Sunday, December 19, 2004


Well, now that the early games are over, I can more easily sketch the scenario under which the Redskins make the playoffs. I'm not sure if this is the only way they can make the playoffs (it may be), but this is what they need...

  • The Redskins win their remaining 2 games.
  • Either Seattle or St. Louis loses the rest of their games.
  • The Giants lose one of their remaining two games.
  • Whoever wins the Tampa Bay-New Orleans game today has to lose one of their remaining two games.
  • Carolina loses one of their two remaining games.

In an earlier version of this post, I left out Carolina, and computed the probability that the Skins would make the playoffs, assuming each game is a 50/50 proposition. The probability drops a little bit once I do this (ahem) correctly, but the fact remains that if the Skins win out, they have a 12.9% chance of making the playoffs. Not high, but not bad for a 5-9 team. That probability should go up after St. Louis loses to Arizona today.

Disclaimer: Of course, the Skins don't deserve to make the playoffs after the season they've had. Still, it amuses me to figure out the possibilities.

[Update: St. Louis did lose. New Orleans won. The scenario simplifies to:

  • The Redskins win their remaining 2 games.
  • Either Seattle or St. Louis loses the rest of their games.
  • The Giants lose one of their remaining two games.
  • The winner of the final week's Carolina-New Orleans game has to lose next week.

So in order for the Redskins to be eliminated next week, one of the following things has to happen.

  • The Redskins lose.
  • Both Seattle and St. Louis win.
  • Both Carolina and New Orleans win.]


OK, during the conference, I have wireless access to use during the...less interesting talks. It's my turn to have the laptop today, but don't feel bad for Christina -- she has the Town Car today.

Aside from researching video poker strategies, I'm using this time to follow NFL games. The Redskins, at 5-9, ridiculously have not been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. What better to do during the mathematics conference than figure out what it takes to be mathematically eliminated?

Of the teams they might end up tied with (at 7-9) for a playoff spot, the Redskins would win the tiebreaker with Seattle, Minnesota, Carolina, Detroit, Chicago, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans. They would lose the tiebreaker with St. Louis, Dallas, and the Giants.

Therefore, if Seattle, Minnesota and St. Louis win today, the Redskins are eliminated. Seattle and Minnesota would have better records than the Skins, and St. Louis would win a tiebreaker. One of Seattle and St. Louis would win the division, and the other would beat out the Skins for the tiebreaker.

If any of these teams lose, the Redskins have their hopes alive for another week. (Though to be truthful, I don't know how many of them are actually thinking about this.) Seattle looks like it's going to lose, and Minnesota is in a close game, so we'll see.

Vegas, Baby!

Here are just a few of the pictures we've taken so far. I suspect Christina and I will have some more to post...

One of the reasons for staying at the Las Vegas Hilton is the Star Trek Experience and other themed Star Trek activity. I can't overly recommend the food at Quark's Bar, but the ambiance is entertaining...

One of the features of Las Vegas is the classic buffet. USA Today published some suggestions this week, and we thought we'd try a few out. This prompted road trips to a few of Vegas' newer casinos. (The road trips are a pleasure in and of themselves in the Lincoln Town Car I ended up renting.)

Christina has concerns with the constant objectification of women in Las Vegas.

But it's hard to object to the wide variety of entrees on offer at the Palms...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Grantham Family Business

Apologies to readers who are not members of the Grantham family, for this post will be mostly of interest to us. I'm posting this from Bethlehem, PA, where my cousin Sean and his wife Jeannine got married yesterday.

I thought I'd post some pictures from the happy event, but unfortunately I'm still learning about how to use the digital camera. So some of the pictures aren't as good as I'd like, and some beloved family members will not be pictured because I only have dark and/or blurry pictures with them in it.

Here is the happy couple entering the reception.

Here are my cousins Ian and Sara entering the reception.

Here is Sara showing off her hair and jewelry.

Here is Jeannine feeding Sean wedding cake.

Here is Christina posing with some of the art from the gallery where the reception was held.

And me with some art.

Here are the wreaths Sara made for the wedding.

And here is my first cousin once removed, Casey. This is one of the pictures that didn't really turn out, but I figure a) everybody loves pictures of kids and b) it'll be years before I get an e-mail from him complaining about it.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Good Idea

I'm posting this from Seoul's new Incheon International Airport. (I missed the chance to title my first post from Korea "Inchon Landing". As is often the case, I was asked to remove my shoes before heading through security. As is not often the case, I was offered sandals to use so I wouldn't have to walk through the metal detector in my socks. It was a nice touch, and I wish more airports would pick up on the idea. There's even a branding opportunity for the airports -- the sandals they gave us were FILA.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Conference Excursion

Yesterday (today for you people back West) was the conference excursion. I took a bunch of pictures, which I now happily share with you. Apologies to those of you on dialup connections.

Our first stop was the Jeju Folk Village. Happily, this was not the same place as I had visited last time (where I learned about Cheju pork). Our tour guide commented about that place, which was nearby. She said because people were living there, it had a bunch of electronics and didn't look too authentic. That was my recollection.

As we arrived, we were greeted by Korean folk dancers. At least, that's what I assume they were. They could have been avant-garde Korean dancers, and I would have been none the wiser.

The village was comprised of many different types of huts. I couldn't really tell the difference, so you're just getting the picture of the one.

As with the previous folk village I had visited, there was an exhibit on traditional Korean bathrooms. I'm fairly glad this wasn't fully translated...

And then we turned, inevitably to the issue of Jeju pork. Our tour guide swears that it's no longer fed in the traditional way, but she says that until 1980, her "step-aunt" had this type of bathroom. Yes, the pigs are part of the bathroom, and if one of them decided to shake himself dry, run for cover.

Next, it was off to a Buddhist temple. No, not an ancient one, but a relatively new one. What it lacked in age, it made up for in size. I did manage to take quite a tumble on the temple steps, which I'm blaming on jetlag.

That's one big Buddha...

I can't decide whether my sweatshirt is clashing with my overcoat, or with the Buddha himself...

Monday, December 06, 2004

Korean Food, Part One

Before the last time I was in Korea, a friend had recommended the traditional Korean dish of bulgogi. It turned out that the conference was so intent on feeding us "Western" (mini-cheeseburgers) and "Japanese" (bento boxes) food that on my last day I had to make a special effort to go to the Korean restaurant in the hotel to get bulgogi.

I figured not to have the same problem this time around, since I am spending more time in Korea. (An extra day and half? I don't exactly remember how much time I was here last time.)

In preparation for the trip, Christina and I went to Yijo, a Korean restaurant in College Park. My plan was to introduce her to some Korean cuisine so she'd have a feel for what I was going to be experiencing this week. In reality, the meal served as a reminder to me of just how confusing traveling to Korea is (for me). Apparently, they start out every Korean meal by bringing you a bunch of appetizers in ramekins. Except they're really not what Americans think of as appetizers. Or necessarily edible-looking food. Then, I ended up ordering a raw beef and raw egg mixture, which was pretty good, but I didn't have the feeling I had food on the plate in front of me. Just some random ingredients. It reminded me of when Ben and I were kids and would make scrambled eggs with cookie sprinkles -- nothing wrong with it objectively, but subjectively...

Christina had a cold noodle soup that didn't thrill her. I should add, however, that the soups we had before our entrees were quite good. I think we'll go there again, but order more carefully.

On my first full day here, I had lunch on my own. Unfortunately, the Korean restaurant was only open for breakfast. That's weird. So I walked down to the Hyatt, where I figured to have more luck. Their menu had three Korean specialties. Two I eliminated for reasons of either price or a subjective opinion of what is edible. The third appeared, from the English description, to be spare ribs and soup. I had read that the Koreans prepare short ribs in a way that is similar to bulgogi. (I don't have my guidebook on me, so I can't recall the name.) This sounded promising. Unfortunately, it turned out to be spare ribs in soup. Good, but not what I was looking for. I also made a mistake of ordering a glass of wine, which turned out to be around $13. It was good enough wine, but I wouldn't pay $13 for a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau.

The first evening featured a tasty reception with enough finger foods to constitute a meal.

The second day, we had lunch coupons which we were told we could use at either the Korean restaurant (which I guess opens for lunch during conferences) or the Western restaurant. Since I can eat in Western restaurants all the time, I chose the Korean one. We were offered a choice of two entrees, both of which were seafood and leek pancakes. The only difference was the soup offered with the two (I chose soybean). The pancakes weren't bad, but hard to eat with chopsticks. (I sat across from someone who I think was from China who complained that it was entirely different to eat with metal chopsticks versus wooden ones.)

At dinner, with the Korean restaurant closed (and myself way too jetlagged to consider leaving the hotel), I resigned myself to the western restaurant. It turned out, to my surprise, to have Korean food -- since the Korean restaurant was closed, it was explained to me. Unfortunately, the only entrees that looked appetizing came with Jeju pork. The last time I was here, the tour visited a traditional Korean village. They showed us some pigs and explained that until the last few decades, Jeju didn't have indoor plumbing. As I slowly made the connection, the guide said, "Jeju pork -- very tasty." So I can't really eat Jeju pork, not with that mental image.

I ended up ordering a hamburger. It was pretty good, once I removed the mayo-soaked tomato. I'm sure its origins are just as questionable as the pork, but at least I don't have the direct association.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Hail to the Redskins!

Well, I hope the eBay user who purchased my tickets enjoyed the most explosive Redskins offensive performance of the year. All I got on Korean TV was the most explosive Colts offensive performance of the year -- and the latter is saying something. Sometimes things got a little hard to follow, though...

Saturday, December 04, 2004

View from My Window

Well, I made it to my hotel. And I got about 5 hours of sleep before waking up and desparately waiting for my room service breakfast. The last time I was here, I discovered that ordering breakfast that way got me my most reliably edible meal of the day -- especially after I started ignoring the standard choices and writing "Coca-Cola" under the beverage section.

I am giving myself a leisurely morning. The conference registration doesn't start until 3 pm (It's currently 9:30 AM Sunday here, despite what the timestamp may say.) Since the conference hasn't started yet, I'm having to pay (gasp) for the Internet access. Actually, 1/2 an hour is free. (I wonder how many free half hours I could get?) But since I'm being leisurely, I paid the 5000 won for a full hour.

How much is 5000 won, you might ask? Around $5. The exchange rate is rougly 1000:1. This led to a certain amount of confusion last night when I was taking the taxi to the hotel. I asked the fare, and the taxi manager (or whoever he was) said, "three hundred". I'm thinking...that can't be in won (30 cents for an hour in a taxi), and it better not be in dollars. Eventually, after I repeated "three hundred?" enough times in a sufficiently incredulous voice, he realized his mistake and said "thirty thousand." That sounded about right.

I don't remember having a nice view from my window last time (it's not among the pictures I linked to here) -- maybe I was just too discombobulated to notice. Even though I'm in the less expensive "mountainview" room, I did enjoy the following views...

Back in Korea

I left home slightly over 25 hours ago. This is what I look like after that much time on the road...

Greetings from the Asiana lounge in the Gimpo Airport in Seoul. Since my last trip to Korea, they've opened a new airport -- Incheon Airport. But Incheon is (mainly) for international flights, and Gimpo is (mainly) for domestic flights, so after my 13 hour flight from San Francisco, I had to clear immigration and customs and hop a bus here. All has gone well so far. My flight for Jeju (formerly Cheju) leaves in 45 minutes, so I'm going to wrap up this post and head through security. More later!