gateway to inanity

Valley of Entropy

The elderly woman stoops on her side of the property line behind a utilitarian security gate, eyes quivering. "Entiendo completamente" she says mournfully. "No hay problema."

I'm afraid that if the woman starts crying, her caked-on eye shadow – the same shade of green as the security gate – will start to run. She had a hangdog look when we met and I'm making it worse. I wonder if we'll be the last straw for her.


Rough Guide to ADFS Setup

So you want to ADFS? My condolences. Perhaps this crib sheet will help you. It was produced using Windows 2012 Server + ADFS 2.1 and should be largely relevant for later versions, too.


Big Frugal Rocket

Elon Musk has unveiled SpaceX's latest plan to colonize Mars. Despite its insanely optimistic schedule, this year's plan seems more plausible than last year's. SpaceX's long-range plan to pay for the Mars program is particularly outlandish. They want to fly commercial passengers intercontinentally: New York to Shangai in 30 minutes, for example.

Skeptical of this zany idea's cost effectiveness, I ran the numbers to determine cost per passenger. Surprisingly, the best-case result isn't too bad: propellant would cost about $1,000 per passenger. Including all of the other costs, rocket tickets from NYC to Shanghai might be priced around $10,000 – the same price as a first-class plane fare.


Peril On the Osa

A Tale of Flash Floods, Poisonous Frogs, and Squishy Shoes

The first spatters of warm tropical rain fall on our party of five as we cross the marsh that separates the beachside resorts of Drake Bay from the nearby hamlet of Agujitas. We are embarking on the famous Night Tour, a two-hour walk through the coastal wetlands and primary rainforest of the Osa Peninsula, led by a local naturalist who will point out numerous critters as we go.

Rolando, our guide, has told us to dress for rain and provided everyone with waterproof flashlights. I swing my light back and forth lazily, hopping between the cement-filled tires that form a path through the marsh. Rolando's flashlight motions are somewhat more erratic; his beam darts in all directions, stopping occasionally for a split second to linger on an overhead branch here, a patch of marsh grass there. His light doesn't spend any time pointed forward; he's walking the trail from memory as he rapidly scans the forest for interesting fauna.

Halfway across the marsh, he motions for our single-file line to stop. "Listen," he says. "Do you hear that sound? It is the mating call of a tree frog."