Cuba from A Cuban Perspective

I’m working on my voter guide. It’s taking a long time because this ballot is much longer than usual.  While researching candidates, I found that one of them translates articles from Cuban authors.  These are very interesting to me, and perhaps they will be to you as well.

Have a look:

[SOLVED] DIY Proper Plumbing for TMC Micro-G Table Height Regulation Valves

This post is my notes to myself, because whenever I get an air table in with the valves plumbed wrong I have to figure it out each time. I decided to share with the world because this is a needless source of frustration…and so I could access this page from somewhere besides my normal workshop.

Symptom: Your air-isolated vibration reduction table has a section that will only inflate, won’t deflate, and the height can’t be adjusted

Cause: The Height Control Valve is installed incorrectly

These valves have one fitting that is supposed to be the air supply inlet, and three fittings for height-regulating air pressure outlets (or isolator pressure gauges, if they are installed).  I just had a Micro-g vibration isolation table  come through with the pressure inlet plumbed to the isolator piston instead of the air inlet.  As you will see, this was the cause of my frustration.  First, let’s get the terminology straight:

Without the lever arm or table blocking your view, they look like this:

The insides of these are pretty straight-forward. They are a machined brass block with a valve to open or close the air supply to the isolator pistons.  With the top off, you can see the plumbing:

The air supply is fed to the inlet of the valve, then the outlet of the valve (the hole in the center of the part) feeds a cavity with holes drilled, which connect to threaded fittings to be plumbed into isolators.  The stem poking up out of the middle is the valve actuator.  Press down on that, and the air (or nitrogen) pressure from the supply fitting is released to the (holes for the) isolator pistons.  Most tables will have 3 “master” isolators and there will usually be at least one “slave” isolator that amounts to one corner of the table not having an adjustment valve. Three zones of control.  Slave isolators are plumbed to one of the three outlets of the valve, so:

It is critical to note that there is ONLY one air supply port on these valves.  It is marked with an arrow pointing away from it.   For whatever reason, someone decided to install this pressure port pointed to an isolator on my table.  That is wrong.

The top of the valve has a big rubber disc inside,. which has a brass part in the middle. The central brass part of the rubber disc bears has a hole in it.  The brass part is what pushes directly on the valve actuator.  The top “half” of the valve is the large (nameless in the first diagram) section with knurling. This holds the disc inside, and the Knurled Nut is the mounting hardware that holds the valve in place.  The brass spacer floats loose in a hole in the top of the regulator and sits on top of the brass central part of the rubber disc.  Hopefully your regulators are not too old and the discs are not too hard, so you don’t have to open them up for service.  These should basically never have to be opened in normal service.  If you do open a valve, make sure it gets reassembled with the disc in there or it will not work at all.  Check out the Lever Arm:

There are bumps on the end.  These push up to the Pivot Bracket.  When the Table Top is too low, the Lever Arm will be pressed down, and the Lever will pivot down.  The Arm Screw will then push on the Spacer. The Spacer pushes down on the diaphragm inside the valve. The diaphragm pushes down on the valve stem, opening the valve. Air will flow until the table rises enough to release pressure from the valve, and then the table will be at whatever height was set by the Isolator Height Adjust screw.  If the table is too high, the pressure on the Lever Arm Screw is reduced, and the air pressure in the isolators will flow through a the hole in the brass part of the rubber disc inside the valve, up and out around the Brass Spacer.  Air pressure is released until the table falls enough to press on the Spacer, cutting off the air supply.

This sounds maybe a little complicated but it works great, with an error band of about 0.050″ . . . the table height is controlled to a set level automatically.  To adjust the table height, adjust the Isolator Height Adjust screw.

IF you followed all that, you will perhaps already know that it has to be plumbed correctly.  If your air pressure supply is to one of the isolator piston outlets, when pressure is applied the valve will bleed pressure out the hole in the top (leaking by the Brass Spacer) as well as out the inlet of the valve.  This means your isolator piston will always be pressurized to the same level as your air supply, and always sit at maximum height with no adjustment.  Then it’s just an air spring, not an automatically-regulated adjustable height vibration isolator. I guess this is also an article to inform you how to convert your adjustable-height table into an air spring, but that would be silly for most cases.

A couple more pictures because i took them:

When the system is set up properly, the Arm is about horizontal, held in place and held at the proper angle by the Horizontal Arm Screw.  Basically no air should be leaking out at this point.  If the isolator lifts in this condition, your valve may have an old (hard) rubber disk inside.  A temporary fix *might* be to unscrew the larger knurled section from the bottom of the valve body juuuust a little bit.  This will mean a constant slow air leak, but it can be the difference between a table working and not working. It is also kinda fiddly to adjust, so make small adjustments, and be sure to wait a minute or two to allow the air to stop flowing between adjustments.

The slightest downward pressure on the end of the Horizontal Lever arm should cause the associated Isolator to immediately start filling with air and it should lift in a few seconds if there is no table holding it down.

It’s Official:

I now officially have an old house.  I went up to check and see if there were a dead animal on the chimney because there’s an odor by the fireplace, and I saw a handful of shingles were blown off the roof.  So now that I’ve patched my roof with some new, almost-matching-color shingles, my house is officially old.  It’s not as old as I am, but hey we’re not talking about me.

P.S. it would have been good to know in advance that I should wear gloves carrying the old shingle to BigBoxStore to compare to the new shingles…turns out, fiberglass-reinforced shingles leave glass fibers in your skin just like fiberglass attic insulation.  Oh well.

(SOLVED) Spark Instant Messenger Main Program Window Disappears Offscreen

My company uses Spark for intra-office instant messenging for most communications.  I added another monitor to my workstation and the contact list (a.k.a. the Main Window) was invisible.  This happened with Pidgin too sometimes* but the fix was different.  This is *the* way to get your Spark window to show back up again.

In the System Tray area, right click the Spark icon and select Hide to see if it pops up.  If it doesn’t, select Hide again to un-hide it.  Still missing? Log out of Spark. Close the Spark program altogether.  The next steps may need help from an authorized systems administrator if your permissions are set for highest security.  Note that this is for Windows 7, and the exact steps will vary on different operating systems.

  • Press the Start button.
  • In the search field, type %appdata% and hit the Enter key.  This will bring up a Windows Explorer window with your user profiles AppData folder.  N.B.: you can seriously mess up your computer in possibly un-fixable ways by dickering around in AppData so be careful!
  • If that doesn’t work, you *may* be out of luck because AppData is a special, hidden folder.  If you don’t know how to get there otherwise please do yourself a favor and contact someone who does!
  • Navigate to \Users\[user]\AppData\Roaming\Spark
  • Open layout.settings in Notepad
  • look at the mainWindowY and mainWindowX values and adjust them if they are out of bounds.
  • Setting both values to 0 will reset the position to a position that’s hopefully somewhere onscreen.
  • Reset and log in to Spark
  • IF this worked, you can see the Main Window again.

Good luck!  I had to search for what seemed to me an unreasonable amount of time before I found this piece of advice here: so I decided to post it somewhere else in hopes you might find it a little easier.


*Pidgin was the program we used to use, and which I liked better because you can send inline images with Pidgin but not Spark 😡 but they changed it so oh well

This Isn’t Really That Hard

The street is narrow. Parking is allowed on one side and not on the other side. There are signs every few dozen feet very clearly stating parking is prohibited on the other side.

There was a fair at an elementary school today.  Cars everywhere and I’m just trying to drive past the school to get home. Cars were lined up along the curb on both sides of the street.  A woman was standing in the road. As I got slowly 😦 closer, I could tell that she was a Police woman, and she was waving people on past her.  People that somehow kept trying to park immediately beside a No Parking sign, in front of a police woman.  A couple of them drove away from their almost-a-sweet-parking-spot places on the curb as I got closer.  Cop keeps waving people on.

Then I could tell that she was walking down the road, slowly. Then I could tell that she had a ticket book in her hand.  She probably spent four hours pacing up and down the road, scratching out parking tickets to people who clearly have more cars than the sense to operate them properly.

Good.  I hope the City makes a mint off those people, and they learn to park where it’s both smart (which this wasn’t) and legal (which this also wasn’t).

Psychic Trauma

I came to an important realization recently. People can get sick and not be aware they are ill.  Mentally.

Someone mentioned to me the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).  This is the germ which causes mononucleosis, which often amounts to a bad cold that teenagers often catch from what they thought were hidden romantic encounters.  I did a little research and found that very nearly everyone ends up testing positive for antibodies to EBV – which means that very nearly everyone has been infected and recovered.  But I found out that not everyone recovers fully.  This is a herpesvirus, which means that some unfortunate individuals will have the disease lie dormant in their bodies for years – and some will suffer symptoms that are difficult to explain, until it is found that the EBV has emerged and again become active in the patient’s body.  This led me to discover an analogy which is useful to me, and I share it in hopes it will be useful to you also:

When someone is in a car crash and their spine is fractured, we would not expect them to shake it off and keep living a normal life without medical care.  When someone played football in school and a knee was injured, we think very little of their complaints of a “bum knee” for the rest of their life, especially when the weather changes.  But psychic injuries generally are not thought of in the same way.  If someone lives through a traumatic event without physical hurt, for the most part they are expected to shake it off and keep on living life normally – and this is a great mistake.

The spirit of a man is as much a part of him as his body.  Just as a physical injury can cause emotional symptoms (e.g., getting depressed because you’re stuck in a wheelchair) so can psychic injuries cause physical symptoms (flu-like symptoms, panic attacks, etc).

If someone has a bad experience, it can leave them with an emotional “bum knee” for the rest of their life.  What a psychiatrist might call an emotional trigger is the equivalent of our former footballer’s weather change which brings the “old knee pains” back.  We expect our friend with the bum knee to show up to work, perhaps with a brace on the knee, even in bad weather.  What kind of brace can be put on the spirit which is reminded of bad times?  There’s nothing, really.  With no sign of physical injury to keep us from showing up to work, we have “no real excuse” for not being functional. But the brains are scrambled a little bit and the person is dysfunctional.  This is a disorder, caused by stress after a trauma. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  A freak-out, brought on by apparently nothing – but it isn’t from nothing.  It’s an old injury playing up again that nobody can relate to but the wounded, or maybe some of those who have been in like condition – or a trained professional.

If someone has the sniffles, they should take Sudafed. If someone has emotional sniffles, it’s not so easy. Some people meditate or do breathing or mindfulness exercises to relax. If someone has a broken ankle, they should go to a doctor. If someone has a broken spirit – they should also go to a doctor.  Check your insurance plan, it is probably covered as much as physical medical treatment.

It may be worth noting that this is a layman’s perspective and I might have used the wrong words. Psyche, mind, spirit, emotions, vital force, chi, whatever you want to call the non-physical aspect of a man is what I’m talking about here. If you can’t get past the question of terminology and see the point at which I am driving, feel free to get stuffed.

Scientists Fit Good Data To Bad, Global Warming Resumes

This is as much an online placeholder for me as for you. In the future, when people wonder “what do you mean, scientists adjust the temperature data to make it look warmer?” I can point them to this article right here. One of the two satellite-based temperature records wasn’t showing any warming, so the guys doing the recording have decided to make their very good data fit some iffy data, so it will agree with the politicians’ conclusions.


March 1, 2016 Travis County, Texas Primary Election Voter Guide

The usual preface: These are my notes, published for your benefit in case you want to see what a fellow voter is thinking. I have put in many, many hours trying to decide where to cast my vote and these are the very short version of my thinking process in most cases.


Preference for Presidential Nominee
Jeb Bush – dropped out already. This campaign was doomed from the start, and currently he has zero chance.
Rand Paul -dropped out already
Lindsey Graham – dropped out already. A real jerk, this guy.
Mike Huckabee – dropped out already.
Donald J. Trump – Swears up and down that he’s turned into a for-real Conservative in the last few years when he spent the previous many decades as either an agnostic or a Democrat-ish businessman. You can hardly hold it against a big businessman to have associated with the Clintons, but that he praised Hillary shows a gaping hole in his judgement.  If he’s converted then I’m super happy for him. But I don’t trust him. If he continues to be a solid conservative in private life for the next 8 years of President Cruz’ tenure, I’d be happy to support him as our next President after Cruz. But he’s too new to the Red side of the aisle to be trusted, in my opinion
Marco Rubio – flipped the biggest flop on immigration, which was The Big Deal when he was running for Senator.  He was elected because he would never ever be for amnesty for illegals, then tried (as part of the “Gang of 8”) to get modified amnesty passed into law.  Notably, it was T. Cruz who was at the head of the resistance to the Gang of 8 Bill, and got it shot down in flames.  M. Rubio would be better than H. Clinton by a mile, but not as better as T. Cruz.
John R. Kasich – who? He’s done some good where he came from. Let him go back there and do some more.
Ted Cruz – PLEASE vote for Ted Cruz. I have supported him since he was “just” a local guy and his (solid conservative) positions have been the same since the beginning of his public life. He was an activist for conservative causes at an age when most people don’t give a damn for politics.  If you want someone with a track record of standing up against the status quo and even the leadership of his own party in Washington, D.C. you need look no further than T. Cruz.
Chris Christie -dropped out already
Carly Fiorina -dropped out already
Ben Carson -maybe the nicest person here. Arguably a cultist. Does not have the money or the votes to keep campaigning, and so he will lose.
Rick Santorum – dropped out already
Elizabeth Gray – who? No really, who? – nevermind anyway, she dropped out already. She can say she was a candidate for President forevermore, but that and a few dozen (hundred?) votes are all she’ll get from this election.
Uncommitted – I think Uncommitted will get more votes than E. Gray, and I am okay with this.

District 17, US Representative
Kaleb Sims – Please vote for K. Sims in this primary. Do you want change toward the more stalwart flavor of Conservative? So does he.  A private citizen who sees the need to do what he thought would be done for us in 2010 and following. His website could use some help but his heart is in the right place. Read this:
Ralph Patterson – a solid second choice. Here is an interesting interview.
Bill Flores – A conservative, which is good to have in Congress, but he’s been going along to get along, which is not what i want. K. Sims sounds enough like a fire brand compared to Flores.

Railroad Commissioner – This very powerful 3-person commission currently has oil and gas lawyer Christi Craddick, the chairwoman, and Ryan Sitton, founder and operator of an engineering and technology firm that serves oil and gas industry, sitting on it. I think a scientist would be a good addition to round out the backgrounds of the people on this commission that has nothing to do with railroads. This pick was a tough call for me because it looks like several of the candidates would be good choices to serve in a statewide elected office.
Ron Hale Oil Worker, Engineer – runs an anti-terrorism security firm for oil and gas producers – I could vote for him in the general, but his campaign needs work. Like a school project that got merely okay grades, not amazingly impressive to me.  He *also* didn’t win a bid for state senator during the 2014 election cycle.  I’m for letting him keep doing what he does now.
Doug Jeffrey Businessman, USAF Veteran – seems like a good guy, not sure what qualifications he has specifically to serve on railroad commission though. In looking through his facebook page, there is a disturbing amount of meetings he has had with *just* women. It’s a little creepy, I’m not gonna lie. He has a hefty list of endorsements from organizations with conservative-soundig names.
.Gary Gates wealthy real estate investor and cattle rancher  – His campaign has an actual website, but it’s one bullet point deep. As I don’t understand what they all would entail in practice and some of them sound a little sketchy, Imma keep looking.  He looks like a nice guy though. If it makes a statement about his personality to you, be aware he has THIRTEEN children, some of which are adopted – he’s past middle age and if he can support them, more power to the family. He’s lost several races for election to high public office before, none of which were for railroad commission.
.Wayne ChristianEx-State Representative, Financial Advisor – I didn’t remember the name, but I knew I didn’t like something about the look of him.  Then I checked the VFD archives. In 2014, I said “Made the Texas Worst Legislators list – twice – for being a jerk when he doesnt have to be.  No”
.Weston Martinez Republican activist, on the Texas Real Estate Commission – also a hefty list of endorsements from solid-sounding organizations. Not impressive as a candidate for the Railroad Commission – let him stay on the TREC if he wants, for now.
.John Greytok –  longtime Austin attorney and lobbyist, GOP Activist – I like the look of this man. He seems like someone I would like to have in government in any position, but I think I would rather round out the commission with a scientist if we can, which leads us to…
.Lance N. Christian – I’ll be voting for L. Christian this time – He’s a geological scientist who works with the Railroad Commission currently. His campaign is pretty severely limited by having to work a full-time job where the law says he is forbidden to campaign during work hours. Despite that, he has managed to get quite a few endorsements for himself. Here, read this.

Place 3, Justice, Supreme Court
Debra Lehrmann – please re-elect Justice Lehrmann.  Even her opponent acknowledges she is doing a good job (last papragraph)
Michael Massengale – This man has crazyeyes. It may not mean much to you, but it has been fairly a reliable sign for me. My impression is that he’s a good judge who wants to be on the Supreme Court, but not that he thinks he is drastically better than D. Lehrmann. He wants the job, is all.

Place 5, Justice, Supreme Court
Paul Green – Please re-elect PAUL green to this position.
Rick GreenYou can remember who not to vote for here, because you don’t want to be RICK rolled.  YGTBFKM this guy isn’t even a judge, and he wants onto the court in place of the guy who is currently sitting in the position? Not just no!

Place 9, Justice, Supreme Court
Eva Guzman – Please re-elect Justice Guzman to this position. She would be a solid candidate even if she had a legitimate primary opponent, but this isn’t the case. Pool is a tool and needs to be defeated in a big-numbers loss. This race by itself is worth showing up to vote in this primary election!
Joe Pool – what the hell? Why do we have TWO people who aren’t even judges trying to get onto the supreme court? And this one appears to be at least suspiciously RINO-ish to boot:

Place 2, Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals
Ray Wheless – both his opponents say they would rather see the other person take this seat than see Wheless elected. His background (civil law) would seem to suggest this is not the right kind of court (criminal law) for him.
Chris Oldner – I’ll be voting for Oldner. Zero reversals in over a decade is nice. The onliest real argument I could find against him is that he received the complaint against K. Paxton, which has been branded as a “railroading”…Oldner then recused himself, saying it was just another suit and he was just applying the law.
Mary Lou Keel – I could vote for her over a Democrat, depending on the Democrat – the main complaint against Keel is that she presided over the grand jury that let the Planned Parenthood butchers walk and indicted the messengers in that case. I’m not sure about this one but I’m going for Oldner here.

Place 5, Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals
Scott Walker – can’t be bothered to campaign for office, so I can’t be bothered to vote for him
Brent Webster – he cares, which is nice, but I’m not sure his campaign matches being a judge more than his current career. He’s a defense lawyer who wants to defend your rights – which is nice, but it’s not exactly what a judge does.
Steve Smith – keeps running for office after office and keeps not winning. He was on a court for a couple years following an appointment, then lost his election. One more to lose, sorry Steve!
Sid Harle – Please vote for S. Harle. Everybody heaps praise upon Harle as a good judge and competent in the forensic sciences that are so important in cases he might hear on this court.

Place 6, Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals
Michael E. Keasler – I’m voting for M. Keasler again – in 2010 I said “Re-elect Judge Keasler. He knows and is doing the job. Why interrupt his cases in progress?” He’s been on this court for a while, and there are several new justices there who might benefit from his experience as well. Keep him one more time.
Richard Davis – May be a fine lawyer and might make a fine judge, but his campaign seems to be about 50% “Keasler will be forced to retire in 4 years” at which time the Governor will appoint his replacement. I’d rather have the benefit of four more years of Keasler’s experience, than to see a non-judge elected to this high court.

~There are a number of uncontested seats in this primary. Vote for them. If nothing else, it shows you cared enough to show up for your party at the primary.~

County Chairman
Robert Morrow – His tin-foil hat may be screwed on too tightly for him to run a campaign. All I could find in his support was a blogspot blog that is a bit closer to the kooky fringe than I like!
James Dickey – Please help me re-elect Chairman Dickey

Republican Propositions – these tend to be red meat issues and are agreed-to by a majority of the party. I expect this year will be no different.

Proposition 1 – Please vote FOR Prop. 1
“Texas should replace the property tax system with an alternative other than an income tax and require voter approval to increase the overall tax burden”

Translation: We want some kind of a state-wide sales tax to replace the current system. The alternatives are an income tax to penalize work, and a property tax which steals your land if you can’t pay enough to live there. I prefer the Fair Tax proposal, so Prop. 1 is a step in the right direction for me.

Proposition 2 – Please vote FOR Prop. 2
“Texas cities and counties should be required to comply with federal immigration laws or be penalized by loss of state funds”

– In other words, no more “sanctuary cities” where illegal immigrants are not turned over to the feds in accordance with existing federal immigration law.

Proposition 3 – Please vote FOR Prop. 3
“Texas should prohibit governmental entities from collecting dues for labor unions through deductions from public employee paychecks”

-That is to say, the people who pay the dues will be the union members. This sounds like a great idea. If people realize how much they are paying to their unions, hopefully they will want more than *membership status* from their unions.

Proposition 4 – Please vote FOR Prop. 4 – this should be a no-brainer for most Texans.
“Texas and its citizens should strongly assert 10th Amendment Rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution withch states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited to it by the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.””

-this sounds like red meat propaganda to stir up the base, but I like it, anyway.