By Warren Bone
January 23, 2000
Are we there yet? And if so, why are we still talking about this?
Oh, I see! You have not been talking about it.
And you are probably one of those who never gave it any thought
anyway. Right? And
I'll bet you are now joining the leagues that say it was all a hoax from the beginning,
and that the whole world did not have to spend all those hundreds of billions of dollars
to make sure all the computers in the world would continue to work when 2000 got
I'll bet you also didn't do any preparations of any kind, because
you just knew nothing
was going to happen. No extra food or water, and no extra cash? You weren't worried
about your electricity going off and having no heat? You weren't worried that some
computer foul-up might just cause some major life threatening situation of some kind,
or that business breakdowns could cause supply shortages or even a recession? And
you didn't believe there would be lots of lawsuits filed because of this? No worries at all
about what the rollover from 1999 to 2000 would bring?
I thought so.
Why not? Why weren't you worried like the rest of us?
I see: Because there was nothing you could do about it, and
you knew there wouldn't
be any problems anyhow. You knew it was just a bunch of hype. What's that? You say
you were right because the Year 2000 thing is all over with now and there were no
problems at all anywhere in the world so that proves you were right?
Ok. Is that your final answer?
All right then. I do understand your point, even if I don't
understand your way of
First let me just say that there are a whole lot of us around
the world that are
definitely STILL talking about this because we are STILL concerned. So we
obviously don't have the insight into this situation that you do.
Help me to understand exactly how you knew all these things.
How you knew it was a
hoax, and all hype, and that there wouldn't be any problems at all with Year 2000. And
how you know that there weren't any problems at rollover on 1 January 2000. And also
help me to understand how you know that there have not been any problems since
I'll just ask you a few questions to see if I can determine
your base of knowledge on the
subject. OK? That will help me to understand.
Did you ever write any computer code yourself? Ever do any
programming or systems
design? Ever been a systems analyst or systems engineer? Computer operator maybe.
Systems project manager? Network administrator? Database administrator? Maybe you
were a telecommunications expert. Desktop/PC specialist? Engineer?
Oh! I know. I bet you designed and wrote operating systems!
NO? Then I bet you were
an Application Systems Manager. NO? Ok, how about Director of IT or MIS. Okwait, I
know!Chief Information Officer. Year 2000 Consultant? I'm stumped. I give up.
What? None of those? You never worked in any of those positions
I asked about? Well,
did you ever work in Information Technology at all, anywhere? Anytime? Ever?
NO? You mean to tell me you never worked at all in any capacity
associated with what is the core of this Year 2000 computer problem, and yet you still
somehow knew that there was no problem? That it was all hype, and a hoax? And that
nothing at all would happen in the whole world because of Y2K issues? And even now
you know that it is all over with?
Truly unbelievable! I meanthis is just amazing!
Well then, suppose you tell me how you could have known all
those things. I really am
trying to understand, and I did ask you to help me with that.
What? You say you just know?!
Well, HOW DO YOU JUST KNOW?
Ok. I'm going to quote you here if you don't mind. You said,
"I don't know how I know
but I do, and that's all!"
Did I get that right? I thought so.
Well friend, I am going to bring you up to date a bit and then
you will understand why
WE are still talking about this.
Everyone Knows That Zero Is Less Than Ninety-Nine
So I'm not going to explain to you that millions of computer
systems, and who knows
how many embedded chips, all over the world used only 2 digits year dates and very
many programs simply "plugged" a number 19 in front of the 2 digit year in order to do
comparisons and calculations. It wasn't ALL systems that had this problem, just a
terribly awful lot of them, and some of the most critical ones. And I'm sure you already
know that when the 2-digit year 99 needed to go to 2000 it could not go there since all
that 2 digits can handle is from 00 to 99. So after 99 they became 00, and the
programs would still be plugging 19 in front of that 00 so that every comparison and
calculation would be working with  00 instead of  00. Some didn't even bother
to plug the 19 in, they just used the last 2 digits because they thought it would
ALWAYS be 19-something-or-other (like 05 always meant 1905, and 88 was always
1988. No allowance at all for something to be 20 something, like  00.
And that is the core problem that had to be fixed all over
the world or else those
systems would cease to operate altogether or they would operate putting out bad
information. In any case our entire world would have come to a pretty abrupt halt.
But I'm not going to explain that to you since I'm sure you
at least knew that. You have
to believe that as an absolute TRUTH or the rest of our discussion is for naught! If
you don't believe ME or any of the rest of us who take care of this world with computer
systems, then I'll volunteer to take you in person to look at some computer code so you
will finally understand that it is a disastrous problem that had to be fixed.
So, that should do away with your thinking that this was all
a hoax and just a bunch of
hype. You must not think for a moment that the code was not broken and did not
have to be fixed or replaced. (I actually wrote some of those programs that had the
date problem. And designed some others like that-really didn't expect any systems I
designed in 1985 to still be used 15 years later, but they were! Years later, as Year
2000 Project Manager for my company, I had to get my own systems fixed for 2000!
And over 2,000 other things fixed so we could just stay in business.)
Believe me it was not, and is not, hype or hoax.
Good. I'm glad you finally accept that as a fact.
Preparing for the Worst
You've read reports about how much time and money was spent
worldwide fixing the
so-called Y2K Bug. From $200 billion to $500 billion (U.S.) were the last estimates I
It was not a "bug" at alla bug is some "error"
in code or design that jumps out and
says "gotcha!" Then some programmer says, "Oops!made a mistake! Gotta fix it."
The Year 2000 "problem" was by design. That doesn't
sound right, so let me say it
another way: The Year 2000 "problem" was a result of good systems design at the time.
Don't get me wrong. We didn't design the systems to work that way just so we would
have something to work on later in life! No, the systems were designed to use those 2
digit years because it made sense at that time, and the users demanded it. No bug. No
oversight. No worry about whether that system would still be in use when 2000 got here.
A great many companies and governments around the world underestimated
resources and money it would take to sort all this out; to identify and inventory
everything; then assess the systems and devices to see what would work and what would
not; make all the code changes or buy or write replacement systems; then test it all;
perhaps have an independent audit done to double check the code; finally move it
into production and hope for the best. And during all this time vendors, supplier,
customers and other business partners had to be contacted to see if they were going to
have Y2K problems that would interrupt your business. The magnitude and scope of
the "Project" was awesome for all but the smallest companies, if done right.
Seems that just about everyone started too late because they
just couldn't believe it
when we started telling them how involved this was going to be and how much it was
going to cost. Too late starting and as a result, many are still not finished.
For years, reports and surveys kept telling us that there were
going to be problems. Big
problems. Survey after survey showed that businesses and governments everywhere
were greatly behind schedule. Some, like about 50% of all small businesses in the
U.S., were even planning to do nothing at all to prepare themselves for this
eventthey said they would just take their chances and fix things if something broke.
"Fix on failure" was the term used to describe this approach.
Reports from a very great number of countries said the same
thing. They started too
late, or haven't started at all. There were going to be disastrous results from this.
The Y2K consultants, writers, specialists and experts, filled
the web news and many
other media with the "alarming facts." Myself included, amongst the many others.
Our U.S. federal government had taken every precaution imaginable,
some not imaginable, to prepare for the worst. The very worst that could happen both
within the United States and outside our country. A $50 million communications
center was set up to monitor and coordinate information gathered from every country
possible in anticipation of each time zone rolling into 2000. The U.S. federal
government coordinated disaster response planning and preparations with not only
FEMA, but with every state and city emergency management, police, National Guard,
Many people and businesses wisely took these "signs"
and "warnings" seriously and
prepared themselves for various levels of self-sufficiency, should the worst really
happen. Governments and Year 2000 experts were issuing these "signs and warnings."
Others who knew little about the issue also took it upon themselves to warn of the
impending dangers to come at the stroke of midnight 1999-2000. To some it could
possibly be "The End Of The World As We Know It." (TEOTWAWKIhas become a
well-recognized acronym in these discussions.)
Those That "Get It" and Those That Don't
It did not take long for two diametrically opposed camps to
arise out of the Year 2000
issue: The GI's and the DGI's. Those that Get It (GI) and those that Don't Get It (DGI)!
The GI's understood the magnitude of the problem and were suspect
being "just fine" when 2000 finally did arrive. The phrase "Hope for the best but prepare
for the worst" was taken seriously. They "got it" in that they thought it possible, no matter
how remote, that the infrastructure could actually fail, that there could be food and
other supply shortages, and that there could possibly be riots in our major cities. After
all, the federal, state and local governments were preparing for these events should
GI's believed the reports from those of us that said it would
be impossible to fix all the
"broken" code. To get everything fixed in time. Impossible. And they believed as we did
(and still do) that a great number of official reports from both business and governments
were not telling all that needed to be told. In other words, we did not believe that
everything was "just fine and on target." Some called this "cover-up" while others
thought of it as "conspiracy." My own point of view was that no business or government,
or individual for that matter, wants to tell the absolute truth when it comes to admitting
they have a real problem on their hands. Instead, they report, "We have made
substantial progress and do not anticipate any major problems." Sounds much better
on an SEC report.
Nowin the other camp were those DGI's that thought it was all
a bunch of bull or
even worse they paid no attention to the situation at all. "Hype, hoax, nothing is going
to happen. I don't know anything about it so I'm not worried. And even if is true there's
nothing I can do about it." That's the DGI attitude, with variations of course. That's why
the GI's said these folks just "Don't Get It."
Arguments ensued through the many web discussion forums. The
GI's in this corner and
the DGI's in the other! I must say that the exchange of ideas, opinions and good
arguments (and sometimes even facts!) served quite a good purpose. It brought out a
tremendous amount of information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for years!
Information and thoughts that would never have been shared through any other
medium. And which would never have been so "direct" in its opinions expressed, not
just of the topic under discussion but also of one another! (Guess if you can't take the
punches you get out of the ring!)
Thanks to all who provided the many discussion forums for this.
The Rollover Letdown
Why did it go so smoothly? Or did it?
Where were all the embedded chip problems?
The lights stayed on worldwide?
No major problems? Not anywhere?
No problems with government systems?
How'd they do that? Or did they?
Lots and lots of questions being asked right now (by those
of us who understand the
problem and are still talking about it. At least, we thought we understood the problem.)
You see it appears to most people that 2000 came and nothing
happened at all. The
lights didn't go out. That's the main thing. And the water and sewer and
communications and nuclear plants all worked. And banks worked. Those critical
infrastructures made it through the transition here in the States. And the planes didn't
fall out of the sky. In essence, the sky didn't fall like some thought possible if all these
systems weren't fixed. (I might point out that had the electricity and communications
not held up substantially during the 24 hour rollover period-highly publicized-we
would indeed have experienced the sky falling.)
So why did it go so smoothly? Or did it? "How'd they do that?"
What we (the general public) know about any Y2K related problems
is only what was
reported to us, unless, of course, it affected us directly. Those things that cannot be
kept from the public's awareness were the things that were the highest priority of
governments and business alike. And the number one priority had to be electricity (and
communications, a close second.)
Obviously, if at midnight going into 1 January 2000 all the
lights went out (which
would have been clear proof that the electricity had failed!), then we would have had
the terrible catastrophes we feared most and which some predicted. Therefore, every
agency responsible for keeping the electrons flowing knew that had to be close to
100% reliable even if nothing else got done. You can't fix a broken computer system if
you don't have electricity to run it.
Our thanks to those who kept our electricity working around the USA.
Now what about the rest of the world? Did we not see the New
Year's Eve celebrations
from many countries live on TV? And did the lights there not stay on? Yes, the lights at
all those specific "press sites" did stay on during the time the press was present. (Some
really great shows too, I might add!)
Now. Is there any doubt whatsoever that all the electricity,
water, sewer treatment,
communications, and other critical infrastructures stayed in tact all over the world?
That these utilities just rolled right on into 2000 with no problem? No problem
anywhere? Any doubt at all that every one of these computer systems had been totally
fixed for Y2K and that they are all running correctly today?
Yes, there is doubt.
Reference The International Year 2000 Cooperation Center (IY2KCC:
the U.N. and funded by the World Bank. A project to collect and disseminate Y2K
readiness of countries around the world, and to coordinate such efforts.)
The IY2KCC just prior to the 2000 rollover had listed an alarming
number of countries
in the world that were still having some great difficulty in preparing their most critical
infrastructures and services, or that did not bother to give any report at all on their
readiness. Based on this information and on every bit of intelligence that was gathered
(and reported publicly) Russia, the Ukraine, Indonesia and China, to mention but a very
few, were expected to have major breakdowns in infrastructures and services to their
We were all envisioning Russia and the Ukraine without heat
and electricity. Through
the fiercely bitter cold of winter, the populations of that part of the world would suffer
greatly. It would be a humanitarian nightmare. And then there was also the fear of
Russia's nuclear facilities and weapons.
Midnight Arrivesand Arrivesand Arrives
Midnight arrives in New Zealand, then Australia, Japan, China,
Africa, Russia, South
America, U.K., and in the United States of America-all on TV and radio-all reporting
no problems. By the time all countries in the world were in 2000 it was acclaimed to
have been a successful transition. A big surprise to just about everyone. (Exception
being those who just knew it was all a hoax from the beginning and did nothing at all
to prepare themselves for the unknown.)
Some even thought it was all overthat was it, because that's
all that Year 2000
meant to them.
It appeared, from all "reports" in that first 24
hours that there had been no major
breakdowns affecting critical infrastructure. Anywhere in the entire world. EVEN in all
those countries previously reporting that they would not be ready.
As far as we (the general public) know, there were also no
problems with all the
uncertainties of the billions of embedded chips operating everything from oil flow
control and monitoring to the satellites in space to the radio and TV stations that
reported all this to us. No embedded chip problems anywhere in the entire world.
I think our assumption during the rollover, and even during
these first two weeks of
2000, has been: "If something major happened anywhere in the entire world, in any
country, or in any town or village in any country, we would know about it." For a lot of
people, that was their logic. But not all. Not mine, and not that of many others
following this closely.
On the other hand, it's only been two weeks, hasn't it? Maybe
we just don't know about
Now it all comes down to this: We expected some major problems
to occur precisely at
rollover time somewhere on this planet, BUT, no major problems were reported
"How could that be?" we asked. "Why didn't something happen?"
Many of us have been trying logically to figure this riddle
out. It defies logic. (That's
the problem with us analysts, you know, we always have to use rationale and logic.
Always trying to be certain of things. After all, logic is what we work with! Computers
ONLY understand logic that we humans conceive and program into the computer.)
All the best information available prior to rollover told us
there would be significant
infrastructure breakdowns in several countries outside the U.S. For some reason, it
seems to not have happened anywhere. Now we ask "Why?" But to use this logic we
must be absolutely positive of our premises in the arguments: true or false--absolute yes
Before we start trying to figure out WHY countries like Italy,
Russia and others, had no
problem (regardless of what they spent or did not spend) we must make sure that basic
premise is in fact true.
In working towards answering the question, "Why did Russia
(for example) not have any
major problems at rollover?" we must first make a statement of truth such as the
"No country in this entire world had any major problems
at y2k rollover due to year
That's the premise. That's what we've been told. That's what
now has to be argued and
proved. Either it is true or it is not true.
Now we must substantiate that statement before ever attempting to answer "Why not?"
So, I am one who yet does not agree that all the countries
in the world, and all their
cities and towns and villages in all those countries in the world (almost 200 countries)
did not have ANY major problems at Y2K rollover. (Of course we also have to explain
what we mean by "major." Let's just say that means disruptions of electrical power,
water, waste treatment where it exists, communications, to keep the list simple. You
can create your own list of what you consider important.)
I would like to see some private citizen (not in government)
go to Russia or the Ukraine,
tour some major cities, and small towns also, and actually talk to the residents, not
government officials, to verify that "In ALL of Russia, Russia did not have any major
problems (as defined) at Y2K rollover due to Year 2000 Issues." Do the same for a few
others countries in question.
This "Ambassador For Y2K Truth" might also find out
while there if they have any Y2K
problems NOW, regardless of what happened or not at "rollover time."
Take a crew of Year 2000 "experts" and others along
for substantiation and
corroboration of the findings. Since they are going to be in Russia, just hop on over to
some of the other countries in question. Or make it a short world tour if possible.
But do you think these Ambassadors will be allowed freedom
to travel and conduct
their research in countries like Russia? China? Italy? In any country? Doubtful. But how
else would we know for sure? How else can we prove or disprove our premise above?
As Peter de Jager recently wrote, and I agree totally:
"You could place a gun to my head and threaten to pull
the trigger unless I told you
the 'truth' that the problem was NOT real -- and I would steadfastly refuse. I KNOW, with
every fibre of my being that we were right. Nothing can shake me from that belief."
The "problem" he was talking about was the basic
fact that millions of programs
everywhere would not work properly when 2000 got here. As others have said, "The
code is broken and must be fixedand it is impossible to fix it all before 1 January
Based on the current pulse of much of the world right now,
it seems that hardly
ANYONE who closely followed this event can believe what has taken place-primarily
concerned with what did NOT take place at 1 January 2000 rollover. Many are asking
the same question: "How could there NOT have been ANY significant disruptions,
and WHY weren't there any-anywhere?"
And right now, two weeks later, those of us who really should
have the answers-we
ARE the analysts and consultants on this-we have no answer ourselves! Again, it
defies all logic. (We have offered many theories which might be as close to "the
answer" as we can get, but we do not have "the answer.")
Let's start this operation from the top, by getting some Yes
or No answers on our
premise that "no country in this entire world had any major problem because of year
2000." According to all reports-I say again, ALL REPORTS-there were no problems.
Forget the reports and get the answers first hand.
Only then will we be able to reconcile this apparent anomaly.
Only by answering these
questions will we be able recapture the trust of those who depend on us.
Again, how in the world did they do that? Or did they?
Was it all a hoax?
Did we over hype the problem?
Was the progress being made underestimated?
Did governments and businesses spend too much?
Was the money spent well?
Is there still something we don't know?
You've seen it in all the news now: accusations that Y2K was
a hoax, all hype, that too
much money was spent on it when there wasn't even a problem to begin with.
I am not going to even address further the issue of hoax and
hype. We've settled that
previously, haven't we?
On the controversy of spending too much money getting ready
for this event I do not
think any of us can judge that. To do so we would have to address every single
enterprise in the world singularly, and have them explain-no, have them to
justify-their entire Year 2000 Project to us. No one is going to do that. There is no
way possible to determine that in a broad sense.
Why do some say that too much money was spent preparing systems
so that they would
work properly in 2000 and beyond? The estimated hundreds of billion of dollars (U.S.)
spent on this is indeed a tremendous amount of money. "Could it have been better
used for something else?" some ask.
That there are plenty of other needs for monetary assistance
throughout the world is not
the issue. That businesses and governments could have better applied these dollars to
other projects is not the issue.
This was not something that government and business leaders
simply discussed over
breakfast one morning three or five years ago, asking themselves, "Now, should we
commit this $500 million to fix our computer systems as suggested by our Y2K project
team, or do you think we'll get more future benefit by increasing our contributions to
the needyor perhaps we could use that money to increase our marketing and
advertising initiatives over the next few years."
No. Just as I have explained as clearly as I possibly can that
millions of systems would
absolutely not work because of this Y2K problem, I am now explaining as clearly as
possible that either 1) the money had to be spent fixing and replacing systems or 2) the
enterprise under scrutiny ran the risk of ceasing to exist at all in some cases, but
certainly ran the risk of losing certain operating capabilities.
Given that the "fix" had to be made, was the money well spent?
I expect so. This is one thing in which I do have some confidence.
Only a few choices
are available when faced with a "broken" system: find all the bad code and correct it,
or replace the system with something newsomething more current that is supposed to
already be ready for 2000 (compliant.) Or, decide that whatever function that
particular system was performing is no longer needed and trash the system. This was
done in some cases though it seems odd that an enterprise was using a system one day
and then decides its "job" is no longer needed the next.
Keep in mind also that businesses and governments should benefit
replacement of "old" systems with newer technology that has been needed for some
time anywayit was just a matter of when the replacements would take place. "Year
2000" made that decision for us.
A natural phenomena making decisions for man when man is indecisive
decide on his own! It is known as "decision by indecision." There is no option to NOT
So, was it the spending of all this money to get everything
fixed in time that made the
rollover go so smoothly? With no problems anywhere?
The controversy, regarding rollover, questions whether or not
all the Year 2000 work
actually was done on time and as a result there actually were no problems anywhere,
OR whether the Year 2000 work was NOT completed on time and there actually WERE
related problems but we (the U.S. public) do not know about them.
That is why some of us are so adamant when we say (based on
our best knowledge and
research) that there is NO WAY that every single entity in the world had everything
fixed by rollover. And NO WAY that there were NO SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS at
rollover to 2000.
Now, we have a real problem. When I ask the question, "How
did they do that?" the very
question implies that it was all fixed and there were no problems.
So, how did "they" do that? THEY DIDN'T.
But if that's true why did we not know about it at rollover
time? Why wasn't it reported to
us? Let me ask you a question: if you were the head of a country knowing that all the
news media was going to be reporting live from several of your major cities on New
Year's Eve, don't you think you could find a way to keep the lights on for awhile? Don't
you also think it would be wise to make sure that in the following few days (as the news
coverage continued heavily) that you could keep any failures out of the news?
I think under those circumstances you could find a way to make
it "appear" as though
there was nothing out of the ordinary at all happening in your entire country.
Does this constitute a cover-up? A conspiracy? Probably not,
since it is the normal
mode of operation for most every enterprise, government or business. Not really a
cover-up-that's too strong a word to use-let's just call it a "Prudent Nondisclosure
And in cases involving national security it is a necessity.
That is no secret to any of us.
Even our own Pentagon had to finally admit that it experienced failure of some
satellites. Did we hear the full truth about those problems when they actually happened
on 1 January 2000? No.
For those that will argue the other side of this controversy
(that everything did go
smoothly everywhere) their assumption has to be that everything got fixed and was
Now we get a chance to answer the big question, "How'd they do that?"
If you are not too much involved in IT or with the details
of Year 2000 issues, you can
simply believe that it all got done on time: no problem; it all got done even though
Warren Bone and a great many others around the world said it was impossible and that
there would be some big problems.
If, however, you are one of us that has stayed tuned to this
situation, and you try to
convince yourself that it really might have all gone smoothly, then there are only a few
1. The critical infrastructures were not that reliant
on Y2K compliant
systems to begin with, or
2. They were heavily reliant on Y2K compliant systems
underestimated the progress being made in many countries, or
3. The system dates were set back to 1972, or some other
avoiding running in the risky year 2000, or
4. The systems were not run at all and the processes
5. The processes themselves were completely shut down
period, neither running manually nor by system.
Take your pick. I suspect there were cases where each of the above applied.
THUS THE BIG SURPRISE FOR MANY OF US.
And we still do not have the final answer.
So I now ask, "Is there something we still don't know?"
The answer is known by some but we, the citizens of the world,
may never know the
truth. Only when their "Prudent Nondisclosure Policy" fails to work and events cannot
be kept from the public will we become aware of the truth.
I don't want to sound like I don't believe that we had a really
smooth rollover to 2000. It
was quite smooth compared to what was expected. But I do not think we have accurate
and honest reports from all places on earth.
At the time of this writing we are only two weeks into the
new year. The success in
making the transition from 1999 to 2000 at midnight, rollover time, is but the very first
test in the entire battery of comprehensive tests comprising the Year 2000 Final Exam.
Where Are We Today? All Clear?
Is it all over?
When will we know it is all clear?
Ok to put money back into the bank?
What about the stock market?
Do we get rid of our "preparations," our extra supplies?
Many of us have been following the so-called Y2K glitches (a
trite and hackneyed
word, not at all appropriate for these real system problems.)
For two weeks now there have been hundreds of reports substantiated
as system failures
due to Year 2000 problems that were not fixed. From governments to private business.
Some are serious. Some are being referred to as "insignificant." But the reports keep
coming in. And there are a number of Year 2000 websites that are tracking these. 
You see, since there is a level of distrust in what is being
reported (remember my
"Prudent Nondisclosure Policy") thousands of us are now scouring the news actually
looking for events that are actual reported Y2K failures or which could be something
attributable to Y2K but which the responsible entity will not admit.
Is this fair? Fair has nothing to do with it. Getting accurate
information is what it's all
about. True, some logged events turn out to be nothing related to Y2K. But on the
other hand we collect and report enough "possible Y2K failures" to begin seeing
patterns develop. Enough reports from similar geographic origination, or similar
industry or such, raise questions such as, "Is this normal? Are there always this many of
this type problem? Or are these things happening now because of Y2K?"
Remember: Who will admit that their problem just made public
was a Y2K error. After
all, they just recently reported to the board of directors or senior agency that they had
fixed everything. (U.S. Federal Government was 99.9% ready you know-mission
critical systems only.) So many of the reports on these "accidents" that are now
happening, and that we are logging, quote some official as immediately denying any
cause by Y2K.
So, where does that put us today?
Now that we are a couple weeks into 2000 are we having Y2K
problems surface or not?
Yes, a good number of problems are coming to light, and a whole lot more that just
might be Y2K related are also being reported. Then there are probably 1000 times
more real Y2K problems occurring every day that do not make it to the public.
Is it all over? Of course not. You must understand that even
though our critical
infrastructures are intact (at least here in the U.S.) we still must give all the businesses
and government agencies a chance to prove to us that they are capable of continuing
their normal level of service without Year 2000 interruptions. This will take some time.
Remember that it has ONLY been two weeks. Payrolls for mid-January
have to be run
successfully and interfaced to the banks. Month-end for January must be processed.
February 29th must be handled correctly, and then first quarter closings at the end of
March. And the systems have to be able to close out 2000 properly. These are just a
few timing issues to say that it is still too early to judge the entire thing a success.
Some of the questions above are being asked by those who prepared
this event by holding out extra cash (as was suggested) and even taking their money
out of the stock market or moving funds from volatile stocks to more stable investments.
While I do not want to be a financial advisor to anyone I will simply say (as my opinion
only) that right now the market seems to be its usual self. And banks for sure seem to be
But, until we know that the businesses are not later going
to launch us into the "domino
effect" which might then affect supplies and the economy, I personally am watching
all this with caution.
Early on we were told by "authorities" that many
businesses had increased their
on-hand inventories to keep them going for 30 days or so, should we experience supply
shortages (including oil, petrol, prescriptions, food.) For those of us who "stocked up"
extra supplies just in case, I personally am being cautious on this front also. I am
assuming those businesses actually did have extra inventory on hand, and that they are
using those supplies now. In a month or so we might know 1) that the businesses
themselves are really in good shape with their Y2K systems, and 2) that there are no
concerns with shortages caused by any type interruption. Therefore, making sure the
risk of the "domino effect" is no longer a concern.
It never hurts to have those extras on-hand anyhowhere in the
U.S., we may right now
have the most self reliant and prepared population ever in history! Let's keep it that
way. The next time you are stranded at home without heat, lights, food, water,
medicine, and no way to get out, you will be mighty glad you kept your "Year 2000
So when will we know it's all clear? How long do we continue
to be cautious of Y2K? I
will feel more secure about government and business after March quarter end. So that
would put us into April sometime. Let's take a look at those SEC reports and other
quarter end processings. But don't think it will end there. We will continue to see some
problems throughout 2000. (Companies and governments are still working on getting
everything compliant. It was not all fixed. Their costs and net income will reflect this.)
Future Expectations and More Unknowns
Will SS, VA, Medicare, Medicaid, Benefit programs and
other payrolls be ok?
Will IRS be able to process returns? And timely refunds?
What about month end and quarter end processing? Year End?
What effects will the known Y2K problems have?
Still possible for data corruption?
What about non-mission critical systems?
Domino effect still possible?
Will these affect jobs, health, and economy?
Is it possible that some systems are still not "running" in 2000? But in 1972?
Will there still be lawsuits because of Y2K?
We are very early into the new millennium (even if it doesn't
actually begin until 2001.)
But we are early (only two weeks) into 2000.
So, what should we expect from here on?
Will Social Security, the Veterans Administration, Medicare,
Medicaid, other benefits
and welfare programs and all payrolls be able to function properly? Or will we have
disruptions? Will those who rely on these payments actually get paid as expected?
Almost all of us expect a payroll check or some other kind of income payment from
time to time.
As I stated previously, it is too early right now to see if
those things are going to be
processed as usual. No other way of saying it except that we will just have to wait some.
Before this article is even published some of the major companies
computerized payrolls will have run their payroll for mid-January. Other payrolls only
run once a month and have yet to be processed. Did the mid-January payrolls and
benefits make it ok? Will the month-end payments make it without a hitch?
The primary concern has to be whether or not people get paid
or not, the right amount
and on time.
How about Social Security payments? If I'm not mistaken-I could
do more research
for a confirmation and footnote, but I simply don't want to take the time right now!-the
federal government processed some of these payments before the end of the 1999, just
to be on the safe side (good idea.) But now, time comes for January payments,
February and March. Can they get it done? We'll see. Social Security department
claimed to be Y2K compliant earlier than any other federal agency, and then later
had a Y2K problem. Just something to think about.
Internal Revenue Service has always gotten bad publicity for
Really big and very expensive mistakes. Years ago IRS tried to completely rewrite its
terribly out-of-date systems and finally was forced to scrap, trash, and throw out the new
system project after spending over $29,000,000 (I'm pretty sure that was the amount.) !!!
It was so far from being on track in every measurement that
it was finally considered a
The latest that I read about IRS was that it has tried again
to implement totally new
systems, which were to be ready for 2000. This time, if I'm not mistaken, the cost is in
the billion-dollar range, not just tens of millions.
So how is the IRS doing with their new systems? Were they compliant
According to the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion the IRS was ready to
go, and was included in that group that comprised the 99.9% readiness of all federal
On the other hand, we kept seeing reports that IRS was still
not finished with its
inventory of systems! That is the very first phase of a Y2K projectto identify your
systems; to inventory them. Only then can one begin to assess, fix, replace, test, etc.
IRS was still trying to find out what systems it had in many
of the remote offices around
the country. This was still going on at rollover time, I do believe.
My point is this: Am I going to get my tax refund in the next
couple of months as I
normally would, or not? Are you going to get your refund if you have one coming?
Do you think the Internal Revenue Service is going to be able
to process all tax returns
with its new systems? Does it even have any new systems running in production or was
that project scrapped also?
I do not know these answers. All I'm saying is that the IRS'
past record in this area is not
good. In fact it has been extremely poor.
Let's just see how that works out. By the way, IRS' contingency
plan for processing tax
refunds is to do it manually! MANUALLY?! Can you imagine? It is impossible and the
IRS and the President and GAO and everyone else knows that it is impossible.
Oknot totally impossible. Why? Because the IRS said they could
hire a whole lot of
people to do these returns and refunds manually, and they know their output will be
extremely limited, so they will start making refunds (manually) to those at the bottom of
the income stack. The poorest get paid first. That sounds equitable. Then after all
those millions have been paid, the IRS moves up to the next $5,000 bracket in income
and continues that until they finally get them all done. That was the plan last I heard.
THAT WILL BE ABOUT 8,000 YEARS FROM NOW! IT IS LITERALLY AN
IMPOSSIBLE AND IMPRACTICAL STRATEGY AND PLAN!!
Now, just think what will happen IF the IRS really CANNOT use
its systems and has to
do this manually. It won't take very long for the American public (citizens, businesses
and governments) to take to the streets with outcries of protest!
I do certainly hope there is something that I have missed regarding
the readiness of the
Internal Revenue Service. BecauseI want my money back and I want it soon! Just
like everyone else does.
We've already discussed the need to wait for all enterprises
to run their month-end and
quarter-end processing. There will be some that will go very smoothly and others, I
suspect, will fail on first attempt, causing their closings to be delayed and hampering
their ability to conduct business as usual for the new month.
Can any of this still cause the domino effect? (That's a very
pictorial term describing
how the failure of one business or industry can cascade, causing interruptions and
difficulties for others.) Yes, I think there is still the possibility for that, simply because it
is just too early right now to put that behind us.
Some of the other issues and questions I listed at the beginning
of this topic are still
just as unknown as before we entered 2000 at rollover.
For those companies that, instead of letting their non-compliant
automatically rollover into 2000, actually reset their computer dates to 1972 or 1998 or
the like in order to avoid 2000, we don't know how they are ever going to get out of that
without extreme difficulty. Perhaps they will just continue to run those system in the
past forever. Just hope those systems never interface with others, passing any dates.
And just hope that the missions of those systems are not critical and that no human
mistake with dates can cause anyone any harm.
Data corruption: it doesn't take but one bad system date to
corrupt the date data of
several others interfaced to the bad system. Historical data, archived dataI'll about
guarantee that every company has not yet had the time to go back through all its
previous years' data to convert it so that all the new Y2K compliant systems can read
and use this old historical data. If that is the case, the companies (and governments)
will literally have to either convert historical data each time it is needed by another
program, or they will have to write "bridge programs" each time the data is to be read.
A bridge program simply reads the 2-digit years on the old data that was never made
compliant (by making them 4-digit years) and then the bridge program itself interprets
what the century number should be and passes a new 4-digit year to the program that is
compliant and is needing the history data.
Add to all this the fact that all non-mission critical systems
have not yet been corrected
(like millions of worksheets and databases, and more) and we find ourselves still with
lots of remediation work to be done.
Some of us had predicted several years ago that Year 2000 work
certainly into and through 2000, and very likely into 2001 and beyond.
"No post audit will be conducted on the Year 2000 Project
since no one will ever know
when it is completed." (From an article I wrote : "The Irrefutable Laws of Millennial
Project Doomdom." See Law # 15.)
While this article is somewhat humorous, it is also true.
SoLike my computer screensaver (a scrolling marquee) has announced for years:
Y2k Is Here to Stay!
One reason it is here to stay is because of all the lawsuits
expected. The cost of
litigation has been estimated to be about $1 Trillion (U.S.) worldwide. It will likely
continue over a ten-year period.
Is that still going to be the case, given our smooth rollover?
Here are the factors that play into this: The rollover alone
dealt with non-business
issues. The lawsuits are most likely to involve business-to-business, and
business/individual or class action suits. Governments are somewhat exempt from
being sued in a number of instances.
Thus far we have noted 87 lawsuits filed which are related
to Year 2000. Here is a
website which tracks some of them.
Like a lot of other issues related to Y2K, time will tell how
much of this we will see.
Right now it looks as if every business is now using the "sue and labor" strategy to get
their insurance companies to reimburse them for their Y2K costs. The concept was
conceived long, long ago as insured cargo ships occasionally were forced to save the
ship from a ravaging storm by dumping cargo overboard and thereby reducing the
ship's weight. The ship's captains and owners then argued that the ship, which was
more valuable than the cargo, was saved at the expense of the necessary loss of the
less valuable cargo.
Now, this makes sense for an unpredictable act of God, like
a life-threatening vicious
storm at sea. The ship's captain had no way of knowing this event was going to happen.
Had he known this, he could have taken precautions to avoid the situation.
Judgment for the plaintiff (ship's owner) in this case.
Now we come to all these businesses that have spent their monies
on maintaining their
computer systems for future use, or perhaps buying replacement systems where that
option was chosen.
NOW LET'S SUE OUR INSURANCE COMPANY! It's the American way!
"Let's get our money back! Use the ancient "sue and
labor" tactic! After all, we had to
spend tons of money in order to save our businessthat's what the Year 2000 experts
and project managers said we had to do."
And the experts and project managers were right, in that these
broken systems had to
be fixed or replaced just in order to stay in business. Many a member of the Board of
Directors asked company CEO's why they had to spend the money. Sometimes there
was not even any additional benefit at all to the company. It was simply a matter of
fixing systems so they would continue to work as they always havesame old systems.
Now, here's where the companies are wrong in thinking they
can use the "sue and
labor" laws to recover from their insurance companies:
"Sue and labor" applies to an event over which one
has no control, as in the storm that
almost sank the ship. As in an act of God, unexpected and uncontrollable. An event for
which you had no advanced warning as to when it would happen, leaving you the
opportunity to avoid the event or to minimize its damage.
For years now the tax laws have said that the expense of fixing
systems because of
Y2K had to be charged to the year in which they were incurred. No deferment, no
capitalization, no depreciation. It is a cost reducing your net income in the year that
you spent the money.
If, however, a company purchased a new system for Y2K reasons
(or any reason) that
cost of the new system could be capitalized, allowing the company to spread the cost
over several years (and not taking such a "hit" to the profits that first year.)
The reason I mention the tax handling of Y2K costs in relation
to the "sue and labor"
law, is to point out that business owners have known for years that their systems had to
be maintained in such a fashion as to be able to operate properly when 2000 arrived,
just as those same systems had to be maintained in order to operate properly "tomorrow
and next week, " etc. The owners cannot say they did not know about this Year 2000
problem because, for one, the tax authorities and the company CPAs made the tax
laws related to Year 2000 known to the businesses long ago.
Conclusion regarding "sue and labor:" Year 2000 was
a known event with a precise
time of occurrence; business owners knew that it was going to happen; business owners
can, therefore, not argue that it was an act of God or other "unforeseen peril" that
caused them to spend the money in order to "save the business from sinking!"
Maybe the businesses can think of another way to sue their
insurance company. In the
meantime, the businesses are now suing their Y2K consultants claiming it was the
consultant's fault that the company spent so much money NEEDLESSLY. The
consulting companies advised their clients on many issues, assessed code, made
suggestions regarding "fix or replace" and more. So even though the consultants were
there to help save the ship, they are going to get sued (simply because it's the
Anyone else to sue? Sure! As a company you could even blame
your problems on a lot
of hardware and software vendors that you dealt with. I'm sure they did something
wrong! And don't forget your suppliers of goods and services. Sue them because of that
failure to deliver that one day. Sue them for misrepresentation of their own readiness.
May as well sue some of your customers because of the same thing. They failed the
Year 2000 rollover big time and then weren't able to continue buying your product or
service. And if they did, now they can't pay their bills, so your cash flow is going to
you-know-where in a hand basket!
Get the idea? There are going to be more lawsuits. Breaking
some new ground also.
The attorneys representing their clients as defendants or plaintiffs will have to get
familiar with the entire Year 2000 project and all its issues, especially "due diligence,"
as quickly as possible.
Here is what makes Year 2000 issues different than other legal
issue: if one company
injures another, normally it doesn't really matter why or what the cause was. If you
caused harm to another then you did and that's that. You lose and you pay.
Now with Y2K it's different because the company causing the
harm had an opportunity
to not cause the harm in the first place. They failed in their fiduciary responsibility.
They failed in practicing good due diligence. They did not take precautions when they
had the opportunity to do so. So now, you've not only caused harm but you've done it
through negligence. Big difference. And these suits will be easier for the plaintiff's
attorney to prove, assuming the attorney for the plaintiff knows what to look for during
the discovery process of the defendant's Y2K project.
It is not unlikely at all that we will see individuals filing
suit against multiple parties as a
result of injury to the individual. Example: just last week the U.N. issued a worldwide
warning that two types of dialysis machines were not working properly because of Y2K
problems, and that the machines could cause a patient to become infected (that also
implies that infection is a life-threatening event.)
Class Action Suits? You bet. As we see businesses experience
difficulty because of
their inability to deal with the Year 2000 problem, and if the company's value drops
(stock price drops) as a result, the company stockholders will most likely sue the Board
of Directors, the President, CEO and anyone else they can involve in the suit who had
the fiduciary responsibility to look after the welfare of the business and its owners.
The President of the United States was so worried about these
clogging our court system to the point of danger, that he passed the Y2K Act just last
year. That requires a cooling-off period (upwards of 90 days) with hopes the two parties
to the lawsuit can and will settle things on their own. Out of court.
My thinking is that if something is so serious as to make it
as far as filing a lawsuit and
incurring all the costs involved, then that issue won't be settled outside of court. Now
all the Y2K Act is going to do it to postpone the clogging of the courts initially.
Having been a Year 2000 project manager myself, and seeing
it from the inside, I know
just how vulnerable many companies, customers and suppliers have made themselves
over the past several years because of their failure to understand the legal
ramifications of their Year 2000 actions.
The Psychology of This Major Life Event
Why does mainstream press not report more on these issues?
Is the press controlled by their advertisers and ultimately the government?
Why don't businesses tell the truth?
Clinton now asking for $2 billion to combat cyber-terrorism? Or is it for Y2K?
It has been difficult for many of us to embrace the concept that "all is well with
It was difficult from the very beginning to "get on board"
that train of positive reports
coming out of the governments and business sectors. So, we have been skeptical from
the beginning that "all will be well."
Why do suppose that is? The answer is: Distrust. Distrust of
government in general, and
of the U.S. federal government specifically; distrust of business reporting; a skepticism
ever fueled by false, misleading and conflicting information.
For those of you who have been "regulars" on the
Y2K internet circuits for a few years,
you know how many thousands of reports and articles have been published that kept us
alert, if not confused at times, regarding government and business Y2K progress. We
concluded early on that we were not getting all the facts, much less the truth in many
cases. I'll not try to reference any of these because of the volume. All one has to do is
to look back at some of the pre-rollover reports. Then stay current with the latest
post-rollover reports. (You might want to read some of the reports on the Pentagon's
satellite breakdown, as a typical example of why distrust continues.)
As far as businesses reporting on their Y2K progress, most
of it officially was through the
SEC filings. A boilerplate of rhetoric used by almost all public companies at the
suggestion of their CPAs and attorneys. Few companies are bold enough to actually
spell out their true Y2K status and areas of high risk-like how far behind they really are
and the fact that they just might have some major problems in 2000.
The many websites seemed to be the only media reporting Y2K
issues and concerns
on a daily basis. Sure, on any given day in someone's hometown, somewhere, I'm sure
there was some obscure article about Year 2000 in the local newspaper. But why
weren't there daily articles and reports every day in each and every newspaper?
I think it was because it wasn't news. Something that might
later happen is not worthy
of precious print space. Newspapers want to publish something that is actually
"happening." Year 2000 work was "happening" but could not compete with the current
events, no matter how insignificant.
As some of us even tried to get our local press to follow Y2K
more closely we became
more and more skeptical. The "press" just did not seem to want to publish anything at
all related to Y2K that had any connotation of negativity! Realizing that, many began
to wonder if somehow there was a conspiracy of sorts between Big Business (advertisers
perhaps?) and the press. Between Big Business and the government and the press!
The thoughts then became, "They're keeping something from
us!" And the web seemed
to be the only source of current information on the issues. The web as a news source
had thousands upon thousands of reportersmuch more than any news organization in
the world. And that's because the "People" were the reporters, scouring every
publication and bit of Y2K information they could find, in the entire world.
And, unlike the print media (or even TV and radio) once a report
or article was
published on one site, it took only seconds before it spread quickly to others throughout
the world. (With one article I wrote which was put "on the air" on a website at midnight,
I began receiving e-mail before 12:30 a.m. from those who had seen it. The e-mails
and phone calls continued for days while the article was being copied and published
numerous times throughout the web. Just an example of the currency and coverage of
the web as it covered Year 2000.)
And we all kept asking ourselves, "Why doesn't the press
report these important facts?
Are they hiding something? Maybe the press just doesn't want the public to know all
these things, all these concerns."
And the distrust of the federal government got worse as time
went on. To a point that
many believed as I did that all federal government computer systems would absolutely
not be ready when 2000 finally did arrive. And we still don't know for sure that all those
systems and federal programs are going to work smoothly, because it is still too early to
Now, within two weeks of 1 January 2000 the President announces
that he wants $2
billion (U.S.) to combat cyber terrorism. Not to say that is not needed, but those skeptics
of the federal government who think the government's Y2K work is far from completed,
now are wondering if this $2 billion is really to be used to continue funding the Year
2000 work that did not get finished.
That's not such a bad assumption at this date and time if you
are one of those
distrustful of the government.
Some even believe our government has plans to move towards
globalization to the
point that "Big Brother" will be involved in even more aspects of our livesour private
lives. Speculation and prophecies of too much government interference, and control,
have been around for a very many years. All I am saying is that there is definitely an
erosion of faith in our federal government. The government that was once known to be
"for the people and by the people" seems to have gotten lost somewhere. And growing
numbers of citizens are realizing that.
Too bad we don't trust our own president and federal government.
(The distrust is at the
collective government level; not to imply that every single government employee or
elected official is distrusted. To the contrary. A very many are still doing their jobs "for
the people," and we thank them for that.)
Preparation Stigma? Or Medal of Honor?
Were we right to prepare?
Should we continue being prepared?
Why do others make fun of this?
How do we now relate to our DGI friends and family?
A stigma? Or Medal of Honor?
"If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand."
"Those families that prepared for Y2K were doing the right
thing whether those supplies
were needed over New Year's or not," said Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) Director James Lee Witt in a statement. "We congratulate those who prepared
for Y2K and urge them to begin the New Year prepared for any eventuality."
"FEMA is encouraging those who bought bottled water, batteries,
flashlights and other
equipment in anticipation of Y2K problems to keep the items on hand."
It did not take long at all for those of us who did prepare
for this event to be on the
receiving end of verbal abuse. Before 2000 had even arrived in the United States the
Year 2000 event had been declared a victory, and with that came the attacks on the
those who took enough caution to become more self reliant-to stock up, if you will.
Self, and family "insurance."
Were we right to prepare? Yes, of course. It would have been
negligent to not have
done so. Those, who never made sure they could even survive just for a few days on
their own with just the basic needs, are the same people who have grown up thinking
that someone else will always take care of me. That "it won't happen to me."
Since I've already covered the topic and attitudes of the DGI's
and the GI's, I don't
need to cover that again here. However, we cannot conclude that every person who
"got it" went to any great extent to prepare. Nor should we conclude that any that
"didn't get it" did not prepare.
I expect there were plenty of people that never "got it"
with Y2K-never really
understanding it or believing it-that followed the advice to at least prepare for a few
dayswater, food, extra cash, some way to stay warm. And there were probably some
of us that were deeply concerned about what 2000 might bring that did not get around
to making any preparations.
All I keep thinking in regards to this preparation issue is
that IF something DID happen
to where we had to use our own resources to take care of ourselves, our loved ones and
yes, even our pets, then we were ready for it. We did the right thing.
On the other hand, those who did nothing (and now come around
making jokes about
it) would have been whining the entire time they were at the local (and very crowded!)
"shelter" being taken care of by their "imaginary angels" that always take care of them
because they won't do it themselves! Pretty risky stuff! Thinking someone else will
always be there to "take care of you." Not a grownup way of thinking, either, I might
In this country of good fortune and wealth-and not to exclude
welfare of various
sorts-too many of us have grown to think that it is someone else's responsibility to take
care of us. It's the American way! Too bad, too.
(Fortunately we do have many, many good organizations and government
that are there to help those truly in need and who cannot make it on their own. But, we
are not talking about those folks. We are talking about those who do have the means to
take care of themselves but who do nothing simply because they think there will always
be someone there to "pull them from the sea even though they know how to swim, but
choose to not do so.")
How much preparation is enough? And when do you know you are
prepared? How far do you go?
Each of us had to consider precisely those questions. And of
course the answer to all
those questions depends on the event one is preparing for.
The event in this particular situation was "Year 2000,"
and the possible failures that
might accompany this new year. Any time we are discussing contingency planning
and disaster recovery, we have to consider:
the event itself
the probability that the event might occur
the impact to us should the event occur.
Let's consider a typical event scenario: "The loss of
electrical power for 8 hours up to
48 hours duration." If you think the probability (the odds) of that happening is 90%, and
the impact to you if that did happen would be 80 (0 = no impact, 100 = highest) then
you have determined, using your very best information at the time, that this event rates
a "72" on YOUR scale (.90 X 80.) That's 72 points out of a possible 100 maximum. So
this scenario alone, to YOU, is something you determine you want to avoid by coming
up with a contingency plan: your preparations that you made just in case the
electricity goes off for that period of time.
What if someone else thought the odds of that happening were
only 20%? But the
impact to them would also be 80, just like it was for you. .20 X 80 = 16. To THEM the
event does not carry the same weight and worry as it does for you.
So you prepared and they didn't.
We run these "probability tables" actually in our
heads many time without even thinking
too much about it. We usually have to start putting them down on paper (or computer)
once we start weighting very many options and scenarios.
Now, there is one other factor that usually enters into this
equation: MONEY! So what,
if you determined that losing the electricity was high on your scale, even at an 80!, are
you going to spend $100,000 to avoid that situation? What about spending $50 by
buying some candles and flashlights and a camp stove, etc. Now that's more like it.
What you are now doing is valuing into the equation how really important that issue is
to youyou are really starting now to rethink its impact to you.
If you think the odds of losing electricity for 48 hours will
be the end of your world (life
threatening, your life!) then you will spend almost any amount of money to avoid that
situation. And in some people's lives that situation does exist; those on life support, for
So, what I'm pointing out here is that the potential for Y2K
problems that would affect
us is perceived differently by each and every person. So we each do what is right for
US and for OUR family. You do what makes you comfortable and to the extent that is
practical in your circumstances.
But, as many of us have discussed lately, we can't go blaming
anyone else because of
the preparation we chose to make, just because the event did not materialize. We all
had the opportunity to seek out the same sources of information on Year 2000, to listen
to whomever we chose to listen to, and to draw our own conclusions. (Think of it as a
gamble, because that is exactly what life is. Nothing is for sure so you make your own
way best you can. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. The gambler often loses a
poker hand, but then says "deal'em, I'm ready to try again." He lost some money, got
kidded a bit for a moment, and then started again. Next time the odds will be in his
I rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for years. Harley riders
have a saying, and it's on
one of my T-shirts:
"IF I HAVE TO EXPLAIN, YOU WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND."
Seems quite appropriate right now, doesn't it?
The Major Life Event Cycle-Where are you right now?
Prepared for a War That Got Called Off
Shock and Denial
Anger and Resistance
Questioning, Exploration, Bargaining
I saved this for last since it provides a framework for understanding
feelings and emotions some of us have had since the "Big Non-Event": mid-night
rollover into 2000.
It's like the whole world was indeed prepared for going to
war. We had spent years
anticipating the very worst; preparing ourselves to contend with the worst. Getting ready
for this first terrible battle of a war that would possibly last for years, and would claim
many casualties. Our years of preparation and training for this were about to pay off!
Heavily armed and totally prepared for battle, the troops were
in the trenches and
foxholes, and manning their duty stations. On the highest alert, worldwide. Ready for
the destruction to begin precisely at midnight.
There were literally millions of brave soldiers in a thousand
armies, at the stroke of
midnight, holding their breath for the first report of that first devastating blow signaling
the beginning of the endall preparations and training completed, there was nothing
more to do now but wait.
We waited for that first big reportand we continued to waityet
happening to signal that the war had begun. Nothing. We continued to wait anxiously
through an entire 24-hour period for some sign of what we expected.
Then it happened.
A communiqué was issued advising that the war had been called off!
After all the work we had done to get ready for this, they
now tell us it's all overwe
could go home now. There's not going to be a war today!
Everyone was celebrating. Except the troops who were prepared
to fight the war. They
were emotionally drained, and not yet ready to celebrate. Why?
You see, as odd as it might seem, when troops individually-as
people, not as an
army-have mentally prepared for the battle, even to the point that they each have
submitted to the fact that they might even die in this battle, at the moment they learn
that "it's all over, the war's been called off," a great disappointment takes over
immediately. A letdown. Yet some relief. But certainly it takes time to replace those
strange emotions with happiness, and celebration.
Funny how our minds work, isn't it.
A "Major Life Event" is anything that significantly
(greatly) impacts us emotionally. The
death of a loved one is the prime example. Somehow we learn to "deal with it."
Other examples include divorce, losing a job, serious illness,
to name but a few.
Anytime our emotions are heavily jolted because of some type Major Life Event, we
experience several different emotions in "dealing with it."
We are now dealing with another type of Major Life Event. To
many of us the "Year
2000 War" has been called off, and we even wonder if it has just been postponed.
Not to imply that this event in our lives compares in severity
to the loss of a loved one,
but the feelings and emotions will be the same, only to a much lesser degree.
The cycle outlined at the beginning of this discussion explains
the various emotions
we go through when we have experienced one of these devastating blows. People
going through this experience do not necessarily start at the beginning of the cycle
and progress through each phase sequentially until finally arriving at the end of the
cycle. Rather, we can move from one phase into any other at any time, jumping
between various feelings and then coming back to where we started. One can even be
in more than one phase at the same time. Some people skip over some emotions
altogether, and may even jump from one all the way to the end, and stay there.
Most times, however, most of us will progress generally through
the cycle, spending
some time in each phase, perhaps momentarily visiting another, but eventually
completing the cycle.
It is helpful to know where you are, since others are in this
cycle with you. Knowing
where you are right now with your emotions helps you to understand where you are
headed. A road map, if you will.
First thing that usually happens is that we are Shocked that
it even happened at all!
This is immediately accompanied by Denial. "I'm shocked! Stunned! I can't believe
this has happened! This is just not happening to me!)
Then you will find yourself moving to Anger and Resistance.
"Ok, I know it happened,
but I'm mad as hell about it! (But I still can't believe this really did happen.) But it did
and I'm mad about it.)
Next you will question things. Questioning, Exploring the facts,
yourself. "Ok, now I'm no longer mad, and I know it did happen, but how in the world
did it happen? I wonder? What if? Ok, I can deal with this a little bit now. I'll just try
to figure it out."
Depression is also likely at about this point since you've
accepted the facts that it did
happen, and you've gotten over your anger enough to begin thinking rationally about
it. "I'm really sad now, because of what happened. What did I do wrong? What did I do
to deserve this? I've lost so much. I'm really depressed."
Finally we are able to move into Acceptance and Commitment.
"I'm feeling better
now, no longer depressed. All this did happen and now I accept that as a fact, and I'm
going on with my lifeI'm getting on board that train! I do feel positive about things
again! I'm ok."
Don't feel bad if you reach that final phase and later revisit
some previous territory. Just
make sure you find your way back to the end again!
I'm providing this information because I realize how important
this event is to a lot of
us. And a lot of us do feel like we have prepared for the big battle only to be left in
confusion. (Believe me, it is not just some of us "citizens" who are questioning these
unexpected circumstancesgo back and look at how seriously the world took this, at
how much money was spent getting ready for it, and at the high levels of readiness our
governments were innow that's PREPARATION with a capital P!)
For any of you reading this that do not understand what it's all about I will say again:
"If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand."
In closing, I answer the questions posed at the beginning:
"Are we there yet? And if so, why are we still talking about this?"
Answer to the first question: NO.
Answer to the second question: See first question.
© 2000, Warren Bone. (Under "Fair Use Laws" you may copy and distribute this at will.)
1. See my article explaining the "windowing" technique;
used by most to determine
what century a two-digit year "might" be in. Warren Bone, Patent This! (Westergaard
Year 2000, Technology Issues, November 19, 1999)
2. See International Year 2000 Coordination Center for Y2K
reports on most countries.
The Center also maintains a Countries Status Report.
3. Peter de Jager, The Question of Italy: An Analysis
4. Michael S. Hyatt's Y2K Prep, Glitch List, is only one of
many sites tracking known
and likely Year 2000 problems.
5. See Warren Bone, The Irrefutable Laws of Millennial Project
(Westergaard Year 2000).
6. Litigation. (See Year 2000 Liability, a good website for
keeping up with current
lawsuits filed because of Year 2000.)
7. See Craig Bicknell, Y2K Iceberg Dead Ahead! (Wired News, September 14, 1999)
8. See Warren Bone, Just the Facts: U.S. Federal Government
Compliant, at Best (Westergaard Year 2000, Washington, Whitehouse, December 21,
1999). This article also references and links to a previous article of mine, Year 2000:
Facts, Forecasts, and Areas of Concern, which deals not only with the federal
government reporting on Y2K but with many other sectors.
9. See Y2K Doomsayers Smarter Than Most People Think (PR Newswire,