Need help preparing testimony for Senate Y2K hearing : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Please stop your flame wars, troll-baiting, name-calling, and mud-slinging for a moment to help me with an important task...

I've been asked to appear as a witness, and submit testimony, to the Senate Y2K Committee co-chaired by Senator Bennett and Senator Dodd -- specifically on the subject of Y2K personal preparedness and community preparedness. The tentative date for the hearing is Tuesday morning, May 25th; on the same day, it appears that there will also be a panel of witnesses offering testimony (suggestions) on the media's role in personal and community preparedness.

In the panel on which I've been invited to participate, there will be a few other participants. I've been given names of some, but I'm not sure if they've been confirmed, so I won't list them here; but assume that there will be at least two or three other very competent people, who have important things to say on the subject.

The oral presentations are five minutes long, and the written testimony can be as long and detailed as we wish. One assumes that the staff members and assistants will read the full written testimony, but it's possible that the Senators will only hear and pay attention to the oral testimony.

I'm rarely at a loss for words, and I won't have trouble finding things to talk about for five minutes. Quite the opposite: the things I would like to talk about would take HOURS of oral testimony. But that's not the way this works; five minutes of testimony means that every word counts. It means that I need all the help that I can to ensure that every word that I intend to speak IS meaningful, constructive, practical, useful.

I have no idea whether the testimony I provide will accomplish anything. But I have to assume that this is my "last best hope" of offering constructive commentary and suggestions -- or, as I've described in a few recent forum threads, "thoughtful discourse" -- about Y2K to federal government officials who could conceivably cause something to happen.

Five minutes. That's all I've got. This is not a game -- this is real life. If YOU had five minutes to say what was most important about Y2K presonal and community preparedness to a group of intelligent, experienced, concerned Senators, what would you say? What would you recommend? What do you want me to say on your behalf, on behalf of your families and friends, on behalf of your community, on behalf of your nation and the world you live in?

I plan to write several drafts of my oral testimony and post them on my web site for your review and comments; I'll start with an outline in the next day or so, after I've gotten initial feedback. Any comments or suggestions are welcome, and if you want to comment privately, please feel free to email me at

C'mon folks. This is the time to stop whining and complaining, and focus for a few moments on what we want our senior elected leaders to hear from us. I assume that there will be other hearings, and other speakers giving testimony, and perhaps other opportunities to let your voice be heard. But as for me, I have to assume that this is it. This is my only shot, and I want to make it the best the it can possibly be.

I need your help.

Thanks, Ed

-- Ed Yourdon (, May 08, 1999



Perhaps you could stress that it is futile to attempt to prepare in any rational sense without proper information, with disinformation, or in an information vacuum. Unless the whole thing is for show (cyncial me, sorry), in which case, it won't matter what is said.

-- Nathan (, May 08, 1999.


You might mention, as you did in one of your essays, that before Y2K FEMA had traditionally recommended two weeks of preparedness as a short-term disaster supply kit:

-- Kevin (, May 08, 1999.

Ed, I would echo the call to honest information sharing. It would be instructive if we could get just a few true answers to where certain industries stand.

I would also point out that in order to get true community preparedness, the individual members of the community need to perceive the need for preparations. Perhaps not ALL of the members but a very significant minority (perhaps approaching 75% (in this case 99% would STILL be a minority ;-} )).

Senator Benett (sic) also needs to try to either explain his apparent changes in tone and message, or needs to identify WHICH message is the one he is sending, the sound bite message or the Report message.

Preparation even at this late date is still possible if approached from a rational community-personal partnership basis. Not EVERYBODY needs to go down and get 3 tons of TP. However, everyone needs to try, over the next 6 months (I am optimistic on release date) to increase their food and essential purchases by 10 - 12%. This should not strain the supply system, but may cause a minor increase in prices.

Preparation can not happen in a vacuum. The folks in authority need to level with us, even if their educated opinions are that the Dark Ages are about to descend (we know they are not but, it doesn't matter what they know, we need to know too).

If you have ever been coldly rational, the first 4 minutes or the last 3 are where you need to do this again. However, the description of a country steeped in UNpreparedness could be part of the rest of the talk.


Chuck, a night driver in Cleveland

-- chuck, a Night Driver (, May 08, 1999.

I would cobble something together from the following - taylor it to fit into a five minute speech, obviously emphasising your own concerns. Gary North has a way with words - he is succinct and invariably on target. I'm sure most of us have read this - perhaps it will be too alarmist for the panel - perhaps they need a reality check ;)

Good luck in DC!

You have arrived at You may have come to this site because you heard Art Bell's interview with me. I'm glad you found this document.

In it, I'm going to show you how to raise your chances of getting through the y2k crisis with at least some of your capital intact. I'm going to show you, step by step, how to begin preparing. I'll provide follow-up sources for you to pursue this matter.

But, I warn you, you don't have much time. You're not just racing the y2k clock. You're racing against tens of millions of competitors who have not yet awakened to the y2k threat, but who will. When they do, it will get a lot more expensive to prepare.

You're also racing against psychological paralysis. People who are introduced to information that logically leads to specific actions have about 72 hours to begin taking action. If they don't take some initial action in this brief period, they forget about the matter. They procrastinate. Then they forget. Some of you have done this three times -- my three appearances on Art's show. Don't make this number four.

I'm asking you to do one thing for me in return. If, after reading it, you think it's worthwhile, send a link to this page by e-mail to at least three other people who you think will take action. Include a brief cover letter that explains why you're sending it. If you have received a specific benefit from reading it, tell them what it is. Forget about persuading skeptics. You're looking for people to work with in 2000. Don't try to deal with this looming crisis by yourself.


In a word, yes.

Here's why: the Millennium Bug is systemic. It is everywhere. It is built into everything. It cannot be completely eliminated. The question is: How much of the problem must we fix to save this civilization from a collapse? Nobody knows. But it is now possible for you to make your own rough estimation and decide for yourself.

I refer to a very clever on-line calculator, what I call the doomsday computer. You can try out it for yourself. It is part of an excellent article on calculating the likelihood of a breakdown of what is called modern society's iron triangle: electrical power, banking, and telecommunications. To find out more -- and to motivate yourself to take action -- click here.


I begin with a phrase that I used for 20 years but did not take literally until late 1996: "Procrastination kills." You now must make up for lost time -- over two years. I have been posting materials on this site since January, 1997. I have been writing about the Year 2000 problem since October, 1996. You're arriving very, very late.

You are almost too late. Certain crucial items have already disappeared from the markets, or are on long waiting lists. These include wood-burning cook stoves, imported diesel generators, and the more popular water filtration units. Stored food is also getting scarce.

The only reason I am willing to appear on Art's show is that I know that most listeners will do nothing. If I thought that most of them would take action, I would not appear again. Why not? Because their very actions would dry up the supplies of vital items that my newsletter subscribers have still not purchased. Too many of my subscribers are like sleepwalkers. They have heard the y2k story for over two years, yet they have barely begun to prepare. (Note: I do not use this Web site to sell my newsletter, the Remnant Review. This is a noncommercial Web site.)

I am alerting the Remnant -- those who are willing to hear. They can take effective action today only because so few have heard, and so few of those who have heard have taken action. Somehow, members of the Remnant can hear clearly in the midst of overwhelming noise, and then, even more important, take decisive action. There are never very many of them.

You must learn to think about the future on the assumption that the division of labor that supplies us with so many items will be gone -- the victim of bad computer code and closed banks.

Let me give you an example. Eyeglasses. You think you can always get them. You don't think much about them. But what if those that you own on January 1, 2000, were all that you get (or afford) for a decade or more? Would you buy a few spares?

Do you wear contact lenses? What if you lost one?

Your assignment: Get out a notebook. Mentally go through your day. What items do you use daily that must be replaced by a third party? Could you make them in a pinch? If you couldn't, do you have spares?

It will be a long list.


There are two of these lists on this site. Both are useful. They list goods that will take you several weeks of full-time effort to locate and buy, assuming you have enough money.

First list

Second list


I recommend Lia Danks's manual. It costs $19.97. She shows what kinds of items you must buy, in the order of their importance for your survival, and suggests brands, models, and mail-order companies that sell them. You can download this manual from the Web. Then print it out. Click here.


Buy a wood stove. No ifs, ands, or buts. Buy the insulated pipe it requires. You don't have to buy a $1,200 Vermont Castings model, however nice they are. You can buy a utility box stove at Harbor Freight for $160 to $300. It won't be pretty, but it will keep you alive. It will keep your water pipes from freezing. Don't be caught the way residents of Montreal and Vermont were last winter. Before the weather turns cold, buy it. Buy two; they're small. (For safety's sake, keep a window open about an inch with any stove that is not air tight.)

Buy warm winter clothing, long underwear, etc. But lots of it -- years' worth. This may be the last winter when you can buy everything you want to keep warm. This applies to work clothing and boots, too. A lot of our clothing is imported from mainland China. In a year, it may not be. In two years, it won't be. Our shipping industry is not y2k-compliant.


Begin with water. Without it, you're dead in five days. Where will you get it if local electrical power shuts off, and your local water utility shuts down? What if the local water cannot treat the water? This almost happened in Montreal in January, 1998, in the ice storm that shut down Quebec Power.

You probably don't have a water well. You don't have spare water for your toilets. So, if power and water go down, you're back to the basics. Buy a shovel.

One of the life-support basics is a cistern (or a substitute, such as a buried, but new, septic tank). You can collect water from rain run- off from your roof. You can filter it as it pours into your cistern with an old nylon stocking or cheese cloth or other thin cover. You store water in one or more large containers placed under your gutter drains. You can buy used 55-gallon metal drums ($10 each). In our area, we can buy 245-gallon plastic drums that were used to store apple juice. Legally, they can only be used commercially once. They sell for about $60. You can also buy new water tanks. Contact Water Tanks, Inc. (Canadians should also contact Gelowitz Holdings.) Buy bleach for water treatment.

If you are convinced that you will stay in a city, buy gallons of white Cool Seal for your roof. You probably won't want to paint your roof with it now, but when y2k hits, you will. It will lower the heat inside your attic in summer, thereby cooling your house. It also reduces the eroded gunk running into your cistern.


Figure 1,000 pounds of food per adult per year. Grains, beans, and rice should be about 50% of this. Vegetables should be about 50%.

Go to Sam's Club or Costco or some other discount warehouse. Buy staples: beans, rice, corn (popcorn in 50-lb. sacks is best for grinding corn meal), sugar, and canned tuna.

Store the food in 5-gallon plastic buckets, preferably the ones with screw-on lids. The best ones I have seen are sold by M&M Industries. A case of six, shipped, will cost about $40. But if you buy a palette (168 buckets), the price per bucket drops to about $5, shipped. Address: 316 Corporate Place, Chattanooga, TN 37419. 800-331-5305.

Figure about 35 pounds of grain or beans per bucket.

For wheat, go to a local co-op. For soybeans, do the same. A bread made of 40% wheat, 40% corn, and 20% soybeans will provide all of the major amino acids. It's a developed taste, however.

Wheat in the fields today is incredibly cheap: about $2.50 a bushel (60 lbs), or 4 cents a pound. That's about $1.50 per bucket. It's not that cheap at the co-op. Also, triple-cleaned wheat is much safer for your high-speed grain mill. Grit will ruin it.

For extra safety from bug invasion, put the bags into a deep freezer for three days. That will dramatically reduce the number of adult survivors. Then mix in one cup of diatomaceous earth (DE) per bucket to kill any bugs that may still be alive and post-larvae bugs. DE is harmless to people if the silica content is 1% or less. It kills bugs by dehydrating them. One place where you can order it inexpensively is Nitron Industries.

If you order stored foods, such as dried fruits or other specialty items, fine. The main thing is to get the staples now. Food is cheap today. It's available. Don't assume that it will always be available. The problem is not the supply of grain in the fields. It's the delivery system. You can't get 100 million buyers of rice and pinto beans into Sam's Club in the next 11 months or less. The supply lines will jam up. Don't be standing in line when they do.

Food storage programs are costly. You can spend $1,000 to $2,000 per adult per year. One source is Safe-Trek.

Buy nonhybrid seeds. For more information on nonhybrid gardening, visit my forum on the subject. The moderator is Geri Guidetti, who runs the Ark Institute.


Liquid soap: one-gallon dispensers.

Laundry detergent: 40-lb. bucket. $10. Sam's.

Toilet paper. Case. 60 rolls, 500 sheets, double-ply. $25. Sam's.

Disposable lighters. 50. $10. Sam's.

Sam's Club has a 50-page notebook listing all of its standard products. Ask the manager for a copy. You can make a list, order by phone, and pick up everything at one time in a pickup truck. This is the way that churches should order supplies for y2k.

(Note: if a church has 100 adult members, it should store 50 tons of food if it wants to feed them all for a year. This does not count children or local residents who will need help. Are you getting the food-storage picture? That's 2,500 5-gallon buckets of grain. No small church will do this, of course. Then all of its members had better do it, family by family. They won't, of course. In 2000, those who scoffed at y2k and refused to set aside provisions will come to those who stored food, and they will announce a moral claim to part of this food. Count on it. When a Christian says, "God will take care of me," in response to your warning about y2k, he really means "you will take care of me, so be sure to put aside my share." Remember this phrase: "They won't prepare, but they'll remember.")


If power goes down, your lifestyle will change overnight. If it goes down nationally for over 30 days, this civilization will change dramatically. Think of your city without any electricity for over 30 days. If you can't imagine this, rent the movie, "The Trigger Effect."

The power grid may collapse permanently. Nobody in authority dares say this publicly, but the experts do say this: "We aren't sure." That is very scary. If the grid goes down, it will stay down. Individual power plants need power from the others to re-boot. If they're all down, how will they re-boot? Maybe some will still be functioning, but to re-boot plants outside the local area, the grid needs transmission systems that haven't been blown out by overloads caused by y2k errors.

If the power goes off, what will you do? What is your contingency plan? Do you have one? It's time -- while you can still buy solar panels.

You need to read the report, "Off the Grid in 2000 and Beyond." It is sent out by SolarExtreme. To receive this report, click here.

Probably the best introduction to home power production is the "Power House" video and workbook. It will keep you from making an expensive mistake. But it's expensive: $149. For information, click here.


Get out of it. Now.

If you want to risk some spare money, get into a mutual fund that shorts the stock market. But remember: if the government shuts down the stock market in a panic, you probably will not get your money back, even if you guess correctly. This is true of every electronic promise to pay, including bank accounts.

Keep this rule in mind: "If it's a digital promise, it's a risky promise. It will be a dead promise in 2000."

For a list of mutual funds that short the stock market, click here.


If the banking system shut down for a month, what would happen to you? Your employer? Your retirement fund? Your pension?

If it shut down for a month, would it ever re-open? If it did re- open, would bank runs shut it down again?

So far, there is not a single y2k-compliant bank on earth. We have 7 months to go.

Then there is the nature of fractional reserve banking. If you don't understand this (or even if you think you do), click here. Print it out. Read it. Then think of what happens in late 1999 when people all over the world start thinking, "I wonder if the banks will make it in 2000."

So, you think your bank account is insured. By whom? The FDIC. By what? For a graphic image of this insurance fund -- 80% of which is invested in U.S. government debt -- click here.

In January, the FDIC and the Federal Reserve System released their proposed requirement to banks and thrift institutions that they begin monitoring patterns of individuals' deposits and withdrawals. The public has until March 8 to comment. For a summary of the grim details, click here.

Now think of three letters: ATM.


I recommend that you begin with Franklin Sanders' report, "The Ten Commandments of Gold and Silver Buying." Don't get stung.

On February 2, the U.S. Mint, the largest producer of gold and silver coins, announced gold coin rationing. In the first six months of 1998, the Mint sold 96,000 ounces of gold coins a month, mostly one- ounce eagles. In the second six months, it averaged 210,000 ounces. In January, 1999, it sold 268,000 ounces. That was the limit. The Mint began allocating coins to the wholesalers. Retail coin dealers are now having to ration coins to buyers: so many per week.

I warned my subscribers about this last August. I sent out an e-mail alert a few days after the Mint made its announcement. The tenth- ounce eagles immediately disappeared from dealers' inventories. All it took was my e-mail alert. This market is thin!

On Friday, February 19, the Royal Canadian Mint ran out of tenth- ounce maple leaf gold coins. There will be no more until early March. The premium over gold bullion's price is expected to rise on Monday.

Warning: there are only about 60 coin dealers in the U.S. who can handle as many as 35 orders a day for gold and silver bullion coins. The typical coin salesman can execute only a dozen orders a day. When the public figures out that they had better buy some bullion coins, the busy signals will keep 90% of them out of the market. Do not dawdle.


Begin with Y2KWOMEN. It's written by a former full-time family counsellor, Karen Anderson. This site deals with the Year 2000 needs and responsibilities of women. She sends out a weekly "Dear Karen" free e-mail letter, in which she answers questions.

For assessing how bad it's going to get, visit Y2KCHAOS.

For both assessment and suggestions for action, visit Y2KSUPPLY.

For dedicated, self-sacrificing, and risk-accepting Christians who have decided to stay in the city on the assumption that y2k just won't be life-threatening for urban residents, I recommend the good- hearted Joseph Project. I wish you well.

For investing, see Tony Keyes's Y2KINVESTOR.


I conclude with this old rule regarding large institutions, especially civil government: "Don't believe anything until it's officially denied."

We've got a problem. It may be the biggest problem that the modern world has ever faced. I think it is. At 12 midnight on January 1, 2000 (a Saturday morning), most of the world's mainframe computers will either shut down or begin spewing out bad data. Most of the world's desktop computers will also start spewing out bad data. Tens of millions -- possibly hundreds of millions -- of pre-programmed computer chips will begin to shut down the systems they automatically control. This will create a nightmare for every area of life, in every region of the industrialized world.

It's called the year 2000 problem. It's also called the millennium bug, y2k, and (misspelled), the millenium time bomb. Millennium or millenium: it doesn't matter how we spell it; this bomb isn't going away.

Think of what happens if the following areas go down and stay down for months or even years: banks, railroads, public utilities, telephone lines, military communications, and financial markets. What about Social Security and Medicare? If Social Security and Medicare go down, it will affect millions of people. Yet both programs are at risk.

Is this possible? It's far more than merely possible. One man who thinks that disruptions are likely is Ed Yourdon, one of America's senior mainframe computer programmers, author of two dozen books on programming. He and his daughter have written a book, TIME BOMB 2000. You can read the Preface by clicking the link I've provided under the category, "Domino Effect." See the document, Yourdon on the Domino Effect. I have also posted extracts from a key article he wrote in the summer of 1997. See the Categories "Domino Effect" and "Programmers' Views." Look for the key word, "Yourdon." You may not believe my scenario. You had better take Yourdon's scenario very seriously. In the Category "Programmers' Views," he warns programmers that it may soon be time to quit their big city jobs and head for safer places. See the posting: Yourdon: Should Programmers Quit and Leave Town in 1999? If they do, there will be no solution for y2k. Will they quit? I'm betting my life on it. The exodus of programmers will begin no later than 1999.

Months before January 1, 2000, the world's stock markets will have crashed. Who is going to leave his money in his bank if he thinks his bank's computer is not reliable? A worldwide run on the banks will create havoc in the investment markets. People who have placed their retirement hopes in stocks and mutual funds will see their dreams vanish. How reliable will stocks and mutual funds be if the banking system has closed down? How will you even get paid? How will your employer get paid? How will governments get paid?

By the way, no government tax collection agency above the county level is Year 2000-compliant today. People will know in 2000 that the government cannot trace them. Will they continue to pay, especially if the huge government welfare programs for the elderly have shut down?

But if governments don't get paid, what happens to government debt markets? How high will interest rates go in 1999 if investors think that governments will default in 2000? What will high rates do to the world's economy?

Everything is tied together by computers. If the computers go down or can no longer be trusted, everything falls apart. And it matters not a whit to the computers whether we accept this fact or not. They do what they've been programmed to do. They've been programmed to recognize 2000 as 1900. (Uncorrected PC architecture DOS and Windows- based desktop computers will revert back either to 1980 or 1984. They can be corrected briefly, but as soon as a PC is turned off, the correction dies. It will reboot to 1980 or 1984. Meanwhile, PC programs must be redesigned.)

Our first response when we hear this news is denial. Most people will stay in denial, including the business managers whose companies are totally vulnerable to a computer failure. This is why the problem will not be fixed. Everyone in authority will deny that time has run out to get this fixed, right up until December 31, 1999. They are paid to deny this. I'm saying that it's over. Right now. It cannot be fixed. Whatever it does, the Millennium Bug will bite us. How hard? There the debate begins.

Read the list of vulnerable systems that was posted by the Institution of Electrical Engineers. It's under "Noncompliant Chips": If These Systems Are at Risk, Everything Is at Risk. Anyone who says that y2k is not a big problem needs to understand just how many systems are at risk. Print out this list and hand it to the skeptic. Let him see for himself.

I don't expect you to believe me . . . yet. That is why I have created this site. On this site you will find links to other Web sites that have posted documents related to the Year 2000 Problem. Included are such things as military sites, government hearings, news releases, and much more. I also include comments with each document, so that you can understand why I think it's important.

Despite its 3,500+ entries, the goal of this site is not to bury you in information. Rather, it is to give you a sense of the magnitude of the problem. The domino effect of a computer-driven breakdown in supply delivery systems, including the means of payment (banks), will be huge. This site will help you to evaluate your own personal vulnerability.

I have many critics who believe that my scenario is too apocalyptic. You must decide for yourself. This Web site is designed to provide you with relevant evidence to help you make an informed opinion, and then a principled series of decisions.

If you have practical questions -- where to go, what to buy, etc. -- ask them on one or more of the discussion forums. That is why I have created them.

When you hear good news about some organization that is y2k- compliant, recall Ronald Reagan's statement with respect to disarmament treaties: "Trust, but verify." Get a signed letter on letterhead stationery that the organization is 100% compliant. Until you receive this form of written assurance, which the outfit's lawyers have cleared, assume the worst. Don't take seriously any promise that the outfit will be compliant RSN: Real Soon Now.

Note: If my critics want to create their own Web sites filled with "it's not going to be all that bad" evidence, they may do so. I am unaware of any such site on the Web today.

I am also unaware of any y2k programmer who says, "Even if programmers don't get this fixed, there will not be big problems." The debate is over two questions: (1) "Can the programmers get this fixed in time?" and (2) "How big will our problems be if they don't?" My answers: "no" and "catastrophic." You'll have to decide for yourself, either now or later.

U.S. goverment leaders and other experts have now confirmed the threat of the Millennium Bug. To see what they have said publicly, click here.

One last warning: the governments' strategy, all over the world, is: (1) talk this problem to death, (2) form committees, and (3) send out PR sheets that they will make it -- without evidence. But this problem cannot be talked to death or solved by committees. It cannot be avoided. There is an absolutely fixed deadline. Bureaucrats are not used to absolutely fixed deadlines. Neither are computer programmers.

-- Andy (, May 08, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon,

Perhaps you could use part of your precious 5 minutes to speak about the important role the Senators and all elected officials have in protecting the safety and well being of each person they represent. I sincerely doubt that any Senator would be able to help each individual community to prepare, organize, etc. However, their leadership and their honesty and full disclosure regarding the risks posed by possible y2k disruptions are needed in order to help local leaders understand how vital their own importance really is. Personally, I think strong community leadership will be critical especially because the federal government will suffer disruptions.

Citizens of this country should be made aware now that disruptions to services they depend on are a very real possibility. After reading the recent OMB report my concerns were only heightened in this respect. Senators need to be given a reality check and realize that if the federal government suffers disruptions then perhaps their role after these disruptions occur will be very limited if even possible. The time for them to act is now rather than later.

I suggest you scare them in a civil manner by what ever means necessary : ) Let them know that history will judge them by the role they played prior to any severe fall out when they had an opportunity to lead and not react. The voting public they represent are also the public that will suffer the most. Hit on the demographics and perhaps on how much a group like the elderly will be hurt by failure of those vital services.

The bottom line is that this group of intelligent, experienced, concerned Senators have families and friends that also rely and depend on many of the same federal services that will be impacted and the only way to work around those disruptions is to build strong community contingencies now because afterward it may not be possible.

I've had the opportunity to read your words and In the end I know you'll do a great job. I truly do appreciate having someone like you represent the interests of all of us on and all our communities on that panel.

Many thanks,

Mike ==================================

-- Michael Taylor (, May 08, 1999.

Mr Yourdon, thank you for the work that you've already done in regards to Y2K education. Since you are going to be testifying on matters of personal and community preparedness, and since the clock is still ticking, I think that you should bring up the subject of the '3 to 5 days of preparedness' that orginizations like FEMA and Red Cross are recommending. I think that you should tell the senate committee and the public that a call for a few days worth of supplies is equivelent to a recommendation to do nothing as most households already have enough food in their pantries and water in their hot water heaters to live off of for a few days. The committee and the public need to be told that if we, collectively and individually are going to prepare for possible Y2K disruptions, we must have a plan that is more comprehensive with the consequences of inaction and the risks involved with doing too much or too little laid out so that those who are less informed can make a safer decision based on some real information which they can then weigh against the 'what ifs'. Good luck at the hearing. I look forward to seeing it.

-- A.P. (, May 08, 1999.


Tell them the right hand should know what the left hand is doing. FEMA, emergency org. .....Congress, political org.  Mixed messages are going to discredit them.


"Stocking water reserves and learning how to purify contaminated water should be among your top priorities in preparing for an emergency. You should store at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family."

"Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supply for two weeks, you should prepare a supply that will last that long. A two-week supply can relieve a great deal of inconvenience and uncertainty until services are restored."

 FEMA: Financial Disaster Preparedness

 "After a disaster, you may need cash for the first few days, or even several weeks."

-- Brian (, May 08, 1999.


There will be a panic at the end of the year if the public is not given a serious warning now. I'm not saying the sky is falling, but parts of it will come crashing down. It is time to stop saying " We don't know what will happen" and start saying " It is likely x,x,x,and x will happen, we just don't know WHERE. (ex.) There is a 30% chance that parts of the eastern power grid may go down for a week or two. Or, there is a 30% chance there will be rolling blackouts in the eastern power grid for a period of 30 to 60 day's . Whatever is closest to the truth should be said in PLAIN English.

Good Luck Ed!!!!!!!!

-- FLAME AWAY (, May 08, 1999.


Tell the truth,,, just like you see it. Don't sugar coat it,,, assume they have a clue. I wonder why you are wasteing your time at this late date ,, They got it or they don't

-- CT (ct@no.yr), May 08, 1999.

Ed - I am not an expert on anything, but, as a grassroots activist, I have developed a familiarity with bureaucracy and our form of government.

It seems to me that leadership must follow form. The primary function of state, county and municipal government is protection of the health, safety and welfare of its people. This is not the natural function of the federal government. Barring martial law or declared regional disaster, there is an intentional disconnect between federal and State government that works against hierarchical command and control efforts to respond to potential local health and safety issues inherent in y2k.

An example of this is the difficulty that the GAO is having getting information on the readiness of the water supply infrastructure. That information is fractionalized, in part, because of our bottom-up form of government. Everyone looks to the federal government for answers on the readiness of the services upon which their everyday existence is dependent, but the answers lie in the domain of their town councils, county departments, state legislatures and agencies. Congress can only surface information on national or industry trends and not the specific information people need.

However, most local government is as entrenched in bureaucratic inflexibility and jealousies as the federal government. For example, typical bureaucratic response to the functional problems that might occur from y2k is to declare inflexibility on regulatory enforcement. An example of this is the EPA's statement that whatever y2k problems a company has, it will be held to current environmental standards. This does nothing to help small businesses without resources to fix their systems. Our local Agricultural Commissioner, who is in charge of weights and measures, stated that in the eventuality of a y2k problem, inaccurate gas pumps would be shut down, even if they were the sole source of gas for one of our rural communities.

We cannot look for patriarchal leadership from Congress or our local politicians. Our American form of government emanates from the local community of people. That is where momentum toward gathering the information to ascertain the compliancy status and failure risk must initiate. People need to step forward and become involved in their "self-government;" to contribute their knowledge, experience and voice to community focus of attention on this issue. They also need to actively participate in problem solving and contingency planning so that they have some sense of control over response to events.

This kind of problem solving/contingency planning MUST be on the local level. For example, I live where we have a tiny independent telephone company. I need to know their state of assessment, remediation and testing, not Southern Bell's. The company's local customers can only apply that type of pressure. We need to have Joe X stand up and tell us to our faces where they are. In such manner the telephone company is made accountable because Joe has to live with the community. We need to know about OUR local sewer treatment plants, OUR water plants, OUR garbage collectors, OUR gas stations, OUR hospitals. Only then can we make intelligent personal and community risk assessments and meaningful contingency plans.

If able, individuals must take responsibility for their own risk assessment and personal preparations. Non-profits, churches and clubs must be encouraged and supported to help those individuals who are unable to prepare. Washington DC has an "adopt an organization" plan to match voluntary expertise with small non-profits. This would be a good model to facilitate the matching of resources with need..

How do we overcome community apathy? How can this be done with so little time? I don't have the answers. Perhaps politicians, such as Senator Bennett could attempt to solicit the leadership of credible national level leaders of community institutions, (churches, clubs, unions, to help mobilize community level leaders in facilitating the community effort to educate, inquire, assess, formulate problem statements, sound possible solutions, plan and implement. This local leadership should not be drawn from the ranks of fire departments, public health departments, university extension services, religious institutions, labor unions, social clubs and the like.

Good luck, Ed!

-- marsh (, May 08, 1999.

OOOPs last sentence correction - leadership *should* be drawn. Add school boards too!

-- marsh (, May 08, 1999.


I can't think of anyone else I would rather have represent us there but you. I have faith you'll do a fine job. The fact that you are taking this so seriously is proof of that.

These people know what's going on and what the government is doing about it. They don't need more than a few words to remind them.

The simple fact is, from OUR viewpoint, that the government and business is not telling the public a solid story, and is not advising the public to make sensible preparations.

Might I humbly suggest you take a moment to read my essay entitled "Are you prepared to be wrong?" and perhaps twist this to their perspective? They know what 'they' are telling people. I wonder if they have given thought to the backlash if they are badly mistaken in that judgement? I think there will be a terrible price to pay should this situation turn very bad. I also think they (congress and govt.) will be at the wave front of blame. Should common sense not pust them to being honest, then perhaps fear will.

If you desire, that essay can be found at Follow the links to 'scribbling'.

Regards, Art welling

-- Art (, May 08, 1999.


I think my biggest fear in the next year is simply this: we have no leadership in Washington. Realize this as you speak to them. They're a bunch of cowards who can't step in to do what is right and necessary to protect our nation from others, and unfortunately, itself.

What can you give the person who appears to have everything? I mean after all, these are the guys with more information than we'll ever have at our fingertips, they have all of the country homes they could ever to escape to, they have contacts and connections and opportunities galore -

Remind them of what they don't have: the backbone to fight for our country and its people like the patriots we pay them to be.

Understand that like anyone else in this debate, their mind is pretty much made up, so you're not gonna sway anyone in there. Facts and figures are irrelevant. And Y2K is not our only concern at this time, but when you mix it in with the rest of the world's news today, it's depressingly obvious that January 1, 2000 will bring more than just a broken system here and there.

Ask them how much they truly love God and our country. Ask them when it will be that poll numbers just don't matter to them. Ask them to consider what regrets they'll have later if they allow our country to slide lower than it is today.

Or you could go for the funny and ask them "Boxers or briefs?" But since no one has any balls up there on captial hill, it's a moot question.

-- Brett (, May 08, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon,

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to provide input prior to your Senate appearance.

I agree, with others, that the Federal Government is sending mixed messages on this issue.

The obvious public relations effort to avoid panic has created feelings of distrust and frustration among intelligent people who have taken the time to research what has been written in Federal and SEC filings--information which often conflicts dramatically with whatis being stated in government and industry press conferences/press releases as well as newspaper accounts.

The most critical domestic issues regarding Y2k are about location, location, location. Will my town have electricity? Clean water? Natural gas for furnaces?

Therefore, it is important at this late juncture to not only encourage, but demand that local and state governments become heavily involved in thoroughly investigating and communicating potential local risks to citizens, along with a suggested means of preparing for those risks--well in advance--should the worst come to pass. A template of questions--developed by Y2K experts--should be used in this investigation. Once the right questions have been asked, there should be a clearinghouse available to assist local governments in interpreting the data to determine the actual risks. This can and must be done quickly.

There should be penalties for not complying with this demand, i.e., the suspension of some forms of Federal aid, for example.

Additionally, industry and government whistleblowers should be encouraged to come forward--with maximum protection--if they work within organizations that provide critical services. If such a company, in an effort to protect the value of its stock for example, is claiming its remediation efforts are nearly complete--and those involved in the Y2K remediation efforts know otherwise--there should be an easily accessible forum in which to express their concerns, without fear of retribution. (Better yet, they should be rewarded if they are telling the truth, because what they reveal could save lives.)

Finally, there exists the possibility that Russia and other countries will blame the United States for their computer failures. It has already been reported by the Russian media that it would be to the United States advantage to make other countries believe Russia might have a problem with its natural gas supplies. Here is an excerpt:

World News Connection

CIA Report on Y2K, Gas Exports Assailed

BY Article by Aleksey Baliyev: "Langley Is Inciting a 'Gas Attack'"


"The US Central Intelligence Agency has displayed "concern" for the supply of the near abroad with Russian gas. The purpose is to force the republics of the former Union to reduce imports of gas from Russia and also Russian gas transit to European countries.

Lawrence Gershwin, special CIA spokesman at the congressional Problem 2000 hearings held at the start of March, emphasized that "all the East European countries will encounter a serious shortage of energy resources if there is a halt (?!--ed. note) to the supply of gas by Russian gas conduits owing to a malfunction in its control system because of the year 2000 computer problem.... In this case the available gas reserves of countries of the region will be sufficient for roughly 30 days...."

The CIA information is at variance with that of East European sources: available reserves in the region are sufficient for the dependable supply of gas for six months, at a minimum. But what is most important, perhaps, is that it is today, when on the one hand the debt of the CIS countries for Russian gas has, as a whole, reached almost $2 billion, and on the other, Russia is frequently agreeing to the repayment of the "gas" debts with supplies of various commodities and a reduction in the gas-transit rates, that Americans are predicting the unreliability of the world's biggest gas-conduit system."


If it is, in fact, a question of an insufficiently reliable computer system in the gas industry of the Russian Federation, it is not least Washington that has had a hand in this. So Langley's "forecasts" are by no means fortuitous....(as in unintentional)

Accordingly, U.S. diplomatic efforts designed to mitigate the potential for accidental launches of long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles--by all countries (not just Russia)who possess these weapons of mass destruction--must accelerate.

Just my two cents and ten minutes worth. Thanks for the opportunity.


-- FM (, May 08, 1999.


You have a near impossible task. My only advice is to focus on only one issue: the fall in oil imports. Sen Dodd is aware of this issue. Then walk them thru the domino effect that just this one shortfall will cause. Beg them to implore the utilities to stockpile coal. TVA only plans to have a 30 day coal stockpile. This is idiocy! Ask the Senators how they plan to ration the available gasoline and diesel, then point out how the trucking industry and farmers will be affected, and how this could lead to food shortages.

I believe by focusing on the oil issue, which they MAY be able to comprehend, rather than on COBOL code (which they are totally clueless about( that you may get thru.

Good luck.

-- Tennessean (, May 08, 1999.

It's time for the truth. I want a well-publicized,blunt national assessment of Y2K. We are owed no less. No more waffling-no more indecision-no more CYA tactics. Taking the "moral high ground" and/or lying through your teeth about impending disaster in order to "avoid panic" is not acceptable. I have a friend who is hooked up to a dialysis machine every few days. I have read that his machine (indeed,all dialysis machines) will fail come the day. His machine can be run by hand crank in an emergency-but for how long? He's also a diabetic. His insulin (assuming he can get it) is probably going to be o.k. in January, even without power, but what about later? Without resupply, he's dead in about 5 days. How many people will be able to deal with no lights or power; no water and no working toilets-in January? Let's not even talk about food disruptions. The veneer of civilization is very thin in the best of times. Without a real concerted effort by the Feds, I, for one, will remember the actions or inactions of my duly elected representatives. If I refuse to heed a warning, it's on my head. If I never receive that warning or it's deliberately downplayed...

-- greg lawrence (, May 08, 1999.


I'll add my compliments to you for the work you've done in the past, and I know you'll be an outstanding representative for those of us who are concerned about the issue.

To reiterate:

1. We need honest assessments, and we need the federal government to speak with one voice. We hear Koskinen, and we hear Bennett, and we hear Dodd. They don't all say the same thing, and they aren't consistent. We think we have read between the lines, but this is so vital that we don't need to be misled. Honesty, openess, and consistency. Unfortunately, some of the pronouncements are such that they can be presented in the media either as glowing indications that no one will have a problem, or the source can point to the "I told you so" sentence. Example: "We don't expect to lose the entire North American power grid." Fine, but what percentage of power generation capability can we expect to lose? How long might these outages be? Bottom line, "How will that impact me, where I am?"

2. Priorities, priorities, priorities. None of us can prepare for every eventuality. What is most likely to damage us? Water, certainly -- and yet stockpiling water is something that nearly all of us can do. It certainly would help to have a firmly stated and held position on the amount of individual storage we should look to provide. Again, I've stated here that I regard community preparedness and something that ripples out from prepared individuals, much as ripples expand from a stone that's thrown into a lake. If I know that a federal guideline is for a month food supply, then I can note that if two neighbors aren't preparing I might want to increase my own supply. More importantly, if a federal guidline is for a month food supply and they aren't preparing, I can use that guideline to try to influence them.

3. Honesty (that word again) and openess with respect to the discussion of contingency plans and the use of federal troops (NG, etc.) to maintain order and to help with distribution of food, water, medical supplies, etc. This goes into announced contingency planning, including a listing of who will be responsible for what. It's no good to make general statements, such as, "FEMA has overall responsibility." The Senate committee should be advised to publish complete contingency plans -- a scorecard, listing players and responsibilities.

4. I believe that the impact of all problems need to be spelled out for the American people. Forum members can connect the dots between foreign oil production losses and price at the pump. A lot of people out there don't pay attention.

Good luck. We know you'll represent us well.

-- De (, May 08, 1999.


As you know, a point of confusion, that is contributing to uncertainty, is the embedded chip (system) problem. The US power indudtry says everything is OK and it is not a big deal, because they are doing "type" rather than individual testing. But other industries such as the chemical industry and water providers say they can'nt rely on type testing. So who has the real story?

I would ask them to fund a pilot program that puts the question of type testing versus individual testing to bed once and for all.

-- Bill Watt (, May 08, 1999.

I'd like to thank you for this forum, first of all. It may be time to address thier fear of panic. In the past, it has been my greatest fear as well, human nature isn't something I'd want to place a bet on. It may be time to take that chance, though. Without ANY reliable warning, fear will be second to anger on the public's part, towards our Government. People may be sleeping, but most of them aren't THAT stupid. They'll wonder why the President knew and said nothing. Why all the happy reports, when in fact they knew the real truth all along. Maybe it's just me, but, if I had a choice of being terrified or really pissed off, I'd take anger any day! I'd start blaming and pointing fingers (lynch mob mentality). Next...ask them to take a good hard look at Oklahoma City (bombing AND tornado). Look at Haysville, KS and Wichita. People aren't rioting in the streets (they reserve that for sporting events in Denver.....when they're happy?) When faced with the actual event, people tend to come together, they choose to face things head on and join hands. We are Americans after all most especially when the chips are down! When faced with, "use it, or loose it" I believe most will fight for what we have as a country. And for those who won't, they won't last long in the environment of a National Crisis. The patriots simply won't tolerate them. Our leaders don't appear to have much faith in us. I can't say I blame them, though. This country actually elected Klinton twice, go figure. We all know that the bottom line for lying to us has been to protect everyone's 401K plans. They are between a rock and a hard place, no doubt. But, without honest and truthful communication about the potential for this problem, they will be faced with civil unrest, pointing right in thier direction, FAR greater than anything this country has ever seen before! We'll deal with all of the problems, together, face on. The Mayor had better hope they don't grab a rope and start looking for a tree, however.

-- Will continue (, May 08, 1999.


Best of luck...I eagerly await the report that will result.

My biggest frustration with Bennett's committee (and others as well), is the utter lack of disclosure of how they think different localities will be impacted. Surveys are sent out to power companies, water companies, etc. and conclusions are made such as "30 million people may be at risk of suffering dispruptions" in a certain area, but they won't tell us WHICH COMMUNITIES!!! Organizations are compiling data on unsafe airports, but they won't tell us WHICH ONES!! Smaller power plants may be at risk of failure, but they won't tell us WHICH ONES!!

You get the picture. If they don't tell us WHICH ONES, we can only assume they may be the ones we depend on. Now maybe my commuity is just fine in regards to the water supply, but unless I have hard data to convince me of this, I'm stocking water. Maybe my community is "Y2K OK" on power, but unless I truly believe this, I'm stocking everything I need to do withour it. And on it goes.

Unless the government will provide detailed results of their findings by naming names and giving detailed regional information, people will not be able to formulate a preparedness plan to suit their individual circumstances. They've got to come clean and get over the panic factor. I want solid information about their findings in MY COMMUNITY. They have the information. Give it to us. We have paid for their services and they are not delivering.

It also never hurts to remind an elected official that should they recommed 3 days of prep and it turns out one month is required, they most likely will be out of a job come next election year. Voters are funny that way.

Thanks and best of luck! Couldn't think of a better man for the job.


-- Roland (, May 08, 1999.

1. Information 2. Quit trying to protect the public with spin. 3. A pamphlet re preparation to each household 4. Some indictors that the gov't has some plans for emergecy distribution of food, water, shelters, etc in the cities. 5. Differentiate between city and rural preparedness in info packet. 6. Mostly quit acting like this is going to just go away. The people are believing the spin of the gov't. If they will change that spin to something productive and lay out a plan for those who haven't a clue, then people could make some preparations without panic. Every time the gov't tells me that all is well, my knee jerk response is to go buy more beans. 7. Have some stuff on TV showing gov't preparedness, like silos of wheat and beans, etc. Prepare the people in the right manner and there will be no panic. And if there is panic, lets have it now where we can get a handle on it before 2000.


-- Taz (Tassie, May 08, 1999.

Dear Ed,

I trust you will do well.

5 minutes is very little time.

What that means is you can probably get 2-3 major sound bytes in and after that your time is up. So, what's most important is hitting those issues that they can actually DO something about.

My own suggestions only, as a sounding board:

1. To get them where they'll buy it, right off, tell them something they know and pride themselves on as senators: That leadership is critical even during good times, but especially during bad, and that the country calls on them to set a standard of concerned strength.

2. Tell them the emphasis in the media and by the government on optimism has done so well in preventing the public from panicking that instead, the public AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT see no reason to bother with contingency plans at all. This is frightening, and you hope they will take their leadership roles responsibly and begin very actively encouraging individuals, churches, and local governments to prepare "just in case."

I suggest you use the recent tornado in OK as another example of how difficult it is for FEMA and RED CROSS to help everyone simultaneously, and that's just the localized issues: helping an entire country will not be practical. We as a nation are more dependent on our leaders right now than we have ever been, and hope that they are up to the challenge of supporting those people who support them.

That ties it all into them PERSONALLY, that ties it into with the one little thing they really can do -- leadership; and that nails down the most critical issue facing the country: 285 million unprepared people.

Just my input. Good luck Ed.

PJ in TX

-- PJ Gaenir (, May 08, 1999.


Two points I think are critical:

Those at the margin will suffer the most. Michael Taylor alluded to this in his comment above, mentioning the elderly. The sick, the poor, the very young are most at risk. The level of care for it's neediest is one measure of a society. What grade might Rep. Stephen Horn give us for our efforts so far?

People need contingency plans too. Just as corporations are making contingency plans for worst case scenarios, our communities, non- profits, and neighborhood businesses should be asking 'what if?' — What if the electricity is out for some time? What if our stores can't restock their shelves as quickly as they have before?... — Community preparedness can only happen when we consider these concerns forthrightly and deeply. The Senate might open the way for both reflection and action.

Best regards, Ron

-- Ron Rodgers (, May 08, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon,

Use the metro, unless you plan a cab from the airport. Parking is very difficult in downtown D.C. You'll check in, and probably have to wait. Hearings are notoriously slow. I'd suggest a laptop so you can work and take notes, if you wish. There's a cafeteria in the basement with decent coffee.

It's tempting to read a statement, but don't. The electeds like it if you look at them and talk. I wager at least one will ask a question you want to take a week to answer. You'll do better with a paragraph. One will ask, "So, Mr. Yourdon, how bad do you think it will be." Have a paragraph ready. Pick two or three points for your presentation... but no more. The staffers do the heavy lifting. They'll take your written statement, translate it and feed it by spoonful to the electeds.

You're there so they can get a feel for you. When the staffer says, "Yourdon predicts...," they'll go back to what they know of you from your briefing. Spend the first 20 to 30 seconds on your background, but no more. You have to establish yourself, or you won't get everyone's attention. Sometimes, one of the electeds will take your bio and introduce you to the committee... if that happens you a) have a friend b) have more time.

Along with three points, have three recommendations. Ones that could make it into a quick bill.

I have a weekend to do, but if you need more, just ask. If you want content... I'll give you my three actions the U.S. government should take. But after I have planted flowers.


-- Mr. Decker (, May 08, 1999.


Obviously both Bennett and Dodd know a great deal about this matter, the probabilities of failures in critical areas, and what they intend to do about it in the initial stages. They are sitting in DeeCee, right in the middle of perhaps the least prepared large city in the US. What do they plan to do if there are massive disruptions of the basic infrastructure within DeeCee itself? If they are considering the use of troops under a martila law scenario, who will oversee the basic gameplan for martial law? Will Congress? Or is Congress going to be stuck with the President's executive orders regarding the declaration of a national emergency? For how long will Congress be stuck with these executive orders? Can they do anything now to assure themselves, and we the people, that we won't just be along for the ride in controlling the behavior of those in charge of martial law? In other words, what are the contingency plans for Congress itself if the President decides to declare a national emergency and thrust himself into the position of control and law maker? Best wishes.

-- Gordon (, May 08, 1999.

Hi Ed. Thank you for asking for our two cents and God Bless. Consider the reason why they are having this hearing in the first place - seek first to understand. They are between a rock and a hard place in that they want and need to warn people to prepare but don't want to precipitate a panic. This is the crucial question which does not have an answer, but for which an answer is desperately needed.

Consider addressing this specifically since it is my assumption this is uppermost in their minds. Some points to make might include the fact that most people are followers. It is hard to be a follower when there is no leadership. Tell them that our leaders need to declare war on Y2K. It is the only metaphor that will be understood readily. They know that war is politics by "other means". With Y2K, "other means" are needed.

-- Rob Michaels (, May 08, 1999.

Dear Mr. Yourdon, Thank you for one of the most interesting forums on the web. Here is my situation as best as I can describe it. I am a surgeon for thirty years on staff of a mega-hospital in the SE. We have 5700 employees and a real tough administration board of directors. Release of this computer problem information could cost immediate loss of staff privileges along with incredible legal involvements. Please do not tell anyone about this but just keep it in your mind as you prepare. My hospital has computerized itself over the last thirty years by adding on and tacking on and blending various systems. Five full time programers have kept this spider web functioning well for years. In January of 1997, they told the administration that they needed help to fix the 2000 problem. It was beyound their ability to do it. A team of experts was called in from an Ohio company to fix all the systems. It cost 2.6 million including all the rental cars, airplane tickets, temp housing ect. In November of 1997, they issued a report that the hospital systems were so jumbled up that they could not be repaired adequately and must all be replaced with new hardware and software at a cost of 28 million. The board of directors was then in the process of spending 70 million buying up local family MD practices to protect themselves from managed care companies. They voted not to spend the 28 million for new computers. So they called in a silicon valley company which specializes in remediation. Again, another 1.8 million was spent on rental cars, temp housing, airplane tickets for specialist programers to fly in and out to fix the systems. On Dec 15, 1998, they carefully began their first test of the newly installed software. Listen, within 30 seconds, the entire phone system of the hospital failed, the giant heating boilers shut down, the fire alarms went off, thousand of patient records vanished in complete chaos. It took 9 hours of frantic work to put the old system back in place. It was a miracle that no one died. A cover story was invented and a lid of secrecy was clamped down. The legal consequences of this could cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The silicon valley group issued their report on Jan 12, 1999. The system can not be adequately repaired and literally needs to be totally replaced at a cost of 28 million. It will take two years to do this. The board was in total shock for weeks. They went from to denial to blame and then to fear for the legal consequences. There will be casualities.

-- dr don (, May 08, 1999.


Maybe you could suggest that the Committee urges the president to address the nation about Y2K, with a focus on individuals taking small steps to protect themselves.

Even if all Clinton does is use his Saturday morning radio address to say that individuals should have three days of food, extra flashlight batteries, a half a tank of gas and a hundred bucks in cash, it will be more than he's said up to this point. And it will send a signal. The press will pick up on it, no matter how small, and it will seep in.

I think if YOU say in front of the Senate Committee that THEY should urge the president to say SOMETHING, it will matter. And, that statement will only take up fifteen seconds of your five minutes.

Good luck, and we're rooting for you!

-- pshannon (, May 08, 1999.


I recently received a note from Alliant Power Company here in Wisconsin. They said they didn't expect any long term power failures but the ones that occurred would be like power failures from a storm. They didn't mention what kind of storm. I think the Oklahoma analogy is good, because if it's a storm like that, we are in deep trouble!

Thanks and good luck, GEEgee

-- GEEgee (, May 08, 1999.

I think the most important thing people need to understand is that it's up to the indivdual or group to make preparations. The government will not be able to handle the load.

-- a (a@a.a), May 08, 1999.


One last chance??? Well, to tell the truth, I think that style at this point will have more impact than specific factual information or recommendations. Here are a few thoughts on delivery style. They aren't recommendations per se.

If you come across as 'concerned citizen' respectfully submitting your piece then you can be ignored and/or used.

If you come across as 'angery citizen' with disrespect then you will be ignored and not invited back (moot point).

I'm thinking Winston Churchil type of pre-war 'call it like it is' with all due respect, but you are on notice and people will remember that you sold them out.

Right now these folks, the politican folks, have no one of credible stature who has called them on the carpet for squandering our opportunities to prepare these past three years. They are asking for comment on preparation but they are short circuiting every public communication with ambiguity, contradiction and obfuscation. Now we are in a situation where if a significant number of people start to prepare then this will ASSURE a catastrophy before we ever experience real levels of Y2K systems failures.

So the testimony you are being asked to present is, it seems to me, going to be buried and used to obfuscate still more. Your participation will be used to confuse the issues by those who have dawdled their way through this till now and have really no intention of providing a national 'awareness' for preparations.

So how do you want to play this thing from your end? Do you want to be part of the 'show'? Its a personal thing I think. As ordinary citizens we think in sincere terms and are innocent of political sham. We go before the council, committee, hearing, board, etc with sincerity and good intentions and deliver what we have put tremendous effort in crafting. The it is then cooped and used by these people to their own political ends. Its their game and court. You have been invited to 'play'.

The one advantage you have is that it is public and will be recorded for posterity. It is a point at which one can say 'Look, you have not helped us prepare as a nation. Why not? You are responsible for this current state of affairs because why?' They will be accountable from that point forward to address that issue. Will they do it? Probably not. But at least you did not become part of the machine of deception.

That's all I've got. God's grace and peace go with you.

-- David (Connecting.Dots@Information.Net), May 08, 1999.

It's too late for them to do anything meaningful about this year, given the way the institution works. Any initiatives are going to come from the executive branch (for good or evil).

The question about next year is, "are they going to focus on spin and blame at that time (likely in a presidential season) or begin now to plan for the post Y2K situation?"

Institutionally, the issue is going to be whether or not to kill legal redress or cripple it and/or how to regulate that (1) and whether or not and/or how to regulate IT so this never happens again (2).

I would suggest you focus on 2. and proactively suggest ways that the industry can be nudged/pushed towards serious metrics standards and performance stipulations/penalties that are not so heavy-handedly tied to regulation that we end up with a cure that is worse than the disease (though that would take a lot).

Since Congress is mainly technology-phobic, success would probably result in a committee of some kind that went nowhere (the best solution?), but it might position you, legitimately, to be a major voice in this national conversation next year and beyond.

My point is, I'd bet my farm that, in the cloakrooms, it's next year they're brainstorming .....

-- BigDog (, May 08, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon,

I'm concerned about Dr. Don's (dr don ( above. While the information he has presented--if correct--is exactly the type of information that should be revealed, he is using a real email address in a public forum, while asking for confidentiality. Perhaps you could ask your Webmaster to substitute a different email address for his post, while leaving his message intact?


-- FM (, May 08, 1999.

. . .and, as a p.s., delete my last message as well.


-- FM (, May 08, 1999.


Here is what I would do. I would assume I was talking to someone very close to me who I cared about deeply and who was aware of y2k but had not made up their mind with regard to preparing.

I'd tell it straight out and let the chips fall where they may. Take your lumps if your wrong.


-- Ray (, May 08, 1999.

Ed, I would tell them that if they were ONLY going to give me five minutes to talk about something THIS important that they can stick it in their ear and they are wasting my time.

-- Paul Milne (, May 08, 1999.

Ed, thousands of us will be with you, behind you.

(1) Don't be soft. Give them hell, IT'S THE ONLY WAY.

(2) Sound bites. The reason sound bites are needed is because that's all people can remember nowadays, US Senators and Reps. included. So, leaving content aside for a minute, please bear in mind that every concept, every idea, has got to be word crafted (translated) into a "rememberable" sound bite. Like don't over-explain the reasons why we need to work, act, forewarn, etc., on Y2K. Just say "We need to declare war on Y2K". There are many other examples, of course, but once that you have prepared your "message-ideas", have someone help you in "reducing" (communicationally and length-wise) your points into sound bites.

(3) Better yet, let all of us help you in doing that Ed! First you listen to everyone. Second, you prepare YOUR messages, content-wise. Third, submit these ideas to us through your Y2K forum and open up and internal "2-day tournament" for sound-bite proposals from all of us. We'll do a helluva good job. Trust us. Normal, common people are best at this. We also love you and Jennifer, that helps!

Ed, I happen to be the most widely published Y2K columnist in the Spanish language (350 million people). I've been a columnist for the past 20 years. I've also published columns in The Wall Street Journal (New York), in English, of course! I can help.

Best regards Jorge (George) Vilches Buenos Aires ARGENTINA

-- Jorge (George) Vilches (, May 08, 1999.

The Federal gvt. should direct the state gvt. to proceed as follows or lose federal funding for highways, etc. 1. Ensure each of the major 120 cities have a guaranteed water supply and waste water for the residents. Provide generators and extra (trained) manpower as required to ensure manual, independent operation. 2.Ensure each of the major 120 cities have a guaranteed local radio station and a major wireless communications with police, firemen, and other emergency units. 3. Ensure each of the major 120 cities have some type of guaranteed fuel supply for residential htg. and emergency vehicles. 4. Ensure fuel for truck transport of food from national food warehouses to local retail outlets. 5. In case the above cannot be fully implemented, ensure that each of the 120 major cities has a very large supply of body bags and means for immediate burial.

-- earl j jones (, May 08, 1999.

Dear Ed, Came late to your question over here in the UK.As you have only 5 minutes,organisation of time is crucial.My gut feeling is to ;

1.Try to get someone to introduce save time.Failing that be ready to summarize your involvement & credentials.

What is the most important thing about personal or community preparation ? Answer:It gets STARTED!! asap

I feel you only have time to make two recommendations;

1.Make a case for Clinton to prepare citizens for possibly the greatest threat to "the American way of life" ever faced.using the war analogy & a Churchillian - type speech. America will not be brought to her knees etc.

2.Recommend the start of a weekly self preparation TV program akin to those broadcast in UK during World War 11.(Ministry of Food,I believe.)Government then can be seen as patriarchal & caring. This will be good for re-election.

By the way,I think that any appeals for accurate information will be not be able to be met any way.Companies & utilities will continue to lie & fudge upto the end in fear of the stock holders.. So why waste time asking for the moon?

Look forward to the drafts & thank you for giving us all the opportunity for putting in our two pennies worth.

-- Chris (, May 08, 1999.

You know Ed, after reading through this whole thread the one suggestion that REALLY stuck with me..... was the idea that we need a safe forum for Y2K workers to speak. All disclosure statements would fail in the face of public safety and health. Why is this different? Economic blow ups are just as deadly as chemical explosions.

That is one thing that would help every single person involved in Y2K no matter what their function. A forum where knowlegable people can honestly report what they know without fear of retribution. PUBLICLY... enforce that.... PUBLICLY ..speak out. People damn well have a right to know when they are threatened and Y2K is a BIG threat. No individual company or agency has a right to total secrecy when their entire industry or government sector is threatened.

We as Americans CAN deal with this, at least I hope we can. One thing is absolutly sure.... if we are kept in the dark voters will pay with their lives. Tell them THAT.

-- Art Welling (, May 08, 1999.


Thank you for all that you've already done to raise awareness on this issue.

I do wonder at this late date what possible good can come from any further Senate Committee testimony. I find myself more or less in agreement with marsh's comments above that local-level actions are the most important at this point in time. Still, I greatly respect your willingness to appear before the committee and encourage you to make the most of it.

Due mostly to their own unwillingness to lead and take real action, the federal goverment has now made itself all but irrelevant on these issue. The federal responses will now clearly be reactive rather than proactive.

One problem you face is that most people who do not work with software (and even a few who do) have no concept of the true complexity of the work involved. More significant, even most of those who do work in the field have no real appreciation for the fact that software systems development, as a science, is still in it extreme embyonic stage. I often tell my co-workers "Wait until we've been designing and implementing software as long as we've been designing and building bridges."

Speaking of Y2K and bridges, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Disaster in 1940 provides us with a context for understanding engineering-induced disasters in terms which can be very apparent to those without specialized knowledge of software. PNG's piece on the Challenger disaster (sorry, no handy link) also offers much insight.

As you are well aware, there comes a time in most parents life when they realize that they must stop shielding their childern from the consequences of their own actions. You can say "Hot! Don't touch!" a thousand times but until the child suffers the consequences of touching what is hot, there is not true understanding.

If the focus of your presentation is preparedness, then the real essentials water, food, heat, shelter and medical care. Given those things, we can endure a great many inconveniences. I would focus on the essentials and avoid issues of inconvenience. As always, I wish you the best.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, May 08, 1999.

" You can fool some of the people all of the time, all the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time."


"Now is the time for all ---intentionally left blank--- to come to the aid of their country!"

The vast majority of us out here are not fools, just scared.

God Bless America!!

Respectfully-- mikeymac

-- spun@lright (, May 08, 1999.

one small suggestion, if I might: in the end, all y2k problems are local problems. The problems will occur locally, the damage and casualties will occur locally, and the immediate needs will all be felt locally. Since we know that there is no way to ramp up governmental assets to deal with this, perhaps the best thing to do would be to simply have the feds start a 'push' supply system - similar to the beginnings of the civil defense system back in the late 50's and early 60's...simply start stocking potential shelter spaces with minimal (though functional) and unattractive (low theft value) supplies. Will some of them be misused? certainly. will there be wastage, also most certainly. BUT! every such stockpile that is a provided, increases the chances that the needed supplies will be there when the emergency arises...and *that* could make all the difference in the world.

the story of the boy walking down the beach tossing the starfish back into the ocean, you know?


-- Arlin H. Adams (, May 08, 1999.


I'd like throw in my two cents, but I will wait to read your drafts. I have worked on testimony in the past as well as presentations to staffers. Could you email me the names of the others that may also be giving testimony on that day? It might be helpful to have some idea of what they might say. I can also provide powerpoint support if you are going to include a powerpoint presentation that needs cleaning up. Our powerpoint presentation clients include Andersen Consulting and American Management Systems. These service would be provided for free.

Everyone else:

It might be helpful to Ed if someone were to go through all the above (and below) suggestions and concisely summarize all the key points. This way there is more chance for all the ideas to be well considered.

Sincerely, Stan Faryna

-- Stan Faryna (, May 08, 1999.


I don't know who your other panelists are, but if you do, then be sure you are not likely to cover the same facts or arguments. Keep to your area of expertise and inside knowledge while tying it into and complementing if possible the arguments and proposals likely to be suggested by other panelists or that have already been made by respected officials. Bennett and Dodd will probably know and respect you. They may have invited you along with others specifically to give credence to their efforts to get this issue the serious attention it deserves at the leadership levels of the White House and various agencies, as well as in local governments. If you think this might be the case then give them the ammo their looking for, based on your experience, contacts, knowledge of the issue as well as your insight into the concerns of the serious y2k monitors on your forum here. Strenghten the case they want to make with their peers. I agree that some point needs to be made about the inadequate information available needed by local y2k coordinators and citizens generally, and also about the confused messages sent by various federal spokespeople. Failure to support citizen efforts to prepare for possible local y2k induced catastrophes will lead to increased distrust of government leadership and competence. Perhaps also, plan to take advantage of pre- and post-hearing conversations to make specific points with whoever wants to talk with you. Maybe this will also give you opportunities to get a take on the level of concern among various individuals and agencies. Best of luck! This might be important!

-- bdb (, May 08, 1999.

Good luck ED!

Speak well ... with the strong voice of truth ... ringing loudly!!

The whole nation, including our local officials, state and national representatives, and worst the newsmedia, appear polarized by Y2K extremes -- on one end bump on the other doom. Very few are camped out at mid-point, commonly known as the middle ground.

There was a wonderful essay on the topic by Arnie.

See Yourdon forum thread ...

Y2K And The Erosion Of The Middle Ground 000cvv

We all need to find the common ground on this issue.

The newsmedia has a responsibility to report locally with a magnifying glass. Rather than regurgitate the AP and Reuters storylines. This is one of the few, perhaps ONLY ways, people will take the topic seriously. The clock is ticking.

As of now, John Koskinen and crew has done a fine job in quelling panic.

Problem is, virtually the whole country has side-stepped into complacency. That is a far greater danger to the common good, than perceived panic.

Prepared people, do not panic. And they are far more likely to become community helpers, in a time of crisis and need.

As long as valid information is lacking locally, nationally and especially internationally, its hard to determine WHAT to prepare for. Certainly a mere 3 days, is baby prep. Think of the children and the elders!

At a minimum ... 2 weeks ... should be nationally recommended.

We recognize that our leaders assume that a large-scale change in buying patterns cannot be supported by the supply chains. That may not be a realistic assessment.

For starters, many people will ignore the preparation recommendations anyway. Procrastination has almost become a daily mantra, for most. 3 days is hardly worth ones attention ... 2 weeks, however, lends a serious tone to the matter. Even then, some, not all, will get the message. Many are called ... few may respond.

And we do need a united message. A serious one. Coming from all officials and widely published in the newsmedia.

The other appeal, that needs to occur, is the encouragement from Congress, for the people ... individuals ... to take local RESPONSIBILITY and focus targeted involvement in their communities preparation activities. Its important that all groups take part in securing the emergency response, the alternate food supplies, the water, and the health care. We need to create a nation-wide enthusiastic response for the readiness challenge ... from senior centers ... to elementary schools ... garden clubs ... neighborhood watches ... church groups ... town halls ... police, fire, and first responders ... to shopkeepers ... and even street sweepers.

Y2Ks global impact, will always be local, in the final analysis.

For each citizen, OUR own little corner of the world is where we can do something ... positive. Taking personal responsibility, only increases a communitys ability to respond ... to natural disasters ... and beyond ... 2000.

Continuing to support and foster the belief that our government or they will take care of any problems ... from the outside ... is a strategy destined to fail.

Does the Congress want to be responsible for setting up communities to fail ... or succeed ... when faced with potential adversity?

Would they, our elected representatives, be willing to pay the personal political price, for being wrong? For downplaying concerns ... which then lead to an expanded disaster? Or are they willing to bet their careers that ready people can be ... ready, willing and able for anything. And lest they forget, people WILL remember ... they KNOW who cares enough to think of the people ... not the just the hardware.

Since Y2K repercussions are such an unknown risk, uncertain at best, unexpected at worst ... the time to act is now.

It took 5 months for the military to prepare for the 1991 gulf war. It should take even more time, for this country to do so.

It cant hurt ... and it surely can only help.

Is Congress prepared ... to take on this responsibility? Of encouraging action? Rather than inaction?

We ask them to lead. Its what works.


-- Diane J. Squire (, May 08, 1999.

First, EVERYONE who can possibly get an amateur radio license and Y2K-ready station needs to do so as soon as possible. My amateur radio pages include complete information on how to get started. Second, to prevent bank runs, the banks should start selling gold coins to those who are worried about the banking system. If the banking system fails, you don't want paper money: you want gold. Whether or not the banking system survives the rollover, this may prevent runs beforehand, as buying gold coins from the banks doesn't reduce their cash reserves.

-- Steve Heller (, May 08, 1999.

You could be honest and tell them that the need for long term preparedness (months, years) is looking like it will not be a necessity in most places. Let them know that preparedness for 3 to 10 days IS necessary, if not just for Y2K but for any possible emergency. This should, in the future, be considered mandentory for Schools and Public buildings. Also private citizens should be encouraged to have "emergency" kits on an ongoing bases.

There will be plenty of people testifying for the need of Government and businesses to have much needed contingency plans for Y2K, you could be the one to light a fire under them for the need for such plans to be the norm, Y2K notwithstanding.

-- Cherri (, May 08, 1999.


Aloha Ed,

Below is a concise 5 minutes statement pleading for the American people and the world.

First, a warm thank you for your inspiring April lecture in Kona that spurred many to action. Your thoughts during our dinner conversation caused me to create a fast program for the island by launching youth teams under UEF to help families start victory gardens for free. When possible we will also donate seeds so inertia is overcome.

This fast track idea is showing signs of instant success in more ways than one. For our climate it is a great short cut to self-reliance. Details and updates will are at: http:// (click on Hawaii Self-Sustainability Gardens).

Godspeed, Ed, and heart greetings,

Aldo Vidali




To paraphrase one of the greatest statesmen of this century, Sir Winston Churchill, I open my recommendation to you with his words which apply to Y2K as they did in warning the House of Commons about the immediate need of preparing for the imminent threat of war:

"Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have now entered upon a period of danger. The era of procrastination, of half measures, of delays, is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences...We cannot avoid this period, we are in it now...Unless...[we] resolve to find out the truth for [ourselves, we] will have committed an act of abdication of duty without parallel."

I can tell you from my direct experience that we, the American people, have long proven that we can handle emergencies. What we cannot accept is a patronizing veiling of the facts allegedly used to protect us against ourselves. Loss of trust in government will become absolute once the people discover truth has been veiled. Intelligent preparation at any level, community or personal, is only possible if the undiluted facts are available. Anything less deceives the public into a dangerous and potentially explosive situation. To hide facts is to cause last minute panic. A people busy preparing has no time to panic. Bank runs can be prevented by regulatory intervention. The time has come to give priority to the safety and health of people above the concern for stocks and money.

Kosovars are not running to the banks, they run for their lives. Right now many Americans feel they are being lullabied to sleep with fairy tales about 3 day snowstorms, reduced lists of critical systems, planes not falling from the sky, and other happy-face stories. The government of the people appears evermore as a government of private interests.

Winston Churchills warning is as clear as ever The era of procrastination, of half measures, of delays, is coming to its close...we have now entered upon a period of danger.

On behalf of American families I ask you to assume dynamic leadership with the same courage and statesmanship that Winston Churchill provided to his nation. Your constituents will support you now and history will remember you tomorrow with honor.

-- Aldo Vidali (, May 08, 1999.

Way to go Aldo! Shaka Braddah! (according to Cory, Ed would also enjoy a Malasada with that input!)

-- Will continue (, May 08, 1999.

Ed- I would ask them, as Art has asked in his essay- what if you're wrong? If you tell the public it's no big deal, just a bump in the road, prepare for a three day blizzard, yadda, yadda.... and it's much much more than that? Then what if you're wrong? Would you rather err on the side of caution and be prepared for a real problem or prepare for a bump and encounter a mountain? Reproduce the risk matrix that's floating around out there re: y2k prep.

-- anita (, May 08, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon,

Congratulations, I can think of no one else more qualified to speak to the Senators on individual and comunity preparedness. If I were to testify to Congress, I would:

Build on Senator's Bennett's comparison of Y2K to the Tower of Babel by:

a. Agreeing with him that this is a strong possibility. b. By suggesting steps that could soften or mitigate the Y2K impact like:

1. Having churches and schools stocked with a generator and 2 weeks food for a feasible number of people.

2. Recommending that Mr. Clinton say:

aa: Y2K is real. bb: Preparation is essential. cc: No one knows for sure how it will be but here are some likely impacts and the steps that experts suggest.

3. Identify a recovery plan.

Best of luck!

-- Bill P (, May 08, 1999.

I would read this short story to the Senator;upon completion I would offer him a tissue to dry his tears and ask how our leaders have fallen so far that this wisdom has been lost. Story Of A Saver About four years ago, long before "Y2K" entered the public consciousness, I attended an auction. It was an all day affair, going from 9:00 in the morning to well past nightfall of that summer day. The owner of the large house and farm outbuildings, a lady well into her nineties, had passed away and the heirs had arranged the auction to settle the estate. By the time darkness was falling, the original large crowd had dispersed and there were only a couple dozen diehard bidders remaining, myself included. That the auctioneer managed to keep talking for nearly 14 straight hours with only a couple of small breaks, remains a marvel of endurance to me.

During the last two hours, many boxes were brought forth from the house and it was specified by the iron-throated auctioneer that only the cardboard boxes were being sold, not their contents. The contents were gratis, since they consisted of all kinds of canned food, coffee, and other store bought goods for which a re-sale had legal considerations. As the boxes coming out were quickly examined prior to bidding, I noticed most of the contents had sale tags on them, and knowing the pattern, I would also have bet that a "senior" discount had been used whenever possible. I overheard many laughs and comments. "Do you believe this? The woman had enough toilet paper for a year!" "What did she think she was going to do with all those cans of coffee?" "She must not have had anything better to do than buy soup and canned corn and stick it on a shelf. Poor woman must have been senile." Opinions of the deceaseds sanity, or lack thereof, did not prevent very good bids being placed for the boxes which happened to contain that "free" coffee, however, and every other cardboard box was sold in quick order. To my amazement, there was no competition for a large box full of various bars of soap, still in the original packaging. I got it for a two dollar base bid. I had many private thoughts I didnt express that evening about those who continued to joke and sputter in laughter over such quips as, "For gawds sake, what was she thinking? There was going to be siege or something? Maybe wed better look around the property and see if theres a moat!"

Some of my private ruminations were that these same people did not make fun of the ladys penchant for keeping other things. Two boxes of empty coffee cans, dated from the 30s and 40s and still in excellent shape, were coveted by every antique and collectibles dealer there. Same for the jars of buttons, the toys, the Christmas ornaments, and nearly everything else including the hand made rag rugs.

The fact is, I couldnt join in the laughter because I knew the lady, named Anna, if I remember correctly, had been as sane as anybody there even though I had never met her. I also knew why she had lived the way she did. I am both blessed and cursed with an excellent memory and Im also old enough to remember growing up in the years post W.W. II. In todays parlance Im a "baby boomer", part of the first wave of that post-war rush to procreate. The street where I first learned to ride a bicycle along the cracked sidewalks had a mixture of residents of varying ages, but there were quite a few young couples whose children all became fast friends and playmates. We kids knew nearly everyone on the street, and we were completely familiar with the day to day common events and practices of the households we frequently spent time at.

I can look back in memory and clearly see the walk-in pantrys, the kitchens, the shelves and jelly cupboards in the cellars, the pickle crocks, the wine bottles, and the contents of each. If the people I knew in the fifties and sixties had read a recommendation from the government about having a weeks worth of supplies on hand, they would have scowled and said, "Only a week? What nonsense are they talking about?". Nearly everyone had a few weeks of food in their homes, or much more depending on the season of the year. In the autumn, canning jars filled with garden produce and fruit bought by the bushel overflowed the cellar shelves and were lined up on tables. Pressure-canned jars of stew meat made a dark contrast to the picalilly, corn relish and chili sauce. It wasnt only home canned goods which were stored, either. Store bought items shared space on the shelves. When canned pears or beans or flour were on sale at the grocery store, you picked up one for use, and one or two or a dozen more to "put away", according to your financial ability and the size of your family. After all, didnt everybody? Prices only go up, you save those pennies where you can! There were rules of common sense practically pounded into our youthful heads in those days, by people who had lived through a ten year depression and subsequent world war.

You absolutely "put something away for a rainy day" and if you wanted something new you saved up for it and paid cash. The only exception was maybe the item was a big ticket one like a refrigerator or a car and then you put as big a down payment on it as you could and worked to pay the loan off fast. Debt was to be avoided like the plague and if you couldnt afford something you did without it  no shame in that! And heaven forbid if you didnt keep at least a little cash on hand at all times, if it was within your means to do so. A garden was standard and if you grew more than you could use then you gave some to old Mrs. Gartner down the street whose rheumatism kept her from tending to a garden that year. (Then she sent you homemade fruit-filled cookies!) Or you put the extra out on a table by the street and sold it cheap to families who couldnt garden for themselves. As for the kids, you did your chores, and got nasty looks from your elders if you were impolite or otherwise engaged in a nefarious deed. If it took as long as two days before your parents heard about the error of your ways, the grapevine was considered to have had a major lapse. The older kids sometimes tried beating the inevitable disclosure by confessing to the deed and hoping punishment would be mitigated by their honesty (and also because it was a point in a parents favor if they already knew what had happened before another adult told them).

I recently met a lady friend for lunch and she asked me if Id been to a Wegmans supermarket lately. I hadnt, and she told me she knew several people who went to that stores a la carte salad bar three or four times a week after work. They picked up what appealed to them for dinner that night and took it home. She said the profusion of food which could be bought, pre-cooked, and by individual servings (or more) was now amazing. The original salad bar had expanded to include such variety a person didnt have to keep any groceries at home at all!

Before the above paragraphs make me sound as though Ive somehow lived outside of modern society, let me hasten to assure you that Im very familiar with Sams Club as well as other national supermarket chains, and theres nothing I like better than eating out and not having to cook. Bring on the bacon cheeseburgers and french fries! And although my youngest son used to refer to my early days as "the stone age", it should be remembered that forty years is considered only one generation by genealogists, and is really a very short time frame in the scheme of history. Honest! Also, like those in any younger generation, I really didnt pay all that much attention to my elders oft spouted wisdom and consequently have experienced being in debt up to my eyeballs. Neither do I claim "the good old days" were somehow removed from all the modern problems. They werent. Greed, crime, wars and "conflicts", injustice, poverty, prejudice and ignorance were as insidious then as they have been throughout history.

However, the conversation about picking up pre-made salad bar dinners most of the week did bring together several random observations of mine and I realized it is not only American manufacturing which now operates on the "Just In Time" principle. American society as a whole is now a J.I.T. society; meal to meal, day to day, paycheck to paycheck. There is no underlying girder of stored supplies to cushion an unexpected downturn in fortunes and whether this opinion now qualifies me as an "old fogy" or not, neither is there as much of an underlying base of thrift, courtesy, faith or honor.

If Anna, whose property was auctioned that day, was still alive, and I had the opportunity to tell her about the potential computer system problems the Year 2000 might bring, I know in my heart she would most likely say, "Well, I got through ten years of depression and then W.W.II., you just do the best you can. So what did you say the government is recommending in the way of supplies? Three days to a week? Humph. [a sound always accompanied by a sniff or snort from the nose] If I ever had just one weeks worth of supplies I would have considered myself to be an idiot, even in good times. The govmint dont remember too well, do they now?"

"No, they dont," Id reply. Read one of the free government brochures or talk to any financial planner and you will invariably come across a recommendation that a family should have enough money saved up to cover three months worth of expenses in case of an emergency such as a hospitalization, layoff, or job loss. Ive also read that same advice in various magazines articles and newspapers for the last 30 years. Three months, on average, is the standard "cushion" recommended to get you through the emergencies life may throw your way. Hardly anyone puts that advice into practice nowadays, but its still considered a practical precaution. Until now that is. Now the government is talking about three days or a weeks supply for an event the severity of which even they admit cannot be definitively determined in advance. Yes, one is food in the house and the other is money in the bank, but what difference does it really make?

Anna would "humph" and do that little side-to-side shake of the head, which is the old-time polite way of saying "Some peoples just fools, aint they?" Id give a younger, less practiced "hum" and listen as she related all the hard times shed been through and what shed learned from them. Id add some of my own experiences. I know what its like to cook everything from scratch and make every penny count. What its like to have one trip a month to McDonalds be a big family treat. (Was I glad I knew you could cook everything yourself and save money.) There was a time my husband and I were in a car accident which put us both in the hospital. (Thank heavens there was plenty of food in the house for the kids, because Id learned from those earlier days of lean times how important that was. The medical expenses not covered by insurance threw us for a loop that time, though.) Years later, I discovered what its like when your husband has a heart attack and is out of work for three months. (Thank God we had that recommended savings "cushion", a lesson learned after the car accident.) The disability payments didnt come through until after he was back at work - forms returned three times for various "verifications", you know. The Human Resources people for my husbands employer reassured us this was fairly "standard" procedure.

Then there was the time when my husbands records were deleted from a military payroll database, along with all the other soldiers whose last names began with A through C, followed by another glitch a few months later which caused us to be paid a different amount than what was due, and then to have a deduction made from our account which was more than the initial payment error. We learned to never assume a direct deposit will always arrive at your bank when its supposed to, or that the amount will always be accurate. These were only a few of many personal lessons which also taught us never to fully trust in computer system accuracy or to believe that computing errors would be remedied in short order. (It took almost two weeks to discover why those A to C deposits had never been made and another month before the situation was remedied; longer to correct the later glitches.) I wont even detail a three year controversy with the I.R.S. over a $300.00 payment which we made but which they claimed we did not make. I still have the two cancelled checks - one for the original payment and one for the payment we finally made to get them off our backs since a cancelled check didnt seem to be enough proof for them that theyd gotten their money the first time around.

So many other rough times, with the learning piling up higher with each one and the joy of life growing brighter, too. If wed paid closer attention to all the bits of wisdom put forth by experienced elders in our youth, we wouldnt have had to learn the lessons bit by bit, one increment after another, the hard way. Can you see Anna nodding her head while I related my stories? Can you hear her saying, "Thats the way of the world, child. The young always thinkin its going to be different for them, and the old tryin their best to save them some grief even when theyre mostly ignored."

So vivid are some of those earlier memories that it often seems strange to me that I am now a grandmother myself. Strange that I am in the position of recalling past lessons and experiences in the hopes of benefiting my children and grandchildren. Strange that now I have reached the stage of life where I recognize first-hand the hard won wisdom of my own parents, grandparents, and other elders who have graced my life. I am confronted by the same desire to teach those of shorter memories that being prepared for lifes disasters, big or small, is a GOOD thing. And I am old enough to know that most will not listen, and cantankerously aged enough to keep trying anyway.

I recently watched an episode of "The Century - Americas Time" on the History Channel. The episode covered the Great Depression of the thirties. One particularly striking quote from a man who had lived through that era was, "Everybody was baffled. Theyd never experienced this before." Yet the depression of the 1930s was far from the first serious economic downturn in America or the world. It doesnt take long to forget, does it? Many in our society now seem to be of the opinion that somehow, for the first time in history, America has some solution which will prevent a stock market crash, rising unemployment, nasty explosions of wars, or what have you, and continued prosperity is guaranteed; not to worry. So there will be a global computer problem weve never experienced before? Not to worry, its under control. So the nation is still in debt up to its ears? We just had one year where we didnt add anything to that debt, didnt we? Ok, so we didnt decrease the national debt, we just didnt make it any bigger. Still not to worry.

The old matrons and gentlemen I grew up knowing had likely never heard of Santayanas quote about being condemned to repeat history if we dont learn from it, but they surely knew from experience the essence of his cautioning statement. One gent would have expressed it on a more personal level, but the meaning is much the same. "Soons you think life is going along great, watch out for the curve ball. And then be glad it was just a curve and you didnt get hit in the head by a wild pitch." Another elderly lady would have said, "Theres talk about seeing a glass either half full or half empty. Posh, that glass is different levels at different times, aint never going to stay full, aint never going to stay empty, and sure as shootin aint goin to stay in the middle long neither. You got to expect ups and downs and be as ready as you can for the bad times. Then the good times is even better."

Most of the experienced elders I grew up knowing are gone now, but a few weeks ago I was delighted to discover the old wisdom is still alive and well. I was at WalMart, next to a display of oil lamps, and encountered a little lady who appeared to be somewhere in her seventies and spoke with a European accent. She was having a bit of trouble figuring out the difference between regular lamp oil and the ultra-pure. I was able to answer a couple of questions for her and she related that it had been a long time since shed used an oil lamp. She asked me if I had any myself, and I told her I did. She looked up at me and said, "Y2K?" That was the start of a chat between us which must have gone on for half an hour. She related that she already had had a wood stove and lots of food supplies when she first heard about a possible computer problem, but that she was expanding her normal preparedness. After telling me this, she gave that little disdainful frown Ive seen on many wrinkled faces of days past and said that her oldest son kept telling her there wasnt going to be any problems with the computers come 2000. Then a confident light lit up her eyes and she raised her hand, index finger extended, as though she was showing me how she had replied to him. Shaking that finger at the invisible son, she said, "I told him, who knows? So maybe nozing happens, maybe it does. Always better to be prepared. Zis I KNOW!" When this feisty little lady said, "Zis I know," the depth of her conviction resonated in her voice.

Y2K or no Y2K, it is not "fear mongering" to warn that good times and prosperity do not go on forever. It is not advocating "hoarding" to advise having more than one weeks supplies on hand, it is not foolhardy to recommend reducing or eliminating debt, it is not "scare tactics" to point out that modern economies are not depression-proof, it is not blasphemous to acknowledge the stock market is still as susceptible to a downward plunge as it has always been, and it is neither silly nor crazy to take seriously any global problem which has the potential to cause harm for a great many. If the government, the media, businessmen, your boss or your neighbor tell you otherwise, they are the ones with the short memories, and they are the ones who are wrong.

Anna would know that. Mabel, Maisie, Gert, Vera, Friendly, Reta, and all the other wise old ladies of the past, whose wisdom, common sense, and good advice I have learned to trust, would know it, too. Depending on individual personalities, their accompanying comments to accusations of "hoarding" or "fear mongering" would have been variously, "Balderdash", "Humbug", "Fiddlesticks", or "Damn nonsense." Dear ladies, my "Humph" sound is only at the amateur stage now and although its not as good as those I remember you all using whenever an apparent idiocy was encountered, Im working on making it better. You taught me well. Thank you. One weeks supplies? Bosh and poppycock.

-- Bonnie Camp

-- J.L. Turner (, May 08, 1999.


I'm glad you will be speaking for us. I'd like you to say

"Please stop the happy talk.

I urge anyone with any clout to stand up and be counted against the "don't panic the public" messengers. I agree that we don't need panic. We need rational people making rational decisions. We cannot expect the public to make rational decisions when information is being withheld from them. The arrogance that drives people in power to give themselves the authority to decide what is good or right for other people is dangerous. People have the right to make life and death decisions for themselves.

We need to have as many people as possible making contingency plans. The public may be angry if told the truth now. They will be much angrier if told later, when it is too late for them to do anything for themselves or others."

Some of the posters have urged "shelter preparedness". I outline the futility of this approach in my "Bean Theory". It just isn't possible to store enough in shelters to be of much help. Y2K may be very different from the standard disaster, where people can go and stay with friends or stay in a hotel.

Please feel free to use anything from my website that might be of use. You may remember me from Paula's Gordon's meeting a few weeks ago.

Good luck! We'll all be cheering for you.

sally strackbein

-- Sally Strackbein (, May 08, 1999.


1. Our private email conversation 1 1/2 years ago revolved in part on how much truth the public could handle without precipitating their counterproductive total denial. As it's turning out the public is acknowledging more than I ever expected, and at the same I'm sure a lot less than you desire. Now with the latest wave of public reassurance from high levels it appears there's a shift back to denial/complacency. Brutal truth vs titrating the dose -- what a tightwire walk.

2. Dr. Don's brave answer is a replay of my own experiences in the '70s with the healthcare industry's handling of computer-related technology challenges. But just as hardly any one listened to me back then, no one in Congress is going to listen seriously to such 'horror files' stories now. 3. I agree with those who have counseled: dispense with the left-hemisphere approach, laden with factual support for your (our) position -- instead use the holistic approach: tell quick 30-second 'stories' -- it's what people remember much better than 'numbers.'

Here's one I like to use when Y2K comes up in conversation (between how the Braves are doing and what happened at Columbine):

Being 73 years old I remember well December SIXTH, 1941. [I then pause, significantly. Usually within the pause somebody comes up with "Bill, you mean December SEVENTH, don't you?"]

I then provide the punch line: "No folks I remember 12/6/41, a Saturday. All our friends and neighborhood were very busy preparing for an upcoming jolly holiday season. The majority of Americans were SURE on that day was that 'Fortress America (the protection provided by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans)' 'could not be penetrated'; also very popular in the papers and on the radio was 'Whatever happens in Europe (because of Hitler and Mussolini) and in Asia (because of Hirohito) is not our business -- let's mind our OWN business!'

4. Ed, who ever thought back in the '70s and '80s there would be anything more challenging than promoting good clean structured programming? On the other hand living at the end of this decade is a lot more exciting, wouldn't you say.

Many thanks for your courage, committment, and spirit. We are behind you whatever you say, and whatever happens in Babylon, D.C., next week.


-- William J. Schenker, MD (, May 08, 1999.

Ed -- Love you. Screw the Senate (and the rest of the government). The results of anything they do will be to screw things up more.

(Everything government touches, turns to shit.)

-- A (, May 08, 1999.


First, thanks for this forum as well as for your (and Jennifer's) other efforts regarding Y2K.

As for the Senate Y2K Committee hearing "specifically on the subject of Y2K personal preparedness and community preparedness", the good news is that they are having a public hearing specifically on that topic, and inviting people such as you to address it!

That they have scheduled such a hearing may indicate that they may be considering making public statements on the subject, and that they have invited people such as you may indicate that they may have in mind to suggest something more than the "three day storm" canard. Of course, they may not make any such public suggestions, and may leave it to you and the other witnesses to make such suggestions, leaving them with "plausible deniability". Even that would seem to be better than not having such a hearing.

In any case, I would suggest that, while you will be talking to the Senators, your "real" audience is the potential TV audience, possibly a CSPAN audience, NET surfers, and perhaps some print media readers.

Regarding presentation: be wary of trying to cover more than will fit in five minutes. A rushed presentation sometimes diminishes credibility.

I'm tempted to suggest preparing multiple presentations in case a prior witness covers virtually the same ground that you plan to cover, but if you must submit a written copy of your statement in advance, that will not work. While some overlap would be reenforcing, too much would waste scarce "air time". If previous testimony presents opportunities for brief reenforcing comments, go for it. These often click with observers.

As for the content of your testimony, I suggest about an even split between why preparing for considerably more than a few days is prudent, and what kinds of preparing may be practical for large numbers of people in the remaining time.

One time squeezer that comes to mind is to ask questions in your testimony, for example:

"If it's going to be a "bump in the road", why are major US corporations reporting that they can't get straight answers from their many of their critical vendors? And why do the answers that they do get lead them to assess many of their critical vendors as not likely to be ready in time?"

"If three days is enough time to fix Y2K problems, why would major US corporations risk switching critical vendors in mid-1999 with several months to go?"

But save the time consuming detailed references to the companies' 10Ks for the Q&A. (Being sure to have brought with you the appropriate sections of the 10Ks of, for example, GM, Sears, Dupont Nemours, etc. in case someone asks.)

In any case, good luck, and thanks again!


-- Jerry B (, May 08, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon,

I'm a 24 year old medical student who's posting for the first time on your forum. Thank you for giving a chance to speak my mind and to make a few points:

(1) Isolated personal and community preparation may ultimately be futile.

Only a very few will be able to isolate themselves and prepare to such an extent that they will be able to escape the problems caused by Y2k. And only a minority of people will even prepare enough such that they they will not be in a bind even if there is a three-day disruption in our infrastructure. Unless there is a dramatic turn of events, more definitive and more widely disseminated information re Y2k, the great majority of people will not prepare, just as people who live in disaster prone regions, on the whole, do not prepare adaquetly for emergencies they may face. And, interestingly enough, large-scale individual preparation might produce anomalies in our economies that may help to contribute to a crisis, though such "panic" might be preferable at this point, while we still have the resources to manage it.

2. Government must lead effectively, and with candor, the efforts to manage and prepare for all the possible contingencies that may result from Y2K.

Many who are pessimistic about the effects of Y2k interestingly enough express at the same time a great dissatisfaction with government. Many are resorting to personal preparedness because, well, it is prudent to do so, but also because it seems as though the government is either hiding something or is woefully unprepared itself, and the results of this will be societal chaos. The problem with this anti-government attitude is that in fact we, the people, are the government. As citizens, we all hold office in a governemnt that is, for the people, by the people and of the people. The governmnent seems remote to us because we have not the expertise or the time to engage in the day to day operations of it. Big bureaurcracies, structures to promote civil order and security are things we cannot do for ourselves. Y2K seems to fall under the category of things that is best done under the business of government.

What the government and the so called fourth estate, the media, must do is fully inform and educate the public about the risks of Y2K just as it has fully informed and educated the public about other risks we have faced--natural disasters, nuclear war, defective products and drugs, etc. I suppose that there are many who do not want to precipitate a panic--although England and Canada have developed nation-wide contingency plans which include the military and informational campaigns for its citizens. I should also add that panic prevention should not be the proper role of the media and the government--let the citizens concern themselves with their psychological well-being.

3. Preparation must begin now.

The government must make Y2k a priority now. If citizen and governmental activism were ever justified, it should be now. We simply cannot expect individual persons, companies and communities to adaquetly address this problem. And we cannot tolerate a situation where only a few individual persons and communities will be prepare becfause such a state is ultimately self defeating. The same interdependcies that may lead to significant y2k failures will make individual preparedness moot.

Thanks again Mr. Yourdon for allowing me to share my thoughts. Good luck.

Regards, Rich

-- Richard (, May 08, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon,

I honestly do not like what I am about to say. I do not find my own perception of the situation at all attractive, but you did ask, so I'm going to say it anyway.

First, let me say that all of the previous postings appear to be sincere (as, I assure you, mine is) and thoughtful postings from intelligent and well intentioned people. Each of them expresses concerns and ideas that I agree with. Two in particular, however, stand out quite far from the rest.

One is Mr. Decker's post. Although it may be information that you are well aware of, and in spite of opinions or questions any here (including yourself) may have as to Mr. Decker's motives or objectives, it is completely sound and accurate advice.

The other is Paul Milne's post. I must admit that I agree with his sentiment, although I have a different suggestion as to your response to the Senate.

Franklin Roosevelt made a statement to the effect that if it happened in politics, it was because it was planned and in that vein I suggest to you that the die is already cast in terms of the federal government's actions vis a vis the Y2K problem. I do not believe that even if you had all the time necessary to present all of the previous points in their most persuasive light that it would alter the future actions of the government in the slightest.

I suggest to you that whatever words or actions you present in response to the Senate's invitation have only the potential to affect actions and/or opinions other than those of the government. Operating on this premise, it seems likely that your actions and/or remarks will contrast with those of others to the greatest extent and will receive the greatest notice if you do as Mr. Milne suggests and decline the invitation and the more publicly the better.

I suggest however, that you decline on the basis that it is highly likely that the government's response has already been decided, and that in any case such response is unlikely to be effective in view of the federal government's failure to get its own house in order.

I'm sorry to offer such a "downer", but that's the way that I see it.

-- Hardliner (, May 08, 1999.

Dear Ed,

Something that I didn't think of in my earlier message. This is theory, but related to my suggestion.

1. Many of the people you're talking to already know we're in deep ****. They're the ones making the quotable figures in many cases, so they certainly don't need those read to them.

2. The people you're talking to already know that the public needs to know. From all indications they are "reigned in" by higher authority from saying what they really think, in the name of preventing panic.

3. The people you're talking to know that everybody needs to prepare. They know!

4. Getting them up to saying 3 days to X days prep may not help. As long as there is a specific date on things, most of the public et al. are not going to take this seriously. They'll think, "Hey, I've got camping gear, why worry." (A quote from my dad. Sigh!)

5. What they don't know is how to arrange this without the backlash of panic or economic consequences that are feared.

If they truly have any desire for information, any hope for finding an answer they don't already have, any optimism for one of their speakers providing a novel point of view that might just be the spark they need, it is to sum up #5:

They know they need to tell us to prepare, but HOW can they tell us without freaking people out, or without making themselves look like liars from previous statements? What specifically can THEY DO as senators, as public figures, to make a difference?

If it doesn't touch them personally, if it isn't a sound byte and if it isn't simple, concise, and something they can move on, whatever you say is lost. Think of someone taking general notes: They need to be able to write down a few quotes from you that carry the weight of the most important things you want to say.

So I thought about "how" the government could tell us all to seriously prepare WITHOUT making it sound like the computers have us whipped, without making it sound like they've lied so far, without making us afraid that we're doomed -- making it only a "possibility" and yet making it serious enough to act on.

And it occurred to me that right now they're in the perfect world-situation to explain this in a way that doesn't look like government fault.

A presidential speech would do nicely, as long as it wasn't watered down too much.

It could present these points in a different way. This is too long of course but here's the gist of where I'm going:

1. As you know, we are currently engaged in military conflicts in more than one foreign country. There is an increased risk of terrorism, of course, as a result. Now, everybody in the world knows that on January 1st, 2000, there may be some problems here and there with the computers that we have come to depend on. We in America are better equipped to deal with these problems than anybody in the world. But there is a small chance that a foreign country, or an individual from a foreign country, might take advantage of that moment of change. This could cause unexpected outtages in the critical systems that we as Americans have come to depend on. Electricity, water, sewage, and the supply lines that get food from the farmers and factories to our tables. In most places we don't expect there to be any serious problems. But somewhere, there might be. It could be in your town -- nobody knows. To make sure Americans remain strong and healthy and able to enter the new millennium with a positive view of the future, I recommend that individuals, community leaders, and religious leaders sit down with others and work out some "fallback plans." Just in case. It is not something to worry about. If we are prepared, it is something we will NOT have to worry about.

Of course what the above paragraph did was totally set us up for a form of martial law, for the government blaming all the real problems with are THEIR fault on some kind of "terrorism" and yanking away rights in the name of that. Which is better, people being prepared and less mass misery and death, or giving Big Unk yet another piece? I don't know. I'm just pointing out that this is a tactic they could take that would allow them to warn and to respond without being in a blame position.

Now that I think about it, my first suggestions to you were more concise and probably better. :-)

PJ in TX

-- PJ Gaenir (, May 08, 1999.

Not an "Answer", a suggestion (which might have been made in one of the many excellent posts, I could not read them all). I know you will do fine on the speech, what I zeroed in on was this part of your statement: "and the written testimony can be as long and detailed as we wish". I see that as our opportunity to get as much common-man feedback into public record as possible. I would like to suggest that you not only put all of these excellent posts/suggestions into the written testimony package but that you make a new request over all communications outlets for, say, a 250 word individual statement about Y2K and insert those also into the public record. Who knows how important that could be in decision making or in a historical perspective. Just a thought!

-- Cyberfind (, May 08, 1999.

Increased Government regulations will not substitute for individual preparation and education relating to potential problems due to y2k. I definitely do not want to see increased Government programs substituted for personal responsibility and accountability in relation to possible future needs. Just as warnings are issued for potential harmful weather conditions--with no consequence to the issuer of such information if the bad weather does not materialize, a warning should be given to the general populace alerting that provisions should be acquired and and potential energy disruptions could occur---this also should not have a penalty if such things do not come to pass. Forewarned is forearmed----I would want to know if a bridge was out on the road I am traveling on---warn me, give me the opportunity to care for my family. Preparation is only a vaccination ---prevention of the malady of hunger. Awareness can help to calm fear. Best to you.

-- Becky (, May 08, 1999.

Five minutes? For Y2K? You can do it in 20 seconds. Just teach them the Y2K "position."

Bend over, put your head between your knees.... and kiss your a** "Goodbye!"

-- nowayjose (, May 08, 1999.

Ed Yourdon,

Greetings...we met at the SPG conference in Chicago... you were the keynote speaker... I was the pre-speech entertainment... By the way, my song "The Day Computers Died" (and music) is now available for posterity at

You know what to say.

You are asking for our help in how you say it--a sort of y2k presentation triage...choosing the most mission critical points to make before such an important audience. Thank you for considering our input. I have read all of the suggestions posted so far...

Since you already know more than all or most of us, and have an excellent grasp of the complexity of the problem--as you are both a capable specialist and informed generalist...

Let me offer advice on the WAY you say it...and give you some tips on preparation and outline formation.

First, (and this should be the most difficult step...) ask yourself this question... " WHAT IF THEY ALLOWED ME ONLY ONE SENTENCE?"

Write that sentence... Expect this to take 50% of your time and effort.

In sermon preparation parlance, this is called the key sentence, or theme.

Let's say your key sentence is "The Dog bites hard"

Start with a powerful but short story or ILLUSTRATION that "illustrates" your key sentence.

Then state that key sentence. "The dog bites hard."

Now you are ready for the transitional phrase...

"This morning (in 5 minutes) I am going to explain 3 REASONS (or ways, or times, or truths, or whatever) WHY (or how, or when, or who, or whatever) the dog bites hard.

Then give your 3 points... Keep it at 3.

For each point, pick an illustration... (here is the other 50% of your time and effort) illustrations are windows to the mind... use them... but use (and choose) them carefully. The success our failure of your message (and all of what that implies for all of us) depends on the FOUR illustrations you use in your presentation.

Conclusion: "So, esteemed senators, you can see WHY 'the dog bites hard:' Number 1--yadda, Number 2--yadda, and Number 3--yadda."

Then, leave them with a final, powerful re-phrasing of the key sentence in a way that reminds them of that very first illustration you gave them at the beginning.

In a nutshell...

1. Tell em what you're about to tell em 2. Then tell em. 3. Then tell em what you told em.

I hope this helps... And I hope we meet again on the other side!


Duane Schwingel 2000 BUG Hotline 1 (800) 2000 BUG

-- Duane Schwingel (, May 08, 1999.

Dear Ed, If you were to walk through any neighborhood after Y2K where do you think the greatest survival tool would be found? Motherhood! Y2K is a nest threatening issue, and if anyone thinks mothers aren't preparing, they are nuts. Reagan said "The greatest social system in this country is the family.", and I agree. It was mothers marched around neighborhoods in this country and wiped out polio. I think one national statement to the mothers of this country, to organize neighborhood-by-neighborhood would bring an explosion of practical and cohesiveness building preparedness. Y2K is a "home" issue not a send the men to foreign lands issue. Senate Hearings or no the "Mothers of Preparedness" MOP should be organized.......Tim

-- Tim Johnson (, May 08, 1999.

There's not much you could tell these guys that they haven't heard before. I agree with previous poster that the senators per se are not your audience, but that your appearance before this committee can be used as a platform to communicate with the public via the media. So, how to get through to the media, how to make your soundbites count?


Use anger in your delivery, get very very feisty. Now just who this anger should be delivered at is a tricky question, everyone and no-one is responsible for the y2k problem. And even though y2k is hardly these senators' fault, as representatives of the U.S. federal government I think you should be seen to give them a very hard time, even if you might be happy to have a beer with Bennett and Dodd after the show. The varied and drastic shortcomings of fedgov's response, from 1995 till today, should be shouted from the rooftops. It is their responsibility to provide the services that they've taken upon themselves to deliver, and pretty soon they'll be unable to. So go off at 'em! I just think that a level-headed reasoning approach wont get that far. An impassioned presentation is required. Think Paul Milne minus the misanthropy! ;~}

"Anger is an energy!" - John Lydon.

-- humptydumpty (, May 08, 1999.

1. It will not work from the top down. 2. It will not work from the bottom up. 3. It will not work if only governments and businesses prepare to sustain their own operations. 4. It will not work if individuals stock up for themselves.

It will only work if people from all sectors -- especially citizen groups, government and media -- take it upon themselves to see to it that their whole communities (and their adjacent communities/regions) are prepared. Community preparedness includes individual preparedness, institutional preparedness (all sectors), community resources (food banks, shelters, etc.), attention to "austere" vital infrastructure (water, sanitation, and basic food and energy), and any nearby toxic/ nuclear risks. If any of those are not dealt with, the community cannot be said to be prepared.

This level of preparedness -- the only level that matters -- will not happen without leadership from Washington. And leadership from Washington cannot succeed unless it inspires leadership from every other sector -- because, as I've said, it won't work from the top down.

That is the bottom line on preparedness, as far as I am concerned.

That said, I hope that the Senators and others ask themselves, "Where did Y2K come from? What is it about our society that makes us keep producing these unbelievable mega-problems?" If we don't start talking about that, the road will only get narrower and bumpier, with more washouts and landslides...

-- Tom Atlee (, May 08, 1999.

Way up top, someone asked about a secure site for y2 whistle blowers. See P. DeJager's comments re his original effort in that direction titled DAMOCLES PROJECT and why this would be a BAD idea, because of the legal liability, and requirements to eventually testify at EVERY Y2 related trial.


-- chuck, a nught driver (, May 08, 1999.


Please call for nothing short of "Marshall Plan - like" Y2K preparations among citizens and the business community to be spelled out in a special Presidential speech in primetime ASAP. A moderate, "balanced" or "middle-of-the road" style of leadership at this point will simply give more people reason to not pay any attenton to this huge threat to our way of life.


Power, career, status, reputation, finances...... "the children".......

Computers don't care............

Maybe you have what it takes to deliver, in no uncertain terms, just what we are facing.

Leaders have to risk being wrong. That's leadership... Congress and the Executive branch will be held accountable if they act decisively or not. I know that you'll be in Disneyland on the Potomac, but leadership miracles can and need to be coaxed out of these perpetually clueless. After all, hundreds of millions of lives (votes) of innocent people, that don't know are care about computer code, hang in the balance. You know by virtue of the mountains of evidence, personal experience, and life lessons learned that you aren't guessing about the results of Y2K if we go along our present course. The destination is a future that 99% of the populace can't even get themselves to imagine let alone act upon. I hope that in your five minutes that you paint a picture of the disaster that is Y2K NOT anything about what COULD or MIGHT happen. No, dear representatives this WILL happen. You and they must be profoundly definitive. The evidence has been in for a long time. We are lucky to know and have the time to prepare for the inevitable that the unfortunate tornado-ravaged people of Oklahoma did not.

I know that you'll do your very best.


a former programmer/analyst .....

P.S. Thanks for all of your work

-- PJC (, May 09, 1999.


1) Tell them to stop saying the words "bump in the road".

2) Tell them Christmas is cancelled next year because China (and international shipping) are going to collapse. Tell them 'Next year, no more Beanie-Babies'. That should wake them up. All the cheap cloths, toys, etc. we import just won't be there. Ask them 'When was the last time your grandchild had a happy meal at McDonalds that didn't contain a toy made in China?'

Part of my and my wifes preparation are buying and storing extra cloths a size or two larger for our kids, extra presents for they and their friends birthdays, etc. Life will go on. How bad it gets will be determined by how prepared people are.

Once these guys start looking beyond our own borders and how overseas failures are going to directly affect us, maybe, just maybe they'll 'Get It'. Make them understand that even if the lights stay on, more direct action at a local/personal level really is just playing it safe.


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.COM), May 09, 1999.

Amen Humpty!

Anger, passion, conviction, inspiration.....


Not maybes, ifs, probablys, "not one's certain" ..

Average Joe: "If no one knows, call me when you know. Gimmme another brewski and flick on the game"

Someone that will get out of press release form and give a heart-to heart to anyone who'll listen. Damn the consequences! This is just too important.

-- PJC (, May 09, 1999.

Dear Ed,

It's a treat for me to have the opportunity to make a suggestion to you.

I recommend that you stick to the area you are an expert in.

You are a computer guy. Stick to the computer aspects of this threat.

Let someone who has for years kept one year's provisions, or someone who has survived a natural disaster, discuss the preparations people should make.

After you have gone down the checklist of potential problems, as you did in Timebomb 2000, stress to the Senators that the most worrisome aspect of this threat is its *universality*. Those severely affected by Y2K cannot hope for Deus Ex Machina to drop in with supplies and manpower, because everyone else in the US and the world will have the same problems or worse.

Good luck!

-- GA Russell (, May 09, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon, I'm sure you will do a fine job of condensing the most salient points into those five minutes. I would not want to be in your position, but if I were, I believe I would read them what William Bradford, the American colonial Governor once wrote in his Plymouth Plantation History:

"All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be both enterprised and overcome with answerable courages. The dangers were great, but not desperate; the difficulties were many, but not invincible. For though there were many of them likely, yet they were not certain; it might be sundry of the things feared might never befall; others by provident care and the use of good means, might in great measure be prevented; and all of them, through the help of God, by fortitude and patience, might either be borne or overcome."

Then I would look the good Senators in the eye and remind them that, in it's purest form, a position of leadership is a contract an individual makes with his own conscience.

I would say to them that if, with the information available to them, any one of them believes that "provident care and the use of good means" are warranted and in the best interests of individuals and communities, then their own conscience must provide the impetus to stand up and say so to the American people. Albert Einstein once wrote, "Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it."

May we all both enterprise and overcome with answerable courages.

-- Bonnie Camp (, May 09, 1999.

Ed -- re my post above re EGTTTS. Don't fall for the "ego-boo" of going to Washington. They will just waste your time (and money, if they aren't paying your way and stay).

If you do succumb to the lure of being a star, don't bother getting into Y2K in general. That won't do any good. They just want to make it look like they're "doing something."

Lay it on them that they (and the rest of government have zero, zilch credibility with anyone with an IQ above a sheep's. They have spent their credibility capital generations ago, and even if they, by some miracle, come up with a "salvation" program, not many intelligent people will believe it, anyway. And the sheep, of course, will believe anything, so why are they bothering? Of course, telling them that will do no good, either.

-- A (, May 09, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon,

This is from a middle class mother of three, who has a day care business in her home, and has not been able to research Y2k on the Internet.

Because I do not have the experience to access all the information from the agencies involved, I fall dependent on Y2K updates from informed friends and the media. Just as I expect all people to be truthful with me, I expect the government to be truthful also.

I feel if I am adequately informed (warned) about Y2k, then I can make good choices about preparation needed for my household to overcome any shortages, outages, etc, that may or will result. I want to know exactly what may happen where I live.

I want the government to be HONEST. Admit what is known and not known. That is what I expect from the pre-schoolers in my care. I expect nothing less from our nations elected leaders.


-- FM (, May 09, 1999.

Oh my, busy all day yesterday - but this Dr. Don thing is an interesting story to say the least! But I don't think it holds up on close examination. Take a close look at what this dude claims to have happened.

> On Dec 15, 1998, they carefully began their first > test of the newly > installed software. Listen, within 30 seconds, the > entire phone system of > the hospital failed, the giant heating boilers shut > down, the fire alarms > went off, thousand of patient records vanished in > complete chaos

Now look at the implications here. ONE system controls the phone system, the heating plant, the fire control system AND the patient records!!!! Now they knew better than that even back in the 60's, even SF writers like Robert Heinlein spoke to the danger of putting one single machine in control of everything. (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - about pg 75 if I remember rightly.) Sorry, I just can't buy this without some proof that such a bollixed up mess actually exists somewhere in the US.

Really, this is just silly. NOBODY HAS EVER designed such a mess - it would be ten times the work to hook such a series of different systems together - and IT WOULD BE AGAINST THE LAW MOST PLACES. Everyone knows that building codes most places forbid hooking other systems into fire control in a public building. And AT&T would laugh their ass off if you tried to get them to hook the phone dialer system into the patient record system. Only way everything goes out at once is POWER FAILURE - and hospitals have backup generators.

-- Paul Davis (, May 09, 1999.

There's only one way to initiate community prepardness, as well as individual prepardness, and it should have been done a long time ago. In my opinion, each community (whether it be a village, hamlet, city etc.) should be contacted directly at the council level by our leaders. So far, this has been done somewhat in an indirect way, but there is more focus on business readiness and contingency plans, awareness etc. but little information regarding the need for community and individual preparation in the event disruptions occur. By contacting community leaders, and making them responsible for educating and initiating preparation in their own areas, I believe it will help eliminate panic. A nationwide television/radio broadcast will only end up in panic, especially this late in the year. There are alot of people that cannot afford to make preparations on a personal level. However if communities are prepared, everyone will be taken care of IF disruptions occur. In my community there are several homes prepared with alternative heating methods, extra food etc. and if it is necessary, other families in our community (even those who cannot afford to prepare) will be warm and fed. Although my village is using generators for back-up for water and sewer, there are no community wide preparations. Just several homes that have prepared on their own initiative. My village has received information from EMO, but council members don't always take this serious because of no mention of Y2K. We have had floods in the past, storms etc. and the entire community gets together and very quickly acts. In the case of Y2k, advance planning is necessary as we don't know if we can rely on other communities for help IF disruptions occur. Also people are less likely to panic if they are informed by their community leaders, rather than government officials. In my opinion, the government should have contacted ALL cities, towns, villages etc. and educated council members at least a year ago. But, better late, than never! In the case of Y2K, I also believe it is everyone's responsibility, to work together. Putting the blame on others will get us no where. We need responsible community leadership to get us through this. I also believe from my research that public reaction is going to be the biggest problem if not handled properly. No one knows what problems will arise, but most agree there will be disruptions - whether they affect those services we depend upon or not, will not be clear until the transition into Y2k and for some time after. With appropriate plans in place, I believe any disruptions that may occur can be dealt with - perhaps with inconveniences and possibly hardship in some locales, but not an impossible task. The bottom line is leadership at all levels to assume responsibility, and appropriate information distributed to all municipalities that recognizes the need to make conservative disaster preparations for possible Y2K related disruptions.

-- Val Jones (, May 09, 1999.

Paul, hate to say it but I can construct a system in which the phone system reports to the mainframe, expects a handshake response, doesn't get it and stops working. The fire system might also report and expect a handshake, and fail safely in alarm mode, and the real problem was that the mnainframe was on it's way to Toledo, taking the patient accounting stuff (or being takenBY the patient accounting software). I have seen tests in firewalled partitions take MVS down without even the customary "by-your-leave" that the operators usually get. It took IBM a while to be able to explain how the test partition actually took down the other four partitions, Live terminal processing, live batch processing and test batch processing. The reason we had IBM explain it is that we did it three days in a row. Perhaps HVAC is running as a subsystem in anohter partition. BTW One of, I think it's Seimens' phone conrollers uses a link to a mainframe if available.


-- chuck, a Night Driver (, May 09, 1999.

Five minutes...well

We should have started 5 years ago, but it's too late to talk about that.

Most organizations said they would be finished with all remediation 5 months ago, but it's too late to talk about that because they didn't finish.

So they reduced the number systems to be finished 5 months ago to the 'important ones' - about one out of every 5 systems, but it's too late to talk about that. Here we are, five months after the deadline and it looks like we didn't get that done either.

Five months from now, a substantial number of business applications worldwide will look a few months into the future and may not understand or like what they see. I'm not happy with the view, myself.

Our technology isn't perfect. I think the recent mistakes by 'smart weapons' and the string of recent catestrophic failures in attempted satellite launches illustrate that. Launching satellites was considered mundane and routine...kind of like COBOL and testimony before the U.S. Senate .

Let's just go ahead and say that some systems are going to fail. Get that out of the way, then let's make sure we have reasonable recovery plans to temper the sting.

Just like the F5 strength tornado in Oklahoma, which cut a swath 500 meters wide across a community, a swath across any industry < i>could occur. Let's put our energies into continuing to remediate and test systems and contingency planning. Since the insurance industry has decided not to cover losses from y2k, we need to self insure with common-sense contingency planning, should our imperfect technology show it's face again.

-- PNG (, May 09, 1999.

Sorry for joining this thread so late. Too many conflicting Y2K responsibilities I guess (wink). Now to add my 2 cents worth to the end of the amazingly good and well thought out (and sometimes pretty darn hemerous) information posted to the thread to date.

In my little ditty I have attempted to be accurate, brief, to-the-point, supply information that is verifiable, blunt, and establish an action (hopefully a solution). Enough of the commercials, here goes.

Presentation to the US Senate on the role of Personal and Community Preparedness.

Thank you for allowing me to address you today. My message today is clear and concise, and of the utmost and strategic importance to our nation.


1) It is May 23rd and the code is still broken. This fact can be demonstrated by the recent findings of three reliable, objective and credible sources, the GAO, the Gartner Group and you (the US Senate).

2) Unfortunately, we in Information Technology are not good at achieving deadlines. This fact can be demonstrated by consulting the findings of the Capers Jones organization. There is no reason to believe it will be different this time.

3) From my personal experience in Information Technology, the Y2K problems could cause significant disruptions in our core infrastructure. They could begin as early as the beginning of the 4th quarter of 1999 and extend well into the 2nd quarter of 2000. Y2K will not be a weekend event.

4) Quality information is not being provided to the public. They are being inundated with conflicting, erroneous and sometimes extremist information. Because of this, they are not, for the most part, taking any responsibility for their own well being.

5) If this were a local or regional problem, we could rally the troops and resources. But as evidenced in the Montreal Ice storm, even with the ability to do so, conditions can hamper the restoration of services for weeks. However, Y2K is unique in that it could cause disruptions virtually everywhere. Rallying the troops will probably not be an option.

In summary, a problem is coming. Chances of disruption are unavoidable. The capacity for emergency organization will likely be exceeded. The public is ill-informed.


6) This then defaults to the individual bearing some responsibility for his of her well being. As with the environmental issue, it is unpractical or unrealistic to place the entire burden on the larger organizations of our society. Recycling is an excellent example. The corporations play their part and so does the individual. Consider a similar action with Y2K. The responsible action is for the government to take up a leading role and advise prudent and practical preparation activities. This will provide the motivation for the individuals and communities to take up the challenge. The benefits include:

- empowering citizens to by being part of the solution - reducing the immediate requirements for the emergency organizations out there (FEMA, Red Cross) - putting plans in place would naturally lower their potential stress levels.


Finally I wish to summarize that the Y2K issue presents, to borrow a well known Hollywood phrase, a very real "clear and present danger." The citizens of the United States will look to their political leaders for advice and direction. A direction from you is a sound and responsible decision.

I recommend you take a leadership role in putting plans in place to allow people to help themselves. The provision of quality information on practical and prudent personal planning is the first step. The United States can be the leader in the world in recognizing the possible effects of this issue and setting a proper and prudent agenda for personal preparation. I can only imagine that this sort of action would be greatly appreciated by the public

I would be pleased to throw my influence and support behind such a plan.

Thank you for your time ladies and gentlemen,

-- Jim Standen (, May 09, 1999.

It's time for them to stop screwing around with this issue. 1. Put an end to the legal wrangling by suspending all Y2K

-- Jim Smith (, May 09, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon,

Very, very briefly....

I watch C-Span enough to doubt the usefulness of anger, emotion, (heck, even talking)..... but I do think that impropmtu and extempore always have more impact.

As far as CONTENT goes:

1. Perhaps paint a vivid word picture of what happens in an unprepared community during the first couple months of Y2K. Make it clear and vivid, like 3D- technicolor, narrating the unfolding events as things go wrong, and wronger. 2. I don't know if congressman ever get the cold HARD facts, or if they just swallow the surface-info that is being tossed around (like the NERC report). If they are ignorant if your estimation, the plain facts regarding the individual entities that each community depends on may demonstrate (without any narration) what may very well happen.

Thanks so much for what you do, J. Alfred Stewart

-- J. Alfred Stewart (, May 09, 1999.

It's time for them to stop screwing around with this issue. 1. Put an end to the legal wrangling by suspending all Y2K related litigation. 2. Create severe criminal penalties for failing to disclose accurate Y2K information. 3. The public must be gradually informed of the true state of readiness starting NOW. TODAY. 4. The full focus of the US government must be on surviving this event, not on a civil war in a third tier despot run republic. End the war and bring full focus on 2K. 5. Develop strategies to island the US from the global instability which is certain. Form partnerships with countries who are preparing well and who have resources important to the US. 6. Tell the Senators that Tower of Babel does not play well. They must begin sounding a credible alarm, but it has to be loud and clear. No ambiguity.

-- Jim Smith (, May 09, 1999.

I'm sorry, but I cannot find the part where you say where you will find a group of intelligent, experienced, concerned Senators.

But,if you are referring to the Senators of the United States of America, they need to know that, if they do not tell the people the truth for a change, if worse comes to worse, the people will hunt them down.

Do not doubt it. Count on it.

-- AK (15@100.yds), May 09, 1999.

ed, my husband and i were at comdex in chicago a couple weeks ago, and visited the y2k booth. it was as quiet as a cemetery. the GSA officials there were pretty lonely.

that was the ultimate proof to me that the government's hands-off, no-standards policy is not working at all. right now the Small Business Admin. is offering a carrot to business (get a loan to fix your y2k problems) and i believe it will also fail. the SBA is not optimistic either, and they have said that they expect 370,000 businesses in the u.s. to fail because of y2k.

they need to offer BOTH the stick and the carrot. it's time for the government to twist arms if they want small business to do something. small businesses still have time to fix their systems if they start right now.

-- jocelyne slough (, May 09, 1999.

I like Bonnie's point about a public official's contract with his or her conscience. The conscience could play a role in the desire to avoid sparking panic, but that desire probably arises primarily from less noble origins. Appealing to the conscience, therefore, is a succinct way to set things right.

-- Bill Byars (, May 10, 1999.

Here is a story about the side-effects of pacifying the public about Y2K.

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke about Y2K at a food processor's convention. Before I spoke, I sat in the lunch area asking people what they thought about Y2K.

Two separate times, I encountered separate engineers from separate companies who were at the convention to baby-sit the food processing machines in the exhibit area. Both of the engineers dismissed Y2K as a non-event. One even told me, "It's just a bookkeeping problem."

I asked each questions and learned both were design engineers, each doing both mechanical and electronic design. I explained my understanding of embedded processor failure, being certain that their machines used computerized control circuits. Both then realized their machines were Y2K vulnerable, yet had been telling management, "no problem."

How many engineers are still Y2K ignorant because they have not been seriously alerted by the government and the press? How many Y2K ignorant engineers have been telling management there is no problem? How many managers have reported they are Y2K ready because they rely on information from Y2K ignorant engineers?

The way to have "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" is to have a truly informed public. Please ask the government and the press to stop portraying anyone concerned about Y2K as a crackpot. Stop the disinformation. And ask the Secret Service to stop suggesting to me that I "don't scare the public." (wanna scan of his business card?)

We need to be using the time between now and whenever the problems occur to prepare in earnest. Instead, we have an increasingly passive, disinterested, confused, or apathetic public. I was one of the few people in the audience when you spoke along with Dr. Paula Gordon at the GWU press briefing in Washington, DC. Meetings that used to have over 100 now have about 20.

I am truly afraid that our citizens may completely lose trust in our government if people decide not to prepare because of the government and they then become severely inconvenienced by Y2K problems.


-- Ray Strackbein (, May 10, 1999.


I think you must take a broader perspective when it comes to making recommendations for personal and community preparation.

Personal and community preparations begin with reliable information.

This is a time to remind them, with all due respect, of their leadership responsibilities.

Tell them that the Y2K research community is very confident that major disruptions will occur that will have devastating effects on the global economy.

Tell them that big business has had enough time to correct its mistakes at the publics expense.

It is now time to let Americans do what they do best pull together for a common cause.

Remind them that Americans are ordinary people who can do extraordinary things when put to the task.

Remind them that our country will survive if, and only if, families and communities begin to prepare now.

They know the score but they are afraid, irresponsible, and serving the wrong masters.

Tell them we need Clinton to do what he does best. It is time for sincere town meetings about Y2K.

Its time to rally the people around the Y2K flagpole.

Remind them that only the American people can save America.

A public that is in shock, afraid and angry does not readily support the government responsible.

The government knows that when things really get bad, they will be ineffective because they do not have enough food, water, medicine, or military for a comprehensive martial law operation.

And, whatever they do have, will amount to nothing more than first aid in the long run.

Only several hundred million Americans working together can save this country.

But only if they feel its worth saving. Only if they have been given a fighting chance in their own destiny.

If not, they may decide to recreate America with new values, and new leaders.

Tell them that Mr. Information Super Highway doesnt have a snowballs chance in hell to get elected if he doesnt come clean about Y2K. This will be the ONLY platform to run on. Nothing else will matter.

Ed, this is a time to speak from your heart to really put it on the line about what your Y2K analysis tells you.

You can put all the personal and community preparation details in the report.

This is the moment to tell them, as a Y2K analyst, that the party is over, remediation will not work.

It is time for major contingency plans.

Countrywide preparation will take time and all the resources this country can muster.

It is a time to rally the people.

Any CEO will tell you, a companys most valuable resource is its people.

Its time we let the people in on the bad news and ask for their help.

That will be the single most effective personal and community preparation program they could adopt.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- -

PS. Do you think visual aids of large blow-ups of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights would be over the top?

Thanks for all your help in Hawaii. People told me you really opened their eyes and made a difference in their lives.

I wish you fair winds a full moon and a following sea.

(and more than five minutes)

Thanks for leading the charge

Keith Nealy Producer Hawaii 2000

-- Keith Nealy (, May 10, 1999.

Best of luck, Ed. You've had many excellent suggestions. I can only second them. I look forward to the Senate's report from this testimony as well.

FWIW, I've started a new thread relating to dr don's post. Better to post responses there than here.

-- regular (zzz@z.z), May 10, 1999.

I would like the freedom to speak the truth without getting creamed.

-- Reporter (, May 10, 1999.

786 Dear Ed,

Begin by asking God to help you do or say what is appropriate to the moment. He knows what is needed to melt the hearts of the Senators. Here's just one idea that came as I'm writing this - FIND SOMEONE WHO COULD CUT THE POWER TO THE SENATE CHAMBER AS YOU BEGIN YOUR SPEECH SO THAT THEY ARE IN TOTAL DARKNESS FOR 1-2 MINUTES. Then have some aides go down the aisles and pass out candles and light them - but only enough for every 5 people in the first two rows. Then ask everyone to remain calm - Begin your speech with Let's imagine, ladies and gentleman, that it is now January 1, 1999 at 12:01 AM... The rest could be a summary of what led up to this point and and what is likely to ensue [using the techniques outlined in the Duane's Schwingel's post]. Describe everything as though it will happen to them [and their families] personally - no lights, no heat, no air conditioning, no toilets, etc. After that: [YOU WILL BE ASKED TO REMAIN SEATED UNTIL YOU ARE GIVEN DIRECTIONS TO EVACUATE TO THE NEAREST RED CROSS SHELTER, where you will be asked to turn over your credit card, car keys, etc.] Then re-create a dramatization of what happened and use it as a public service announcement. Play up the positive aspects of preparedness and run it every day on all major radio and tv stations for the remainder of the year. This will reach the most people in the shortest amount of time.

When I teach English to beginning international students - I model the information through the universal language of ACTION - no translation is needed. The Old Chinese proverb is as follows: When I hear, I forget When I see, I remember When I do, I learn.

Our prayers go with you, Ed. And our best wishes for a successful outcome. May Almighty God protect and sustain us all. ~Farida in Philadelphia

-- Farida Parker (, May 10, 1999.

Please urge them to tell the public the truth, so people can have a little time to prepare. I think I'll be the only one prepared in my neighborhood. Good Luck !

Kathy from Berks County, PA DBY2K:

-- Kathy Davis (, May 10, 1999.

If I could ask the goverment a question I would ask them...Can you please tell me if my mom might die because of y2k, she is on life support?

-- Heidi (, May 11, 1999.


here is a real world example of what can and will happen. To: flatsville (5688 ) From: J.L. Turner Tuesday, May 11 1999 10:13AM ET Reply # of 5689

Flatts, Here is another clearcut example of a real life failure of software under circumstances that you would not believe could happen.It was done by NASA in the most public of ways.The main contractor Lockheed Martin is suffering tremendous financial loss.The software had survived testing but still failed.People that think bad things won't happen with y2k clearly are in total denial. J.L.T. | Feedback

>> Community: >> Forum: >> Thread: Why I'm Still Preparing (though I'm mostly finished) >> Message 39 of 219059

Subject: Re: Why I'm Still Preparing (though I'm mostly finished) Date: 1999/05/11 Author: J. Slaven Posting History

This looks like a good reason for some of us to still be preparing.


Monday May 10 6:51 PM ET

Bad Software Blamed For $1.2 Billion Space Failure

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Corrupted computer software loaded into a Titan 4 rocket is being blamed for wrecking a $1.2 billion military space mission, the most costly in a string of six U.S. launch failures, a respected trade magazine reported Monday.

A Centaur upper stage booster on the Lockheed Martin Titan 4 rocket veered off course about nine minutes after blasting off from Cape Canaveral on April 30, leaving a sophisticated $800 million military communications satellite in the wrong orbit.

''The Centaur upper stage was launched carrying an inaccurate software load from Lockheed Martin that went undetected in the company's software verification process,'' the May 10 edition of Aviation Week and Space Technology reported.

After starting to malfunction, the incorrectly programmed booster went haywire, firing its twin engines at the wrong times and releasing its costly cargo three hours early into an orbit thousands of miles (km) too low.

Workers at the Lockheed Martin, Littleton, Colorado, plant that prepared and tested the software were ''emotionally devastated'' the magazine said. Employees there were already struggling to cope with the murders of students at Columbine High School, where many of their children attended class, and the recent announcement of 900 job cuts.

The Titan 4 failure was the costliest in a string of U.S. space misfortunes. In the last nine months two satellites were blown apart in midair explosions, three marooned in the wrong orbits and another vaporized in the atmosphere. Over $3.5 billion of space hardware has been lost.

Lockheed Martin, which suffered three launch failures in April alone, and the U.S. Department of Defense last week announced separate inquiries into the rash of space mishaps.

-- J.L.turner (, May 11, 1999.

I'm glad you'll finally be officially "consulted" about Y2K. 'Bout time...

Jorge (above) made an excellent point about sound bites. Find some good ones, avoid bad ones.

A few months back, someone posted an excellent piece about why preparation is smart. (BigDog, perhaps?) He used a variation on Pascals wager that I thought was very effective. (Larry Sanger also has a similar editorial.)

The only thing we know for certain about Y2K is that no one *knows* what will happen. So in a situation where you can't judge the odds of winning, you base your decision on the *stakes*. What will you lose if you bet wrong?

Might make a good sound bite.

Tell them it's OK for the government to say "We have no idea what the consequences of Y2k will be, and we won't until it happens. Neither will anyone else. Basic preparation can't hurt.

How about suggesting a tax credit for emergency praparation expenses? It might sell it if were perceived to reduce federal disaster aid costs in the future, and it might be a useful "carrot' as another poster mentioned. (with a grandfather clause, naturally...:)

"Shoulda shaved and worn makup!" -R.Nixon

Good luck!

-- Lewis (, May 11, 1999.

Ed- Even the most optimistic official reports from the President's Council have confirmed the likelihood of serious, infrastructure- level disruptions abroad. If this turns out to be an accurate prediction, then it seems incredibly naive to believe that those problems will not affect us here in the States, both economically and from a national security standpoint. So my question(s) is/are, why has Y2K not been made a public top priority, and why has President Clinton, rather than utilizing the bully pulpit, only spoken on this issue three times? Where is Albert Gore, the Administration's technology point man, on this issue? And most importantly, is Y2K being handled as a panic-management issue rather than a crisis- management one? If so, why????

Scott Johnson

-- Scott Johnson (, May 11, 1999.

Ed - I agree, you are a computer programmer not a preparation expert. I think you should do a thread type explanation, based on your own experience. Talk about how large vehicles do date comparisons based on the date they were last inspected, and refuse to start if it appears they haven't been inspected in a while. Point out that you have seen some of these that won't work after the rollover. Explain some examples of what happens when trucks don't work. For example, people up north won't be getting fresh fruit from Florida. Give them enough to make them think. Don't do their thinking for them, it is an insult to their intelligence. Thanks for all your efforts.

-- Sorry I'm at work (, May 11, 1999.


Good luck. As pointed out before, five minutes is only enough time for sound bites, and probably not enough time to make a compelling and complete argument.

While it's surely too late to prevent Y2K problems in many huge enterprises, it's not too late for many small businesses with manageable systems. Yet, these folks plan to "fix on failure" in many cases. That's going to turn out to be "wished I had fixed before bankruptcy."

Ironically, it's these small businesses who aren't concerned who might bring down the large corporations who rely on them for critical supplies.

The way things are going right now, there is a near certainty of public panic sometime later this year. If nothing else, the scene of 250 million Americans gassing up all of their vehicles and crowding ATMs on New Year's Eve is a panic. It can't be done, yet that has been the conventional advice the public has received. Hollywood's Y2K movies are set for release in the fall, and that will finally raise the conciousness of the people if nothing else has by then. When the weather turns chilly, John Doe may finally think about that wood-burning stove purchase he has been putting off. Too late. All gone.

The only way to prevent panic is to urge preparation. By the individuals, the cities, the communities, churches, and state and local government. Lack of information causes uncertainty, and lack of preparation invites disaster.

Best wishes

-- Doug (, May 11, 1999.

I might say:
"Betrayal wears two faces, both easy to explain. One is what you say and do to bring another human pain. When you refuse to act though you know the good to do; when you refuse to speak what's right you've worn the face of number two." -- Charlie Peacock (Song: "Drowning Man", Album: "Secret of Time", 1990)
Don't betray us.

-- Reporter (, May 11, 1999.

Ed- (1) Thanks again for visiting us on Kauai. (2) If you have time for only one issue, I think that you need to address the "fear of panic" that seems endemic. In general, prepared people don't panic. Avoiding a little panic now will no doubt yield a massive panic later. (3) A second issue should be the technical (software maintenance) reason(s) why even the CRITICAL SYSTEM software isn't all fixable in the time remaining (let alone the "mission supporting software"). You know this well, and someone needs to pound the Senate with this information. (4) You might want to address the expected steep improvement curves that a lot of companies are expecting. Fixing the last 50% in the final six months is not a good expectation if you have been working on the project for 2-3 years already!

Thanks for representing not only us, but the rest of the American public.

Bill Georgi

-- Mad Monk (, May 11, 1999.

Ask for honest reports from government.

Use this thread as one of the written report appendices.

Note that the ONLY consistent federal statement has been: "Don't panic, keep your money in the bank." This won't help people who have no electricity (even for short times) because ATM's, banks, and the credit card system require power, phones, and satellites to work - plus the entire international money exchange and credit reporting system to be completely operational. If not, a person can ONLY use what cash he has already withdrawn.

Ask them to use the Churchill approach - "blood, sweat, toil, and tears" - if they (the government) aknowledge that disruptions WILL occur, people will accept trouble s in stride because they are mentally and physically ready. If they (Clinton) deny any troubles will occur, as they (Clinton, Gore, Koskinian) are doing now, only panic and violent public reactions (riots) will happen when troubles - of even relatively mild disruptions in the inner cities - show that they - the government - has deliberately lied to them about y2K.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, May 11, 1999.

For the record here, a comprehensive account of events leading up to the Challenger disaster will be found at This is Roger Boisjoly's account of his experiences at Morton-Thiokol, fabricator of the critical O-ring that failed, causing Challenger's destruction.

Richard Feynman's account of the Challenger investigation in his What Do You Care What Other People Think is thorough and devastating.

As for "sound bites" -- stay clear of any Gary North quotes. You don't need that sort of identification.

-- Tom Carey (, May 12, 1999.

Five minutes?? Madness.

You have received plenty of advice above on concrete personal and community preparations; besides, you can always reference a good website like that of the Cassandra Project, say. Because the embedded systems problem simply doesn't appear as bad now as it once did, I personally doubt that we are going to have really major, widespread utility disruptions in the U.S. anyway, though I still fear possible bank runs (unwarranted, in my view).

But I'm more worried than ever about Y2K overseas and the economic situation; so, I notice, are John Koskinen, Capers Jones, and even Peter de Jager. Without going into debatable specifics about, say, the Japanese or German banking systems, let's simply say that 35% of the world is still in recession, the geopolitical situation is destabilizing (the Balkans, Russia, China), much of the world is coming to Y2K awareness very late, if at all (the World Bank's numbers continue to be horrendous), and so we are about to add the nitro to the glycerine, in my opinion. Global capital flows, unchecked and unregulated, total trillions of dollars each day; major banks are sitting on derivatives that could turn into nuclear chain reactions. If nothing else, Y2K is going to spook many international investors and cause huge floods of capital to slosh around in all sorts of wild and unpredictable and potentially devastating ways. Think of a ship putting to sea without its cargo properly stowed and fastened down; the first big wave hits, the cargo shifts, and down goes the ship. That is precisely the international economic catastrophe that Y2K threatens. And it's highly unlikely that, should such a disaster occur overseas, the U.S. will escape the economic consequences. We might be safe, high, and dry for a little while--but so were the people huddled on the stern of the "Titanic."

I suspect that most Senators dislike and distrust any "bunker" mentality with regard to Y2K--and rightly so, in my opinion. What they do understand is economic threats, and so near the close of your talk you might hammer this point home. Americans should prepare for a possible economic storm of unknown magnitude, washing ashore from overseas; that warning might prompt them to stop inflating an already grossly overinflated stock market, stop drawing down their savings dangerously, stop running up their credit card debt, and start to take precautionary financial measures--instead of behaving like a teenager with his first credit card.

-- Don Florence (, May 13, 1999.

If all else fails -- or when cornered -- you could fall back on Dr. Johnson's blunt
"I have found you an argument; I am not obliged to find you an understanding." (Samuel Johnson, quoted in Boswell's "Life")

Impolitic, of course....

-- Tom Carey (, May 13, 1999.

Millennial Anxiety Disorder, MAD for Short.

Our lives became shredded in the last few months of 1999.

Perhaps it was the rush to prepare.

Our anxiousness.

Our anxieties.

Our Beliefs.

Our Dread of, "the uncertain," Future.

Our Heavy Hearts, sank, as we watched the world, "spin out of control."

All our Hope's,

All Our Love,

All our Sadness,

All our Fear's.

Who's to Blame, This Madness, Who To Blame?

Who TO Blame!

Blame Lies on -


So much wasted time, These past few years. Now, too late, too soon, it's here.

It's ALL In Our,

Millennial Tears.

Fare Thee Well, Fare Thee Well, .....

.... Singing, Polly Wolly Doodle,

All The Day.

Technology is a double edged Sword, and the pendulum  is swinging.

-- Tom McDowell (, May 13, 1999.

Thank you, Ed, for all you have done and continue to do promote "thoughtful discourse" on y2k. Along with all the others here, I send my unqualified support with you as you address the Senate.

I would like to stand before the Senate and tell them that I find their response to this threat absolutely shameful. I don't understand how they can look each other in the face, let alone stand before their constituents, knowing they are intentionally deceiving citizens about the potential consequences of y2k's risks.

The propaganda designed to forestall panic by convincing people that disruptions will be like those of a storm and will last no more than three days to a week has taken hold. The large healthcare provider I work for is basing its contingency planning on that prediction. Individuals are shrugging off the threat as a minor concern. It's uphill going to try to convince neighbors that they should prepare, let alone to locate enough concerned local folks to put any pressure on local government to act. It's considered gauche, politically incorrect, and even laughably silly to suggest that people should prepare for y2k-generated disruptions to our accustomed goods and services. Yet without adequate preparation, the potential for human suffering is immense.

It breaks my heart, Ed, just to walk through a supermarket and look in the faces of all my neighbors who have no idea what kinds of challenges may be rolling so quickly toward us. They'll be on their own to face whatever difficulties arise, with neither help nor warning from those elected officials in whom they placed their trust. The results, on the personal, familial, social, political and financial levels will be tragic if disruptions are more extensive, deeper, or longer lasting than the public is being intentionally led to believe. It's an outrage. And outrage will be the inevitable outcome unless strong leadership arises immediately to turn the course of events.

Thank you again, Ed, for all you are doing to turn the tide toward open discussion and truthful disclosure.

-- Faith Weaver (, May 13, 1999.


like somebody has already said i think you should bring up the fact that fema use to suggest the citizens of america to prepare for 2 weeks but they took that off their website and said that you should only prepare for 3 days. or something like that. i also think you should suggest that the gov urge the people to prepare for a month of disruptions. thanks for all of your hard work on y2k


-- matt vaughn (, May 13, 1999.

Hi, Ed.... You have a definite plus in that you are a rapid speaker! You can say a lot, very quickly! Please tell the committee to get the word out, via PBS, the government TV access (both nationwide and statewide), and commercial TV in regular "sound bites" and programs urging people to prepare, giving practical, TRUTHFUL information. Americans, for the most part, are honest, hard-working people who can be told the truth and not fall apart! As a teenager when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, followed by FDR's declaration of war, I saw how Americans could indeed knuckle down to business! Not knowing the truth can be compared to facing life-changing, exploratory surgery without all the fact! Or without the doctor leveling with you! Granny Holly

-- Hollaine Allen (, May 13, 1999.

Mr Yourdon, Nobody knows what's going to happen with the y2k problem. You can't say that at worse it's like a winter storm, no one knows. Sounds silly but that's how it is.

I'd like to see the gov't come out with just a little honesty about the problem.


-- Rob (, May 16, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon,

Thank you for all of your work and effort you have done thus far and I am confident that you will well represent us before the Senate.

After reading most of the replies before mine, I have with Tennessean. He suggested that you concentrate on just one industry in particular, the oil industry. Perhaps if you make your testimony *personal* by looking the Senators in the eye as best you can and ask them to consider their families, their dearest friends and their respect colleagues (you can even make them laugh!), and then ask them to *focus* no longer on the cause of y2k but on the many integrated and long-term EFFECTS and ramifications of what just ONE industry can do to our nation, then perhaps you can reach them. Then perhaps you can implore, beg, cajole and plead them to WORK on contingency plans NOW. If we are allowed to hear the truth as a nation, we can prepare and step-up production and distribution of all products now, in the six months remaining. I believe we could quell a good portion of the panic if people were informed NOW to have a minimum 30 day or three- month supply of all goods and food stuffs needed. I don't expect the government to increase their stance from a three-day storm to a full year however, IF people were more informed of how uncompliant our nation is (i.e. water utilities), they can judge for themselves and start to take action and prepare. Inevitably some people will put off preparing until the last minute, this is human nature however, many more people will be helped and be better prepared by a) preparing for a longer period of time and b) by starting now if informed to do so.

Thanks for your time. The best of luck to you. Many of us are holding you in our thoughts and prayers. Go get 'em!


Lisa P.

-- Lisa P. (, May 16, 1999.

Mr. Yourdon: Thank you for will never know how big a difference your articles and the info available on your forum has made in so many lives. With that same compassion, i humbly sumit that some where within your testimony or written paper that you remind our elected officials that our cities' cores are going to be left to rioting with the possibility of either not enough police/military control or possibly none in some places, if trouble is wide spread. Informing, teaching, and even helping those (who wish) to prepare is a topic everyone seems to avoid. The reality, however is that if left unaware/unprepared, the resulting chaos will be far worst that anyone could imagin. The kettle of discontent is already at a full boil and it will take very little to send it over the top. Even those who in ordinary circumstances would be law abiding citizens will feel that they have again been ignored and may join in the mayham.

If the problems are widespread and come in combination, there will be no firetruck to respond when someone decides to use a house for a bonfire. Emt's won't repsond when gangs roam the streets using "what ever means necessary" to take what they need or what, How many armed troops will they need to contain the entire core of every city of any size? And if they could do that, who would be left for any other problems that might arise in other areas?

To leave the cities to "figure it out" is to invite something akin to a civil war to the populated areas of our country. With all the other threats to our "way of life" happening all over the globe the last thing we need is to encourage a fight in our own backyards.

I don't have the tech knowledge like many of the others, but i do have friends, relatives, and co-workers that live in these cities. I listen to the discontent and i truely believe that y2k could be the match that lights the fuse if someone doesn't try to do something on a grand scale to prevent it.

The good news is that they don't have to waste precious time making new committies. Use the agencies, social organizations and especially the churches that already are a part of those communities. People they already deal with, and possibly have some trust in, will do much more than sending in an outsider. Preparation for ALL Americans is necessary if America is to survive.

Thank You & God Bless You and Your's

-- kitten (, May 18, 1999.

Ed, I've heard you speak. It took you two hours to pull things together and make your conclusion.

Five minutes is a joke for someone like yourself. But since you are going, I would spend the five minutes not on information but on emotion. I would tell them simply in your esteemed opinion, y2k will not be fixed. Because of your concern about peraonal and community preparedness you have relocated to a safe place. Tell them why you moved from New York, Ed. As a Pastor, let me tell you that nothing is more powerful than a personal testimony.

Tell them it all depends on whether the grid will be up or not and whether water will flow or not. Tell them if the grid goes down for two weeks there is no preparedness that will help the cities.

Then tell them how people need to prepare for nuclear missiles hitting our communities and terrorists taking advantage of our weakness.

Tell them that the only way to prepare for what is coming is to repent and turn to the Lord. Revelation 17-19.

Thanks for your forum, BB

-- bb (, May 18, 1999.

See also ...

What Are Your Top 3 Y2K Concerns, Right Now? 000qEk

-- Diane J. Squire (, May 20, 1999.

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