Category Archives: Y2K

Where Were You When The World Ended?

When the world ended

The End Of The World by Archibald MacLeish

Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
The armless ambidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe,
And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting
The neck of Madame Sossman while the drum
Pointed, and Teeny was about to cough
In waltz-time swinging Jocko by the thumb
Quite unexpectedly to top blew off:

And there, there overhead, there, there hung over
Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
There in the starless dark, the poise, the hover,
There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
There in the sudden blackness the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing — nothing at all.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.   I’m the more profoundly enlightened, severely evolved creature who used to be Old Jules before the Mayan calendar ended.

As for the Mayan calendar, I think we have to assume the ancient Mayans were referring to Greenwich time, midnight.  I can’t see any way around it.  It all had to begin somewhere and I think the ancient Mayans were sufficiently wise to begin it in a place where everyone in the future would be able to agree when it happened.

For the cats and me, that was Big Lake, Texas.  A city park there with dozens of RV connections and three free overnight connections, according to information online.  But when the Mayan calendar ended I happened to be walking on the pavement near a dim sign I’ll paraphrase as saying, “Welcome to Big Lake overnight RV connections.  $15 per night, enjoy, stay as long as you wish and come back often.”

Big Lake Park hookups

As the Coincidence Coordinators would have it, I’d been there a couple of hours, trying out a new harness and leash I’d bought in the Walmart store in Midland, Texas, on each of the cats.  I’d noticed I was the target of repeated scrutiny by a Big Lake City Police officer driving slowly by, me smiling and half-waving as he went by.  Him not smiling, not waving.

Big Lake Park

Then, cats all battened back down into the RV, I took a longer walk and found myself more informed about the Post Mayan calendar calendar and surviving the coming times with the least possible bullshit for all concerned.

So the cats and I celebrated the birth of the new era by topping off the gas tank and heading off down the road where the glow of headlights might shine on someplace free to sleep off the emerging shock of sudden evolution.

Ended up in a Rest Area somewhere between Ozona and Snora around 10:00 pm the Day the World Ended.

I’ve some retrospectives about the people and places of the previous several days, but I’m shooting this off just to suggest if you’re ever looking for a place to spend a hassle-free night parked free with cats purring on your chest, stay out of Big Lake, Texas.

But I’ve digressed.  About that photo at the top:

Very few white men have ever witnessed what honest-to-goodness, eat-it-down-to-the-rocks over-grazing looks like unless they’ve visited the Navajo Reservation in the four-corners area of New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. 

Or Texas.

The New Old Jules

Dragging the Past Around Like a Cotton Sack

Until you forgives it, I reckons. 

The Coincidence Coordinators will rub our noses in the alternatives just for the hell of doing it.

I’d stopped into the Office Max store in Kerrville to pick up a cheap flash drive when I saw the little bastard.  He and what I figured must be a lady employ of his [now] were looking over the copying machines, taking notes, asking a clerk questions, frowning and muttering to one another.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, changed positions pretending to look at other merchandise on other counters to get a better view of him.  Shaking my head in disbelief.  He’d put on a bit of weight, hair’d gone gray, but it was Tony.  The very man I used to swear to myself if I ever caught him out somewhere I’d whip his ass until it thundered.

And here he was in Kerrville, Texas.

Shortly after I came into Grants, New Mexico, after I gave myself a Y2K, discovered I couldn’t find a job paying higher than minimum wage, I went to work for Tony.  He was managing the Rodeway Inn, needed a graveyard shift clerk.  I hired on.

During the interview he drifted to personal conversation.  “What kind of music do you like?”

“Old stuff, mostly.  Rock and Roll, pre-1980s CW.  Bluegrass.  Opera, classical.  I’ve got promiscuous tastes in music.”

“Any kind of music you especially don’t like?”

“Yeah.  I never cared for disco, and what passes for country music now drives me nuts.”

I had no idea.

After I’d trained for a week with one of the day shift clerks the place was all mine from 11:00 pm until 7:00 am.  The radio/stereo was locked in the office behind me, but I didn’t have access to it.  Tony’s apartment was back there, too, but the speakers to the radio were in the lobby.

11:00 pm every night I’d report to work, 11:10 pm every night, just so’s I’d know it was deliberate, the volume would go up almost so’s I couldn’t hear anything else allowing me to check in customers.  Modern all night country music station out of Albuquerque.

When they came down to check out early or to grab some breakfast the customers would often get nasty about it, ask me to turn down the racket.  All I could do was shrug.

I got this far writing the draft before I thought of the ‘Bypass Surgery’ post and song.  Thought it might tell some other tales about working in that motel, and about Tony.  But it turns out it might as well be this post played 78 rpm.

Spark and Tinder for the Next Country Music Wave

I suppose I ought to begin all over and tell you some other tales about old Tony, maybe sometime I will.  Because there are a lot of them, and many were codified in letters I wrote to Jeanne while I was working those long nights.  She’s pestered me plenty of times to post some of them here, though some weren’t about Tony. 

Good stories, though.  The night clerk at the other motel Tony managed across the street giving $25 bjs to the customers and Tony’s reaction when it got back to him.  How he got to banging the woman-prisoners from the State Women Prison who worked daytimes cleaning up, and how pissed he was when he discovered they were also screwing the customers.

How he’d rent the ‘suite’ room out a week at a time to the local crystal meth dealer, then spend his time up there rolling #100 bills, the motel register showing the room as vacant and closed for repairs.

But I ain’t going to waste my time telling you all that.  I’m just going to forgive old Tony for being among the lowest scum tyrants I’ve ever met this lifetime, then do my best to forget that entire episode of my life.

Actually, now I think about it, there are a couple that don’t involve Tony I might get around to telling.

Old Jules

About Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms

From a previous post April 3, 2005

Okay.  What’s been on your mind this morning, the readership asks, me adroitly putting the words into the communal mouth.

In between working on other internet projects, I’ve been thinking about Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms.  What is it about those things?  What’s the appeal to us?  Why do they so frequently erode into acid exchanges between the users?  How do complete strangers come to have such a rancor for one another?  And how to otherwise, probably nice enough people (they have to be… someone would have taught them manners if they behaved that way offline) come to have such nasty streaks when they wear a mask of anonymity?

I’ve seen discussion boards and participated in a few previously.  In those days, a few people were still doing non-spectator things outdoors.  Enough were, at least, to keep sites of that sort in business selling metal detectors, gold pans, books, sluiceboxes, dry-washers and whatnot.  That’s when I first noticed this discussion board spinoff phenomenon I eventually came to think of as the snake pit.

People would come to the boards to learn about prospecting, about a particular lost mine, about some piece of equipment or other. But on any site there’d come a time when a specific group of individuals would just sort of hang out there.  They weren’t there to learn, and they obviously weren’t there to share information.  Mostly, they were just wasting time, disparaging people who asked questions, disparaging the attempts others made to answer.  The snake pit.

These weren’t just trolls.  They were men who knew the subjects the board was created to discuss.  But treasure hunters and prospectors have never been long on the information-sharing business.  So instead, these guys hung around blustering at one another, arguing which had the most skill with a metal detector, which detector brand was best.  Online acquaintances who frequently hated one another and everyone else, but still hung around.

Mid-1998, I became convinced Y2K was an actual threat.  That belief led me to another type of chat room.  A place where people who believed similarly hung around to talk about  TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) and exchange information about Y2K preparedness.  At least, that’s how it began.

Before too long we all discovered that, while we each believed Y2K was going to happen, to one degree or another, we had some serious rifts in the other aspects of our lives.  Some were born again Christians who wanted to ask one another and answer one another whether this was going to be the Rapture, and if so, when it would begin, and what it would be like, both for themselves, and for the non-believers who’d be left behind to suffer it out on the ground.

That sort of thing.  That, and just how bad would things get, post-Y2K.  And how much a person should bet that it would happen at all. Attempts at risk analysis, though most of us didn’t know a lot about computers.

From mid-’98 until I departed for my woods-retreat mid-’99, I watched the Y2K chat room with a measure of awe, disgust, concern and wonderment.  I watched those people who came to the chat room to learn become experts after a few visits (the fundamentals of preparedness were, after all, relatively simple).  I watched the competition among the new survival experts when `newbies’ came to the chat room. People who’d just heard about Y2K and wanted to know more.  The poor old newbies found themselves swarmed by all the old-timers who were, themselves, newbies a couple of weeks earlier.  Everyone wanted to demonstrate his knowledge by telling some newbie about it all.

Meanwhile, the rancor, the snapping and snarling, the pro-gun/anti-gun, born-again/non-religious wars raged among those folks who came there first to just learn, who all had the same reason for their original visits.  And, of course, the romances.

The snake pit.

So.  How do strangers who have no reason to give a hoot in hell what one another think come to such a pass?  What is it about discussion boards and chat rooms that draws people so closely into one another that they wish to apply pain, sarcasm, poison?  That they actually allow the poison being spewed by the malignant random stranger to pierce their feelings?

It’s a study.  I’ll swear it is.

Old Jules

The Price of Not Expecting the Unexpected

If I were prone to regrets of things done and undone I’d regret not being more observant when something was going on around me worth observing.

I was on a business trip in a New Mexico State vehicle meeting city officials in Portales, the town where I grew up.  I visited with my old friend and classmate Fred Stevens and, we ate out together the previous night at a local restaurant.  

Next morning hanging around City Hall I chatted with my 6th grade teacher, Bill Walman, then Parks and Recreation Director, and Mack Tucker, director of something else, with whom Kurtiss Jackson and I had worked for Skeeter Jenkens on the ranch ‘way back when [ A Sobering View of Y2K].

If I’d been paying attention I might have noticed something at the meeting.  Or maybe during one of the chats with friends I mentioned the route I’d be taking home.  Maybe I’d have examined the car for something attached to it.  Years of hindsight would have been helpful.  Some of the details of the following sequence of events might be out of order, might be inaccurate by having dimmed with the years.  But it’s a fairly close portrayal of something that I still don’t understand with whatever’s been gained by the passage of time.

After the meeting I left late-morning and headed west to go home to Socorro.  Probably there was a lot I could have noticed if I’d had my senses tuned.  But I was on autopilot.

The road between Portales and Roswell seems a long one to motorists and I probably was exceeding the speed limit.  There was almost no traffic, and I didn’t notice whom I passed and what they might have been driving.

I’d consumed a lot of coffee that morning and somewhere out beyond Elida I stopped and walked to a tree along the fenceline to relieve myself.  A battered old truck pulled up behind the state car and stopped with the engine idling.  When I finished I went to his window. 

 
“Anything I can do to help you?”

The guy was dressed in a shabby bodyshop shirt, bad teeth, nasal twang accent of a local.  “Ah was just wondering why someone in a government car passed me going 80 miles an hour.”

“What makes you think I was going 80 miles an hour?   The speed limit’s 55.  If I passed you going 55 I might have been speeding to go past just to get around you.”

“What gumment agency you working for going that fast?  I jest want to know why you’re driving so fast in a state car!”

I told him to take the tag number and call it in if he had a complaint, but he went on and on with a nasal, makes-no-sense questioning. 

I got back into the car and drove on, but stopped again at Kenna.  The village had become a ghost town, but it had a lot of memories for me because Skeeter’s ranch was outside Kenna, and when Portales was ‘dry’ most Portales teenagers used to drive here to buy beer because the Portales bootleggers wouldn’t sell to them.

I’d begun to awaken a bit, though, and was wondering about the guy in the truck.  I watched as he drove past on the highway and probably considered the fact he was now ahead of me again.  A few miles out of town I passed him again, this time carefully not exceeding the speed limit by much.

Once he was out of sight far behind me the coffee was working on me again, and I pulled down a side road and behind an abandoned schoolhouse for another bladder call. 

I paused and poked around the old school yard waiting for him to go past, figuring I’d wait until he went by, let him get out of sight in front of me, then drive on to Roswell with him well ahead of me.  I don’t recall why I did this precisely.  I wasn’t alarmed yet at this point.  Maybe I was just enjoying the bits and pieces of school yard litter from so long ago.  Even the old outhouse was still standing.
 
I drove on, taking my time now.  But when I arrived at the intersection north of Roswell where traffic goes north toward Santa Fe, south into Roswell, or west into the mountains, there he was, pulled off and waiting.  He somehow knew, I suddenly realized, I’d gotten behind him.  So instead of going on I drove into Roswell and got some lunch, figuring he’d be out of my life by the time I headed west.
 

But a few miles west of Roswell, there he was again.  He let me go past, so up the road a way I pulled off and parked behind a convenience store, went inside to let him go by while I had an ice cream bar.  He did go by, and I finished my ice cream and headed west again.  But at the intersection going to Ruidoso into the mountains, or Lincoln and westward to Carrizoso there he was again. 

I drove on by, pretending to be going to Ruidoso.  I pulled over again a couple of miles up the road, out of sight of the highway and waited for him to go past for half-hour, but he didn’t.  So I figured I’d lost him, headed back through Lincoln, and there he sat in front of a museum, engine running.  I pulled in behind him, determined to confront him.

I drove out of town behind him and a few miles up the road he turned into a picnic/camping area and turned around, stopped at the entrance facing the highway.   By now I was pissed, but also damned confused and slightly alarmed.  I couldn’t understand how he could be doing this. 

I was armed and I walked up behind his car so he could see me in the rearview, but with the firearm behind me out of sight. 

“Why are you following me?”

“Ahhhm not following yew.  I just stopped here to take me a rest.”

“You waited back there at the intersection.  You waited again in Lincoln.  Why are you following me?”

“I’m not follering yew.  But I still want to know why a person in a gumment car passed me going 80 miles an hour.”  And so on.

I’m warning you.  Don’t follow me anymore.”  I shrugged it off, curious how far he’d go with this.


 
We played cat-and-mouse, me in a busy parking lot in Capitan during a thunderstorm as he went by, him waiting for me in Carrizoso.  He wanted me to know he had a fix on me. 


 I was convinced by the time I passed him on the hood of his truck west of Valley of the Fires that he was a cop… couldn’t see any way a private citizen could have the equipment it would take to do what he was doing. 

It’s a long drive through that desert between Carrizozo and Socorro and my mind was working 90 miles an hour.  As I approached Socorro I became convinced I was about to be arrested for  something. 

I called a friend with the City of Socorro and asked him to go look at my house to see if there were a bunch of cops waiting there.  There weren’t, and I didn’t see the follower until several years later in Albuquerque during a much later phase of what came to be a decade of that sort of crap.

A week later I described it to my Bureau Chief in Santa Fe.  When I’d finished telling it I asked, “Do you know of anything I ought to know?  Could this be Internal Affairs following me around for some reason?”

He thought about it frowning.  “No, I don’t think it could possibly be that.  I’d know it if any questions were being asked about you.  They’d have asked me.”  Then he looked me in the eye.  “You need to be careful about that speeding, though.  If you get stopped for speeding in a State car working for DPS it’s no questions asked.  They’ll fire you.”

What began that day lasted almost a decade.  Long after I’d left DPS and through several post-Y2K years. 

But back in the beginning, all manner of other mysterious happenings intruded into the lives of those who climbed that mountain with me, and to me.  I don’t know to this day whether the two parallel sets of happenings were connected.

Maybe if I’d been paying more attention from the beginning.

Old Jules

 

Juggling the Possibilities

I finished off most of this bottle of Jack Daniels on December 31, 1999, while I was sitting around listening on the short wave radio to Y2K not happening, first in New Zealand, then Australia, then places further west until it got to me, where it happened well enough to make up for those other places it didn’t.

But as you can see, there was some left in the bottle when Y2K got to me.  I resolved to hold it back until something else happened.  I’ve had it sitting over there on the microwave collecting dust for several years, threatening to celebrate various New Year and Thanksgivings and I-don’t-know-whatalls.  I’d had it in the back of my mind lately I’d do my 70th birthday with it, then slid the clock backward and thought maybe my 69th here in a few days.

But it’s colder than a bear’s butt in this cabin this morning.  I’ve got water heating in the microwave half-gallon at a time to pour over my head for a warm shower before I have to walk up to Gale’s to see if Little Red’s available for a necessaries run to Kerrville.  Got to thinking a hot toddie might just warm things up enough to stop some of this shivering I’m doing before I pour that water over my head.

That Y2K whiskey just mightn’t survive another hour.

On the other hand, it might be nice to have it for when I turn 75.

Old Jules

The Tale of the Dreamsheep Mother and the Y2K War Gods


I’d planned for some while to write up the early-post-Y2K incident with the helicopters described below.  But Jeanne looked it up in her Y2K journal, read it to me over the phone, and convinced me in the interest of accuracy her version was the most appropriate.  The human mind twists and turns events and mine had worked on those helicopters enough to make the story I’d have written somewhat different from the one she recorded that day.

I’d have sworn I’d been teaching her sons how to use a survival mirror as described in the Survival Book http://sofarfromheaven.com/survival-book-2/, and that the instruction was the reason I had the mirror readily at hand to do what I did. 

I do recall vividly my increased heartbeat when they turned to fly 150 above the cabin.  I’ll defer to her record as to whether I then slunk into the trees.

From Jeanne’s y2k journal:
Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2000


A nice day all around. Jules came over fairly early, seemed at loose ends, and stayed til nearly 4 PM.  While the kids were finishing homework, he started messing around with some tools we had lying around and found a rock that reminded him of a dream sheep mother like the ones he’d bought before from the Zunis.

He spent all morning carving a dream sheep out of that rock and then decided we needed a cairn to put it on.  He and Michael and Andrew worked on that most of the day, adding flagstones for a bench to go all the way around it. The dream sheep sits on top like a shrine- I love it.  It took all day, he must have moved a ton of rock. Then he build me another bench to sit on for a view of the sunset. Glad he didn’t ask me to help. Michael helped willingly, Andrew less willingly,  but he still helped.

 After he declared it finished, Michael took off for a hike up the hill and Andrew and Julia were playing around behind the cabin.

We heard some helicopters before we saw them, it turned out to be two black military copters that were slowly flying right along the road that goes by our property.  Jules didn’t say anything but he got out his pocket mirror from his survival kit and started sort of surreptitiously flashing it at the helicopters.  I got real nervous and decided I should  probably walk off in the other direction, so I headed towards the cabin.

I wasn’t sure if they could see who was doing it since he was by some trees, but I wanted to be sure it was obviously NOT me.  Damned if those helicopters didn’t turn a 90 degree angle and fly straight over the cabin to get a closer look at us! But nothing happened, thank goodness. By then Jules had faded into the trees. A few minutes Michael came down the hill and said “Did you see THAT?”

After that Jules and the boys had a long conversation about building a catapult using a sucker rod from a windmill and some other stuff. Said they ought to be able to build one big enough to lob rocks the size of cantaloupes across the road.  They all seemed pretty excited about it.

Anyhow, the cairn is a great place to sit and drink hot chocolate and watch the sunrise. I think it’ll last forever, it’s really solid.

Picked up 25 eggs later when we went down to help him collect them.


Saturday, Feb. 13, 2000

This morning we were eating a late breakfast inside the cabin and talking about going  to gather eggs and suddenly there was this horrifying roar over the cabin which scared us all half to death- we rushed to the door and saw a pair of fighter jets that had just buzzed our cabin! I think  they were getting back at us for the mirror stuff a few days ago…too bad Jules wasn’t around to have heart failure with the rest of us, seeing that it was all because of him.  Of course we had to drive down to his cabin right away to tell him all about it.
Picked up 30 eggs while we were there.

Jeanne K.




A Sobering View of Y2K

That tribal talk a week or so ago got me thinking about an old Mescalero bud I’ve known on and off through the parts of this lifetime that matter. We go long times without seeing one another, but we top off the long spells by bumping into one another in unlikely places.

Kurtiss and I first met working on Skeeter Jenkins’ ranch near Kenna, New Mexico. Must have been 1958, ’59. Skeeter wasn’t a joyful man on his ranch-hands. He’d berate Kurtiss by comparing him to us white lads, then he’d turn around five minutes later and tell us we weren’t half as good cowboying as that damned Apache over there.

I guess the only good that came out of that job was the bond that formed between Kurtiss and me, and the lifelong lesson I learned about not trusting ranchers. Old Skeeter cheated all of us spang out of a hard week pay and spread around the word none of us were worth the board he’d furnished working for him.  Fortunately, he’d done that sort of thing before, so nobody paid him any mind when it came to hiring us for other jobs, which we frequently got screwed out of our pay on, same as with Skeeter.

The last time I ran into Kurtiss must have been 1998, ’99. He and a couple of Arizona broncos were sitting on the tailgate of a truck parked for a powwow in Albuquerque when I came across them and a case of beer that was too close to gone to be any good.  When we’d killed what was left of that case we kicked out of there and spent the night singing ’50s rock and roll songs, getting roaring drunk and filling in on the minutia of our lives since we’d last met.

Spent a good bit of time talking about Y2K also, which was much on my mind at the time, and they’d never heard of it.   I expected that and explained to them. Those Apaches thought that just might be something really fine.

Kurtiss immediately thought of a state cop over toward Ruidoso who’s bad about kicking around folks who’ve had a bit much to drink, “I hope nobody gets to that prick before I do.”

Those Apaches demonstrated some rich imagination concerning the nuances of Y2K aftermath.  “We’ll be able to run raids on the Rio Grande tribes like the old days!”   This didn’t interest the Arizonians.  They were fairly sure Mexico would be open for a bit of raiding, though, and better pickings.

Then Kurtiss went thoughtful.  “I’d sure as hell like to kill me some Navajo.”  He told the old story of Bosque Redondo and all the slaughter the Din’e did to the less numerous Mescalero during the decade years they shared the reservation.   Apache numbers there were decimated until only 1800 were left alive when they escaped the rez and went back to Mescalero.

Bosque Redondo was fresh on his mind because of Navajo whines he heard at the Gathering of the Tribes Powwow. “Mescalero’s too large for such few people.” (The enormous Din’e Rez is getting jam-packed these days, by comparison.) “They ought to take some of that land away and give it to us,” was the general theme.

We fought our way down,” Kurtiss quoted himself. “And you guys multiply like rabbits.”

This led to some laughs and sneers about the theme of the Gathering of Nations Powwow, “Celebrating 400 years of unity (among the tribes)“.

I wonder where that was,” one of the Coyoteros grunted. “The Apache never saw it and neither did our enemies. Those Mexicans and Pima and all those town Indians were lucky the whites came along to save them.”

Mostly those guys were in agreement in their scorn for other southwestern tribes. “They don’t know how to use the land,” gesturing with a nod and a slight pucker of the lips.

A whole different view of the end of life as we know it.

Old Jules