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Sense of humor may be best defense against Y2K bug

What if you arrived at work on the first Monday of the year 2000, and found the following memo on your desk?

Dear Valued Employee:

Re: Vacation Pay.



Our records indicate that you have not used any vacation time over the past 100 year(s). As I’m sure you are aware, employees are granted 3 weeks of paid leave per year or pay in lieu of time off. One additional week is granted for every 5 years of service.

Please either take 9,400 days off work or notify our office and your next paycheck will reflect payment of $8,277,432.22 which will include all pay and interest for the past 1,200 months.




Sincerely,

Automated Payroll Processing

Hey, this millennium bug might not be so bad, after all.

The potential Y2K problem – wherein date-sensitive systems in computers might sputter to a halt due to their failure to recognize the year 2000 – has become a beast of near mythic proportions. It is our Godzilla, emerging from the ocean depths to brush humans aside with incredible mutant strength.

A quick cruise around the Internet will uncover thousands of Y2K sites, featuring everything from survival supplies to special millennium prayers. This is serious, say the creators of these sites. It’s the end of the world, people!

But buried further down in the Internet, below the gun supplies and Y2K ranches, are a few select sites which may offer our only true hope against this impending computer menace.

Some brave souls are choosing to battle Y2K with humor.

The above fake memo is one example that is beginning to circulate on the Internet (the payroll memo is of uncertain origin, but has been passed around via e-mail for months).

OK, most Internet humor on the subject of Y2K is what one might expect … not funny to anyone but computer nerds.

Q: Why is the millennium bug like Cinderella?

A: At the stroke of midnight, Windows 99 turns back into DOS 1.0, the pentium V turns back into an 8088, and the Handsome User is left holding a beautiful glass mouse.

That one is also circulating on the Internet, and probably has them rolling in the aisles at the Microsoft campus in Seattle. But it’s a little beyond most normal people.

The following, however, may not be so amusing to the above-mentioned tech-heads:

Microsoft has announced a solution to the year 2000 problem. It will be released in 2004.

Or how about this?

Q: Why is getting an elephant pregnant like fixing a Y2K problem?

A: Both require tremendous resources, are logistically very difficult, and you won’t know for a couple of years if you got the job done.

An amusing story being circulated on the Web is this fake news item:

Experts warned today of a new and deadly threat to our beleaguered civilization: the 100GB Bug.

As most people know, McDonald’s restaurant signs show the number of hamburgers the giant chain has sold. That number now stands at 99 billion burgers, or 99 gigaburgers (GB). Within months, or perhaps only weeks, that number will roll over to 100GB. McDonald’s signs, however, were designed years ago, when the prospect of selling one hundred billion hamburgers seemed unthinkably remote. So the signs have only two decimal places.

This means that, after the sale of the 100 billionth burger, McDonald’s signs will read “00 Billion Burgers Sold.” This, experts predict, will convince the public that, in more than 30 years, no McDonald’s burgers have ever in fact been sold, causing a complete collapse of consumer confidence .

The ensuing catastrophic drop in sales is seen as almost certain to force the already-troubled company into bankruptcy. This, in turn, will push the American economy over the brink, which, finally, will complete the total devastation of the global economy, ending civilization as we know it, and forcing us all to live on beetles.”

To really get prepared for Y2K problems, however, one has to rely on the professionals.

Such as syndicated columnist Dave Barry.

“A nightmare?” writes Barry of Y2K. “You bet it will be. Also there could be some computer problems. Picture this situation: At 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, you step into a crowded, computer-controlled elevator in a modern high-rise building. At the stroke of midnight, you and your co-passengers are suspended in an elevator shaft 50 floors up – and suddenly, the elevator doesn’t know whether it’s the year 1900 or 2000! You can imagine what might happen!

“Nothing, that’s what. Elevators don’t NEED to know what year it is. But a co-passenger who has been drinking cheap champagne could throw up on your shoes.”

Also, David Letterman knows a good comedy source when he sees one, especially since the impeachment hearings have been concluded.

One of Letterman’s recent Top Ten Lists on his CBS Late Show was entitled “Top ten ways Y2K will affect Disneyland.” Included were No. 10, “Accidental switch back to 19,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” No. 7, “Snow White starts receiving Bashful’s subscription to Hustler,” and No. 1, “Two words: catapulting teacups.”

NBC late-night talk host Conan O’Brien has a running feature entitled “In the Year 2000.” The piece involves Conan and sidekick Andy Richter in dark clothing, with the studio lights turned down, shining flashlights on their faces as they make predictions for the coming millennium.

Some recent samples:

In the year 2000, Mark McGwire will become the richest man on Earth, when he finally learns to tie a string to every ball he hits.

In the year 2000, Elizabeth Dole will be elected president, making Bob Dole the first man – something already verified by fossil records.

In the year 2000, Bill Gates will be impoverished after spending all of his 70 billion dollars on research to fight dorkiness.

The message in all of this is that people should lighten up, and that will be our best defense against Y2K.

As Americans, we seem to have an inbred need to stockpile goods and arms against impending disaster. Many of us are old enough to recall nuclear disaster drills in school, where we were instructed to crawl under our desks, and “duck and cover” in the event of a nuclear strike by the Russians. (Those desks must have been constructed out of some heavy-duty material).

Self-preservation is in our genes, to be sure. But never has so much been said and done over an event that hasn’t happened yet, and may not even occur.

Scott Adams, creator of “Dilbert,” isn’t taking any chances.

“I ‘ve heard that many people are hoarding cash and food just in case civilization collapses,” Adams wrote in an essay, which is currently making the rounds on the Internet.

“My strategy is to hoard guns and ammo so I can take the cash and food from the people who didn’t do a good job thinking through the ‘collapse of society’ concept.

“I’m also actually hoping a celebrity slays someone just so we can get better news programs in December.”


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