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Trouble With The Y2k Essay, Research Paper

Welcome to the year 1999. I graduated from high school from a Midwestern city in Iowa. While I was still in high School many of my classmates and I did not believe that we would ever live to see the year 2000. It seemed so far away in those days. I would be 32 in the year 2000. My days were filled with, trying to get the most out of my life. Along with my friends we felt that nuclear war would happen with the USSR. Our city was in between two points on the map which they labeled as the top 10 places most likely to be nuked. We lived in-between the Rock Island Arsenal, and Strategic Air Command in Omaha. Well, looking back on those days the most destructive thing in our lives was the impending doom, and lack of hope for a future. Along with six of my close friends I found myself in a juvenile drug rehab center before I reached sixteen. Thank God I was saved from that life at an early age. Several of my friends who did not find early intervention, will not be here to witness the turning of the millennium. It turns out the most casualties we encountered from the cold war was the impending doom itself. If you take away a child’s hope for the future, you take away a child’s existence. What else is there to live for if you fear death and destruction is only around the corner. Anyway here we are in the final countdown to the new millennium. And what we face and our children face is as much a fear as the impending nuclear doom which lasted from the 1950’s to the late 80’s until the fall of the communist empire. None of us would have ever guessed that the great bear of communism would ever disappear. And now like the cold war, our children have a shaky unknown feeling of what the future will bring. The purpose of this story is to ease those fears, and to bring the problem of the Y2K into perspective. I am not going to spend a lot of time explaining what the Y2K problem is. By now most everyone has been bombarded with information about the Y2K problem. The thing we want to know is what is being done and what can I do personally to save myself and my family from danger or even destruction. I have been working with computers for the last seven years, I do not claim to be an expert on any computer subject. I have great skill at writing html code. I am proficient in the COBOL computer programming language (one of the main culprits of the y2k problem). For the past three years I have found work as an independent computer consultant. Most recently I have been named Regional Training Director for the InHome Professor here in West Virginia. I have a Regent’s Baccalaureate of Arts degree from West Virginia University. My primary focus in school has been computer information systems. I did not complete the MIS program because I transferred schools toward the end of my degree program, so my wife could take advantage of a job opportunity. Although I have a Regent’s Degree, 98% of the degree is from traditional college credit hours. The other 2% I earned from work experience in the US ARMY. I am continuing my education, and will be pursuing my masters degree in information technology. So from the short personal background I have given of myself, you can see that this paper is not going to be extremely technical in nature. This paper is primarily a compilation of Y2K information which is currently available by several different sources. I have documented all of my sources which you will find on the last page. Part I. Why should I be worried? Last winter my wife and I were blessed by God to get to endure a 32″ snowfall which wiped out power for 50,000 people for 6-7 days. We were not prepared. We had to go live with some people at church. All of our food in our deep freezer went rotten. about $200 worth. Our house was left abandoned for the 5 days. We couldn’t work or go to shcool. It was pretty bad. So we learned our lesson, it dosn’t take long without power to really dirupt your life. By this time next year we hope to have some land with a well, and some farm animals and we plan on canning the food from our garden. The well I plan on having a manual pump put on it as well as a generator back up. This is the question of the year. Or should I say this is the question of the millennium.There are many schools of thought concerning this issue. Ask ten people from ten different walks of life and you will get ten different answers. I want to make one thing clear. NO ONE KNOWS. That’s right, from the ultimate experts in the White House, to the panic stricken conspiracy theorist, no one really knows. There is only one way to know for sure, that is stay up until midnight December 31st and see what happens. That is why I am writing this paper, to clear the air about what is all the fuss about. Conspiracy Theory: If you were to have a conversation with some one who is leaning heavily on the conspiracy theory; you would be told that the Y2K problem has been manufactured. It would seem that the leaders of the “New World Order” has been developing this problem since the 1960’s to enable an ushering in of a solitary world government. The way it will happen is this: First, in anticipation of a national catastrophy the national guard will be activated. The 82nd Airborne Division will be on alert, along with the 101st Air Assult and the 10th Mountain Division. Their mission will be to maintain order as the power grid and water utilities fail. Because this is against the constitution of the United States, the people begin to be upset with the presence of the military in their streets and neighborhoods. After a 3 to 1 vote in the house, the military presence is removed. On NM DAY’ or new millennial day. It happens; the entire nations power grid fails, and we have a nation wide blackout. The troubles which follow include, national panic, and looting in the Cities. The Government calls on “international Aid from the United Nations” (US ARMY, and NATIONAL GUARD). The national guard marches through the streets, and restores order. The fantastic global effort of the United Nations, create new power supplies after 3 months of Chaos. From out of the rubble of a destroyed economy, and devastated nation this great leadership of the United Nations become the Nations Savior. The New World Order is now in place. And so goes the Conspiracy Theory. Of course this formula for conspiracy theorist is only one possibility, you can easily throw in some billions of dollars of billionaire’s money used to make the whole thing possible. Toss in a couple of ex-Nazis, and a communist or two, Also don’t forget about the Anti-Christ. Now, this idea is very exciting to think of, not to mention a great prospect for many Christians who are using this type of ideology to justify their belief in the second coming of Jesus. At this time if you are Christian I am sure that you are quite frustrated with my comments about the coming of Jesus. I don’t blame you. I understand, because I too am a Christian; however, I believe that this is not the way the Anti-Christ will take power. Modern history shows that most great totalitarian leaders arise out of a failed experiment with Democracy. Because the United States has had the longest and greatest democracy in the history of the world, it is only my assumption that when our democracy fails it will fail very big, and a very big totalitarian ruler will take power. But of course, I am not a theologian. I do not know exactly how the Anti-Christ will assume power. And I suppose a Y2K problem could be as good an excuse as any. My solution for this scenario: For Christians, don’t worry about it because Jesus is coming back. For Non-Christians: Become really good friends with someone in the high government offices. I am sorry if I seem a little smug on this point, it is just that as my faith has grown in the last few years, I have stopped worrying about when the end is coming. In fact it is my opinion that doomsday theories cause more destruction than the actual impending doom. I am confident that Jesus Christ will not forget about me when that day happens. Worst Case Scenerio: From http://www.y2kchaos.comy2kchaos.com has a lot of resources about the Y2K problem including dehydrated food, and supplies. I. IN THE MONTHS LEADING UP TO DECEMBER 31, 1999This time-period extends from the first wide scale panic until 1/1/00, so I’ll be brief. 1) At some point it will penetrate the popular mind that no one is going to be able to pay their bills or collect on their debts after 1/1/00. This will result in people pulling out of the stock market and withdrawing their money out of banks. My guess is the trigger to this panic will be the growing awareness of the Y2K problem combined with a market adjustment that turns intoa slide which turns into a rout. 2) This panic will lead to everyone all at once cashing out their holdings including selling or mortgaging their house to buy food, gold, guns and land. 3) Given the results of a stampede, everyone will turn to central government to solve their problems. And the government will no doubt take immediate steps to impose peace and order-gas and food rationing, restriction of travel, wage and price controls, an increased militarypresence to supplement the local police and other time honored methods of maintaining order. 4) A central government authority will decide what electrical, water, sewer and telecommunication systems are most important and what can be left to crash. They willconscript men with electrical engineering expertise, to work on the embedded chip problems inthese systems. Much of the computer repair that needs to happen in the private sector is notdirectly relevant to the nation’s critical infrastructure. The Central Authority will take computerrepairmen away from it and apply their talents to wherever they think it is most needed. By theway, those who abandon their part of the remediation could be viewed as treasonous — notjust by the government but by their neighbors as well. 5) Everyone will soon realize that if the electrical, the water and the sewer systems aren’t fixed,life in large metropolitan areas will become impossible. (Not difficult, but literally impossible.Figure a 1 in 10 survival rate without these services and given the large numbers of people whomust evacuate with no place to go in the middle of winter.) Once the cities start to unzip, youwill not be able to put this civilization back together without starting from ground level after thedust settles. Keeping the residents of metropolitan areas in those metropolitan areas willbe government’s job-one — if not by continued electricity food, water and sewagetreatment, then by force. 6) To keep the people in the cities and prevent food riots they must be fed. This is not adaunting task — it is an impossible task given the limitations on gasoline. Even so they will prepare the basic supply routes from the grain fields to the cities. They will use price controls to freeze the price of food and pass anti-hoarding laws which will further inhibit food distribution. Whatever chance of preparation the average person might have had will be lost. Hopefully they will not use those who already have prepared as scapegoats. Hopefully they will be too tied up in the cities to pay much attention to those who have already left and are trying to survive in the country. Hopefully. 7) Banks will probably not fold completely at first because we will simply shift to a cashless society. Far more dangerous to the bank is the loan dilemma. If they don’t lend money they can’t make money. On the other hand, if they do lend it they won’t get it back after 1/1/00. This dilemma will be slightly offset in the economy by the fact that the largest buying spree in history is about to get off the ground. 8) Every effort will be put toward holding everything together. Once it unzips, you can’t zip it back up. The reason a central solution (like martial law) won’t work is you can’t command a problem to be fixed which is impervious to commands no matter who gives them. The computers already have their commands imprinted a few billion times — 00 = 1900. For better or worse a free market fixes things better than a command market. You can’t order systems to “not break down.” You can’t order people to fix it right. Each bad spot will be most quickly and accurately found and fixed and integrated by the people who have the most to gain or lose directly. But in a panic the nation will turn to people who give bold orders for their salvation and their orders will further destroy any possibility of a solution. 9) By the time you get to Christmas 1999, the economy will be thoroughly depressed and my guess is far more people than you imagine now will be living off the dole, trapped in the cities by a government grimly determined to maintain order and fix this problem. These people will do anything to survive, including remember that you stored up food and perhaps went to somewhere safe in the country. Many will come looking for you — not your enemies or the government. Those who find you will be your family and friends accompanied by their family and friends. II. PREPARATION FOR NEW YEAR’S DAY 20001) All flights grounded. (So much for planes falling from the sky.) 2) The entire power grid turned off so nothing is up and running. Nothing crosses over the midnight barrier hot. 3) Conscripted crews will continue working night and day to fix the grid. The only real solution will be to rebuild it. Their method will probably be a fortress approach. Start at the power plants and build the web outward securing each link and relay station (or relay point, wherever there is an embedded system controlling a switch.) Each power plant will have to have already developed a way to start up their generators manually. Right now (June, 98) it is impossible to cold-start up a generator without the rest of the power system to work with. 4) All nuclear reactors must be shut down cold, and coal burning plants will have to have already stockpiled extra coal. The rails may well be restricted to shipping coal only since without that there is no electricity and with their deeply impaired capabilities, nothing can interfere with the coal shipments. Of course there’s still the diesel fuel problem for the locomotives — where will they get it if the oil industry is shut down? Without it, how will they haul the coal? So count on the government to keep target oil wells and refineries open if they can by making them compliant. The rest will coagulate solid and be forever unusable until rebuilt. (As will the entire chemical processing industry.)

5) All date sensitive computers will be disengaged from each other and turned off, even those that are supposedly fixed. All processes they run will be shut down, even where they could run off of generated power. In hospitals everyone will be standing by waiting for any life support system that might go haywire. While all that can be shut down will be shut down for the roll-over. 6) Everyone will be ordered to stay at home. No one will be permitted outside without specific business related to life support or Y2K, period. No parties in Time’s Square, or anywhere else. 7) All military and police personnel will be deployed in metropolitan areas with orders to 1) maintain order at any cost, 2) contain the inner city, 3) protect supply and food lines and above all 4) protect the electrical crews and 5) contain the suburbs — no flight to the country will be permitted. 8) Protecting electrical remediation crews is particularly important in the inner cities which ring the most crucial areas of electrical need — the business district. This is where you find the heart of the infrastructures that make America as we know it possible. They must have electricity if we are to rebuild. 9) Water pumping stations will have the first call on generators. After them come the Hospitals. Then come the telecommunication and media centers. Then come the various businesses banks and branches of government. These generators will enable remediation on these critical infrastructures (banking, government, telecommunications, sanitation etc.) which all other remediation must wait for the power to come back before they can even begin to assess the damage. 10) Banks will be pare down their services so at least checking, basic loans (including all outstanding loans) and debit cards will operate at a minimum. They will tell everyone to get their affairs on paper, but will have no idea how to process the paper — there’s too much of it. (The only reason people don’t realize this now is they literally cannot visualize the volume of paper work required to keep any bank or major business afloat.) Until the power grid is up, there’s no real point in having banks, no one will be buying, selling, or traveling even as far as the store or work. While sensationalists titter now about bank doors opening because they think Saturday 1/1/2000 is really Monday 1/1/1900, that will seem by then to be the smallest of problems because little of value will be left in those vaults. The entire nation will be sweating bullets waiting for the lights to go on, the faucets to run water, the toilet to flush, hoping the food will hold out. (Whatever is of value will have been withdrawn from the banks and safe deposit boxes months ago.) OK so this still isn’t necessarily the WORST CASE Scenario. Actually the worst one I heard was Nuclear War. The governments of China and Russia will have problems with their non compliant missile tracking systems. On new years eave their radar will report incoming missiles from the US, and will launch an all out nuclear retaliation. The scariest part of this scenario is this: It is true that our governmental leaders have offered to give Y2K compliant processors to replace the bad ones in our military foes. I do not suspect that the communist leaders will allow such a gift. I think the Trojan’s horse during the Greek wars kinda ended those types of gifts. But, the electronic Trojan horse worked pretty good during the Gulf War. Solution for worst case scenarios: The first scenario is pretty hard to cover, because so much could go wrong. This scenario is the scenario you should prepare yourself for, or something quite similar. The reason I say that you should prepare yourselves for this scenario is this. The preparation does not need to be that extreme or difficult or financially taxing. If you have ever watched the way Americans react to tragedies you will know one thing. We are a nation of good people. We give, we help our neighbors, and we have always overcome adversities. Look back at some of the greatest tragedies we have had in the last decade. The earthquake that rocked souther California, hero’s came crawling from under the rubble to help their neighbors. Hurricane Andrew which hit southern Florida, again we saw a great outpouring of help from neighbors and the military. The great floods of the Mississippi Valley, the amount of neighborly love was astonishing. I have no doubt to the kind of people we are as Americans. We are still a primarily Christian society even tho the media giants would like to steer our national course away from those beliefs. As far as the rioting and looting goes. I think in the case of a national disaster like that if someone or some group is attempting to take from your family you have every right to defend your home. I believe there are many people who feel the same way, and what ever the police and military are not able to defend you will find groups of vigilante protection teams helping out. There are a lot of civilians with guns in their homes, and just like me if a gang tries to break into my house they will use them. Don’t underestimate the strength and determination of Americans. Our forefathers faced some of the most terrible conditions and came through very fine. Unfortunately there were many great sacrifices along the way. I recommend storing enough food and water to last you at least three to six months figure 1 shows a recommended shopping list. The best way to fill this list is to use my enclosed list and check off the items you need during each trip to the supermarket this year. By expanding your purchases throughout the year you will not be causing a great hardship on your family. If necessary delay a vacation so that you can afford to stock up. Following is an exerpt from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Web Site. This is one farmer’s preparation for the Y2K. An article which can be found at http://www.agworld.com First, some background: Our farmer is part of a large diversified extended family enterprise with more than 4,000 acres spread out over two geographically diverse locations, one concentrated on crop production, the other on crops and livestock. R.U. Ready is not in a position to make all the decisions for the farm, but manages the largest portion of the crop acreage. Each main location lies about an hour on either side of a smaller major Midwestern city. “First, you have to understand the problem,” stresses R.U. Ready. “Then you have todevelop a plan.” As part of his planning and communicating with other family members,R.U. ready developed the accompanying flow chart which illustrates his approach to the problem: First question: Is Y2K a problem? Options: No (but why are firms spending millions to correct a scam?)Yes (but will it be fixed in time) -If yes, then there’s no problem to prepare for.-If not, then you can either do nothing or take action. This depends on your answer to this question: will the power go out?-If yes, then, can you survive without power?–if yes, then there’s no problem to prepare for–if no, then you’ll need food, heat, water, etc. If the answer to will the power go out is no, but there will be some problems, thenyou need to answer more questions regarding food, fuel, communications, farmvendors, packing plants and processors etc. “We’ve done considerable reading and investigation on Y2K issues. As I see it, there is no way around supply interruptions for the Year 2000,” says R.U. Ready. “Some willstart before 2000 and others could occur for an extended time. So we want to beprepared for at least a year.” R.U. Ready Family members have discussed Y2K and have developed some preliminarystrategies. For the farm business, these involve purchasing enough supplies in 1999 tocarry them through the year 2000. “Since booking two years of supplies amounts to a major financial decision for most farmers,” notes R.U. Ready, “we will review these plans as 1999 rolls around. While our operation is financially solid, we still have to be careful with expenditures. Currently, the plan is to have fuel and chemicals on hand in 1999 to farm another year. We’ll also have some of our seed needs on hand.” Fertilizer: “We plan to apply all our fertilizer needs in the fall of 1999,” notes R.U. Ready. “We generally follow a fall program anyway. And our fields test high enough that we don’t plan to apply any extra for succeeding years.” Chemicals: “We’ll book a two-year supply of dry chemicals in the spring of 1999,” he continues. “Liquid chemicals must be kept from freezing, so we are still weighing options and looking for dry alternatives.” For example, they may buy more Accent in 1999, then trade it for Surpass in spring 2000 if they can. They’ve considered renting a climate-controlled storage facility, but worry about the risk of a large inventory outside their control should the power system go down or become erratic. Seed: “Due to the storage concerns, we won’t be buying much if any additional seed,” explains R.U. Ready. But they are concerned about seed supplies. Seed generally becomes available in the spring before planting, notes R.U. Ready. “This could a big problem in 2000, particularly for products coming from the Southern Hemisphere. Right now, we don’t plan on ordering shorter season corn, though we may experience planting delays in spring 2000. “If we would decide to tie up the dollars in 1999 for seed in 2000, we can’t store it properly. But it might be worth the risk of poor germination compared to not getting any seed at all in the spring of 2000.” If necessary, they would plant soybean seed out of the bin. And they could also plant hybrid corn out of the bin, but yields will be cut in half. So, in 1999 R.U. Ready will plant a little open pollinated corn, which he expects to produce 500 to 600 bushels of additional seed stock for 2000. This corn must be harvested in the ear, so he has set up a hand sheller. And he’s reading up on how to grow and harvest open-pollinated seed. Fuel: They plan to contract for a year’s supply (12,000 gallons) of diesel fuel at the cropping location. That’s enough to supply their 11-kilowatt diesel-powered electrical generator over the winter as well as fuel the farm equipment for the year 2000 crop. Their generator links to either an inverter board (to charge a bank of batteries) or to 220-volt equipment such as dryer fans or a welder. “The real Y2K issue comes down to energy supplies,” states R.U. Ready. “I think frequent and widespread outages is a best case scenario. We’ll stretch our power supplies as necessary and as far as possible.” Equipment: They’ve contacted Cat, Case-Cummins and Deere regarding microprocessor chips in their newer tractor and truck engines. “We traced the systems to the fuel pumps, but the manufacturers assure us there are no date-sensitive aspects to these systems,” he says. He hopes they’re right. And they’ll have to make a decision soon about their combine. “We normally trade very four years–and we’re due to trade after the 1999 harvest. Either way, in 1999 we’ll be laying in a supply of extra parts, filters, oil and other supplies,” exp la in s R. U. Ready. Or maybe sooner. “By the time YOU hear about shortages and problems, it will be too late to do much about it because everyone else will also be scrambling,” he notes. Grain storage: R.U. Ready typically harvests and stores their corn and soybeans on the farm. He often air dries a substantial portion over the winter. They harvest this portion at 20% moisture then air dry with fans to 15%. “We may not have electricity in the winter of 2000 to do that,” he notes. “We’ve considered additional propane drying to completely Dry the grain in the fall of 1999.” So far, the plan is to book enough propane for 1999 harvest, plus fill up all the existing propane tanks after harvest–as they expect shortages and transportation problems later. “We may get additional propane tanks, but they cost about $1 a gallon to buy so it adds up.” Their 1990 grain drying system does not have microprocessors. “So as long as we have power we expect to be operational,” says R.U. Ready. If necessary, they could run 7.5 hp fans on each of a dozen bins, and work out a schedule for their other electrical needs from the diesel generator, as well as getting power to distant locations. A tractor-powered PTO generator is another option they may utilize. They’d get about 12 hours of operation per tankful, and have a 300-gallon fuel trailer they now use for hauling fuel to the field. Livestock: The other major portion of the operation is a large diversified livestock-grain operation with hogs and cattle. “The main concern is to keep the livestock alive,” notes R.U. Ready. “But the question is for how long. Most of the animals are raised on contract, so have set schedules of receipt and delivery. A lot will depend on how operational are the elevators and packing plants and transportation systems.”The R.U. Ready family stores about 1,000 acres of crop at the livestock operation location, along with silage and ear corn for their 2,000 head of cattle. They c oul d a lso fill a Harve store if necessary. They have a diesel generator at this location too, and will stock up on fuel. They plan to fill all their propane tanks in 1999. “We should have little effect until it comes time to sell the livestock,” points out R.U. Ready. “If things are really bad, we may be bartering for butchers–or worse, trying to protect the herd from bandits.” “We won’t have these problems in our own operation, but we’re also concerned about embedded chips and controllers in feed mills and environmental controls in confinement buildings.” They also have questions about veterinary supplies, along with the rest of the infrastructure of the economy. Markets: Currently all their bins are empty, but they’ll be full after the 1998 harvest. “We hope to be able to get rid of our 1998 crop and have room for the 1999 crop. This could be a problem due to high carryover, low demand, and low prices,” relates R.U. Ready. “Many farmers in our areas are building bins. We’re seeing a horrible basis and export market. But livestock megafarms find it hard to shut off their contract schedule, so they’ll have to continue feeding livestock.” “If we are able to move the 1998 crop and harvest the 1999 crop, we’ll likely store most of it on the farm. We’ll take our lumps in the market as they come in 1999 and 2000. However, we have serious questions about the infrastructure for both grain marketing and transportation. We can always eat the grain, or burn it (we’ll have a biomass stove, too), and if we can’t get any other seed we can plant it,” he adds. Barter for neighboring livestock farmers might also be an option. Leases: “We considered putting clauses in our cash leases so we could cancel them


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