"Why, Too; Que?"

By Calendar Hacksaw

And so it came to pass that for many decades millions of the world's best computer programmers--acceding to the wishes of greedy employers in order to save disk space--substituted two-digit year identifiers ("98"), for their logical four-year counterparts ("1998"), leaving us now perched on the brink of technological Armageddon with a scant 500 days or less remaining before much of what we assume and hold dear goes belly-up like the Creek Road in a hundred year storm. "Why too; Que?" they asked, over and over again, ultimately substituting "Y2K" in order to save even more precious disk space.

What impact the so-called "Millennium Bug" will eventually have on Walker Basin remains to be seen, but Vice President Al Gore--self-appointed "CyberCzar of the Information Highway,"--recently called on ol' Calendar to put together a formal assessment of our situation and respond back to his "Federal Y2K Task Force and Democratic Fund-Raiser."

Answering the nation's call to duty, I spent several hours and more than just a few longneck dollars down at "Rockin' Taco" devoting a great deal of thought and thirst to the problem, in order to assemble a formal report of what life might be like in Twin Oaks and its suburbs following our big celebration down at Ed Oakley Hall on December 31, 1999. Herewith is a "sneak peek;" please don't divulge its contents to anyone outside our small circle of friends.

"Dear Vice President Gore:

Things don't look so good here in Walker Basin right now. Here we are, still trying to recover from this dang flood thing, and now you tell us all our computer chips are screwed up with "bad code." We rely heavily on computers in these parts, and the possibility of both of our Apple II-C processors shutting down next year leaves us with dang little hope, and no games to play.

To begin with, Mr. Gore, the only decent television reception we have in these parts comes from the satellite dishes, and them things have more "imbedded chips" than Wayne Moody's boots on a rainy night. So we'll be left without television to tell us how bad off we are, and instead will have to listen to "Buck Owens Live From The Crystal Palace," and carry on as if nothing happened.

Telephone service will obviously be out of the question as well. That happens several times a year anyway due to storms, earthquakes, Kentucky windage, single-vehicle rollovers, range cattle trajectory errors and the like, so we probably won't notice too much. I imagine even our CB radios have a few dated chips in them as well, good buddy, meanin' we shouldn't expect to hear from the folks at F.E.M.A. anywhere near as soon as we'd like to.

I read last week that a lot of microwave ovens and coffee makers also have microprocessors in 'em; a revelation that could impact not only our fine local restaurants, but also many of the town's rich folk. The rest of us still cook over wood coals and brew cowboy coffee, so we won't be much affected, unless the problem extends to wood "chips." Ha-ha; that was a joke!

The area's major newspaper, The Fence Post Country Reader, is published by a couple of local yokels using a Ben Franklin press, so I expect we'll still receive all the conservative, right-wing "family values" news we really need, although something tells me the publishers' fax and answering machine are on their last legs and have no concept of what it means to be "Y2K Compliant." In fact, the last time I asked Editor Zanutto if he was "compliant" yet, I got a reply that would have made Monica Lewinsky blush, if you get my drift. So something tells me we're going to have to fall back on the stagecoach again to get mail and newspaper copy into and out of the Basin. But what the hell; the road's no worse off now than it was 100 years ago. Same number of river crossings, at least, and a lot fewer outlaws thanks to our homespun "justice system."

The paper's got a danged fine computer columnist now in John Bellusci, and I suspect he'll be able to help us navigate the Y2K rapids as our rafts race beneath the canyon walls of convergence and infrastructure, destined for "who-knows-where" and "who-knows-when" just like we always do when we're faced with a problem that Al can't solve by simply posting a fresh witticism on the blackboard. There's always a "tomorrow" in Walker Basin, and it's usually worse than "today," so we're pretty much used to the various types of catastrophes that cause cityfolk to join weird cults or pay $3 for a cup of self-serve coffee.

One thing we don't want, Mr. Gore, is for you and a bunch of your friends to come flooding in here for the big New Year's Eve celebration next year in hopes of having a good time with the local women and avoiding the impact of Y2K. Sure we've got gas generators and propane tanks, and mostly-monogamous sex, and batteries, and solar cells and windmills, and beer and stove-top percolators that will enable us to become one of the last outposts of civilization, but we really don't have enough to go around (especially women), and winter in the Basin can get darned cold (monogamous or otherwise). We're more than a little shy of "outsiders," and probably wouldn't be comfortable with a lot of your federal questions about legal firearm ownership, ammunition stockpiles, protection of endangered ground squirrels, "No Fumar" signs, and queries about "what kind of strange people live farther back up in them hills."

On the other hand, we might be willing to help society rebuild again once it gets its collective mind straight and comes to realize that there ain't no short-cut across a pasture. Perhaps, Mr. Gore, you can educate America that beef comes from cattle, vegetables come from fields, water comes from precipitation, some wild animals can cause problems, Y2K was a "business decision," common sense has an important role in education, the role of government isn't to "take care of us," a free market will decide what art forms are popular, and we all still need to make some major amends to Native Americans beyond allowing voters to decide on so-called "Indian gaming on tribal lands," for Pete's sake.

So, Mr. Gore, with all due respect, the folks around here want you to know that we don't anticipate any problems that we can't deal with, and the truth be known we'd appreciate an opportunity to solve a few more problems ourselves without unnecessary interference. None of us has any idea whatsoever what it would be like to spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom or deliver pizza to the Oval Office after midnight, and we all hope we'll never have to find out. Likewise, we don't want to see the Washington gang engaged in Team Penning or rounding up strays.

We pretty much think y'all have stepped in enough of it for one century, so please give it a rest.


Calendar Hacksaw

Walker Basin Y2K Advisory Columnist"

Calendar Hacksaw's e-mail addresses are <calendar@usa.net> and <twistedsisters@hotmail.com> and he'd love to hear from you on January 1, 2000, if at all possible. If not, then just leave a note taped to the underside of the bar at Karen's; fourth stool from the left.

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