Voters Guide: Travis County General and Special Election, November 3, 2020

President/Vice President: Donald J. Trump/Michael R. Pence
This is a no-brainer. If you love the United States of America (and I do) then this is the only possible choice.

United States Senator: John Cornyn
Not my favorite Senator, but this cycle the R team is the only one which can be allowed to hold power.

United States Representative, District 17: Pete Sessions
Again, the R team must have power. The only viable alternative is the D team, and they have officially gone full leftard. They forgot the rule: “You never go full leftarded”.

Railroad Commissioner:
James “Jim” Wright – Please vote for Mr. Wright. His messaging has improved dramatically from the primary when I was rather ‘meh’ about him, to sounding rather like the only candidate who is actually suited and qualified for the position.
Chrysta Castaneda – Right off the bat she gives me a bad vibe from looking at her, strike 1. The first sentence on her campaign website is a lie, strike 2.  Flaring methane is the cleanest thing you could do, far cleaner than trying to store it on-site or build a pipeline to ship small amounts!. That she is bent out of shape about it means she is waaaaaaay off base, so strike 3. Next.
Matt Sterett – Seems to be unaware of his own internal cognitive dissonance (I’m for freedom we should let them frack/I’m against flaring it’s harmful) which is hardly a suprise for someone on a Libertarian ballot.  Thinks control of compliance with rules should be “PUNTED” to the courts because he’s against regulators having power.  Why even run for this position then, buddy?  Next.
Katija Kat Gruene “First, no new pipelines” from a lady who wants to oversee an industry that must necessarily, constantly, have new pipelines? A kook. Next.

Chief Justice, Supreme Court:
Nathan Hecht – I have repeatedly previously endorsed Justice Hecht and do so again this year.
Amy Clark Meachum – From her website: [she] is running to become the first woman ever elected Chief Justice … because Texans want … judges with integrity and common sense – Sounds pretty sexist tbh. No thanks. Says she wants to bring new thought and balance to the Republican dominated court.  Piss off with that.  Go away. Preferably, retire from your current bench and be peaceful where you don’t inflict damage on my State with this kind of thinking.
Mark Ash – Since 2012 he has been running for a seat on the highest court having never been a judge at all, and pretty much with no discernable campaign presence at all. So . . . still “No”, Mr. Ash.

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 6, Unexpired Term:
Jane Bland – Vote for Justice Bland to remain on the court! She was appointed by a governor I support, after a career as a judge that seems to be a set of valid qualifications. family and church woman. No discernible campaign but I’m not sure how much of one the incumbent should need in this case. 
Kathy Cheng – in 2018 I said “the front page of her website is a list of endorsements by racist groups.  And she’s not a Texan.  No thanks.” And this year, she’s jumped on the “the court is unfair because it’s all Republicans” bandwagon.  No thanks, again.

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 7:
Jeff Boyd – Again: an incumbent who doesn’t have a good reason to replace him should stay. Keep Justice Boyd on the court!
Staci Williams – presents as a decent candidate until you look at her endorsements.  the Democrat party folks and the LGBT folks endorsing the D party person is one thing. Her having the BLM endorsement on her campaign website is automatically disqualifying.  Next!
William Bryan Strange III – Once again (as in previous years) I am not sure from his campaign’s online presence this is a real live person. You have to at least TRY, Bill!

Justice, Supreme Court, Place 8:
Brett Busby – Let’s keep Busby on the court! Another recent appointee by a Governor I support, and this time it’s a solid judge who happens to share my philosophy on judgin’: The law means what it says so rule on that
Gisela D. Triana – Also at least a judge, which is more than you can say for several candidates for the Court this year.  But although she may be qualified, she leans more toward ‘interpreting laws’ rather than ‘rule on what it says in the law’ which is the wrong direction to be leaning. Also she is on the ‘balance the court by being from a different party’ bandwagon, which is shit.  No thanks, not this year.
Tom Oxford – not a judge and with no campaign? Hard pass.
Read this, regarding this race. I think it seems to sum it up well:

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3:
Bert Richardson – Without a compelling reason to remove him, a sitting incumbent judge gets my vote again.  N.B.: He issued a ruling *against* the Republican Governor at one point, which goes to show that the whole “Republicans filling the courts means they’re biased” bandwagon is way off base.
Elizabeth Davis Frizell – Maybe she’s a good judge IDK. She doesn’t seem insane. But if your opening line against a decent incumbent is “I want to be the first (race) (sex) person on the court”, that’s a mark against you from me. Not this year, EF. And here it is again, with the partisan/racist groups supporting the D candidate.

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4:
Kevin Patrick Yeary – Please keep Judge Yeary on the TCCA.  A sitting judge without much in the way of complaints against him should generally stay.
Tina Clinton – Being elected in Dallas is hardly a ringing endorsement for a Conservative like me.  She said she has more experience than anyone in this race . . . including presumably the guy who has been sitting on this Place for the last six years (so that was a * lie). Belongs to a couple of racist organizations so that’s not great.

Judge, Court of Criminals Appeals, Place 9:
David Newell – Please keep Judge Newell on the TCCA also. The court has been doing well since he got there, let’s keep him there.
Brandin Birmingham – Yet another Dallaser. Dallasian? Dallasite?  Anyway, elected in Dallas.  He claims to be running to bring qualities to the court that already exist in Judge Newell, who also happens to have experience on the court and knows the current docket.  Next!

Member, State Board of Education, District 10
Tom Maynard – I have been endorsing Mr. Maynard since 2012 when I started writing voter guides.  Refer to my old notes for the reason I’m still for him.
Marsha Bernett-Webster – Okay I’m not saying it’s a 100% guarantee that a woman is a screeching harpy, but a hypenated last name is a huge big red flag. Just saying. Also she looks insane but maybe that’s only her face and she can’t help it. But what she can help is that a) she seems to be running against the injustices that have already been stamped out of society by now and b) she is against public funding for charter schools.  F this lady she can go take a long walk off a short pier.  My own babies got a solid education instead of going to crap schools only because charter schools are publicly funded.  FIX YOUR GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE COMPETITION.  I didn’t even need to read past this in her campaign materials. That’s enough to disqualify her.
Trip Seibold – Doesn’t understand things properly. Doesn’t know that our morality is from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Is not against teaching ‘gay is okay, you can change your gender’ type nonsense to impressionable chilren(!) this guy needs to join Madame Bernett Webster on her walk. PLEASE leave this guy out in the cold from this Board!

Chief Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals District
Jeff Rose – Yet another incumbent who has not been a problem – Please keep Justice Rose on the Court! He is doing a good job without complaints against him, there is no reason to replace him.
Darlene Byrne – Happily accepts the endorsement of the typical D team racist groups. great. She is running to (as she puts it) move to the next phase of her career as a judge. Notably NOT because she’s going to do better than Mr. Rose in this same position. It is impossible for her to have more experience than he, who has been on this seat for many years. Versus an experienced incumbent, she is the lesser candidate by far.

District Judge, 460th Judicial District
Geoffrey Puryear – The incumbent if only just, he says a judge should interpret and apply laws, not make them.
Selena Alvarenga – Says we need Justice Reform.  Which does not sound especially like something a Judge should say- maybe she should be running for the legislature, instead?

District Attorney, 53rd Judicial District
Martin Harry – Am I biased because he was in my Navy, or am I biased because he wants to protect individual liberties and resist an over-burdensome government? Either way, this looks like a party-line race. If you like the R team then you’ll like Mr. Harry.
Jose Garza – . . . and if you like the D team then you’ll be for Mr. Garza. He  worked for the Obama administration, is all about the immigrants, etc. No thank you, sir.  At least he is claiming to want to fix the mistakes of the outgoing DA Moore, so that’s good since he’s the D candidate which means he will likely win in this left-leaning area.

County Judge, Unexpired Term
Michael Lovins – I’m supporting Lovins but I doubt he’ll win. This seems likely to be a party-line vote in solid-blue Travis.
Andy Brown – If you like what the less-insane parts of the D team are doing then you’ll like  a lot of what his campaign has to say.  He seems to care, and to have his finger on the pulse of what needs to be done in the County – but also pitches healthcare as a right and demands environmental justice.  So not necessarily the kook fringe on main street, this one, but you can see it from standing on his shoulders.

Judge, County Court at Law No. 9
Kim Williams – The incumbent judge gets a heavy hand on the scale at election time. This is no exception . . . 
Christopher David . . . and it helps Judge Williams that Mr. David seems to be a Candidate in Name Only.  Pro tip, once again, like the last election, for the Libertarians: HAVE A CAMPAIGN if you want to be elected!

Raul Vargas – I hope you will join me in supporting Mr. Vargas for Sheriff.  A career cop who (unlike his opponent) wants to see laws actually enforced.  Bonus for him to be running against a clown like Sally!
Sally Hernandez – Sanctuary Sally? No. Thanks. Literally a random person off the STREET would be better than this woman as our Sheriff!

County Tax Assessor-Collector
Marilyn Jackson – She seems to be running out of outrage and a demand for increased transparency, which is fine as far as it goes, but she is running against a seemingly-commpetent incumbent who already took care of the problem she is upset about.
Bruce Elfant – May just be an 80% candidate for me. Seems to be doing a decent job as the incumbent.
Erica Lockwood – Again we find a Libertarian without a visible campaign presence online. Why do you to this, L team?

County Commissioner Precinct 1
Both of these people support Project Connect which means both of them are disqualified from holding any elected office, ever.  Hard pass from me. I won’t be voting in this race for either of them.
Solomon Arcoven 
Jeffrey Travillion 

Tons of unopposed positions going to Democrats. Come on, Republicans, stand up and be counted!

City of Pflugerville Council Member Place 2
Ceasar Ruiz – By default, it’s Ruiz.
Victor To – at 24, still TOO YOUNG to be on a city Council. Doesn’t seem to understand children in schools don’t spread covid, while old people are at risk from each other!

Council Member Place 4
Bob Reichenbach – I know this man. He’s an engineering mind and a Good Christian outlook on things. And he’s against all the deficit spending. PLEASE support Mr. Reichenbach!  Did not vote to raise our taxes as much as possible.
Rudy Metayer – now Chaiman of a race-based organization as well as sitting on several other such boards.  Pass, AGAIN. Apparently a Catholic. “Humbled” to be awarded together with the idiot Stacey Abrams, which is almost a disqualification in its own right. Still I haven’t heard anything bad about him since he went on to the council in 2017 and ‘no news is good news’ they say.  But I know and trust Bob.

Council Member Place 6
David Rogers – did not vote to increase our taxes literally as much as possible.
Jim McDonald – wanted to increase our taxes literally as much as possible?  Yeah . . . no. Both of these seem like reasonable candidates but this sort of thing means it’s time for fresh blood on the Council.

City of Pflugerville Bond Election
Proposition A
The issuance of $101,700,000 bonds by the City of Pflugerville, Texas, for  transportation projects for City intersection improvements, City neighborhood street reconstruction, Immanuel Road, FM 685 corridor improvements, SH 45 frontage roads, Kelly Lane, Pfluger Farm Lane North, Main Street, Central Commerce Drive, Picadilly Drive, Weiss Lane extension/realignment with Cameron Road, East Pflugerville Parkway and East Pecan Street. Taxes sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds will be imposed.
Vote AGAINST this!  Stop borrowing money. Against. Against again!

Proposition B
The issuance of $42,300,000 bonds by the City of Pflugerville, Texas, for parks and recreation projects for trail improvements, neighborhood parks, land acquisition, Lake Pflugerville, 1849 Park, and destination play space. Taxes sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds will be imposed.
Vote AGAINST this!  Stop borrowing money. Against. Against again!

Proposition C
The issuance of $47,300,000 bonds by the City of Pflugerville, Texas, for a recreation and senior center. Taxes sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds will be imposed.
Vote AGAINST this!  Stop borrowing money. Against. Against again!

School Board Trustee Election, Pflugerville ISD – none of these people have discernible online campaign presences, so there are demerits all around on that point.
Board of Trustees Place 6
Larry D. Bradley – The incumbent who doesn’t have much the the way of negative reporting? Seems like a shoo-in from VFD
Jean Wade Mayer – seems to have been aggrieved that her child’s program was moved.  That doesn’t seem like a reason to place a person from a cosmetics company in place of a long-time incumbent.  Self-described “huge” fan of Justice Ginsburg is a red flag too.  She’s agitating for antiracist vs. just not-racist which means she is a closeted racist and soft-headed besides.  That makes two in this Trustee election (see note for Torres, below) which makes the choice easy for me.

Board of Trustees Place 7
Cynthia Gee – having served in rural school districts is commendable seeking this role. Slight preference to Gee this time.  
Charlie Torres – Wants to have the dear children represented “by someone who looks like them” – so either a racist or soft-headed about diverrrrrrsity and either way not great for leadership for our schools. Next.

Regarding Transgendered Persons

They don’t exist.

Hold on there.

In the current era, I understand that this is a source of no small contention. People have varying ideas based on varying first principles. This essay is based on my first principles. The following thoughts are an integral part of the worldview of anyone whose truly believes what their Bible has to say. This is, all, sincerely held religious conviction for us.

“… male and female created he them”


  • Created space, time, the rules of physics, and the Earth
  • Made men and women, living souls, fully formed as we are now, a few days later
  • Formed man to reflect his image, in possession of the capacity to reason and be self-aware, unlike the animals which have clever programming at best
  • Wants everything to be orderly, and is not the author of confusion
  • Wants people to have full joy
  • Can be grieved by the actions of men
  • Created a powerful entity as a servant, which turned against Him in rebellion. Historically referred to by the Hebrew word for “adversary”: Satan (which is adversarial to people)
  • Wants people to have fellowship with Himself
  • Considers perversion of his design to be abominable, including sexual perversion

All of these points are integral parts of the Christian worldview, and they exclude the possibility of transgenderism. These stand in stark contrast to the prevailing secular view taken by an increasing number of people and governments which in misguided attempts at equality (professing themselves to be wise they became fools) have chosen to exclude biblical principles from everything. Absent the guidance of the Bible which, properly considered, will yield a worldview which is logical, internally consistent, and comports perfectly with observed reality – men have come up with a system of philosophy that cannot find pure truth from end to end, top to bottom, including:

  • There is no God or He didn’t make things like they are now
  • Big bang or other cop-out origins theories
  • Men evolved from particles to people, guided by nothing
  • As we evolved from nothing there is no fixed standard of propriety, and
  • Pretty much every aspect of philosophy is an open question so

So the adversary they refuse to acknowledge even exists has 100% bamboozled people.

Where does the concept of transgenderism originate, according to the Christian point of view? It is, entirely, literally, a lie from the devil.  Now be advised this is a finely nuanced point, however cliche is may seem at first blush.

I am aware that trans-identifying people may consider this to be a personal attack. They are mistaken. That we disagree about philosophy is not an attack on the person whose identity is bound up in their own misguided worldview! It is a difference of first principles, which if someone is offended at, they probably don’t understand that people are not ideas, they are people, no matter what they believe. As such, they are limited by reality.

The Bible defines reality for a Christian. People then are entirely confined to “male and female created he them” and “God is not the author of confusion.”

okay VFD this is all fun but not directly addressing the topic.

The topic has been covered in detail! Take the Bible for granted and my argument has been presented thoroughly already here!


God created male and female for the purpose of filling the Earth He had just made. Homosex can’t do it. Sterile, chopped-up mutilated neo-vaginae & penii can’t do it. These are an ultimate perversion of the design and the actions involved are (Q.E.D.) abominable to God and forbidden either in black-and-white or by heavy inference.

It is plain to see from the Bible that some gender roles are flexible in a way that gender is not. Some godly women have done man-ish things but remained women. There is no biblical distinction between gender and sex for humans. These are synonyms.

But. There is an adversary, the author of confusion. This one wants people unhappy, and wants people to NOT fulfil God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply“.

The recent origin of the current confusion and unhappiness, then, is easily identified: The Devil made them do it.  With no protection from the Holy Spirit in their lives, foolish thoughts can be farmed like a cash crop in the souls of the unregenerate! Now a bumper crop is being reaped, even while the field is re-sown with worse seed.

The progress went something like this:

  • Reject God or some aspect of God you don’t like
  • Reject the Bible
  • Biblical standards are not binding
  • Sexual rules are arbitrary
  • it’s ok to have MSM & WSW sex
  • Intersex attraction is arbitrary
  • Sex itself is arbitrary, anything goes
  • Why are sex and gender even linked? That’s dumb
  • Sex and gender are not synonyms
  • If you feel like you got assigned the wrong gender you aren’t crazy, you are right
  • It’s normal for some people to not be a fixed or assigned gender
  • Obvious solution: gender reassignment!

And here we are, in 2020 USA and all over the world. People without a Biblical worldview will agree with that progression. But there’s a catch.

They are all wrong.

This worldview fails to account for the truth of the matter: The farther people stray from the design of God (who, remembver, wants us to be happy) the less happy we become. Pure biblical Christianity brings joy. Go look at how much joy there is in the transgender community.  The adjective “toxic” is commonly applied – by the more sane members the same community who are not beyond all feeling. I have seen several first-hand reports from as well as heard in personal conversation with transgender-identifying persons, that the community is shockingly bad, with trans people being deeply unhappy.

All of this, doubtless, has the adversary rolling in the aisles laughing. Having planted this confusion, the one who hates these people rejoices in their suffering.

ok but they exist.

No, they don’t. It’s a lie. Gender is the same as sex, and immutable. The reason suicide rates are the same post-transition is that it’s not a cure, because you can’t change gender. People know this in a very deep subconscious place but they can’t sort it. ‘If I am this way then it’s the way I am and it’s ok, but it’s not ok? The more accepting society becomes, I don’t feel less internal conflict, why?’

Because it is fake. The very idea is contrary to human nature. your perceived identity is contrary to itself – no wonder you have no joy! Gender cannot be changed because it is an immutable part of the self. You are what you were born with.*

  • So you are not transgendered
  • You are confused
  • Having been given a strong delusion  by a being that can inject thoughts into your mind, who hates you

There is hope for you to be happy, but that path starts with accepting an entire reality you have heretofore rejected.


* don’t bring a red herring about actual genetic mutation type intersex people. These are 0.00nothing percent of the population. You’re not that, and you know it. We’re talking about people who self-identified as something contrary to their plain biological sex.

[SOLVED!] Make Firefox your default browser when Windows won’t let you do it, and it’s not even an option

I had a problem with Firefox and switched to Waterfox. All was well. Then a couple of years later, I wanted to switch back to Firefox because %reasons%. When FF started it asked if I wanted to set it as the default browser. Yes, thanks. Windows opened an applet to let me change the default browser and . . . Firefox was not on the list. I couldn’t select it as it was not there. Waterfox was masquerading as Firefox. This was the case everywhere in the system.

I right-click-> ‘open with’ changed the default program for .html documents, and that worked! But it only worked for that one filetype. There are also .htm, .xht and .xhtml to consider. This is not elegant and there must be an easier way.

Reinstalling wouldn’t help; this was a fresh installation of Firefox.

The Default Apps applet didn’t help, this wasn’t on the list of options.

Default Programs from the Classic Control Panel didn’t help. It was not on the list of options.

Bringing up the Set Defaults app (win+R -> ms-settings:defaultapps) didn’t work. I was able to change .htm but the other two didn’t have Firefox listed as options, I guess because they were listed as protocols instead of filetypes.

The ONLY thing that worked, and it only took a quick moment, was found at where there is listed a simple shell command to execute. I didn’t even need an elevated (run as Administrator) command prompt! This was SUPER easy.

Type the following, press the following keys on your keyboard:

  • Press the Start button or your Windows key
  • cmd
  • Enter
  • “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\uninstall\helper.exe” /SetAsDefaultAppGlobal
  • Enter

Bam. Firefox is your default browser again. Thanks Jesus I finally found it, and thanks Keven Arrows for the writeup!

The gospel

Paul summarized it, and David Nicholas expands on the summary.  The summary is excellent and should be memorized.  Now that I’ve found it, the expansion is on your list of Required Reading as well because you read me.

An archive link in case it ever dies at Christianity Today:

The two policemen in Buffalo were fine

The Emergency Response Team has resigned.  There is no statement out yet, but it is presumably in protest that a couple of them were suspended after giving a light push to a citizen who then fell over because he has bad balance or something.  The guy fell and smashed his head on the pavement after scores of police were trying to clear a street, and he walked up to them and prevented the police from advancing, talking, doing something with his hand you can’t see on camera, and two cops both thought it was a good idea to shove him out of a third cop’s way.

Those two cops were doing nothing wrong. The guy got what you get when you impede police officers lawfully clearing an area and you go be a jackass at them.

That is all.

A simple high power high voltage high current active load using NPN transistors

I built this.  If you are clever with electronics, you can build one for yourself.  If you find this circuit somewhere besides then be careful that the text may have changed and rendered this dangerous or even deadly!

Money shot: the final product

The rear view:

This is not vaporware. I built it and it works and it works well.  If you have any smart questions, feel free to ask them in comments but beware I don’t check the queue very often. I’ll get to you eventually.

This load is effectively a big resistor of variable value, that will sink as much current as you like.  It can be scaled up to as many transistors-and-resistors as you need to increase power handling.  Heat sinks will need to be large for high power inputs.  I have giant fan-cooled heat sinks and the circuit itself limits input current at low voltage.  At 100V I am only getting about 60 Watts, but I have used this to test a few different power supplies and it sucked down 30 amps at lower voltage pretty easily.

My goal was to be able to go up to 100V DC input, with as much current as could be obtained.  In the end I didn’t get as much high voltage current capacity as I would like, but the low voltage current capacity is capacious indeed and I’m pretty happy with the result.

My meters reading 18.7VDC input at 30A, when my supply is giving 19.1V.  Almost half a volt is dropped across my giant 4AWG input cables, which surprised me a little.


My inspiration came from Hamuro on

The final circuit is approximately:

The basic circuit is extremely simple: a DC input is divided by a potentiometer, and the divided voltage is applied to the base of an NPN transistor.  The collector is tied to the DC input voltage, and the emitter is grounded via a resistor. The transistor allows various amounts of current to flow out the emitter, due to its base voltage controlling its collector current.  Here I have several transistors in parallel, which is a trap for new players: If you don’t have a proper resistor on the emitter, you may get one transistor hogging the current, heating up, going into thermal runaway, and exploding.  You will want some resistor there to be a dummy load, and it will vary based on your needs.

I have two sets of emitter resistors, and these two fat toggle switches select between them.

My desire to go to very high voltage forced a couple of changes.  A lower base resistor would allow more current to flow through the transistor at low input voltages, but it made the base voltage setting potentiometer tricky to control with precision at high voltages.  I added a 10k pot in series with the 100k pot for finer control, which in use turns out to have been a great idea.  I also had to insert a high power resistor in the R14 position.  A short-circuited potentiometer would lead to up to 100V/1000Ω=0.1A*100V= 10 watts of power dissipation in R14!  A lower input voltage would allow a smaller resistor here, or none at all, if you like to live dangerously or don’t mind burning the occasional transistor and potentiometer.  I had to use a high value emitter resistor to prevent current hogging at high voltage.  On a darlington transistor, you want even higher values.  I went with 10 ohms which is should be plenty even for low current at high voltage.  For low voltage I used 0.75 ohms.  All of these are high power resistors because they may have to take up to nearly-ALL of your circuit’s power, depending on how you adjust the base potentiometer!  The low value resistors are paralleled for lower resistance, and the high value resistors are a series string.  These are selected by big toggle switches.  For a simpler single voltage range you could of course eliminate the different set of emitter resistors and the switches to select between them.

The power transistors I chose are MJ11016 NPN darlingtons: Choose your power devices to have suitable voltage and current ratings for your intended input, or things may well explode on you.  These are high power, high voltage TO-3 devices, which suits my application just fine.  They are mounted to heat sinks with about a combined 2.2ºC/W junction-to-ambient combined interface resistance, and when I did the maths it worked out to about 90 Watts maximum from each transistor with the heatsinks still cool enough to be able to touch.  I can get a hundred-ish watts each with things getting toasty, but the fans cool them down again pretty fast after they stop sinking power.

A final note: Depending on what you do with it, this circuit will have lethal potentials floating around.  If you don’t know how to make this safe, please please PLEASE study what you are considering doing.  Ask for help at the EEVBlog community forum or somewhere else full of knowledgeable people, when you start to understand and can ask good questions.


Wherein I explain how my life was slightly improved

This weekend I made good progress toward eliminating a first world problem that’s bothered me for ages. I have an old variable DC power supply rated for 0-40V 0-3A that’s good enough for most things I typically need a power supply for. It’s a old Lambda, near relative to those seen on the cover of this 1974 catalog:

It had a few niggling complaints. So:

The meters are like 2″ analog things and not ridiculously accurate. This weekend I did range-changes to a pair of nice Newport 4.5-digit digital panel meters. With these installed, I have 4 digit precision on current and voltage, and nice big bright LED displays to boot. The voltage was easy enough, just convert to the proper range and install a potentiometer/voltage divider to get me to 40.00V indications. Good deal. It’s off by a few millivolts at low voltage but that’s ok enough for me. The current meter was a problem. First I had to find a 0.1 ohms resistor with enough power capacity. Running the output from the power supply through this gives me a scaled 0.1V/A voltage output. The problem is that the meters I have are for 0-10V input. So I had to do some reverse-engineering and figure out a 19M ohms string of resistors to increase the sensitivity to 0-2V. This was more work than it sounds, and calibration gave me fits for quite a few hours. I now have a 0 to 3.000A indication.  It’s off by a few milliamps at high current, but that’s ok for me too.

These meters were not installed from the factory. There is not room inside the power supply for these, and if there were it would require cutting a bit of steel which I didn’t feel like doing, and then they would have still protruded. I could have run the wires out the side or through a ventilation hole (the case is 100% ventilated panels) but that would be inelegant. I could have run the wires from the front panel binding posts but that’s a horrible bodge (!) So I ran the wires to the screw terminal strip on the rear panel.

There is a strip of rear panel screw terminals for various connections including remote voltage sensing, which is where the voltage control section gets its reference. I moved the remote sense wires internally from the rear to the front panel where I take all my volts from anyway. So there were two unused terminals on the back, which I used as a proportional current monitoring output. Nice. At work, I have a digital panel meter for my main bench supply that just stays on, burning 3W of power whether I’m using the power supply or not. At home, I want it done better, so I did more reverse engineering and figured out where the internal power connections are to be found. I added a wire to a “spare” rear panel screw terminal so now there is a rear panel output with a switched mains supply from the power supply – connected after the power switch and fuse in the power supply! The neutral and ground for the meters both connect at the main inputs, and then my panel meters now run off a *switched* main supply. The turn on and off with the power supply they monitor. Very trick.

I had my choice of several meters. I tried and failed to figure out a range change on a 3.5 digit meter of a different model for the current readout but in the end I’m glad to have 4 digits and both meters are the same model so that’s also nice. These have screw terminals also so the mains connection is daisy-chained between the power supply and meters.

The power supply had a broken V- Out front panel binding post since forever, and at one point I bodged the V- on to the ground binding post, so the output was ground-referenced but at least usable. This weekend I employed a bandsaw (thanks JB!)  and hacksaw to do the fitting/bodging, and I now have a set of larger/easier to use front panel binding posts which are also separated again so the Vout is no longer permanently grounded. Nice.

The voltage wouldn’t reach all the way to 40. I tweaked that so now I can get just over 40V output. I tried to adjust the calibration of the voltage meter on the supply itself and fried a nice Bourns 10 turn pot in the process of failing.

The current limit adjustment on the power supply was flaky. Difficult to turn at best and it would sometimes cut out so I had to jiggle the handle (like an old toilet) to get the power supply to give voltage out. I replaced that bad stiff old 3/4 turn potentiometer with a 10-turn pot for current limiting. Nice.

The voltage had a coarse and fine coaxial pair of 3/4 turn knobs. The fine adjustment knob had a bent shaft and wasn’t great to operate. I pulled that out and installed a separate 3/4 turn fine voltage adjustment. This required drilling a fresh hole in the faceplate, but that was easy enough. I accidentally drilled a pilot hole in the wrong side of the faceplate but I ended up needing to relocate a cable clamp and this made a handy mounting hole, so no worries. I used the power supply a bit for calibrating the panel meters and didn’t like the ability to only adjust in 0.006v or so increments with the 3/4 turn potentiometer, so I installed a 10-turn fine voltage control pot instead. Very nice.

The final step was to install a mounting bracket for the new panel meters. This was fabricated from brace lifted from a vintage piece of test equipment from an old job that closed down around my ears and gave me a bunch of stuff as I was on my way out the door. That holds the top of the meters’ cases, near the front. The rear of the meters was spaced away from the power supply bottom panel with the use of the aforementioned fried potentiometer and a twin that was previously broken, safety-wired in position. The panel meters now are securely mounted under the power supply AND come alive only when the supply is switched on. Nice.


The bodge-grade mounting solution, seen from the side (hidden well under my bench):

All of this reads as much more simple than it was in person to do. Taking the supply down means crawling under the workbench and fighting the heavy thing off of 5 screws that hold it to the underside of my work bench. Then the cover had terrible little screws (which I replaced) and the faceplate also had horrible little screws (which I replaced also). Now the exterior hardware mostly matches. It is a hassle to get this faceplate off but I had to to it several times this weekend. I had the output/heatsink module out a couple of times. I had the cover off many times and the faceplate off many, many times. And then I installed it and . . . the voltage was backwards. My panel meter sensing wires were accidentally connected in reverse polarity and it gave negative voltage readings on the meter. In the end, I decided to not dismount everything once more and just crawled under the bench waist-deep with my arms poked out in front of me like I used to do, back when I was working on airplanes, to switch the wires ’round.

After a day-and-a-half of work my work area looks like a tornado hit, and the power supply has one extra knob and a fresh set of jacks on the front. It sports a pair of big beautiful panel meters and is back under the bench, a bodged-up-laboratory-grade instrument after all the upgrades!

and: the way this power supply is mounted, I had to figure out how to remove my soldering iron (which is also screwed to the bottom of the bench) and remove the iron, TWICE, during all this.  I had mounted it myself but over the last decade or so forgot how I did it.  I was impressed with my own handiwork, so that was neat. Having permanently-mounted stuff under the bench is sure convenient in use but for maintenance it kinda stinks!

If you scrolled all the way down, I congratulate you and present a reward: A shot of the bottom of my bench! You see here: a soldering iron, a power supply with new meters and an extra knob, and a multimeter measuring the output of the supply for comparison. All of this, thanks God, cost me $0 plus some time. 😀

Thank You, An Open Letter from an Old Veteran’s Perspective

Dear healthcare worker,

If you haven’t already, hopefully you will soon notice an increase in the number of people who thank you for doing what you do every day. Some of you won’t know what to do with this newfound wave of gratitude from your neighbors, friends, and random strangers. As a veteran, I have an analogous perspective and I offer you my advice: Say “You’re welcome” and think of the following and try not to feel weird about it.

Veterans get this all the time. These days, when someone finds out they are talking to a veteran of military forces, it is almost universal that they’ll say “Thank you for your service.” It feels weird until the veteran finds the proper perspective. Here is some stranger that I never met, thanking me for something they don’t know what I did, in some cases before they were born. They don’t know if I put my “110%” into it, or if I was a dirtbag slacker. They don’t have a specific incident in mind for which they are grateful. They don’t even know when or where I served my country. But still they all express gratitude.

From the fresh veteran’s perspective: I did my duty, I did my time, maybe some bad things happened, maybe they didn’t, but I got out and I moved on with my life. Mostly moved on, anyway. It was ‘just this thing I did’ and now here is some stranger thanking me?

From the civilian’s perspective, I was sticking my neck out for them. The most horrible of things could have happened to me and mine, and this grateful stranger doesn’t know if they did – but they could have. They don’t know what hazards I endured, but they do know there was a term of years when I put myself at risk to defend them and everything they hold dear. It goes without saying that there were sacrifices involved, and these were on their behalf, so they are grateful.

I don’t know you. I never did something specifically for you. But I did something for a class of people that includes you. I did some things and you are grateful so “You’re welcome” is the polite response. Not many ask for details. It’s apparently enough that they know I did something for them.

Healthcare worker, in normal times your daily routine is fairly routine. You go to work, you do some stuff that is common for you. Patient (x) needs (x) amount of (x) therapy, sign the chart, swipe your badge and come back tomorrow. I’ve talked to some of you, and you are not inclined to think what you do is extraordinary. The people you treat every day, some of them are grateful on an individual basis for individual things you did for them. You can understand that. You saved Joe’s life, he’s grateful. You helped Mary’s arm feel better, she’s grateful. You gave somebody a scrip for medicine they think is going to help, hey they’re glad and grateful. You intubated someone and watched their sats like a hawk while it was touch-and-go, they’re grateful. That’s easy to understand.

But here is a stranger coming up to you and clapping, seriously? Yeah, seriously.

COVID-19 is a game changer for all of us. Usually you only help “other people”, a few patients; not all of us. This year, you are doing something for a class people that includes all of us. Maybe (hopefully) you never have to help me in particular, but you are helping some of us to deal with this new illness. Here I sit in the comfort of my “Stay at home/stay safe” couch, and you are not only going out to work your usual (sometimes long) shift. You are putting your health at risk. Not just like regular, where you always get a cold during the annual cold season. Not just like regular, where you might pull a muscle moving a patient. For the novel coronavirus, while you are doing your normal job someone can seriously injure or even kill you invisibly, in a moment, by accident.

We get that. You are putting yourself on the line in a way that could be harmful to you, to protect some of us, some of our parents, some of our grandparents. And you don’t quit. You keep going back day after day after day. Some of you are going to be losing record numbers of patients through no fault of your own, every day – and the next day you will go back. Because the patients need you, and it’s your thing you do. It’s who you are. You have a little packet of employee access cards on your lanyard and they all have your picture on them so you will go back again because that’s you.

You don’t have to. You could hang it up. You could zip up one more bag and say that’s enough forever and leave the rest of us wanting when our turn in hospital comes. But you’re going to be there tomorrow.

For us. We recognize your risk. We recognize your willingness to sacrifice for our sake.

For you, maybe it’s just ‘the thing you do’ but we see you fighting our invisible enemy for all of us. So thank you.


John Q. Public

March 3rd 2020 Travis County, Texas Republican Primary Election Voters Guide

As usual, this is for me but posted in case anyone else wants to see what I think about the candidates.  The position statements on this page are mine and if you don’t care for them then feel free to find someone you care for instead.

Donald J. Trump.  It’s not even a competition.  This man is on track to be the best POTUS in the history of the country.  He’s boorish, but he does spend his time doing the things he said he would do on the campaign trail.  High competence meets low presidentiality.  There are many imitators but no-one can compare for effectiveness and the results speak for themselves.

United States Senator
John Cornyn – has been there too long.  It’s bad.  Time to go, Johnny boy.  You know what’s crazy? He doesn’t have any position statements on his campaign website, but he has a picture of him riding a horse.
Mark Yancy – might be a good senator, but he’s not my first choice in the primary.  Too soft on illegal immigration at least and that counts for a LOT in the Senate.
Dwayne Stovall – An easy pick.  This guy, by a mile, for speaking properly to the office and the issues.
Virgil Bierschwale – deserves to lose.  He’s got a bad attitude for this race and it pollutes what could be a decent message if we could see through it
John Anthony Castro – Strike uno: wants government funded “pre-k through phd” education.  Garbage.  Strike dos: Claims to model himself after John McCain whow was hot garbage especially toward the end of his life.  Strike threeee: He says the primary goal of a TEXAS Senator in D.C. is to represent the nation over any group.  Jackass, Texans are the group you’re supposed to go represent.

United States Representative, District 17 – lots of good candidates and none that are 100% on my page
Kristen Alamo Rowin – it says something about you if you’re obese, and it’s not a good thing.  Still she seems right on the important issues.
David Saucedo – bruh you can’t have a 404 website during early voting.  Plus he looks like a thug in the only picture i could find, fwiw
Trent Sutton – another I could support in the general but not against this primary field.
Pete Sessions – a former Congressman should stay “former”.  We need fewer old hats in the House, not more.
Ahmad Adnan – HARD pass. I’d stay home if he were on the R ticket in November!  From the introduction to his website:
He’s “mad as hell at how dysfunctional our government and politics are” well then tell the other guys to not be dicks
“I want to ban money in politics” because he’s a head-in-the-clouds ignoramus. There is no other reason for this position.
“I AM A MODERATE; I am a centrist” (emphasis is his) means he is a squishy who hasn’t thought out his convictions properly.
“COUNTRY OVER PARTY.” He’d bail on Trump in a sticky vote if leaned on properly
“I WANT THE STARTING PAY FOR TEACHERS TO BE $80,000 A YEAR.” so a fool, plainly, who doesn’t understand supply-and-demand
“I want to do massive infrastructure spending” ok good we need…
“…to help grow the economy and create high-paying jobs” ugh.  State make-work to create jobs, exactly what we don’t need.  Also: let’s grow the economy by skimming some off the top of the private sector and giving it to bureaucrats.  Nice.
“I WANT TO LEGALIZE, REGULATE, AND TAX CANNABIS.”  How about just decriminalizing it from being in Schedule 1 and not exposing our vulnerable populations to another harmful “recreational” drug.
Lauri Godfrey McReynolds – Yet another good choice.  This race is looking like an embarassment of riches. But . . . there’s something in the water in Waco.  I kid, I kid, we love our wackos
Renee Swann – Endorsed by Mr. Flores, which is useful. A good choice, I think.
Elianor Vessali – Says exactly the things I want my congresscritters to say when campaigning.  I like her.  She may not be able to win the general election.  Unfortunately a Cathlic and a professional lawyer.
George W. Hindman – Another good choice on topics.  I like the idea of literally a rocket scientist for congress, plus he campaigns on the right issues I like.
Scott Bland – Another from Waco?  Also there’s something wrong with his head/neck area but we shouldn’t hold that against the man.  But I’m gonna, sorry buddy.
Jeff Oppenheim – barely has a campaign website.  You gotta do more than this, Jeff.
Todd Kent – another weird head. Looks like a movie congressman who turns into the villain.  Talks about the right issues but not quite exactly my flavor. I could vote for him in the general, but not this primary against these candidates.

Railroad Commissioner
Ryan Sitton – I’ve previously endorsed him and like to give him one more term.
James “Jim” Wright – Heart seems to be in the right place, but he provides me no compelling reason to vote against his opponent.  His main campaign issue seems to be that he disagrees with disagreeing with the idea of Don Trump being elected in 2016.

Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3
Bert Richardson – Incumbent judges, as always, get a heavy thumb on the scale from me. I’m for him again.
Gina Parker – May be a good judge, IDK but the reasons she finds most compelling to get rid of Richardson . . . I don’t.

All the other seats are uncontested in this primary.  Throw them a vote and show some R-team love.  All the propositions, as usual, are easy low-hanging fruit and red meat for the base.  Yes on all of them.