Y2k Trip

When does the Millennium start? Midnight on the 31st of December? Midnight  on the 30th of December? Or..Midnight on the 31st of December, 2000?

All of the above times and dates are correct! Which answer is the proper one for you depends on where you are, and how you figure time.

Here in Florida the millennium makes it's debut at the stroke of midnight on the 31st of December. In London, the event has happened five hours earlier, and in California, it still has three hours to go.

Of course, if you are a mathematical purist, you will have a year to wait before the millennium starts on January 1st, 2001.

The first people to see the new millennium live on a small island in the Pacific Ocean between Christmas Island and Tarawa. At one time a couple of years ago the International Date Line ran through the middle of that island and caused a lot of confusion. If you lived on one side of the line you were in Sunday, and should be going to church. A few feet away, and you were still in Saturday, and could go to the local bar instead.

The local clergy appealed to the government and had a kink built into the line so that now the entire island is on the Sunday side. As there are no floating casinos in the area, church attendance has settled down to regular attendance no matter where on the island you reside.

Some of the more affluent residents of the island are planning on taking a short boat ride to the other side of the date line to celebrate the new year on that day, and then back by boat to their home to celebrate again the next day.

Howland Island, where Amelia Ehrhart is thought to have crashed, is very close to the date line, and also to the equator. If a traveller from Hawaii times things correctly his plane will fly over the equator and the date line at almost the same time.

As the electronic age has not quite come to these small islands, there is very little worry about computer failure, but there is very great concern about how the religious population will react to the millenium. In Papua New Guinea the government has asked the preachers and evangelists to tone down their rhetoric about a possible doomsday scenario because it is causing panic buying of food and supplies.

As the new day moves forward into Indonesia the celebration of Ramadin is more important than the Millennium and will attract much more attention. As the day moves close to India, The Middle East, Africa, and Europe, people of different cultures will greet it in a variety of ways.           

Israel's religious believers have their own calendar, and are now in the middle of their fifth millennium. China has a different calendar than we do, as do many other cultural groups. Countries that are the most sophisticated in electronic technology  will  be the first  to feel the impact of the new millennium.

By the time that the countdown starts in Times Square, most of the speculation about the effect of Y2K will have been answered. Technicians, economists, and theologians will have spent the preceding hours monitoring events from Fiji to London looking for clues as to what will happen when the crystal ball reaches the bottom of it's mast in New York.

While the revellers are cheering and hugging in Times Square, a group of Radio Amateurs in Spring Hill, and all over Florida, will be waiting for a call from the telephone company or from emergency management asking them to take over communications in areas that might have experienced power or communications failures.

Hospitals, Fire Departments and Law Enforcement agencies will be on the alert for any troubles in the area, and vehicles have been gassed up and emergency generators have been checked and readied for use. Any of the tiny micro-chips that are imbedded in appliances have the potential for failure;  phone lines are subject to breakdown if the circuits are overloaded.

There are many things that can cause troubles that are not directly due to the "millennium bug". For almost a year now we have been bombarded with information about what to do and what NOT to do about Y2K. The year started off with worries about  computer malfunctions that would endanger air travel and money availability. Now the focus has been shifted to worry about terrorist attacks.

Hotel owners now find that they will have empty rooms ahead of them, as most people have opted to stay home for New Years Eve. Avoiding large crowds is now the smart choice for 75% of the people, and stocking up on food will only be necessary to avoid driving during the hours before the big event.

My own plan for Y2K will be pretty much the same as in other years. I shall have special snacks laid out, and no formal plans for company. I shall watch TV for pictures of the Times Square crowds, and at Midnight, after watching the ball descend, will first kiss my wife, and then follow an old family custom and let the first food of the new year be a piece of pickled herring, which I have been assured, will guarantee a prosperous following year.

I suspect that unless the doomsayers are wrong, I shall watch for some fireworks in the sky in spite of the ban, and then some more TV from around the world and then go to bed a bit later than on a normal night.

If my computer crashes, or the power fails, I shall be surprised but shall deal with that as I would in a hurricane. I will not be disappointed that the only bad thing that has happened  is that now I will have to remember to date checks for the new year of 2000.

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