Autism, Jury Duty and Being of “Sound Mind”

Right now there is a high profile capital murder case about to be tried in my area. Luckily I do not live in that county as I likely would have received a jury summons. It seems like the entire county was called up.

Make no bones about it, I refuse to serve on a jury unless I am compensated dollar for dollar my lost wages. Every company I have ever worked for only allows two days off for jury duty per year and such cases as this one go way longer, which would mean I’d have to either completely expend my paid time off or take unpaid leave while being compensated a measly $40/day. That just ain’t happening.

Don’t give me this whole “civic duty” nonsense either. I do not believe in the notion of such for the same reasons I am not a believer in “social contract.” As a libertarian, I naturally reject state ownership or collective ownership of our lives. Jury service should be strictly voluntary, or if you really want to help someone out, pools selected from those who are unemployed or disabled. Then they get a bit of extra money while the rest of us don’t have to worry about forfeiting a large chunk of our incomes.

Alas, I have only been called for jury duty twice in my life. The first time I was a full time student so I was exempt anyway. The second time I did not have that option and was in full time employment so I used an excuse that I felt I could and that I likely would not be questioned on: I checked the box that says “I am not of sound mind or good moral character” and returned it. I never heard another word about it.

I always figured if in the small chance I was questioned on it I had an easy out anyway, namely my autism diagnosis. I don’t know if that would have flown but if not my 2nd option would be to claim I was not of good moral character – something I probably could do seeing as how I’m a left leaner in a very right leaning area.

Nonetheless I realize what a slippery slope it could be. Obviously I do not believe people on the autism spectrum (and particularly the higher functioning end) are mentally deficient. Could I maybe be doing the whole autism acceptance thing a disservice by using it as an excuse? I don’t want to unintentionally harm the community, and especially those who might be interested in jury service. Then again, how would they ever know unless one self-discloses it?

I don’t know. It’s a complicated topic for sure and something I sometimes struggle with. I can’t afford to take time away from work for jury service so I’m going to use the easy out, but at the same time I don’t want to hurt my tribe. Of course, if jury duty was optional as it should be this wouldn’t be an issue.

I don’t know. I would like to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. How would you react? Autistic or not. Please comment.


Facebook’s enforcement of its so-called “community standards” is more inconsistent than CB Bucknor’s and/or Angel Hernandez’s strike zones. Just saying.

No Revolution, Maybe Someone Somewhere Else…

…could show you something new about you and your inner song.

Hmm, I forget who it was that said that. Oh, that’s right, it was the great British philosopher Roland Orzabal! Silly me!

Philosopher, yeah, we’ll go with that…

Anyway, I digress. First things first, glaringly obvious mega fail on my part: I totally forgot Song Lyric Sunday this week. I’m so sorry. I didn’t have hardly any time to think and there wasn’t a glaringly obvious choice for the prompt for me so I’ll just make up for it next week.

Anyway, back to the glaringly obvious song lyric reference in the title of this post (for those who didn’t get it – “Break It Down Again” by TFF). This weekend it really became prophetic. So prophetic in fact, that it’s a direct contrast to an almost complete opposite post I wrote a year ago (which had the preceding lyric in the title – “It’s in the way you’re always hiding from the light”).

So I dropped into my favorite local watering hole last night for some wine and pizza as I always do, and caught up with bartender friend. Well one of her other friends was there in the seat next to me and she introduces us and one of the first things “Friend B” says to me is “I *LOVE* Tears for Fears” (note: I was wearing my concert shirt last night).

So what started off as a conversation about TFF morphed into a general music conversation which then gave way to just general life conversation. I got two certain vibes from her almost straight away but we eventually got around to those topics and I was right – 1) she’s on the autism spectrum and 2) she’s lesbian. We both shared with each other the challenges we’d faced over the years and it led to me pouring my soul out to her. We talked about my tattoos, how and why I got my first tattoo, you name it.

Very rarely do I pour my soul out to someone I just met like that, but she just gave me that vibe and I knew it was going to be the start of something great when we talked each others’ ears off for almost three hours and instead of going our own ways and having tons of leftovers we split a pizza and a dessert. She then asked me if we could be friends, to which I agreed. I looked myself up on FB from her phone and just like that we were FB friends. As I said my teary-eyed “till we meet again” in a long, tight hug, I was hoping I’d see her again soon but I had no idea how soon at the end of the night.

Fast-forward to this morning. Bartender friend and I already had plans to go to lunch and a movie today and Friend B texted bartender friend and wanted to do the same. So what do we do? We go as a trio, of course! I was so excited she wanted to tag along.

So on a nice, serene, rainy Sunday (how appropriate, what comes next after all? – “And all the love, and all the love in the world won’t stop the rain from falling…”) we all set out for Thai food for lunch at a little hole in the wall Thai restaurant, which is always amazing AND hot/spicy!!! Of course, that was just the start of the day. To kill some time between lunch and the screening of the movie we chose to go see, I ran the crew up to the old Episcopal church I used to do change ringing at and showed them the building and gave them a bit of an “education” as it were about the various parts of the building, all while still sitting under a kiss of light rain.

Not wanting to overstay our welcome, and owing to a bathroom emergency, we retired to Friend B’s house just a couple of blocks away. Though I got lost on the way (damn stoplights!!!) I eventually found my way there as Friend B showed us the house, I played a few tunes on her guitar (couldn’t help it!) and we all sat down for a glass of wine and a toast to new friends.

We toasted entirely too long as we all loaded up into Friend B’s car (and I left my car at the house) and headed to the theater hoping we’d be just in time for the start of the movie but done with all the bullshit previews. No such luck, but we only missed about 5 minutes. Our movie choice was The Spy Who Dumped Me, and it was by and large stupid but it was at least hilarious and the fight scenes were very well executed, and the cameo by (a fake, obviously) Edward Snowden just make it that much more epic. The three of us hadn’t laughed so hard in forever. It was so great.

The trek back to Friend B’s house wound up being the scenic route so plenty of fun conversation was had, including a rather long discussion of the soon-to-be-felt after effects of the Thai food we all ate for lunch. You chili heads know what I refer to – the dreaded “firerrhea” of course (let’s just break it down and bring the chorus full circle – “…waste seeping underground”). When you can talk about having lava shits with your friends, you know you’re both awkward, weird and super tight all rolled into one!

The day came to an end as we arrived back at Friend B’s house and bartender friend and I gave our teary-eyed, arm-locked goodbyes to Friend B and I chauffeured bartender friend back to her house where we did the same. Needless to say I didn’t want the day to end but it had to.

Wow. I’m just at a loss for words. I really, really needed this. Going through some personal life bullshit and work isn’t exactly going smoothly right now so meeting someone that I have so much in common with was just amazing. It’s the start of another great friendship for me. What a weekend.

Alas, back to “real life” tomorrow. Don’t make me…

Cigar Review: Blanco Liga Exclusiva de Familia Connecticut

This offering from Blanco Cigars features a US seed Honduran Connecticut wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and long fillers. Size reviewed is a 6″ x 54RG Toro vitola.

First light reveals a perfect draw producing plumes of thick, creamy smoke. Mild/medium body flavors consisting of a creamy core with a zingy, bright cedar on the retrohale along with a little bit of a pepper bite.

Getting into the first third we see more of the same but with a nice caramel sweetness entering into the draw. There is also now a fleeting lemon twang on the finish. Everything is exceptionally smooth and well blended together, still holding at a mild/medium body.

The 2nd third sees a slight transition as the pepper drops off and the wood tones darken a bit and shift more toward an oak. No further changes were noted. Ending at 1 hour 40 minutes for a fantastic burn time for the size and bringing in a matching mild/medium nicotine strength.

The typical impeccable Blanco construction was evident in this cigar – close to a razor sharp burn and an ash that holds on about a third of the stick at a time.

This is an excellent morning stick – creamy and mild but still with a good bit of complexity to keep it interesting. Perfect for pairing with a nice breakfast blend coffee. Not a cheap Connecticut cigar, ranging from $8.60-$10.75 per stick** but definitely in a higher echelon than the vast majority of Connecticut cigars on the market. Rating: 4.25/5.

**Price direct from Blanco Cigars. 

Cranes 101: Crane Tonnage Ratings


So I had an amusing thing happen to me at work today that happens fairly regularly, mostly from people who have never dealt with (or rarely deal with) cranes. It’s amusing and laughable to me but to someone who is not in the crane business or has no experience with cranes, I can see why this would be misleading. Namely, a crane’s tonnage rating. Alas, I’m using this as an opportunity to educate you a little about the crane world. I hope you all find this interesting and educational.

So here’s a brief transcript of the call:

Me: “(Company Name) this is Lynn how can I help you?”

Him: “I was wondering if I could get a price for your 40 ton.”

Me: “Sure, how much are you lifting and where?”

Him: “Uh, 80,000 pounds…”

Now, for the layperson, it might seem that a 40 ton crane should be able to lift 80,000 pounds (40 tons). However, anybody with any kind physics knowledge should know why this is not the case (it was obvious to me even before I worked in the crane industry).

So what is a crane’s tonnage rating? Simply put, it’s the amount of weight a crane can lift in its most ideal configuration at its shortest working radius. Take, for example, this load chart of a LinkBelt HTC-86100 mobile hydraulic crane. It has a tonnage rating of 100 tons, and as you can see at its ideal configuration and minimum radius, it can indeed support 100 tons of *total load* (more explanation on that later and why even that number is deceptive):

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 9.04.35 PM

So at 7′ away from its king, or center, pin (the pivot point for the upperworks), stacked with 32,500 pounds of counterweight, on full outrigger (support) spread and at only 38′ of boom (fully retracted), the crane can pick 100 tons. However, the more you push the boom out or the farther out from the center pin you have to reach, we can see capacity decreases exponentially. Further, as we have to add boom extensions or reach over obstructions that require the use of jibs (boom extensions with a fixed offset), luffers (adjustable offset jibs), etc. that further reduces capacity.

As for why that is, it’s a simple physics problem. It has to do with where the crane’s center of gravity is in relation to the center pin. The counterweight can only shift the c.g. backwards so much. There comes a point where the c.g. is so far forward of the center pin that it becomes unstable, and thus topples. There is also strength of material in the boom (be it telescopic or lattice) that can be a limiting factor as to the amount of weight the crane can support.

Alas, the weight of the actual item to be lifted is only part of the story. A further examination of physics makes it clear that there’s more to figuring out the “total load” than just the weight of the item. Simple physics makes it very clear that any weight at all dangling off the boom will affect stability. As such, one must also take into account the weight of the hook block, any rigging affixed to the load, and in some cases the hoist line (most manufacturers pre-deduct the weight of the minimum number of “parts” of line required to support the chart capacity – any additional parts of line must also be deducted or, in the case of Manitowoc crawler cranes, the entirety of the hoist line must be deducted). So that 80,000 pound load? Let’s say it requires an elaborate rigging scheme that weighs some 5,000 pounds and you have a hook block that weighs 2,500 pounds. Your actual total load is then not 80,000 pounds, but in fact 87,500 pounds!

In any event, we see that not even a 100 ton unit is sufficient for this potential client’s request, unless you’re just barely lifting it off the ground and no more than about 15 feet from the center pin. However, for this example let’s say we’re lifting 40 feet from the center pin at a height of about 70 feet. We’re going to need about 110 feet +/- of boom to get the required tip height and head room for the rigging, so to maintain a decent margin of safety, you’re looking at about a 275 ton crane, as shown in this load chart for a LinkBelt ATC-3275:

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 9.17.39 PM

Of course, this is just a simple example and assuming no real obstructions. If we have to stick a jib or luffer on it, you require an even higher tonnage rating than shown above, but I imagine you get the idea. In our load example, at the required tip height and radius, the total load we are lifting is still at about 70% of the rated capacity of the crane in this configuration.

Now, it should be said that most load charts have a 15-25% contingency built in so that you never exceed 75% (lattice boom) or 85% (telescopic boom) of tipping load when operating within chart. You can, in desperate situations, override the built in protections in the crane’s computer system (in crane operator jargon that’s known as “keying the crane”) but unless it’s like a matter of life or death or something there’s absolutely no reason to key the crane. That’s just playing with fire. Whereas you might not necessarily unbalance the crane to the point of instability (if within the contingency), you’re still likely risking component failure lifting beyond rated capacities. The takeaway: just don’t do it unless someone’s life literally depends on it.

So yes, crane tonnage ratings can be deceptive to someone not in the know, but now you do. I hope you found this interesting and you learned something. Cranes are fascinating machines and engineering marvels indeed, but when it comes to engineering a lift, there is a lot more than what meets the eye.

In the words of NBC, “The more you know…”

Song Lyric Sunday 8/5/18 – The Wild Rover

This week’s Song Lyric Sunday challenge is “drink.” Well, there were a few songs that came to mind but I thought a few would be duplicated so I’m going to take it this direction and I doubt this one will be duplicated.

So for this week, I’m going back to about the year 1500 to this old Irish Drinking Song. The songwriter(s) is unknown, but it’s an old traditional song that’s fun and plenty of mentions of drinks – mainly alcoholic drinks. It tells the tale of a drunkard who lived his life on the road and swears to give up that lifestyle after striking it rich. It’s a fun song and when I played in a Scottish/Irish folk band this song was one of our staples.

With that, I present to you “The Wild Rover.” There are countless versions of the song, but for this week I’m settling on the rendition as performed by the Irish band The Dubliners. The lyrics are in the video so I’ll not waste the energy transcribing them here.

Hope you enjoyed and see you next week!

Beer/Cigar Review – Loup Garou and Tatuaje Reserva

Today I have both a beer and a cigar to review, so tune in for some good (or maybe not-so-good?) stuff to check out.

Loup Garou Stout

This American Stout brewed with natural flavors and aged in wooden barrels comes to us from Bayou Teche Brewing Company in Arnaudville, LA. It weighs in at 8% ABV and an unspecified IBU or gravity rating.

Pours dark brown with a thin ring of tan head that dissipates fairly quickly. Aromas of dark chocolate and plum on the nose with a slight smoke and oaky undertone. Flavors follow the nose almost exactly to the T – dark chocolate, lum, smoke, oak. A bit of a coffee note on the back end of the finish. Medium body and medium carbonation.

A good beer, but it did leave me wanting some more substance and complexity. It would be a great imperial stout if the ABV was kicked up a bit. Rating: 3.5/5.

Tatuaje Reserva

This offering from Tatuaje Cigars features an Ecuadorian Habano Maduro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and long fillers. The size reviewed here is the Miami J21 – a 5″ x 50RG Robusto vitola.

First light reveals a perfect draw producing plumes of medium/full bodied smoke. Straight tobacco core with substantial pepper and spice on the nose.

The first third is more of the same but bringing in a smooth earth tone into the draw. Fairly consistent start to finish with the only change being the pepper dropping out almost entirely and a slight sweetness entering. Ending at 45 minutes for an average time for a Robusto sized stick. Strength is a medium at the end.

Construction was excellent. Burn line was straight enough and ash held on well.

Though well constructed the flavors were rather uninspiring. Pretty plain and boring really. At the price point (approx. $10-12/stick) I really expected more. If you’re a fan of Cuban-esque blends this might be to your liking but  the plainness just reminds me why I think Cubans are way overrated. I had bought two singles with my last haul and I smoked both in one sitting just to burn them out. Not one I’ll smoke again. Rating: 2.5/5.

Have you had either of today’s offerings? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!