Peking Duck

Submitted by Matt on Fri, 10/02/2020 - 10:18

So I recently purchased a Traeger Timberline 850 and have been doing BBQ whenever I get the chance. Last night we had some guests and made Peking duck for Mid-Autumn Festival / Golden Week.

There really is not much to it. Remove the duck from the packaging and inflate the skin with an air pump or compressor. Wash the bird and remove any giblets, douse it with boiling water (start fat rendering). Your goal is to have crispy skin.

The roast took longer than I expected (as stuff with a new grill does) initially. I smoked it for 225 F for 2.5 hours and it still was not even close to 165 F internal temp. I had to crank it to 400 F if we were to eat before 8 PM. I think it would have been more optimal to start a little earlier. The skin was about 80% as crispy as I wanted it to be, hopefully I can get to 100% next time.

Serve with some cucumber, carrot and Hoisin sauce. You can make delicious tacos with flour tortillas or mandarin pancakes.

In case anyone is curious the fresh duck was a lot better than the frozen one, at least of this brand. I assumed the frozen would be somewhat brined but I do not believe this made much of a difference.

two brands of duck
I experimented with 2 brands of duck, one frozen and the other fresh
roast duck
We weren't the only ones ready to eat duck that night


Thoughts on COVID-19 and the Election

Submitted by Matt on Mon, 09/28/2020 - 11:25
Dumpster Fire

Current failure and precedents to our situation

The last few months have been harrowing. A pandemic has struck the world and caused unprecedented (in modern times) changes to our lifestyle and freedoms. This has caused a huge disruption for small businesses and working class Americans, not to mention the rest of the world. It has become very apparent that America, on paper one of the richest countries in the world by per capita GDP, was uniquely unprepared for this crisis.

But just being unprepared is not enough to account for the dumpster fire you see today. It has been nearly 9 months since the start of this crisis and I still cannot go buy a N95 mask. To contrast this, after Pearl Harbor (which started WW2) we went from building almost none to hundreds of aircraft per week in the same period of time. By this time community wide collections had already secured hundreds of megatons of scrap metal and rubber for the war effort. Mothers and wives on the home front were making bandages for the troops abroad. The United States then led the free world to defeat the Nazi war machine and the Japanese in the Pacific. 

Garden 2020

Submitted by Matt on Fri, 07/31/2020 - 14:05

I planted a garden in our back alley in 2019. Last year I made a lot of amateur mistakes, this year I got of to a way better start. Still made some mistakes though many were out of my control.

Overall it is very much worth it, especially during this pandemic.

Is started everything from seeds in red solo cups. Initially I started bell peppers, tomatoes, squash, corn, basil, parsley and oregano.

Tomatoes Basil'

I mixed in compost, manure and peat moss into the bed. I also periodically fertilized. At first the garden was wildly successful.




Initially had a very good harvest from the tomatoes and squash. Then the bugs decided to ruin my plans.

The worst among these were the squash vine borers. If you live in an area that other people grow squash you probably will have to deal with them at some point. They are moths that lay up to 200-300 eggs on the stem of your plants. After about a week they hatch into larvae that immediately burrow in to the squash. From there they gradually grow larger as they eat eventually exiting the vine and wintering in the soil. Next season you then have more moths.

Digitizing Old Home Videos

Submitted by Matt on Mon, 01/27/2020 - 15:32

So growing up all of our home videos were recorded on mini VHS tapes. These things are old and getting older so naturally you begin to worry about the quality retained. Not only that you need a VCR and who has one of those these days? As the family historian I needed to come up with a solution.

mini vhs tapes

I rigged up an IPTV tuner to the output of the VCR and painstakingly captured all of the tapes with FFMPEG via H264. I then uploaded all of the H264 videos to the cloud for my family to enjoy. I do find it interesting that something like this would have been unimaginable 20-30 years ago when these things were taken.

The quality of this video is rather poor but not because of my capture equipment. VHS is sub-SD quality. Still better than nothing!

Not satisfied with just the miniVHS, I inherited a whole box of 8mm tapes from my grandmother.

8mm videos

These were a bit more challenging to convert since I was wholly unfamiliar with the media and did not grow up with it. Luckily there are machines you can buy that will assist the process.

video converter

Some of these had sat for nearly 60 years since they had last been watched. I had a few reels that would break apart, had to use tape to attach. Over all was not too difficult. Of course none of these have any sound, but that is by design.


RIP John Papageorge 1955-2019

Submitted by Matt on Thu, 12/19/2019 - 16:38

Dad and I on Engineer Mountain

I lost my Dad back in December. He died after nearly a 10 year battle with Multiple Myeloma. I will miss him greatly


John Linton Papageorge, 64, went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on December 11, 2019.

John was born on March 3, 1955 in Texarkana, AR, to George and Julia Papageorge and spent his childhood in Bossier City, LA.  John went to Airline HS and was an excellent scholar and athlete. John attended Louisiana Tech and graduated in 1977 with a BS in Petroleum Engineering.  After graduation, John moved to OKC to seek his fortune in the oil and gas business but his real fortune came when he met his future wife, Debbie.  While in OKC, John worked for Cities Service Petroleum, Berry Petroleum, Sohio and ultimately BP. In 1988, John was transferred to Houston which was made a home by the blessing of 3 beautiful children. 

John loved sports and especially football. He took great pride in coaching his youth football team. Raider Nation brought together great boys, families and friendships which continued well past youth football.

John retired in 2015, due to his illness, after a 32 year career with BP/heritage companies. John spent as much time as he could in retirement doing the things he loved; being with family and friends, travelling, fishing, and making memories at PapaLago on Lake Travis as well as the Papadome in Houston.

John was an example of courage in his 10 year fight with multiple myeloma. He placed his trust in God’s sovereign will but was determined to live as long as he could by not letting cancer rule his life.  “Cancer didn’t win today…I beat cancer another day” was his motto. 

My new AMD Epyc Server

Submitted by Matt on Fri, 11/15/2019 - 17:19

So I decided to finally retire my ProLiant 2U DL380 Gen9. This machine has served me well but I am ready to move on to bigger and better things. It works well for what it does but I would like to get something quieter, ATX, with more PCie lanes, less than my current 350W idle power, uses ZFS and that does not have spectre/meltdown issues. Also I specifically wanted to ditch Intel since I now work at AMD. So I set to work acquiring the components.

Processor: AMD Epyc Rome Processor 64c 128t Prototype
Motherboard: Supermicro SP3 with a BMC
DIMMs: 128 GB recycled from previous system. Unfortuantely they are only 2400 MHz. At some point I will want to upgrade to 3200 MHz DIMMs but its not in the budget for now
PSU: Antec 750W Gold
CPU Cooler: Black friday special water cooling loop
Case: Black friday special
SSD1: Samsung Evo Plus 970 1TB
SSD2: 2x 1TB SATA Samsung EVO 970
Networking: 2 Port Fiber NIC
Spinning Hard Drives: 5x

I finished her and she really is quite the beauty. She runs super quiet thanks to all of the fans being at least 120mm in diameter. The case is cheap but it has everything I need and is full ATX for future expansions. ZFS now ships with newer Ubuntu versions and it works great, I highly recommend it over hardware RAID which is what I had before. I get ridiculous throughput on that array.

Asia Trip 2019 part 2/2 Taipei Taiwan

Submitted by Matt on Tue, 10/01/2019 - 18:02

So I was flying out of CC into Taipei. Right as we were about to board the airplane my friend shows me something.


We were not the only ones going to Taipei, so was a typhoon named Mitag.

As we arrived at the hotel all of the locals were boarding up the windows. Such a great feeling.


Here is Taipei 101 the night before the storm hit. Pretty cool.

Taipei 101


Video file

Luckily before the thing blew through we were able to sight-see some. Most of the places usually are very crowded but unsurprisingly were almost deserted.



Asia Trip 2019 part 1/2 Chongqing China

Submitted by Matt on Fri, 09/27/2019 - 16:53

For work I got to spend a few weeks in and around Chongqing China as well as Taipei. Apparently Chongqing has more people living in it than the entire great state of Texas, and I had not even heard of it before I was told to go there. I enjoyed the hell out of this trip, was a great time. The locals in both countries were very friendly and I got tons of photos. Also my travelling companions from Google were awesome, was great to have them with me.

me at river
Me at the Yangtze River and

Stepping off the airplane was invigorating yet terrifying. I initially landed in Beijing and had to catch a domestic transfer to my final destination. The Beijing airport is not particularly difficult for foreigners but its definitely not a walk in the park! Once I got on the transfer I did not see another Westerner for quite some time.

I learned probably 20-30 Mandarin words specifically for this trip. If you ever go I highly recommend learning at least some of the language, many of the things I did while I was there were only possible because I could speak and recognize some words. 

I bought a Chinese SIM card off of Amazon before travelling, I highly recommend this for anyone travelling there. You will still have to tunnel out of the Great Firewall with a VPN but you need internet these days. I also highly recommend two phones, one with the google translate app and the other for browsing. That way you can easily use Didi (Chinese Uber equivalent) and other services that would otherwise be unavailable.

View from my hotel
View from my hotel

Dinner the first night I went all out. All of this was only $30! I only drank beer eating out because of prior experience in China, avoid the water at all costs. In this case I think the compromise to accomplish this was fairly minimal :) .

Sailing Trip

Submitted by Matt on Thu, 05/16/2019 - 19:30

We got invited to go sailing on a private catamaran with 3 other couples in the British Virgin Islands. It was pretty bad-ass.

Drone pic of our boat
Drone picture of our boat at an anchorage 


Sailing path
I setup a Raspberry Pi with a GPS module to record our position throughout the trip.


The Ship
The Fin and Tonic (our ship)