December 1998

Preparing for 1999

Once again, let me make one thing clear.  I am preparing to supply up to ten people for two to four weeks.  I expect to have difficulty getting either food, or water, or heat, but not all three.  I do not expect to have to leave our base, which is a small house in the suburbs east of Los Angeles.  I do not expect to have to defend our base or our supplies.  I expect that all services will be fully functional before one month has passed. 

If you think that things are serious enough that you need to make plans for a longer-term survival, I refer to you Captain Dave's Survival Center.


During the month of December, we will be preparing for 1999.  This includes changing our withholdings and spreading the word about that.

December 4

Yesterday I requested a W-4 form from my employer and changed my deductions line from 0 to 2.  In the past I've always set my deductions as 0 because I have income from sources outside my job which do not deduct money for the IRS or California Tax Board.   This year, I am going to take the full allowable deductions.

The IRS, like most of the United States federal government, is woefully behind in their Y2K preparedness.  This is nothing new.  Eighteen months ago, Peter de Jager predicted that we would be on a modified flat tax by 2000, because it would be easier for the IRS to write that software than to repair the old programs.  I have heard rumours from knowledgeable sources that suggest the IRS is prepared to return to paper accountancy rather than give up on collecting taxes in 2000.

If, in January 2000, anyone owes anyone else money, I want it to be me owing the IRS.   I figure my bank will be in business and I will have that money to write a check.   I don't want my refund amount disappearing when the IRS's computers go down.

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December 8

At about 8:15 AM this morning, the power went out in San Francisco.  Because of its geography (the city is on a peninsula) all power flows into the city over landlines from the south.  Something blew this morning, and the city and its southern suburbs went dark.  PG&E estimate that 375,000 customers were affected.  Since a customer is a residence or office or company, that means that over a million people were in the dark. 

One woman was killed when she was struck by a bigrig in an intersection.   Fortunately, there was no rioting or looting.  The biggest problem seemed to be people stuck in elevators and the traffic.  And of course, all of the computers went down.

In the reports, people were wondering if Y2K would look like this.  I think this about sums it up.  Some people will probably be hurt or killed.  Most people will probably just be very inconvenienced.  Of course, you have to think about how much of an inconvenience it will be if your power goes out.  Will you be forced to go play football in the street as were the traders on the Pacific Stock Exchange, when they discovered that the battery backups were insufficient to permit trading?  Or will you be huddling in a house in the midwest trying to keep warm?  Or will you be watching the ball drop in Times Square?

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December 11

I dropped a quick note to my accountant today telling him about my increasing my deductables for 1999.  I suggest he encourage his other clients to do the same.

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December 18

Lauren Eve Pomerantz
December 1998
last updated 15 August 2007