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Archive for September, 2007

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Major League Baseball: Best End of Season Ever!!!

Friday, September 28th, 2007

For those who don’t follow Major League Baseball (and even for those who do), this last weekend of games is going to be the wildest finish to a baseball season in history. Nothing has ever come close. I will now attempt to summarize (please stand back, this might get messy):

AL East
The Red Sox lead the Yankees by two games with three games left to play. So, if the Red Sox lose all three of their games and the Yankees win at least two of theirs, or if the Red Sox lose two of their three games and the Yankees win all three of theirs, the Yankees would win the AL East and the Red Sox would be the American League Wildcard. Otherwise, the Red Sox would win the AL East and the Yankees would be the Wildcard (this is because the Yankees beat the Red Sox in head-to-head matchups this year, 10 games to 8, so if they end in a tie, the Yankees win).

Think that’s confusing? Oh Lord, we haven’t even gotten started yet…

AL Central
The Indians have clinched the division title, but currently have the same record as the Red Sox, which makes them tied for the best record in the league. They are also two games ahead of the Angels, who have clinched the AL West. If they finish with a better record than the Angels, they’ll play the Yankees in the AL Division Series (ALDS). If not (same deal as above – Indians lose two and Angels win three, or Indians lose three and Angels win two), then the Angels will play the Yankees, and the Indians will play the Red Sox.

AL West
As mentioned above, the Angels have clinched the division title, but the last three games still helps determine who they play first.

Then, of course, there’s the matter of home field advantage. The Red Sox are currently two games ahead of the Angels. If they hold onto that lead, the Red Sox/Angels series will play three of five games in Boston. If the Angels pick up two games on the Red Sox, then the advantage would go to the Angels, unless the Yankees also pick up two games on the Red Sox, in which case, they win the Division and play Angels in Anaheim. Unless the Indians stay ahead of the Angels (also currently a two game lead), in which case the Yankees play the Indians in Cleveland, and the Angels/Red Sox series stays in Anaheim.

And then there are ties: If the Indians and the Red Sox wind up with the same record, the series starts in Boston, because the Red Sox won the season series against the Indians 5 games to 2. If the Angels and the Red Sox finish in a tie, the series also starts in Boston, because Boston won that season series 6 games to 4. If the Angels and the Indians finish in a tie, there’s a problem, because their season series was also tied (5 games to 5). In that case, the Indians would have home field advantage because their record inside their own division (46-23) is better than the Angels record inside of their own division (30-21).

Oh, wait – we’re still not up to the fun part…

NL East
The Phillies and the Mets are tied for first place right now. Also, two teams in the NL West, the Padres and the Rockies, have similar records (the Padres have one more win, the Rockies have the exact same record as the Phillies and the Mets). If the Phillies and the Mets end up tied, and their record is better than both the Padres and the Rockies, then the Phillies would win the NL East, since they won the season series against the Mets (12-6). But, if the Padres or Rockies had a better record than the (tied) Phillies and Mets, then they would win the Wildcard, and the Phillies and Mets would have to play a one-game playoff on Monday (in Philadelphia) to determine who wins the division and who goes home. The location of the game was decided by a coin flip.

NL Central
The Brewers are two games behind the Cubs with three games left to play, so they are in the exact same situation as the Yankees and the Red Sox in the AL East, except the Brewers record is not as good as the Rockies or the Padres in the NL West, so if they don’t catch the Cubs, they don’t make the playoffs. If the two teams tie, they will also play a one-game playoff on Monday (in Chicago – also decided by coin flip).

NL West
Now, we’re up to the fun part. The Diamondbacks are leading the division right now. The Padres are one game back with three left to play, and the Rockies are two games back with three left to play. So any one of those teams can win the division. The other two will be competing not only with each other, but with the loser of the Phillies/Mets in the NL East for the NL Wildcard.

Here’s what happens if two teams tie for the NL West lead:
If the Diamondbacks and the Padres finish tied, they will play a one-game playoff on Monday in Arizona.
If the Rockies and the Padres finish tied, they will play a one-game playoff on Monday in San Diego.
The Diamondbacks and the Rockies cannot finish tied, because they play the final three games of the season against each other (this makes everything simple, right?!?)

And here’s what happens if two teams tie for the NL Wildcard:
If the Padres and the Phillies tie for the Wildcard, they will play a one-game playoff on Monday in San Diego.
If the Padres and Rockies tie for the Wildcard, they will play a one-game playoff on Monday in Colorado.
If the Phillies and the Rockies tie for the Wildcard, they will play a one-game playoff on Monday in Colorado as well.

But wait, there’s STILL more.

If the Phillies, Rockies and Padres end in a three way tie for the NL Wildcard, then the teams get to choose what happens next. The Rockies, who have the best combined record against the Phillies and Padres could either play two playoff games in their home stadium, or accept a bye for the first game, and then play the winner of that game on the road. If they decide to accept the bye, the Phillies would host the Padres on Monday, and the winner would play the Rockies in their home park on Tuesday. If the Rockies choose the two home games, the Phillies can choose to either play the Rockies in Colorado on Monday, with the possibility of playing the Padres in Philadelphia on Tuesday, or to take the bye and guarantee themselves a road game on Tuesday.

If the Mets, Rockies and Padres end in a three way tie for the NL Wilddcard, the same system applies, and the choices are as follows: The Rockies still choose first – either a two home games or a bye. If they choose two home games, the Padres choose between playing in Colorado on Monday and then (hopefully) San Diego on Tuesday, or taking the bye, meaning playing an away game on Tuesday against the winner of the Rockies and Mets.

So that’s it, right? WRONG!!! What if there’s a four way tie? There are two possible ways that can happen:

Mets, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Padres: The Mets/Phillies and Diamondbacks/Padres each play for their division titles on Monday (in Philly and Arizona, respecitvely), and then the two losers would play for the Wildcard on Tuesday. The Diamondbacks would have to go to Philly or New York. The Padres would host the Phillies, and the Mets would host the Padres. Got it?

Mets, Phillies, Rockies and Padres: The Mets/Phillies and Rockies/Padres would each play for their division titles on Monday (in Philly and San Diego, respectively), and then the two losers would play for the Wildcard on Tuesday. The Rockies would host either Philly or New York. The Padres would host the Phillies, and the Mets would host the Padres.

Thankfully, there can’t be a five way tie, for the same reason their can’t be a three way tie in the West – the Diamondbacks are playing the Rockies this weekend.

Ok, that’s the scoop. Grab some provisions, park yourself in front of your TV, and fire up the calculator – it’s going to be a very, very wild weekend…

Categories: Sports Talk | No Comments »

The unknown dangers of RSS feeds

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Check out what the RSS Feed on My Yahoo! page did to my Life Lessons post. Reads a little like Daddy isn’t being very nice to his Child, doesn’t it?

For the record, Daddy’s line at that point is “Go for it.” I swear. Click through and look if you don’t believe me. Please click through. Before Child Services comes to my home to “discuss” it.


Categories: Tech Talk | No Comments »

From the “Can’t Catch a Break” File…

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

George W. Bush, campaigning in January, 2000 on the “No Child Left Behind” bill:

“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?”

President George W. Bush, September 26, 2007, advocating for the renewal of the No Child Left Behind Law:

As yesterday’s positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured.”

George W. Bush – snatching defeat from the jaws of victory at every turn…

Categories: Political Rantings, The World Wide Weird | No Comments »

Life Lessons

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

A 10-year-old decides she wants a pony:

Child:Daddy, can I have a pony?
Child:Why not?
Daddy:It’s against the law.
Child:It’s a dumb law. We should change it.
Daddy:Go for it.


Child:It’s a dumb law. You should change it.
City Hall:No.
Child:But it’s a dumb law.
City Hall:We’re going to make the law better, so other kids like you don’t call it a dumb law. And since you’re a kid and we don’t want to be seen as cold, heartless jerks, we’ll invite you to be on the committee that changes the law. Can we go now?

I’m willing to bet that no kid has ever learned so much about how the world really works just by asking for a pony.

(Hat tip: James Lileks at buzz.mn)


Categories: The World Wide Weird | No Comments »

Columbia Upholds Free Speech, Exposes Idiocy to the World

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Last Thursday, in my Random Acts of Blogging post, I casually said this:

Also note that while I’m glad Ahmadinejad will not be visiting Ground Zero, I’d be fine with him speaking at the University of California at Davis.

Well, I was close:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clashed with an American university president who called him a “petty and cruel dictator” at a forum on Monday where Ahmadinejad criticized Israel and the United States and said Iran was a peaceful nation.

Introducing the Iranian president, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger said Ahmadinejad behaved as a “petty and cruel dictator” and that his Holocaust denials suggested he was either “brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated.”

Bollinger asked a string of pointed questions, most of which Ahmadinejad ignored in a speech that dwelt at length on science as a gift from God and the importance of using knowledge and learning purely and in a pious way.

Many Columbia students and faculty opposed the decision to let him speak, although many others supported it. Just about everyone (if not absolutely everyone) condemned Ahmadinejad’s positions, though.

I’ll say I stand by my earlier statement. I find it very hard to believe that there’s anyone in the world (with the possible exception of Iran) who honestly believes that by allowing Ahmadinejad to speak, Columbia University is endorsing anything he has to say. I also think that the quickest way to convince Americans of this guy’s insanity is to let them hear him speak, as opposed to counting on the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity to explain it to them. So go ahead, Mr. Ahmadinejad, say something to show the world just how nuts you are:

Ahmadinejad … rejected criticism of human rights in his country, notably persecution of homosexuals: “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” he said, drawing loud laughter from the audience.

Thank you kindly.

Your Honor, I rest my case.

Categories: Political Rantings | 3 Comments »

So what have *YOU* done since graduation?

Monday, September 24th, 2007

I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in 1991. Every time I start to feel good about my job in Wall Street technology, someone or something comes along to put my feet back on the ground. This time, it was my former classmate, Garrett Reisman (who, for the record, I have no recollection of knowing or even meeting – it’s a big school):

“I just wanted to let everyone know that I am finally getting off this rock: I will blast into space as part of Space Shuttle mission STS-123, currently scheduled to launch on Feb. 14. I’ll perform a spacewalk, and then stay behind as a flight engineer on the International Space Station for expeditions 16 and 17. This long-duration spaceflight is planned for about six months. I promise to take a good group portrait when our orbit takes us over Philly: I’ll only have time to take one shot, so don’t blink.”

Godspeed, Garrett Reisman. Sorry you’ll be missing the reunion this year, but it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good excuse.

Categories: University of Pennsylvania | 2 Comments »

The High Holidays, They Are a Changin’

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Apparently, famed singer/songwriter Bob Dylan (otherwise known as Zushe ben Avraham) attended Yom Kippur services at the Chabad-Lubavitch of Georgia:

Recording legend Bob Dylan joined Chabad-Lubavitch of Georgia for Yom Kippur services over the weekend. Dylan, who was in town for a concert following the holiday, was called up to the Torah, but otherwise did not cause much of a stir among the congregation.

Arriving in a ski cap and tallit, Dylan stayed for the duration of the morning services, during which he was called up by his Jewish name Zushe ben Avraham. The singer/songwriter said the blessings in Hebrew without stumbling, like a pro, reported Rabbi Yossi Lew, co-director of the Chabad House.

Dylan’s appearance was kept under wraps at the request of his manager, who found the Chabad House through Chabad.org’s online director.

I wonder if those fluent in Hebrew could understand a word he said in that language…

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging, Words about Music | No Comments »

How Not to Design a User Interface

Monday, September 24th, 2007

For those of you who design user interfaces for web applications (you’d be surprised, there’s quite a few of us…), here’s an object lesson on how to do it wrong.

Ladies and gentlemen, the University of Pennsylvania’s Residential Maintenance Request System, FacilityFocus, provided by a software company called Maximus who, quite frankly, should be ashamed of themselves…


Categories: Tech Talk, University of Pennsylvania | No Comments »

Problems Uploading using FTP to Yahoo GeoCities

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Attention, my five or six regular readers: the reason I disappeared for a few days and then returned with four posts in a row was late last week, my Yahoo! GeoCities account stopped allowing me to upload files to my familygreenberg.com domain. When I tried, the GeoCities File Manager would return an “invalid file” error message. Furthermore, since this blog is hosted on that domain, the Blogger publish function also produced errors. In most cases, I received a message that said “Unknown FTP Error, Port=0″ (even though Blogger gives you no apparent way to set the port and the function had always worked in the past).

Somewhat skeptically, I e-mailed customer service at GeoCities who, to their credit, responded within a few hours with some suggestions, and requested permission to login to my account and test my problem themselves. I described the problem in more detail, provided a screen shot of the error message, and gave them permission. By the end of the next business day, they had tested the problem, were unable to replicate it, and told me that it was probably transient. I agree with them, although I suspect “transient” means that one of their servers went down and needed a reboot. Anyway, FTP is back up and running.

An important note to Blogger users who might be experiencing problems with the publish function, though: even after the FTP problem was fixed on the Yahoo! side, Blogger was still timing out while trying to post. In looking at the settings, I noticed that my FTP user id was set to “bgreenber,” which is my Yahoo! user name. On the Yahoo! site, the suggested user id is “bgreenber@familygreenberg.com” (no quotes in both cases). I changed the blogger user name (which has been working properly for many months now) and the publishing timeout went away. So, if you’re having trouble publishing to GeoCities (or anywhere else, for that matter), you might want to consider adding your domain name to your FTP user id.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled nonsense…

Categories: Tech Talk | No Comments »

Bush Endorses Clinton

Monday, September 24th, 2007

President Bush says he believes that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for President:

President Bush, breaking his rule not to talk about presidential politics, says he believes Hillary Rodham Clinton will defeat Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential primaries.

Bush also predicts that Clinton will be defeated in the general election by the Republican nominee. “I believe our candidate can beat her but it’s going to be a tough race,” the president said.

“She’s got a great national presence and this is becoming a national primary,” Bush told [journalist Bill Sammon]. “And therefore the person with the national presence, who has got the ability to raise enough money to sustain an effort in a multiplicity of sites, has got a good chance to be nominated.”

Bush also expressed “surprise” over Rudy Giuliani’s status as the Republican front-runner, given Giuliani’s more liberal positions on social and cultural issues. The Washington Post quotes Bush as saying “Giuliani’s popularity was a sign of how important the terrorism issue is to Republican voters.”

Giuliani’s candidacy continues to intrigue me. I heard quite a few liberal commentators this weekend who were accusing him of being a one-issue candidate who was attempting to parlay his center-stage role on 9/11 into the U.S. Presidency. Meanwhile, folks on the right prove that he’s not a one-issue candidate by taking every opportunity to criticize just about every other position he’s taken. So here’s a candidate that can get the Democrats talking about 9/11 and the Republicans talking about abortion and gay marriage. Go figure…

Categories: Political Rantings | No Comments »

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