"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
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
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
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.
Walker Basin Y2K Advisory Columnist"
Calendar Hacksaw's e-mail addresses are <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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.