Stuff Bing Thinks Chinese People Say

These are things that Facebook friends of mine wrote on Facebook, but in Chinese, after said things were ran through Bing’s Chinese-English translator.

A large Rose Tea less naughty horse eat hemp threatened to pad Pensol has big hands and all grabbed the hand of horses a little less chanting spanking ~~~ it ~~~ like nonsense? Master trick horse hemp be punished?

*Like* nonsense, but not actual nonsense.

Di lash flies flies, waiters in clap your hands ~~ di nice shout! (But the flies didn’t play good at all?)

To which someone else (on Facebook) responded (in Chinese, per Bing):

Did not hit where is the point? Take fly down enough to make him worship!

I pity the fly.

Successful recent special love, there are a lot of beep-business week and the dog!

An entire *week* of beep-business seems extravagant.

Aunt said, shaken for the success of the iron pestle may also wear embroidered needle.

Worn pointy side out I imagine.

Hopefully I didn’t over-promise on this.

bkd Stats for 2012

I don’t get enough traffic to get very interesting metrics. Instead, I get these.

Most-Used Search Terms
These are the search terms that were most used to find my site (according to WordPress).

Rank Term Last Note
1. diy tv stand 1 Still a bad project.
2. redwood tree NR
3. ford trimotor 3
3. la jolla NR
5. trigger finger 5
6. forbes field 2
7. la jolla cove NR
8. cross country road trip NR
9. diy tv stand plans 8
10. california redwood tree NR
11. diy kitchen table 4 Now holds up my compound miter saw.
12. b52 14
13. seven springs NR Overpriced, overcrowded. Assumed profitable.
14. ford tri motor 15
15. painted rooms NR
16. spruce goose 20
17. trigger finger splint NR
18. marble canyon NR
19. spooky gulch 6
20. pittsburgh international airport NR

More turn-over than I would have guessed. I’m apparently big in La Jolla. And last year my posts about the giant sequoias were big, whereas this year things have tilted toward redwoods. It’s probably meaningful.

Here’s a list about pages viewed (don’t know how these worked out last year). I’m omitting the home page and pages that are virtual duplicates (e.g., the multiple pages about the DIY entertainment center that isn’t very good).

Rank Term Year Note
1. DIY TV Stand Project 2008 Other steps would have occupied spots 2, 3, & 7.
2. US War Deaths per Day by Conflict (War, Battle) and How Iraq Compares 2008
3. ford-trimotor-interior (photo) 2009
4. Big Wave Day in La Jolla 2010
5. More B-52 Photos, By Request (Plus a Couple Pics of AMARG) 2008
6. slate-tile-floor-finished (Photo) 2010
7. Cross-Country Road Trip v. 3.0: 48 States in 90 Days 2009 I miss the road trip.
8. The Indistinct Redwood National Park and a Bunch of Indistinct State Parks 2009 I like the photos still.
9. My First Red Egg and Ginger Party 2008 There has not yet been a second.
10. Getting Closer: My Do-It-Yourself Kitchen Table Project So Far 2008
11. Injury Update: Trigger Fingers 2010
12. De-Stapling the Hardwoods 2010
13. Gantt Chart for My Home Renovation Project in Pittsburgh 2010 Milestones were missed.
14. Painting and Carpeting the Front Porch 2011
15. Spooky Gulch, Peek-a-Boo Gulch, and Dry Fork Hike 2010
16. How to Remove Shoe Moulding 2010
17. Kitchen Floor: Slated 2010
18. The Evergreen Air and Space Museum 2009
19. forbes-field-outfield-wall (Photo) 2010
20. Renting the Jeep Wrangler on Kauai 2007

So 2008 and 2010 were big years. Most popular posts written this year were about my fake plastic rocks and my Versa-lok retaining wall — they were tied for 66th. I didn’t post a lot this year.


Skiing White Pass

Went to White Pass for the first time in my life on Thursday. Snow was PNW-great, visibility was interesting and variable, with a freezing fog making Couloir Basin kind of useless and about a 60-second sun break in the early afternoon. I didn’t take many photos, but among them were these…


Chair 4



Mach V to the right, Chair straight ahead.



Hourglass, I think.

  • Mach V was probably my favorite run of the day.
  • Locals were very nice, lifties were politely ambivalent.
  • Arrived a little after 9 and the ticket line was a half-hour long.
  • The day lodge at the base was way too small, but their chili was excellent.
  • The best visibility was on the two middle lifts, which is probably not the optimal place for the best visibility.
  • Fresh snow available on or near every run until some time in the afternoon.
  • There are some HARDCORE 6-year-olds that ski this place. Absolutely fearless.
  • Impressed by how many people apparently own cabins in Packwood.

Really enjoyable day, though. I was envious of the folks from Yakima for whom this is a convenient drive (I’m staying at my parents’ house in NE Tacoma, from where it took 2:40 to get there). Would like to get back some time when conditions were better on Couloir, which looked like it had a lot of potential.


Concrete Block Retaining Wall; August Involved Sweating

It’s done enough.

At Move-In vs. Current:

So the cap blocks aren’t actually done yet. I just set them on top. They need cut so they don’t have those gaps on the face. We’ll see when it happens. And sorry the angle’s off. Never took a before-photo of that corner — probably because the telephone pole is in the way.

Okay so then here are a bunch of “during” photos.

Pre-groundbreaking (post-jungle):

Trench, dug (although once blocks started going down, a lot more digging commenced):

A literal ton of bricks (one of four):

The base course:

Second course, with some back-fill:

82 lbs. (the black plastic pins line the courses up at a 3/4-inch offset — they don’t really hold anything together):

Current view, other corner:

So there’s that.

Some notes I guess:

  • August was a humid month and warm.
  • Props out to Pratyush for helping me dig that one day.
  • I’ll put some sort of plants in that flat area behind the top of the wall. In the spring.
  • I underestimated how much backfill gravel I would need by about 75%. It’s not hard to acquire, but it’s also not all that easy to transport and then that one day when I asked the Home Depot cashier if she could get someone to help me haul 20 bags of it to my truck and load it and she called up some deaf senior citizen to do it and then I was like, trying to get him to stop, because, you know, wasn’t the strongest guy or the fastest moving and here, let me do that for you for me
  • I guess I’ll put rocks between the wall and the street. Gravel, the sort of roundish kind.
  • The wall uses Versa-Lok blocks; the color/style/pattern is called “Saratoga”.
  • Trying to get the first course level was also the worst thing ever.
  • Once the first course is done, it goes relatively fast, except that I ended up having to do more digging and leveling to extend the wall at the ends, so, you know. After the base course, probably 3-4 hours a course after that.
  • Overall, the project was simple, just a lot of work. OTOH, I think I lost weight in August. I should market this as a P90x competitor. Should have taken before-after photos of myself…
  • Progress on the project was often slowed by an older person walking or driving by and wanting to talk for an hour about my wall, their walls, other people’s walls that may have existed, shovels, the weight of concrete, etc. The last 58 minutes of these conversations were generally pretty dull.
  • My neighbor across the street helpfully donated four buckets of concrete from a concrete tub he’d taken out of his basement. Apparently he thought it would be easier for me to spend an hour crushing concrete against, I don’t know what, my driveway? in order to use it as backfill than it would be for me to go to the Home Depot and buy another bag of drainage rock for $3.28. I need to always only ever tell people “no”.
  • My neighbor across the other street has asked twice now whether I’m going to run the wall up the remaining 40 feet of the side yard, because, you know, that would look good.
  • Older blue-collar white people are well-meaning, but that doesn’t always carry a lot of weight — you know, the road to hell and so forth.

In conclusion, the retaining wall represents another project at the house that’s 95% done, but not 100. I remain consistent.



Seneca Creek Hike: West Virginia Looks Like West Virginia

Finally went to West Virginia. It looks like what you would expect.

Pretty much exactly.

Went down there with a dude from school for an overnighter hike. The drive down from Pittsburgh features a lot of scenic valleys and countryside (it was disconcerting how rich Maryland looked in comparison to Pennsylvania), then we stopped at one of the most outlandishly lavish only-open-four-days-a-week National Forest Service visitor’s centers I’ve ever seen, located in Seneca Rocks, W.Va. I used the restroom there. After that, we drove up the eventually gravel road to the Seneca Creek trailhead. It’s the sort of gravel road you can take a first-gen Prius on without concern.

Trailhead parking lot with first-gen Prius.

And from there things generally got easier. Most of the hiking guides suggest starting at the Lumberjack Trail trailhead, then taking that trail up and around past the falls to the campsites along Seneca Creek. Many online reviewers commented that the Lumberjack Trail is awful and boring, however. As such, we opted instead to do the hike as mostly an out-and-back along Seneca Creek. Posterity will want to know this.

So: we headed down-river (-creek). We soon came to a bunch of cool campsites and tidy little cascades. This area has some of the nicest campsites I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing how much better national forests (and recreation areas) are with regard to camp sites as compared to the national parks. This was our site:

The hike eventually brought us to Seneca Falls, which looks very much like the kind of waterfall you would expect to find in West Virginia:

From there, we backtracked back to the campsite and set up shop for the night. Next day we left our gear at the site and hiked up and around the High Meadows (this took us on part of the aforementioned Lumberjack Trail, which was expectedly awful due to its swamp-like condition). There wasn’t a lot to see up there — mostly trees and hillsides covered in trees. It would probably look better when the leaves are changing, but whatever. We looped back around past the falls again, back to the campsite, then picked up our gear and high-tailed it out of WV.

Some other notes:

  • As Thomas keenly noted, there was an unsettling lack of birds there.
  • There are a bunch of stream crossings on the hike, although the one immediately before the falls was the only one that got over ankle depth.
  • Our trip was on a Wednesday-Thursday; we saw no other hikers whatsoever (although there were two other cars at the trailhead when we got back).
  • This hike would probably be pretty awesome during peak color season. Might even make the High Meadows component worth hiking.
  • While the campsites are great, this would be a very reasonable day-hike if you wanted to work it that way.
  • Just to be clear on our route… Day 1: We took the Seneca Creek Trail to Seneca Falls, then backtracked to one of the campsites. Day 2: We backtracked to the Judy Springs Trail (after you cross the bridge from the Seneca Creek Trail, TURN LEFT to continue on the Judy Springs Trail — this was confusing), turned right onto the Huckleberry Trail, then turned left onto the Lumberjack Trail, which turns into the High Meadows trail, which eventually curls around and meets up with the Seneca Creek Trail at the falls; we then took the Seneca Creek Trail back to our campsite to pick up our stuff and then back to the waiting first-gen Prius at the trailhead.
  • This is a pretty easy hike.
  • The food at Dairy Queen is always a lot better than I think it ought to be.


PS, For some reason this WordPress theme can’t handle the concept of centering photos in a consistent manner.

Down and Out in Pittsburgh and Washington D.C.

Some months ago I received visitors from California. During their visit, some photos were taken. I now offer up those photos to this repository. Long may they remain available. Long!

Pgh skyline from the Allegheny shoreline.

A tourist-photographer tests the light before taking a picture of a drain affixed to a wall in an otherwise empty room. There’s probably art here, I’m just not sure where its boundaries are.

Manassas Battlefield in Virginia.

As it turned out, I didn’t really take photos in DC. I did, however, discover that I really resent that place. It’s probably good I didn’t go to UMCP for grad school. Although they have better restaurants there than here.

Also: DLDF’s photos of the same trip are art, e.g.,,, and


Baseball Stadiums I Have(n’t) Visited

(Alpha by “official” team location.)

  • Arizona – Not Visited
  • Atlanta – Not Visited
  • Baltimore – Visited (1997 when I was moving to Boston supposedly)
  • Boston – Visited (1987?)
  • Chicago Cubs – Visited (twice, last time was 2008 maybe)
  • Chicago White Sox – Not Visited
  • Cincinnati – Not Visited
  • Cleveland – Not Visited
  • Colorado – Not Visited
  • Detroit – Not Visited
  • Houston – Not Visited
  • Kansas City – Not Visited
  • Los Angeles Angels – Visited (several times, last in 2009)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers – Visited (three times, last in 2009)
  • Miami – Not Visited
  • Milwaukee – Not Visited
  • Minnesota – Not Visited
  • New York Mets – Not Visited
  • New York Yankees – Not Visited
  • Oakland – Not Visited
  • Philadelphia – Not Visited
  • Pittsburgh – Visited (many times, last was May 2012)
  • San Diego – Not Visited (for a game — somehow I got to visit for a Little League assistant coach “training event”; it was colder than expected).
  • San Francisco – Not Visited
  • St. Louis – Not Visited
  • Seattle – Visited (several times, last was 2009)
  • Tampa Bay – Not Visited
  • Texas – Not Visited
  • Toronto – Not Visited
  • Washington – Not Visited

So something to work on then. Could still hit the Bucs in NY and Cincinnati this year and the Mariners still have road trips to NY and Toronto. Maybe.

Defunct Stadiums Visited (alpha by stadium name):

  • Astrodome (Houston) (1986ish)
  • Candlestick Park (San Francisco) (Latter-day Sports days, back when Jeff Kent hated me by name — 1998 or 9?)
  • Kingdome (Seattle) (several times, but last time maybe in 1996)
  • Qualcomm/Jack Murphy (San Diego) (several times — last time was probably 2000 or so)
  • Yankee Stadium, Old (New York) (The last year it was open — 2008?)

Things That Are No Longer Interesting

This is  a sub-set.

  1. Zombies. Their day in the sun should have ended with Shaun of the Dead, which came out in 2004. The zombies’ 15 minutes are up. Adding the word “apocalypse” does not grant the zombie idea any new freshness.
  2. “Bacon” as a topic of discussion. Eating bacon is still fine. It’s also no longer interesting to put bacon in places where it doesn’t belong, e.g., in milk shakes or other dessert foods.
  3. The word “awkward” as a punchline. If you’re not sure whether your firm is hooked up with a competent advertising agency, any pitches that include TV spots where “awkward” is used as a laugh-line are a  give-away.
  4. Hipster music. In particular, hipster music used in TV ads.
  5. Google Doodle commemorations. The commemoration on June 6, 2012 was the 79th anniversary of the drive-in theater. Most days it is okay to have a plain Google logo on your search engine.
  6. Corporate April Fool’s Day jokes. These are no longer cute or unexpected. In order for it to be interesting at this point it would have to end up not actually being a hoax. Your Web site promotion for a printer that “prints live kittens” is only still entertaining if your company actually makes and sells a printer that prints live kittens.
  7. Snarky-turned-violently-indignant online opinion articles. Writing does not come off as fresh and edgy just by its using the f-word frequently; it’s played out.
  8. The phrase “I see what you did there”.
  9. Any image overlaid with words in white Impact font (with black outline). Changing the typeface doesn’t give it new life.

I worry that we have become not only technologically stagnant, but also culturally.

Updates as events warrant.


Fake Plastic Rocks

The basement was finished some time in the 1960s. I take it that odd things were in vogue in that time period. Plastic, for instance, was a miraculous victory of man over nature. Similar to TV dinners I imagine.

So the guy who owned this house before I did thought he would really Pittsburgh-up the basement by painting the fake plastic rocks in the basement game room until they looked like this:

It was pretty classy. He did a faux finish with gold and black. He used spray paint. It was pretty classy.

Then this is what they looked like after primer:

The Ikea box really dresses up the room.

Then a couple days of fake rock and grout painting later…

…and we’re back to 1960.

Painting the grout was irritating and sloppy. I need to still go back and touch up the rocks. The rocks are “white clay” and the grout is “chocolate sprinkle”. I don’t choose the colors by the names.


Side Hill Lie, or: How to Make Stuff Grow on a Vertical Slope

Which implies I’ve “made” something grow. I don’t think I have that kind of power to begin with. And anyway, I’m not sure any growth has actually happened on the vertical slope. And if the slope is purely vertical, is it still a “slope”?

Still working this angle, but wanted to at least get the names of plants written down somewhere.

Here are some before/after pics. The before is from when I moved in (almost two years ago), the after is from this morning. There were a few stages in-between. Mostly not pictured.

The side hill.

It’ll look better once it’s got mulch on it. The little green guys in the foreground are pachysandra. The guy at the nursery said they’d be great, but everyone online says that full sun will scorch them. We’ll see how it goes. I’m kind of holding off on buying any more flats until — I dunno. I don’t think this will get answered in the next few weeks. I should have gone with plumbago.

The established plants are privets even though they look like they’re just more box woods. In the before photo, they’re the plants that are 10 feet high or whatever. A couple of them got hacked down to stumps at some point and are now trying to come back. I wish them good luck. At the bottom of the two privets in the foreground is a “valley rose pieris”. When it gets bigger it will look less like a weed. And I still think adding bark will help.

Here’s looking at the back half of this side hill (if you’re bored already you can just stop reading — it’s fine).

The after photo is from the other angle. It’ll be okay. The thing that looks like a pile of sticks in the foreground is a butterfly bush; it will supposedly look better in a month. Then there’s another privet behind that, then another pieris, then those three other green guys are bird’s nest spruces. Swell. Up above those is one of the survivors from the yardpocalypse that preceded my arrival (it’s just a mature boxwood). I’m thinking I’ll try and fill in some of these blank spaces with more ground cover (either the pachysandra or the plumbago).

Just one more area. This is the side yard just above the side hill.

Stupid feral rose-of-sharon plants.

An in-between stage.

It’ll look better with mulch. And with the hose put away. From left to right, silver sword azalea, little business (¿) daylily, stella d’oro day lily, peppermint mountain laurel, stella d’oro day lily, little business (?) daylily, silver sword azalea. Which of course ignores the air conditioner in the one window well and the other window well that doesn’t have a well liner.

One of the missionaries in the bad ward told me one Sunday that the thing he missed most from home was being able to dig things. That’s who took care of the rose-of-sharon (continued thanks).

I’m hoping the a/c pushes into the house rather than out of the house. I’d have to dig if it’s out. Probably a lot.


PS, I also transplanted a hydrangea out of the front yard and into the back yard where there’s a little more shade. In its place I planted three new azaleas that were on sale for $5 each.