September 1998

Begin Stockpiling

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 September, we will be clearing space in Lorain's garage to store the food, water, and tools we will need.  Lorain is a bit of a packrat, with twin teenagers and an adult son.  She has a lot of childhood mementoes and some family treasures (like a gorgeous wood coffee table) that are stored where her children could not damage them.  Once the garage is cleaned out, we will assemble shelving. 

11 September

Things have been on hold for the past three weeks due to some family crises.  I think this illustrates an important point.  Begin your plans now, and build some leeway.  What happens if you break your leg next summer, or your car goes in the shop for some major repairs?  A two or three week delay in September of 1999 could be disastrous if you wait until July of 1999 to begin preparing.

Now is the time to begin stockpiling food supplies that will last for two years.  Primarily I mean grains and cereals.  Rice, flour, dried pasta, crackers, and potato flakes are excellent sources of carbohydrate.  Most survival sites agree that you will need about 300 pounds of grain per person per year, or slightly less than a pound per day for each person in your team.  If you are preparing food for a year or two, that's going to be a lot of grain.  Our team is aiming at about twenty days for about six people, or about 100 pounds of cereals.  We'll be concentrating on rice, crackers, and pasta, with some potato flakes and less flour.   If you think you need long term supplies, you probably have to consider baking your own bread, so you'll want to concentrate more on flour and baking powder.

It's important to consider where you are going to store your foodstuffs now that you are purchasing them.  A factor in this decision should be what sort of disaster you are preparing for.  Y2K is our number one concern right now, but people on the west coast also need to prepare for earthquakes, people in the midwest for tornadoes, people in the east and south for hurricanes, and people in the north for blizzards.  I don't mention volcanoes, because if Kilauea or Mt. St. Helens start making nasty noises in your direction, you ought to scram and not sit around worrying about how you will make dinner when the lava engulfs your power plant.  Same thing for floods.  If the river rises or the dam breaks, get out!  (joke)

I live in Southern California, and even if I had a basement, I wouldn't store food or emergency supplies there.  The biggest threat in an earthquake other than loss of life is that my house would be unsafe to enter, and my emergency supplies would be unreachable.  We store food in a cabinet in the house near the garage entry and emergency supplies in a garbage can in the garage.  If the garage collapses, there will be less rubble to dig through to get to our stuff. 

On the other hand, if you live in the midwest, it is an excellent idea to store your emergency supplies in your basement or storm cellar.  In case of a tornado, that's where you should be anyway.

Storing food in the house, if you can find a place for it, is good in that you generally have a lower insect and rodent population in the house than outside it.   Food stored inside can usually be stored in plastic.  Food stored outside, even in the garage, should always be stored in glass or metal airtight containers. 

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This would also be a good time to test your computer(s).  There has recently been another report of possible causes of computer problems based on applications illegally accessing the computer's Real Time Clock instead of requesting that time and date from the Windows NT operating system.

Before you begin, make a list of all of the programs that you use on a regular basis and which are critical to your functioning.  Word processors, spreadsheets, databases, and communications software are good examples.  Don't forget utilities like backup applications, disk management software, etc.  Ignore games.

The three primary computer hardware/software combinations out there are PCs running some flavour of Windows, PCs running some flavour of Unix, and Macintoshes running some flavour of the MAC OS.   Macintosh users can go store some rice: their hardware and operating systems are fine.  PC users running Unix or Linux should run the hardware and software tests, but their operating system can handle dates until 2037.   PC users running a Windows OS are the most susceptible and should perform all of the following tests.

Test 1

Turn on your computer.  If your computer is already on, close all programs.

Set the date and time for 31 December 1999 at 11:55 pm.  (Windows users, you can set the date and time in the Control Panel--Start Menu\Settings\Control Panel\Date/Time.)  Wait ten minutes and then check the time and date.   If it shows 12:05 am, 1 January 2000, your operating system is probably handling the date correctly.

Now, reset the computer to 31 December 1999 at 11:55 pm.  Power down your system and shut it off.  Wait ten minutes.  Reboot your system and check the time and date.  If it shows 12:05 am, 1 January 2000, your operating system is almost certainly handling the date correctly.

Test 2

Now change the date to 28 February 2000 at 11:55 pm.  Wait ten minutes.  If your computer shows the time and date to be 12:05 am, 29 February 2000, it correctly handles the leap year.

Caution:  If you have software that has a warranty or contract date built into it (most home and home office software does not) think twice before starting it with your clock set in the future.  Software that is only licensed or covered under warranty until 1999 could be permanently disabled if started while your clock is set to 2000.  If you have questions, contact the software supplier.

Test each of your software programs.  Create files and save them while your computer's date is set to the year 2000.   Look in the directory where these files are saved.  View the file by date.  (Windows users, right click on My Computer and select Explore.  Select View/Details.  Locate the directory in which you saved the files and click on the grey title above the date column.   The files will show up in date order.)  How are your files sorted.  Do you see files dated '96, '97, '98, '00, or does '00 precede the list?  If the file creation dates are in the correct order, that software program probably handles dates properly.

Please note that I said probably.  I offer you no guarantees.  These are just logical, commensense tests that will point out obvious failures of your systems.  Subtle failures are harder to spot.

Test 3

While you are at it, test the date handling capabilities of the program.   In Word™ or WordPerfect™, type wpe32.gif (915 bytes).  What date is shown?  Test the ability of Excel™ or QuattroPro™ to calculate date-sensitive functions in 2000 and spanning the boundary.  Test your backup program.  Does it recognize files created in 2000 to be newer than a backup done in 1999?  Will your virus and backup program run scheduled tasks?

If your system fails in any way, now you know.  You have over a year to upgrade to programs that are compliant.  Start by contacting the manufacturers.   In some cases, patches may be available. 

September 25

We are going to join Price Club and buy a whole lot of rice and paper towels.

Lauren Eve Pomerantz
September 1998
last updated 15 August 2007