Laugh 'Til It Hertz

Humor for the Year 2000 Crisis

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Are You Year-2000 Compliant?

I didn't know that Bob Lewis was a humor columnist, yet his column consistently elicits at least a chuckle as I nod with agreement. [See IS Survival Guide, Feb. 9, page 84.]

Recently, I received a survey informing me that the company where I work is a critical supplier and asking me to certify that our product was year-2000 compliant. The survey made it clear that I may receive another survey asking about the ability of our order fulfillment, billing, and receivable systems to survive the year-2000 problem.

However, this survey concerned itself only with the compliance of the product itself.

We sell sand.

I dutifully returned the survey, noting that our engineers have assured me that our sand will continue to function as specified on and after Jan. 1, 2000.

Richard W. Lipp
List & Clark Construction
Overland Park, Kan.

Infoworld, Volume 20, Issue 12, 23 March 1998

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A Year 2000 Parable

There was once a COBOL programmer in the mid to late 1990s. For the sake of this story, we'll call him Jack. After years of being taken for granted and treated as a technological dinosaur by all the UNIX programmers and Client/Server programmers and website developers, Jack was finally getting some respect. He'd become a private consultant specializing in Year 2000 conversions. He was working short-term assignments for prestige companies, traveling all over the world on different assignments. He was working 70 and 80 and even 90 hour weeks, but it was worth it.

Several years of this relentless, mind-numbing work had taken its toll on Jack. He had problems sleeping and began having anxiety dreams about the Year 2000. It had reached a point where even the thought of the year 2000 made him nearly violent. He must have suffered some sort of breakdown, because all he could think about was how he could avoid the year 2000 and all that came with it.

Jack decided to contact a company that specialized in cryogenics. He made a deal to have himself frozen until March 15th, 2000. This was very expensive process and totally automated. He was thrilled. The next thing he would know is he'd wake up in the year 2000; after the New Year celebrations and computer debacles; after the leap day. Nothing else to worry about except getting on with his life.

He was put into his cryogenic receptacle, the technicians set the revive date, he was given injections to slow his heartbeat to a bare minimum, and that was that.

The next thing that Jack saw was an enormous and very modern room filled with excited people. They were all shouting "I can't believe it!" and "It's a miracle" and "He's alive!" There were cameras (unlike any he'd ever seen) and equipment that looked like it came out of a science fiction movie. Someone who was obviously a spokesperson for the group stepped forward. Jack couldn't contain his enthusiasm. "It is over?" he asked. "Is 2000 already here? Are all the millennial parties and promotions and crises all over and done with?"

The spokesman explained that there had been a problem with the programming of the timer on Jack's cryogenic receptacle, it hadn't been year 2000 compliant. It was actually eight thousand years later, not the year 2000. But the spokesman told Jack that he shouldn't get excited; someone important wanted to speak to him.

Suddenly a wall-sized projection screen displayed the image of a man that looked very much like Bill Gates. This man was Prime Minister of Earth. He told Jack not to be upset. That this was a wonderful time to be alive. That there was world peace and no more starvation. That the space program had been reinstated and there were colonies on the Moon and on Mars. That technology had advanced to such a degree that everyone had virtual reality interfaces which allowed them to contact anyone else on the planet, or to watch any entertainment, or to hear any music recorded anywhere.

"That sounds terrific," said Jack. "But I'm curious. Why is everybody so interested in me?"

"Well," said the Prime Minister. "The year 10000 is just around the corner, and it says in your files that you know COBOL."

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33 Reasons Why You Haven't Started Your Conversion Plans Yet

1. You honestly believe the year 2000 isn't a leap year
2. You're getting into Real Estate.
3. You like midnight phone calls from irate CEO's.
4. You want to surprise your stockholders.
5. You believe a crisis is good for organizations. It brings focus to your work and builds good, strong, team spirit.
6. You think the problem is exaggerated.
7. You've got lots of time, it's only 1997.
8. It's a hardware problem.
9. Your Mission Critical Systems aren't.
10. The problem doesn't affect your applications.
11. It's not a's a 'challenge'.
12. You're afraid to deliver the news to your management.
13. You haven't been able to find your management.
14. You're waiting to see what happens before you react.
15. You believe that if you ignore the problem, it'll go away.
16. You'd rather drink coffee, than champagne on New Year's Eve.
17. You like paying COBOL programmers $240K/annum to implement10 year projects in an afternoon.
18. You believe that a year has 365 working days.
19. You enjoyed your grandparent's stories about the Great Depression and would like to experience them for yourself.
20. You're focused on IS strategies ... not day to day support issues
21. You're not the head of IS you only work here.
22. You are the head of IS and your people assure you there's no problem.
23. You wrote the legacy systems affected and are reluctant to admit the problem exists.
24. When the time comes you'll pay someone else to solve it for you.
25. You're already up to your neck in alligators.
26. You can afford to be without your Account Receivables for a year or two.
27. You're waiting for everyone else to go first.
28. The excitement of watching your systems fail is better than Bungee Jumping without a cord.
29. You're doing the monkey impersonation ... Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil.
30. You believe maintenance is for wimps, real managers create new systems.
31. You're scheduled to start working on this in 1999.
32. You bought a magic bullet from a software salesperson.
33. You believe this is all a plot by consultants to create a problem where none exists.

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Non-Compliance Will Kill You

Many gravestones have had "19" pre-engraved into them and the still-living owners may live into 2000!  About 1 percent of gravestones seem to have the Y2K bug!

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Year 2000 Phone Card

jager.gif (15793 bytes)

Star Telecom Network (link no longer valid) has a telephone card commemorating the Year 2000 crisis.  The card features a caricature of Y2K evangelist Peter de Jager in a monks robe and flaming sandals.  Along one side of the card is a dire warning:

Use before Dec. 31st 1999.  Phone system not guaranteed after that date.


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Quotes: Funny or Frightening?

Have you ever been to an IT conference and seen a lot of lawyers walking around?  That says it all right there then, doesn't it?
          --Ian Hayes, President, Claris Consulting, Inc.

...the stupidest disaster mankind has ever created for itself...
          --Kevin Maney, USA Today

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Alphabet of the Apocalypse
from Y2K Tool (link no longer valid)

airline groundings
business failures
collapse of communications networks
disruption of vital services
exports that don't
frozen ATMs
global market failures
hoarding of commodities
imports that won't
jammed elevators
keyless turned clueless
loss of "dial tone"
misfiring missiles
negligence actions
operating anomalies
pacemakers that can't
queries that crash
repeating reboots
safes that aren't
transportation tragedies
unrecoverable investment records
voided valid verifications
workstations that won't
x-rays that execute
year-to-year comparison chaos
zeroed account balances

Copyright 1998 Virtual Dynamics Corp. dba

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Check out these other great sites

  • Top 15 Unforeseen Consequences of the Millenium Bug (link no longer valid)
  • The Year 3000 (link no longer valid) - A graphics-heavy site exploring the NEXT millennium transition.
  • Everything 2000 - Not really computer related (check out the Computer links, though), but it's sort of funny to think of all these people eagerly awaiting the next millennium while we'd even relive Disco to be back in '75 with 25 years to solve this problem.
  • Duh-2000 (link no longer valid) - A monthly contest for the stupidest things said about the Year 2000 crisis.  I especially like the one where someone says regarding embedded systems that he doesn't care if his VCR is non-compliant.  Well, neither do I, but my Bubba has a pacemaker and one friend has an Insulin pump.  If those have date awareness in the embedded systems, I'd really like them to be compliant.

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Lauren Eve Pomerantz
August 1998
last updated 16 August 2007