A Decade Later

10 years ago I was very relieved. I had been very worried about the Y2K problem, the year 2000 problem. So many programs were using two digits to store the year and were counting on next year being larger than year. But with the year 2000 - a leap year to boot - suddenly 00 < 99, and thing would be going awry.

For myself and my family, I risk-proofed our cabin in the woods. I had a more effective wood-burning fireplace installed that could be cooked on in an emergency. I stocked up on canned goods, flour, powdered milk, and candles. I made sure we had hand-driven can-openers and egg-beaters and what not. And during a test of effectiveness that was sprung on me in September 1999 when the electricity was out for hours, I had a camping stove and some sterno cans on hand. The first thing you need when the electricity is out is a hot cup of tea. Whiskey or rum is not a bad idea, either.

I was glued to the TV set as the new year began on some Pacific islands. Okay, they made it, but they didn't have many computer-driven systems. But when New Zealand and Australia made it, I began to relax. Puh. I didn't trust computer scientists to think about a special case like this, but the necessary services had finally understood the problem and worked like crazy to make sure that their systems were 2000 compliant.

Just the same, as is the custom in Sweden, I jumped at the twelfth gong, jumping into the new year. If the earth is falling, I want to be planning on being in the air.

We enjoyed our champagne, WiseKid shot off some rockets (causing a neighbor about 500 m away to get all angry because that scared her dogs), and we celebrated. Sure, lots of systems had problems, but we had electricity.

I've been very glad of the preparedness over the past decade. Electricity is carried in overland lines, which have a nasty habit of catching falling trees in storms. I have had numerous occasions to cook tea and soup on the fireplace plate. And it really does a great job getting the most out of every piece of wood we feed it. We spent years eating up the canned goods. Pretty much the only thing I never used was the camping stove.

But whatever - be prepared is the motto.

Have a good New Year's Eve, and all the best for us all in the coming decade!

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