

Found in China
Big drugs sale!
Stock up and save
Smack - 5 EUR / doz
Crack - 6 EUR / case
Whack - 12.50 EUR / barrel
Weed - 7 EUR / bushel
Speed - 9.50 / 16 kg family-sized package
Meth - 5.00 EUR / 5 "hits"
Crystal Meth - 5.50 EUR / 5 "hits"
Sugarless Crystal Meth - 5.50 EUR / 5 "hits"
Bacon & Cheese Crystal Meth - 8.00 EUR / 5 "hits"
Cocaine, Heroin, LSD - 20.00 EUR for 1 jumbo grab bag

Make PayPal payments to, as always, FeedMyGEHabit@yahoo.com

Dear Drug Enforcement Agents of various countries (I'm writing this in pink because drug addicts cannot see the color pink),

Please note that I have no intention of actually selling drugs. I'm going to collect their money but never deliver, thus actually helping to solve the world's drug problem. I'll forward you any names I collect and you can bust them.

29 September 2006

I'm back in charge of Huangyangtan

Those crazy hackers from the Chinese Army didn't actually change my password, so I got back in. To be safe I have added one digit to the end of my old password; that should make it 10 times more difficult to crack!

Looks like a couple of other Google Earth news events is bringing a few people to the Huangyangtan thing. First there was a fuzzy photo of someone in the Netherlands while she was sunning topless in her yard / on her roof. Then someone spotted an insect that got stuck in the photo scanner and makes it look like a 50-meter long earwig is terrorizing Germany. That last find ("Alien Bug", pretty good, by the way) has brought the Google Earth forum servers to their knees. Thousands of people have been looking at that one.

28 September 2006





22 September 2006

Huangyangtan - A failed business model

Yesterday marked the 2-month anniversary of Found in China. We and our readers have shared good times and bad, laughs and tears, perhaps a used tissue (sorry about that; it looked clean). Here's a status report:

Things are rrrrrreal slow.

About 175 people a day read the Google Earth forum post. They're probably late-comers, people who for some reason just ran across the subject in some blog somewhere. About 75 people a day stop in here at Found in China, and I know that one of them is my mom who only does it out of charity probably, leaving only 74 serious visitors.

These numbers will probably head down bit by bit over the next while as Huangyangtan fades from the collective hearts and minds of the world. I'll continue to monitor things, but probably won't be posting as frequently.

That's a result of a few things. You might recall that I'm looking for work, so I really shouldn't be spending much time with Google Earth. Wife sees to it that I don't, and so I usually check up on matters only briefly during my early-morning breakfast. The Found in China blog hasn't proved to be an adequate economic replacement for paid employment. The PayPal donations never rolled in (but no surprise here, really), wasn't taken seriously by drunk readers who sympathized with me (perhaps my readers are not as drunk as I presumed). The income from a few clicks on ads hasn't even paid for the electricity used by my PC. And there haven't been any other unforeseen developments; no job offers by intelligence agencies, no trips to China sponsored by travel agencies in exchange for publicity or an exclusive report, no book offers.

But it has been fun, and I'm not the kind of person to give up in the rabid face of adversity. Nope, Found in China is still alive and kickin'. At least during breakfast. Now I need to find work.

Hamster invaded - Close but not close enough

I know everyone is on the edge of their seats waiting for more hamster-oriented news, so here you go:

Wife took Daughter to the pet store yesterday, where former had seen a cute white hamster. They got it, brought it home, and after about one hour they noticed that it was the host to numerous tiny red insects, blood-red to be exact. The internet informed us that Lil' Sweetie-Pie had mites. Thus it was off to the vet, the shortest time we've had a new pet before having to take it in for something. Schnückelchen got sprayed and was banished to our balcony overnight. Things seem to be OK now. Yup, that's exactly what we were warned would happen. My new motto is "Get your hamsters only from breeders certified by the International Hamster Association".


Just the other day someone at the Google Earth forum wrote in a post that he had recently been in the vicinity of the Huangyangtan facility, unfortunately before knowing it was there. I got in touch with him and we spoke for a bit. There's not much that can help to solve the exact function of the terrain. But perhaps he'll add some more comments about his experience there.

21 September 2006

Imminent hamster invasion - News from Scotland

The KenGrok family will soon have a new arrival; Daughter wants to get a hamster by this weekend. She and Wife might do this on the way home from school today. Various hamster sites all recommend getting your new hamster only from a breeder, but I have gone blind from hours spent checking the internet for a hamsterist in our area. Looks like we'll just get one from the nearest pet store. Hope it doesn't turn out to be a sickly, asocial anarchist hamster that nobody else wanted.


The Herald, I guess the main paper in Scotland, published a lengthy article about Google Earth. It contains only one paragraph about the Huangyangtan mystery. Have a look, if you'd like: http://www.theherald.co.uk/features/70354.html. I have also added it to the first-timers guide a few posts down from here.

19 September 2006

Stonehenge goes Huangyangtan

Boy, howdy! We here at the Found in China Central Command Center are absolutely flabbergasted at what has been turning up in Google Earth the past couple of days. Everybody, of course, knows of the increase in Chinese "tourists" throughout the West. Seems, though, that they perhaps have a secret mission.

The Chinese have taken over Stonehenge

Bigger picture here:

Yes, they have moved in on Stonehenge, one of the U.K.'s most important cultural sites (the birthplace of rugby, as far as I understand).

When will the madness stop?!

18 September 2006

And another replica!

On the other side of the country, near the Golden Gate Bridge, I have spotted a replica of the Huangyangtan facility being towed out to sea. Amazing! Of course, the photo in Google Earth is old, so this terrain is long gone already.

Golden Gate Bridge mystery

The full-size version can be found here:

Google Earth is amazing

The Huangyangtan mystery gets even more perplexing. I decided that I had been spending too much time trawling China for interesting things, so I decided to check out some non-China parts of the world. Browsing around New York, I found that the most recent photos of Central Park revealed something that caused my eyeballs to pop out and roll around on the keyboard. After retrieving them, I decided to post this and let you see for yourself: a replica of the replica. Yes, right there in the middle of the Big Apple is another scale model of Aksai Chin!

Another scale model landscape, this one in Central Park!

The full-size version is here:

If you happen to live in New York City, please walk out to the south end of the park and let me know how the landscape looks in person. Wow!

17 September 2006

Daughter wants to have a word

You might recall that Daughter started her own blog after seeing the millions of visits I was getting each day here at Found in China. She has had ponyitis for a while now and dreams of getting her own horse someday. Building upon my own business model, Daughter invites her blog visitors to donate large sums of cash to sponsor an otherwise unknown 11-year old Czech-American girl living in Germany, one of millions I suppose, in achieving her goal.

We just finished reviewing our AdSense reports, which I use mostly to show her how many people have read the blog. 45 reads since 31 August. Hmm, not a lot, she realizes. A number of those are from her grandfather and two of her uncles, so total strangers are a bit rare there. She has asked Found in China for some shameless advertising.

So, faithful readers, between reading Found in China and wandering off to take out the trash or something, take a minute to see what Daughter has to say about the world and about horses (no difference, really): http://nataliespony.blogspot.com/

Beetle mortality - Return to normalcy - Google Search goes wild

Inquisitive Found in China readers, all four or five of them (Hi, Mom!) have been asking, "Yeah, yeah, thanks for all the links relating to the Huangyangtan facility. But what we wants to know is: how are the beetles doing that Daughter and her friend found last week?"

Ah, yes. The beetles. You might recall that the KenGroks (not really our last name) went toadstool collecting last week, and Daughter and friend used the time to catch dung beetles. They were brought to our home, given a dung-beetle friendly environment to hang out in and have been part of the childrens' daily routine since then. Ida and Edelstein have been doing well, but sadly enough Blümchen went on yesterday to the Big Manure Pile in the sky. She hadn't been doing well for the past few days, moving about rather sluggishly (probably quite embarassing for Blümchen, behaving like a slug) and not participating in swimming hour which the girls conducted each day in a Tupperware container.

Still, the other two beetles appear to be doing well. They rotate between the two apartments, thus teaching the girls important lessons relating to sharing, responsibility, empathy and beetle care. Daughter's friend has a guinea pig, which provides these pets with a bountiful supply of tasty dung beetle food in pellet form. READER POLL: do you think guinea pig doodoo will be enough or, based on your experience with raising dung beetles, should the girls round up some additional forms of doodoo-based nourishment?


Since that article last Monday about 4,160 visitors have stopped by Found in China; normally I'd see about 50 a day. Since the numbers are leveling off now I should get back to updating this blog; I had stopped with the post previous to this in order to give first-timers a chance to see it and find more links to the HYT news, which Monday's article hadn't given.

Speaking of which, while monitoring the buzz over the past couple of months I've learned that traditional media are less likely to provide links to further information in the web relating to the subject they're reporting on. I can imagine there are a number of reasons for that. From my own experience many times an article or report was interesting enough that I wished it would include a URL to relevant information, especially when the subject related to the internet itself.


When I searched the word Huangyangtan yesterday it told me there were over 70,000 results; today it gives over 42,000. That's triple or double the usual number. Yet as I page through these, I see only the usual 15 or so pages of results; nothing appears to have changed. That's another thing that I've learned, that the number of Google search results tends to vary. As I've mentioned before, after a spike the numbers tend to head back down, as the search database needs time to weed out exact duplicates.

12 September 2006

Info for new readers of Found in China

Looks like an article has appeared in newspapers (at least online) belonging to the McClatchy Newspapers group: http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/15494246.htm. It appears to have resulted in a bunch of new readers (howdy, y'all!) stopping by here at the Found in China blog (our motto: "Serving the internet community since, oh, sometime in July"). The article doesn't actually provide a link to here, so to the approximately 3,530 new (and probably handsome / beautiful as well as highly intelligent) visitors who managed to find this during the past 3 days: congratulations! BONUS POINTS: leave a comment telling everyone how you figured out where this blog is (rather than just citing which paper mentioned it).

BONUS TRIVIA: sometime late Thursday night Found in China was read for the 10,000th time. Congratulations to Mr. Richard Smedley of Dimpled Bottom, PA. Your Found in China t-shirt and garden trowel will be mailed presently.

Now that you're settled in, here are a few points to get you started:

This blog tells a story. It may be sometimes rather boring or silly, but still, you'll need to start with the very first blog posting in order to understand it all. Otherwise you'll be asking yourself "What in the heck do guppies have to do with a highly unusual military facility in the middle of China?" Like most blogs, the first posts are at the bottom, so scroll down a couple of meters / yards from here.

In this post I've also finally gotten around to summarizing the main places where you can get information about the scale model landscape. Well, actually there's little real information in the way of facts. We still don't know what function the facility has.

My original post in the Google Earth forum:

An article at The Register (U.K.), apparently the first place to report on this:

Articles at the Sydney Morning Herald, which has been following this:

Analysis at ABC News:

A reference at the Huffington Post

Analysis at the Indian Express:

A light article at The San Francisco Gate:

Comments at Digg:

Musings about Google Earth:

Added 21 Sept:
In The Herald (Scotland), a general article about Google Earth, with a brief mention of the Huangyangtan mystery:

Hope this helps!

Your humble servant,
-- KenGrok

Guppies vs. Hamster - Not dead yet - Renewed interest

With the world's focus focused on the grippingly compelling saga of Huangyangtan, faithful Found in China readers have reminded me: what's the latest with Daughter's fish?

Determined to give a second set of guppies half a chance to survive more than a few weeks, Daughter decided to get a real, albeit small aquarium, with filter, heating, etc. You'll recall that when she saw, however, how much her 50% share would cost her, she realized that this would hinder her in her Quest for a Pony. Since then her fish-oriented emotions have cooled off a fair amount. But, as always since the untimely passing away of our beloved cat Pudlenka, she'd still like a animal-based companion (no, Mom, no sisters are on the way). So it looks like we're going with a hamster. Wife and I feel pretty good about this decision, it will probably work out better than the guppies would have.


By the way, this post is not being written by a RoboBlogger Model 3000. I'm still alive despite having consumed bits of more than 10 species of deadly, murderous mushrooms (cooked with eggs, served on bread). Wife too.


There must have been a mention about the Aksai Chin replica at some minor site somewhere. The HYT-Buzzometer has registered a flutter of increase in interest.

11 September 2006


Ancient, mystical folk medicine of olden lore has it that small amounts of poison can actually be beneficial for the body, giving its immune system a swift kick in the proverbial rear end. This appears to have happened with Wife. The mushroom lunch seems to have given her renewed vigor and, apparently cured of the Plague or whatever it was, announced that we were to head out for more (mushrooms that is, not more Plague).

We drove to a different area today, one that showed up on Wife's mushroom radar quite clearly. Daughter brought a friend with her, and the two of them busied themselves finding beetles and giving them names (I suppose you, too, have named your beetles Diamond, Gemstone and Hugo at one point in your life). I took the responsibility of watching over our parked car, making sure the stereo still works, and eating a bar of Milka chocolate (emergency rations in case we got lost while mushroom picking) before it had a chance to go bad. That left Wife to traipse into the forest for 45 - 60 minutes at a time. Pickings were, however, a bit slim. It hasn't rained for a while, thus much of what she found was a bit old and past its prime (even the blackberry and blueberry bushes were pretty much bare). Her basket was only half full after a few forays. I pointed out that there were a number of giant mushrooms next to where we had parked the car, and these were sufficient to fill the basket.

With our Basket of Death complete we headed back home. This time, with about 12 different kinds of mushrooms, Wife wasn't 100% sure whether all were edible. Her motto is "Not a mushroom left behind", so she sorts them out at home. Eventually she handed three kinds to me and told me to find them on the web. I clarified only one; there is no central, definitive, easy-to-use site on the internet for identifying types. But while at Wikipedia I did run across an explanation about the Slavic mania for mushrooms, which I think will help me understand my own wife better. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mushroom_picking_in_Slavic_culture


The Huangyangtan thing is sleeping at this point. Will it wake up someday, will we ever learn what the site's function is? About 150 people per day read the forum post, and no new news or blog entries about it are showing up.

10 September 2006

Certain death - Spy kites - Double points - Why Turkey?

Dear Readers 1 & 2, Lisa E, Lilly, and Mom,

Thank you for your loyalty and dedication. This may very well be my last post. Read on to learn why.

Last evening Wife arose from bed, where she has been recovering from Bird Flu or whatever, to announce that we would go mushroom picking. We left Daughter to replay Ace Ventura: Animal Detective for the 43rd time this week and headed through the nearby vineyard up to a hilltop lined with stands of pine. There Wife found two types of mushrooms which she immediately deemed not only edible but also unusually tasty. I, with my keen untrained eye, determined them to be of the genus Fungus Toxicdeathus and Moldus Whowouldeatthis. They are to become our lunch tomorrow. Mom, if I don't post again for, say one week, you'll find my will in our desk, second drawer from the bottom. Daughter will let you in; she'll probably be watching Ace Ventura for the 87th time.


While at the top of the hill we watched an extremely large, motionless bird sail high above our heads. Without a flap of its wings it maintained its altitude for about one kilometer before slowly floating down to the far end of the fields next to our apartment building. It was at this point we figured out that it was in fact an escaped kite. I was about to point out that it could be a Chinese spy kite keeping track of our movements, but wisely shut up because Wife doesn't want to hear anything relating to Huangyangtan or Google Earth. But I did comment that if a kite could float by itself that far in very little wind, that's the kind of kite we should get for Daughter; all previous ones we had picked were allergic to flight or genetically predisposed to hugging the ground. Wife agreed, and we determined to go recover the kite, though only after she had gathered enough Toadstools of Death.

On our way back we were dismayed to see that off in the distance some child was running off with the kite. How likely was it that someone else had spotted the falling kite in the waning dusk? The child was headed in the direction of where we would come out of the vineyard, and sure enough when we got there, there he was, with his father waiting by a car. It turns out that the two of them had been tracking the kite since it got away from them in a village a couple of kilometers away. When asked whether it an exotic professional kite, they replied that, no, Aldi had been selling them this week, for 4 euros. Aldi usually runs out of its weekly special offers, so we'll see whether they have any left tomorrow.


I just searched Google for Huangyangtan, which gave me 50,200 results. Crikey! That's double the number from a couple of days ago. Looking through the results I see nothing different. I'll give Google a few days to fix the numbers.


On a whim did a search for the first time on the word KenGrok. The interesting thing to note is disproportionally high number of blogs in Turkey that have discussed HYT. With my Turkish being a bit rusty I can't say what there might be of special interest to Turks.

08 September 2006

Mark Twain - Dolphins - Sick mushrooms - HYT discussions

As you might recall voters who participated in my impromptu Reader Poll on the day before we left for vacation chose "Roughing It" as the book I should bring with me. It turned out to be a good choice. I have to say that I have liked all of Twain's non-fiction (well, for him non-fiction is a strict definition) that I've come across. He wrote about the American West during the Nevada silver rush days. It was interesting to hear his description of towns that are now large cities, and of his travels into wilderness areas that are now still wilderness, some of which I too have visited, though by car. It's amazing to think that he did the latter on horseback, taking what supplies he could.


The cause for the reader poll was, of course, the 16-foot inflatable dolphin which Wife inserted into my suitcase as filler before I had finished packing. Some anxious readers want to know whether it served only to protect my clothes and such from damage during the flight. In fact, it did get taken to the beach one day, toward the end of our stay. It had to be inflated first (with a pump that had helped to keep the dolphin from shifting around in my suitcase). Then Daughter felt it was unfair that she alone would bear the burden of trying to wrangle this light but cumbersome object through the streets. So Wife (or Mommy from this perspective) agreed to carry it with her side-by-side. The total span of the transport (Wife, left fin, dolphin body, right fin, Daughter) roughly matched the width of the sidewalks, however, which led to both individuals bumping repeatedly into parked cars and lightposts, and resulting in a stream of bickering between the two on our way to the beach. Thus Dolphin was no friend of Daughter by the time we got to the water and was promptly left to itself upon arrival. As always, it was my job to secure Dolphin from being blown away by the strong winds. After a couple of hours the two made up and Dolphin was actually taken into the water, the first time since a summer trip to Concarneau, Brittania a number of summers ago.


Wife appears to have come down with tonsillitis and has had to postpone her mushroom picking. Though thinking of that makes her feel even worse, it will certainly motivate her immune system to get things back in order as quickly as possible.


I was going to compile a list of news sources containing analysis of the function of the Huangyangtan facility, but I see I have run out of time and need to wake up Daughter to take her to school. Please forgive me for the delay; I'll try to remedy that this afternoon.

06 September 2006

Music to go with Huangyangtan

Faithful readers have been asking what I'm listening to nowadays while manning the Huangyangtan Buzz Monitor Central (HYTBMC, or "Hight-bumpk") and applying for jobs. Well, here you go:

1) Kylie Minogue - Slow (Chemical Brothers remix)*
2) Dope - Whore (The Big Fat Whore On Dope Remix)**
3) Chopin - Nocturne in B major (Op. 9, no. 2)
4) Afrika Bambaataa - Metal
5) Evil Nine - Bodyrockers: Round And Round (Switch Remix)
6) Muse - Knights Of Cydonia
7) Roni Size - Cheeky Monkey
8) Spank Rock - Touch Me
9) Stupeflip - Stupeflip
10) Sevendust - Black

* I would normally not touch Kylie Minogue with a 10-foot pole even if it were wrapped in plastic for my sanitary protection and I were wearing asbestos-lined gloves dipped in MTBE and PCBs (I would eat the gloves first), but this Chemical Brothers remix makes it worth it
** Not a family-friendly title, but an excellent song


Huangyangtan seems to be in slumber mode. About 350 people read the Google Earth forum post per day, about 50 people stop by here to see what's going on blogwise.

I've finally had enough - Where are you from?

My dedicated readers from earlier on should recall the drama surrounding the Noisy Family. As a special treat, I present today an advance copy of my latest dramatical theatre work, based on true-life events from this afternoon.

A Shortened Afternoon with the Noisy Family
How I Learned to Love Obscenties

[Intro: After an unseasonally cold August the weather is getting hot again, approaching the levels seen in July. The Noisy Family has emerged from the warmth of its domicile and has resumed its sonic presence within the south half of this fair town. We join them after about five minutes]

[Director's note: as always, the concept of this theatre piece requires that the stage curtain of trees remains closed during the performance]

Child 1 or 2: [Loud scream]
Child 1 or 2: [Loud scream]
Child 1 or 2: [Long, loud scream]
Child 1 or 2: [Loud scream]
Child 1 or 2 or possibly the Doberman: [Long, loud scream]
Child 1 or 2: [Long, loud scream]
Child 1 or 2: [Loud scream]
Child 1 or 2: [Something crashing]
Child 1 or 2: [Long, loud scream]
Child 1 or 2: [Long, loud scream]
Child 1 or 2: [Loud crying]
Child 1 or 2: [Loud scream]
Child 1 or 2: "You simple fool!" ("Du Blödmann!")
Child 1 or 2: [Loud scream]
Probably same child as 2 lines above: "You [obscenity inappropriate for a 3 - 5 year old]!" ("Du A________!")
Mother: "Now I've finally had enough! Now I've finally had enough! [More emphatically] Now I've finally had enough! I wish to be able to ..."
Doberman: [Seismic bark]
Mother: "... for at least 3o minutes"

[Characters repeat the above lines while moving back into the house, sound fades away]

Thus peace was returned after only 2 - 3 minutes. The light is changing and it's clear that fall is on its way, we're enjoying the season. Wife wants to go mushroom picking tomorrow with a friend of hers(I won't touch them for fear of my life), but she has come down with a cold and is despondent that all the good ones will be gone by the time she feels well enough to head out into the woods. But I remind her that the Germans here don't really care about them, that it's only the relatively few Czechs who are gathering this natural bounty. Hopefully she'll recover soon enough.


At this point 30 - 60 readers a day are stopping by to read Found In China. If you're visiting for the first time, I'd appreciate you leaving a comment as to where you came from: where did you hear about this blog?

-- KenGrok

04 September 2006

Off to China?

I have often been asked if I have actually been to China. No. Would I like to go there? Before Google Earth I wasn't that interested in it, but now that I'd really like to see the central and western parts of that country. Hmm, but those are the parts that are less accessible. And I don't think a travel agency is going to sponsor a "KenGrok Goes to China" trip anytime soon.

What countries have I been in? In chronological order they would be:

East Germany / GDR*
Sri Lanka
Vatican City
Czech Republic
Bosnia Herzegovina
San Marino

Thus I have seen a fair amount of Europe, little of the rest of the world. I need to fix that.

* I count East Germany because countries are not just geographical areas but political entities as well. I was in the GDR for a while in 1989 before all the events which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. A friend of mine at the American representation in East Berlin got me a semi-diplomatic entry visa that allowed me through Checkpoint Charlie without the customary inspections or the requirement to exchange German marks daily for worthless East German money.


I see that on 15 August someone added the HYT affair to the Wikipedia article on Aksai Chin.

01 September 2006

Die Welt - Link to Found In China

I mentioned yesterday that I'd look into Technorati's report that Die Welt in Germany had linked to this blog. It looks like it means only that a link to here was mentioned in their blog. No permanent function directing people here.


Someone asked if we had trouble waking up to multiple alarms at 2:30 a.m. the morning we left for our vacation. No, and we left only 10 minutes later than planned. It helps that there are no speed limits here in Germany: driving 170 kmh / 105 mph cancelled out our late start. Things went smoothly at the airport and we arrived at Gran Canaria without any problems. More later


We didn't get RGs yesterday. We went to the pet store but came away with more things to consider. Looks like we're going to go with a real aquarium (a small one), rather than see how long a fish will survive in a bowl. We informed Daughter that she'll need to pay for half of the cost. That let to a half-hour crying session, because, as you might recalls, she wants to save her money for that pony. In the end she decided to raise the money by selling her old toys and books at this weekend's flea market.

31 August 2006

Huangyangtan - I'm being followed

Wife, Daughter and I had a wonderful time on Gran Canaria. We spent as much time as possible at the beach. One thing I found rather odd was one particular group of tourists, seemingly the only ones from China. A group of four men, they never got in the water, were always dressed in long-sleeved blue shirts. They always seemed to pick a spot on the beach close to us. Well, says I, nevermind, let them enjoy the wind and water their own way.

Now I suspect that maybe they weren't your run-of-the mill package tourists. While searching the net for HYT news, imagine my surprise today to find this photo of Daughter and the sandcastle we built, courtesy of Xinhua, the Chinese press agency!!!:


Yes, I was totally flabbergasted, as you might very well guess. But Daughter is glad to see a picture of herself. Xinhua: did you get any shots of her in the waves? If so, please forward them to us at FeedMyGEHabit@yahoo.com so that I don't have to spend so much time looking for them in the Web.


Dear Readers 1 & 2, Lilly and possibly Lisa E., if I didn't scare her away,

Please note that Found In China is made possible by donations from readers like yourself. To be more specific, I think a cease and desist order is coming my way (compliments of Wife) if the time I spend with the Huangyangtan thing doesn't start to pay for that RAM upgrade. Don't forget your charitable why-not PayPal donations to FeedMyGEHabit@yahoo.com.

OK, enough for the fundraising. I still need to finish a couple of job applications today.

Abduction, lunch, murder or suicide?

We're back in Germany now. The first thing Daughter did when she walked into our apartment was to check on the Guppies. She found their habitat had moved into the kitchen. The Guppies are not to be found. That leads us to consider the following very logical possibilities.

1) They have been abducted by the Chinese.
2) The neighbor lady who was supposed to be taking care of them fried them for lunch
3) They were murdered by her or by the Chinese
4) They committed suicide because of discontent with the new scenery

It's early morning, we haven't yet spoken to our neighbor about the matter (nor do we know if she is still alive, perhaps herself a victim of a foul guppy crime).

In any case, I think we'll be heading off later today to the pet store for a couple of RGs (Replacement Guppies).


Checking up on HYT stuff, I see that things are pretty quiet. Technorati reports that a major newspaper here in Germany (Die Zeit) has linked into this blog, I need to see exactly what that means (Ja, hallo an Euch von Der Zeit, ich halt ein Auge auf Euch, bloss kein Unfug). An email from the Beijing correspondent of a different newspaper company says he'd like to speak with me.

More updates later as I catch up on things.

27 August 2006

Huangyangtan - Please watch your step

OK, I´m back in this internet cafe. Actually it´s a videoarcade with PC´s next to a billiard table and dozens of video games, but at 1 EUR for 20 minutes it´s the cheapest in town. It has only the disadvantage that every mouse click seems to be accompanied by various bells and alarms going off around me in 7.1 Dolby. An online security check via Symantec.com shows there´s no apparent firewall in this system, so I suppose by now my bank account has been emptied by the Russians and my soul is being mass-counterfeited in China somewhere.

It appears the Huangyangtan thing is slowly coming to a close (please watch your step as you exit). Early on one of the forum monitors made the Google Earth forum post a "sticky," thus keeping it at the top or beginning of the Military forum. I guess the idea was to make it easily findable by curious newcomers. A noticed a few days ago that the post has returned to being a normal one, so it´s somewhere further down with all other posts. That seems to have reduced it´s read-rate from about 1100 to 200 a day. That´s interesting to see; I wouldn´t have guessed that a post´s position at the top would attract that many readers. As far as I can judge it´s not common for an individual post to be made a sticky, which is usually reserved for forum-related notices as well as for large, theme-related collections of placemarks.

I'm running out of coins, so I´ll wrap up for now. How are things here on Gran Canaria? Daughter, otherwise rather reserved, is running around with an extremely active and talkative nine-year old German girl she has met in our hotel. When not in the pool they spend a large part of the day loitering in the elevators, waiting to jump out and scare people. They have somehow collected 11 cents from hotel guests for services unknown to me.

Strong winds at the beach yesterday, from the direction of the Saraha, sent sand flying across the dunes just as Wife and I arrived. Most of it was landing in my contact lenses, so with my eyes shut she led me to the water. After 30 minutes the wind reversed direction and blew all the sand back, onto our beach blanket and then into the water. We, like most other people, gave up after a while. But that has been the only bad day here.

Adios, until Thursday (when we return home).

21 August 2006

Internet café = Russian mafia

Before this Huangyangtan thing started Wife and I had already chosen to go on a summer vacation somewhere. For some reason she didn't want to cancel our trip just so that both of my readers could follow this blog. So here we are on the island of Gran Canaria. Wife has granted me one hour in this nearby internet café, where my password to my blog has been picked up by a key logger and is already being used by the Russian mafia to make millions of dollars (though they should be commended for being able to accomplish something I will not).

Actually, from what I can tell there's not a whole lot new to report HYT-wise. It appears the GE forum post is being read at a rate of about 1200 times a day, which in my brief experience shows that there have been no new further mentions of the matter in any well-read blogs or news sites, a post-Digg equilibrium if you will.

So, readers 1 and 2, please check back in a few days when I get some more internet time.

Oh, Gran Canaria? The beach is really nice, flat with waves just big enough to make it exciting. When it cools down tonight we're going to go walking on the sand dunes again. Lots of fish dishes at our hotel, no schnitzel even if there are mostly Germans here.

16 August 2006

Mark Twain it is

Mr. Clemens won the reader poll by a slim margin of 1 vote. Thus Mr. Kiedis will stay in my bookshelf for the time being.

Good bye to both of my readers. See you in a few days on some virus-ridden PC in an internet café of ill repute.

15 August 2006

Schnitzel redux - Stats

Lisa E. from S.L.C., if you're still there toughing it out as a Found In China reader, we have something special for you; tonight's dinner! Dedicated to our most stalwart member, we fixed oven-baked schnitzel with "Schupfnudeln" (elongated gnocchi egg-noodle thingies which defy translation).


- Take five 3/8" thick slices of pork, bake them, together with some chopped onions, in Oven-Baked Schnitzel sauce mix from your local grocer
- Brown the schupfnudeln (don't ask me where you're going to get those in Salt Lake) in a pan of butter, alternating the burner dial from 3 to 4 to avoid scorching.
- Pour yourself a nice frosty glass of cloudy wheat beer (unless you are Wife, who gets Pilsner) (unless you are LDS, in which case you get ice water).
OK, between cooking and packing, I thought I'd share a few HYTBuzzStats with everyone, to get a sense for how news moves:
Google Earth forum
Number of reads of the forum post: 56,846
Average readers per hour when it's slow: 25
Average readers per hour at this particular moment (post-surge after being Digged): 210
Maximum readers per hour: 935 (brief surge after Der Spiegel wrote a short piece on Huangyangtan)#
Number of Area 51 experts who don't like Huangyangtan being associated with their turf: lots
Number of blogs mentioning Huangyangtan: anywhere from 50 to 330, depending on which day you ask it. No longer seems 100% reliable
Views of that sorry video I made: roughly 13,000 (YouTube is down for maintenance at this moment)
Google Search
Results on "Huangyangtan": anywhere from 24,600 to 38,900, depending on when you search
This blog
3,686 reads (= 1,842 x both of my readers + 2 reads by Lisa E., the only person publicly admitting to it)
But, in the end, I could care less about the totals and how high they are. It's observing the periods of acceleration and deceleration and their causes which are interesting.

Digg undugg

Thanks, Anonymous, for the info regarding the effect of being dugg.

Reader poll!

I'm getting my suitcase ready for our trip and have discovered that the empty space I had reserved for reading material is now occupied by the 5-meter inflatable plastic dolphin Wife packs each year and has subsequently been ignored by Daughter in several beautiful sunny locations throughout Europe. There's room for only 1 more book, so you, Readers 1 and 2, plus a tiebreaker visitor, will decide what I take.

Already tucked away is John Steinbeck's "The Log from the Sea of Cortez" and two back issues of New Scientist. Your job is to submit a comment, voting for either

- A: Scar Tissue, the autobiography of Anthony Kiedis (frontman of the Red Hot Chili Peppers)
- B: Roughing It, by Mark Twain (his adventures while roaming the American West as far as Hawaii

I will announce the results at 3:00 a.m. CET before I zip up my bag. Note that both books are roughly the same weight and size, so as not to sway your decision.

Digg news

Thanks to Anonymous for the heads-up on Huangyangtan appearing on Digg's radar. Now, as a total newbie, what significance does Digg have in the blog world? It's obviously important in one way or another, but what impact does it have to get Digged? Perhaps another temporary surge in interest (which is what is going on right now)?

Looking forward to your input.

p.s. Obviously Wife is letting me work on this as we pack our suitcases

Found in China - 25th anniversary!

The Found in China blog has been going strong now for 25 whole days. Yessiree, I remember ye olde times of olden lore (or whatever) when this blog was so small I could hold it in my cupped hand. My, how it has grown since then: heatwaves, near-misses by Chinese jets, Deafening Neighbor Children, guppies, and our newest literary element, schnitzel. Yes, I and both my readers have seen it all.

Why do I wax sentimental on this particular occasion? Because Wife, Daughter and I are going on vacation before school starts again, and already I can't sleep from worrying about whether we'll sleep through multiple alarm clocks and miss our flight early Wednesday morning. So I'll use this time to make a few general observations about the Huangyangtan experience, which is what this blog was supposed to be for anywho. And I won't be providing updates as frequently for the next couple of weeks, so I owe both of you this entry.

From an operations viewpoint I think I've done an OK job at running the ship. It was never intended that I maintain an hour-by-hour service here, but I think I've provided an adequate number of updates to keep things fresh and to distract Readers 1 and 2 from their real duties at work. A small number of user comments were received, none of which I had to reject as far as I remember and got published fairly quickly. A couple of times I found that information I had posted was not accurate, but I believe I got the worst thereof corrected.

I realize now that I have never really said anything about my 15 minutes of fame which others claim I seem to have achieved. Well, it's been fun in a way, but a thousand other things have happened in the real world during the past weeks which were degrees more significant than this. To put things into perspective, at ABC's list of most emailed articles, the Huangyangtan news beat the story of the dog who chewed up Elvis' teddy bear (at the Elvis museum, I think it was), but trailed behind some woman who bakes cookies on her car's dashboard. Add to that the various wars that have started or continued during these weeks, another near-miss by a planet-pulverizing asteroid (at least that's how they described it in Czech Television CT1 last night, but I don't speak Czech very well, maybe it was a commercial for Armageddon), troop movements in the Kodori Gorge of Georgia and its breakaway republic of Abkhazia, poverty, teenagers, etc., and pretty soon it becomes clear that one should not take his 15 minutes of fame too seriously. Instead I should be thankful that I am alive and healthy.

What would I do differently?
  1. Collate a list Huangyangtan news or where it has been discussed to see how far this disease has spread. I'll tackle that when I get back.
  2. Try to make sense of the AdSense algorithms. At first the ads that showed up had something to do with the subjects mentioned in my post. Nowadays I think the system has given up trying to find a connection between "Huangyangtan," "blokes" and "pony" and simply defaults to advertising AdSense itself (I can just see the data center guys in Mountain View saying, "That's the third AdSense server to burn out this week. Let's look at the logs and see if they got stuck in an infinite loop somewhere").
  3. Don't get grounded. Except for yesterday, when she let me work on this more than usual because Stephen called and Wife absolutely adores Australia, where she worked for a few months once, I'm permitted to monitor the HYT thing (Found In China's internal code name) only in the morning while I sit at her notebook and have breakfast (keen readers will recall that my computer is our bedroom, where Wife is asleep) (Lisa E., breakfast this morning consists of cream cheese on toast with ginger jelly, I can send you the recipe if you want).

So, I probably won't post again for the next few days. If you're new to the blog I hope you didn't start here: you need to go the bottom-most post in the July archive. And, dear readers, as always, don't be afraid to crash PayPal's servers with your RAM-upgrade contributions to FeedMyGEHabit@yahoo.com.

Attention literary critics: this notebook has a Czech keyboard and I can't find the semicolon. Sorry about my overuse of the colon.

14 August 2006

Huangyangtan - Schnitzel history

Sun Bin, the schnitzel is history. I ate it. Daughter and I washed the dishes afterwards, put a post on her own blog*, then finished up by reading another chapter from "These Happy Golden Years", the eighth book in the Little House on the Prairie series (we read the part where Mary comes home to De Smet to visit after her first year of college for the blind).

Lisa E., one of my long-term readers (long-term is relative for this blog; she's been a fan for roughly 1 hour 5 minutes) asked about Wife's schnitzel recipe. Here you go, compliments of FoundInChina:

- Go to the freezer, pull out three frozen hunks of pre-breaded schnitzel obtained previously from your local Aldi supermarket.
- Put them in a pan in a pool of cooking oil, at a temperature somewhere between Barely Warm and Scorch (3 or 4 on our old stove's dial, 3 being not enough and 4 leading consistently to burnt dinners)
- Peel a bunch of potatoes, boil them for however long it takes.

I bit complicated I know, but well worth the effort. If you're ever in our undisclosed location, Lisa E., feel free to grab some chives from our balcony to garnish the potatoes; I don't know whether they have any there in Salt Lake City.

* Oh, yeah, Daughter's blog. She got her first contribution today, from a kindly reader. Along with a PayPal donation from her grandparents (Yo! A big shout out to S & J) Daughter has now exceeded FoundInChina's income. Perhaps I should convert my approach to "Save The Wild Ponies of Huangyangtan".

Jon, from the S.F. Gate, wrote back a short message to me that he enjoyed writing today's column. I hope he checks back here sometime; there's a free schnitzel recipe.

Hmm, looking at the above I think it would be better if I just call it a day. Gute Nacht, liebe Leser.

Huangyangtan - Schitzel and history

Sun Bin, thanks for your comment (I just published it). I'm not 100% sure what post it belongs to, but Wife has got wienerschnitzel and potatoes on the table and I'm going to have it dumped in my lap soon if I don't get over there.

I'd like to ask you to share your info in the Google Earth forum if you can. I'd rather have facts and new data published there for everyone to analyze. Especially because what you found differs from the previous discussion of the history of Aksai Chin. This blog is mostly just commentary about, what, the buzz.

-- KenGrok

Australians posing as Texans - Pony alert

Hmm, a certain Gary claiming to be not Australian but rather Texan (I'll let both of my readers decide on that), has brought to my attention a recent article in the San Francisco Gate; refer to his comment about 2 posts down from here. No, no hard facts presented here. It's a commentary on how news makes the round. Jon even writes about me. Thanks Jon, for not slaughtering KenGrok.

Pony Alert - Daughter has been observing the minor hoopla (sp?) around the Huangyangtan news. I have been using it as an educational experience for her, introducing her to how forums work, what purpose blogs serve and how they differ from mainstream media, etc. We've spoken about online advertising and click rates. And more importantly, about business models. Stephen in the SMH mentioned, at the very end of his "I Discovered KenGrok" article that my daughter has been motivated by my success at attracting contributions (now I'm really ROTFLOL) to set up her own blog. So we did it, rather than me stalling with "Well, wait a minute, first you have to think about A, then B, then you have to do this an that, and so forth an so on" : http://nataliespony.blogspot.com/.

Anybody looking at said blog is going to say to themselves "Geez, this idea looks like it was cooked up by a 10-year old!". The answer to that is, "Yes." Yes, dear reader, 10-year old Natalie is going to discover that though only a few drunks might be willing to help placate my wife, even fewer are going to PayPal one of 40 kazillion pony-loving little girls enough cash to buy her dream horse (much less get a pair of riding boots). So over the next couple of years we'll fine tune that blog to the point that the a few donations will, in fact, roll in, during which time she will have done enough odd jobs for neighbors (plus woven enough oriental carpets at the loom I'll set up for her) to pay for the horse herself. But she will have learned a lot, too, about the web.

Dankeschön to all the blokes in Australia

A big thanks to Anonymous, MrLefty, Anonymous, Anonymous, Benjol, Matthew and Monte for letting me know where the new surge of interest is coming from. Looks like many from you are from Australia. Remember that heat wave in Germany that I wrote about during my first posts? It's now cloudy, rainy and 15 / 59 F here. And when we spoke briefly about the weather, Stephen sounded somewhat disappointed that it was "only" 21 C there, during your winter.

Huangyangtan - Ominous phone calls

Stephen from the Sydney Morning Herald emailed me and asked if I'd agree to have a chat with him. We spoke earlier today. I have liked his approach to the Huangyangtan news, and in real life he seems like quite a nice guy to boot. We had a rather normal conversation (though the psychologist sitting beside the speaker was perhaps holding up his notepad with "Certified nutjob" scrawled on it for Stephen to see). Afterward I visited the SMH site and saw a new article Stephen had written a few days ago (again, very nice), which ends with a link to where a write-up of our phone call will be found in the near future. In the meantime he invites readers have a look at this blog.

In a way I feel a bit guilty about that mention. If you got to my blog from the SMH, please be sure to check out the Google Earth forum first (add any information or analysis you happen to have about the facility), and any other site which is discussing the Huangyangtan replica. Then come back here, at which point the best place to start is at the very first post in the July archive section. My blog doesn't contain any real information about the finding. It's simply a commentary on the discussions about it.

But to both of my "Stammleser" (devoted readers), please continue to check back here regularily, in particular for more Guppy and Noisy Family news.

Huangyangtan - Not completely dead yet

I noticed that at this very moment there is a minor surge in the number of people looking into this Huangyangtan thing. If any of you readers are here for the first time, please let me know in a comment where you came from (where you read about the replica landscape), perhaps from a mainstream media site.

-- KenGrok

p.s. Daughter's guppies are still alive, but we have to change the water today. The Noisy Children are up and outside early (7:30 a.m.). It sounds like they have the Doberman cornered.

12 August 2006

First flame

Anonymous left a comment in the previous post that deserves a response. He or she has focused on an element of my blog, namely my suggestion that readers PayPal contributions to "the cause". I agree that Anonymous is correct on this point; hardly anybody is going to do it. My chances of success would probably be only slightly higher even if, hypothetically, the blog existed to publicize the costs associated with sweet Daughter's battle against life-threatening leukemia (no, don't panic, sweet Daughter doesn't have leukemia, only guppies). That's how things go.

I set up this blog as my post in the Google Earth forum leaked into the blogosphere and then into mainstream media. It is, as a reminder, my running commentary on the news about the post. Along with sparse, clumpy bits of very dry humor. A secondary reason for the blog (my first) is to see what running a blog is all about (i.e. practice). And another function (though not necessarily the third on the list); to satisfy Wife's requirement that the massive time I spend in Google Earth is productive somehow. Hence the donation request. I guess the dry humor of the blog has been so absolutely dry that it can appear that the donation request is the primary goal. Maybe I'll try to ease up a bit on that, and in the future preface it with "WTF OMG IF UR DRUNK S3ND M3 $$FRANKLINZ$$ ROTFLOL". Perhaps the few people who have chosen to make a wife-placating donation were, indeed, drunk. Or saw themselves in a similar situation. Or both.

And though Anonymous doesn't state it directly, I will point out that I was certainly not the first person to run across that landscape replica. With millions of people (I believe) using GE, I'm sure at least hundreds of people noticed it before I did. After weeks of running across strange things in China I was finally motivated enough to post it in the forum and ask for opinions.

So, all in all, I agree with Anonymous on pretty much everything he says, though from a different viewpoint. But apparently he is a fellow GE user and where he has reduced me to tears is suggestion that I am not, in fact, an OK guy who likes GE as much as the rest of you / us. I love GE. Read my very first post; GE is simply an extension of my life-long interest in the physical and human geography of our planet. It's always nice to run into people in the real world

So, Anonymous, I think we can be friends. Please don't take this blog too seriously.

10 August 2006

Huangyangtan - Slowing down

It appears the Huangyangtan thing has been slowing down for a while now. All the measurements I take show that, well, perhaps everyone who is interested in this has heard of it by now. Before it dies out completely, don't forget about those PayPal contributions to FeedMyGEHabit@yahoo.com; the RAM upgrade is not quite paid for and Wife wants some results!

A couple of things I have learned while monitoring the news:

  1. Google Search Results -- When searching on "Huangyangtan" the results vary. At one point a high of 38,900 results came back. Today it stands at 28,900. The number fluctuates on about a 24-hour basis, usually going down a bit if it has gone up a significant amount. I'm guessing the Google database consolidates its finds overnight.
  2. Technorati -- Searching here shows the number of blogs that contain the word Huangyangtan. Twice the total has gone up to past 300, after which Technorati would suddenly report the next day that less than 200 blogs mentioned it. Both times it happened overnight between a Saturday and Sunday. I'm guessing that Technorati moves the time period it considers.
  3. Adsense ads - You have to accumulate a lot of visitors in order to get some clicks, at least here at this blog. Since I don't have any numbers for comparison, perhaps I'm even more successful than others and just don't realize it. It is common knowledge you have to have a lot of foot traffic just to get a few hits.

Other NewsBites:

  • The guppies are still alive.
  • The Noisy Family children are still alive, despite the apparent murder attempts by either or both of the children and/or by the Doberman.

08 August 2006

Huangyangtan - Correction + photo

One of my blog readers (Soumya) as well as one of my Google Earth forum colleagues have replied that the statement in the Indian Express article is from the Indian army, not the Chinese. That appears to be correct; thank you for pointing that out. The overly diplomatic quote led me to think it was from the Chinese side.

At a Chinese site someone has posted a photo that appears to be from an exercise at the Huangyangtan site. Does anyone read Chinese well enought to say what it's about?

Lastly, Daughter's fish are doing quite well, and based on their swimming motions it appears they are not dead.

07 August 2006

Huangyangtan - News in India

There was an interesting article in the Indian Express, dated 5 August, that was not simply a repeat of another source's news. The paper actually contacted the Chinese Army about the replica. I recommend reading the article (though a couple of pop-ups will probably make it through your browser, they seem to be OK and that's also fairly normal for an Indian news site).


05 August 2006

Huangyangtan - Turkey time!

Thanks for the heads-up from ChickenSwitch, a Google Earth forum member here in Germany; the Huangyangtan news was in Hurriyet, the Turkish news source. It was online, I don't know if was in the print version (the newspaper). Did any of my Turk readers see it there, too? My Turkish, like my Croatian, is a bit rusty. The report appears to be based on the ABC article, though it appears to throw in some extra things, which I recognize by the words "Big Ben" and "KGB". Hmm, I wonder if they know more than the rest of us.

Our friends from Munich are back home now, we have a new visitor who will hopefully stay longer; Daughter had us set her up with a fishbowl and two guppies. We spoke for months about the need for a full-blown aquarium with filters, heaters, etc. But she didn't want that, and Wife said she had a simple fishbowl when she was young and the Betta splendors survived four years of that. So I was outvoted, even if this will turn my daughter into a FISH MURDERER.

03 August 2006

Huangyangtan - Update before I go to bed

A big thanks to Kevin for his PayPal contribution!

An additional 3,100 people have watched the Huangyangtan video in the past 1 hour 10 minutes. Now I'm really embarassed about it. Does anyone have any experience with asking their Wife to approve the purchase of the software needed (Google Earth Pro + Movie Making Module) to make videos directly in Google Earth? I didn't think so.

Huangyangtan - Huffington and ABC

Thanks for the feedback, david dark, Cracked.Actor, and 3 x Anonymous. I liked the ABC article; they got a number of knowledgeable people to give their analysis on the Huangyangtan site.

In the past 3 hours, roughly the time between when Wife told me to make a salad and garlic bread to go with dinner (we have some friends from Munich staying with us) and washing up afterwards, roughly 3000 people viewed the YouTube video. Man, I wish the clip wasn't so lousy. People are probably saying, "That KenGrok knows how to find stuff in China, but he sure makes low-quality movies". Well, it's true. The compression is the main problem.

Oh, dear reader, please don't forget; Wife thinks I should should be doing something constructive rather than sitting here at the computer. Don't forget to make your PayPal donation to FeedMyGEHabit@yahoo.com, so that she and other Wives around the world will agree that sitting at a computer is doing something constructive.