CH01 (Fallback Planning) question from author : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

One of the criticisms we about this chapter was that a ten-year Y2000-induced was simply unrealistic. No one has any trouble imagining a disruption of a couple days, or even a couple months. A one-year disruption is more difficult to contemplate, and the majority of people who read the draft version of our manuscript during the summer and fall felt that a ten-year disruption was simply impossible. Any feedback or thoughts about this? I continue to think that the most likely examples (if such things occur at all) will be disruptions associated with government services like IRS, SSA, and Medicare that may be terminated legislatively as a consequence of technology-related problems.

-- Ed Yourdon (, December 24, 1997


"We only study the surprises" -- what a wonderful concept! A more recent example, and one that is being played out on a day-to-day basis, is the collapse of the USSR regime. Prior to 1991, I doubt that Gorbachev would have known he was fated to leave office, nor would the average citizen have been able to contemplate the consequences of the fall of Communism. Indeed, it's probably fair to say that many of them STILL can't contemplate it. It's also interesting to observe how a society copes with what has to be considered the utter collapse of an all-encompassing government infrastructure ... we might find ourselves going through a similar situation two years from now.

-- Ed Yourdon (, December 24, 1997.

I feel that although a ten-year problem is possible, anything of that scale is in essence, permanent -- "Gone with the Wind" comes to mind. This makes it very difficult to prepare. No one thinks electricity will be gone for 10's too useful and no one is "against" it. However, this could be the catalyst to propel an existing idea into reality that causes a cascade of other events. Flat tax, school vouchers, eliminating farm subsidies, smaller government/military all would have drastic effects on untold people and industries in ways we couldn't predict... or prepare.

Do you think that the Germans of 1988 or the Russians of 1915 or the South of 1860 might have found their current reality either inconceivable or impossible? When the world has fundamentally changed it is ALWAYS a surprise. If you think about it, in History classes we only study the surprises.

-- Jim Smith (, December 24, 1997.

A ten-year disruption is difficult to imagine, if you are thinking of a single system. Not many things would take that long to fix, replace, or work around. But the scenario is more plausible if a lot of interrelated systems go down. Maybe I can't pay my programmers because my bank failed, or maybe they aren't available at all because they went home to take care of their families. Any number of interdependencies could drastically slow down the repair process. Maybe Y2K has a "tipping point." (The Y2K problem is often compared to a virus, so concepts from epidemiology could well be appropriate.) Maybe if we get just enough systems repaired, we'll be able to continue a reasonably efficient repair process into the next millenium; and if we don't quite make it, we'll end up with a big snarled mess and it really will be ten years before we're running on all cylinders again. It seems to me that there are enough redundancies in the system that that tipping point would be pretty high. If the planes don't work, take a bus. That's what I'm hoping, anyway. As for Medicare... They've been working for a while on replacing their software. Byte just reported that they've abandoned the effort, after spending some $90 million. One major factor was a lack of documentation. If they're not compliant now, they've got a big problem.

-- Dennis Peterson (, December 26, 1997.

I think we would see a ten year disruption if certain things happen. First, if our food distribution system fails, it will be all over. People will be out of food in three weeks at best. Starving people do not fix Y2K software! We had better hope , pray and work real hard to make sure our crummy just in time food system continues to work. As a nation, we have little backup food to feed our people, and even if there was, we need a distribution system to move it. Secound, I will need a job to purchase food if it is available. Just my thoughts -Dennis DeLaurier, Wharton County Texas.

-- Dennis DeLaurier (, December 26, 1997.

Dennis--never give up hope. I've been often told I was born in the wrong century - looks like there just might be a second chance... Have 7 kids ages 25-36... ONE has decided to sell his home and make the big move to Central Maine. The others are all in different stages of disbelief and denial, although all have received vast amounts of info since February '97. A ten-year y2k duration for most any scenario is conceivable and survivable. Two years left to prepare for lifetime in the 19th century. All 7 will receive TIMEBOMB 2000 once received from AMAZON Books.

-- Steve Alley (, December 27, 1997.

Has your PC ever crashed? It is maddening. Why? Because you can't just turn on your PC to fix your broken PC. Fortunately, you can take your crashed machine for repair (by somebody with a working PC). Now, multiply this type of problem times several hundred million and assume that there are very few working repair systems. Hmmmm. Could it take ten years to get your PC back? Hypothesis: people will consider a minor disruption (read: short and limited to "atm cards") because it is easy to pyschologically "digest". They will not consider a major or societally changing disruption because there are too many pyschological filters--not easy to digest. Despite Mr. Yourdan't credentials and the brilliant articulation of the problem in his book, his family still thinks he may be a "kook". Makes me feel better about the reaction I get from those I talk to about the problem (read: everyone I see). However, I believe it underscores the point. Therefore, I am now concluding that I can provide information resources (Mr. Yourdan's book) to everyone I care about. Their decisions subsequently must be theirs. I have an alcoholic mother who continues to deny her problem, despite multiple interventions and nine years of tough love. Denial can be an extraordinarily tenacious mental process.

-- P. Larson (, January 06, 1998.

I think that when the financial system collapses as we know it, a new system will be offered that does not use paper money. It will be a cashless society. I am sure that most people will opt to be included in this cashless society or risk dying. Whether this is controlled by a private company (MS) or a government agency is to be seen.


-- Mark Preston (, February 20, 1998.

On January 31, 1998 I too would have thought a one month disruption would stretch the bounds of reality. Then El Niqo hit. I have a friend who lives in a physically isolated area of the Big Sur coast. Right now the only thing that is keeping her and her family connected with the outside world is a one lane stretch of highway. Not one lane in each direction, ONE LANE, with a row of power poles on the inland side. The sea has eaten away the rest of the road, and a mudsilde has burried the inland shoulder. Cal-Trans is allowing a caravan of cars to go through on Monday and Friday ONLY. My point, one more good storm and she will be cut off from civilization for THRE MONTHS. And. no, she was not well prepared. Watching her go through this disruption brings it home for me.

-- Annie O'Dea (, March 02, 1998.

Strange how many are considering going into the woods to escape Y2K problems. I have an alternative survival plan which I'd like to put forward for consideration and your input.

Granted that during major crisis, governments put attention and emergency assistance first to heavily populated centers (cities) than work outward to the more sparsely populated areas (rural) it stands to reason that power, water, telecom systems and food distribution will be repaired first in the cities.

Here's a fallback plan I've been looking at to survive staying in the city. Rent or buy a penthouse apartment which has a fireplace and balcony not immediately connected to other balconies. Preferably the apartment has the entrance door at the end of a hall away from the elevator or other doors.

You must have at least three bedrooms for storage and the balcony is required for outdoor cooking. Stock up firewood, food and just before Jan.1.2000, fill up a new water bed bag with fresh cold water. Fill your sinks and bathtub as well with fresh tap water.

Before the New Year, get yourself well armed and have the door re-inforced with steel and dead-bolt locks. Do not let any uninitiated and unprepared ( for Y2K ) see your stores in the bedrooms.

You can quietly carry in firewood daily and bring in spare tanks of propane or coals for your barbeque well in advance of public panic buying of those items.

I think I'd rather prefer looking over a city from a secure few hundred feet up, well supplied and armed with one solid door to protect than be in the open countryside.

The advantages are that you'll know when the situation returns to normal and have very little territory to defend from intruders. Being in frozen Canada in January has it's advantages as well. You can use your balcony for frozen storage and the sealed off bedrooms as a fridge by leaving the windows open.

You would only need two people to stand on guard around the clock but would only have to protect one door and an open balcony from intruders. At the door, you can yell a warning before firing if need be but anyone getting onto my balcony on the 28th floor is a dead man.


-- Gary Allan Halonen (, March 08, 1998.

I'm having trouble visualizing the violence many of the people on this forum are predicting. Which is funny, because I work in the "bad" part of town, where you know the high school is out by the sound of the gunfire. But, on topic, I don't plan to move either. I live in a nid-sized college town, in the historic district. I have a back yard big enough for two cars or a good-sized garden, a three-car garage for storage, and a small shed that might just make a nice chicken coop. But the real reason for staying is the community. My family has lived in this town since 1886, this neighborhood since 1916, and this house since 1944. I know all of my neighbors, (we grew up together, as did our parents and grandparents), well enough to know that we'll all pull together and barter for our needs during a crisis, and most of my family lives within a 4 block radius. I do plan to get a dog and a small rifle, but I don't think trading this community for a new situation would be a great idea.

-- Annie O'Dea (, March 09, 1998.

Thanks to all who've wrote me about the city survival fallback plan. I'll try to answer some inquiries here. This plan isn't definite and only in it's formative stages but it certainly warrants consideration.

I don't know how many gallons of water a king size water bed bag holds but with reasonable rationing it should last a very long time. Heck, get two of them!

Regarding cooking on an outdoor barby on the balcony or inside using the wood fireplace? It's your chose but you have to be very cautious you don't "smoke out" the premises.

Fire is a hazard where ever you live. Modern buildings usually are built within fire isolation specs, that is only the unit on fire burns out. Seal the hallway door to keep smoke from entering.

I recieved two emails about waste. Toilets in high-rises work on gravity. Granted you have to use a little water in the bowl but you have a huge septic tank in the form of lower floor piping. Besides, it may drain right into the sewage pipes underground.

In part, why I've come to this idea, stems from an experience I had while a boy growing up in the wilderness in North Western Ontario. A bear had become bold and dangerous coming into town at night, attacking dogs and damaging property looking for easy food. We had to guard our homes all night, armed and ready to shoot the bear if it appeared. It almost drove everyone crazy trying to watch in four directions at once from our houses all night and I can tell you more than a few shoots rang out when someone got spooked by a sound or shadow. I'd rather guard one door and one very high balcony then a large clearing around a country house.

There was a question of escape if things got unmanageable. Just join the other couple of hundred thousand at the government food banks and firewood ration stations. At least you had a few months of relative comfort and safety because of your prudence. Besides, the worst may be over by then.

Food for thought. Any other suggestions or things worth considering to survive the "big city life"?


-- Gary Allan Halonen (, March 10, 1998.

An interesting scenario, but if water and/or plumbing fails, what are you going to do with your human waste? I read recently that an office building in Auckland has paritally reopened, but each worker has been told they must bring a plastic bag for evacuating their own waste...

-- Roland Teigen (, March 16, 1998.

At night you can play " bombs away! " at the local green space. In fact, with no TV or radio, this may be one of the highlights of your day!

Hell, it could used as your psychological stress monitor. If you or others in your party start aiming at people, pets or cars, will then you know your loosing it! :>)

-- Gary Allan Halonen (, March 16, 1998.

I was a volunteer fireman for many years, and before that worked for the Cal. Dept. of Forestry and the USFS as a firefighter in northern Calif. Though I do have a retreat in the foothills, I plan on residing there only after every other option is exhausted. Northern Calif. is a tinder box in the summer. The 49'er fire a few years ago near grass valley underscored this fact. We have supressed fires throughout the west for many years now. Fuel load levels are incredible, and as a consequence major conflagrations are possible if y2k problems are severe. The chances greatly increase , I think, when I ponders the crush of humanity "head for the hills". Isn't there some amusing reference to God destroying humanity through fire the second time- since He failed the first time with water? Or maybe this is saome internally generated fantasy I created while sitting through my Fire and Brimstone fundamentalist Dad's sermons.

-- skipper clark (, March 22, 1998.

It appears that the contributors to this excellent forum all have a serious interest in making plans to survive the y2k crisis. I am trying to come to grips with how much of my detailed planning efforts will be neutralized or completely undermined by U S Govt edicts, mandates and "states of emergency" which impose severe rationing and make it illegal to stockpile certain commodities. Unless the U S Govt itself becomes completely immobilized by y2k, I would expect strict controls to be declared and enforced by our Chief Executive as early as Summer 1999 which affect a myriad of financial transactions, commodity purchases, trading activities and ultimately how many times a day you are permitted to flush your bathroom toilet. The more about history we understand, the better we can anticipate exactly what the U S Govt will do to level the playing field for all U.S. citizens and non-citizens. Open your history books and talk with your elderly what specific measures actually have been taken during times of national crisis, e.g., the Great Depression and World War II...and please share your findings in this forum so that we can get a glimpse of what to expect. Maybe then our detailed planning can be successfully modified to sidestep the booby traps which will be set by the U S Govt.

-- R L Flink (, March 25, 1998.

Here's an idea. BEGIN NOW. There are not any restrictions and prices are down. The cycles and other studies I follow in Corn and Soybeans have had me watching for an upturn some time in the 2nd or 3rd qtr. 1998. Anytime now is likely about as cheap as these items will be.

-- P. Larson (, March 25, 1998.

Mr. Yourdon: By way of introduction, I am the author of the material on the Y2K site My training is as a geologist and industrial microbiologist, with a recent switch to computer programming. I am glad to have read (and own) TimeBomb2000 (both editions). My first thought is to ask whether you have had time in your unquestionably busy schedule to read all of Infomagic's writings (on Corey Hamasaki's Weather Reports). The second is if you have read Sorokin, or Gibbon, for that matter. The third is this: if 1)we are effectively reduced to mostly 1900s technology levels, with insufficient appropriate implements/skills to function even that way, and 2)you factor in all the conditions that will make it harder for us than our great-grand parents did to function in that manner (convenient high-grade natural resources much less available due to depletion, etc.), then I have much difficulty concluding that North is much off the mark in his (nontheological) predictions. Lastly, please add Robert Ringer to your list of suggested authors as well; he has several books that are highly relevant to the issues we face here. Respectfully yours, MinnesotaSmith

-- MinnesotaSmith (, April 22, 1999.

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