Tag Archives: internet

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

Housekeeping

Hi everyone, Jeanne here. Please bear with me while I make a few comments on the status of things here at So Far From Heaven.

First of all, the blog site isn’t going away. I’m sure Jules will post from time to time, but he’s also relieved to have made the decision to post only when he feels the urge without any dedication to a schedule. So, less stress, fewer posts, but not going away. If you’re not already signed up for email notifications, you might consider it. I’ve certainly found it helpful on other blog sites that I follow.

I have permission to post some other things that Jules has written in the past, some items from previous blogs, poetry, some pieces from other projects. I would appreciate your feedback about this idea. I suspect I am biased about his writing and don’t have enough distance from the situation to really know whether our followers  want to see anything “old” or just wait for something current.

For anyone who wants a daily dose of Old Jules’ writing, please visit  Ask Old Jules, where you are still welcome to ask questions there through the comments.  Although I only post one question and answer per day, there is a lot of variety and randomness from day to day that you might enjoy.  The Facebook page So Far From Heaven: Ask Old Jules will also continue with shorter q/a posts more appropriate to the Facebook format.

We’re very gratified that at this point we’ve got a nice solid core of dedicated readers. I’m also following a lot of nice people that I never knew existed, and intend to keep doing so. We appreciate all the responses we’ve had so far and look forward to continuing in the same vein although not with the same frequency.

Until next time,
Jeanne

Bat in the bug light and other big news and events

Evidently a bat got confused and got snagged in the buglight instead of coming into the cabin to fly around as they usually do.

Every m0rning the chickens feast under that light as soon as I turn them loose.  But I think I’d best unplug it before I poke around with a stick trying to get that bat out of there.

Ah well.  Maybe the chickens will eat it.

This cool morning had me putting on clothing instead of running around with nothing but shoes on to turn out the chickens and feed the cats.  But it reminded me I’ve been almost a year without any gas for the cookstove and no way except the woodstove to knock the morning chill out of the cabin.  I’m going to have to do something about that.

Then there’s this:

It’s coming nigh onto time to haul water again.  Probably also ought to try to figure out what’s wrong with that well pump.  It’s been since last December it quit, but I didn’t want to rush anything.  If I need to pull that pump I didn’t want to do it in cold weather when it happened, but didn’t want to do it in hot weather the rest of the time.

Saw this in the parking lot of the Humane Society Thrift Store the other dayInside the guy was easy to identify, looked about like you'd figure

 

He was poking around in a box of old LP records.  I tried to start a conversation with him about old music but he wasn’t having any of it.

This old XP’s going kerplunk.  I picked up a replacement at the Thrift Store and if I can figure out where all these wires go I’ll have it in here in a jiffy as soon as I get around to it.

Great day to you.

Old Jules

This Anonymous Manifesto

I’d wondered when something of this sort would happen without actually believing it ever would.

Someone keeping better track of current events than I do will probably see this as a yawn. . old news.  But when someone sent me an email after talking to me on the phone about it yesterday you could have knocked me over with a feather.  After pondering it a while this entire grassroots Occupy [fill in the blank] thing strikes me as rhyming a lot with what happened during the early 1990s when the Eastern Block, the USSR, and Iran all fell to pieces in less time than it takes to tell it.

Rich, a close friend, sent me a link to a site, We Are the 99 Percent, which if there’s any substance to it, might be the beginnings of something unpredictable enough to keep it interesting for a while.  I suppose I didn’t think there was enough of that left in the world to even consider.  My initial reaction was a bit of a ho-hum.  These seem to be peaceful folk demonstrating peacefully, which, while gratifying to see going on isn’t likely to undo anything. 

But then, in walks someone, or some group called ‘Anonymous’ and joins hands with the Occupy folk. 

PC Magazine Article

Here’s the transcript of the latest Occupy Wall Street video from Anonymous:

Greetings, institutions of the media.

We are Anonymous.

The events transpiring within Wall Street have caught our eye.

It seems that the government and federal agencies enjoy enforcing the law a little bit too much. They instate unjust laws as mindless automatons, blindly following orders with soulless precision.

We witness the government enforcing the laws that punish the 99 percent while allowing the 1 percent to escape justice, unharmed, for their crimes against the people.

We have observed this same government failing to enforce even the minimal legal restraints of Wall Street’s abuses. This government who has willingly ignored the greed at Wall Street has even bailed out the perpetrators that have caused our crisis.

We will not stand by and watch the system take over our way of life.

We the people shall stand against the government’s inaction.

We the people will not be witnesses to your corruption and ill-gotten profits.

We will not labor for your leisure.

We will not assist you in any way.

This is why we choose to declare our war against the New York Stock Exchange. We can no longer stay silent as the population is being exploited and forced to make sacrifices in the name of profit.

We will show the world that we are true to our word. On Oct. 10, NYSE shall be erased from the Internet. On Oct. 10, expect a day that will never, ever be forgotten.

Vox Populi, Vox Anon.

The Voice of The People is The Voice of Anonymous.

We are Legion. We are the 99 percent.

We do not forgive. We do not forget.

Wall Street: Expect us.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2394071,00.asp#fbid=_qbOvyUs5hm

That seems to shine an entirely different light on things.  I don’t know whether anyone’s actually able to jiggle remote computers in a way that allows them to shut down something like Wall Street Stock Exchange, especially after giving warning ahead of time they plan to do it.  But I think making the threat is bound to have every capability in the kingdom concentrated on keeping them from doing it, first, and hauling their butts off to the slammer as soon as they can slap a pair of handcuffs on them.

Gutsy stuff, or a level of confidence surprising from the perspective of a person who figures the powers-that-be can do anything they want to do with impunity.  If they manage to do it the resulting power-shift leverage would inevitably seem to make a sharp turn in favor of the people calling themselves the 99 percent.  But do or don’t, it pulls things out of the realm of peaceful demonstration and gives the powers the excuse they might have been wishing for to drag out the machine guns against the 99 percenters.

The people posting on the 99 percent site appear to be just regular people with a lot of justified bitterness about how things are going and a determination for legitimate change.  But thinking back on the history of revolutions, the signs and banners walking out in front of the parade have always been followed back in the baggage train with enough guillotines to separate a lot of fact from fiction after the dark underbelly of human nature is exposed.

What comes out the other end tends to look a lot different than anyone thought it would going in.  If this isn’t just a flash in the pan it sounds as though the people in the collateral damages zones might be in for some interesting times.  But, hell.  I guess we’re all in the collateral damages zones.

Revolution – The Beatles

 http://youtu.be/KrkwgTBrW78

Crazy Lost Gold Mine-ism

This post requires some background to get to what it’s about.  The first part is background.  The actual subject of the post doesn’t start until ‘way on down toward the bottom.

Back before Y2K happened I spent a lot of years and energy researching and searching the mountains of SW New Mexico for a particular lost gold mine.

Doing a thing of that sort, the smart individual would keep his mouth shut about it.  But I don’t qualify in that regard.  I spent several years poring over records and winter nights poring over maps with a magnifying glass, almost always certain of knowing where it was, chawing at the bit to get out into the barrancas to file a claim on it.  But also putting my research into a form others searching for it might find helpful.  Insane.

Eventually I found a location where evidence on the ground fit the legend locations well enough to keep me working the west face of that mountain, climbing and unclimbing it with friends and associates, building up a lot of muscle, finding a lot of interesting rocks, and getting surprising assays, but no joy to speak of on gold.

“A burned out cabin ruin with an aspen tree growing out of the inside, bear claw marks 12 feet up, 3 hand forged nails, a longtom sluicebox axed out of a 3 foot diameter log, a spring 75 feet above the sluice, an arrastra below.  A mysterious map chiseled on the face of a 300 pound rock surface depicting the exact layout of the canyon, the cabin, the waterfall, all so accurately depicted the person had to have scrutinized the layout from the mountaintop, then scratched it on this stone 600 vertical feet below and half a mile away.  The rock was carefully placed on the canyon wall above eye-level so it was easily seen, but only by someone looking up.”

By 1998 I’d spent a lot more treasure, worn out vehicles, worn out relationships with lady friends and put a lot of friends to sleep going on about it and spending all my waking hours thinking, searching, or talking about it.  I decided it had taken up enough of my life and it was time to move on to other things after one final effort.

I took several weeks of vacation from work and spent it determined to get that gold mine out of my life, or into it in a way that didn’t include continued searching for it.  During part of it Gale and Dana, another old friend, joined me up there.

But that’s all another story.

During the 1990s I used to get several letters and phone calls a week from other people who were searching for the mine, asking questions about specifics of my research findings, asking questions about various terrain features, or just wanting me to go climb a mountain where they knew it was but didn’t feel like climbing themselves, willing to give me 10% of it if they were correct.  Of course they always knew they were correct.

But gradually that all tapered off.  In 2003, in the desperate throes of surviving the desperate financial aftermath of Y2K I published a book about my research, and the calls, emails and letters started coming in again for a while, but again gradually receded after a few years.  Those guys all got old and everything quieted down.

That lost gold mine slid spang out of my life.

But finally, here’s what this post is about.

Suddenly, beginning a couple of months ago, my old email address box began a new trickle, becoming a stream, of questions about all manner of details about those canyons and researches I elaborated on in the book.  Old guys, some older than I, were suddenly making noises about ideas, searches, evidently studying the book and maps, wanting refinements on what I’d described.

2011, every old worn-out has-been treasure hunter in Christendom  is suddenly wanting me to search my memory-banks about canyons I once stomped around in.  I’ve mostly answered the emails, tried to remember and flesh out what most of them were asking about, but a lot of it’s just too mixed in with too many other canyons, rocks and trails to recover with clarity.

But some of them are actually being subtle but provacative, wanting to argue with me about research findings, value judgements I made regarding 160 year old documents I dug up in the US Archives, military records, and a particular Apache I consider a key in the affair.

Heck, it ain’t as though I found the damned mine.  I don’t know where it is, though I spent a lot of years, treasure, sweat, and women thinking I did.  Now, suddenly I have people coming out of the woodwork wanting me to change my mind about where I thought it was because my reasons for thinking it weren’t the same as their reasons for thinking it’s somewhere I didn’t think it was.

Absolooooodle, incomprehensibly, insane.

Yeah.  It’s real important where I think it is.  If I don’t think it’s where it is, that old gold mine’s likely to switch places with where it thought it was.  Next thing you know it will be where I thought it was.  And that ain’t where these other guys now think it is, so I need to change my mind and think it’s where they think it is.  Otherwise it won’t be there.

I have no idea what the hell this is all about.  Maybe the price of gold combined with worrying about Social Security has the geezers going crazy thinking they’re 50 years old again.

Old Jules

Billy Vaughn And His Orchestra – The Shifting Whispering Sands ( 1956 )

Future Me


Morning Blogsters:

Someone showed me a website where a person can send emails to be delivered to themselves at some specified future time.  http://www.futureme.org/

Interesting thought.

What’s more interesting, however, is that a person’s allowed to have those emails to his future self posted for the public to read, though those are anonymous.

It’s a study in the way a lot of people view themselves.

One intriguing shot some 16 year old fired at his 22 year old self,

“I hope you’re out of the Marine Corps by now.  If you aren’t, you are an idiot.”

A 16-er who ain’t yet in the Gyrenes telling his future self he hopes he’s out by now and implying going in was a mistake???

But what’s most puzzling is the way so many are lecturing their future selves.

“I hope you own fifteen rent houses by now and are driving a Corvette.  If not, you’ve been procrastinating.  Get busy.”

Evidently a lot of people are going along on the assumption they’re as wise now as they’ll be five or ten years from now, and that the person they’ll be won’t shudder, nor blush that HERE’s what they used to be.  Here’s how they used to think.  Whew.

“No wonder my life is such a mess if THAT’s where I came from”, they’ll be saying.

One cute one  from some young adult of indeterminate age was addressed to him/herself to be delivered, January 1, 2013.  It congratulates the future self for being there to read the email, reminding about how he/she had been into Mayan prophesy predicting the end of the world in 2012.

OOOOOOOkay.

Got me thinking, what’s really needed is a site where we can send emails to be delivered to ourselves at specified times in the past.

For instance, I could send one to me for delivery January 1, 1999.

“Hi guy.

“You just took your retirement funds out of their safe haven, retired, and you’re getting ready to go off and prepare for the collapse of civilization. 

  • “You think the banks, the IRS, everything’s going deep South a year from now. 
  • “You think buying that land on installments is a smart move, that the money’s better spent buying food, shelter, barter items, medications, for hoards of refugees that will be coming out of the cities.  Because,
  • “You think when civilization collapses the taxes, the installments, even paper cash will be gone, kaput.

“I don’t want to influence you about most of what you’re going to do during the next year, but I do have a couple of suggestions.

  • “First, notice I’m sending you this email by computer from 2011.
  • “Second, you’ve asked yourself what you’re going to do if the lights don’t go out and think you know the answer.  Prepare yourself for a surprise or two.  No need to change anything much, but keep in mind life is full of the unexpected.  Savor the adventure. 
  • “Third, store your retirement cash you’re depending on in case Y2K doesn’t happen in a metal container where the rats can’t get to it. (Trust me on this one.  Just do it and don’t ask any questions.)

“Other than that, you’re doing fine, sport.  Just go on with what you were doing when you opened this email.

“From the man you’re going to be twelve HARD years from now,”

“Jules”

“PS – There’s a website out there where you can answer this email and have it delivered to me now.  Don’t bother.  I  was you once.  I remember all about it.  You don’t have anything to say I don’t know already.

“PPS – Start learning as much as you can learn about playing blackjack.  You’re going to need it for a while. 

“I’d probably be remiss if I didn’t mention that you are one incredibly stupid SOB, though you don’t know it yet.  You won’t know it in 2002, 2006, 2008, even 2010, either, though it won’t have changed.  In fact, you’ll always be convinced you are right on top of things during all those times.  No problem, chum.  It will add a lot of adventure and spice to our life.

“You don’t get to be smart until September, 2011.  Tough gig but it’s something to look forward to.”

Old Jules

George Harrison– Any Road

—————————————–

NOTE:  I can’t visit Face Book because of the load time and my slow connection.  However, Jeanne’s posted a video on my FB what? Account?  Site? Whatever they do over there.  It’s a short thing of a fawn born under my porch she caught on camera while she was here.  Those of you who are able to open Face Book might enjoy it.  Jules

To Live is to Fly


Good morning everyone, Admin. (Jeanne) here.

Old Jules told me that some folks have been asking about who I am and wonder how I came to be “behind the scenes” on this blog. He asked  me  to explain a bit about how we met and got to this point.

We actually met in a y2k chat room. When my ex and  I were researching y2k in ’98, I  was new to the internet and immediately became addicted to chat, where this guy who could really turn a phrase caught my attention with his sharp, although often warped, sense of humor. He obviously was an expert about  emergency preparedness and soon he and his y2k website became my number one resource.

When he got his property at a land auction in the summer of ’99, we also bought a piece of land and I went from Kansas to  New Mexico for the first time to sign the closing papers. My family put up our own getaway cabin about a mile and a half down the road from his place.  After three more trips to put supplies in place, I had a suspicion that y2k was going to be less of an event than had been predicted. I  decided to take advantage of the chance to give my kids a taste of a life not only in a different culture, but without telephone, electricity, or indoor plumbing. By New Year’s I was there with all five of my kids, and I  lived there for 4 more months with the three of them that were homeschooling.  Jules and my family became good neighbors. He again became a valuable resource for us when we were studying New Mexico culture, history, and geography.

After my family reunited back in Kansas, we stayed in close contact. When I quit homeschooling and began working outside the home, he again became a mentor for me, since his career  in management positions gave him perspectives that would have taken me years to learn.  After my divorce a few years later we shared a house in Placitas, N.M. for a couple of years before I again moved back to Kansas. I’ve visited Old Jules in New Mexico many times, and in Texas a few times.  We’ve taken a lot of day trips, hit the thrift stores, and shared our cats, music, and books.  We’ve also collaborated on various  projects.  He’s been great about encouraging me in my art work, too.

I work two library jobs, and I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing.  I’ve had blogs myself, but I decided a while ago that my own expression should focus more on my art  than writing. I have other friends who are writers and I enjoy following their progress. Living on the edge as Old Jules does, with a slow dial-up connection on a phone line that I happen to know has a tree branch lying across it right now, makes it difficult for him to maintain a blog site. Since I’ve always enjoyed reading what Old Jules writes, I’m happy to help by using my fast internet connection to set up and maintain the blog.  So this blog is truly a joint project.  When we can, we use photos that we’ve taken ourselves, and discussing which music  fits each post is one of the parts about it that I enjoy most.

Because we live 800 miles apart, we don’t actually see each other very often,  so we’re grateful to live in a time when y2k didn’t bring down the grid,  destroying communications and becoming the end of the world as we know it.
We hope you’re grateful, too.

Mandala 56
Addendum: Here’s a link to my Deviant Art page for those who’d like to see more of my drawings. I don’t update the page very often, but it’s a handy place to have a gallery!
http://mandalagal.deviantart.com/gallery/

Townes Van Zandt– To Live is to Fly

Internet Wisdom

I spent a while this morning visiting various blogs, groups and reading blasts.  Stayed mostly away from the news feeds, however.

But I came away renewed, refreshed and relaxed from all the exercise dodging ricochets of wisdom, originality and profundity.

  • Found out Love’s a big deal however it happens to be packaged, especially if it’s universal and unconditional (not making any demands), and I was appropriately edified with the knowing of it.
  • Found out pets are cute and smart, which I hadn’t noticed before,
  • Found out wild animals wouldn’t hurt a flea, mostly, unless it’s the fault of some human,
  • Found out humans mostly wouldn’t hurt a flea if they’re properly loved,
  • Found out millions of chickens spending their lives in lines of 3′ wire cubes a mile long and three deep from egg to hatchet were capable of being subjected to some irony  called legal cruelty if they died prematurely by some other than the normal method,
  • Discovered there’s an amazing breadth of conflicting, mutually exclusive truths floating around,
  • Discovered the wisest folk on the planet and those most prone to pass one-sentence fragments of that wisdom along to others are those who wish they’d been born with a Tribal Census Number of one sort or another, but who almost certainly weren’t (though they, followed by I, would be the last to say so).  The good news is there are plenty more of the same tribe willing to shoot it back at them.

I suppose I’ve almost exhausted that source of wisdom for the moment.  Thinking next I’m going to study the labels on food cans.

Old Jules

http://www.pcworld.com/article/137100/the_10_funniest_sites_on_the_internet.html

8:00 AM afterthought

I probably should have mentioned something else I’m noticing and find a lot more humorous than any of the above:

The emergence of the “I fought in [name a war the US indulged in during the past half century] syndrome.  Most don’t come right out and say so, but the great majority attempt to convey a distinct impression they were infantry point men, or at least out where the bullets were flying.  And it was tough.   The PX, pizzas and whores were all off somewhere different than where they were.  Tough and scary with all those meanies trying to get through the wire every night and them laying ambushes on the jungle trails, crawling in tunnels full of snakes and little brown brothers with hand grenades.  Unspoken implications they weren’t among the 150/1 REMF [rear-echelon MFs] in Vietnam, not among the 500/1 in everything since.

Naturally all this gets followed by a lot of fawning modern day patriots thanking them for protecting all this freedom we now enjoy, frowning about how little thanks and respect vets get for being vets.

If you hold your mouth right you can get a smile out of this phenomenon.  Twist it around a little further and you can even squeeze out a laugh.

REMFs circa 1963

[Edit:  Sheeze.  Just got an email from someone thought I was saying I was a Vietnam Vet.  I'm not.  This pic is Korea, 1963.  Nobody ever heard of Vietnam yet.  That 1st Cav patch - in those days was "The horse we never rode, the line we never crossed and the yellow is the reason why"]

I took the picture but I’ve since then metamorphosed into a point-man with a nasty scowl figuring on getting a Veteran bumper sticker and some thanks for all I must have sacrificed so you modern patriots could stay free, etc etc etc etc etc.

Sometimes I think we old people really are as pathetic as young people believe we are.

10:00 AM afterthought

If lip-service croc-tears patriots actually wanted to say thanks to someone who made a sacrifice they’d pay a visit now and then to a long-term care VA hospital instead of displaying “Support Our Troops” stickers and sloganizing a lot of easy, empty rhetorical cliché.  The wheel chair population wasting away forgotten in those hospitals sacrificed something they wanted to keep, even though they probably never believed they did it to protect the freedom of anyone else.

Likely it gets lonesome in there being a has-been swept off into a corner so’s they don’t distract from the enthusiasm for the ones haven’t done their unintentional sacrificing yet.  Paying them an occasional visit, taking them a pecan pie, sitting around exchanging lies about wars we fought would get a lot nearer to sincerity than a thousand flags and bumper stickers.

And those guys would welcome it, though they’d have every right to be suspicious and wonder whether the world’s coming to an end.

Slouching into the Millennium – August 1998

The Beginning

We staff members of the New Mexico State Emergency Management Planning and Coordination Bureau [EMPAC] didn’t laugh much.  We were a collection of old guys mostly retired from something else, except for a few youngsters, mostly support and training staff.

Radiation Response and Recovery [the RAD catchers] was a retiree Bird Colonel from the US Army named Sam.  Hazardous Materials Response and Recovery was headed by Joe, a retired US Air Force Lt. Colonel who’d piloted B47s for the Strategic Air Command in his youth.  Joe sat at the end of a runway in a B47 loaded with hydrogen bombs for two weeks during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Natural Disasters – Earthquake Preparedness was a shot-up in-Vietnam old Lt. Colonel, infantry.  And so on.  My program was Flood Plain Management and local coordination and training for one of the regions.  Too long out of the military to remember whether I was enlisted or an officer.

Our Bureau Chief, Larry, was a retired Master Sergeant, US Army Search and Rescue, another Vietnam vet. An enlisted man coordinating the activities of field grade officers, giving instructions, approving their work and their per diem expenditures would have been a potential source of laughter if we’d all held our mouths right, but “That’s what happens when you put an enlisted man doing the job of an officer,” was a frequent grumble every time something went awry.

The staff meeting was in the bomb shelter of the old National Guard Headquarters building in Santa Fe where our offices were located.

“I had a weird call from one of the aids to the Governor this morning.”Larry’s eyes searched our dozen blank faces. “Any of you know anything about Y2K?”   Calls from the Governor’s office to anyone at EMPAC was bad news.  We liked to think we were invisible, nobody knew we existed.  This particular governor, however, we considered a space cadet.  A flake.

We all exchanged scowls while my mind toyed with the phrase. “Y2K. Y2K? Where the hell have I heard about Y2K lately?” The thing rang a bell in my head, but I couldn’t think why.

“The Gov just got back from a meeting of the Association of State Governors. They did a big program on Y2K. He’s all excited about it. Evidently there’s some damned thing going on with computers to make them all fail January first, 2000.” Sneers and a chuckle or two.  We all agreed on something.

“Do any of you know what other states are doing? Any ideas what we should be doing? We have to send an answer over to the Gov’s office. We have to put together a plan of some kind.”

Background rumble around the table.  “Y2K?  Why the hell would all the computers crash when the 20th century turns over?”  “Damned idiot governor.”

“Hmmm computers. That’s it.” Now I remembered.

“It’s all a farce, Larry.” I was remembering a conversation and exchange of emails I’d had with my ex-wife. “Carolyn heads the department in Texas that’s supposed to be preparing for it. She told me a while back they were spending a lot of money on it, hiring a lot of people. Pissed her off when I said it was just another bureaucratic scare plot to build more empires.”

Larry stared at me, mind busy with what I’d said. “Could you find out what they are doing over there?”

“Sure. Why not?”

“Also, get on the internet. Find out what people are saying is going to happen. Find out everything you can about what all the other states are doing.”

The others in the room relaxed a little. No one wanted this project and now it was clearly mine. “How much time do you want me to spend on this?”

“A week. Two maybe. We just need to put together a plan that makes sense.”

As I left the staff meeting I was feeling pleased with the diversion this offered me. Something away from flood plain management and routine emergency management coordination. I didn’t expect it to be any problem at all.

I began by sending an email to Carolyn. This was the response I got:

“The Year 2000 deal is a real threat. Lots of people have been doing lots of
work to mitigate the consequences, and we’re still ‘influencing the future’.

The real problem is that we can generally fix what we know about, but there is
so much we don’t know.

For example, the power grid – there are many many power generators and power distributors in this country, and many “embedded systems” in each company. Some companies are taking the problem seriously by contacting their suppliers (of power grid equipment, as an example) to see if components will work.

Afraid of litigation, the manufacturers hem and haw around and provide no definitive data. Yes, I think there will be power outages, thus water problems, heating problems, etc, but I don’t think the whole US will go dark, and we still have some time to work on it.

One scenario I’ve heard is that elect. companies will work to distribute what power they have so that rolling black or brown outs will limit the negative affects of the power failures.

Some good news, the banking industry in the US is in very good shape. Our only
fear there is fear itself. I think a lot of IT systems are being corrected at a
more rapid pace than originally anticipated, and governors like yours and mine
are at least anticipating problems so they can prepare for them. I think if the
people anticipate the problems, and know that someone has already developed a
work around, we’ll be fine.

Any disruptions will probably be short lived.
I could go on, but duty calls.
C.

I trusted Carolyn about as much as any man can trust an ex-wife after 25 years of marriage.

I didn’t know it yet, but for me this began the end of one lifetime and heralded the start of another.

Old Jules

Creedence Clearwater Revival– Bad Moon Rising
http://youtu.be/5BmEGm-mraE