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.