Snowpocalypse 2021

Submitted by Matt on Wed, 03/10/2021 - 20:29

So we had a very interesting week last month. It got colder in Texas than it has been since nearly 1989. We got a few inches of snow and temperatures in the teens in Houston. Austin reached single digits! These unprecedented conditions created a very unique situation.

I had gone snow skiing 3 weeks prior and my gear was still handy so I put it on and went for a stroll early in the morning.

house with snow

empty snow filled streets

The Backyard

The Alley

empty snow filled streets

The entire Texas power grid nearly collapsed as the storm rolled through. In the graph below you can see where demand outstripped supply.

ERCOT Graph

This graph was captured off of the ERCOT website at roughly February 15th at roughly 5 pm. Apparently many of Texas's power plants were unprepared for this storm. Generation capacity went down and demand went up so many homes had their power cut off for several days. We are lucky that the grid did not become completely overloaded. I had power for all but roughly a day and a half which was much better than most people. We invited several people to stay at our house during this time.

On Wednesday we finally lost power as well so I fired up the generator. We have a gas furnace and natural gas generator hookup so all we needed to do was power the HVAC fan to have whole house heat. Again with this we were very lucky.

What I want to be when I grow up from 22 years ago

Submitted by Matt on Wed, 01/06/2021 - 16:44

Happy new year! The year 2021 should be substantially better than 2020, or so we hope.

I was recently going through the attic and found some really cool things I made in elementary school.

Matt at 10

In one of the booklets I found this text:

what I want to do in the future

Seems I was not too far off the mark back then! I work in the semiconductor industry now and am still fascinated by space endeavors.

2020 Future Timeline Prediction

Submitted by Matt on Sat, 11/28/2020 - 14:24

I want to end 2020 with some fun futuristic predictions for the next century. Most of these numbers are completely made up by me but have at least some factual basis from available literature at this time. Will be fun to look at this again a few decades from now.

2020

COVID-19 ravages a largely unprepared human civilization

Unconfirmed signs of life discovered on Venus

AI accelerators begin to become commonplace for automotive applications

Joe Biden elected president

1 TB MicroSD available for under $250 USD

8 core x86 mobile part

SpaceX Starship 12.5km hop test

Arecibo Space Telescope collapses

Cyperpunk 2077 is released, a highly anticipated and realistic game that depicts a curious but somewhat plausible future for humanity

2021

SpaceX Starship reaches orbit

First orbital tourists to fly on a private spacecraft (SpaceX Crew Dragon)

First 5 nm microchips ship

DDR5 becomes commercially available

Tokyo Olympic Games

COVID-19 vaccine generally available and effective

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.

Image
two brands of duck
I experimented with 2 brands of duck, one frozen and the other fresh
Image
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
Image
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.

garden

garden

garden

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.

Tags

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

Obituary:

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 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07943YXT2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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 https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07QPNP4VP/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Case: Black friday special https://www.newegg.com/p/N82E16811147227?Item=N82E16811147227
SSD1: Samsung Evo Plus 970 1TB
SSD2: 2x 1TB SATA Samsung EVO 970
Networking: 2 Port Fiber NIC
Spinning Hard Drives: 5x https://www.bestbuy.com/site/wd-easystore-12tb-external-usb-3-0-hard-drive-black/6364259.p?skuId=6364259

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.

Typhoon

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.

locals

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

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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.

taipei