I think I have solved the Y2K problem, at least in part.

Like most of my clever ideas, this one came from one of you. I would attribute it, but it just came in passing a while back and I only recently realized its value. (So thanks, whoever you were.)

Namely, we get a day’s warning. That is, we should have some sense nearly a full day before the stroke of midnight December 31 just what we might be up against. Because, as you know, it is already tomorrow in Australia. So if the CNN correspondents I expect to be swarming Australia for this very reason show you pictures of the lights on in Sidney . . . and if you can reach your old pal in Melbourne by phone (or the new e-pals you might make for this purpose) . . . then at least you’ll know that the fundamental life-and-civilization-sustaining force — electricity — is likely to be with you on New Year’s day, 2000, in America.

Not for certain, I suppose, and not to the exclusion of all other potential problems. But this is the key one – electricity. And Australia (and Asia) will give us at least a little warning.

Just what to do with that warning if you live in a be-icicled Chicago high-rise I’m not certain. In my own case, I plan to be no more than a tank or two of gas away from warmth. If there’s no answer from Down Under, Charles and I will be heading south on Interstate 95.

But my hunch – or maybe it’s just my native optimism – is that Australians will find their New Year’s Eve boisterous but uneventful, as will we a day later.


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