Guest Contributor – TomD – 29AUG2023 – Panhandle Pandemonium

Tom | Flickr


I’m way out of the way this time on the Panhandle. But we get our share.

Ivan in 2004 was a class 5 as it was approaching but hit as a 4. Damn near destroyed the area. A 20 something foot storm surge, It destroyed the multi-mile long I-10 bridge over Pensacola Bay and around 70% of the remaining buildings had blue tarp roofs for years.

I had a fishing boat that I kept on base at NAS Pensacola. I was over a month later before anyone could get on base. Going over the bridge to the base, we saw 100’s of boats just everywhere, beached, capsized, holed, sunken, I was pretty sure it insurance time. Got to the marina, which was also an RV storage yard, all junked at this point. I found my boat in the RV area still sorta attached to the trailer. It hadn’t drifted off to join the boat graveyard in the bay because the lower unit on one of the motors had jammed through and wedged in the wall of a big RV that had somehow stayed in place.

Another big one hit the following year but there was nothing other than the odd tropical storm until 2020 when one came through and destroyed a good portion of the Pensacola to Gulf Breeze bay bridge. Believe me, that was a BIG deal cutting the metro area in half for 1-1/2 years until they got a couple of lanes. Every one had to do a almost 40 mile detour.

Down here, it doesn’t have to be a hurricane or tropical storm. Spring 2014, we had 25 inches of rain in an 8 hour period. It was the freaking apocalypse. Damage was still being repaired in 2020.


Guest Contributor – TomD – 18JUL2023 – Photo

Tom | Flickr


I find myself gravitating to nature photography. My “long” lens used to be a Sony G 70-300, A mount that worked (via adapter) with all my previous E mount Sony cameras.A supurb lens. Until I got to the A7IV series, that is, same camera as yours.

I tried to replace it with a Tamron 70-300 but the image is missing something. The Tamron does workman like images, see image below, but it is missing the “pop”, I don’t know how to describe it, the something special that I got with the Sony. I go back through my photos and am really surprised at how many of my very best came from that lens.

I’m now lusting for the very new, now really released yet but heavily reviewed Sony 70-200 F4 GII lens. Apparently it also takes incredible images through a 2x converter or I could also shoot it through my ASP-C sensor A6400, which would change it to a 105-350 mm in case I need something taller. It seems to have the same, how do you say, ‘glow” as my 10-year-old lens does/did.

In the meantime, my Tamron is sitting dejected over in the corner saying, “What am I, chopped liver?” No, actually pretty damned good for the price but when you’re reaching for the stars—–

Tamron Shots below


Pretty good lenses don’t have to cost a lot. Here’s a 30mm f2.8 Sigma on my Sony A6400.


Another Tamron


Guest Contributor – TomD – 03JUL2023 – Sony Lens Options

Tom | Flickr



We’ve both use the same camera body but your lens collection tends to the telephoto side compared to mine. I was left totally without anything longer that 105 mm when I moved to the A7IV and found that my old A mount 70-300 would become pure manual focus, even with the latest Sony adapter.

I grew up with manual focus but, back them, cameras had a split image focusing system to tell you when you were in focus. That consisted of twisting the focus ring while looking through the viewfinder until the upper and lower parts of the image perfectly aligned. Looking thorough the old Sony lens in the new body gave me no focusing information at all. So, bleah to that.

I thought about getting a new e mount version of the same lens but I thought $1300 a bit much for as little as I use long telephoto. But, I concluded, paying 40% of that figure for the Tamron version, which had good ratings, to be an acceptable bet.

Below is a shot of a female Cardinal that I photoed in my yard this AM at a range of around 70 feet. Even at 300 mm, this is a big crop.

Quick aside: The split image focus system is a spinoff originally derived from the Dreadnought era Naval gunnery optical rangefinders that prevailed in all the worlds navys in the until the advent of radar ranging during WWII.

Guest Contributor – TomD – 17JUN2023 – The Converged Corporation

Tom | Flickr



To me it’s a mystery, the nature of the process by which a publicly traded corporation allows their prime directive to morph from creating and marketing the best products possible under whatever economic constraints and generating a profit for the owners to social justice, profit be damned. It doesn’t make sense from the corporation’s viewpoint.

The only analogy that I can think of is when a virus invade a host and, infecting the cells, co-opts the machinery of the cells to the purposes of the virus with no allowance for the continued health or, indeed, continued existence of the host.

Actually, an accurate analogy, I think. (One more word beginning with a and I could have had a straight.)

Guest Contributor – TomD – 27APR2023 – Comments on Feasibility of an “Electric” Navy

“This essay is in response to this post” Want to Know How Out of Touch With Reality the Greens Are?”  where there was a congressional review of the idea of all military vehicles being electric.



It’s worse. Just heard some of the testimony and the idiot is talking about an all electric Navy by 2030.

Thar is so far beyond current technology as to be beyond fantasy. The current peak of battery tech resides in a Ford pickup and contains around 110 kW hours. This is approximately the equivalent of 140 HP hours or 14 HP x 10 hours or some equivalent multiple. The Ford pickups have proven worthless for towing any load more than a few miles.

The current US Destroyer, the Arliegh Burke class, is powered by 4 gas turbines with a combined out put of 78,000 kW, or about 105,000 HP. That’s just propulsion, in addition there are generators on board totaling 21,000kW for misc electric power. So we’re talking about right at 100,000 kW of power generation onboard.

If they get into wartime mode, I’d expect they would need the great bulk of that. A Ford PU battery would power that for around 3 seconds, 1000 Ford PU batteries would push it for an hour.

But a deep water war vessel has to be self reliant for weeks. Even just patrolling at cruise speed, the power requirements must be in the 20,000 kW range. Your hypothetical 1000 Ford batteries would power it for 5 hours then.

And you may think you’ve heard of what happens in a battery fire.

Lets say that battery tech has increased 50X, allowing an Arleigh Burke to do it’s normal 5100 mile cruise at 20 knots and you pull into some South American port on your last couple of kW and looking to recharge 4,400 megawatts hours. And that powered by windmills that aren’t working right now. Yeah, right.

Charging at sea? How’s that going to work? The replenishment boat is running on batteries too.

We are no longer a serious nation. We’ve collapsed into a silliness and stupidity forced on us by, what?



Guest Contributor – TomD – 30MAR2023 – It Never Ends

Tom | Flickr



The problem for the Dims is they don’t know when to stop, anything.

Their first big win, in the 60’s, Civil Rights, was passed as “equal rights for everyone”. The nation was fine with that but it has evolved into permanent “affirmative action”, hard quotas, reverse racism and actual persecution of whites.

After several decades of gun “safety” laws, it has finally reached the point that we were promised would never be be reached: the current dominant political party proposing outright confiscation.

God knows where this “climate change” thing is going to end up.

I do believe that this current trans mania just beats anything that has ever happened before. The nation evolved to “don’t ask, don’t tell” in the 90’s (I think). Everyone was cool with that. Later, there was a bit of trepidation over gay marriage. Then it evolved further to the persecution of people refusing services to openly gay couples. But who could have anticipated the shrieking insanity it has become today, the 57 genders, gender change by the need statement of what you are today. Drag queens performing school sponsered sex shows for grammar school children. The government performing “sex change” butchery on per-pubescent children without the parents knowledge or consent. The domination of womens sports by men who self proclaimed themselves women, on this day anyway.

If this isn’t a present day recreation of Sodom and Gomorrah, I don’t know what else it could possibly be. A society this sick needs to heal itself or go down.

Guest Contributor – TomD – 25MAR2023 – Scientific American Goes Woke

Did a quick google (Laura Helmuth) and found she’s chief editor of Scientific American. That would be hard to believe if SA hadn’t been totally co-opted 20 or so years ago. I hate it too, I subscribed to SA for decades and absolutely devoured every issue. I remember the issue with the article on the Supernova of 1987 in the Great Crab Nebula. Whoever wrote it did a great job, it was exciting, mesmerizing, illuminating. Back then, the basis of the magazine was purely science

I watched politics and what is now called wokeism creep in. There was an editor change, don’t remember the names now, but that opened the gates. SA hired a new columnist (again don’t remember the name), who on his 2nd column, stated flatly that the verdict of history was now in and the political organizing system of the future was clear and that was socialism.

Oh, yeah? That was it for SA for me. Now you don’t know if any particular article is true or an outright lie intended to mislead you to believe in some woke bulls***t.

Guest Contributor – TomD – 26JAN2023 – Life on the Florida Panhandle – Part 1

Tom | Flickr



I live on the Florida Panhandle. I think the area is ideologically closer to being a part of Alabama than the peninsula. Add to that the heavy military, ex-military presence and relatively sparse Southern indigenous population and we’re essentially our own little time capsule.

There are damn few weirdos here to self expel, though, if they ask, we’d be happy to help.

My nearest neighbor, who lived a few hundred yards away, died a few weeks ago. He was, like me, an ex-Marine, A Sergeant Major (E-9) but he had 24 years in compared to my pitiful 4.You can’t imagine how impressive a real USMC Sergeant Major is. They are disciplined, dedicated, controlled, focused, steady and composed. Marines call it squared away. Everything we should aspire to be but almost all of us fail in some or several aspects. He had a flagpole in front of his house and played reveille and taps at appropriate times and ran the Colors up and down with appropriate ceremony EVERY day. You don’t see that in Manhattan.



Comment from Ed Brault

Reminds me of this great short:Reveille.


Guest Contributor – TomD – 10JAN2023 – A Civil Engineering Perspective

Tom | Flickr


I’m a Civil Engineer specializing in structural for most of my career. For almost all in-ground concrete installations, the nature and strength of the subgrade is more important than the strength of the concrete. Subgrade means whatever the concrete is sitting on. In other words, no matter how strong the concrete or asphalt, it isn’t any stronger than what it is bearing on.

I’ve never been associated with residential work but in commercial, government,, etc. work, testing the subgrade is very important. It should be to you too. If you’re spending a lot of money on asphalt or concrete in a non-controlled environment, for your own sake. please call a local geotech outftit, explain your circumstance, and get a proposal.

If you’re spending couple to several 10’s of thousands, please spend a couple of hundred ensuring it doesn’t fail in a year or two.