(See also Critical Y2K Dates for the Paranoid)
Do you have friends, relatives and coworkers who are always "waiting" for things to get better? Once they get a new car, or a new spouse, or a new computer, they're going to really take off, conquer the world and finish that project that is way, way overdue. But they aren't going to do anything until the problems are solved, first.
Wrong: there will always be problems. It may come as a shock to most but: life is an endless series of problems. Discovering problems, avoiding problems, complaining about problems, being defeated by problems, and defeating problems is called "living."
There isn't anything else to living; that's it.
TV often suggests that, once you buy X or Y or Z, you can "start living." Don't wait: start now. Unless, of course, waiting is what you do best.
For example, you can wait for the Y2K Crisis to bring the end of the world. Maybe someone else will check to see if your employer's payroll system will send you paychecks in the year 2000. If it doesn't, it won't be the end of the world, and in the meantime just think of all the time you'll save by waiting.
Or you can act, and not wait for Y2K. Several dozen people outside San Diego decided not to wait and hitched a ride on a comet. This is the Lemming Approach: don't wait to fall off the edge of the world when you can jump. Millions of lemmings can't be wrong.
Or you can reminisce. "Back in the good old days," they say (you know who "they" are), "we didn't have problems like this." So rather than combat the Y2K problem, let's just journey back in time. Not just any old time, either, but a particular year. Pick one: 1972, 1944, or 1916.
1972 was a great year. The calendars for 1972 and 2000 are identical: all the days of the year are on the same day of the week. Both have January 1 on a Saturday, both have February 29 on a Tuesday -- they're identical twins, separated by a mere 28 years.
And 1972 was a splendid year. You were much younger then (if you'd been born). The economy was doing OK, we'd landed (and left) the Moon, things were less complicated and more relaxed. Well, yes, there was that pesky Viet Nam war, a few major riots, some problems at the Olympics, and a completely unnecessary attempt to rig the U.S. presidential election. But aside from that, it was a great year. If you can't deal with the Year 2000, you can always relive Year 1972. The calendar is the same.
Yet another twin of the Year 2000, 1972 was a wonderful time: spam E-mail was not a problem, the Internet was not crowded with Yahoos, and you could still go out to a movie at a drive-in.
On the other hand, 1944 might be even better. If you think prices were low in 1972, the prices in 1944 were unqualified bargains. People were politer back then, children minded their parents, and nobody ever had their morals corrupted by watching violence on TV. The economy was booming, literally everyone had a job, and there were no problems with the Olympics at all. None.
Admittedly, the Olympics were cancelled because of World War II, but almost everyone from that era will tell you that World War II was "a good war." You were much younger then (if you'd been born) so, if you can't deal with the Year 2000, try 1944. The calendar is the same.
Another twin of the Year 2000, 1944 was a year of full employment, and a Jeep was really a Jeep and not some fancy-smancy Suburban Assault Vehicle.
Then there is 1916. Looking at a calendar, the Year 2000 is a mere repeat of 1916, separated by just 84 years. As years go, 1916 is an ideal candidate for serious reminiscing: people really did walk five miles through the snow, uphill both ways. People really did enjoy brisk trips to the outhouse at midnight. Milk really was delivered fresh to your doorstep in the morning, in a glass bottle. (Or you could get it factory fresh in the barn, if you lived outside the city.)
Yes, yes, it is true the Olympics were cancelled. Europe was engulfed in a big war, but it involved a bunch of foreigners, so it wasn't a big deal. The worker's riots and strikes, and Red agitation, were passing fads, mere details. The important thing to remember is: if you can't deal with the Year 2000, you can always relive Year 1916. The calendar is the same.
A twin of the Year 2000, 1916 was a time when men were men and women couldn't vote, and you could be jailed for talking about many of the things you hear on TV talk shows. Computer errors were unknown.
If waiting, or jumping, or reminiscing aren't your style, you might consider actually doing something. Make sure that your bank is Y2K compliant; make sure your payroll system will pay you in the year 2000; make sure you have reservations if you plan on going out on December 31, 1999 (it promises to be a big night for partying). Don't worry about your VCR; if it is blinking "12:00" now, you obviously aren't concerned about programming it to record anything. The telephone company and electric company will still deliver service on January 1, 2000, the Rose Bowl Parade promises to be spectacular, and the biggest problem you are going to have shopping in the new year will be parking.
If you have a Macintosh, make sure it has a fresh battery. If the battery dies, you'll relive 1901 or 1956 instead of 1916, 1944, or 1972, and the days of the week will all be wrong. Aside from that, your Macintosh should be quite happy. (Of course, if you have a new Macintosh, you'll be even happier.)
If you don't have a Macintosh, consider cutting out one of the calendars accompanying this article and holding it up in front of your computer. If your computer can't deal with Y2K, maybe it would be happy with Y1.972K or Y1.944K or possibly Y1.916K. Full-page PostScript copies of the calendars are available on the Washington Apple Pi Web site, http://www.wap.org/.
It is your choice.
Without doubt, the Year 2000 will be a time of conflict: is it really the beginning of the next millennium, or the end of the last millennium? One sage piece of advice: have a big party on both December 31, 1999 and December 31, 2000, and cover all bets.
Revised March 7, 1999 Lawrence I. Charters
Washington Apple Pi