Remembering Y2K



I remember as a child doing the math to figure out how old I would be in the year 2000. That millennial milestone was such a far off phenomenon to my young self. But as it loomed closer, people around the world started losing their minds.

The reason for this anxiety stemmed from a so-called Y2K (i.e. Year 2000) bug in the systems of computers that it was thought would cause massive malfunctions when the year 2000 arrived. Back in the 70s when I was calculating what an old lady I would be in the Year 2K, we could scarcely dream of how many essential systems would be impacted by the computer revolution. Computers back then were giant, unwieldy machines held in university labs. My business school friends were always wandering around campus in a haze with computer programming punch cards spilling from their backpacks.

But the acceleration of technological progress meant that by the year 1999, computers were running utilities, telecommunications systems, military weaponry, and all manner of operations that affected day-to-day life. Therefore, when news of the Y2K bug appeared, people started planning for Armageddon. We stocked our basements with water, batteries, and nonperishable foods. Most people I knew made plans to stay close to home with their families rather than go to lavish New Years Eve parties out on the town. The widespread panic gave new meaning to the famous Prince lyrics, “Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1999.”

Y2K fears proved to be largely unfounded. Other than minor glitches, most systems sailed through the New Year without a problem. People woke up on New Years Day to the dried up Christmas trees and other remnants of holiday revelry that they had on previous New Years. Life went on.

It’s important to remember in tumultuous times that there were many events in the past which caused people anxiety and worry. In some ways, our country has always been on the brink of conflict or disaster of one kind or another. Our politics have always been fraught. Our young people have always been criticized for not being exactly like us old fogeys  seasoned veterans.

As 2019 approaches, let’s remember Y2K and, as my husband likes to say, “Don’t panic. There will be plenty of time to panic later.”

Happy New Year!


New Year, Same Old Me



I’m suffering from a New Years Eve hangover – not from drinking too much champagne but from having seven teenage girls shrieking in my basement into the wee hours of 2016.

Every year the world over, we haul out our dusty notebooks and pens and write down resolutions. This is the year we will quit smoking, eat healthier, get to the gym, be nicer to people. We even use the word resolution, which comes from the word resolve, meaning “a firm determination to do something.” Yet most of our willpower crumbles before the Valentine’s Day candy comes out on store shelves.

When I awoke this morning after sleeping in until the ungodly hour of 10 am, everything felt the same despite the rolling around of a new year. My Christmas decorations looked a bit like a socialite who overstayed her welcome at the New Years Eve gala. The meager layer of snow in the backyard has gotten crusty and gray. I still need coffee to jump start my day, and I have already succumbed to the siren song of fresh donuts in their bakery box on the counter in my kitchen.

At my age, I’ve learned to stay away from grand plans to overhaul my life at the stroke of midnight on January 1. I will settle for small improvements, such as my mostly successful determination to be unfailingly kind and friendly to store employees in the weeks before Christmas. I plan to read more, write more, and stay connected to friends. I will buy more fruit and veggies (and hopefully eat them) and be gentler with my teenage kids. I will kiss my husband more. I will pray more.

Most of all, I will try to banish worry and enjoy my life more. That’s my resolution for 2016. What’s yours?