To Deborah, sorry to single you out,but....greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
it's 6:32 am here in western Pa(on a Saturday, yet),and I am STILL sitting in front of this computer screen...came across a few statements of yours in an answer to a recent question, about scaring off a lot of new people to the Forum...well,I'm new,and have been reading all these questions and answers for weeks,and have an eternal headache from it all...your comments just struck home to me this morning,if I wasn't so darned stubborn,I'd have given up long ago trying to find anything out about the year 2000,just from the sheer volume of the information on this web...I'm trying so hard to get it all straight in my head,and driving my family crazy in the meantime from spending every available second on this computer...since I'm not very computer savvy,and have only started becoming aware of this 2000 situation very recently,I'm having a heck of a time with a lot of things...number one is all the abbreviations you guys use,LOL,BTW,IMHO,etc...you are all so used to them,but there are a lot of us here that wish we knew what they were,so we could make more sense out of whats being said...is there a list out there anywhere?also,I am constantly impressed with how much all of you seem to know on so many different subjects,and the vocabulary alone is amazing,but there seem to be people here who can argue effectively on BOTH sides of an issue,and its so hard to ascertain who is making more sense at times...I've read and read and READ till my eyes are about ready to fall out,and I have those little swimmies going in my line of vision...I have pages of items to get,and things to do,and things to watch for in the news,etc...I have realized there are many personalities to deal with here,on many very contraversial subjects...some of you answer even the most basic questions a new person inevitably has(what foods..how much water..should I move..)most graciously,even though you've probably heard it a hundred times or more,often pointing out archives they can research...others of you ignore them,figuring they'll eventually make their way thru,,and probably most do...others are downright rude and nasty or condescending or all three,which of course,is their perogative,but hardly conducive to making us new people want to find out more...and oddly enough,it seems to be a main theme with a lot of the more impatient people here,"WHEN are you people going to get it??!!" Well,I'm trying. For the record,I've sat straight in front of this screen every available moment I have,for weeks...I've read nearly every question and answer here,including the archives,and I have a few observations,for what it's worth...I think the Forum should be divided into a few different categories at this stage in the game...I think there should be a place for the new people to go,with a list of basic abbreviations and what they mean...maybe a list of the regular posters here,just basic first name,state lived in,any special areas of knowledge/training/interest;it would make it a lot easier to know who to ask specific questions of,it would probably save a lot of time for those of you who don't have a lot of time to go thru every new question,either...Leska and Ashton come to my mind immediately for medical knowledge...and how about splitting the Forum questions up into 2 basic categories,y2k concerns and NON-y2k concerns...there seem to be a lot of people here who do not like observations on the government,Clinton,Kosovo,the weather,etc...for my part,I think you have to realize that becoming aware of y2k inevitably leads to awareness in other areas concerning your life you never even thought important...I have learned so much here about so many things...but it does make it hard on anyone when you're trying to dig for y2k inormation,and can't quite tell if the question you're on will eventually lead to anything you were originally searching for...I definitely think there should be a category just for deadlines,current computer glitch episodes where you live,power outages,etc...maybe call it Time Watch 2000,I'd love to know whats happening in your area with these seemingly small computer mishaps,see if it any given time or date there seems to be a lot of them going on simultaneously...ANYhow,I have a zillion more thoughts,but that'll do for now...not even sure this will print up on the screen,I'm just not sure how to do most of the basic computer functions yet...but I'm hanging in there,and I'm trying to learn...in closing,let me say I never criticize or judge any of you...this is such a difficult subject for most everyone,and I'm sure everyone gets a different button pushed at times...but I'm grateful for all the knowledge,and the stubborn souls that keep writing here,no matter what response they get...you've helped me a lot,whether or not you ever knew you did...Cynthiaemail@example.com
-- Cynthia Yanicko- (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 10, 1999
Cynthia; Calm down, or you may not make it to 2000. The desperation in your typing has brought a tear to my eye. (and that ain't easy) We will get through this! Clear your mind and get to the important thing, preperation. Good Luck!!!!!!!! Go Steelers!
-- SCOTTY (BLehman202@aol.com), April 10, 1999.
Welcome to the land of information overload!
'Don't know if your suggestions will be implemented, but I'll post a thread on abbreviations for newbies. We've all been there!
-- FM (email@example.com), April 10, 1999.
hang in there please - we're not a bad bunch really, although we all tend to get carried away at times (guilty 'yer honour) as this is such an emotive subject that touches - literally - all facets of "life." Do use the archives - there are some gems in there on most subjects. All we need is a search engine :) Don't be afraid to post, the more the merrier say I!
-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), April 10, 1999.
Take it easy. Browse through some of the old posts by category. Keep a couple things in mind. This forum has exploded recently with new people. There are 15 - 20 people who have been here for at least the last 9 months. Of those, 3/4 are GI (get it) vs 1/4 that either DGI (don't get it)/ DWGI (don't want to get it) or are lukewarm. IMHO (in my humble opinion), I would suggest you read Ed Yourdon's essays. Click on this link for a good, sane overview of what is likely:
Broadly speaking, there are two major areas of concern. The first is the concern that embedded systems (tiny, hidden computers that control specific processes) which are used throughout our modern environment may malfunction post 2000. IMHO, no one has a good handle on this subject. Depending on the industry, it appears that something on the order of 0.5% to 5% of these vital controls may malfunction. This is an area of considerable dispute. It is probably the area of concern as far as the utility industry goes. When my local utility company surveyed its substations, it officially said that out of 3000 devices about 150 need replacing. (As an aside, I don't know if they have actually replaced thes yet.) So its a valid question as to : Did they find them all? The majority of tech people on this forum have zero background with these devices. (The one person who does have a background is preparing, but isn't worried and is a persistent pollyanna. Go figure. The second area of concern is the business IT (information technology) systems. The large banking and commerce systems that are the nervous system of our economy. There are a lot of people on this forum, including yours truly, that have decades of IT experience across multiple computer types, languages and business systems. This is also the strength of Mr Yourdon who has literally written the textbooks on how these systems should be put together. One of our regulars (Sysman) compiled a list of experience represented here and it was nearly a thousand years of business IT experience! Imagine you were ill and went to a famous clinic. Twenty Board certified doctors give you roughly the same advice. You happen to meet some people in the lobby who seem a bit angry and give you totally opposite advice and tell you to ignore your symptoms. What do you do? The IT people who post here are fairly convinced that there will be moderate to severe economic consequences to Y2K. Will the lights go out? Can't say. Personally, I think the chance for that is roughly in the range of 1 - 10%. So that means I think its pretty unlikely. However, it is likely enough for me to prepare for a serious scenario. Western Pa can get pretty cold. (I used to live in Pgh) How would you like to spend 2 weeks without power? Lake effect snowstorms, water might get contaminated, spotty phone service then none, etc,etc... Say its only a one out of a hundred chance. Things could get very dicey, especially if there is panic.
My advice is to limit your computer time and start simple preps. Too much reading is simply counterproductive. Anyway, hope this helps. Now get some fresh air.
-- RD. ->H (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 10, 1999.
Since you're new to computers you might not know this so let me tell you a little time saver. When clicking on a new thread, use your right mouse button. This will open a menu that gives you the option to "open in new window". Click on it. It will open the thread and you won't have to use your "back" button to get back and forth to the message board each time.
P.S. Take a break from the boards every now and then and concentrate on your daily life and talking to your family about Y2k and getting their feedback. Nothing like real life people vs Cyber community contact to help you keep grounded.
-- Cary Mc from Tx (Caretha@compuserve.com), April 10, 1999.
Good morning everyone,and my thanks for posting back so quickly,and so helpfully...didn't mean to sound quite so desperate,Scotty,but I will try to keep things in perspective here at home...have begun some basic preparations,although with such a long list and only about 71/2 months to go I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland running in place and not really getting anywhere fast...My husband is plating a broken forearm this morning,and won't be back till the afternoon,we plan to hit the Walmart with our twin boys(81/2)and cross a few more things off our list,and then enjoy the rest of what looks to be a beautiful day...I do listen to you people! Again,I am,as always here,grateful to you for your thoughts and support...Cynthia
-- Cynthia Yanicko (email@example.com), April 10, 1999.
Of all the preparation lists I have reviewed this stands out: Ted Derryberry's Preparation List
This 3 month list is for a family of four.
-- Ray (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 10, 1999.
Forgot to mention regarding Ted Derryberry's Prep List, be patient since it takes a bit of time to transmit.
-- Ray (email@example.com), April 10, 1999.
Welcome! I'm really glad you posted. You have gotten really good advice so far. Taking action in your preps will help you calm down. Don't wait until you have it all figured out, because I really don't think anyone really knows for sure exactly what is going to happen, so no one has it all figured out just yet.
I know what you are going through. It does get better. (Although as you can tell from my post last night, sometimes you still have frustrating days)
If you have specific questions, I think you will find that people are fairly willing to help.
I wish I had more time, I have to go do the 'soccer mom' thing now, so if I think of anything else for you I will add it here later.
You wrote:"I'm grateful for all the knowledge,and the stubborn souls that keep writing here,no matter what response they get...you've helped me a lot,whether or not you ever knew you did."
-- Deborah (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 10, 1999.
Cynthia, Further to Cary's suggestion, use "ALT/TAB" to go back and forth between windows.
-- another (email@example.com), April 10, 1999.
I was reading your post and "boom." Once again we have people with "decades" of IT experience making predictions about ECONOMIC consequences. How about talking with folks who have decades of experience in economics? Listen, if a room of board-certified physicians told me to buy a given stock, forgive me, but what do they know about the equities market. Same principle.
-- Mr. Decker (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 10, 1999.
Economists have difficulty predicting the past. It isn't until we are well into or finished with a recession that they confirm the fact. Even then they don't ALL agree.
Wall Street economists are beholding to their employers thereby negating their alleged value.
-- Ray (email@example.com), April 10, 1999.
Well,now it's the afternoon,and Dr.Dan is still not home,guess that forearm took longer than anticipated...cannot believe my early morning spout generated 11 answers,once again,thank you all...Old Git was kind enough to actually,personally email me,which thrilled me to death,he's one of my favorites here...Mr.Decker,in regards to drHerrs answer,I am not at all shy about saying that most technical stuff goes right over my head at a very fast rate,I usually print it out and give it to my husband,and request that he please interpret it in very easy terms for me...except for a couple of persistent crabby people on this Forum,I think most are trying to help each other with a very difficult scenario that has yet to happen...and as for taking the advice of a room full of board certified MDS,well,no,they are not economists or anything similar,but they sure do have the money most of the time to afford people who do know how to invest their money...thats one thing I do know... so now,having set myself up for possible attacks from people accusing me of being too optimistic about people and their motives,I shall again heed the advice given here,and get off this machine for awhile...although I have to check back tonight,this is more addicting than chocolate ever was,I'm afraid...by the way,this is my real email,and my real name,so if you need to send me a message personally,fine..house rules apply though,you can be disagreeable if you feel the need,but not nasty or profane,I get enough of that on occasion from my teenagers...thanks again everyone,Cynthia
-- Cynthia Yanicko (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 10, 1999.
Cynthia .... uh, Old Git is a Mrs/Ms, not a Mr .....
-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), April 10, 1999.
Big Dog!! Sorry about the assumption,Old Git,please forgive me!!! Thanks Big Dog for the correction,you all have known each other for so long,I shall probably blunder about some more,but hey,I'm only human...while we're on the subject though,aside from the obvious,like Diane,or Deborah,or Mr.Decker,if you're responding in the future to anything I might ask,could you kindly indicate if you are a he or a she? If you are one of those grey aliens,kindly indicate,"other"... Thank you thank you,Cynthia
-- Cynthia Yanicko (email@example.com), April 10, 1999.
Cynthia, I would be very careful about making judgements on Y2K based on what you read on this forum. The vast majority of participants here believe the date change will mean significant change in their lives (from minimal to catastophic). Many have a vested interest in frightening people.
I suggest that you monitor sites with more balanced info about Y2K here or here
Both of these sites provide positive and negative information - allowing you to make up your own mind. On this forum, postive information is shouted down with religious fervor - so be warned!
-- Y2K Pro (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 10, 1999.
So your husband is an orthopod! Just tell him that a good surgeon deserves a good anesthesiologist and a bad surgeon requires one. (Old joke).
As for Mr Decker's comments on economics and doctors, Y2K is such a huge subject that we all use analogies to make particular points. Lets say that that broken arm belongs to a concert pianist. Does your husband have to have a degree in music to say to the patient, "Look, your arm is broken. I have to operate on it and you won't be playing the piano for 6 weeks."?
Y2K is a computer software minefield that will have economic consequences. No one needs to be an economist to reasonably posit such an outcome because it already has had economic consequences!. Economics is one of those "soft" sciences where its only possible to accurately predict the past. However, large software projects follow predictable patterns of behavior. This subject is called software metrics. It is a subject in which Ed Yourdon is an acknowledged authority and is why he gets hired by various mega-corps to be involved with their projects. Ed Yourdon is not an economist and neither am I or Mr Decker. All of which is beside the primary point. The historical patterns for large software projects would have to be radically violated for Y2K to be a non-IT event. Simply put, most of these projects started late and with insufficient resources. As the scope of the task became more apparent, organizations have thrown huge amounts of money at it in an effort to catch up. Now the logic here, which Mr Decker consistently misses, is that if a business is dependent on its computer systems, and the systems fail, then the business suffers and perhaps expires. To have a huge impact on the economy, Y2K does not have to crash the majority of business computers. It only has to hit a significant minority - say 10 - 20%. If 10% of banking transactions end up in error, what happens to the system as a whole? If there are 10% fewer airline flights and 10% of hotel vacation reservations get lost, what happens to the tourist industry? Lastly, we are heavily dependent of foreign countries for cheap goods. Take a look where most of that Wal-Mart stuff is from. Bet you see mostly East Asian origins. The reports from outside the US are uniformly grim. Anyway, read the data. Form your own opinion. Prepare for the storm - or not.
-- RD. ->H (email@example.com), April 10, 1999.
PS Y2K Pro isn't. Never offers any insight at all on code issues.
-- RD. ->H (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 10, 1999.
There is a preparedness group in your area if you live near Pitt. Go to my web page to see various Pennsylvania links.
-- Amy (email@example.com), April 10, 1999.
Welcome to the asylum. nice to know your other half knows how to use chisels, malets, screwdrivers, drills, etc. I kinda enjoyed some of the time I spent as a surg transporter, as I got to pull instrument packs and other equipment for scheduled procedures. They look a lot like somebody's home tool box. the down side was, as a paramedic, I didn't get quite close enough (LOL = Laughing Out Loud).
Chuck, a Night Driver
-- chuck, a Night Driver (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 10, 1999.
Hi, Cynthia! I have been "lurking" here for well over a month... great group of people here!!! I, like you, read EVERY post every time I got on this board, even made lists, etc. ad nauseum...!
(that is a grin) I went into INFORMATIONAL OVERLOAD. Major stress time. May I suggest a nice hot bubble bath?? Works for me every time and I enjoy it more than ever since there is that possibility of having a diffult time getting one a year from now! I now just pick and choose the topics to read so I don't go into overload anymore... I really don't know WHY I even chose to read this one, but it "spoke" to me... Here is a quicky list of abbreviations to help you out: LOL means "laughing out loud" BTW means "by the way" IMHO means "In my humble opinion" GI means "Got it or Get it" DGI means "Don't get it" DWGI means "Don't want to get it" there are lots of others but that will give you a start anyway! I have been into self sufficiency ever since I was a girl scout MANY YEARS ago... once I got on the net a couple of years ago, I found precious little in the way of doing things on one's own. I started keeping a list of favorite web sites.. IT GREW AND GREW!! And more and more people kept asking for a list of my sites as I gained many friends on message boards, chats, etc. A year ago Christmas time I made the first of several pages of self sufficiency web pages (all links!)to share with my cyber friends. They started to pass them around and now I am linked at several sites as a reference guide of sorts.
Terri's Home on the Web
This is strictly NON commercial site (I dont sell anything) but I have hundreds (Thousands???) of links on Y2K, homesteading, homeschooling, simple living, etc. etc. Check out the Food Preservation link for sources to obtain food related items and recipes/tips/canning/alternative cooking ideas. I hope this helps you. Just remember to live NOW... prepare for the future but don't get panicked. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt... NO FUN!!! Blessings! Terri
-- Terri (email@example.com), April 10, 1999.
Good evening to all,boy has it been a day for me...can't say thanks for the support and new links enough times...to Terri,I will definitely check out your website...small request,a simple one,but needed...a recipe for making bread,do you have one that requires no eggs,if I can't get any? Also,need to know,this'll sound dumb,but if I run out of yeast,can I make some? I mean,where do the yeast manufacturers get it..you can just email me at home,saves the space here.. to Amy,,another website for me to research,my thanks,and no,I'm not really convenient to Pittsburgh,about an hour and half north of it actually...we're really only about 20 minutes across the border from Youngstown,Ohio,but I never go there.. RD->H(hope I got it right)yes,Dans an orthopedic surgeon,graduate of Allegheny College,completed his residency at Hahnemann University hospital in Philadelphia...he is a very,very smart guy,who is also a wonderful doctor,he is almost always calm,cool,and collected,while I am almost always emotional and passionate,we balance perfectly,and I couldn't imagine life without him... to Chuck...basically,almost all orthopods are glorified carpenters,their instruments just cost a lot more,and they know a lot more words...seriously,aside from being able to wire/pin/screw/or plate you back together if you get broken,he really can do just about anything else...plumbing,electricity,carpentry,repairs,you name it...he's a handy guy to have around most anytime... well,it's been quite a day for me...I have my grubby twins to get into a shower and bed,its been a late day for them,too,and I have all the new questions and responses to catch up on...my morning may not have seemed very hopeful,but I am feeling just fine tonight... Goodbye till next time everyone...Cynthia
-- Cynthia Yanicko (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 10, 1999.
cynthia, welcome. and you are doing the right thing---when you need help and can't find what you need, go ahead and ask a question. most people here are fine, opinionated, but fine. only a few trolls here and there. i ignore the trolls and they don't bother me.
-- jocelyne slough (email@example.com), April 11, 1999.
With all due respect, how is it you reached the conclusion I am not an economist? And on what econometric model (or theory) did you base your "10 to 20 percent of firms" conclusion. Even Mr. Yourdon has acknowledged my expertise in economics... can provide the quote if you wish.
-- Mr. Decker (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 11, 1999.
Welcome here Ma'am - your comments, questions, and concerns are welcome - and as you see, not all the observers agree with each other. Fine, since none of can predict the future, and since the current administration seems to be the worst predictors, I'd recommend placing the least reliance on their "spin". (As it represented by Mr Decler, "Y2KPro", and others.)
By the way, none of us here has any economic reason to "propagandize" the potential problems that may occur next year - but we do feel that some level of preparation - preparations which the administration apparently fears - are called for. "Money-making" hoarding, and "panic-mongers" are the most frequent insults slung at those who choose to prepare by those of the "politically corrupt" crowd who slavishly follow the administration.
A few hints - after your paragraphs, add a second carriage return so there is a blank line. This will separate your thoughts, and make it easier to discuss things.
Keep things in perspective, no one knows what will happen. We hope that as much as 80% of the world's systems and processes are remediated and tested prior to January, 2000. Almost 1 trillion dollars has been spent, or is budgetted to to be used on year 2000 repairs - and a telling point is: no one has found it to be a waste of money. No one, in no contry, no government agency, no business, no utility world-wide has said what was spent was wasted. To the contrary, almost every progect has spend more money than expected, and taken longer than expected, and has found more problems than expected.
Therefore, one can conclude that the people searching and repairing programs have found and needed to fix problems. But, between 15 and 50% of the systems world-wide will not be repaired correctly, or not be finished in time, or not be tested adequately, or not be repaired at all.
So, where does that leave the people (personally, in agencies, and in businesses) who did not prepare, who did not repair their systems, who did not test their systems, and who did not check out their suppliers and customers? We don't know.
What is the effect of the potential failures in these people's lives and businesses? We don't know.
What will the secondary effect be of these potential failures be on tertiary and fourth level systems and businesses? We don't know.
So - what should you do? First, stop and inventory yourself (it helps to breathe every now and then.) and your family. Start small and achieveable and cheap: try to get 2 cans of soup (or other canned goods) this year for each person in your family each week this year. (Budget 8.00 per week maybe - less than one movie or two video rentals.) Get some candles. Get an alternate heat source - if the power or natural gas goes out, be able to use something else for one week.
Start small, but start with postive steps towards a few days of independent "get by" stuff. That's all. it will be enough to ensure you can respond to anything without panic or problems if there are interruptions. Of anything - it doesn't matter, if you can "get by" through "interruptions", you can manage through more difficult troubles - if they occur.
Now, if nothing happens, fine = eat the soup, cook the spagettio's, and eat the pasta - you've saved on grocery bills for a couple of days.
Once you can "get by" for two days, stop and check out your county, city, and local environment - how far are they, what have they tested, what are they doing, when did they get started? What is their attitude? What have they done, when do they expect to finish? Based on what you find, evaluate (for you and youir family) what the next level of "comfort" for you should be.
And that answer (the "comfort level" you are comfortable at preparing for) will be based on your attitude and information.
A final comment - no one is an expert in this matter, and no one can predict the economic, political, and business future REGARDLESS of what Washington and Wall Street and Madison Avenue "want" to happen - something "will" happen. Now, this "something" - that they cannot control nor EVER have predicted correctly - may be pleasant (like today's unpreceded sixteen year econmic expansion), or it may be uncomfortable, or it may be catastrophic and long-lasting in one place and minor in another - but if you prepare for some level of interuptions and irritations - despite the administration's fears and propaganda - you will NOT have the problems that someone who listens to the administration will have.
Warning - you may have more water, spagettio's and soup in your pantry than they will have next January. You may have a few candles around your fireplace or grille, and they may be shivering in dark. If you fear spagettio's or canned tamales, try chinese or kosher - it takes all kinds.
If you fear uncertainity, make a few small, positive (cheap!) steps towards preparing - and you won't have anything to fear.
-- Robert A Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (Cook.R@csaatl.com), April 12, 1999.
To Robert Cook... Thank you, for your answer,it helped to sum up a lot of my own thoughts that have been ricocheting inside my brain for the past few weeks...
Preparing for unpleasant situations in life is not new to me...my father was a pilot in the Air Force,and I was raised from the age of 3 months till I was 7 in Guam,Okinawa,and the Phillippines...we were Americans,on an American air force base,but it wasn't IN America; big difference there. Whenever there were problems with power,or supplies,or the weather,we were pretty much on our own...my mother always had over a months worth of supplies on hand for us to get thru whatever the tropics had a way of dishing out. Y2K has me apprehensive for a lot of reasons,too numerous to mention here...one of the main frustrations,of course,is that NO one knows ANYTHING for sure...you can guess till pigs fly,I guess, on possible/probables/blah blah blah...I'm sort of getting numb to all that anyway...I'm frustrated as all get out that as an adult,I'm being considered not able to handle bad news properly,by every government source out there...not much you can do about that one either...my biggest y2k worry is not the actual breakdown,I think it's pretty much a done deal some things in every sector will go...it's how bad will it be,and for how long,that I wish I could foresee...
Bottom line is,there's too much talk going on about a supposedly non-existent/minor problem...to put it in another,very simplified way,I have 5 children...whenever I see a bunch of closed doors,hear whisperings,rustlings of unidentified objects,etc...and I ask, "What's going on with you guys?" and they say,of course,"Nothing!!" then,of course, I know that something IS going on. I'm (usually) always right.
The government has always behaved,to me,like a bunch of sneaky kids...so you have to act accordingly,and plan for whatever it is they are telling you not to worry about...
I am so thankful I found this forum,and I am thankful for all the opinions here,even the ones that seem a little off base at times...I think it's mostly just frustration anyway,might as well get it out here,I figure... Thanks so much for posting an answer to my question...you are one of the few whose answers here I look for...I never have to wade thru long winded discussions,rudeness or profanity in reading your posts,and that's something...Cynthia
-- Cynthia Yanicko (email@example.com), April 12, 1999.
Cynthia, I wasn't going to answer this, there being little I could add, but your last comment rang a bell. My sister, a GI who occasionally posts here, says she wouldn't have become a GI if she hadn't seen a happy face program on TV just a few days after reading a Gary North ad. When you're being told that there are possible problems, but not to worry, it's all being solved, she says that's the time to take action!
I don't know enough about western PA to know how cold it gets there. However, generally good advice is to plan keeping in mind that without air, you're dead in ~ 4 minutes; without heat ~ 4 hours; without water ~ 4 days and without food ~ 4 weeks. Make sure that your heat won't destroy your air, nor your food destroy your water supplies. Robert's advice on getting started is good. The sooner you DO something, the less panicked you will feel (as a general rule).
Welcome to our asylum ;-)
-- Tricia the Canuck (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 13, 1999.